Good for you, Mayor Stothert

The new Mayor of Omaha, Jean Stothert, just got her concealed handgun permit.

Mayor Jean Stothert is now the proud owner of a black, Austrian-made Glock 26 pistol.

But you might not be able to tell when she’s packing. The mayor says she’s awaiting delivery of a state concealed-carry handgun permit.

“It is not an issue of being afraid,” Stothert said Friday. “It’s an issue of not being afraid to protect myself.”

“Because it is the law, I wanted to really understand what went on in that concealed-carry class,” she added. “I thought, as mayor, I needed to understand.”

Before I go any further, I should give some context.

I was born in Omaha and still have family there. It might be my hometown because of birth, but I no longer consider it so because I’ve lived in Texas for 20 years — far more than I ever lived anywhere else. Austin is home to me. But still, family is there and they have a fair presence in town. I mean, my Dad was US Congressman from Omaha for 8 years, and did spend 6 years as Mayor as well. So there’s some interest in this for me.

Omaha has a lot of violence problems. Lots of gang problems. They worked hard to build things up, to try to combat and deal with it. A recent/former Mayor did a lot to tear down all that hard work and folks tell me things regressed pretty badly under his tenure. Jean Stothert looks to try to remedy things, so here’s hoping. And her getting a permit seems a good step. Because while Nebraska is generally alright in terms of gun laws, Omaha has a lot of weird things because it somehow thought more laws and ordinances would be adhered to by drug gangs. Yeah… people willing to smuggle millions of dollars of pot, heroin, and cocaine somehow care about your ordinance. 🙄 So law-abiding folks get abridged, and this even caused some weirdness for me when I’ve traveled there. Frankly, the laws there are really unclear, especially for visitors. But I don’t want to digress into this, other than to say maybe with this, Mayor Stothert will be able to fix things.

I do appreciate her desire to go through the process to gain first-hand understanding. Wouldn’t it be nice if more politicians gained first-hand experience about matters so they could better do their jobs? And not just doing it for a photo-op.

She does seem to get it:

“People have a right. They have a right according to the Second Amendment,” Stothert said. “And I feel like I want to let people understand that I agree with that right, and I don’t think that restricting gun ownership from responsible gun owners is the way that you address irresponsible (owners), and gun crimes and gun violence in a city.

“You’re not going to be able to restrict guns with responsible people and reduce the gun violence; you’re just not.”

So that’s good.

But this….

“If there is the occasion that I feel like I want to carry it, now I will be able to,” she said. “But I don’t have any intention of carrying it here while I’m at work.”

Members of Stothert’s staff already do. Stothert’s has a rotating security detail of retired Omaha police officers. Chief of Staff Marty Bilek — a retired Douglas County sheriff’s deputy — recently won the right to carry his old service weapon at work.

Because the City-County Building doesn’t allow weapons, Stothert had to seek permission from the Omaha Douglas Public Building Commission for Bilek’s gun.

That bothers me a bit more.

And there’s this:

In her request, Stothert raised the prospect of gunmen targeting random citizens or elected officials in a mass shooting.

“Our request for him to carry a weapon inside city hall is simply another layer of caution,” Stothert said at the time.

Stothert said she’s been threatened before, in phone calls and emails that she declined to elaborate on. The mayor said she hasn’t been threatened since taking office.

“I feel very safe and secure at work. I feel very safe and secure in my home,” the mayor said. “But again, I feel like its a right, and I wanted to exercise my right.”

I’m sure Gabby Giffords felt very safe and secure. In fact, most of us all feel safe and secure, until we get violated.

It’s a question of mindset here. But, I’m not going to totally be mad at her because she admits she did this more for the education than anything else. Plus yes, she has a security detail. Now I recall my Dad having some level of security, but it wasn’t like the Secret Service hovering over him at every moment. Maybe things are different now and she does have more regular security. But if not, just realize, Mayor Stothert, that those holes are when you are more vulnerable.

Yeah, you’ve been threatened. I actually recall my Dad receiving threats. I don’t know the extent of all that he’s dealt with as he chose to shield his children from such things (understandable). But in later years both Mom and Dad have revealed to me they received threats. I have to figure that it’s worse these days… the way things are these days. *sigh*

Anyways, I think what also bugs me is the statement of her security having to “win the right” to carry his service weapon at work.

Since when do we have to “win the right”? There’s something inherently backwards and wrong about that mentality. Just think about it. Should have to win the right to speak freely at the office? on public ground? Should have to win the right to attend the religious service of your choice?

And it’s her security detail. Why should someone tasked with the duty of protecting another have to jump through hoops to do their job? That’s just wrong.

But this is precisely what I hope Mayor Stothert may be able to improve in Omaha. Law-abiding citizens should not have to go through such hassle to go about their law-abiding lives. We need to rebuild a world where good people can live their good lives without abridgement, and only work to abridge those that infringe upon others to freely live their lives.

Good luck, Mayor Stothert.

This is why we can’t have discussions

Marc MacYoung posted the following on Facebook:

Conflict and violence are very human behaviors. They serve a very important survival and social purpose.

Having said that we’ve kind of put ourselves into a self-eating watermelon situation about them because we’ve allowed our understanding of the subject to be controlled by an extremist ideological position.

There’s an old joke with the punchline ‘We’ve already established that. Now we’re negotiating the price.” That ‘negotiation’ is critical when we look at conflict and violence. Where do we set the line as to how much (and when is it) is acceptable?

This is where we need to recognize the extremists. Specifically those who think violence is always the answer to any problem on one side. But the other extremist position are those who maintain ‘violence never solved anything.’ The first are obvious, the second, not so much. But it is an extremist position.

If you ask the right questions, you’ll find that yeah, overwhelmingly people acknowledge there are times that violence IS the appropriate answer. And ‘now we’re negotiating the price.’ Where are those lines? When is it appropriate? When is it not appropriate and to what degree? These are all damned good questions that we need to hash out among ourselves.

Personally I come from a place where that bar is set pretty damned low. Having said that, I like living in places where the bar is set high. But this experience gives me an understanding that people will have different standards of where that bar should be set.

This includes an important understanding, that is ‘no matter what your use of force’ decision, someone is going to disagree with it.

Now being a cynical bastard I will often point out that the people who tend to disagree most strongly are the ones who didn’t get what they wanted because you chose to act. Those folks seem to take the approach that any level of force beyond which they are comfortable using to get what they want is ‘violence’ — and therefore bad (especially when it is used against them). But what they’re doing isn’t violent and therefore they don’t deserve to have violence used against them. This especially because it hurts their feelings.

That last paragraph may seem like a rant from left field — and maybe it is — but it is also common theme among the extremists who maintain that violence never solved anything. Or, and this is another weird form of mental gymnastics, physical violence is always bad and wrong. Hence anyone who uses it is also bad and wrong. And while we’re at it, if you agree that sometimes violence is the appropriate response then you’re …

Yeah, that’s a good way to encourage mature discussion, understanding, education and coming up with effective coping mechanisms to deal with conflict and violence.

The problem with the extremist position isn’t that it exists, it’s that they won’t shut up about it. In doing so they don’t allow other people to have different points of view and, by extension, a discussion. They will constantly attempt to control the conversation or — if they can’t do that — shut it down with outbursts about how violence is wrong and evil, should not be tolerated and how society must change.

Uh actually that’s what we’re trying to do by ‘negotiating the price’ and gaining a fuller understanding of the subject than ‘it’s evil and wrong.’

Oh you want society to change in particular waaaaaaay…

He’s quite right… we are negotiating on price.

I used to hold onto the notion of violence never being an answer. For anyone that reads even a bit of my writing, you should know I no longer hold that position. I believe that violence can be an answer, and sometimes it is the right and only answer. Case in point, if a woman is being raped, should she not respond with violence? Isn’t a kick to the groin, a palm strike to the nose, thumbs to the eyes, pepper spray, kicking, biting, screaming…. fighting (back). Is this not violence? Is this not a violent response? Is this not an aggressive action? Think about it for a moment. If violence is never the answer, then what other recourse does this rape victim have? lie back and enjoy it?  Because even responses like to vomit or pee on your rapist are arguably a violent response, if perhaps just on the lower end of the scale. If you truly stand by the notion that “violence is never the answer”, then you are damning women to being raped. However, I don’t think this is what you mean, nor what you want.

So in fact, if you think about it hard enough and if you’re honest with yourself, you do accept that violence can be an answer and that sometimes it is the right and only answer. As Marc says, we’re just negotiating price.

Pay heed to the latter point Marc is making. If you really are an open-minded person, you’ll shut up and listen. You will earnestly allow for the possibility that you could be persuaded, even if it means giving up all you know and have built for yourself, if in fact Truth shows you were wrong and “the other way” is right. If you are unwilling to admit you could be wrong, if you are unwilling to give it all up, then it becomes rather difficult – and perhaps pointless – to have any discussion, because you don’t want to discuss, you just want to be right.

Alas, today more people are interested in being right than in finding truth.

How to lose friends and alienate people

So long as you deny our humanity, so long as you malign our dignity, intelligence and wisdom, so long as you seek to shade us under a cloud of evil that we do not partake in or support, so long as you tell us that because we own guns we are terrible people, you will prove yourselves absolutely right in that we won’t come to the table to talk with you.

This. So very much, this.

Read the full article. It’s long, but well-written. (h/t Jon Thomas)

They want to have a “national conversation on guns”, but there’s no conversation. It’s just a lecture, a scolding. Who wants to listen to that? When someone dresses you down, how much do you listen to them? How much do you want to cooperate with them? If they call you names, tell you you’re evil, put words in your mouth… do you really want to listen to what they have to say? Are you going to be receptive to anything they propose? It has nothing to do with guns; that’s just a human reaction.

Here’s a PDF from Dale Carnegie.  Just about every rule gets violated in this “conversation”, and so we’re losing friends and alienating people.

To be fair, it’s not just the anti-gun folk that are like this. I see pro-gun folk that are this way as well. I cannot stand looking at my Twitter feed because I see so much  … well… asshole-ish behavior going on. Conversations in less than 140 characters is not a conversation. I see name-calling, baiting, and just general rudeness. I mean, there’s assholes in every crowd, alas they tend to be the ones creating the most jibber-jabber, thus they create the perception. This sort of behavior won’t win anyone over to our cause. There’s no attempt to educate, just more violations of Dale’s rules. Really, what Mr. Snell’s article concludes cuts both ways: that so long as pro-gun folks treat anti-gun folk in a bad way (denying humanity, maligning their dignity, intelligence and wisdom, etc.), well… they won’t come talk to us either.

We can even step back from guns. Look at abortion, LGBT equality, environment (e.g. global warming), food (GMO, etc.), race, religion (including a-religion), whatever. Ever notice how divisive things are today? How the media no longer maintains a facade of neutrality but now blatantly takes and panders to “sides”? How politicians hammer on “the other side” for being in the way of progress, instead of they themselves trying to progress? How there’s so much spitting of venom and hate? There’s so much talk of tolerance, but little is given, especially to those that don’t agree with me. It doesn’t matter the topic. So long as we deny humanity, malign dignity, shade “the other side” under a cloud of evil… we’ll never come to the table and break bread together.

If united we stand and divided we fall… then it looks like we’ve fallen, and at this rate, we’re not going to get back up. Because while our humanity is crumpled on the ground crying for help, you’d rather Instagram ‘dat shit’ and walk away laughing at the ‘dumb bitch’. We need people to put their smartphones away, give our collective humanity a humble look in the eyes, and offer it a helping hand.

A Question

What part of your life do you want regulated?

I saw that on a bumper sticker driving into work. I thought it was a good question, and one well worth asking yourself and others.


So it’s dead…. but not gone

Looks like Feinstein’s pet legislation is dead.

They know it’s polarizing, they know it won’t get through, so the “bigwigs” are basically nixing it.

So folks… please stop hoarding ammo. Those of us that actually want, need, and use ammo would like to get some. Classes are hard to teach without it. 🙂

But this isn’t the end of the road.

First, we don’t know what Reid will actually try to present on the floor. But he believes they will be proposals that will gain more support. So I guess the question remains: who is still willing to sell us out? None of these proposals will make any difference towards achieving their stated ends.

One proposal that keeps coming up that they think could gain traction is a ban or restriction on “high-capacity magazine clips” (quote from the above article… *sigh*.

“Families in Newtown and across the country deserve a robust debate on efforts to reduce gun violence,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said in a statement. “While the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 is an incredibly important part of this debate, I continue to believe that a more targeted ban on high capacity magazines is an equally effective way to reduce casualties in episodes of mass violence. I believe we need to have a separate floor vote on a high capacity magazine restriction, and I look forward to working with other senators in the coming weeks to develop a reasonable restriction on large volume magazines that can gain bipartisan support.”

Newtown… “won’t someone think of the children, because we’ll make you look like a heartless beast that wants children to be slaughtered if you oppose us”.

But the reality is, it won’t affect casualties. So many of the mass shootings have been slow and methodical. They will casually reload, and keep shooting. If they won’t reload, then they’ll just have more guns and reload by picking up another gun. And if not another gun, there’s far many more ways to inflict mass death and damage that doesn’t involve guns at all. So tell me, apart from making you feel good because you’ve “done something”, what are you actually doing towards solving root problems and not just taking a lozenge for the symptoms?

Here’s some irony out of the article.

“Our nation’s law enforcement officials know better than anyone what it takes to protect our communities from gun violence, and they know that background checks help save lives,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-chair of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, said in a statement. “They have dedicated their lives to protecting the public, and as Congress debates our nation’s gun laws, their voices deserve to be heard.”

Yes, the LEO’s know. And that’s part of why LEO’s want “high-capacity magazine clips”. It’s part of why LEO’s are constantly exempted from these sorts of bans and restrictions. If putting 10-round or 7-round limits on gun capacity directly correlates to a reduction in gun violence, then it should apply to LEO’s as well. Else, what’s your real motivation behind such a ban and restriction?

Background checks save lives. Maybe, maybe not. I think to some extent the system has worked, because I’ve spoken with a lot of guys behind the counter and heard some crazy stories about people who have tried to buy, filled out the 4473, got called in for a background check, and then had such a rap sheet that they dispatched police to come pick the guy up at the counter. So yeah, it can work.

But do you really think that background checks are going to keep guns out of the hands of people bent on death and destruction?

I mean, consider Sudafed. Look at what Grandma has to do to get medicine for her cold. But exactly how much meth production has been stopped by this “background check”? So do you think Joe Gangbanger selling a stolen gun out of the trunk of his car is going to do an NICS check? Tell me how this will do anything useful.

And folks… one thing to remember about a lot of Police Chief’s. They are politicians. They are many times the puppet of the city council and mayor. They aren’t elected, so they tend to serve who put them there. This is why you often find the Sheriff more favorable, since they were elected by the people. It’s been quite interesting to watch the past some months and see how police chief’s come out in favor of bans and restrictions, and sheriffs are not and in fact many have flat out stated they will defy orders to do things like confiscation.

So folks….

It’s the same old story. And it won’t go away any time soon.

It’s evident things are fading, and that’s good because it shows what people really want in this world: real solutions to our problems, not political agendas.

But it’s not gone. It’s not done. There’s still stuff on the Federal level, and there are still states trampling on freedoms with their emotional appeals and knee-jerk reactions. So, we cannot let up. We must still fight the fight.

But please, stop hoarding. 🙂  That way we can hold more classes, and bring more people into the fold. Teach them right, teach them well, teach them safely, and allow them to go to the range to practice. This is the sort of advocacy that will benefit us most in the long run. As Jim Scoutten says, “Shoot often, shoot safely, and share your sport!”



I think you have it backwards

Tom Diaz at the Washington Post asks:

Why are the First, Fourth and Fifth amendments subject to erosion in the name of homeland security, but the Second Amendment is beyond compromise in the name of saving innocent lives?

and then he spends 2 pages railing about the need for gun control to save the lives of “won’t-someone-think-of-the-children”.

I’ll agree with him on one thing:

Our perception of the relative dangers of terrorism and gun violence is distorted. We don’t know it, and our leaders don’t bother to tell us.

And he’s right. Our perception of the relative dangers is vastly distorted, because when you have non-stop media coverage about a single event, it impresses strongly on your mind. But when you step back and look at the numbers, you find there haven’t been all that many people killed in mass shootings. Statistically speaking, more children die from accidental drownings and car accidents — but there’s no media outrage, no 24/7 coverage, and so yes perception is distorted.

So Mr. Diaz, are you saying “the media” is ‘our leader’? Because the mass media isn’t bothering to tell us either. They are taking no responsibility for providing a clear, logical, rational, and sound picture. Do they have to be so responsible? No, but then if you want such a proper picture, turn off the TV (and perhaps write for another newspaper).

I really think you mean ‘our leaders’ are our politicians.

They are not “our leaders”. They are our servants, only they forget it, never learned it, or because people keep referring to them as “our leaders” instead of the proper label of “our servants” they keep believing they are in charge of us and are supposed to tell us what to do and we’re supposed to blindly follow them.

Are they supposed to present us with a clear and proper picture? I’d say they have a greater responsibility to do so, and it seems Mr. Diaz thinks so as well. But I am constantly amazed at people that shocked at the corruption of politicians, then turn to the same corrupt politicians expecting them to help and have their best interests at heart.

What bothers me more, however, is I think Mr. Diaz has it backwards.

He is right that there’s something wrong with allowing the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments to degrade in the name of “security”. What bothers me most about his article is he is calling for the 2nd to be just as or more degraded. All in the name of “leveling the playing field” of “equality”.

You know how you can also achieve this same end?

By upgrading (or rather, restoring) the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments.

I too think it’s horrible that we’re destroying our Constitution in the name of (false) security. But instead of calling for further destruction, we should be working towards restoration… else we just continue down the path we’re already going down.

WE must UNITE on issues, not DIVIDE on labels.

I think we need to reframe things.

We’re stuck in this “Democrat vs. Republican” or “Liberal vs. Conservative”, “Occupy” vs “Tea Party” mentality. Both in terms of how we look at things, and how we debate the issues.

It’s making us blind.

It’s dividing and making us weak.

We need to leave that behind.

It’s no longer about that, and cannot be.

Case in point.

There’s a pirate radio station here in Austin, Texas Liberty Radio. For ages I’ve seen the sign on Mo-Pac (a major highway running North-South through Austin) advertising it, and finally I tuned in to give me something different to listen to on my daily commute. The lady was talking about the dangers of the stuff in our food, specifically pointing out aspartame.

At the same time, I saw one of my “liberal” friends post about “Big Dairy’s” current move to put aspartame in milk. And the conversation goes on about the dangers of the stuff in our food, specifically pointing out aspartame.

These are two groups who, according to the old labels, are polar opposites and should never agree: the Libtards and the Teabaggers. But here they are, speaking out against the same thing. There are some minor differences, with the former talking about it more in terms of food supply and how it can mess with your body, and how the government is involved in a bad way. The latter is talking about it more in terms of how bad it is for your health, and the evils of big corporate lobbies having more influence over the government (than the people supposedly governed).

They are far more united than they are different. They both agree about the dangers of aspartame. They both agree that it’s bad for you. They both agree it’s bad to add it to food. They both agree that the government is playing a dangerous game here. They both agree the government cares more about money and power than about people.

Yes there are some differences, but that will always be the case so long as people are involved. But the more I listen to people on “both sides”, the more I see that we’re actually upset at the same thing: the consolidation of power in the hands of a few. These few tend to be involved in government, at the top of particular large corporations, and are more interested in growing their own wealth and power than caring for the people they are supposedly serving — because whether they are elected public servants (*cough cough*) or are CEO’s, they are supposed to be serving citizens or shareholders. Either way, they are to be servants, not greedy, lustful, power-hungry, self-serving.

We may differ on the specifics, but most all of us are in the same boat.

So instead of continuing to be divided along labels, why aren’t we being united by our issues? by our causes?

Are you willing to move beyond the division of labels, and unite in our causes?

Should ignorant people be allowed to make laws and policy?

I have a serious question.

Should ignorant people be allowed to make laws and policy?

I’m sure to some it seems like a stupid question to ask. But I have to ask it, because I see so many people permitting the ignorant to make laws and policy, and I don’t understand why.

Noted firearms specialist and personal-safety expert “Shotgun Joe” Biden continues to dole out firearms and personal safety advice:

I said, “Well, you know, my shotgun will do better for you than your AR-15, because you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.”

Full story (h/t TexasCHL). Emphasis added.

There’s more to the transcript, but I want to focus on the last part of Mr. Biden’s statement.

I’d like to hope one doesn’t need to understand the fundamental rules of firearm safety to understand how dangerous, reckless, careless, and potentially tragic Mr. Biden’s suggestion could be. If you have no idea what’s on the other side of that door, you have no business shooting through it.

Right now we have a terrible shooting story in the news, of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius being accused of killing his girlfriend. Apparently he shot through a closed door without knowing who was behind it.


There’s tons of other things wrong with Mr. Biden’s comments, both the current ones and ones he’s made in the recent past. I’m at a point where I just don’t know if Biden is that ignorant of firearms and personal safety, or if he’s that smart and is trolling.

Either way, is this a person that should be in charge of making policy? That should be in charge of writing laws? Even if he is that smart and is trolling, is that how a politician should behave?

There are those who claim men cannot speak about abortion because, as men, they cannot understand women’s health issues. There are those who would find it ludicrous for climate-change deniers to set our environmental policy. Or that fundamentalist Christians should have any say over public school science curriculum. If such demonstrable and obvious ignorance on a topic is so unacceptable, why is it acceptable here?

If we seek true experts, people truly knowledgable in the field, when it comes to solving problems… why aren’t we doing that here? I don’t think Mr. Obama nor Mr. Biden has called Massad Ayoob or Tom Givens. Why would that be? Why wouldn’t actual public safety experts be consulted here?

Just because the end may wind up meeting your agenda, I cannot see how you can condone the means for getting there. For if you set the precedent that it’s OK for the ignorant to mandate policy when the policy serves you, just remember… karma’s a bitch.

Support Raw Milk

Why is it so burdensome to obtain raw milk?

I like Sand Creek Farm. They run a top-notch operation with delicious milk. But if I want their milk, I have to drive 2 hours to get it. Here in Texas, that’s the only way I can get it. Oh sure, they come into Austin fairly often and could deliver it or have some other sort of distribution, like at the local farmer’s market or maybe a private person has their home as a drop-point, like we can do with our vegetables from Johnson’s Backyard Garden. So if we can do this with our veggies, why not milk?

Why deny the small farmer a way to support their farm and their family?

Why deny the willing consumer a way to get the products they want? Or if not deny, make it such a burden to obtain?

So why is raw milk so denied?

I reckon it’s to “keep us safe”. Fine, if that’s what it is to be… and not large mass dairy farmers trying to use legislative muscle to protect their turf. But raw milk in and of itself is fine; usually problems arise in the processing, such as if the milking machinery or bottling process was unsanitary. How long would a family farm stay in business if they held themselves to low standards of sanitation and product quality? How long would it be until the lawsuits drowned them if someone became sick or died? It’s very much in the best interest of the farmer to make a high-quality and safe product. In fact, building such a reputation only serves to build the business too.

Funny thing, that.

BTW, why raw milk in the first place? The current nutritional zeitgeist is to be as “close to nature” as possible; zero to little processing, as straight-up as you can get it. Thus raw milk. Yes, I was very wary at first, but gallons later and boy if it’s not good. And you know what’s best?

I can drink it, and I don’t turn into a farty mess. They’re still not sure what exactly is behind this, but people eating raw milk and raw cheeses and other raw dairy products just don’t have the… uh… intolerance problems… that you get from processed dairy.

I support 83(R) HB 46. No it’s not perfect, but it’s a start.


Question for those who support banning guns

I need some enlightenment. Friends, please help me for I do not understand.

I’m reading through Sen. Feinstein’s bill.

By name she explicitly bans the Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rifle. Later in the text, she exempts the Ruger Mini-14 (w/o folding stock) and the Ruger Mini-30.

Could you please explain to me the logic behind this? Truly, I am curious. I’d like to know how this qualifies as a “good law” founded in reason, facts, and logic. Is it not reasonable to expect our laws to be based upon such things? Is it unreasonable to want to know what those reasons, facts, and logic are? What Feinstein proposes here defies all logic and reason — towards the supposed goals of “stopping the mass murder of innocent children” — but if you know how such wording and logic achieves the goal, I would love to know.

And if you don’t understand what the problem is with the wording of her ban and exemptions, then I’d suggest taking an honest step back and admitting you don’t understand, that you are, well, ignorant about the topic. It’s not a bad thing to admit ignorance — but it is bad to willfully remain as such.