2nd-amendment

The Second Amendment Protects the Right to Keep and Bear Arms Outside the Home

Turns out billions of dollars can’t buy you an agenda. In another stunning defeat for Bloombergian gun control, a federal court has once again slapped the District of Columbia with a ruling abolishing their stifling gun laws.

The case is called Matthew Grace and Pink Pistols v District of Columbia and Cathy Lanier. Lanier is the chief of police for the District. It involves a DC law in which citizens must show “good reason” to qualify for a permit to carry outside the home. In the landmark District of Columbia v Heller decision, the court recognized that “the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.” After the Heller decision, the city wouldn’t back down. Instead of recognizing our constitutionally protected rights, the city created a confusing and nearly impossible standard to qualify for a license.

In D.C., all firearms must be registered. Actually, all “approved” firearms must be registered. D.C. has taken a chapter out of California’s oppressive gun laws in crafting their own and have created a list of handguns that are “eligible” to be registered. Here is just the FIRST page of seven and a half of that list:

DCgunlist

In addition to needing a license to carry a firearm, citizens in our nation’s capital cannot even own ammunition without a permit to own/carry a firearm. “High capacity magazines” over 10 rounds are also illegal in the District. The law also required gun owners (or potential gun owners) to meet a “variety of age, criminal history, personal history, mental health and physical requirements” along with mandatory gun training, pass a safety program, and undergo an “in-person interview” with a law enforcement officer. But, don’t worry, all you law abiding criminals. If you have a gun without a license, you can “voluntarily and peaceably deliver [or] abandon” your guns at any police station and they won’t charge you with a crime. Instead, they’ll probably have a private auction in the precinct to the highest bidding police officer to keep. Or they’ll simply make the gun “disappear” into their personal collection. All these requirements only allow you to possess a gun in the home. No one within the constitutionally authorized “ten Miles square” of the District can legally carry a handgun or other “deadly weapon” outside of home unless that person is a government official who has more rights than you do. The problem is that the regulations created by an unelected police chief make it near impossible to even get a license to carry in your home. The Grace case changed that.

The District requires that applicants for a license to carry demonstrate a “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property” or “any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.” Naturally, this “proper reason” would be adjudicated by the extremely anti-gun police chief Lanier. The court ruled that the “good reason” requirement “is unconstitutional, that [Grace & Pink Pistols] will suffer irreparable harm.”

Chief Lanier was mandated to create a policy to facilitate the new law put in place after the Heller decision. Part of that policy was to require applicants to show “good reason to fear injury to his or her person or property or has any other proper reason for carrying a pistol.” The reasoning for this was to force citizens to “at a minimum require a showing of a special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.” In other words, after you’ve been attacked, show us proof that you survived and we’ll think about it. That proof must be “allege, in writing, serious threats of death or serious bodily harm, any attacks on his or her person.” Only serious bodily harm. Anything less than serious was expected to be absorbed and shrugged off it seems.

Even that wasn’t enough. If they passed the subjective (to police) hurdle of proving that they had in fact been hospitalized or otherwise suffered “serious bodily harm” they then had to prove that “the threats are of a nature that the legal possession of a pistol is necessary as a reasonable precaution against the apprehended danger.” It is entirely possible that the police department would simply say, “well, yeah that sucks, but we think a baseball bat is good enough. Application denied.” It gets worse.

“The fact that a person resides in or is employed in a high crime area shall not by itself establish a good reason to fear injury to person or property for the issuance of a concealed carry license.”

Seriously. In 2015, D.C.’s murder rate jumped 54%!! What did Chief Lanier blame on the dramatic increase? Guns. You know, the guns that the average citizen wasn’t allowed to have in the streets.

“A greater percent of those arrested for homicide have prior convictions for felony violent crimes,” Chief Newsham told the paper. “And a lot of times more than one gun was represented at the crime scene. The means either there were two shooters and one victim, or those involved were shooting at each other.”

This is interesting since Chief Lanier had only approved about 50 licenses as of the end of 2015. 50!! And not a single one of them was involved in a single one of those crimes. Eighty percent of applicants were denied their basic right to self defense.

Anyhow, back to the “proper reason” requirement. Plaintiff Grace applied for a license to carry last August because his wife was robbed on a public street and there had been several robberies in his neighborhood. Several of those robberies were performed at gunpoint in his neighborhood. The police had not arrested anyone for those crimes and the perpetrators remained on the loose. However, because Grace had not demonstrated a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community,” his application was denied. Grace stated his “proper reason” was the 2nd Amendment. That should have been enough, but it wasn’t. It was the sole basis for his rejection.

The plaintiffs relied upon the 2nd Amendment to argue that the right to keep and bear arms doesn’t just apply at home. The defendants (DC and Lanier) had to prove it only applied in the home. To anyone with a 6th grade education, it’s obvious that the 2nd amendment doesn’t just apply to the home primarily due to the “bear arms” clause. The court agreed.

The Supreme Court has explained that “[a]t the time of the founding, as now, the ‘bear’ meant to ‘carry.'” One does not typically think of “carrying” as an activity exclusively done within the home…Thus, reading the Second Amendment right to “bear” arms as applying only in the home is forced or awkward at best, and more likely is countertextual.”

As to the arguments by the defendants that one must present evidence that their lives are in jeopardy, the court probably laughed and shook its head while writing “the Supreme Court recognized that when ‘bear’ is used with ‘arms’…the term has a meaning that refers to carrying for a particular purpose – confrontation.”

Surely confrontations do not occur only in the home, and therefore “[t]o confine the right to be armed to the home is to divorce the Second Amendment from the right to self-defense…Indeed, confrontation that might necessitate self-defense are less likely to occur in the home than on the streets of a city with many dangerous neighborhoods…Thus, the textual analysis, when viewed with a touch of common sense and logic, weighs heavily in favor of finding that the right to bear arms reaches beyond one’s doorstep. Finally, I would emphasize that a legitimate need to protect oneself can arise at the drop of a hat. Thus, the right to “carry weapons in case of confrontation necessarily includes a right to carry firearms to protect oneself against unanticipated and suddenly arising threats.

This is what the Bloomberg agenda will never get. When they say “you don’t need a gun to eat at the Olive Garden” or “to shop at Target,” what they’re really saying is that there is some kind of magic ball that will tell me when I do. What about walking to or from Target from my car? Or how about when I finish my soup, salad, and bread sticks and leave the Olive Garden? Am I supposed to know ahead of time that I will need my self-defense firearm? Thankfully, the court isn’t full of ignorant, agenda-driven zealots bent on making victims of as many people as possible. History simply refutes any argument that the Founders limited the right to keep and bear arms to being a “domiciliary right.” The court cited several examples of Colonial and Founding Era doctrines laws and directives that required citizens to carry arms publicly. In Rhode Island, “no man shall go two miles from the Towne unarmed, eyther with Gun or Sword; and that none shall come to any public Meeting without his weapon.” Thomas Jefferson himself made sure his firearm was a “constant companion on [his] walks,” as it is mine. My how our rights have fallen since then!

With all this evidence of historical context, the court had “little trouble concluding that under its original meaning the Second Amendment protects a right to carry arms for self-defense in public.” DC and Lanier contended that they can regulate the public carry of arms because DC is such a populous city with many symbolic landmarks, monuments, and buildings as well as “important” government officials. The court rightly questioned this supposed divide between the rights of urban and rural citizens. The court “reject[ed] these arguments wholesale.” The defendants tried arguing that “the law does not ‘destroy’ any particular person’s right to carry a gun for self-defense because any person could, at some point, face a threat that arises to the level necessary to be issued a license under District’s ‘good reason’ requirement.” The court called these argument “frivolous!” – explanation point and all.

The court also addressed the “more guns equals more crime” mantra frequently spouted to justify bans – or desired bans – on firearms.

But there can be no doubt that at least some of those citizens seek a carrying license for the legitimate purpose of protecting against an unexpected confrontation. The District’s policy thus bans some citizens from exercising their constitutional right to carry firearms outside the home for self-defense, and no amount of proof of the negative effects of exercising a constitutional right can justify a ban. (emphasis mine)

This is a point I’ve been raising frequently in my debates with anti-gun zealots. I’ve decided to stop arguing “statistics” and “evidence” that point to crime, either in my argument’s favor or not. My simple response to such claims is that our rights aren’t dependent upon statistics, nor are they dependent upon those that choose to use guns for illegal purposes. The problem with these arguments is their tunnel-visioned approach to the issue. They point to instances of illegal use of guns to justify their bans or restrictions on them while ignoring that just about everything is prone to illegal use: cars, candlesticks, rope, alcohol, hammers, you name it. The court said it best: “They waste much ink on the irrelevant contention that plaintiffs cannot prove that ‘more guns equals less crime…'” and “the fact that a person can demonstrate a heightened need for self-defense says nothing about whether he or she is more or less likely to misuse a gun.”

Now, we get to my favorite part of the decision. In its defense of their overly oppressive licensing law, the city and police chief incredibly argue that “if no occasion arises where a handgun is needed for self-defense,” the denial of the Second Amendment right to bear arms “cannot cause harm.” In other words, if someone never finds themselves in a situation where they need a gun for self-defense, preventing them from having one doesn’t violate the Constitution. Yes, I was surprised this argument was made as well. However, not as surprised as the court. “What poppycock! Once again, defendants, sadly, miss the point,” said the court. I’ve waited my whole life for the word “poppycock” to be used in a 2nd amendment case! I can die happy now.

The right to self defense is present regardless of whether I ever need to defend myself. Such a silly argument would mean that we should disband our military because there is no specific military threat against our country that the citizenry and law enforcement can’t handle. It’s absurd on its face. The court agreed.

“The Second Amendment protects plaintiffs’ right to bear firearms for self-defense – a right that can infringed upon whether or not plaintiffs are ever actually called upon to use their weapons to defend themselves…The right to bear arms enables one to possess not only the means to defend oneself but also the self-confidence – and psychic comfort – that comes with knowing one could protect oneself if necessary.”

Yet again, the gun grabbers lose. Our rights are not conferred upon us by the 2nd amendment. The 2nd amendment is not a second class right. Our right to self-defense is guaranteed by virtue of our very existence. Humans were not born with powerful paws, sharp teeth, antlers, quills, or other organic body parts for self defense. Throughout our existence, we have used tools to defend our lives, whether they be rocks, sticks, bows and arrows, swords, or, more recently, firearms.

While this case did address the right to bear arms outside the home and the unconstitutional burden of providing “good cause” to get a license, Grace and Pink Pistols refused to challenge the other registration requirements and hurdles that citizens must jump through to get one. The court did NOT rule on the constitutionality of needing a license or carrying in sensitive areas like “government buildings, schools, the National Mall, the area surrounding the White House, public transportation vehicles and stadiums.” I guess we’ll have to leave those challenges for another day.

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The Sentient Handgun

Longtime readers of this blog know that I’ve been talking about gun rights for about 10 years here. The constitution is something I feel extremely passionate about. I am especially protective of the 1st, 2nd and 4th amendments. It’s not that the others are less important, but more that I feel those are more under attack. I think these days gun rights are most endangered of those three. If I were to rank the most endangered of the three, it would be 2nd, 4th, then 1st. Right behind those – but not far – would be the 10th and 9th.

As I began my fight to repeal antiquated and reconstructionist Jim Crow gun law here in Texas, I’ve heard it all. Nothing has angered me more than those who think only cops and our military should be armed as if they are somehow better, safer people than the rest of us. They don’t realize that the entire reason the constitution protects our inalienable right to self defense is exactly because of those two entities. Our founding fathers were highly suspicious of a standing army, as they should be. However, in the 1700s, there weren’t police forces like we have now, which I would argue are the standing armies of our time.

Before I go further, I’m not anti-cop. I think it’s a great institution with a lot of people who truly want to make society better. There are also those that don their uniform because they crave the power, the respect, the authority, and the “rights” they think they have that others shouldn’t. There was a time not even three years ago where I would give cops the benefit of the doubt in every situation. When I’d see videos of people being beaten, handcuffed, or assaulted I was sure that those people did something to deserve it. That is, until it happened to me.

After I was assaulted and falsely arrested, my eyes were opened. I began paying more attention and noticed that these weren’t isolated cases of police misconduct. This is a systemic issue in America. In the same year I was arrested, the same department broke the collar bone of a 15-year old kid for spitting on the ground and tased a man for refusing to stop while he was trying to get to the hospital to see his dying brother even though at one point he jumped out of his truck and the told the chasing officer exactly what he was doing. Instead of escorting the guy to the hospital, he called in backup and when the guy got the emergency room, tased him for more than 9 seconds as he got out of his truck. His brother died while he sat in jail.

I don’t think it’s disrespectful or even anti-cop to highlight and criticize those bad cops for what they’ve done. I think that the unwillingness to do so is what enables them. Our courts enable them by virtually giving them limitless power to do whatever they want under the umbrella of “qualified immunity.” Our government bodies enable them by exempting them from the laws that us plebes must obey. And the citizens enable them by apologizing for their behavior and dismissing it as “a few bad apples.”

The main point I wanted to talk about in this post is a recent incident here in Texas wherein a University of Texas Police Officer shot himself in the leg.

University of Texas Police officer, Cory Morrison, was injured Tuesday morning when a weapon accidentally fired while in his holster. The bullet went into and out of his right leg according to UTPD Chief David Carter. The accident happened in the parking lot of UTPD headquarters at 7:30 a.m. when Carter said Morrison was talking to two colleagues. Morrison was standing outside a patrol car while talking to the two men inside when the gun went off.

See, if this happened to you or me, we’d be arrested for endangerment and have to prove in court and plea out to a prosecutor that it was “an accident” in spite of the fact that there is no such thing as an “accidental discharge.” Instead, police officers get paid administrative leave. They are called negligent discharges because a gun doesn’t shoot itself. If someone is safely handling their weapon it will NEVER “go off” or “accidentally fire,” especially one that is “in his holster.” There’s more to why I wanted to specifically mention this incident. I guarantee you that the officer was “playing” with this gun when it went off. I’ve witnessed many times where officers standing around have their hands on their guns unseating it a few inches and reseating it repeatedly. They play this “in and out” game nonchalantly perhaps not even realizing it. This is most likely what happened to the UTPD officer. There is no reason to so much as touch a gun unless you’re about to use it.

During the committee hearing on open and campus carry, the Austin police chief (where the University of Texas is located), the UT police chief, and the UT Medical police chief all testified against campus carry. They were concerned about “accidents” and “friendly fire” incidents. They were clear that they had officers on campus that could respond to incidents and were trained with firearms.

Now, here we have a situation where those officers who will respond to incidents and are “trained” with firearms are shooting themselves in parking lots on campus. What this proves is that law enforcement officers aren’t omnipotent. They are no better than you and me. They are people just like you and me are. They are not infallible. Police officers have shot themselves or others again and again and again and again and again and again and again and…you get the point.

I’m not so stupid as to think that there will never be a negligent discharge somewhere on a college campus as some point in the future. The odds that it will happen eventually are high. We’ve seen it on occasion with teachers allowed to carry guns (or not). In the future, however, the student or teacher won’t be given the benefit of the doubt. Upon the first incident occurring, there will be a steady drumbeat of “I told you so’s” and attempts to repeal laws allowing campus carry. This is in complete contradiction to what is occurring right now with this UT incident in which people are basically just shrugging their shoulders and “investigating” it. The officer may or may not be reprimanded or even fired. Regardless of what happens to him, you can bet that there aren’t calls to disarm law enforcement.

When Chief Acevedo testified, he remarked about how it took three minutes to arrive on the scene of an active shooter with an AK47. THREE MINUTES! The UT chief testified that they can respond to incidents at the school within five minutes. At Fort Hood, it took military police seven minutes to respond to the last active shooter and even longer for Nidal Hasan.

There is a double standard that needs to be addressed about incidents involving the use of guns (notice I didn’t say “incidents involving guns”). We must return to a time when Americans were free to defend themselves wherever they went. A holstered gun is not a threat to anyone, whether your a police officer or a 21 year old adult. Guns don’t fire themselves without interaction from its owner.

TaskForceDuke

Army Lightens Up For Once

TaskForceDukeOne of the dumbest policies (outside of not being able to carry an umbrella when it’s raining) the Army has clung to is finally being discarded. Effective immediately, troops will be able to wear headphones while working out in uniform at gyms and fitness centers. However, just because the Army has come to its senses, don’t expect every Soldier to actually enjoy the benefits of that decision.

“Effective immediately, unless the unit or installation commander prohibits otherwise, soldiers may use headphones, including wireless or non-wireless devices and earpieces, in uniform only while performing individual physical training in indoor gyms or fitness centers,” according to the directive signed by Acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy. (emphasis mine)

If base commanders don’t want to look like power hungry authoritarians they will not create rules prohibiting headphones at these places. There is not much more inspiring and motivating that listening to good music while working out. Go just about anywhere from your neighbor’s garage gym to Olympic athlete training facilities and you’ll see people listening to music while working out.

There are entire music albums created to instigate better workouts. Nearly every gaming platform has some sort of workout program, whether it be Wii Fit or Just Dance. My kids are addicted to the Just Dance series and probably get more exercise on that than anywhere else.

Next, the Army should also allow troops on closed roads and tracks to wear them during a PT test. Watch scores skyrocket!

cptsmith

Post Constitutional America

Increasingly, our federal government has grown bloated and out of control. It has used it’s supposed “interstate commerce” authority to enslave the states by taxing them into oblivion and then bribing with that money to do its will. For the past few decades, presidents and congresses have usurped power from the people and the states, trampling on our protected 9th and 10th amendment rights, among others.

We now face a president who, more than anyone else, has single handedly destroyed the country he vowed to destroy before taking office. To fundamentally transform America, he has driven us into virtual bankruptcy, destroyed the health care system, nullified the rights protected by our Constitution, decimated our military, and made us the cowardly laughing stock of the world.

When I was active duty, I actively opposed these policies and paid for it. In 2009, after Obama was elected, I told his public affairs staff to their face in the Roosevelt Room of the White House that Obama was untrustworthy when it came to our veterans and troops. Not even three months into his presidency, Obama was pushing an idea to force veterans to pay for their health care. Not even a month later his Department of Homeland Security released a report warning that military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat skills could be recruitment targets, especially those having trouble finding jobs or fitting back into civilian society. He has signed dozens of executive orders infringing on the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms by declaring veterans who need help managing their finances as “mental[ly] defective.” The United States Justice Foundation reported that “a coordinated effort by multiple federal agencies to disarm the American people. The tactics being used are not just violating the Constitutional rights of Americans, but include outright criminal acts such as extortion and blackmail. Veterans continue to be the primary target, but the groundwork has been laid to expand the disarmament efforts to the rest of the population.

“The veterans are clearly considered the most dangerous of the gun owners in the country because there are 23 million of us and we all took an oath of office to ‘protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’ We are trained to do just that so we pose a threat to those who want to take away our Constitutional republic,” the Foundation continued.”

It’s not just the 2nd amendment protected rights of troops that are under threat. This administration has also assaulted the 1st and 4th amendment rights of our troops. This blog was virtually shut down by the Army because they forced me to submit every post I wrote for approval prior to publishing anything. The posts had to go through the public affairs officer, legal and my chain of command. I was told which posts were “approved” and which I was forbidden. For example, I posted a picture taken by the DOD of Afghan troops searching the homes of citizens and merely posed one question in relation to the photo: “Are we also teaching the Afghan military to respect the people’s right to be free of illegal search and seizure.” This wasn’t approved because it “questioned a military operation.”

Prior to retiring, then commanding general of III Corps, Major General Anthony Ieriardi signed a general order requiring troops to present ID to any officer that demands to see even if they have committed no crime. I personally filed both an IG complaint and a congressional when the IG came back rubber stamping the CG’s authority. The policy was removed shortly after. It was drafted after I and several other Soldiers exercising our right to keep and bear arms while off duty and out of uniform refused to present identification to law enforcement for doing nothing illegal. As a result of filing these complaints and daring to challenge the authority of unconstitutional actions by the very leaders tasked with protecting and defending our rights, the CG refused to sign my retirement award.

cptsmithThankfully, I’m not alone in standing up to the unconstitutional actions of our nation’s leaders. Army captain Nathan Michael Smith has filed a lawsuit in federal court against President Obama over the legality of his powers to execute the war against isis in Iraq and Syria. There’s no telling whether the lawsuit will result in a return to constitutional principles since the courts have basically given the executive branch absolute power to do whatever it wants. Additionally, the legislative branch continues to legislate away its constitutional powers to keep the executive in check.

CPT Smith is 100% right. Whether you agree with the war against ISIS or not, the fact is that Congress has not passed a declaration or authorization of war in Syria or Iraq. If the only standard is “terrorism” then what’s to stop the president from waging war here in America when/if terrorists take root? Of course, that’s ignoring the fact that this president already considers freedom-loving Americans to be terrorists. Despicable and corrupt leftist senator Harry Reid even went so far as to call patriots in Nevada “domestic terrorists” for daring to interfere with his crony land deals. Thankfully, the Bundys are now suing Reid and Obama (side note: I had the honor of meeting one of Clive Bundy’s daughter, Shiree, this weekend).

The people are standing up, whether they be ranchers or troops. We are tired of the tyranny and authoritarian attitudes of our elected officials. They have forgotten who rules who in this country. If the courts fail us and the ballot box fails, that only leaves one other alternative.

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West Point Fist Controversy

Well, it looks like controversy has come to West Point yet again. The college that hasn’t beaten Navy in a football game in 14 years is investigating a group of cadets about to graduate because of this photo uploaded to social media.

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Critics of the photograph claim that the photo paid homage to the Black Lives Matter racist movement that is responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in damage to property and calling for the deaths of police officers and white people. The image shows a group of women with their fists raised in a manner that hearkens back to the days of Malcomb X and the Black Panthers.

Initially, I wasn’t buying the Black Lives Matter connection, but when I saw the spin being put out there I changed my tune. It because painfully obvious that it was a Black Lives Matter tip of the hat when they claimed this:

“These ladies weren’t raising their fist to say Black Panthers. They were raising it to say Beyoncé,” said Mary Tobin, a 2003 graduate of West Point and an Iraq veteran who is a mentor to some of the seniors and has talked with them about the photograph.

“For them it’s not a sign of allegiance to a movement, it’s a sign that means unity and pride and sisterhood. That fist to them meant you and your sisters did what only a few people, male or female, have ever done in this country.”

That’s gotta be the dumbest excuse for a controversy I’ve heard. BEYONCÈ?! Really? I call BS.

The military has long done everything possible to squash political activism in its ranks. My last few years in the military was spent fighting Army leadership over my 1st Amendment rights and other activism. First, I was fighting the Army over my right to petition government for redresses when I was going up against the Huntsville School District uniform policy. Most recently, it was my efforts to defend 2nd and 4th Amendment rights in Texas. The commanding general even put out a memo that in effect told troops that they must surrender identification “any time” a cop asks for it, even if there was no suspicion of a crime being committed. I filed a congressional complaint against the CG, which resulted in him refusing to sign my retirement award.

The problem here isn’t the sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter…er, Beyoncè. The problem was that it was done in uniform. Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 is very clear that members of the military “express a personal opinion on political…issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces.” It says that troops may participate in political activities, including protests, as long as “the member is not in uniform and does not otherwise act in a manner that could reasonably give rise to the inference or appearance of official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement.”

So, really, this is where the real rub is. I don’t care if our troops support Black Lives Matter, the KKK, the NRA or Moms Demand Action as long as they don’t violate the rights of others, but doing so in uniform is a definite no-go. No one should be punished raising their fists for Beyoncè who raised her fist in support of Black Lives Matter. They should be punished for doing so in uniform.

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IS AN NRA ENDORSEMENT WORTH THE BYTES USED TO SHARE IT?

nra_endorsementIt’s campaign season, as if you needed to know that. Politicians on the left and right are clamoring for endorsements from their respective philosophical leanings. Liberals desperately seek out acceptance from MoveOn.org, Black Lives Matter, gun control groups and baby killers, among others. Conservatives search far and wide for the nod from ALEC, National Right to Life, Tea Party Patriots (and really all tea party groups), and the NRA, among others. But, does an NRA endorsement really mean anything?

Here in Texas, not a single non-incumbent candidate has received an NRA endorsement. Instead, the NRA is endorsing very moderate Republicans who aren’t that friendly to gun rights at over more ardent and liberty-minded candidates.

Case in point: House District 73 candidate Kyle Biedermann is by far a better candidate on gun rights. He believes in repealing all gun control laws, instituting constitutional carry, and insulating Texans from federal gun-related overreach. Doug Miller, the incumbent, not only refused to sign on to HB 195 – the constitutional carry bill filed by uber-conservative Jonathan Stickland – but he opposed a measure that would have protected law abiding gun owners from law enforcement harassment. Of course, the NRA also did nothing to pass constitutional carry and also opposed 4th amendment protections for gun owners, so I guess that’s to be expected. Other examples are the district 128 race (where moderate incumbent Wayne Smith was chosen over another liberty minded, pro-gun conservative, Briscoe Cain) and Senate District 24, where the NRA chose an incumbent who has more in common with liberal Democrats than Republicans and who also refused to endorse constitutional carry and opposed the Rinaldi/Huffines gun owner protection amendment. Dawn Buckingham, King’s opponent, has made very clear that not only does she support constitutional carry, but she will sign on as a co-author or co-sponsor. King has refused to respond to that question.

In 2012, the NRA endorsed incumbent Ralph Sheffield who lost to Molly White. Sheffield was an extremely moderate Republican who also refused to endorse unlicensed carry because “it would cost the state too much revenue to remove the mandatory license.” Molly White ended up being one of the top conservatives in the House and was one of the few candidates to sign on to constitutional carry.

In state after state, we see the NRA choosing establishment Republicans who will sign nearly any pro-gun bill that comes across their desk, but won’t put their name on the line to endorse tough legislation that goes further in recognizing our rights than the incremental steps legislators like to take to stay relevant and keep NRA funds flooding in for years to come. After all, if constitutional carry were the order of the day in all states, what fight would legislators have that required PAC money?

Before anyone accuses me of being an NRA hater, I’m an Endowment Life and Golden Eagles member of the NRA. I’ve given the organization thousands of dollars in donations over the years. However, because of their actions in Texas the past few years, I will no longer send them another dime.

So, when incumbent candidates tell you they are A+ rated or endorsed by the NRA over their primary opponents, ask yourself how much that endorsement is actually worth considering their history. Only in extremely rare circumstances do they select the opponent of an incumbent, even when they have an Aq rating.

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HONORING YOUR OATH

(Note: Because this is a blog read across the country and world, I won’t typically talk about such local issues as this one here, except from time to time.)

When I joined the Army over 20 years ago, I was required to take the following oath:

“I, CJ Grisham, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

When I took that oath, it meant something to me. It wasn’t a rite of passage, it was a lifelong commitment to the protecting the principles of liberty upon which this country was founded. I take a very originalist position on the Constitution and I don’t have no deviation. I spent over 20 years upholding that oath in the Army, but my oath didn’t end when I retired and took off my nation’s uniform. It’s an oath I will defend with my life.

When I was running for State Senate in Texas, I was doing so because the previous state senator (Troy Fraser) wasn’t upholding the oath he took to serve and protect our liberties. Last year, he refused to sign onto pro-liberty legislation as a co-sponsor or co-author. I got the standard political double speak of “if it comes to a vote, I’ll vote it.” That’s a cop-out for plausible deniability. They can claim to support gun rights by saying they’ll vote for the bill on the floor, then proclaim how sorry they were they never got to vote for it because it was never brought up for a vote. This is the same game that Governor Abbott played. He refused to sign on to this legislation so I vowed to run against him. However, he decided to retire, so I ran as I said I would. During the campaign, I realized that there were other candidates that believed the same way I did, so I dropped out to support them.

Right now in Texas, we have a choice to make in the race for State Senate to fill this important seat. I’m frankly fed up with politicians who say they are one thing and do quite another. Case in point is State Representative Susan King who also threw her hat into the ring. Susan King has a paltry record of supporting pro-liberty, small government, life protecting, and sovereignty asserting legislation. She has a failing grade from nearly every conservative organization in Texas. Yet, she’s running as the best thing for liberty since Thomas Paine.

She refused to even co-author or co-sponsor a bill to recognize the inalienable rights if Texans to keep and bear arms without a permission. She did so at the direction of Straus as he pressured many lawmakers. King thinks that law abiding citizens should be tracked by the government and taxed on their liberties. She also views a handgun license as a revenue generation tool for the state. Finally, she didn’t support the Rinaldo/Huffines amendment to protect gun owners from harassment by law enforcement when it went to a conference committee.

One of the things that Susan King loves to tout is her chairmanship on the House Defense and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Like her liberal colleague, Jimmy Don Aycock, she only got the position because a military base in her district. As she campaigns, she has tried to use her position on this committee as some sort of bona fides for supporting her, as if it means she did anything for veterans in the ONE session she was on the committee. But, listening to her, you’d think she was hand selected for her philanthropic achievements for veterans.

Let’s look at her voting record and where she stands on liberty by the numbers just on bills she co-authored.

  • HB 2 – she voted YES on a Bill that allows for abortion up to 20 weeks.
  • HB 80 – this bill makes it a crime to use your cell phone or any “portable wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.” Naturally, law enforcement is exempt because they are better than everyone else and for some reason are more capable of using them than the rest of the proletariat.
  • HB 2171 – this bill allows the government to collect personal immunization records of individuals until they are 26 unless they read every big government bill that gets passed and knows they need to rescind permission to maintain records on their immunizations in writing. The bill raised the age these records are maintained from 18 to 26. More nanny state legislation.
  • HB 2813 – this bill issued more mandates for insurance companies in Texas to provide additional coverage. In other words, bringing more Obamacare-style health care mandates to Texas and jacking up costs.

The fact is that Susan King never authored a single bill that would have furthered liberty in Texas. While other conservatives were filing bills to cut off funding and resources to NSA spy operations within our borders, bring Texas gold back to Texas, prevent Texas resources from being used to enforce unconstitutional federal edicts, and cut off funds to illegals among other things, King was busy working to grow Obamacare, increase spending, and collude with Democrats. She refused to sign on to constitutional carry legislation (if you can legally own and purchase a firearm, you can legally carry that firearm without a government permission slip.

Recently, the number one ranked, liberty-minded representative in the Texas House, Jonathan Stickland, wisely endorsed King’s opponent, Dr. Dawn Buckingham.

“I have served with Susan King in the Texas House for two sessions. That is why it is an easy decision to support her opponent Dr. Dawn Buckingham,” stated Rep. Stickland.

“I hope Texans in [Texas Senate District] 24 are not fooled by Rep. King’s campaign rhetoric. They should be aware of her record of voting to expand Obamacare in Texas and being weak on border security. More often than acceptable she chose to side with Democrats instead of conservatives in the Texas House, I have no doubt she would do the same in the Senate if elected. Dr. Buckingham has proven that she is a conservative fighter who won’t enter the Senate chambers with strings attached and favors to pay back unlike her opponent. I urge everyone to vote for Dr. Buckingham in the runoff election on May 24th.”

IMG_4773Susan King is known for her repetitious wardrobe of red coats and skirts wherever she goes. However, when Abortion Barbie Wendy Davis was on the Senate Floor trying to filibuster legislation that would make killing unborn children after 20 weeks of gestation, King was there wearing ORANGE instead of red. Why? Because the color orange was the color worn by the pro-abortion supporters during their protests of the 2013 legislative sessions. Here’s the proof.

Some have said that she was just there to see what was going on and that it was coincidence that she was wearing orange. Others have said that it wasn’t really orange, just bad coloring. Yet, no one can deny she is being flanked by Democrats also wearing orange. And in case a picture doesn’t speak 1000 words, here are Susan King’s OWN words about the filibuster.

“I can’t separate the fact that I’m a nurse and have been,” King said. “I can’t separate the fact that I’m a mother and a grandmother. These are all very personal issues to a woman.”

“Women have a constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion within certain pentameters,” King said.

Susan King is no Texas conservative. It’s questionable whether she’s even a Texan in my mind. Dr. Buckingham will honor that oath to defend liberty and life in the Texas Senate!

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The Tyranny of Facebook

I’ve been a longtime user of Facebook. I’ve plugged my nose and put up with the silly policies and political nonsense from its founders and its push to destroy family and Christian values for a long time. So far this year, I’ve literally been blocked for Facebook 50% of the time. I’m now on my second 30-day suspension after several two-week “administrative leave vacations” and even more day or week long bans. It’s gotten really out of hand.

Anyone that has read this blog for any length of time knows that I’m not one who pulls many punches. I wear my beliefs on my sleeve and I’m not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. I’m also not afraid to offend people because being offended is how you get stronger. We now live in a society where the “suck it up” mentality is no longer about dealing with it and more about…well, literally sucking it up. We are forced to accept unnatural and disgusting lifestyles as natural and celebratory.

Let me make something clear before I continue, because this is an important point that needs to be put out there. I don’t care who you love. I don’t care who you lie down with naked. That’s none of my business. The government has ZERO role in dictating who can and cannot get married to whom. I don’t care if you marry your sister, father, cousin or roommate in basic training. However, do NOT expect me to accept or celebrate your depravity.

I first began fighting this mentality in the 90s when Clinton was removing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy from the military. At the time, I was hosting a popular radio show on Fort Irwin’s KNTC where we talked about the news of the day, played music and performed comedy skits. But, when I started talking about the DADT policy, I was immediately told I couldn’t talk about “gay” people. So, I didn’t. I talked about “shiny, happy people” to get my point across. I perfected the art of innuendo to discuss what was a hot topic of the day, but I never backed down.

When I became a platoon sergeant, I had to fight the Army’s “equal opportunity” system because when I took over my platoon one of the admin Soldiers was not being forced to go to the field with the rest of us because she was a single mother. I ended that on day one and made her go to the field like everyone else. There’s a reason we have “family care plans” in the Army. They are designed for these purposes. However, treating her like every other Soldier I had resulted me in being accused of being a sexist and singling her out for being a single mother in spite of the fact that I made EVERYONE, single or not, go to the field. I had to deal with “investigations” that all came to the same conclusion: I was no sexist or racist or whatever. Not one Soldier ever said I treated him/her better or worse than the rest (except that one).

So now, we live in a time where the order of the day consists of “safe spaces,” “trigger words,” and other nonsense. Which brings me to my current predicament: being banned (again) on Facebook.

Most of the time, I have no idea why I’m being blocked because most of the time they don’t tell you. When you go to log into Facebook, you generally get a message that “something you posted” violated Facebook’s community “standards” without ever actually telling you what you posted. There were a few times I was made aware, like when I posted this graphic to criticize a liberal anti-gun nutjob who was going around trying to make veterans with PTSD appear unhinged and volatile. With the passage of Texas’ recent open carry law, he stole the design of an Open Carry Texas “No Guns No Money” card and reworded it to suit his Democrat, liberal, anti-gun agenda. The card stated that if a business didn’t ban open carry, seeing a gun would trigger his PTSD and he wouldn’t spend money there. Dysfunctional Veteran Art Leal was behind the stupidity and I called him out on it. Instead of simply “sucking it up” and driving on, he reported my graphic for “violating” community standards AND FACEBOOK ACTUALLY REMOVED IT!! I immediately reposted it and Facebook not only removed the image after disgraced veteran Leal again complained, but they blocked me from posting ANYTHING for two weeks. Here’s the graphic I created, which is in used in compliance with the Fair Use Act, 17 U.S. Code:

Spokesman for Dysfunctional Veterans Art Leal.

Spokesman for Dysfunctional Veterans Art Leal.

So, what was I blocked for this time? For asking a question:

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It’s okay for the mentally ill cross-dressers and their liberal (and even “libertarian”) enablers to attack others and attack their religion, beliefs, political philosophies, etc., but when it comes time for them to get it back, they run with their yellow tails tucked between their legs whining to Daddy Facebucks. They can’t stomach any opinion other than theirs and since they can’t challenge their opponents to an intelligent and intellectual debate, they simply seek to shut their critics up however they can.

As Fox’s “The Five” host, Greg Gutfield, so eloquently put it, these people are “so brainwashed [they] claim blocking speech is actually a version of free-speech. It’s not a bug in the system, it’s now the system — the result of the left’s long free reign over campus brain matter,” Gutfeld added. Even liberal kabillionaire Michael Bloomberg is railing against the lack of spine or skin by the entitlement generation and their enablers of my generation.

Well, I’m done with it. Once my 30-day suspension is over, I’ll be downloading my Facebook profile and shutting down my account there. I will come back and do my writing on my own blog where liberals can whine, moan and complain all they want and no one will hear them. I’ve kind of missed writing here anyway, so it’ll be good to reactivate this page. Facebook has every right to run their business however they see fit. I just won’t have any part of it.

I’ll be talking about the same things I always have: military and veterans issues, PTSD, public policy, gun rights, foreign affairs, and whatever else comes to mind.

It’s good to be back.

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The Complete Book of US Presidents (A Review & Contest)

Cover ImageDo you know which presidents never attended college? Do you know which president gave the longest state of union address and was also the president for only a month before his death? Do you know which was the first president to be awarded the Medal of Honor or which one saved a fellow sailor’s life by pulling him to safety while swimming with the man’s life jacket strap clinched in his teeth?

George WashingtonThese are just some of the great little tidbits that author Bill Yenne brings to life in the new Zenith Press book, “The Complete Book of Presidents.” Unlike many books who only select a few presidents or who only provide limited, boring stats and information, Yenne does a great job of summarizing the lives of each of our 44 presidents, from George Washington and his bravery as a battlefield commander to Barack Obama and his bravery as a, well, community organizer. Don’t worry, the book is very apolitical and doesn’t seem to take a side towards one particular ideology. It’s very well written and sticks to facts, not political rhetoric and historical revisionism.

Each profile contains a brief biographical essay about the candidate. However, Yenne goes even deeper. Included with each president is also a short biography of the First Ladies along with illustrated sidebars about each president’s vice president(s).
Ronald Reagan
Theodore RooseveltThe Complete Book of US President is a great addition to the library of any history buff and makes a perfect coffee table book or discussion piece. It’s easy to read and engaging, unlike many of these types of books that tend to be dry and monotonous. In today’s heated political climate, it’s easy to assume that the rancor and divisiveness is a new invention of an every increasing chasm between political parties and ideas. As you’ll quickly find, not much has really changed since Federalist Party candidate John Adams narrowly defeated Democratic-Republican Party candidate Thomas Jefferson in a very contentious campaign. Only the names have changed.

Pick up a copy pretty much everywhere books are sold. Or, you can win your own copy by leaving a comment on this post about which president you look up to the most and why. A commenter will be chosen at random to win their own copy of this amazing book! So, let’s hear it. Who was your favorite President and why?

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Senior NCO punches PTSD in the face

After firing off a medley of artillery rounds, a 19-year-old kid from Brooklyn, New York set off with his convoy traversing the very area they had just fired on.

160208-A-FJ427-075“People don’t understand that maybe we didn’t shoot a lot of people in close combat with rifles, but to see the destruction of artillery and what it does to people and to equipment, to see people, hundreds of people dead, and driving by two or three days afterward, it’s something that sticks with you for a long time,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Edgar Fuentes, the command sergeant major of the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.

It was during the Gulf War that Fuentes was first introduced to the realities of post-traumatic stress disorder, but it would be decades before he felt comfortable seeking help and finding an effective outlet for the barrage of intense thoughts and emotions.

But in the beginning, it was a different Army then.

“You’re weak if you talk about it,” Fuentes said. “In 1990, you didn’t talk about how you’re not able to sleep or you’re waking up in the middle of the night. There was no talking about going to get help. It was not like it is today, user-friendly and encouraging.”

Between then and now, the Army culture has adopted a much keener eye, compassionate heart and helping hand for identifying and treating Soldiers with PTSD and other mental health issues.

As part of his therapy, Fuentes and his therapist set out to find his “happy place.”

160208-A-FJ427-162“We started digging into things that put me in my happy place,” he said. “We were trying to figure out where can we find the Fuentes that was before, because I was a happy, motivated guy, but that was going away, so what was it I used to do that maintained me like that? What is a thing that I did in the past that could help me to deal with the PTSD without me knowing it?”

It turned out his “happy place” was in the boxing ring.

“I started going to the gym and training Soldiers,” said the 28-year Army veteran. “My lunch was going out of here, going to the gym, practicing fighting, teaching Soldiers who had upcoming fights, and then at nighttime Saturday and Sunday I did it. And I was able to cope with all the stress and depression and anxiety that I had, so it was working, and I said, ‘This is it.’ My doctor said, ‘This is you. This is you.’ Of course, I still go to counseling. That’s not the remedy of all, but it helped me tremendously.”

Although, the Army had put services and resources for coping with PTSD in place much earlier than Fuentes actually took advantage of them, he had a lingering fear of the stigma that is often associated with mental health concerns.

“Every time I came back from deployment, we did the reverse [Soldier Readiness Processing], and they asked have you had an issue, do you want to see someone,” Fuentes said. “Of course, it’s no, because you don’t want that – the stigma, you know. I’m a sergeant first class. I want to make E-8. The stigma was if you have a mental health issue, I don’t think, the Army was prepared to work with you, so they just set you aside. I knew if I was put in that equation, I would never get promoted. I knew this for a fact.”

In addition to the stigma, maintaining a security clearance was also a concern for those struggling with PTSD, but in 2008 the wording of Question #21 on the SF86 was changed to “Mental health counseling in and of itself is not a reason to revoke or deny a clearance.”

The mental health climate was becoming more favorable, but Fuentes was still struggling with the idea of getting help.

“I was concerned how people were going to look at me as a first sergeant or a platoon sergeant,” he said. “When the conversation started about encouraging Soldiers to seek help, there was still a stigma. Because I’ve been in those meetings where people say, ‘He’s broke.’ I’ve been in those meetings. Every time I hear somebody say, ‘He’s broke,’ I have to calm down, because I want to say so many things. I was concerned about losing my military bearing, because they were talking about me.”

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It wasn’t until he began to see the effect his PTSD was having on his family that he decided to see a doctor.

“It got to a point in my life where I knew that my family was suffering based on my PTSD,” he said. “I’m sad to say my relationship with my wife and kids was not what it should be. I felt comfortable among my people, so I stayed longer at work, not needing to be there. It’s just, it was easier for me to stay here with the people that I had here instead of going home.”

Fuentes said he was always supportive of Soldiers who came to him expressing difficulties coping with PTSD, but did not seek help himself.

Along with seeing his counselor regularly, coaching the Soldiers at Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center on Wednesdays at lunchtime and on the weekends, gives him back the happy, motivated guy he was before all the gruesome images of war and multiple deployments.

“The adrenaline you get from learning and teaching somebody to do something and seeing them develop through their training,” Fuentes said, “and when it comes down to fighting, and we’re actually in the cage or in the ring about to perform and all of that hard work you did for eight weeks of training, and you see it works, and we get a win. It’s satisfying. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”

He regularly expresses his gratitude to the Soldiers he trains.

“I always tell them, you guys help me more than I can ever help you guys,” he said. “So I give them the skills of fighting and give them what I know about fighting, but they don’t have an idea of the things that this does for me.”

And the feeling is mutual among the fighters.

“He comes in and coaches a lot of us in boxing,” said Sgt. 1st Class Colton Smith, combatives noncommissioned officer in charge at the Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center. “He’s helped me quite a bit. Being a command sergeant major coming in here and helping out Soldiers no matter their rank, he comes in and he wants to help Soldiers, and he’s talked about it multiple times how this helps him combat his demons.”

“Seeing a senior noncommissioned officer that’s done stellar things in his career, hearing him talk about his journey, his testimony, I think it shows young Soldiers not to be afraid to let it be known that you’re having these issues, and okay combatives and boxing is the way he deals with it,” Smith said. “You need to find you’re outlet. Maybe combatives isn’t it, so you’ll find your outlet, because you know there’s an outlet just right for you.”

By Staff Sgt. Leah Kilpatrick

Study Shows Role For Alpha-Stim Technology In Treating PTSD

I graduated from the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program in 2013 and can testify that this is a proven technique. It’s a little weird at first, but within moments, you are calm and relaxed. This is a press release from the company that makes them and I wanted to share. In fact, I should probably be using it a bit more frequently these days.

as-product-m11Electromedical Products International, Inc. (EPI), a manufacturer and developer of devices that utilize electric waveforms for therapeutic purposes, announces the publication of a report, “Effects of Integrative PTSD Treatment in a Military Health Setting”, which outlines the effectiveness of the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program (Reset) in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among active-duty military personnel.

The Reset Program, an innovative intensive outpatient behavioral health program conducted using cranial electrical stimulation (CES) with EPI’s Alpha-Stim® technology, trauma-focused behavioral health techniques and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, as well as anxiety, depression and pain, in a cohort of 764 active service members treated at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas. Using a verified PTSD scoring system, the Reset Program yielded an average 10-point improvement in PTSD scores from pre- to post-treatment over the 5 years of the program, with improvement as high as 14 points in the last years.

“This report shows the value of including complementary and alternative treatment approaches, including CES, in a vulnerable and at-risk population of patients. The Reset Program used CES to address the neuropsychological precursor of PTSD symptom clusters as well as the resulting symptoms of PTSD-induced stresses, providing further demonstration of the broad applications for electromedicine,” said Jerry Wesch, PhD, former Director of the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program, Fort Hood, Texas, and one of the authors of the report. “Soldiers with PTSD are complex. Most have Chronic Pain Syndrome, at least 80% have headaches and about 40% have concussion histories. CES is significantly useful in all three, plus depression and anxiety. CES (Alpha Stim) should be standard first-line care in this population.”

The program evaluation report, which was published in the November issue of Energy Psychology, highlights that as many as 28% of American soldiers develop PTSD as a result of combat stress. Traditional approaches to managing PTSD have focused on cognitive-behavior and exposure theory. However, researchers have begun to focus on more holistic intervention programs that also incorporate CAM and mind-body treatments. In the Reset Program, CES with EPI’s Alpha-Stim® technology was used to both attenuate hyperarousal—a state of psychological tension known to potentiate PTSD symptom clusters—and to reduce intrusive symptoms, such as sleep disturbance, pain, headaches, avoidance and residual post-concussion symptoms.

The Reset Program combined conventional allopathic and alternative/complementary techniques in a stepwise intervention among a large group of group of soldiers diagnosed with moderate to severe combat PTSD:

  • Phase 1 involved strategies intended to reduce hyperarousal through use of CAM, CES and active self-regulation strategies, including breathing exercises, muscle relaxation and mindfulness.
  • In Phase 2 patients continued with CES while adding neurofeedback training, acupuncture, massage, yoga, tai chi and Reiki practice to reduce symptoms such as sleep disturbances, pain and headaches. In addition, trauma memories were directly targeted for interventions via 1:1 therapies and group procedures.
  • In the third and final Phase, patients received help in identifying triggers of traumatic stress and were trained to help them manage such instances. Trauma-focused group and individual psychotherapy continued through all Phases.

The researchers demonstrated year-over-year improvements in symptom scores with high patient satisfaction and extremely low dropout rates. Using various verified scoring algorithms, the researchers noted statistically and clinically significant improvements in measurements of PTSD symptoms (up to -14 pre- to post-treatment), depression (mean difference -9.0 pre- to post-treatment), anxiety (mean difference -6.3 pre- to post-treatment, pain (mean difference -2.4 pre- to post-treatment) and resilience (mean difference +6.8 pre- to post-treatment).

According to the report, “The Reset Program appears to have been very successful in meeting its stated goals and objectives.” The researchers noted it was difficult to identify the contributions of the individual techniques to the improvements noted, but concluded the outcomes were likely due to the holistic synergy of the program. The authors recommended ongoing studies to understand each element of the treatment protocol and its influence on addressing PTSD and its symptoms.

“The results of the Reset Program were both statistically and clinically significant, but we think the patient population provides an additional level of impact of these data,” said Tracey B. Kirsch, President, Electromedical Products International, Inc. “The care of our veterans should constitute a high priority for our healthcare system, and we are most proud of EPI’s ability to contribute to this important research.”

About Alpha-Stim

Alpha-Stim is a clinically proven intervention that uses a proprietary electrical waveform pattern to modulate cell signaling in the central nervous system (CNS). Studies show that electrochemical signaling in the CNS has a significant impact on pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia, among other disorders. The Alpha-Stim has been validated in over 95 independent, controlled research studies since it was first introduced in 1981, and has proven to be a safe, efficacious and cost-effective intervention for a variety of disorders originating in the CNS.

ChiefMcManusCJ

An Open Letter to Texas LEOs

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I wanted to write this on my personal blog because I didn’t want anyone to get the idea that Open Carry Texas is giving legal advice. No one should assume that I am giving legal advice because I’m not. This is an open letter to Texas law enforcement that believe they have the authority to stop Texans solely based on open carry. Some point to the fact that since the Dutton/Rinaldi/Huffines amendments weren’t added to HB 910 (the Texas Open Carry Law) it means they have the green light to stop us without probable cause (PC) or reasonable suspicion (RS). I will begin by saying that there are two legal arguments out there by attorneys arguing different interpretations of the law. Some I agree with and some I don’t based on my personal research into this issue. When I point out what the legislature actually said in passing the bill, they say, “see! Constitutional Carry didn’t pass!”

They are absolutely, 100% wrong. Constitutional Carry never even got a hearing in committee. The constitutional carry amendment was deemed “not relevant” to the bill. I was there. I saw it with my own two eyes and heard it with my own two ears. They were talking about the Dutton/Rinaldi/Huffines amendments that would have CLARIFIED and CODIFIED what is already existing law and case law: that law enforcement can’t demand to see ID based solely on the act of open carry absent any criminal conduct. So, let’s dig into the history of this issue and then try to figure out why Texas LEOs seem to be more afraid of open carry, that other states have had no issue with, than actual criminal activity. All codes mentioned below are specific to Texas and no other state.

FFJeffsonBillofRightsGovernment Code 411.205: “If a license holder is carrying a handgun on or about the license holder’s person when a magistrate or a peace officer demands that the license holder display identification, the license holder shall display both the license holder’s driver’s license or identification certificate issued by the department and the license holder’s handgun license.” The law does not differentiate between open or concealed carry. In fact, this law doesn’t do that at all. Nowhere in here does it say that a peace officer can demand to see a CHL (or soon to be License to Carry) either. It says when a peace officer “demands that the license holder display identification.” Once he legally demands identification, only THEN are you required to show your CHL (or LTC). So the question then becomes when can a peace officer demand identification? The Penal Code spells that out for us. Many are quoting this statute as proof that cops can demand to see a license of an individual.

Penal Code 38.02: “A person commits an offense if he intentionally refuses to give his name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information.” In plain English, this says that LEOs may NOT demand to see identification unless the person is under arrest. As peace officers are aware, an arrest requires probable cause. In order to have PC, they must have articulable facts that a crime is, was, or will be committed.

Chairman Phillips made clear during debate in removing the open carry protection amendment that, “The law is very clear. If you’re lawfully stopped, you have to show [your license]. Very clear.” He then clarified very succinctly, “Let me back up. If they have stopped them for a lawful reason.” Open carry is a not a lawful reason anymore. How so? Well, let’s get into some relevant case law in the United States that has ruled on this issue.

In United States v. Deberry, the court even mentioned Texas and was quite clear that the cops must have probable cause to demand ID. This is a concealed carry case, but the same principle applies to open carry (I’ll get into that in another case). The court found, “Even if this were Texas rather than Illinois, and carrying a concealed weapon was lawful except for felons and a few other classes of ineligibles, the police would have been entitled to accost (Note: if you read earlier in the case, they define “accost” as just an consensual or voluntary stop) DeBerry and ask him whether he was carrying a gun. They might have a hunch he was a felon and so violating the law. ? It would not matter, so far as the Fourth Amendment is concerned, as we explained earlier. But if the asking crossed over to commanding, so that DeBerry was stopped, then it would be essential that the officers have a reasonable belief and not a mere hunch that if he was carrying a gun he was violating the law. ?But they would have a reasonable belief, because this is Illinois rather than Texas.” Since carrying a gun is legal in Texas with certain exceptions for non applicability – like having a license – there is no reasonable belief that a crime is being committed and the mere presence of a gun doesn’t cut it as a valid reason for any non-consensual stop.

FFSAdamsPeaceableIn United States v Nathaniel Black, the court reiterated Terry v. Ohio in what constitutes the difference between an investigatory stop and a seizure (not free to leave): “To be lawful, a Terry stop ‘must be supported at least by a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the person seized is engaged in criminal activity.'” It goes on, “lawful possession and display of a firearm by another…fails to support the conclusion that Officer Zastrow had reasonable suspicion to detain Black.” Finally, and perhaps the most destructive to this stop and frisk argument is where the court ruled, “Being a felon in possession of a firearm is not the default status. More importantly, where a state permits individuals to openly carry firearms, the exercise of this right, without more, cannot justify an investigatory detention. Permitting such a justification would eviscerate Fourth Amendment protections for lawfully armed individuals in those states.”

Some have pointed to Penal Code 46.02 in defending their argument that because the law makes it unlawful to carry a gun, they have reasonable suspicion because they don’t know if the person has a license and is exempt. Penal Code 46.15 specifically states that 46.02 “does not apply to a person who…is carrying…a license…and a handgun in a concealed manner or in a shoulder or belt holster.” Nonapplicability. Means it doesn’t apply. So, absent articulable facts that the person is carrying illegally, you can’t default to “[a person illegally] in possession of a firearm.” The 4th Amendment is clear about requiring probable cause and law enforcement can’t use the rhetorical and asinine belief that “I don’t know if you’re a good guy or bad guy.” The default is always good guy unless they have articulable facts stating otherwise.

In Brown v. Texas, the court again ruled that, “to detain appellant and require him to identify himself violated the Fourth Amendment because the officers lacked any reasonable suspicion to believe that appellant was engaged or had engaged in criminal conduct.” They may believe that the act of carrying is the reasonable suspicion, but they’d be wrong because, “Absent any basis for suspecting appellant of misconduct, the balance between the public interest in crime prevention and appellant’s right to personal security and privacy tilts in favor of freedom from police interference.”

In Basin Flying Service v. Public Service Commission the court supported this principle, holding, “[w]hen a person is confronted with inconsistent statutes, by one of which he would be subject to duties or restraints, and by the other he would be exempt therefrom, he is entitled to the benefit of the statute most favorable to his freedom of action.” In other words, if cops feel that the law is confusing because there seems to be conflicting statutes in dealing with open carriers, the open carriers are “entitled to the benefit of the statue most favorable to [their] freedom of action.” Simply put, leave them alone or engage in a friendly conversation about gun rights and the weather. You don’t want to be the guy with the badge that gets dragged through lengthy and highly stressful criminal and civil trials under Penal Code 39.03 (Official Oppression), 18 U.S. Code § 242 (Deprivation of rights under color of law), or 42 U.S. Code § 1983 (Civil action for deprivation of rights).

OCT_logo_02There are other cases that frankly I’m too tired to flush out here, like Delaware v Prouse. My goal was to counter the argument and suggestion that some in law enforcement have posited that they can and will stop people for doing nothing more than openly carrying a holstered handgun.

That said, I still don’t understand why they even WOULD bother people not doing anything wrong. Some say, “just show your ID and you’ll be on your way.” Why? Why would anyone exercise their 2nd amendment rights just to throw away their 4th? Are not all of our rights equally important? Let’s address an aspect many aren’t even thinking about. Most males carry their licenses in their back pocket. Often, they use the same pocket as their firing hand and the location of their handgun. What do you think some officers are going to do when a citizen goes for a wallet to obtain his ID and a cop thinks he’s going for his gun?! Do we WANT more people to get shot because some in law enforcement feel the need to inconvenience and harass someone for exercising their rights? Some ask, “how is that harassment if we’re just asking a question? It’s harassment because they are impeding my normal course of life or business. You are stopping me from my freedom of movement for engaging in a legal activity.

Let me flip the question: what is so difficult about seeing a person who is just going about his business, not bothering or threatening anyone, and just leaving him alone? I believe that cops are more intelligent than a moth that sees a light bulb and can’t help but fly into it. They have enough real crime to deal with. Why even bother people carrying a HOLSTERED handgun? THAT is the real question.

It’s time that law enforcement stop trying to stop people from carrying in public and start recognizing that the more that do are actually a benefit to law enforcement. “An armed society is a polite society” means that when the people are armed, the criminals are more likely to behave for fear of being shot and/or killed. We make the job of law enforcement easier, not harder, if they simply recognize that simple fact. I’m not talking about vigilantism, but about serving as that first line of defense to criminal activity. Police can’t be everywhere and when seconds count they are only minutes away. We aren’t your enemy. We don’t want to be your enemy.

Those reading this post should understand that this is only my educated interpretation of the law and relevant court cases. This is not to construe legal advice. In fact, when confronted with a law enforcement officer that wants to assert his perceived dominance over you, it is your decision alone how to respond. You basically have two options: stand up for your rights and risk going to jail; or make the officer feel good about himself by presenting your CHL. In any case, always be as respectful as the respect paid to you or more so. And always, ALWAYS make sure you have a camera to record the encounter. Often, this can mean the difference between your guilt and innocence. I recommend a service like Self Defense Fund as insurance in case you ever need to your firearm in lawful self-defense. Use referral code “opencarry” so I know you joined from here (I get no financial benefit from you joining).

Bouncing Forward: Transforming Bad Breaks Into Breakthroughs (A Review)

bouncingforwardIt’s not often that I review books that aren’t military or history related (If you love history, wait until I review the next book!), but this one peaked my interest. As many of my longtime readers know, I struggle with PTSD. While I’ve largely found a way to manage the symptoms through a lot of hard work, counseling, and encouragement, there is always room for improvement and there are always little triggers to depression and survivor’s guilt.

Let me get to the meat of the review right off the bat: Bouncing Forward needs to be turned into a lesson plan and made a part of mandatory pre-deployment training for every deploying service member. It might seem like a waste of time at first, but believe me when I say the exercises, lessons, and recommendations that author Dr. Michaela Haas suggests can change your life, build resistance, and ensure growth instead of a downward spiral of fear and depression.

The underlying premise of the book is that a traumatic event doesn’t have to be a life destroyer. She helps the reader take control of these events and turn them into growth as opposed to stress. Oftentimes, Soldiers will internalize their struggles and fall victim to an event that they feel has taken over their lives. She counsels that “any amount of agency we can reclaim that empowers us to restore order in chaos will help, no matter how small.”

Watching a friend die is not an easy thing to fathom or forget. The feeling that you could have done more or that you should of died in his place can ruin your relationships and your life. It seems no one can help because others try to assure you by telling you “everything will be fine” and others say “I know what you’re going through.” It may seem like life couldn’t possible get any worse.

Instead of just making the reader feel better about themselves, she tells the stories of some remarkable people who endured some incredible “misfortunes” (though they won’t tell you that) and found ways to obtain “post traumatic growth.” By the time I finished reading the book, it was like I could have had a V8 moment. It seems so simple, though that doesn’t make it easy. Drawing from a wide array of experts in the field – from noted doctors to Buddhist adherents – Dr. Haas lays out a very easy to understand and implement process: Survive, Grow, Dig Deep, Play, Accept, Thrive, Pray, Evolve, Breathe, Adrenalize, Shine, Forgive, and Love.

It’s not just advice and clinical or biological technicalities that she talks about and she works hard to convey the message that traumatic growth is possible without medicating yourself into oblivion. While I’ve been a Def Leppard fan since the “High & Dry” the story about drummer Rick Allen was especially inspiring. When a man who uses both arms to make a living playing playing drums loses one in a horrible accident and still finds a way to keep doing what he was doing, you can’t help but think to yourself: “what am I afraid of?”

I’m not a big fan of self help books because they are usually dry and try to sell me a one-size-fits-all solution. Just like our toolbox in the garage have different uses for different projects, Haas provides many different tools that can be tailored to an individual’s trauma pain. I left the book a few more tools in my tool belt that I plan to use and apply in my life. Bouncing Forward is a great book about seeing the beauty of life and recognizing that all looking back does and keep from moving forward. If you have a friend or family member suffering from PTSD – whether it be from combat or a car crash or just a disease – read this book. Give them a copy of this book. And to any Generals or Admirals or military leaders are reading this: get some copies for your unit and help your troops BEFORE they experience a traumatic event that they may have to deal with unprepared.

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Marine Missing From World War II Accounted For

151204-D-ZZ999-101The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, unaccounted for since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Marine Cpl. James D. Otto, 20, of Los Angeles, will be buried Dec. 8, in Arlington National Cemetery. In November 1943, Otto was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded. Otto was reported killed in action on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.

In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio Island, but Otto’s remains were not recovered. On Feb. 10, 1949, a military review board declared Otto non-recoverable.

In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015.

To identify Otto’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which Matched Otto’s records, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.

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The Case Against Waterboarding

Field ScreeningAs a counterintelligence agent, I was cross trained in interrogation and strategic and tactical debriefing. In Iraq, I did a lot of this with the help of interpreters since I was a Spanish linguist (go figure). While in Iraq, I conducted hundreds of battlefield interrogations before, during and after battles. Some prisoners of war were easy to talk to and some needed enhanced encouragement to speak. However, we never resorted to “torture.”

I can’t be specific about the means and methods of Army interrogation, but I can talk in a little more detail about one interrogation early in the Iraq War in 2003. I wrote briefly about this in a journal entry I shared over ten years ago on this blog. 99% of successful interrogations are nothing more than asking questions and getting answers. Very few require more aggressive methods and those are only used as a last resort. This chemical officer we were interrogating wasn’t saying anything. He kept trying to say he was a nobody even though all his documents proved otherwise. It wasn’t until I asked a simple question that he started to cry. That was the break I needed.

Frustrated, I began going through his “pocket litter” (the contents of information on the prisoners person, such as in pockets, briefcases, etc) and found a picture of his family. I showed him the picture and asked him a few simple questions mainly to try and humanize myself and gain rapport.

“Is this your family?”
“Naam (yes),” he answered.
“Would you like to see your family again?” I followed up.

Questioning an Iraqi

It was a seemingly innocent question, but one that caused his eyes to well up in tears. His demeanor completely changed as his shoulders sagged, his chest deflated, and his head dropped down. This was it. This was his breaking point. I could use his love of family against him. I didn’t mean to insinuate that if he didn’t cooperate with us that he would never see his family again. I honestly just wanted to know if he wanted to see his family again. If he helped us more, we could end the war sooner so he could get back to his family. Little did I know at the time that he valued family over his allegiance to Saddam. We got all the information we needed at the time and passed him and our intel reports up to Division so the Commanding General understood the risks.

There are times where I truly feel bad for making this man think that we were either going to kill him or his family if he didn’t cooperate with us. Maybe it was the translation that made it sound that way or something, but to see a grown man in a position of authority cry during combat like that caused me a lot of reflection after I got home and started to process my combat experiences. At the time, it was no big deal. His tears were a tool I used to get what I wanted. I took advantage of his emotional state.

One day in Fallujah, a man was brought to us that was captured during a patrol. A group of Iraqis had ambushed them with RPGs and machine gun fire, injuring a couple of our troops. It was a brief, though heated battle and adrenaline ran high, as it always does during an ambush. By the end of the battle, all but one of the insurgents was dead, but the troops beat the living tar out of the survivor according to their own words. By the time he got to our interrogation hut, the man was bloodied, bruised, and his eyes were swollen shut. He had swelling all over his head, neck and arms and probably more in places I couldn’t see. He had been bandaged up and blessed by medical personnel to begin interrogation. The man actually asked us for toothpicks to hold his eye lids open so he could see who he was talking to (we didn’t need a blindfold). The man could barely speak because of the swelling. They almost killed this man with their bare fists, not because he was fighting them back, but because they were angry.

I bring these two stories up – which are two examples on opposite ends of the spectrum – because Donald Trump said something yesterday that greatly concerns me.

“I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they do to us,” the Republican presidential candidate said. “What they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head, that’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”

Not only did this concern me, but many of my friends have been praising him for saying it. The vast majority of those saying it have never served in the military so I get that they don’t fully understand the folly of Trump’s words.

Combat is the most inhuman and disgusting activity human beings can engage in. Yes, it’s necessary from time to time, but that doesn’t lesson the severity or impact of it on those that engage in it. Anyone that has been in actual combat and has had to engage the enemy leaves a part of themselves on the battlefield. Sometimes, it’s a physical part of themselves and sometimes it’s an emotional or psychological part of themselves. The act of killing another human being is one of the hardest things to not only do, but to live with afterwards. The images of the people I had to kill – as well as the images of the dead Soldiers I had to search – are forever etched in my head. I can see them when I sleep. I can see them when I’m staring into the night sky. Sometimes I see them while driving. While those men were the enemy and they wanted to kill me, they were husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. While in combat, we don’t think of them that way. They are nothing more than animated flesh – robots – when we are engaging them on the battlefield. They are animals, inhuman. They have no souls. We necessarily dehumanize them so we can kill them.

With that said, it is the height of hubris and ignorance to suggest that our troops should be ordered to torture another human being, especially by people who have no idea what that means. It’s an easy thing to say, “YEAH, TORTURE THOSE RAGHEADS! THEY BEHEAD INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN! THEY HAVE IT COMING THE BARBARIANS!” But, what people fail to realize is that someone has to strap that person down, wrap their faces in a scarf or cloth, and pour water over their faces to simulate drowning and induce panic. Those Soldiers may find it somewhat easy to deal with in the heat of battle, but one day they are going to reflect on their actions and it’s going to eat them alive. Not only do they dehumanize the subject, they are slowly dehumanizing themselves. No matter how disgusting, inhuman, animal-like, or egregious the enemy is, we don’t need to lower ourselves to their level. Because, unlike them, Americans are good people with conscience and anyone with a conscience knows that torture is evil. It is everything we are fighting against.

Set aside the fact that waterboarding is only minimally successful at best, there are so many others options that work much better even on hardened jihadists. What typically ends up happening with torture is that prisoners tend to just say SOMETHING to make the torture stop. Sometimes there is a partial truth in there so they aren’t subjected to the torture again and sometimes the entire confession is false. Regardless of the relevancy of the intelligence, the toll torture takes on the torturer in life is much more costly.

When I hear people say that if someone broke into their home or tried to rob them on the streets they would put “two to the chest, one to the head” I can’t help but shiver at how cavalier they make killing someone sound, even when justified. As a gun owner and a combat veteran, I hope I never have to shoot another human being ever again. I hope I never have to pull my gun on another human being. I’m willing and able to if I have to defend myself, but I don’t seek it out.

Killing and torture for any reason is not something anyone should dismiss as no big deal. It is a big deal. It weighs on your soul (I wrote about that too, as well as how to keep your soul). Both cause you to lose a little bit of your humanity. This is why I am against torture and condemn Mr. Trump’s casual demeanor about bringing back waterboarding, or what he calls “strong interrogation.” Our politicians need to think long and hard about the ramifications their flippant attitudes towards using troops to achieve political and military objectives will have. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I’m against killing ISIS or anyone that is a danger or threat to America and our way of life. I’m not some peace loving hippy that thinks we should be putting flowers in the jihadists suicide vests. If they need to be killed, let’s kill them. I’m simply saying we need to think our decisions through and understand the true cost of implementing them before someone has to spend the rest of their lives for being the blunt end of the stick.