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I’ve finally released my third novel, Safe From the War, as an ebook on Amazon. Print and audio versions to follow (hopefully soon). This book is the prequel to Line in the Valley, and explains what my protagonist Jerry Nunez experienced in Houston before he was sent to fight on the Texas border.

In one day it’s received a few five-star reviews. Not a bad start. :)

Short excerpt:

“Nunez approached the door, watching the window closely for shadows against the glass, eyes peering through blinds, anything. He saw and heard nothing. The door had no windows, and dirt was streaked across it at waist level.

Everything else was clean. Dirt on the door didn’t fit. Nunez pulled the flashlight from his belt and strobed the door with it.

The streaks were drying blood, not dirt. It looked like someone had reached for the door with bloody fingers, smearing it from their hands as they were pulled inside. Nunez strobed again, looking at the doorstep this time.

Blood. Lots of it. Not in a pool but scattered in large spots, each several inches across. Dozens of smaller drops dotted the doorstep. Red footprints covered the gaps between larger spots of blood. The random pattern of the drops suggested a violent struggle at the doorstep.

Looks like that little thug was telling the truth, Nunez thought. But the suspect was stabbing her, not punching her.

The blood was dark and thick. Nunez recognized it as venous blood, what most untrained observers thought was arterial blood. Nunez knew from previous experience on the street, and more than one bad incident in Afghanistan, that the girl was hurt bad. He reached for his radio shoulder mike and lifted his eyes from the doorstep.

Fingers were inside the window, separating the cheap Venetian blinds. Dark eyes behind them stared hatefully at Nunez. If the other hand held a gun, Nunez was fucked.”

If you should read it, please leave a brutally honest review. Thanks and I hope y’all enjoy it.

Chris

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


Sometimes it makes sense to carry a .380. Twenty years ago I wouldn’t have said that, but with today’s advances in ammunition technology the .380 has become a viable self-defense round. I’m a cop and don’t carry purely for self defense; it’s my job to advance toward a threat, not cover my and my family’s retreat. After hearing opinions from two very skilled tactical trainers, and spending enough range time with a Glock 42, I would have the confidence to advance on a threat with a .380. Yes, I’d likely be at more of a disadvantage than I’d be with a larger pistol, I’d have to get much closer to make effective shots, and I’d probably need to put more rounds on target to stop a bad guy (which is why I never go with less than three spare mags when I carry my G42). But I could win a gunfight with a .380.

Now that I’ve explained why I sometimes carry a .380, the next question is, what’s the best way to carry it?

One extremely low-profile way to carry a small pistol is in a pocket holster. When I have to dress up and tuck in my shirt, pocket carry is great. But for EDC, it has a significant drawback: it’s not ambidextrous. If the first indication I’m in a gunfight is a disabling wound to my right hand, and I’m pocket carrying, I’ve got problems. The same concern applies to strong-side IWB carry. I don’t carry a gun in case nothing goes wrong, I carry in case everything goes wrong. And one way everything could go wrong is having to engage in a gunfight with only my weak hand. My weapon generally has to be accessible with either hand.

For that reason, among many others, I’ve switched to Appendix In Waist Band (AIWB) carry. And Big Stick Defense (http://www.bigstickholsters.com), run by fellow Texan Levi Ralston, makes a pretty good AIWB holster.

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This is MY holster, before Big Stick shipped it over.

Tons of Kydex benders are making holsters. But Big Stick’s “Fat Boy” stands out among others for two reasons. Big Stick only advertises one major feature for the Fat Boy, but the second and third really grabbed my attention. (Note: the Fat Boy isn’t only for appendix carry, I just use it solely for that purpose.)

The Fat Boy’s “signature feature” is a raised sweat guard that cover the entire body side of the weapon; none of the weapon touches your abdomen. This prevents rust, and helps avoid “holster bite” when you holster your pistol. Holster bite doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for middle-aged guys fighting a beer belly (like me), getting the crap pinched out of your stomach every time you holster becomes kind of a pain. The Fat Boy eliminates the bite problem.

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The second feature is the Fat Boy’s “control channel”. The channel keeps Kydex off the slide release, which prevents the possibility the slide release will catch or drag during the draw. An associated feature is a pronounced shroud that prevents accidental mag release. One time, with one holster, I drew my weapon and discovered my mag was popped. That was during a very intense training exercise, I was moving around a lot and hitting the deck repeatedly, and don’t know if the mag released because I leaned on it or if I failed to seat it before holstering. It only happened once, so I’m more inclined to think it was my fault rather than the holster’s. But that incident made me very aware of the possibility that a holster could cause me to lose my magazine. In a gunfight, that would just be embarrassing. I don’t have to worry about that happening if I’m using a Fat Boy.

The Fat Boy’s third and most-important-yet-unlisted feature is retention. I’ve used a lot of AIWB holsters, but this is the only one the pistol actually snaps into, the only one I can hold upside down and shake without having the weapon fall out, and the only one I could wear in a fistfight or wrestling match without worrying about losing my weapon. I can think of any number of holsters, including some very popular minimalist holsters, that I would be terrified to have in my waistband during a physical confrontation or even during significant physical exertion (i.e., running through a panicked crowd toward a potential threat). Having a loaded pistol floating around loose in your pants during a life-and-death crisis would kinda suck, but I wouldn’t worry about it if I was wearing a Fat Boy. With the G42 Fat Boy the weapon does “pop” as it’s drawn, which could be a problem if you’re trying to draw quietly, but training and awareness keep that under control. The G43 version is just as secure but has a much quieter draw.

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A one-off holster, made for a Jericho.

Based on my experience with the Fat Boy, Big Stick Defense seems to make good stuff. They offer a lifetime warranty on their gear, and if you buy a Big Stick holster and really wear it out they’ll pretty it up for you free of charge. If you’re in the market for a Glock 42 AIWB holster (or for any of the weapons listed below), Big Stick is a good place to start.

G42
G43
G26/27
G19/g17
G21
G34
Fullsize or commander 1911 W/ rail
Beretta PX4 storm
Plus many other commonly carried pistols

And if you’re near Brownwood, Texas, have a one-off weapon that’s not on the list and want a Big Stick holster, feel free to visit Big Stick Defense and let Levi use your weapon to custom make a holster for your pistol. Check out their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/bigstickdefense/?fref=ts, for more information.

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P.S. I don’t have any business association or interest with Big Stick Holsters. I just like their products and enjoy helping a Texas businessman who believes in the 2nd Amendment.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


This was published yesterday on Breach Bang Clear. If you love fake combat vets as much as I do, please click the link below and check it out. Thanks,

Chris

I Heart Fake Combat Vets

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


This was published Sunday on Breach Bang Clear. Rather than posting part of it here and asking you to follow the link and finish reading it on Breach Bang Clear, I’ll just post the link.

Explaining the Unexplainable; The Tamir Rice Shooting

Please let me know what you think. Thanks guys.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


Early last Thanksgiving morning, a longtime troublemaker tore out of a bar parking lot in Paradise, California. His headlights were off and he almost hit several bar patrons as he sped away. The troublemaker was, not surprisingly, drunk. Paradise police officer Patrick Feaster was parked near the bar, saw the drunk flee the parking lot, turned on his overheads and tried to stop him. Not surprisingly, the drunk, Andrew Thomas, didn’t stop. Instead, he rolled his SUV. His wife was ejected and died. Officer Feaster pulled up to the accident seconds later.

None of this is unusual. Drunks drive stupid, run from police, and kill innocent people every day in America. But what happened next was completely out of the ordinary: the officer, for no apparent reason, shot the driver. And he wasn’t charged for it.

I’ve been a cop for two decades, have written about why the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri was justified, and have spent many frustrating hours trying to explain to police critics that the real world is nothing like the TV shows they think are real. I’m extremely jaded about criticism of police tactics from people who know literally nothing about real-world lethal force encounters. When I first saw Facebook posts about the Paradise shooting, after the DA announced the officer wouldn’t be charged, I figured the posts were routine “guys who know nothing about police work making stupid comments” nonsense.

Then I watched the video.

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I watched as, after the accident, Officer Feaster reported the rollover to dispatch. I watched him get out of his patrol vehicle and seem to casually walk toward the wrecked SUV, which had come to rest on its driver’s side. I watched Andrew Thomas begin to climb out of the SUV’s window. Both his hands were visible, and there was no obvious indication of a weapon. I watched Officer Feaster casually draw his weapon, casually point it at Thomas, casually fire one shot, stop walking briefly as Thomas falls back into the SUV, and casually reholster. I watched him saunter to the SUV, look into the window toward Thomas, and report on the radio that “I’ve got an unresponsive female, I’ve got a male in the car refusing to get out.”

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Feaster shooting Andrew Thomas

I watched backup arrive. Feaster doesn’t mention he had shot the driver. I saw more backup arrive. Feaster still doesn’t say anything. As other officers check on the ejected woman and Thomas, I watched Feaster search the area he had been when he fired the shot (most likely looking for his spent shell).

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Feaster appearing to look for his spent shell

The video ended before EMS arrived, but reports I read said Feaster still didn’t say he had shot Thomas. It wasn’t until EMS pulled Thomas out and saw the gunshot wound that Feaster finally admitted he “might have” shot him. And Feaster didn’t actually say anything until his supervisor told an officer to go back to the bar and find out if Thomas had been shot there.

Eleven minutes passed between the moment Feaster shot Thomas and the moment he finally told someone about it. Eleven minutes Thomas could have bled out. And Feaster didn’t say a word, to anyone, until he basically got caught.

Feaster claimed the shooting was accidental. Thomas was paralyzed from the waist down. Feaster was immediately suspended, and the incident was referred to a grand jury. On December 10th, the District Attorney announced Feaster wouldn’t face criminal charges for the shooting.

As I watched the video, after I read that Feaster wouldn’t be charged, I had a “What the f**k?” moment. Don’t get me wrong; I understood why Officer Feaster drew his weapon, and I understand why he pointed it. Thomas was a felon who had just fled an officer, and drawing your weapon is normal during a felony stop. It’s also normal to point your weapon at a felon to force compliance. It’s not normal to put your finger on the trigger if you don’t see an immediate lethal threat, and it’s not normal to shoot an apparently unarmed man who presents no threat. From the video, I saw no reason the officer should have fired. It just didn’t make sense, and Feaster appeared to have done it intentionally.

But Feaster said it was an accident. The DA believed that, based on two very flimsy pieces of “evidence”:

  • Feaster fired in mid-stride, jerked his head sideways and “stutter-stepped” after firing, which the DA believes indicated surprise; and
  • Feaster fired only one shot, but officers are trained to fire at least twice.

The DA’s statement to the Paradise PD Chief says, “The dashcam video also shows Officer Feaster was not prepared for and was surprised by the gun’ s firing. The pistol discharges in mid stride and the officer both flinches his head to the right and does a ‘stutter step’ indicative of an officer not prepared for nor intentionally firing his pistol. Additionally officers normally train to fire a minimum of two shots when they intentionally fire their sidearms at training.”

I don’t get the DA’s reasoning, and I can refute his points:

  • In the academy, officers don’t typically train to fire while walking. But many private instructors offer advanced training, including pretty basic “shooting while walking” drills. Some officers train together on their own, and incorporate advanced training they’ve received from various instructors. At the very least, the DA should investigate whether Feaster had ever been trained to shoot while walking;
  • Feaster’s head movement and stutter-step could indicate surprise, or could have been Feaster simply assessing his shot before deciding whether to fire again (by the way, I didn’t see a stutter-step, I just saw Feaster stop walking long enough to fire); and
  • Officers were historically trained to fire two shots and assess, but we also train to fire until the threat ceases. We’ve moved away from the brainless “two shots no matter what” training that has probably gotten officers killed. I know an officer who got shot at, drew and fired twice, reholstered, and then realized the suspect was still shooting at him. To avoid training officers to make that mistake we don’t teach a two-shot minimum, and we don’t teach officers to fire after the threat has been neutralized. There have been many recent, justified police shootings where the officer fired only one shot. And if Feaster was planning on shooting twice, he carrying a .45 which has significant recoil. It’s not unreasonable to ask whether Featser didn’t shoot twice because Thomas dropped out of sight too quickly for Feaster to get back on his sights for a second shot.

On that video, I don’t see the obvious indicators of an accidental discharge that DA Ramsey sees. And according to DA Ramsey, shooting someone accidentally but not killing them isn’t illegal in California.

“In examining Officer Feaster’s criminal liability, we note first that this, thankfully, is not a homicide case and we therefore only examine those Penal Code sections dealing with the discharge of a firearm. All of those sections, be it Penal Code section 245 (Assault with a Firearm), 246 (Discharge of Firearm at an Occupied Vehicle) or 246.3 (Discharge of a Firearm in a Grossly Negligent Manner), all require proof the trigger of the firearm was pulled ‘willfully’ or under circumstances in which the display of the gun was unreasonable. As noted in Penal Code section7, the word ‘willfully’ when ‘applied to the intent with which an act is done, implies simply a purpose or willingness to commit the act (i.e. pull the trigger)’. An unintentional or accidental pulling of the trigger, as long as the firearm was originally displayed in a legal and reasonable manner – i.e. an officer in the reasonable performance of his duty of making a felony vehicle stop – does not, under the law, allow for criminal charges.”

Again, I get why Feaster drew and pointed his weapon. I’m also all for using as much force as necessary, as soon as it’s necessary. I’ve been in plenty of confusing, dangerous situations where I came close to shooting people I later found out weren’t a threat, and I’m more than willing to give a cop the benefit of the doubt. I understand that good guys can make good-faith mistakes under stress, and I don’t want any cop trying to do his best punished for it. I also understand that we cops live in a grey area, where neat lines and classroom theory get beaten senseless by ugly reality. I can defend a good guy who made a bad call. But I’m not willing to stand up for an officer who blatantly shot someone for no reason, then didn’t even bother to tell other officers or paramedics.

In this job, we need the public’s trust. We don’t necessarily need the public’s approval; as in the Mike Brown case, there will be times an officer is completely justified and the public just won’t accept it. But in cases where the shooting is obviously not justified, the officer even admits it’s not justified, the DA says it’s not justified, and someone who’s a jerk but didn’t deserve to get shot gets shot and paralyzed anyway, the officer should be charged. In Texas, if I shot someone the way Feaster did, I’d at least be charged with felony Deadly Conduct. And I’d deserve it.

I don’t like criticizing another officer, and I don’t like calling for a cop to be charged. I can maybe accept that Feaster was so ill-suited to police work, so inept, that he accidentally fired but wasn’t sure he fired, and spent eleven critical minutes trying to convince himself he hadn’t fired. Maybe Feaster didn’t intend to shoot anyone, and was just a horrible cop. I think it’s more likely he intended to shoot, and realized immediately he had screwed up.

Either way, if we cops expect the public to view us as the good guys, we should call for Feaster’s prosecution.

P.S. Andrew Thomas died after DA Ramsey’s announcement of no charges. I’m waiting to see if he charges Feaster now that his actions did in fact result in Thomas’ death.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


I’m not a Trump supporter. I’d rather immolate myself than vote for him. The man is half lunatic, half moron, and half douchebag. He’s a rich, arrogant tool.

Donald Trump

(Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

But he’s not an ISIS recruiting tool.

Muslim terrorists don’t hate us because Trump says offensive things about them. They hate us because of who they are, not because of what we do. This isn’t as simple as “don’t make them mad and they won’t attack us.”

ISIS will attack us because they think they’re supposed to. If we’re polite and civil to them, they’ll be in a good mood when they attack. If we’re rude and offensive, they’ll be in a bad mood when they attack. Either way, they’ll attack.

In the face of a new terror threat that’s rapidly becoming existential, America has erected a vast, impenetrable barrier of self-loathing and victim blaming. Every attack by Muslim terrorists evokes shouted comparisons to “The Crusades! Slavery! Attacks on Planned Parenthood!” from the intended victims. ISIS doesn’t have to morally justify their brutal crimes, because Americans do it for them.

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Yes, the Crusades were bad. The Muslim invasions of Europe, which started almost 400 years before the first crusade, were also bad. Slavery was bad in every culture that practiced it, which was pretty much every culture on earth including African cultures. Americans fought a war to eradicate slavery, and ended it long before many other countries (the African country of Mauritania didn’t outlaw slavery until the 1980s). The Planned Parenthood attack in Colorado was bad, and was in fact terrorism. But even if it was equally bad as ISIS massacres in principle, it wasn’t equally bad in its effect. If every life is precious, 130 murders are worse than three.

For every atrocity our enemies commit, they (and their American apologists) can point to some historical atrocity that equaled it. We could do the same thing. And no matter how desperately we seek moral equivalence, in a hundred years our descendants won’t be justified in massacring innocent Muslims because ISIS is massacring innocent non-Muslims today.

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Here, ISIS massacres Ethiopian Christians. No, that doesn’t mean Ethiopian Christians are now justified in massacring innocent Muslims. Just like the Crusades don’t mean ISIS is in any way justified in what they do.

But too many Americans keep thinking Muslim terrorists are motivated by our actions rather than their own beliefs. Our President has been saying for some time that “[Guantanamo Bay] is used by terrorists around the world to help recruit jihadists.” Yet 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history, happened before we started putting terror suspects in Gitmo. So did the USS Cole attack. So did Khobar towers. So did the African embassy bombings. So did the first World Trade Center bombing. So did the Beirut Marine barracks bombing. If holding terror suspects in Gitmo is such a huge recruiting tool for terrorism, what tool got so many terrorists to carry out so many terror attacks before Gitmo opened? And would closing Gitmo do anything more than restore us to the pre-Gitmo status quo, when terrorists wanted to kill us for non-Gitmo reasons?

Now the presumptive democratic presidential nominee has jumped on the “it’s our fault” bandwagon, claiming “[Trump] is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.” Besides the fact that Hillary Clinton has no actual evidence to support that claim, does she really think aspiring terrorists are saying “I was going to be a peaceful moderate, but then Trump said Muslims shouldn’t be allowed into America! Now I’ll blow myself up for Allah!”?

And actually, Trump isn’t in the latest ISIS video. But President Obama, VP Biden, G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton are. You heard that right; Obama and Biden, “liar” George Bush and “adulterer” Bill Clinton are being used as ISIS recruiting tools.

http://www.liveleak.com/ll_embed?f=62389eec34be

Whatever the recruiting tool, ISIS isn’t hurting for recruits and had a steady supply of volunteers long before Trump went full Trump. Estimates of ISIS manpower run as high as 200,000. And that estimate is from February, before Trump’s comments about Muslims. We’ve even recently heard that more British Muslims have joined ISIS than have joined the British military.

(This is bad news; however, the claim has been challenged partly because some of those British Muslims joined other jihadist groups but were included in ISIS numbers. This gives us the good news that British Muslims serve ISIS and the British military in near-equal numbers. So there’s that.)

And ISIS doesn’t rely on the actions of the Great Satan to lure recruits. In its magazine Dabiq ISIS does quote hawks like John McCain, but puts more emphasis on the word of god, the duty of all non-apostate Muslims to join ISIS’s jihad, the paradise awaiting martyrs, etc. It has interviews with martyrs before their deaths. It calls its fighters terrorists and shows them decapitating prisoners. It even shows, as a recruiting tool, pictures of dead ISIS fighters. It tells Muslims who can’t make the trip to Syria to kill non-Muslims wherever they are.

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That is in fact a dead ISIS fighter on the left, being used as a recruiting photo.

They were doing this before Trump opened his stupid mouth. Muslims were heeding ISIS’s call by the tens of thousands before Trump. Muslims following ISIS orders or suggestions killed 130 people in Paris, fourteen in San Bernardino and tried to kill who knows how many in Garland, Texas. That was all pre-Trump.

Why does anyone think ISIS cares so much about what we say? If ISIS followers keep committing mass murders, of course we’re going to respond negatively. Of course we’re going to reevaluate our refugee policies. Of course we’re going to take a hard look at who’s a threat and who’s not. ISIS knows this. Who really believes ISIS commands its followers to kill us all, then whines “They said mean things about us!” after its followers try to kill us all?

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Some of the 89 dead inside Paris’ Bataclan theater. No, ISIS didn’t kill these people because an American said something mean.

Let’s stop pretending ISIS only hates us because we’re bad people. ISIS hates us because ISIS is full of bad people. No, we’re not perfect, and we don’t have an unblemished foreign policy history. But if supporting dictators or using proxy armies to fight our enemies creates terrorism, then legions of Vietnamese suicide bombers should be attacking America. They’re not, because Vietnamese communists aren’t possessed by an ideology that encourages massacring civilians.

ISIS is possessed of such an ideology, and is proud of it. That 1400 year-old ideology is why they want to kill us. Trump is a clown, but even the democratic party can’t accuse him of creating ISIS ideology. Trump has done a million other stupid things he deserves blame for, but he’s not an ISIS recruiting tool. So stop looking for ways to blame America for Islamic terrorism, and start laying blame on the people who actually are terrorists.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


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I’m going to do something unexpected today. I’m going to agree with anti-police activists from the political left. But the activists probably won’t be happy about it.

Anti-police activists claim the many unjustified killings of black men by police officers show a systemic problem. They say these killings aren’t unconnected, disparate events caused by a handful of bad apples; instead, these incidents illustrate a problem within police culture. Even if the majority of police are good, the fact that so many bad ones unjustifiably kill people proves the entire system is corrupt. The activists argue that good police officers who don’t stand up to denounce bad ones are themselves part of the problem.

I’ve been a cop for over twenty years. I’ve argued that the shooting of Michael Brown was justified, and that NYPD didn’t intend to kill Eric Garner. I’ve defended police culture in general. Even so, I think those anti-police activists have a point.

Now I’ll get to the part that anti-police activists, and the larger left-leaning population behind them, won’t like:

Doesn’t this same logic apply to Islamic terrorism? Most Muslims are peaceful, but a small number carry out many, many acts of terrorism. Those acts of terrorism aren’t denounced by enough peaceful Muslims, and are quietly supported by a huge number (up to 195 million, according to a Pew Research poll). How do people point to a string of isolated murders by police and conclude police culture has a problem, then point to a string of murders by jihadists but conclude Islam doesn’t have the same problem?

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I don’t ask this question as a devout Christian conservative who despises Islam. I ask this as an agnostic political independent who’s had overwhelmingly positive experiences with Muslims. I lived as a UN civilian police officer in a Muslim country, worked daily with Muslims, had many Muslim friends, learned their language and culture, didn’t hide my beliefs, and never felt the least bit threatened. In Afghanistan I risked my life with and for Afghan Muslim soldiers, who risked their lives with and for me. Yes, Taliban tried to kill me, and I tried to kill them; that didn’t change my feelings about the Muslims beside me.

Here at home I’ve served with American Muslim cops and soldiers, and maintain friendships with many Muslims outside my professions. I helped a Muslim friend with her first novel. Not long ago I attended a murder-mystery party held by a Lebanese Muslim friend and her white Christian husband for their son, who had just been hired as a police officer. The guests were white, black, Hispanic and Arab, included Muslims, Christians and at least one guy who rejects all religion, and we had a great time together (by the way, at any party hosted by an Arab the food is awesome).

Unfortunately, despite my personal experience, Islamic terrorism is a threat. That’s objective fact. We’re all aware of the 368 innocent people slaughtered by jihadists in San Bernardino, Sinai and Paris, but we don’t often realize those attacks are relatively small potatoes compared to the unending campaign of murder outside the western world. In the last two years terrorism, nearly all of it Islamic, has killed over fifty thousand people worldwide. Al Qaeda’s decades-old threat has been supplanted by ISIS, an organization with tens of thousands of adherents and funded by forty to fifty million dollars per month in extortion, oil and tax money. ISIS has declared war on us, and someday we’ll figure out that war doesn’t require agreement from both parties. When war is declared on you by thirty thousand religious fanatics with weapons, combat experience, hundreds of millions in capital and a burning hatred for anyone who doesn’t agree with their beliefs, you’re at war whether you like it or not.

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Yet many in our nation choose to be willfully blind to the threat of Islamic terrorism. The New York Times published an article in June asserting that homegrown extremists have killed more people in America than Muslim extremists since 9/11, which conveniently begins counting just after we lost 3000 apparently unimportant victims to jihad. The Washington Post reported on November 23rd that car accidents, heart disease, cancer, suicide and other problems are far more dangerous than terrorism, and in fact, “You’re more likely to be fatally crushed by furniture than killed by a terrorist”.

I’m sure the victims in San Bernardino were thankful no furniture fell on them as they were being mowed down by Islamic terrorists.

Health risks resulting from lifestyle choices are voluntary. Accidents are brutal, tragic and accidental. Intentional acts of violence against the innocent are different. We have a stronger reaction against the kidnapping and murder of one child than a car accident that kills two children. Because one is a blatant expression of pure evil, the other is an unintentional happenstance than can be caused or suffered by literally anyone. Laughing off threats of genocide from dedicated murderers because we’re more likely to die of a heart attack or car accident is pretty stupid.

Yes, I get it. There’s very little chance we’ll be killed by jihadist suicide bombers. There’s also very little chance of dying in a mass shooting by a white anti-government extremist. There’s little chance a black man will be killed by a police officer. Yet every act of violent right-wing extremism provokes a (justifiable) uproar, and after every mass shooting the President and many others demand major legislative changes. Every unjustified police shooting of a black man sparks demonstrations and demands for change. If the slim chance of dying in a mass shooting from an anti-government zealot demands acknowledgment and action, and the slim chance of being murdered by a police officer demands public demonstration, so does the relatively slim chance of dying at the hands of Muslim terrorists.

In the last week I’ve heard two people, one a college professor and one an elected representative, minimize the threat of Islamic terrorism. The professor emphasized that almost all American Muslims oppose terrorism, and claimed Muslims themselves have stopped hundreds of attacks since 9/11 by turning in the plotters. The representative made the same point, and said nearly every week peaceful American Muslims turn in extremists trying to carry out jihadist attacks. The professor said America’s three million Muslims are overwhelmingly peaceful, the representative said the same thing but put the number of American’s Muslims at eight million.

So approximately one or two percent of our population has plotted hundreds of unsuccessful attacks since 9/11 and fails in a new plot nearly every week, and that’s supposed to convince me the threat is negligible? And that’s not including the small number of successful attacks like the Boston Marathon, Chattanooga or San Bernardino. It doesn’t take into account the American-born Muslims who saw videos of ISIS burning and decapitating prisoners, learned about their campaign of legitimized rape, heard the call to kill their neighbors, decided “That all sounds good to me,” and joined the jihad.

This isn’t hypothetical. One of those American-born Muslims went to school with my daughter. He traveled overseas to join ISIS, came home to visit family, and got caught. He’s not in jail. I now have an aspiring ISIS murderer living just minutes from my family.

We’ve seen, over and over, that intelligent, educated, wealthy Muslims who grow up in the west or live here for years can still turn against us. We saw it when nineteen wealthy, privileged Muslim men flew airplanes into our buildings. We saw it when a doctor from a British hospital rammed a car bomb into Glasgow International Airport. We saw it when an educated, foreign-born American Muslim engineer killed five American service members in Tennessee. We should have learned by now that some Muslims live in our culture, experience our freedom and opportunity, and still want to destroy it.

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Yet as a nation we still embrace the narrative of the poor, oppressed victim who had no option but to blow himself up. Our most senior officials sometimes refuse to even acknowledge Islam as a factor in Islamic terrorism. After the Charlie Hebdo attack and massacre of Jews at a kosher café that followed, our President referred to the cafe victims as having been randomly shot even though the killer himself said he targeted them because they were Jews. Despite The San Bernardino attack’s immediate indicators of Islamic terrorism, the President resisted acknowledging the obvious and only did so after ridiculously asserting “this could have been workplace-related”. As if an employee had an argument with a coworker, went home, put on military gear and armed himself with an AR-15 and pistol, built pipe bombs, grabbed his wife, and drove back to work to carry out an obviously planned mass murder.

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On the day of the San Bernardino attack I made these predictions. I’m not a terrorism expert and had no inside information. How did I and others immediately recognize the attack as Islamic terrorism, yet our President couldn’t?

Islamic terrorism is a huge threat. We need to stop dancing around that fact. The very small Muslim population of America, even though it’s mostly peaceful, generates attacks and failed attacks at a rate far out of proportion to its actual numbers. According to at least one report, 69 planned jihadist attacks against the United States have failed since 9/11. And since Islamic terrorism kills far more Muslims than anyone else, aren’t we putting peaceful Muslims at more risk by not addressing the threat they face?

Just as we’ve acknowledged a problem integral to police culture, we need to acknowledge the problem within Islam that leads so many of its adherents to commit horrible crimes. By acknowledging that problem, I don’t have to turn against Muslims who aren’t a threat. My friends aren’t the problem. The millions of American Muslims who oppose terrorism aren’t the problem. But hiding among those millions are a small number who do want to destroy us, who are in fact Muslims and do in fact wish to murder us in the name of their religion. Acting as if the elephant isn’t in the bedroom isn’t helping us, and ultimately doesn’t help peaceful Muslims either.

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Chris Hernandez is a 20 year police officer, former Marine and currently serving National Guard soldier with over 25 years of military service. He is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and also served 18 months as a United Nations police officer in Kosovo. He writes for BreachBangClear.com and Iron Mike magazine and has published two military fiction novels, Proof of Our Resolve and Line in the Valley, through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).




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