In an Age of Terrorism, do Something!

Here we go again.  In London three are dead and many injured thanks to the low-tech use of a car and knife in yet another act of cruelty and cowardice in the name of terrorism.  If you’ve been on a retreat, in a coma or hiking the AT, here’s a link:

http://www.bbc.com/news/live/uk-39355505

Brits rise up in unity and solidarity, etc.  Great.  We should all show unity and solidarity.  But we should all be able to DO something since the political class as a whole, around the world, seems to think the whole terrorist thing is like a teenage phase and has nothing to do with any particular belief, ideology or policy.  Witness the endless handwringing we usually see as police and officials struggle to figure out the attacker’s motivation.  ‘Gee, what could it be?’

Fortunately, the Brits have put more police on the streets.  ‘Armed and unarmed.’  It’s a great strategy really.  One of the dead was an unarmed police officer who clearly distracted the attacker and absorbed the knife so that others could use, you know, weapons to aid him in his pursuit of martyrdom.

I rant on.  But what I want to say is this.  We individuals cannot predict terroristic acts, and we certainly can’t stop them before they start. That’s the job of law enforcement and the military.  We can only do what we can, when these events happen, if we happen to be present.

So I’ve been thinking about things people should know how to do.  First of all, we should know how to PAY ATTENTION!  I have recently seen a commercial for a cellular company in which a young man streams movies and TV everywhere he goes, on the street, on the sidewalk, on the bus. The world around being, apparently, just too boring.  This is dangerous.  We should watch and learn.  Is that a suspicous package?  What does it mean that smoke is coming from under the hood of that parked car in the crowded area?  Is that a real gun the scary man pulled out?  Or is it just an oddly shaped, giant cell-phone? Why is that gentleman speeding towards me on the sidewalk?  Wait, am I on an episode of Impractical Jokers?  Paying attention to danger leads to running or fighting which leads to being the guy interviewed the next day about what happened, instead of the one remembered as ‘a really great guy who will be missed.’

We should also read.  Learn, from news, books, websites and classes, how to identify concerning behaviors and situations.  What does a firearm sound like?  What does a bomb blast look-like? (Clue, TV and movies get it wrong a lot.)  It’s easy to hear or see something dangerous and immediately think it’s nothing; we want it to be nothing, after all.

One of the sites I visit is Active Response Training. They have lots of articles about self-defense, as well as reviews of mass terror events, etc.  They also have excellent classes; I’ve taken one myself many years ago.

http://www.activeresponsetraining.net

Furthermore we should stop being lazy slugs and get in shape.  Sheesh, America, there are lots of great reasons to be fit; being attractive to your mate or potential mate is a good one.  So is living long and staying away from ER doctors like me.  But another is that when you are fit, you can run and fight.  This isn’t some right-wing way of looking at things.  It’s called an ‘evolutionary advantage.’   Run, bike, lift weights, hit the punching bag.  Do it until you’re exhausted then do it some more.  Say it with me:  Fitness = Survival.  It isn’t hard.

As a child I loved the Chuck Jones cartoon production of Rudyard Kipling’s mongoose story, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.  In the movie, Rikki the Mongoose says:  ‘A fat mongoose is a dead mongoose.’ That is, a fat mongoose can’t fight poisonous snakes.  I’ve never forgotten that lesson. Thanks Rikki!  And thanks Mr. Kipling!  (Not sure if it’s in the book, but the cartoon message really impacted this kid…)

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So what else can we do in an age of terrorism?  Emergency physicians like me understand  how to manage serious injuries, but we need to encourage citizens to learn 1) first aid with hemorrhage control and 2) CPR.  CPR classes are everywhere and typically include use of Automated External Defibrillators or AED’s.  In fact, in trauma situations like those involving terrorism, CPR and AED’s are probably not going to be very useful.  But it’s good to know for other sorts of emergencies.

DHS has a website and initiative called ‘Stop the Bleed.’  It’s worth a look as there are training videos.  Many companies also sell bleeding control kits that citizens can, and I think should, keep in their vehicles or on their persons.  A tourniquet and dressing don’t take up much space.

https://www.dhs.gov/stb-learn-how-stop-bleed

I would encourage young people to consider taking local First Responder or EMT basic classes.  It’s information you’ll never regret having, and it looks great on a resume.

We need a veritable army of first responders out there, ready to help while police and EMS are either tied up, on their way or being attacked themselves.  Physicians should be part of the effort to teach this material as well.

Last, but not least.  Those so inclined should learn to fight.  Obviously, the average person isn’t Rambo or an Army Ranger.  Most of us will never be up the the level of an MMA fighter.  But it may not take all that.  MInd you, self-defense classes can be absolute crap.  Especially the stuff they foist on nurses and physicians in order to handle attackers and dangerous patients (since security is usually told not to touch anybody…).

And self-defense skills need repetition like all motor skills.  But those people who want to learn can learn.  Learning to fight, whether boxing, wrestling, martial arts, etc., is hard, painful work.  It isn’t for everyone.

.However, sometimes, it takes just a willingness to do something, or anything. I saw a video this week in which a citizen and CWP holder shot, and killed, a man who was holding down a police officer and beating said officer badly.  Now, he was armed with a pistol, but might just as well have used the shovel I keep in my truck to hit the guy on the head.  Or might have thrown a rock.  Or picked up a stick.

In a building, a fire-extinguisher might be just enough delay and distraction.  A can of wasp and hornet spray kept in the office is mighty nasty stuff if sprayed in the face.

If so inclined, as many of us are (and far more physicians, nurses, medics, etc. than you might imagine), carry (legally) a firearm or reasonable knife.  If the attacker is bent on killing you anyway, can you do worse than fight?  You may slow him (or her…sorry). You might keep them from killing anyone after they kill or maim you.  Or, if you’re in good shape and have trained in some sort of class or fighting discipline (or just get really lucky…or have angels fighting with you), you might win!  Sure, sure, people will call you a monster.  But lives will be saved.

It’s a dangerous world, and always has been. But there are things we can do to make it less so.

Sitting back while the danger grows with our fear, apathy and inability?

Those are just bad options.

So:  Put down the phone, pay attention, read and learn, get in shape, learn to help the injured and learn (or at least consider) how to resist.  America, heck, civilization, needs this now more than ever.

 

 

The World Saw What Heroism Looks Like

This is my column in today’s Greenville News.  Go forth and be heroes.

http://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/08/29/world-got-see-heroism-looks-like/71330336/

Last week, a Moroccan immigrant was on a train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris. He was armed with an AK-47 rifle, a Luger handgun, hundreds of rounds of ammunition and a box-cutter. A French passenger, three young Americans (one active duty Airman, one National Guard soldier fresh from Afghanistan and their civilian friend) as well as a 60-year-old Briton saved untold lives when they deduced that the heavily armed individual in their train car probably wasn’t out for a day of target shooting.

So, forming a committee they deliberated about the best course of action. They issued surveys to the other passengers on the train to make sure that they were in line with current cultural, political and economic trends. They posted their thoughts to Twitter and Facebook and took a short class on tolerance.

Finally, they contemplated their European privilege, and the ways in which they might well have personally caused the obviously oppressed and disaffected individual to want aerate the passengers with 7.62 x 39 mm ammunition and filet them with a razor blade.

No, I’m just kidding. The five rushed him, tackled him, disarmed him, beat him with his own rifle, John Wayne style and choked him unconscious. They then left him hog-tied, after which he was arrested and the injured heroes given medical treatment for the serious wounds they incurred.

Subsequently, the French media asked everyone to be concerned about the feelings of the poor terrorist, who was not at all responsible for his actions and who was just holding the weapons ‘for some guy.’ The men who attacked the unfortunate rifle bearer were held and their motivations questioned by gendarmes who consider Americans uncouth and barbaric. Charges were filed for disturbing the peace and for handling unlicensed illegal firearms (disarming someone is no excuse to touch a gun).

Nope, still kidding. The same week it happened, French President Hollande presented these heroic gentlemen with the Legion of Honour, the highest French award for heroism. I suspect that the five have been gulping down free champagne and dancing with hot French girls, even as their knees occasionally go week with the realization that they were each about one trigger-pull from eternity. But that’s what heroism looks like. And God knows the world could use some more of it.

During the tragic, fatal shooting at the recruiting station in Chattanooga over the summer, one or two active duty members returned fire with with personal weapons. There were serious discussions about the legality and propriety of this action and the Navy commander of the site may still face disciplinary action. Personally, I believe he deserves praise and honor. If he did shoot back, he did the right thing, at the right moment, when there was no time to ask for permission or contemplate the larger implications of the action.

We live in a difficult, troubled world. I believe that all free people should be able to protect themselves, because the police and military (God bless them) can’t be everywhere. Only when predators do not know who will resist, do not know who is armed or prepared, will they have reason for pause. But the issue for our time is far more than terrorism.

It is too often the belief that regular citizens should not be expected to protect the endangered, rescue the imperiled, contribute to the needy, feed the hungry, fight evil with force, free the slaves, educate the illiterate. That only through the inefficiency of government and the relative anemia of our own favorite politicians is good accomplished. But this is merely moral sloth; little more than the transfer of our own human duty to other agents (who care far less about our own problems than we), in order to assuage our guilt.

Most of us will never see, much less assault, a terrorist. However there is other heroism to be accomplished. We can give to the needy, comfort the hurting, educate and feed the children, visit the aged. On our own dime, and on our own time. It requires only the personal decision to act and the courage to sacrifice time and resources. Well, that’s not entirely true. We have to take time out from screaming at each other online and actually do something other than hoping for the next politician or election to make our ideological dreams come true or our wallets fat.

Ultimately, heroism comes in many incredible forms. But to act heroically we need (as the King said) ‘a little less talk and a lot more action.’

Thanksgiving: mission accomplished. Check!

Thanksgiving week checklist:

Time spent with wife and four amazing children.  Check.

Fed 28 family members and friends.  Check.

Gave injured dog his medicine; sometimes, when he agreed and wasn’t a big baby.  Check.

Played X-Box…with wife and children. Check.

Ate more than reasonable, but maintained weight.  Check.

Standard Southern relaxation of shooting in backyard.  Grass littered with shell casings.  Now ammo poor.  Check.

Cousin sleepover with kids. Check.

Watched Elf.  Check.

Put up Christmas tree and decorations, according to wife’s excellent aesthetic sense.  Check.

Ate various incarnations of turkey and dressing, including chili.  Check.

Took out trash.  Check.

Long hike today, now exhausted. Check.

Best of all, thankful to God above for his grace and mercies.

Check, check, check.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Edwin

 

Image Credit

 

No guns allowed…silly sign, silly law.

My column this week in Girls Just Wanna Have Guns.  ‘No guns allowed signs’ are just ridiculous!

http://girlsjustwannahaveguns.com/2014/01/silly-signs-sillier-laws-guns-allowed/

While Christmas shopping with my wife, I was carrying my Smith and Wesson J-frame .38 in my front jeans pocket. It disappeared nicely and was further covered by my barn-coat.

We walked to the front door of the mall, only to find the sign.  You know the sign, the one with a gun in a circle with a slash.  ‘No concealed weapons allowed.’  (As an aside, I always wonder, as a gun afficionado, if they just mean the one drawn in the picture.  No Glocks?  Fine, I have a revolver.  No 1911 style pistols?  No worries, I don’t own one.)

I dutifully took my weapon back to the car and stowed it safely away.  But not without grumbling to my wife. We all know how ridiculous this is.  The sign, meant to keep gang-bangers, thugs and various violent criminals from carrying weapons in public does nothing of the sort.  Nevertheless, I abide by the law.

However, as I considered the lunacy of the law that allows businesses to impose such requirements on the lawful, I had some other thoughts about dangerous things that ought to be kept out of public venues.

Perhaps there should be a sign that says ‘no one with a history of violent mental illness allowed.’  It’s pretty clear that the gun isn’t the main problem if you happen to be crazy and dangerous.  Although obviously a bit difficult to enforce, it sure would send a message, wouldn’t it?  Admittedly, it would result in untold lawsuits about equal access and disability.  But concealed carry is legal as well, and ‘don’t you care about the children?’  Or something like that.  Although designing a symbol might be difficult.  A circle around a nut, with a line through it?

Another one I’d suggest is this. Malls should post signs that say ‘no one allowed who uses ,ethamphetamine, synthetic marijuana, cocaine, crack or any other drug that causes aggressive behavior.’  I’ve met people on those drugs, face-to-face in the emergency department where I work.  Based on my experience, I believe they don’t need to be in the public either.  Sign?  A circle around a wide-eyed guy with rotten teeth, perhaps?

Of course, given that weapons are ‘equalizers,’ we must admit that the world is still full of inequality when it comes to physical combat.  How about, ‘No body builders, weight-lifters, boxers, wrestlers or advanced martial artists allowed.’  I mean, they might be nice but they could still hurt someone couldn’t they? I mean, who wants a side-kick to the head when someone gets upset over a sale item?

We could go on.  No one allowed who has been drinking alcohol within, oh, say, 12 hours.  No one allowed who has recently been arrested or jailed (even non-violent offenders).  After all, if you can’t trust the man with the gun who passed a background check, fingerprints and a class, you certainly can’t trust non-violent criminals, can you?

No one allowed who has been in a fight in the last five years.  No one allowed who is upset over their relationships, angry at the boss; no one who is depressed or has recently started a new psychiatric drug that might lead to impulsive behavior.

The first point is that this would be impossible.  There aren’t enough police officers or Segue-riding mall-cops in the country to kick that many people out.  (And frankly, if you use my entire list, the mall will be pretty darn empty!) Second, we can all find another thing, or group to ban; and we can be reasonably assure that our bans will be completely ineffective at stopping violent crime.

Ultimately, it’s all a function of bad reasoning.  You see, I’m the guy the mall should want to have shopping while armed.  I care passionately about the safety of my loved ones, and of all those around me.  If I ever have to draw that weapon and use it, I will do it with fear and trepidation and caution.  I don’t ever want to need it.

I’m the guy who has handled firearms for as long as I can remember; who has taken classes, practiced and who has thought long and hard about the duties, responsibilities and consequences of carrying a weapon. I’m the guy who views it all with an eye to the historic code of chivalry, to modern law and to the law of God which rules my actions towards others; particularly where life and death are concerned.  Finally, I’m the guy who knows how to treat the injured.  If there is a shooter, you want me, a physician, to be a first responder.  If I’m armed, I might survive (and hang around) to do just that.

We live in a land of silly signs and silly laws, where logic is a fast fading quality.  What a pity we can’t just put a circle and a slash across the signs that say ‘no weapons allowed.’  The crime rate would drop even further.

Battle fury and the death of a soldier in London

Let’s honor the memory of a young husband, father and soldier murdered in London as bystanders watched.  Let’s keep the battle fury in our hearts!  May we never shame our ancestors by surrendering without a fight to the madness of terror.  This is my column in today’s Girls Just Wanna Have Guns.

http://girlsjustwannahaveguns.com/2013/05/dont-wet-your-diaper-battle-fury/

I’ve never been to Great Britain. Nevertheless, I’ve always had enormous respect for the land that was ancestral home to many of my ancestors.  I’ll stop short of calling myself an Anglophile, but I’ve always looked at our cousins across the pond as folks cut from the same cloth; lovers of freedom, lovers of truth and justice.

Some of my most cherished heroes came from that island nation that not so long ago, impacted the world such that it was said  ‘the sun never sets upon the British Empire.’ Among my favorites?  Boudicca, the warrior queen who fiercely resisted Roman rule.  Arthur, part-legend, likely part-fact, who may have been escended from Romans, and who resisted the Saxon incursions.  St. Patrick whose preaching helped convert Ireland to Christianity. Then there’s Alfred. the only English king to be given the honorific title, ‘The Great.’  A king, a leader of armies, a scholar and a devout Christian, he preserved much of his land from being lost to the Norsemen. And there’s King Harold, who died at Hastings fighting William the Conqueror, and William himself who united the land under his rule and that of his aristocracy (for better or worse).  Sir Thomas More who refused to yield his conscience and faith to Henry the VIII and lost his head for it. William Shakespeare, who made English a language of angelic beauty. Sir William Marshall, the last of the great knights.  William Wilberforce, who ended slavery in England with the power of rhetoric and truth.

Fast forward a bit and we have heroes such as the Duke of Wellington who handed Napoleon his defeat at Waterloo.  Admiral Horatio Nelson, who defeated the French in the battle of Trafalgar, and died  in the action. GK Chesterton, the brilliant Catholic writer and gentleman, who carried a sword-cane in his daily walks.  Churchill who vowed to fight the Nazis to the last man.  The common heroes of Dunkirk who rescued an army in everything that would float.  Gen. Montgomery, who gave the Germans fits in North Africa.  C.S. Lewis and JRR Tolkien, who served together in WWI, but whose contributions to wisdom and literature remain of epic proportion.

Why am I listing all of these great men?  Because I am confident not a single one of them would have stood by while two nut-jobs butchered a British soldier on a London street, in broad daylight.  Last week, of course, Drummer Lee Rigby, a member of the Second Fusilliers, was run down by a car driven by Islamic terrorists.  They then carved up the young soldier and father and beheaded him.  Courageous bystanders took cell-phone videos.  A genuinely courageous lady sat by the mortally wounded young man, praying for him, as another engaged one of the blood-covered murderers in conversation.  Police with guns had to be called to the scene, apparently by unarmed and uninvolved police officers who were waiting for back-up.  And the blood flowed, with everyone polite and proper.

The heroes listed above?  Well they would have hurled themselves at the butchers.  They would have drawn swords and battle axes, or dueling pistols or muskets or quarter-staffs or long-bows, or Webley revolvers, SMLE rifles or pitch-forks.  They would have been enraged and outraged and felt the battle fury seize them.

And if they did it now, they would have been arrested and charged with some ridiculous crime for being involved; for trying to save a life.  For being the embodiment of Anglo-Saxon and Norman culture, history and genetics.  In response to the fact that the two attackers had been shot by police, a police commissioner is quoted in the BBC as saying, ‘at this stage, we are not pursuing any criminal or misconduct offenses.’  For shooting the terrorists, that is.  Thank God for British justice!  No police prosecuted for shooting terrorists!

My Appalachian blood boils when I consider what happened on that city street.  Alas, we live in a time of deadly civility.  We want to interrogate and understand; to subdue and dialog.  We need women to chat with killers and PC police officers to make sure they shoot attackers properly and without malice.

I know. It happened in London, not here.  I like to think it would be different on an American street, especially with so many armed citizens.  But if we lose the spirit of greatness, if we lose the spirit of fire and justice, if we lose the fundamental ability to say ‘this is wrong!’ If we stop saying, ‘this is my land and this is my countryman!’  If we quench the battle fire in our hearts, then it won’t be long until we face the same situations.

Let this be a lesson, for us and our cousins across the sea.  We cannot survive as a culture, as a civilization, if we are sheep who raise, feed, coddle and defend wolves.  So look to history.  Look to courage and valor and sacrifice, my fellow free-men and free-women.  And if all you have is a rock, throw it at evil with all your might.  It’s what Alfred the Great would have done.  We should do no less.

The heart of a lion

This is a column of mine, published at Girls Just Wanna Have Guns.

Here’s the link:  http://girlsjustwannahaveguns.com/2013/04/heart-of-a-lion/

 

 

I was getting ready for work one morning, around 6 am, when I heard soft footsteps on the stairs. My youngest son, then 11, emerged into the entry way.  He was stepping carefully and in his right hand was his favorite Cold Steel brand machete.

I asked, ‘so, what’s up?’  (I was a little afraid he was sleep walking and would make quick work of dear old pop before I could get to the ER to take care of other injured folks.)

He replied, ‘I heard noises but wasn’t sure who was down here.’

Bottom line?  He was ensuring his family was safe.  And woe to any poor soul who felt the wrath of his blade.

We had a chat.  I praised him for his bravery and then added a parental caveat:  ‘but, if you think we have an intruder, you must come and tell me or your mother.’

Like his siblings, he’s passionate and brave.  A student of history, he loves the idea of chivalry.  My children and I have had many long talks about courageous persons of the past, about battles and strategy and about the merits and disadvantages of ancient weapons.  My son’s walls, and the walls of his brothers, are festooned with assorted swords, axes, daggers and archery equipment.  Even little sister has a favorite blade, stored in her room in case of emergency.  (Don’t panic.  They’re unsocialized homeschoolers, so this is pretty normal in our world. Along with reading books that aren’t politically correct and going to school without bullies.)

Contrary to popular wisdom in the public school systems of the West and the lame-stream media, my kids are about as gentle and kind as any on earth.  Not that they aren’t capable of doing harm.  But you’d have to push pretty hard for them to launch a spear or tomahawk your direction.  And by that, I mean you would probably have to break into their home and threaten to harm them or the rest of the family.

I think there are some lessons here; and not just because I’m proud of my children.  The first lesson is this:  freedom can only be preserved when we teach our children valor.  This means explaining to them that there are times in life for bold, decisive, even dangerous action. There are times when it is appropriate to confront evil with force.  If we raise generations who believe that the most dangerous threat can be mitigated with hugs and negotiations, then freedom will die along with all of those who try to understand and dialog with tyrants and psychopaths.

Teaching valor involves telling stories of the past, talking about the news of the day, and providing our children with fitness and the sort of activities considered completely appropriate in centuries past; things like wrestling, boxing and marksmanship.

But here’s the second lesson.  Just as freedom must always be balanced by responsibility and accountability, so courage and valor must be kept in dynamic tension with morality and mercy, with kindness and gentility.  We cannot raise men, or women, capable of violence (and every human being is) if we deny the value of morals and ethics.  We may fight in the front yard with heavy plastic swords, shoot arrows at targets or shoot clay-pigeons with shotguns.  But we also discuss right and wrong through the lens of history and the teachings of our faith.

The world is dangerous.  And those of us who believe that self-defense is a right granted by the Creator, not sanctimoniously granted by politicians who think we’re peasants, also believe that we have to prepare our children for those dangers, moral and physical.

Much of the world disagrees with that assessment.  Oh, they know it’s dangerous.  But they don’t want anyone prepared to deal with it in any way other than calling 911 and waiting for the inevitable end.  Because of this, they want the masses disarmed.  But here’s what they don’t understand. Self-defense doesn’t reside in the weapon, but in the spirit.

This is what we have to teach our next generations.  Weapons are necessary to combat both tyrannical rulers and dangerous individuals.  Americans have developed a unique passion for the creation of weapons and the appropriate use of weapons.  But ultimately, the weapon is secondary.  The heart and mind are most important.

If we do that, if we teach right and wrong, if we teach freedom and justice, if we teach chivalry and courage, then the weapons themselves are not the issue. Trust the guy who saw the fire in the eyes of his son, who was prepared to clear the house of bad guys with nothing more than his machete…and the heart of a lion.

Yes I do need a high capacity magazine! Here's why.

Yes I do need a hight capacity magzine! Here’s why…

 

Who needs a high capacity magazine? Who needs a weapon capable of firing more than ten rounds?  These questions echo across the airwaves and in the pages of magazines, newspapers, blogs and every conceivable outlet.  Well guarded politicians and cultural figures wring their hands in safety and newspaper offices post guards as they debate the merits of regular people with scary weapons.

For what it’s worth, I don’t like the tactic of anyone appealing to what I ‘need.’  It conveys a false concern at best, and at worst a terrible paternalism; the sort of paternalism that the American Left has railed against for decades, whenever fathers told daughters, husbands told wives, churches told believers or government told citizens what they should ‘need.’  But now, it’s positively fashionable to tell gun owners what they do, or don’t, need.

So, since ‘need’ is all the rage, let me explain why we ‘need’ those magazines and those rifles and handguns that use them.

First, our Leftist friends have been misled by media.  I fear that they believe the movies and television shows in which the intrepid, rebellious, foul-mouthed detective always comes out smiling when he uses his snub-nosed .38 caliber revolver to take down bad-guys with automatic weapons.  He pushes the female lead out of the way and fires a snap-shot at the roof-line, and Voila!  The cartel member with the AK-47, 100 yards away, plummets to the ground.  He was dead before he fell.

In short, gun-control advocates like to think that every gunshot wound is the end for the person shot. However, let me lay a little medicine down.  It isn’t true.  While being shot is sometimes fatal, very often it isn’t.  And even if it is ultimately, the ‘shootee’ often has time to a) call 911 for help b) drive away or c) continue to do terrible things to the object of his or her rage and violent impulses.

Many years ago I was privileged to help teach a class on wounding.  The students were a sniper class, which was mixture of city police officers, FBI hostage rescue team members and SEAL team members.  I was an emergency medicine resident then, and it was a hoot.  They were some of the nicest people I had ever met, and after the talk my fellow instructor and I were allowed to ‘play’ with their toys,  such delightful treasures as suppressed sub-machine guns and sniper rifles.  It was, in short, a gun-lover’s dream come true.

But before we went to the range we discussed some important points.  Mainly, for a shot to be instantly incapacitating, it has to do one of three things.  It must either cause complete vascular collapse; for instance, it must cause the heart to cease to function or a large blood vessel like the aorta to be penetrated and cause sudden, massive hemorrhage.  Or, it can strike the central nervous system in such a way that complete neurologic incapacitation occurs.  For instance, it must strike the brain-stem, which is the lower portion of the brain behind the mouth and ears.  If this happens, the heart stops beating and breathing ceases.  Other brain shots may, or may not, immediately incapacitate the individual so injured.  Finally, the wound can cause sudden structural failure; for instance, shattering a femur or pelvis, or shooting away a spinal segment that causes the individual to be unable to support his or herself.

Short of these situations, a person may be shot and continue to fight, continue to kill, well after a wound is inflicted.  The FBI learned this the hard way in Florida, in 1986, when agents found their service weapons inadequate in the fight against two bank robbers, resulting in the deaths of two agents, and ultimately of both criminals.  And in the re-arming of the entire agency.

Now, the average person defending hearth and home may be able to inflict a fatal wound on an assailant. But their odds go up dramatically with a larger number of rounds fired.  Five or six rounds from a revolver might look good in a Western, but the Duke is gone (rest his soul) and Jose Wales has retired, and it’s up to regular folks to do the work of protecting the ranch from marauders.  A rifle with ten, twenty or thirty rounds available might be necessary.

Why is this?  In part, it’s because the kind of practice necessary to make those incredible, one shot incapacitating wounds is not easy to get.  Life is busy.  Suburban and urban shooters can’t go into their back yards and fire off rounds the way rural dwellers, like me, can.  And it requires good coaching from skilled teachers.  A Marine marksman or sniper takes time to create.  In fact, one reason the M-16, and its civilian brother the AR-15, came into the US military arsenal is that it is easier to give soldiers a light weapon, with light ammo and lots of it, capable of semi-automatic and (for the military) automatic fire, than it is to train them to be long-range marksmen.

In addition, those well-placed shots are difficult because of duress.  As an emergency physician, I’ll attest to the fact that stress makes seemingly simple physical skills more difficult.  So when we are afraid, when we are stressed, when we are worried about protecting our spouses and children, when we are fearful for our own lives, it can be tough to keep that weapon on target.  Tough to get the correct sight picture.  Tough to pull that trigger without moving the barrel too much.  Thus, having extra rounds is a good thing, not a bad thing, for lawful citizens.  The police understand this.  Most city and county police officers are no more at war than the people they protect.  But they want weapons that can fire lots of bullets.  Even they are subject to the vagaries of training and the physiology of stress.

But there’s more.  Drugs, and even alcohol, change the equation.  Having seen a 90 pound woman on drugs bite and kick her way through several security guards, having seen the crazy look in the eye of quietly menacing mental health patients whose violent impulses are escalating, having met people in custody for murder and rape, having lived in a county where home invasions have resulted in terrible deaths, I feel that I can safely say that while the world has lots of good people, bad people are more dangerous than ever.  Not only so, home invasions are often accomplished by more than one assailant.  Bad guys have no sense of honor, and aren’t interested in even odds.  More than one bullet, more than one magazine, may be necessary. Especially for those who live in areas further from police protection.

In addition, as drug addiction rises not only to Methamphetamine but to narcotics like Vicodin, Klonopin, Oxycontin, Fentanyl, Morphine and everything else imaginable, (including ever new drugs like Bath Salts being manufactured in clandestine labs), people become more desperate than ever to feed their addictions. They rob pharmacies and break into homes.  They steel from the chronically ill and the dying and they will not hesitate to kill you to obtain money or drugs.  And if you doubt me, ask your friendly local narcotics officer, ER nurse, physician or paramedic about the level of crazy out there these days.

Finally, however, there’s another reason.  You see, we now live and move in a world in which we have ceased to believe in right or wrong.  A society that rejects not only God but natural law; that finds it moralizing or fundamentalist to suggest that we inflect (God forbid) our values on young minds.  Far better if Hollywood (known for its peaceful, gun-free films), or college professors teach our young how to behave.  Well we have sown the wind, and now reap the whirlwind.

The Left has won the debate over morals so far.  They are busily expunging faith from the public square and happily teaching the young that the individual is the only arbiter of right and wrong.    My liberal friends, you got it.  The least you can do for creating generations of violent criminals with no fear of God or man is to allow the rest of us the tools with which to defend ourselves.

In all honestly, I don’t have a black rifle with all the protruding bits that give Leftists nightmares. But if, and when, the price ever drops again, and ammunition and magazines are available again, (thank you Mr. President for stimulating that bit of the economy!) I’ll likely buy one.

Because I do, in fact, need a high capacity magazine.  If you don’t want one, don’t bother.  But my life, and the lives of my wife and children, are worth protecting in the best way I know how.  And as far as I’m concerned, if I should have to protect them with a firearm, I want lots of bullets; which translates into lots of reasons for addicts, psychopaths and every other dangerous nut to leave me alone.  And if they won’t, lots of chances to make them drop where they stand.  That’s what I need.

What you need is for you to decide.