Rant: to speak or shout at length in a wild, impassioned way. A tirade.
This veteran’s rant about arming teachers is going viral.
This veteran being me, of course. Seems some clickbait site called Bored Panda picked up a thread I wrote on Twitter and declared it a rant. I think they meant it as a compliment, but I can’t help but feel like John Goodman at the end of Atomic Blonde, “Cocksucker? Really?”
Bored Panda wasn’t the only one. My comments appeared on a number of sites and have been shared on Twitter itself thousands of times and viewed by more than 1.4 million people.
And like Bored Panda, a number of people described my comments as a rant.
Specifically, a tirade against guns.
And isn’t that interesting?
But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
On March 12th, President Trump declared (via Twitter):
Very strong improvement and strengthening of background checks will be fully backed by White House. Legislation moving forward. Bump Stocks will soon be out. Highly trained expert teachers will be allowed to conceal carry, subject to State Law. Armed guards OK, deterrent!.......
It was his usual 5AM declaration from the presidential toilet, hyperbolic, chock-a-block with non sequiturs, and full of straining and groaning and falsehoods – some obvious, some less so.
But it was the bit at the end, that’s what jumped out at me, “Highly trained expert teachers.”
Highly trained expert teachers.
Now, it was pretty obvious that the NRA would show up before Trump finished wiping his ass. Money would change hands. Favors would be exchanged. And Trump would back-pedal on bump-stocks and background checks and age limits and all the other gun control measures he’d been promising since the Parkland shooting.
And that’s exactly what happened.
Within a day, Trump was walking back his new found passion for actually doing something while pretending that he wasn’t and we’ve always been at war with Eastasia. Or was that Eurasia?
But not that last bit.
No, not that last bit. The NRA loves that idea. Stand and fight. Put more guns into schools. Arm the teachers.
The “highly trained expert teachers.”
…Wait a minute, highly trained expert teachers?
Highly trained by who?
Experts in what?
Trump never explains himself. He certainly never explained this statement. He just assumes he knows what he means. But does he? Does he? Because Donald Trump has a very long record of not understanding complex topics in any detail whatsoever. Instead, he fancies himself an idea man. The leader. He makes some vague pronouncement and expects everybody else to work out the details.
And nobody ever asks for the details.
You want to arm teachers?
You want to let teachers carry guns in the classroom?
Highly trained, expert teachers, you say.
Well, then I think we need to ask for the details.
Yes, I think we need to ask some questions, demand the answers in detail.
I mean, hell, if you wanted to teach evolution, or women’s health, or civil rights, parents would have questions. They’d show up and demand answers.
Nothing. Go ahead, arm the teachers, let’s see what happens.
We won’t know until we try it out, he says. Why would that be so bad?
Tell me, are you willing to test your theory with your children?
Or were you planning on risking other people’s kids to find out?
So I asked.
I wrote a 23-part thread on Twitter – which was itself based on a Facebook post I wrote the day after the Parkland shooting, asking the following questions:
“Highly trained expert teachers" Highly trained Highly trained by ... who? Who designs the training. To what criteria? To what standards?
It matters, you know.
You don’t just pull training out of your ass.
Not if you want it to be effective. And we are talking about guns here, aren’t we? In classrooms, with your kids.
Training is designed to meet a specific requirement, to achieve a specific goal.
These people are teachers. Would you stand for it if they just winged it, when it comes to math and science and home economics? No? That’s right. There’s an approved curriculum, designed for each specific grade, that takes into account things like material appropriate to age group, whether or not there was any previous education on the topic (i.e. you don’t start math with AP Calculus in kindergarten, there are prerequisites), and whether the subject is practical or abstract (big difference in the objectives of shop class and the aforementioned AP calculus. One teaches a practical skill, the other abstract thinking). And so on.
Building curriculum is a skill in and of itself.
When you talk about training teachers to carry guns in the classroom, you’re talking about a lot more than just facility with a firearm.
Let me give you an example: When I went through the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, which trains military and law enforcement to be Firearms Instructors, much of the class was focused on the practical aspects of teaching professional firearms handling and shooting. You had to already be an experienced and trained shooter to even qualify for the class in the first place, coming from the military or from law enforcement. Because we were training to become professional firearms instructors, we spent a lot of time on the range at Springfield ourselves, practicing professional shooting techniques under close supervision. But we also spent a lot of time in the classroom learning not only the theory of firearms instruction but also such things as liability and case law for firearms instructors, along with how to develop training plans, both practical and classroom, tailored to the specific needs of our particular environment. I trained with cops, with federal nuclear materials guards, with armored car guards, and members of various militaries. Each of our requirements were different. When we became certified instructors, our students’ requirements would be different. Thus, the objective of the training was to give us the skills, knowledge, and expertise to safely tailor firearms training to the various needs of our agencies. The certification was to make us legally responsible for it and for whatever happened under our tutelage.
Police officers, guards, military personnel, how each uses a firearm varies greatly, depending on many, many factors.
A police officer’s rules regarding the use of deadly force are very, very different from the military’s Rules of Engagement, which often vary between conflict zones and are subject to change within each zone depending on phase of conflict, political considerations, international agreement, and so on. Prison guards, armored car guards, and those guys I mentioned up above who guard nuclear facilities have very different requirements, very different considerations, very different priorities.
So, when I ask you: these teachers will be highly trained by who? Don't just say, "the local police department" or something similar.
That’s the wrong answer, or at best it’s incomplete.
You’re talking about armed teachers. Not cops. Not Marines. Teachers. You’re talking about putting a gun in a classroom full of young children, teenagers, perhaps college students. You’re talking civilians, kids. You’re talking about a teacher, whose primary job is to teach, carrying a loaded weapon among children. You’re talking about practical considerations far beyond mere ability to shoot straight. You’re talking about responsibility – where failure of responsibility results in dead kids. So, you need to consider all the requirements necessary for that teacher to safely carry a weapon in the classroom on a normal day. A day where they don’t have to pull it out and shoot somebody.
Above that, you then need to look at exactly what is you expect that teacher to do in an emergency.
There is a hell of a lot more to an engagement than just shooting straight. This isn’t the firing range. It’s also not a military battlefield and not the mean streets patrolled by cops.
You need something beyond the military’s rules of engagement and the cop’s rules of deadly force.
It’s a special circumstance with unique requirements, priorities, and considerations.
You can’t just wade in with guns blazing.
Well, you can, but you’re going to regret it.
You’d just turn training and certification over to some private contractor without asking any questions?
You’d let some private contractor train teachers to carry guns in a room with your children, and you think asking questions is stupid?
Well, then let me ask another stupid question: how do you hire the contractor?
I mean, have you ever been involved in a government contract? The school district is a government agency. You want the agency to hire a contractor – using your tax dollars. What’s in the contract? I mean, if you don’t ask any questions how do you know what to put in the contract? Moreover, how do you hold the contractor to the contract, if you haven’t specified in detail what the requirements are?
If you’ve ever dealt with this sort of thing, then you know that these kinds of contracts must specify every detail. And there are massive repercussions if you miss something. It can end up costing you millions, or worse.
Look here: if your kid’s school wanted to start some new extracurricular activity, sports team, band camp, Challenger center, you’d ask questions, at least I hope you would. You’d expect the School Board to ask questions. Who’s running it? What is their training? Are they certified? By who? How much is it going to cost? Where does the money come from? If this requires travel, who’s doing the driving and what’s that guy’s qualifications? Kids staying overnight somewhere, boys and girls, and what’s the protocol here? Will the school’s insurance cover this? And so on. This is basic stuff. If you as a parent are too damned dumb to ask the questions, guaranteed somebody in the school staff is asking or you need a new school board, Administrator, and school district lawyer. And the answers to those standard questions tell you whether or not you can do it.
If you don’t ask the questions, how do you even know if you can afford the training?
I don’t think you’ve thought this through.
Tell me, what’s in a concealed carry class?
What concealed carry class teaches you to face down an active shooter in a school full of children?
Show me that class.
Please describe how the requirements of an Air Marshal, i.e. a trained, certified federal law enforcement officer who typically operates undercover and whose primary consideration is the safety of aircraft in the air is in anyway whatsoever similar to a civilian teacher whose primary goal is teaching and who operates as an overt authority figure in a classroom full of kids.
Note also, that an air marshal’s training was developed to very, very specific requirements and requires specific prerequisites such as a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, Homeland Security, Criminology, or similar, and requires several years experience in law enforcement before you can even apply. Were you planning on leveraging that training on a teacher’s normal education and accreditation? Well? Something tells me this person didn’t even bother to look up the requirements for Air Marshal before making the suggestion. And again, we’re talking about putting guns in the classroom with kids, you can’t just pull it out of your ass.
Again, a pilot’s requirements to carry a weapon in the cockpit are very, very different from a teacher in the classroom.
A pilot’s primary legal responsibility is to maintain control of the aircraft. Even if it means everybody in the passenger cabin dies. It’s not to shoot it out with a terrorist in coach. A pilot carries a gun only to ensure the security of the cockpit. Because if bad actors get control of the aircraft, all lives onboard are forfeit. The US military will shoot that plane down before it can become another weapon of mass destruction.
Now, how is that similar to a teacher’s responsibility in an active shooter situation? Does she worry that the shooter will take control of the school and fly it into a skyscraper? Or is her duty to protect her students? The priorities of these situations are completely and totally different and to suggest they aren’t displays a profound ignorance of the subject.
But he wasn’t done:
I find it interesting that when I ask a simple question: who does the training? What’s the curriculum? The responses are “your hysterical rant” and “you’re a fucking idiot.”
We’ll come back to that.
The simple truth of the matter is that there is no training for arming teachers in the classroom.
We don't train soldiers for that.
We don't train cops for that.
So we're going to need special training, beyond the mechanics and theory of combat arms to include the psychology of killing a child in an active shooter situation.
Do you think you could do it?
Kill a child?
Even one pointing a gun at you? Do you really think you could do it?
Turns out a lot of people do, apparently, believe they could kill a child without hesitation. No guilt, no remorse. Like a terminator.
You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to kill a child. Depending on size of course. And color, I’m guessing, given that this is the standard “but the black kid looked big and scary for his age” excuse used every time police shoot another African American youth down in the street.
Get a grip, killing people is easy. Killing kids, why we do it all the time. Doesn’t require any special training. It’s easy. Get a grip.
And I wonder how many of these people have actually shot another human being?
How many have taken fire themselves?
Easy, they say. Easy.
I guess that’s why the VA wards are full of PTSD cases. Because shooting people is easy.
This guy claimed to be a Marine.
I have little doubt he was telling the truth. He talks like a Marine. He thinks like a Marine, in terms of acceptable losses and killing the aggressor.
Some kids are going to die. Hopefully just less, he says. Hopefully not yours, I guess.
That’s a very military mindset. A necessary one on the battlefield, the brutal reality of war, the cold equations that all commanders must face.
But is that the mindset you want in the classroom?
How many dead kids are an acceptable loss?
So, we’ve established the minimum acceptable loss, one innocent kid per 17. What’s the maximum? Two, four, ten? I’d love to see this debated and a ratio established at your next school board meeting. I would love for the president to face the nation and tell us what the acceptable loss ratio is. How many kids are you willing to kill and still call it victory?
“If that coach had shot back and killed the shooter but accidentally killed a student so you had one victim instead of 17 you wouldn’t be good with that?”
No. Hell no. No, I wouldn’t be good with that.
Not even if it was your kid.
Your kid shouldn’t have to be sacrificed because you’re a goddamned idiot. The hell is the matter with you? We’re talking about kids here, not Marines. Up above somebody said I’d be amazed at how easy it is to kill a kid. That doesn’t amaze me. What amazes me is how willing these people are to sacrifice other people’s children.
Do you really want a teacher with a gun in your classrooms who thinks in terms of acceptable losses?
You wonder if maybe that teacher is thinking about which kids can be sacrificed and which ones can’t?
You wonder if maybe one of those sacrificial kids is yours?
Generals have to think this way.
And you? Are you maybe starting to see why military training isn’t the right training in this situation?
Police very often develop a distant relationship with the public. Us and them.
Sometimes, depending on the situation, that can become a siege mentality.
Not always, and not all the time, but it’s pretty common and you don’t have to look very far to find it. Nowadays, in a lot of places, the police feel themselves under attack. They’re not wearing all that body armor for nothing you know. And even in the most benign of situations, a cop always has to be at the ready, suspicious, alert. A routine traffic stop can turn deadly without warning. Drugs, intoxication, mental illness, domestic violence, any encounter with the public can go sideways. It makes a lot of cops paranoid – and the ones that don’t develop hyperawareness often end up dead. How many stories have you read where cops shot a suspect who was reaching to pull up his pants? A dozen? Two? Including the infamous case in Texas a few year ago where cops shot a man crawling in his hands and knees. Why? Well, because cops don’t want to get killed. In situations like that, they are hyper-alert, amped, and anything that appears a threat results in reflexive gunfire. And in a lot of cases, later, it turns out they’d shot an unarmed man. I trained with cops. I was trained in similar procedures. I taught it. But don’t take my word for it. Do the research yourself, there are a hell of a lot of studies on this subject. A lot of cops worry about it, worry about becoming paranoid and detached and shooting some poor chump who was just pulling up his britches.
And there’s no good answer, because being a cop is a damned tough and dangerous job – particularly given that much of our population is armed with military grade weaponry.
So, you’re going to have a certain degree of paranoia and detachment.
Is that the mindset you want in a classroom?
Is that really the mindset you want in a teacher? One where they must regard all children as potential threats, potential enemies, potential targets? Where they must be prepared to kill children at any moment? Imagine where that goes over the long term, that siege mentality – hell, you don’t have to imagine it, look at your increasingly militarized police departments.
Police training isn’t the right training either.
Cops are cops and teachers are teachers and they have very different outlooks, responsibilities, and priorities.
If we are to arm teachers, then we need something new. Something specifically designed for their unique requirements.
Who pays for it?
Combat arms is a perishable skill, so how often is refresher training and re-qualification mandated?
And again, who does that training? Who provides certification? Who does the background checks? Who does the psychological screening? Who decides who can and cannot carry in a school?
Ah, our taxes pay for it.
Well, then why wouldn’t we get a say in how that training is conducted? And to what standards. And how often. If our taxes are paying for, then it’s no longer a matter of some private citizen carrying concealed on his or her own time. If our taxes pay for training teachers to carry firearms in our schools, we’re are de facto creating a whole new armed service, like the Air Marshals or Homeland Security or the National Guard. Those people answer to us via our government. You damned right I got questions.
And if our taxes aren’t paying for this training, if we make the teachers pay for it themselves, can you then mandate the specific details of the training?
These aren’t frivolous questions. Without very specific guidelines and legal controls, if you don’t ask the questions in advance, well, then the system can be abused. If taxes pay for training, what’s to keep teachers from defrauding that process for their own benefit? Flip that around, what’s to keep a liberal school board from leveraging so many requirements on training and certification that no teacher can afford to pay for it out of their own pocket?
You didn’t think of that, did you?
Don’t think any of this would happen? You haven’t been paying attention. This kind of stuff happens all the time.
If a teacher wants to be armed, but is judged by whatever authority to be unfit for whatever reason, what are legal repercussions? Can the teacher sue to change the judgement? Who is the final arbiter? Who pays for the legal challenge?
Really? Mrs. Johnson keeps leaving her hogleg in the bathroom by accident. Mr. Smith keeps dropping his gun on the floor because he can’t afford a decent holster. You have to take them to court to prevent them from carrying in your school? And if your school can’t afford that, then what? You just let these two goofs continue to mishandle their weapons around your kids?
What if the teacher is a Muslim? A Black Panther who has expressed what his white neighbors consider anti-American sentiment? But he’s an upstanding citizen with an excellent record and he’s got a concealed carry permit and he’s passed all the classes … but the authorizing agency turns him down for his skin color or religion or because he took a knee during the Anthem? Don’t think it will happen? It will. And then what?
How do you control who can and cannot carry in your schools fairly, without that process being abused or corrupted?
You tell me that’s easy. Great. Let’s see your plan. The one approved by your school district lawyers.
What’s that? You don’t have one?
No, of course you don’t.
Who do these "specially trained people" answer to in an active shooter situation?
Is the principal also the commanding general? Or is the school police officer now part of the chain of command? What's their training to direct a tactical response by amateurs in such a situation?
What's the doctrine for armed teachers in an active shooter situation?
Remain in their classrooms? Take to the halls to conduct sweep and clearing operations? Are they trained to work together? Or are they Lone Wolf McQuade?
You have to have a plan before the shooting starts
You see it?
Well, of course, there will be a chain of command! These people will train together, he says confidently, and know who to answer to and what to do. And that person, whoever it is, will be qualified to command. Of course they will. Specially trained by … somebody. To some vague undefined standard. With your kids lives in the balance. Hoorah!
You ever wonder why the military is structured the way it is? Why there are officers and enlisted? You ever wonder at the reason for an officer’s commission? The legalities of it? Why officers and enlisted swear the same oath with one crucial difference? Do you even know what that difference is and why it exists? It’s about legal authority, about legal responsibility, about legal accountability. The military chain of command has very, very specific authority, responsibility, and accountability under a special set of laws called the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Failure, dereliction of duty, abuse, incompetence, all have strict legal penalties.
Cops have something similar, though they answer to civilian law.
So, this chain of command for teachers, the one that can order and direct deadly force, what legal authority is that based on? What are the limits of that authority? What are the responsibilities? Who is accountable?
This guy, the one in the tweet above, he claims to have been a Marine. If true, it would have to have been a fairly junior one. A rank that never had to worry about ordering men to their death, ordering them to kill. His job was to point and shoot, kill on command without concern, to do and die and never wonder why.
Is that what you want in a teacher?
How do you insure the school?
Because you going to have to insure the school.
Are the specially trained people personally liable for their fire? If they hit an innocent kid, if they kill an innocent kid or cripple a child for life? Or is the school responsible?
Can the armed teacher be held responsible for failure to stop an active shooter? You can certainly be held accountable for failure to stop an aggressor in the military. You can be as a police officer too. So, what about teachers? If the teacher was "highly trained" but failed to stop the shooter, when the grieving parents sue, will the school hang the teacher out to dry? If the teacher was outside, like that cop in Florida, and didn’t go back in after the shooter, are they accountable? Particularly if we paid for their training?
Beyond accountability, how do you insure the liability here?
No. Don’t roll your eyes. My wife was an administrator for one of the largest school districts in America. She dealt with this stuff every day. So I asked her. School insurance is complicated, extremely so. And very expensive. And required by law. And there are only a handful of companies in the US that provide this type of coverage. And some of them have already announced they won’t insure schools that allow teachers to be armed. So what’s your plan in this case?
You can’t just put it off. You can’t just dismiss the question. You have to answer it. How do you insure your schools?
The Marine again:
I’m not an insurance expert, but I’m fairly sure you shouldn’t bring up words like “crossfire,” “shooting stance,” and “shoot into the crowd” when your administrators are negotiating next year’s contract with the insurance company.
Also, you should avoid terms like “common sense” as a risk mitigation plan, unless you want to get laughed out of the room.
I’ve taught firearms to military and civilians for 30 years.
Common sense ain’t all that common, Folks.
If it was, we wouldn’t have to have this conversation in the first place.
If common sense was common, none of these school shooters would have access to a gun.
If common sense was common, insurance would cost a whole lot less and we wouldn’t need nearly as much of it.
If common sense was common, we wouldn’t have 30,000 gun related deaths every single year.
Depending on common sense is just about as useful as offering up “thoughts and prayers” after another mass murder.
It makes a difference, you know. Larger, high velocity rounds can penetrate body armor, but also walls, doors, etc., meaning increased chance of collateral damage in a building full of children.
If you don’t mandate what can and cannot be carried, it won’t be long for someone takes advantage of your lack of direction. When Mrs. Jones shows up with an ACR Enhanced-Carbine Bushmaster Coyote in a tactical sling it’s going to be too late. And don’t think it won’t happen.
You’re going to have to address basic gun handling rules, like any other agency that allows weapons – only you are doing so in the middle of a couple hundred kids. It’s one thing for a cop to leave his service piece in his desk drawer when he goes to the can, it’s something else entirely when a teacher does it in a room full of kids.
So, you’re going to have to address basic weapons protocols, carry, storage, condition, type, acceptable ammunition, etc. You’re going to have to provide penalties for failure to adhere. You state’s general carry laws are very likely insufficient for this.
Failure to address this will result in disaster.
There’s no learning curve here. You have to get it right first time, every time.
Or kids will die.
How do the cops know who the licensed and qualified "specially trained people" are?
No. No, don't roll your eyes. Answer the goddamned question. How do the cops know who the bad guy is in this situation? Show your work. Be specific.
More items to be controlled along with the teacher’s gun.
Because if they get into the hands of the shooter, well, then what?
So, you’re going to have to pay for all this stuff, and a secure place to store it. And training on how to use it. And periodic familiarization with the police, so they don’t shoot you.
You going to have to change this stuff periodically, the same way TSA changes up their random security measures each day, to prevent the bad guys from learning your codes and procedures. And you’re going to have to coordinate that. And make absolutely certain, every day, that everybody with a gun gets the new procedures, new identifiers, new codes.
And you’re going to have to get it right, every time.
Or kids will die. Teachers will die. Cops will die.
And tell me, what if the teacher you issued all this stuff to and let carry a gun into your school is the shooter? What’s the protocol then?
What’s the actual problem with turning teachers into soldiers and schools into warzones?
What’s the problem?
If you can’t figure that part out for yourself, well, then the odds are pretty high that you’re the problem.
Naturally, a number of people responded to my comments on Twitter with last week’s shooting at Great Mills High School in Maryland, where a 17-year-old kid took his father’s handgun to school. He shot his ex-girl friend and another student (apparently by accident). The kid was then shot and killed by the school resource officer.
A rather large number of people seem to think that somehow answered my questions.
An armed school officer.
Yeah, that’s right. The shooter, a kid, was shot by St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill. An experienced cop, not a teacher. This was his primary job. And that kid was armed with a pistol, not a military grade semi-automatic rifle. And Maryland doesn’t answer my questions at all.
A 17-year-old kid is dead. Killed by a cop. Two more children are wounded.
Update: And as I wrote this, the parents of the young girl shot at Great Mills decided to take her off life support. And thus the shooter achieved his goal, he took her life and his too.
If you think that’s a win, again, you’re part of the problem.
There should be no acceptable losses when it comes to our kids. None.
Look here: I never said there shouldn’t be armed guards, armed police, trained officers, protecting our schools.
As a matter of fact, I never said teachers shouldn’t be armed.
I asked some very basic questions. Questions any competent professional should be asking. Questions every school administrator, school board, district lawyer, and parent should be asking.
If you want to put more guns, carried by amateurs, into a building packed full of children, then I don't think I'm being unreasonable here.
When the president says "highly trained expert teachers," we must all demand to know exactly what that means. In detail.
But nothing in my comments was pro- or anti- with regards to arming teachers.
I didn’t rant against guns.
And I never, not once, said arming teachers was a bad idea.
But here’s the funny thing, right here:
A veteran, meaning me, thinks it’s a bad idea.
That’s what they said.
That’s what they all said.
Pro gun. Anti gun. Didn’t matter. When people attempted to answer my questions, they all, every single one, thousands of them, they all came to this same conclusion: Gee, Jim, you’re saying arming teachers is a bad idea.
No, I didn’t.
I didn’t say that at all.
Addendum 1: Every time I write one of these, I hope it's the last. But it never is, there's always another massacre. Always.
The Seven Stages of Gun Violence
The Bang Bang Crazy Series:
Part 1, What we need, see, are more guns, big fucking guns
Part 2, Gun violence isn't the exception in America, it's who we are
Part 3, Sandy Hook, the NRA, and a gun in every school
Part 4, More dead kids and why we have laws
Part 5, Gun control and a polite society
Part 6, The Christopher Donner rampage, they needed killin'
Part 7, Still more dead kids and let's print our own guns!
Part 8, Let's try blaming the victim, shall we?
Part 9, Armed soldiers on post, sure, nothing to go wrong there.
Part 10, Big Damned Heroes!
Part 11, Two in the Bush
Part 12, Excuses, Excuses
What do we do about it? How do we change our culture of gun violence? Bang Bang Sanity
Addendum 2: As noted elsewhere, I’ve been around guns my entire life. My dad taught me to shoot when I was a kid – in fact the very first gun I ever fired was my dad’s prized black powder .75 caliber smooth bore Civil War trench piece when I was about four years old. I still own my very first gun, bought from Meijer’s Thrifty Acres in Jenison, Michigan, for me by my dad when I was fourteen years old – a lever action Winchester 30-30. I got my first deer with that gun. I grew up shooting, at home, in the Boy Scouts, hunting, target shooting, plinking, with friends and with family. Thirty years ago I joined the military and spent my entire life there. I know more than a little about guns. I’m a graduate of the Smith & Wesson Rangemaster Academy, the nation’s premier firearms instructor school. I’m a certified armorer and gunsmith. I’ve attended pretty much every boarding officer and gun school the military has. I hold both the Expert Pistol and Expert Rifle Medals. I’ve taught small arms and combat arms to both military and civilians for nearly thirty years now. I’ve fired damned near everything the US military owns, from the old .38 revolver to a US Navy Aegis Guided Missile Cruiser’s 5” main battery – and everything in between. I can still field strip a Colt .45 M-1911 pistol and put it back together in under a minute, blindfolded – I happen to own several of them, along with numerous other semi-auto pistols and a number of revolvers. I used to shoot professionally and in competition. I helped to design, test, field, and fire in combat US Military weapons systems. I’ve spent my entire life in places where gun usage is extremely, extremely, common. I have a Concealed Carry Permit. I spent much of my life in Alaska and I typically carry a gun in the bush on a regular basis. I am neither pro-gun nor anti-gun, a gun is a tool, nothing more. If you feel that I’m ignorant of guns, or that I’m anti-gun, or unAmerican, well, you’re welcome to speak your piece – just so long as you can live with what comes after.