Monday, April 20, 2015

Open Carrier Targeted? WA State

A Washington State open carrier was attacked recently in the sport goods section of a Wal-Mart, allegedly because he was open carrying. As covered in articles by the Yakima Herald Republic here and here, the details follow in brief. Interestingly, the original story states the weapon was concealed (probably poor journalism and assumption rather than anything else).

A father, Brandon Walker, a concealed carry permittee, was shopping with his children, purchasing a new batting helmet for his son, when he encountered a disheveled man, Trevor Zumwalt, come into the aisle and approached him. The man eye contact with the citizen carrier several times. Zumwalt then drew a baseball bat from the rack and raised it to a swinging position. Walker realized this was an attack, so he stepped into the swing to lessen the force of the impact and turned his shoulder to take the hit from the bat. Needless to say, a baseball bat strike to the head would probably have been incapacitating, if not fatal.

Walker was carrying a Sig Sauer P226, a double-action pistol, with an unloaded chamber. After the initial swing, Walker drew his pistol, racked the slide, aimed it at Zumwalt, and ordered Zumwalt to the ground. Zumwalt complied. Walker had a Wal-Mart manager call the police, who arrived and arrested Zumwalt, who is now facing felony assault charges.

In an interview with, Walker spoke about his carrying habits. 
“The other take-away from this situation is that he may have made a mistake in not opting to grab his jacket out of the trunk of his car, which he normally wears and would have concealed his handgun.” 
Open carry is not a mistake. It a personal choice of a method of carry. Open carry does entail safety precautions, number one being situation awareness, which is what allowed Mr. Walker to live that day. Walker saw Zumwalt, took notice of his appearance and behavior, then was able to anticipate that Zumwalt’s ‘practice swing’ was an attack. Being equally observant is required to prevent a potential gun snatch, not just an attack.

The assumption being made in this article and in the open/concealed carry community (as well as in the broader gun debate) is whether or not open carry made Walker a target. Without a statement from Zumwalt, we will never know. From what Bearing Arms has reported, Zumwalt may be mentally ill. He may have chosen Walker for any reason. Walker himself was the one who speculated that Zumwalt targeted him to snatch his gun, which would only seem to make sense if Zumwalt were mentally ill and deranged enough to think a bat attack against a gun-armed victim would work.

A rhetorical question: What if Zumwalt attacked a reason other than his gun? 
“From now on, Mr. Walker will carry concealed, and already has just the sidearm picked out for the summer months ahead. The only time he’ll open carry from now on is at the range.” 
That’s Mr. Walker’s personal choice. Given the circumstances, I doubt anyone can fault him. Yet his experience is not the one experience which disproves the rule that open carry is safe, nor is it part of an epidemic of attacks against open carriers. The debate among open carrier and concealed carriers is deterrence versus surprise. Among the arguments for both method of carry, open carry proponents state that open carry allows for criminals to be deterred by the sight of an armed potential victim, while concealed carry proponents prefer the element of surprise.

Concealed carry proponents and instructors often take this too far as to say that open carry is dangerous, that it provokes attacks (usually to steal the firearm) and would make the open carrier the criminal or terrorists first target. There is no body of evidence, aside from the very few, nuanced stories like these, to prove that open carriers are attacked for or because of their guns. The issue can become quite contentious.

Open carry and concealed carry have their own unique advantages and disadvantages; neither method is superior to the other.

Concealed carry is not a cure-all for avoiding firearm-based attacks from occurring. For all but the slim in proper clothing and with well-fitted holsters, concealed weapons often produce a tell-tale bulge under the clothing, using the back right side of the body, and concealed guns often ‘print’ their outlines through clothing. In fact, a Florida concealed carrier was attacked in a Wal-Mart when someone saw him holster up in the parking lot. In less obvious cases, trained eyes know what to look for when looking for a concealed weapon.
We are still waiting for an actual, confirmed story where there is no doubt about the attacker's intent to either kill, injure, or disarm an open carrier.

Walker’s Mistake

The mistake made by Walker was the fact he carried his pistol in Condition Three (also called Israeli Carry), where there was no round in the chamber, requiring him to rack the slide before acquiring his target. While some states like Utah mandate this for unlicensed open carriers, Washington does not, and Walker was a licensed concealed carrier.

The act of having to draw the weapon and chamber a round takes time. For a well-practiced shooter who is comfortable with his firearm, this procedure may seem like one fluid movement. Unfortunately, many who are new to carrying firearms for self-defense feel uncomfortable with a ‘loaded’ firearm and choose to carry this way. Someone who is so afraid of their weapon ‘accidentally’ going off will likely have trouble drawing and acquiring their target in a life-threatening situation and accordingly may well forget to chamber the first round. Having only a few seconds to react to a violent attack is not the time to fumble with a gun, especially if one is not well-practiced with it.

In Walker’s case, had the attack continued, he may have had to fend off the bat while trying to rack his pistol’s slide, which requires both hands. Imagine if that first blow to his shoulder had broken his non-shooting hand. How would he chamber a round then? What if he was struck in the head and disoriented? Dazed and on the verge of consciousness, would he remember or even have the ability (mental or physical) to perform that vital action before taking aim? Situation awareness and knowledge of his gun saved Walker’s life.

Anyone who does not feel comfortable carrying a round in the chamber of their pistol should undergo more instructor-led shooting training and learn the mechanics of modern firearms. The vast majority of quality guns produced within the last 30 years or so, if built and maintained properly, will not fire unless the trigger is actually pulled. The best practice is trigger discipline and keeping the index finger off the trigger and out of the trigger guard until it is time to shoot, laying it along the frame of the weapon. Practicing this time and time again will make it muscle memory and natural under stress. If none of these techniques can convince someone to stop Condition Three carry, that person ought not to carry at all.

This story is not a reason to stop open carrying or to be afraid of it. It’s a success story actually, about a man who saved his life and that of his children by being aware of his surroundings and not freezing under threat. Situational awareness is the most important self-defense measure anyone, armed or not, can take.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Infographic: How Guns Are Used by US Citizens

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Violence Policy Center Report on Gun v. Car Deaths: Facts into Falsehood

The Violence Policy Center (VPC), a think-tank dedicated to banning guns and restricting the right to keep and bear arms, debuted its annual report that we need gun control because we have car control. Their argument is based in the rather vague comparison of firearms deaths to traffic collision deaths—the idea being that if guns were heavily regulated like cars, then we could reduce gun deaths. The privilege to drive a car is not comparable to the right to keep and bear arms. On top of their flawed argument, their statistic driven argument is highly flawed.

In 2013, there were 395 deaths by firearm (by any method) and 281 motor vehicle deaths in Nevada. These statistics are misleading and the VPC’s report is blatantly aimed at furthering their anti-gun agenda. Cherry-picking statistics may work for headlines, but not for the truth.

The CDC WISQARS database tells the true tale.* Of the firearm deaths, there were 292 suicides by firearm in Nevada in 2013. 88 deaths were by homicide in that same period. That leaves 15 deaths unaccounted for—we shall regard these as accidental deaths in the absence of further data as justifiable homicide is still homicide. Of course, all traffic deaths are 307.

292 firearm deaths were a choice by an individual to end their own life; a choice that was likely to be made whether or not a firearm was available. More on firearm and suicide deaths below.

281 traffic deaths were caused by negligence, inattention, drunk or reckless driving, etc. Virtually all traffic deaths are caused by a violation of traffic law, no matter how slight. Violation of an infraction leading to death.

88 people committed a willful act (justifiable homicide or murder, no data is available on either) to end another's life, undeterred by law.

The problem with this method of analysis is while motor vehicle accidents are caused almost always by accident or negligence while firearms deaths are most deliberate. Homicide (murder or justifiable) and suicide are not accidents. 15 deaths by firearm in Nevada in 2013 is not an epidemic.

If the idea is that safety regulations, like safety equipment on cars and licensing requirements can reduce or prevent firearm deaths, we must consider accidents only. Deliberate choices to cause death, such as suicide and homicide, cannot be prevented by a safety mechanism, a trigger lock, or gun licensing requirements. Accidents only

15 accidental firearm deaths and 281 accidental motor vehicle deaths. If the VPC is taken at face value to introduce safety measures and regulations to cut down on gun deaths, we see that the epidemic of accidents lies with cars and not guns. No safety regulation nor gun control measure can reduce gun deaths without infringing upon our rights.

The true headline is this: In 2013, there were 15 unintentional firearm deaths in Nevada, while there were 307 accidental traffic deaths.

Suicides and Guns

The sheer number of firearm suicides bears further examination. Suicides by firearm are the most common manner of death in America. One reason is that guns are the most lethal form of suicide, by 85%. This report by the Harvard School of Public Health goes into great detail on firearm suicides.  

The fact is, gun ownership and higher suicide rates accompany each other. Exactly why is unknown. 
"'But when we compared people in gun-owning households to people not in gun-owning households, there was no difference in terms of rates of mental illness or in terms of the proportion saying that they had seriously considered suicide,' [...] 'Actually, among gun owners, a smaller proportion say that they had attempted suicide. So it’s not that gun owners are more suicidal. It’s that they’re more likely to die in the event that they become suicidal, because they are using a gun.'" 
Alternate sources show that in the UK, where firearms are virtually unheard of (compared to the US) that the leading method of suicide is hanging. Suicide is a mental health problem, not a gun problem. Gun owners know that a firearm is an inanimate object, incapable of firing on its own. It can be used for good or it can be used for evil. The choice remains a personal one.

The Harvard article is worth a read in whole. While not from a staunch Second Amendment viewpoint, the subject is sensitive to the concerns of gun owners. The facts are harsh when it comes to gun and death, but that should be no surprise to anyone, yet it is reassuring to know that medical professionals studying the issue of gun suicides are not painting with the same broad brush the anti-gunners are. However, going into depth on gun suicides is digression from the purpose here.

Suicides cannot be prevented through regulation, however, by implication, the VPC suggests that firearms can be regulated away, thus reducing deaths. The report includes “A Tale of Two Products,” one heavily regulated and subject to licensing (cars) and the other not (guns).

Cars have been made continually safer since their invention today, when one is least likely than any other time in history to die in a car accident. The VPC calls firearms “the last unregulated consumer product in America.” Instead of calling for increased awareness of suicide causes and prevention, as the Harvard School of Public Health wisely suggested, or methods to deter and punish murderers, the VPC has called for restrictions on the Second Amendment. For more on the VPC’s warped view of reducing death, read this post.

You can’t legislate, regulate, or put safety devices on people. People are the central factor in deliberate gun deaths—homicide and suicide. VPC’s solution, though they can’t come out and say it, is to reduce or eliminate access to guns. They will spin facts into falsehood for their position that guns should be banned.

*National Data
Homicide:            11,675
Suicide:                21,175
Unintentional:      505
Undetermined:     281
Total:                   33,636

Probable accidents: 786

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

RGJ Opinion Article: John Saludes Gets Gun Bills All Wrong

John Saludes has got the debate on new laws expanding gun rights in Nevada wrong. His recent article in the Reno Gazette-Journal is heavy on emotion, insulting to women, and chock full of the Democratic and anti-gun activist party lines. He tackles SB 175 and AB 148 with little aplomb.

Campus Carry

Saludes takes exception to AB 148, basing his argument on the fact that rape doesn’t really happen all that much on campus, and when it does, legally carrying a gun doesn’t have much of an effect. One rape is too much, Mr. Saludes.

Well that’s not the point. While rape has been the dominant reason used to justify campus carry, it is only one of the justifications. The first justification is that the Second Amendment right to  keep and bear arms does not stop at the campus gate. There is no inherent difference between a campus and the rest of Nevada.

Secondly, the right to self-defense against any threat—be it mass murder or robbery—is just a valid a reason to carry a firearm as rape. Making the debate solely or mostly about rape is narrow-minded and sexist towards men who do not wish to be victimized by criminals. Most of who would like to legally carry on campus simply don’t want their rights to be disenfranchised there or face criminal charges for doing something which is legal pretty much everywhere else in the state.

Mr. Saludes goes on to trivialize those who are victims of abductions and violent rapes by saying date or drug rapes are more common. No one is arguing that an acquaintance rape is the same as Saludes’ ‘rapist waiting in the bushes’ scenario. Does the woman raped by the man in the bushes deserve to have her rights trampled upon because of Mr. Saludes’ opinion?

Then he speaks about the costs to improve security in Idaho, where campus carry has cost over $3.7 million. Why is spending more money on increased security a bad thing? Do we decry more funds to hire more cops?

The implication is that the campuses fear that a licensed and vetted concealed weapons permit holder will suddenly become violent—of course, none of the school shooters in recent history had a concealed weapons permit. Except for perhaps signage, none of the improvements were directly related to campus carry. One could argue that these improvements, which should have been made before campus carry and regardless of campus carry, were made out of base fear.  

Actually, campus carry in Idaho is responsible for improving safety infrastructure.

Here are some of the improvements from the Idaho Statesman
“A fiscal note accompanying the legislation predicted minimal ,fiscal impact associated with posting signage at public entertainment facilities.,
 But the schools say they have had to add new staff, provide for training and purchase new equipment. Costs this budget year include:
  • Boise State University: $1.4 million for an assistant director for event security, a chief of campus police and public safety, a director of emergency management, a security technology manager, armed and unarmed officers, administrative support and purchase of metal detectors, signs, a security vehicle and ballistic vests. 
  • Idaho State University: $809,000 for four senior security officers, six dispatch officers, an emergency manager, metal detectors, firearms for security officers and protective/response equipment. 
  • University of Idaho: $580,000 in addition to the existing contract with the Moscow Police Department. Costs cover a new security system manager, security cameras, hardware and software related to new equipment to monitor entrances and exits. 
  • College of Western Idaho: $285,000 for an armed school resource officer contracted from a local department and equipment. 
  • North Idaho College: $622,000 for unspecified personnel, a campuswide exterior surveillance system and enhanced electronic access on doors. 
Boise State spokesman Greg Hahn said the concealed-carry law prompted the university to look at campus security overall and embark on a multiyear effort to improve it. The school relies on the Boise Police Department to handle serious campus incidents.
 ‘As the city gets bigger and the campus gets bigger, and with this change, knowing that weapons are going to be allowed on parts of campus, does it make sense to turn (campus security) into a larger police force and ultimately armed security?’ Hahn asked. ‘Certainly a piece of it had to do with the gun bill, but we've been hearing requests for more campus safety at all levels.’” 
So in reality, these improvements were spurred by an increased awareness of campus security in light of campus carry, not because of campus carry. Again Saludes gets it wrong, taking the headline, but not the substance, following the same, tired tactics of the anti-gun crowd.


Saludes then tries to persuade the legislators by calling them out. "Citizens entering the Nevada State Legislature first see a sign stating ‘No Firearms’ unless appropriate authorization is given. [...] Taking away the standard at colleges, yet keeping it at the legislature is pure hypocrisy."

Why yes, that is hypocrisy. The legislators, nothing more than citizens themselves, do not deserve extraordinary protection. NRS 218A.905 (8) is their special carve-out to protect themselves. The hypocrisy lies with the legislators, not with campus carry.

Domestic Violence

Saludes stated in testimony regarding SB 175 he lived as a child with a domestic violence convict that his father invited to live with his family after the convict's release from prison. The man was convicted of killing his wife. I feel compelled to point out there is no way to verify this story, nor would I want to intrude on Mr. Saludes’ childhood.

Saludes describes the man as a "gentle, humble man and the last person on earth that would kill someone. He was an artist who painted pictures." He goes on to say "I have come to realize that domestic violence happens for a variety of reasons and many times instantaneously. [...] That's what happened with this individual that led to his incarceration."

The unpredictable nature of these incidents is exactly the point. There is real way to prevent them. The only possible way would be through the use of science-fiction author’s Philip K. Dicks’ Pre-Crime to identify murderers. Guns aren’t the issue; ask the men and women who were beaten with fists, stabbed, kicked, or struck by cars.

Mr. Saludes wants guns to be confiscated from domestic violence suspects, not merely banning them for buying weapons. It sounds reasonable, but the circumstances that surround domestic violence accusations are nuanced and often not as cut-and-dried as it may seem.

Another problem lies with the fact that all too often, domestic violence accusations are baseless and the bar for successful prosecution too low. Prosecutors, judges, and juries are often biased against males. Perjury and refusing to drop a domestic violence case for lack of merit are also systemic problems, as this article points out.

It is commonly accepted that men are more often than women charged with domestic violence. Part of this is truth, and part of it is bias. There is a huge problem with false reports of domestic violence and the disproportionate destruction it can wreak on someone’s life.

"Domestic Violence restraining/protective orders are usually handed out freely by magistrates and judges applying the 'It’s better to be safe than sorry' mentality in these matters which has systemic and lasting consequences in future employment, constitutional rights, and reputation for, men, and their children, even if they are not found guilty."[1]

With both genders taken into consideration, there are over one million false accusations of domestic violence per year.

Federal law (18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9)) already prohibits misdemeanor domestic violence convicts from possessing or purchasing a gun.

Should the right to own a firearm be lost by the commission of a misdemeanor? Imagine if a non-injury DUI conviction that cost you a night in jail and a huge fine cost you your gun rights forever. Should a crime with a threshold so low as a misdemeanor mean a life time loss of gun rights? All other crimes that make one a prohibited person are felonies. With such a large number of false accusations and plea deals being rampant, a misdemeanor is too low of a bar to be set.

Returning to the background check debate, something else Mr. Saludes is a fan of, background checks can’t screen out a someone who has the potential to attack their partner. Background checks only search for previous convictions and there are no statistics to suggest that lots of men who murder their women partners with guns do so by illegally buying guns in private sales. It’s all about irrationality as Saludes pointed out. The gun used in domestic violence crimes is almost always already owned.

It’s emotional horror of domestic violence that Saludes and anti-gun activists use to rally support to their cause. What kind of heartless person says no to reducing domestic violence?

And if I hear “common-sense gun laws” ones more time, I’m going to vomit.

-G. C. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Green Valley Library Gun Scare

The LVRJ reported a gun scare during voting today at the Green Valley Library polling place. A false report by a juvenile lead to a response from Henderson Police, who patted down the alleged gunman who ended up not to be carrying.

Nevada law does not prohibit open carry in most public buildings, including a public library. Concealed carry is still illegal where signs are posted, as they are at the Henderson library district.

With the limited information on the circumstances reported, this seems to be a case of gun fear. Many wrongly have the idea that the right to keep and bear arms and the protections of Nevada law end at the library doors. They do not.

Read more about G.C's struggle with the Paseo Verde Library over open carry here.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

SB240: Dooming the UBC initiative or setting up for it?

Questions have arisen regarding SB 240 the free, voluntary background check bill. Does not ban private sales, but continues the voluntary system of NRS 202.254. SB 240, among other things, only affects private sales by removing the $25 fee for voluntary background checks for private gun sales by mail through the Dept. of Public Safety. It gives immunity to someone who in good faith sells a gun in a private sale without conducting a voluntary background check.

This bill is supported by Bloomberg’s Every Town for Gun Safety who is the behind-the-scenes sponsor of IP2, the background check bill which would ban private sales. John Griffin made the appearance.

A Las Vegas area resident mentioned that he completed the process years ago, which took several days. Additionally, he mentioned that he was one of ten or so people who requested a private sale background check under NRS 202.254. The last one done was in 2010.

The primary sponsor, Senator Roberson, voted against 2013’s SB 221 background check bill that would have banned private sales (thankfully Gov. Sandoval vetoed it). I doubt that he is in support of the so-called ‘universal background checks’ which is merely a phrase to ban private gun sales by forcing all sales through a dealer.

Chairman Brower unfortunately called it “common sense,” perhaps unintentionally using one of the Bloomberg group’s catch phrases.

The full video from the initial hearing.

Senator Ford questioned the voluntary nature of the program. As was confirmed in the hearing, the intent was to remove the current $25 fee to increase voluntary compliance. Ford danced towards mandatory background checks and was shut down by Senator Roberson, inviting him to draft his own bill and referring him to the pending Initiative Petition 2.

Many in the firearms community are wondering if this bill was intended to discourage mandatory private background checks (in light of the upcoming ballot initiative) by making the checks free or if it was intended to get buyers and sellers used to the idea of private sales. Nevada Carry has a question to Senator Roberson pending on the subject, but the intent seems to be to fix reporting loopholes while removing the fee to increase voluntary compliance. An added benefit would be to discount the highly flawed universal background check initiative by counter with free, voluntary checks.

What do you think?