Better And Better

If you don't draw yours, I won't draw mine. A police officer, working in the small town that he lives in, focusing on family and shooting and coffee, and occasionally putting some people in jail.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

We aren't playing the music just to hear the applause of others.

Domestic disturbance. A teen boy put hands on his mother. I arrived, along with a couple of other cops from our shift, because it was shift change, and I was the swing shift supervisor.

I found the shrugging mother, who was unhurt and refused to give a statement or press charges,  and the almost-unhinged 17 year-old son, who was carrying his stuff downstairs to put into his pickup. The mother told him that he could not take the pickup. He protested profanely that he made the payments of said pickup. I informed him that the pickup, and his possessions, until he was 18, were under her control. I told him to sit down.

He stood stock still for a minute, and then sat down reluctantly at the tall kitchen table.  I sat down, too. I've found over the years that both of us sitting down seems to bring a chance of calmness, even though it destroys any tactical superiority that I might have. Well, there were some other cops there, too. I asked the kid to take a breath. He was shaking. I told him to try to calm down. His jaw was clenched. He was furious. He asked if he could leave.  I told him that he could, but not with the pickup that his mother had decreed was not to leave. He walked out.

I spoke with his mother for a bit. She was at her wit's end. I told her to keep her chin up, and asked a few more questions about the event, which really was pretty much a non-police matter.

I walked out, and found my fellow officers talking to the boy on the sidewalk. He looked a little lost and somewhat petulant. His clothes and boots were in his arms, and we was going to carry them... where?  It was 104 degrees out. One of our officers, who was past her shift's end, offered to give him a ride to his father's house, in the next town over. It was a kind offer, typical of her, but also a savvy way to clear the call. I had 6 hours left in my shift, and asked the boy if he had eaten anything. He had not. I offered to buy him a Coke and a hamburger. He responded, barely in control of himself, that he did not wish to have anything to do with me, at all. It was clear that he was furious at me, which I didn't understand.

One of my officers, who is junior in rank to me, walked me away from it. "You told him to 'calm down, Matt. You know that doesn't work. You told me that!" He wasn't wrong. Our other officer, whom he was responding well to, gave him a ride home. I tried to figure out how I knew this kid.

Wait. Context! For some reason, I hadn't focused on his name, and I had never actually been to this house, before this. I had only met him once, at the high school, when I had interviewed him. I had worked for a month on his case about 8 months before, when his out-of-town girlfriend had accused him of raping her. I had worked hard on that case, and proved up that he had NOT raped the girl. If the initial officer's report had been a little stronger, I would have charged his accuser with perjury, in fact. I had obtained an affidavit of non-prosecution from the "victim," and had cleared his name entirely, and labeled the case report "Unfounded."  I just had not associated that boy with this boy-- one and the same.

I was befuddled. Why was this kid focused on me as a thorn in his side? I had busted my butt to save him. The answer, of course, is that for 4 weeks, I had interviewed, and investigated, and collected evidence, and put off his mother's anxious calls for updates... and he thought that I had been gunning for him. In his mind, I had come after him with everything that I had, and missed. I thought back to my interview of the accused. It had been more of an interrogation than an interview, to be honest. But it had given me some leads that I pursued to prove that the accusations against him were groundless.

In the end, do I want to be appreciated by the people that I serve? I think that's pretty natural to want. But honestly, there is NOTHING that I would have done differently about the rape case, because I arrived at the truth. In this case, I would have skipped telling him to "calm down."

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Monday, July 16, 2018

You don't get my support just because you like guns.

Among other things, this is a gun blog. I like guns. I am a member of Gun Culture (X iteration). I demand that my rights to keep and bear be arms be respected as a citizen.

Because so many famous people are outspokenly against gun culture, it can be refreshing to find some who are not. We gun people often embrace them, saying "One of us! One of us!!!" 

Ted Nugent, the rock star from the 1970s who has experienced a resurgence in popularity, has banked quite a bit on being a supporter of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. He likes guns a lot, and has never in the last twenty years shied away from that fact. He wears camouflage most of the time, and features firearms in his concerts. He has managed to attain a position on the NRA board. Well and good, right?

Except that he is perpetually an ass, of an uncommon variety.
He threatened to use any means necessary, including illegal means, to prevent a sitting President from being POTUS again. He in the past supported Apartheid. He referred to our former President, a man of mixed race, as a "subhuman mongrel." Back in 1978, the 30 year-old arranged to become the legal guardian of his 17 year-old girlfriend. After a mass-shooting at the Stoneman-Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, the man said, of children who had survived an ordeal involving 17 deaths and 17 injuries, that the kids who spoke out "have no soul."

This past week, the man posted:
A glorious moment of clarity truth logic commonsense American hallelujah amen from a good friend of mine! All together now-No Shit!Okay, I've had about enough of this immigration bullshit going on. So I've come up with my own plan... let me know if this gets the Uncle Ted seal of approval!If you come here you must speak the language, you must be a professional, we don't want any more unskilled workers; there's no special classes in school for bilingual students, there's no special ballots for voting, there's no government business done in any language but English; you do not have a right to vote or hold any office as a foreigner; you're not allowed to be a burden to the taxpayers, we don't want any welfare going out to illegals Or any able bodied human beings; if you come here we want you to invest but it has to be at least 40,000 times our daily minimum wage and if you buy land, you must relinquish all the rights to that property and you can never own waterfront property!
You're not allowed to protest politically, there is no flag waving from any other country; you're not allowed to badmouth our President, you're a foreigner, if you don't like living here, get out! If you come here illegally, you go to jail!
Now, if you don't like my harsh immigration policy, then you need to complain to the Mexican Government because this is the laws on their books currently!
Go to Mexico and protest and see how long you last!
God bless America everybody else can kiss my free ass!
You're not allowed to protest politically, there is no flag waving from any other country; you're not allowed to badmouth our President, you're a foreigner, if you don't like living here, get out! If you come here illegally, you go to jail!Now, if you don't like my harsh immigration policy, then you need to complain to the Mexican Government because this is the laws on their books currently! Go to Mexico and protest and see how long you last!God bless America everybody else can kiss my free ass!

Reading Nugent's original post, I had to re-read it.
I honestly originally thought that it was satire.
Why do we suffer this asshole to be associated with us in any way?
What, exactly, would it take for him to say, before we as a movement would divorce him completely? Does he have to literally and specifically call for lynchings? Would pedophilia be enough?


And, yes, I'm thinking about others as well. 

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Hit Tam's tip jar.

Friend Tamara busted her collarbone the other night. This puts a kink in her ever-increasing schedule of activities, in her career as a "self-unemployed gun writer."

Y'all may notice that I haven't got a tip jar on my blog, here. That isn't because I believe it is gauche; it is simply because I do not believe that I am providing enough of a service to accept money for, here.

Tamara, on the other hand, provides excellent technical writings on pistols, shotguns, and even the odd rifle. Her historical perspective is particularly good on firearms, although she applies it to other topics as well. Her _Sunday Smith_ occasional column is a treasure.  Why is it so good? Because Tamara Keel is a professional freelance gun writer. In a world where we find people declaring themselves to be gunwriters as they fill articles with dreck, it is a pleasure to read an informed opinion on firearms. Tamara is a professional reader, who also does the work, putting in hundreds or even thousands of rounds a weeks, and attending high-level classes in the field.

All this, and now she has medical bills, too.

If Tam or I were in town, wouldn't you buy dinner? I know that I would. It's impossible to walk out of a cheap greasy spoon diner without having dropped $20 or $30, after tip, for a  meal for two. Do me a favor, please, and go to Tamara's site, and click on the yellow PayPal button on the right side of the screen, and put in what you would've spent on dinner for our friend. If not for her, please do it for me. She has given a lot of free entertainment, over the years.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2018


Lately, I get the wants for a new shotgun.

A friend asked elsewhere: Should I get a Beretta 1301, or jump on one of these tricked-out police trade-in Remington 870s which are so thick on the ground, at present?

I think that a 1301 is a much better shotgun, but these 870s are stupid-cheap, these days.

I have neither.



Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Legal Fiat.

It's time we talked about "fiat."

Fiat is Latin for "let it be done."  

Merriam-Webster's first definition of the word is thus:
"1. a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort According to the Bible, the world was created by fiat."

It is used in discussions of policy to further the discussion without getting bogged down in detail.
Basically, it means, "For the purposes of this discussion, we will assume that I have a waved a magic wand, and X has occurred."

Back when I was in  high school debate, we used fiat for all of our proposed plans to solve a topic.   An example would be, say, if the topic was on how to solve illegal immigration in the United States. The affirmative team would propose a plan, such as rounding up all the immigrants, or putting up a wall, or putting a border guard every fifty feet along the border, or whatnot, and the negative team would attack Significance, Harms, Inherency, Topicality, and Solvency (which was easily remembered by a lovely little acronymn) on the plan. Or, the defense could grant that the plan would work, but that there would be SUCH a disadvantage (such as lost cheap labor, or a shortage of cultural exchange (see: cheap taco stands)), that the plan wouldn't be worth it.

At no time, though, could the negative side attack that the plan could actually be effected. For the purposes of our discussion, the plan was put in place by fiat.

So here we are in the gun control debate, and everyone seems to believe that fiat is actually a workable thing.

"We will make it against the law to possess semi-automatic magazine-fed rifles!" would be the surprisingly-well-worded battlecry of the fiat-using gun banner.

Okay.  Let's pretend that passes, and federal law makes it illegal to own such a gun:
--There will be VIGOROUS attack on the law in the lower courts, and then the appellate courts, and then in the Supreme Court.  Let's pretend that the SCOTUS also upholds the law.
--Then, let's pretend that the executive branch mobilizes to enforce the law. How? Um, they'll put out public service announcements demanding that guns be turned in, else those with the guns will suffer severe federal penalties, with time in prison.
--And let's suppose that the good, law-abiding citizens of the U.S. do turn in their guns. Because they are law-abiding.
--And let's suppose that, everytime that they're caught with such a gun, a bad, non-law-abiding person goes to prison.
--And let's suppose that the prisons are able to take the influx of new prisoners.
--And let's suppose that a large quantity of guns remain in the public hands, against the law.
--How will the federal authorities, assisted I suppose by state and local police, get those firearms? 
--Will an order be given to go house-to-house? I assure you, the local cops aren't doing that. No, they will not.
--And remember that SCOTUS which affirmed the ban? They're NOT going to affirm a house-to-house search and arrest.
--And remember how all those good, law-abiding people turned in their guns? Just kidding. You just created a felony criminal class out of OTHERWISE good, law-abiding people. Now, they're legal-neutrals.
--And remember those actual bad guys, who don't follow the rules, and keep their guns, because, you know-- they're criminals? They're going to do what they want.

Fiat is a device for philosophy. Not for improving the nation that you have now.

While Fiats can be a lot of fun, they don't always work.
Photo by Tamara Keel. (Cropped.)

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

How would you like to die?

Living well is best. Dying well is next best. Living badly is worst.

On Valentine's Day of this year, a horrible person murdered 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, kicking off an enormous clash about gun control, almost immediately.

The murderer was 19 a years old man, and had been identified as a dangerous person before. In fact, friends and counselors had called the FBI about him. He slipped through. It happens. He committed these crimes, and no one else is blame.

During the murders, there were heroes. A coach who shielded the bodies of children as he died. A 15 year-old ROTC student who held the door to get more kids evacuated out of the building. There were others.

One of those heroes was not School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, who "took a position" outside a door of the building where 900 students were, and listened to the shooting continue for four minutes. To make this clear: this man was an armed, sworn deputy, who was made aware of shooting in a school, where his primary duty was to see to the safety of students there, and he did nothing.

There are those who would argue that a man with a pistol has little to no chance against a man with a working AR-15. As a rule of thumb, it is true that any rifle is superior in a gunfight to any service pistol. And I could argue right back that in a majority of the cases in which a shooter was confronted by armed response, the shooter has either given himself up, or killed himself, ending the killing in either instance, for the vast majority of the cases.

But the odds are not the issue. The duty is. Each shot is potentially a student dying. Each moment's delay can mean yet another mother's child being taken. It is imperative to not-walk-but-run toward the sound of that gunfire, and stop the killing.

This deputy has trained with his weapon for over twenty years. If he hadn't settled this in his head beforehand, he was criminally negligent in his duties.

Some might say that the issue was his training. Back when I went to police academy in 1994, the training was to form a perimeter, and wait for SWAT. Certainly a single officer wasn't supposed to go in alone. (I clearly remember sitting in the back of the classroom, and thinking that this was a hill that I would die upon; I would take whatever write-ups they cared to throw at me, but I was going in.) The massacre at Columbine High School in 1998 changed that doctrine forever. The doctrine since the turn of the century has been to go in hard and fast and take the shooter out. We are specifically trained to step over and past the wounded, to rapidly close distance with the shooter, and take him out without any warning. This is as it should be. It is not a secret. It is how you help the bleeding and those yet unwounded.  How could a man or woman assigned to the duty of being a School Resource Officer not have studied this topic?

It is rare in one's life that one can recognize such an important crossroads, illuminated so clearly as this one.  One could absolutely guard one's own life, forsaking his moral duty to act, and die several decades later in one's bed, aware for the remainder of his life that he was living the life of a coward. One could swallow one's fear, and attack the killer, and fail. This would be horrible, because it would mean that one didn't stop the killer. But it's a worthy death, to die in the attempt to stop the murder of children. In fact, if an officer stopped the killer, but the officer was killed as well in the engagement, that is not a failure.  It is sub-optimal, but the goal was achieved: the killer was stopped. Dying while SAVING the lives of children is so much more preferable than dying of old age, after failing to even try. I am not suggesting that one should martyr one's self; I'm simply saying that one should fear the long life of a coward, rather than the quick and worthy death of a peacekeeper.  

My excellent friend and colleague LawDog said it better, here.

I was discussing this with friends recently, and one good friend cautioned (correctly, of course) not to give the impression that one should hope to find such an event occur. I agreed, but shared the following:
Back when I was a rookie working evening shift, I caught my first Sexual Assault case. My chief happened to drop by the police department at that time, and he took it off my hands. I had been flustered and out of my depth. My chief at the time was an expert at such cases. He said afterwards, “I am sorry that the event occurred, but I am so glad that it happened when and where I could do something about it.” He had skills that the average beat cop did not. He applied those skills to take care of the problem (the actor got 20 years, IIRC). I probably would have muffed it.
Living well is best. Dying well is next best. Living badly is worst.

Choose wisely. And train.

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Sunday, January 14, 2018

So that's that.

Oliver cat passed away this morning, apparently just before I woke up. I notified the family, and then swung a pick to dig a hole in the cold winter soil the back yard. I had actually thought that he was going to pull through (as he had before), but one never knows. Hell, I knew that I was going to outlive him when we got him. (That's one reason why I didn't want to get him.)
That damned fat, grouchy cat.
He brought me some pleasure —and displeasure— at unexpected times.

November, 2017, under the lemon tree in the sunroom. One of those "unexpected pleasures."

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