Shortly after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published this cover:

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The caption reads, “God exists! He drowned all the neo-nazis of Texas!”

We should all know about Charlie Hebdo. The newspaper has a long history of attacking anyone they deem worthy, usually with crude and offensive cartoons. That wasn’t much of a problem until they published cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed. Those cartoons led to a brutal jihadist attack on their office that left twelve dead in 2015.

To be clear, I supported Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish offensive cartoons in 2015, and I support it now. CH didn’t deserve to be physically attacked for their opinions about Islam and don’t deserve to be physically attacked for their opinions about Texas. However, they do deserve mockery, scorn and derision, for numerous reasons.

First, Hurricane Harvey primarily impacted Houston, which is in no way a nazi city. Houston is actually the the most diverse city in America, “where 51 percent of all those under the age of 20 are Latinos and 19 percent are African American.” A third of city residents over age five speak a language other than English at home, and according to census reports 145 languages are spoken in Houston. Over 15,000 Houstonians speak French. The city leans liberal and recently elected a black democratic mayor who replaced a lesbian democratic mayor, who replaced a white democratic mayor, who replaced a black democratic mayor, who replaced a white democratic mayor, who replaced a female democratic mayor (Houston has had democrat mayors since 1982). And while Texas voted republican in the 2016 presidential election, Houston itself went almost completely democrat (even if you ascribe to the incredibly shallow and unbelievably stupid belief that “republican equals nazi,” you can’t pin any nazi republicanism on Houston). And if being democrat isn’t enough, Houston also has a thriving gay community with the most gay-friendly employers in Texas, and hosts one of the oldest and largest gay pride parades in the American Southwest. Houston ain’t exactly the Third Reich.

Second, the drowning victims weren’t nazis. Six of the victims were from a single Hispanic family and included an elderly couple and four children. Another was a 60-year old Hispanic Houston police officer. Another was a nurse whose three-year old daughter was found clinging to her body. Another was an elderly woman drowned in her home, another was crushed by a tree that fell on her house, others included a clockmaker trying his save merchandise and a young man who foolishly drove around a barricade marking high water. There is no indication whatsoever any of the victims were “nazis,” and no reason to believe Hurricane Harvey just happened to strike an unknown nazi gathering. The storm killed dozens of innocent people, not dozens of nazis or any nazis at all.

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Six members of the Saldivar family, who died together when their van was swept away by flood waters.

Third, over 22,000 Texans died fighting nazis or their allies during World War II. Approximately 750,000 Texans served in total, making up 7% of the entire American fighting force. Supreme Allied Commander in Europe Dwight Eisenhower was a Texan, as was our most-decorated nazi killer Audie Murphy. The Texas 36th Infantry Division – MY division, by the way – participated in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, and was even at one point attached to the French First Army. Charlie Hebdo and many others are seeing nazis under their beds and finding them under every rock lately, but when real nazis really invaded France and really needed to be defeated, Texans showed up to do it.

And fourth, French and Texan soldiers have gone into combat together during the ongoing War On Terror, so even if Charlie Hebdo is stupid enough to think Texans are all nazis, other French people know better. One would think at a serious newspaper like Charlie Hebdo (/sarc), journalists would do some in-depth investigative work like, oh, asking a French person who’s been to Houston if it’s full of nazis. CH apparently never bothered with such minor details.

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Gasp! French troops posing with Texas nazis in Afghanistan!

Here in Texas we don’t even know how many we’ve lost. Victims probably haven’t even finished dying yet. Bodies will be recovered from flooded homes and overturned cars for many days to come. Families desperately searching for missing loved ones are dreading the tragic news they know is coming. One family is mourning the almost indescribable loss of beloved grandparents and four cherished children. Police officers all over the state are wearing badges covered with black bands to honor our lost sergeant. Texans and other Americans of many races, religions and political ideologies have spent the last week disregarding petty differences and coming together to help each other survive and recover. And for some unknown reason that’s sure to be incredibly moronic, Charlie Hebdo chose to slander the storm’s innocent victims as “nazis.”

When Charlie Hebdo was brutally attacked in 2015, millions of Americans, including me and many other Texans, stood against the jihadist attackers and for CH’s right to free speech. Whatever I thought of Charlie Hebdo’s politics or “art,” I argued that nobody deserves to be murdered for offending someone. I still believe that. Neither I nor other Texans will shoot up the Charlie Hebdo office, or demand their right to free speech be restricted.

I’ll simply point out that the surviving Charlie Hebdo staff presumably doesn’t believe their cartoonists deserved to be murdered for their opinions; one might think Charlie Hebdo would know better than to falsely accuse innocent people of being nazis, then suggest they deserved to die for it.

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Chris Hernandez (pictured above) is a 23 year police officer, former Marine and retired 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 three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War 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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On Tuesday, August 1st, the Texas “campus carry” law went into effect at community colleges, allowing students with Texas License to Carry (LTC) permits to carry concealed pistols in public community college campus buildings. It had already gone into effect at four-year colleges last year. Permit holders can’t openly carry pistols in campus buildings, nor can they carry long guns. And as it turns out, licensed carriers have been able to carry on public campuses (but not into buildings) for over twenty years, since the Texas Concealed Handgun License law went into effect in 1995. Although opponents of the CHL law predicted “shootouts at high noon” and had other apocalyptic visions, the opposite happened; crime actually decreased, and permit holders have proven to be extremely law-abiding. In 2016, Texas CHL holders accounted for only 148 criminal convictions out of 42,797 criminal convictions statewide, meaning Texas CHL holders made up only .3458% of Texas criminal offenders that year.

Several other states already have campus carry laws, and thus far those states don’t seem to be having an issue. After the original Texas CHL law went into effect in 1995, then-Harris County (Houston) District Attorney John Holmes, who had opposed the law, wrote in a letter to a Texas senator, “As you know, I was very outspoken in my opposition to the passage of the Concealed Handgun Act. I did not feel that such legislation was in the public interest and presented a clear and present danger to law abiding citizens by placing more handguns on our streets. Boy was I wrong. Our experience in Harris County, and indeed state-wide, has proven my initial fears absolutely groundless.”

A police chief in Utah, which has had campus carry since 2004, was asked about campus carry for a 2014 article:

“Officials at several universities, including the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Dixie State College and Utah State University told IdahoReporter.com that though carrying guns on campus has been legal for nearly a decade, they haven’t seen evidence that their schools are less safe.

‘We haven’t had much problem with it,’ said Steven Mecham, head of the Utah State University Department of Public Safety. ‘It’s just not been an issue.’

Reached via email, University of Utah spokeswoman Maria O’Mara told IdahoReporter.com, ‘We have had no incidents on campus regarding this law.’

Mecham said his agency only receives calls when a carrier’s shirt pulls up and other students or faculty see the weapon and call the authorities. When that happens, the police official said, officers will check the carrier’s permit to ensure the holder is carrying legally.

With guns close at hand, though, has Utah State University, the state’s second-largest school with about 20,000 students, experienced college kids threatening faculty or other learners with weapons?

‘We haven’t had any of that,’ Mecham said.”

Another Utah campus police chief said his school had a few reports of “students threatening or intimating gun violence,” but no shootings or accidental discharges.

Despite the widespread lack of doomsdays that have followed passage of concealed carry laws we still get irrational worry, generally expressed by the exact people we expect it from. For example, the New York Times published an op-ed written by a University of Texas at Austin professor who wrote,

“Allowing guns in classrooms (against the will of the overwhelming majority of professors, staff and students) will not only increase risk but, as has been argued elsewhere, will stifle classroom debates – an essential component of learning… Do I dread the potential presence of young vigilantes – because, let’s not be euphemistic about it, ‘vigilante’ is the right word for the people (mostly men) who will carry concealed guns – in my classroom? Certainly.”

But on Tuesday, when the Texas campus carry law went into effect, the New York Times was one-upped by a San Antonio College geology professor who – no joke – wore military body armor and a helmet to class.

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The professor, Charles K. Smith, told a local journalist, “It definitely makes me feel uneasy that there are more firearms on campus than there really should be. (Dressing this way) was just a statement on how I felt.”

So let’s address a few points:

  • Professor Smith has every right to express his stupid, irrational, near-panicked opinion. There’s no indication he’s a bad professor or treats students unfairly, and so no reason to advocate for firing or punishing him in any other way.
  • He doesn’t really believe he’s in danger. If he thought he truly needed a helmet and body armor, he wouldn’t go to work. Additionally, if he thought he was in real danger he’d wear that gear every day. As far as we know, he only wore it one day to make a statement. So his own actions show he doesn’t believe he really needs it.
  • He’s not in any more danger since campus carry became legal. As Utah and Colorado show, campus carry doesn’t equal “students murdering each other over classroom arguments.”
  • Even in Texas, campus carry hasn’t led to more violence. Four-year colleges enacted campus carry a year ago, with no issues. An officer I’m acquainted with who works at a very large and well-known Texas university said, “As a university police officer for a huge university, I’ll point out that we have had no problems since campus carry went into effect last year. The only incident I know of was a reserve police officer (who would be allowed to carry anyway) open carrying in a way that his badge was not readily visible.”

Opponents of campus carry frequently cite notorious college shootings as evidence campus carry should remain illegal. Let’s look at a few of those:

  • The Virginia Tech shooting, committed by Seung-Hui Cho in 2007, resulted in the deaths of 32 innocent people. Yes, it was a horrible massacre, and no, it had nothing to do with campus carry. Cho was illegally carrying on campus, with the specific intent to commit a massacre. The campus carry ban in effect at that time only prevented Cho’s victims from effectively defending themselves.
  • In 2015 Chris Harper-Mercer killed nine people at Umpqua College in Oregon. He was not legally carrying, and like Cho he went to campus specifically to commit a massacre. Umpqua College at that time banned guns on campus; however, that ban stopped neither Harper-Mercer from carrying nor Air Force veteran John Parker, who was carrying with a permit that day. Harper-Mercer, carrying illegally, carried out a mass murder, while Parker, carrying with a permit but in violation of college policy, stood ready to defend his classroom and hurt nobody.
  • In 2014 Elliot Rodger, a complete loser racist who had never kissed a girl, stabbed three men to death in his apartment before driving around near the University of California Santa Barbara shooting and hitting people with his car. He killed six total before committing suicide. He wasn’t carrying in campus with a permit, and his attack had nothing to do with campus carry.
  • Former Marine Charles Whitman murdered fourteen people (sixteen counting an unborn child and a victim who died from his wounds 35 years later) on the University of Texas Austin campus in 1966. Whitman had driven onto campus with a footlocker holding a shotgun, three rifles and three pistols, then killed several people while hauling his weapons to the top of the UT tower before sniping several more. This was the first American campus massacre, and the only one that might fit into the anti-campus carry narrative. I haven’t found anything about campus carry laws in Texas in 1966, but most states seem to have banned guns on campus after the UT massacre. I suspect Whitman wasn’t breaking any laws by possessing a shotgun or rifles on campus, although he probably was by carrying pistols. Whether he was legally carrying any weapons or not, a) Whitman didn’t commit a massacre because he got upset in class, he committed the massacre because that was his entire plan; and b) today’s campus carry laws don’t allow students to carry rifles and shotguns, which were the only weapons Whitman used to kill people on campus.

I haven’t been able to find any reports of legally-armed college students committing campus murders, or legally-armed students getting angry at classroom disagreements and shooting fellow students or professors. As far as I can tell, campus gun violence has all been from criminals and murderers illegally carrying, usually despite bans ordering them not to.

So why did Professor Charles Smith wear body armor to class?

He did it to draw attention to a nonexistent problem. He knows some students were already illegally carrying guns – he said so himself – yet didn’t wear body armor in response to that threat. Instead, he wore body armor because he doesn’t trust students who are at least 21 and have been background checked and attended training. He doesn’t trust them despite the fact that they haven’t murdered anyone in the last year that Texas has permitted concealed carry on four-year campuses, and haven’t murdered anyone in the decade they’ve been carrying on Utah college campuses.

Hysterical academics have been shrieking about concealed carry for decades. I remember the dire warnings of streets drenched with blood before Texas passed its original concealed carry law in 1995. Concealed carry laws haven’t taken us back to the Old West, and campus carry laws haven’t turned classroom debates into bloodbaths. Some have argued that campus carry makes people afraid to speak their opinion because students might be armed, but that’s just stupid; concealed means concealed so nobody would even know a student is armed, students haven’t been killing other students over classroom discussions in the decade campus carry has been legal in other states, nearly all the campus violence nationwide has been against conservatives who speak their minds rather than committed by students exercising their 2A rights, and nobody’s rights should be restricted because some people irrationally believe they’re in danger.

So please, Professor Smith, take your body armor back to army surplus. You’re not in any more danger from legally-armed students, and statistically in less danger from legally-armed students than from the illegally-armed students you already knew were on campus. Quit shrieking for attention, just show up to class and do your job. You’ll be fine.

P.S. If anyone knows of a campus murder or attempted murder committed by a legal concealed carrier, please send me the info.

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Chris Hernandez (pictured above) is a 23 year police officer, former Marine and retired 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 three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War 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 last Sunday on Breach Bang Clear.


 

Motoring Jihad: Vehicle Ramming Attacks

Chris Hernandez

Berlin, Germany. Nice, France. Ohio State University, USA. Westminster Bridge, London, UK. Stockholm, Sweden. Times Square, New York, USA*. And now London, UK.

Again.

Vehicle ramming attacks (VRAs) are becoming the preferred tactic of our jihadist terrorist enemy. Just like the IED threat in Iraq, something we didn’t anticipate but which seem completely predictable in hindsight, VRAs are the weapon sitting in plain sight for years that almost nobody thought to use until recently. They’re incredibly effective for a number of reasons, and we’re already far behind in our efforts to create effective countermeasures.

Aftermath of the Stockholm, Sweden truck attack

The most effective VRA to date occurred in Nice, France last year, and killed 86 people. The least effective was at the Ohio State University, which injured several but killed nobody. Last night’s attack in London, at last report, claimed seven lives and caused over three dozen injuries. We don’t yet know how many died from the ramming and how many from the following knife attack. Sweden’s VRA claimed five, Berlin’s attack claimed twelve, Westminster Bridge six, and Times Square one. That’s 117, including those stabbed by the attackers, in just the last eleven months. And that’s not counting dozens of vehicle attacks in Israel, like this one that killed four Israeli soldiers in January.

Or this one last year in Arizona (watch the whole thing):

If you were armed, could you have stopped that truck? If so, how? You could stand directly in front of it and mag dump into the windshield in front of the driver — shooting at it as it passes will likely have no effect, especially since you’d be shooting upward through the door. But you’d have only seconds to recognize the threat, draw, engage and get the hell out of the way. What’s the likelihood you’d be able to do all that and get a round through the windshield at the right spot, and have that round not lose so much mass and velocity as it goes through the windshield that it becomes ineffective? Maybe that’s not a one-in-a-billion shot, and maybe your response is “So you’re saying there’s a chance,” but I don’t have any realistic expectation that a concealed carrier could take out a truck like that.

You could also jump on the running board and fire through the side window. It’s what I like to think I’d try to do. But the Nice attacker was swerving, and going up to fifty miles per hour. A motorcycle rider said he rode next to the truck and climbed onto the running board before the driver pointed a gun at him, causing him to jump off. Another motorcycle rider reportedly tried to do the same thing but was run over and killed (there are conflicting reports and I’m not sure exactly what happened).

So it’s possible you could climb on the side and take a shot. But it’s also possible the driver himself is armed, like the Nice and Berlin attackers were, so you might get shot in the face and run over anyway. No matter what, using your weapon to stop a big truck like that wouldn’t be easy.

“Well, sure,” you might say. “That’s a big truck, and it would be hard to stop, but most ramming attacks would probably involve a regular car or pickup.” And you’re right, they probably would since regular passenger vehicles are easier to get. So watch this video from the Times Square VRA:

Same question: if you had been there and been armed, what could you have done?

The car was traveling much faster than the cargo truck in Nice. It doesn’t have as much material to deflect gunfire as the cargo truck, but it’s also much smaller and easier to miss. If you’d deliberately stand in front of that car you’re insane, especially since the car will keep moving even if you manage to kill the driver. If your first instinct would be to jump out of the way (and yes, that would be your first instinct) would you then open fire on that small and fast-moving car, in an area full of civilians?

No, I’m not saying there’s no way to stop vehicle attackers. But I am saying it’s pretty damn hard to stop a vehicle with a gun, as many Soldiers discovered during the War on Terror. I personally watched my gunner in Iraq shoot a suspected car bomb with an M2; the vehicle stopped, then started driving again when we were much farther away. If .50 caliber rounds into the hood didn’t stop a Toyota Corolla (I think that’s what it was), your Glock 19 probably won’t stop a VRA.

So what should you do in case a VRA happens in front of you? 

Zombieland already gave us Rule #1:

Cardio.


 

READ THE REST AT THIS LINK TO BREACH BANG CLEAR

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Chris Hernandez (pictured above) is a 23 year police officer, former Marine and retired 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 three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War 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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Lately we’re seeing a lot more citizens getting carry permits or exercising constitutional carry rights and going armed in public. That’s a great thing. We’re also seeing more and more social media posts showing people carrying the wrong weapons and/or carrying in ways that actually put them in more danger. That’s a bad thing. So I’m going to try to do something about it, and provide some basic information for people new to the world of carrying a pistol.

I’m not writing this from the standpoint of a tactical master; I’m no Paul Howe or Mike Pannone, and if they say anything that contradicts my advice, listen to them. However, I’ve been carrying a gun as a Marine, Soldier and cop for over twenty years, I’ve got a fair amount of training, and I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t through that training, my mistakes and painful experience, other people’s experience, and trial and error. Also, I’m not trying to sell you anything. While I write for a website that advertises weapons and accessories, and I have tested and advertised some firearms and products, I’m not writing this to push any company or product. I’m just telling you what I know and how I know it, suggesting you consider it, and asking you to decide for yourself if my advice will help you.

So I’ll present a list a points and explanations, in no particular order. Keep in mind, I’m writing for people who can legally own a gun and will legally carry according to their local laws. With that said, here we go.

  • IF YOU’RE CARRYING A GUN FOR ANY REASON OTHER THAN TO DEFEND YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY AND OTHER INNOCENT PEOPLE AROUND YOU, YOU’RE PROBABLY DOING IT WRONG.

Carrying a gun is all about practicalities and reality. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t carry to prove a point, especially a political point. If your motivation is to prove something, you’re likely ignoring practical considerations and tactical realities. For example, in most situations you’re better off with a concealed rather than openly carried weapon. But if you’re trying to prove something, you’ll probably make a bad tactical decision (like open carrying without a security holster) and draw attention that puts you in more danger than if you were unarmed.

As a cop, I urge every responsible citizen to legally carry. But don’t do it in a dumb way that accomplishes the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do.

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  • CARRYING A WEAPON IS A COMPROMISE, AND THERE IS NO PERFECT WEAPON OR PERFECT WAY TO DO IT. 

A cliché about carrying a weapon is “the best pistol for self defense is a rifle.” That’s true, but obviously carrying a rifle around everywhere is kind of a pain, and it’s likely to get you kicked out pretty much any place run by regular people. Not only that, if you carry a rifle in public you’re likely to be immortalized on the internet as a dumbass.

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So instead of carrying a rifle, you should carry a pistol. Pistols are inherently underpowered, have limited ammo capacity, and are relatively inaccurate due to their short barrels. But they’re the most practical self-defense weapons we’ve got.

What’s the best pistol? That depends on you. What is your body type? What’s your realistic threat? What’s your level of training? What’s your budget? Generally, you want the best pistol that you can afford that’s reliable, concealable, and powerful enough to sustain an actual gunfight.

I can’t say this enough: the most important concern for a carry gun is not how light and easy to carry it is. There are plenty of great pocket guns, and they definitely have their place. I’ll carry a two-shot .22 Derringer if nothing else is available, but I’d be terrified to have to pull that against a robber threatening my family. Tiny .380, 9mm and even .45 pistols can disappear in a pocket, but they tend to be inaccurate and painful to shoot because they’re so small and light. I’ve seen the web of a friend’s hand bleeding from firing less than a box of .380 through a pocket pistol, which made him not want to shoot it anymore. Any gun that you don’t want to train with isn’t a good carry gun.

So for a daily carry gun, I chose something bigger and more capable but still concealable for my body type. The gun that works best for me is a Glock 43, which is a single-stack 9mm. “Single stack” means the pistol’s magazine has one single row of rounds, versus a staggered row in a double-stack magazine, which means the single stack magazine and pistol grip are narrower, which means the pistol is easier to conceal. When it comes to hiding a pistol, a half-inch difference in width can be a big deal.

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Despite what some guy on Facebook said, this just might not be the best carry gun for you.

In case you’re wondering about body types, I’m a little guy at 5’7” and 170 pounds with a (formerly) thin build. It’s usually hard for me to conceal a large pistol unless I wear big untucked shirts, which makes me look like a complete slob. I carried a blocky, chunky Glock 27 for many years, and it was a little hard to hide, so I always wore baggy clothes. I also carried my full-size Glock 22 duty weapon for a time, and looked even sloppier. Now that I’m older and have to dress a little snappier, I’ve chosen a smaller pistol that’s easier to hide but still capable.

If you’re a huge monster and wear loose clothing, you might be able to easily hide a bigger gun. If you’re a five foot nothing beanpole who has to wear a close-fitting uniform, a smaller gun may be a better fit. Maybe. It depends on you personally, and how you’re shaped.

As mentioned above, your manner of dress also comes into play. Not everyone can “dress around their gun.” If you have to wear tucked-in shirts for work or social situations you probably can’t conceal a typical carry gun on your waist, which is usually the most practical way to carry. If you live in a hot climate you’re more limited in what you can conceal than you would be in Fargo ND, where you’d wear a jacket far more often.

Then there’s the threat level, which I mentioned earlier. If I knew for certain I was going to be attacked by an armed criminal, I’d probably stay home with my rifle by my side. But if I had to go out and couldn’t carry my rifle, I’d wear extra clothes so I could hide a full-size pistol with several spare magazines. Fortunately I don’t face that kind of known threat, so I’m comfortable with the G43. If you live in the worst neighborhood in Chicago and have already been robbed twice, your pistol choice should probably be a little different than mine.

And then there’s your budget. There are many reliable, outstanding pistols on the market like Glocks, Sig Sauers, Smith&Wessons, H&Ks and others, but they’re not free. If you can’t afford a quality pistol you may have to get something cheaper like a Ruger, Jennings or even a [shudder] Hi-Point. The point is, get the best pistol you can afford, and whatever you get make sure you understand its capabilities and limitations. I don’t hold anything against a guy carrying a cheap pistol because it’s the only one in his budget, as long as he trains and knows his pistol’s likelihood of failure.

For a time I carried the Beretta Nano in the top picture, which was perfect in every way except that it didn’t work. It failed to extract so often that I had to stop carrying it, and it’s now dying of loneliness in my safe. But if it was all I had, it’s what I’d have to go with. I’d just make sure I practiced malfunction drills like a man possessed.

Note: my advice about carrying a gun is mostly about autos. I’ve trained with a revolver, and I’ve seen some amazingly skilled revolver shooters, but I haven’t owned one in almost twenty years and the ones I did own were just backup guns. Revolvers tend to be a little harder to conceal because of their cylinders, generally have lower ammo capacity, are usually a little slower to reload, and carrying reloads for a revolver is a little more of a pain than carrying spare magazines for an auto. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t carry a revolver, if you’re well trained with one. It just means I’ve chosen an auto instead. Plenty of revolvers are good carry guns.

  • SPEAKING OF GOOD PISTOLS, THEY DON’T “JUST GO OFF.” 

This is important. Occasionally I’ll hear of someone preaching that carrying a loaded pistol is just too dangerous because the gun “might just go off.” Maybe that was true of certain older pistols, but a modern, quality weapon will only fire if you pull the trigger. If you don’t trust your pistol enough to carry it loaded, get training; if you still think your pistol is too dangerous to carry loaded, you probably shouldn’t carry it. As long as you train correctly, follow the firearms safety rules and keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot, a good pistol will never, ever “just go off.”

The gun in the video below didn’t just go off. The guy negligently pulled the trigger, while violating other gun safety rules.

Of course, you may have heard that Israeli police and soldiers carry with empty chambers. You may also think that Israelis are the tactical masterminds of the universe and everything they do is right. Well, even though the Israelis do tend to be tactically proficient, the empty chamber thing is kinda goofy. My understanding is that the original Israeli army was equipped with a variety of old pistols, some of which were too dangerous to carry loaded, so they adopted an across-the-board empty chamber policy so they could train everyone the exact same way. For some reason Israel has chosen to continue this training philosophy today, when they have good, modern pistols. But whatevs; just because they do it, doesn’t mean you should.

  • NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT SOMETHING TOO MANY GUN OWNERS IGNORE: WEAPON RETENTION. 

Before we move on to carry methods, we need to remind ourselves that a gun is NOT a magical talisman (credit to instructor Greg Ellifritz for that phrase). A gun is simply a tool, and if you carry it in a stupid way someone will take it from you and hurt you with it. I once heard a cop say off duty he carried his Glock stuck in his waistband with no holster; I’m sure that’s comfortable and all, but the moment he gets into a physical confrontation and has a loaded, unsecured pistol floating around his waistband, he’s screwed. If you’re going to carry, carry in a way that won’t get you killed if you have to run, fight, or keep someone from taking your gun.

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Photo credit Rawstory.com

I first started as a cop in the mid-90s, when we were just realizing how often cops were being disarmed and killed. We were told that a huge percentage of police officers shot and killed were shot with their own or their partner’s gun. Even so, we still had idiot cops who argued against retention holsters (more-secure holsters with secondary locking mechanisms) and used cheap thumb break holsters on duty. But I know officers who were saved by their retention holsters, I’ve discovered my retention holster unsnapped after a fight when I didn’t even realize the suspect was trying to get my gun, and I know of two incidents where suspects couldn’t disarm police officers who were unconscious because they couldn’t figure out the holster. Retention holsters work.

But even though we’ve known the danger of pistol disarms for decades, and even though we’ve had instances of open carriers being disarmed, we still frequently see people carrying guns in non-retention holsters, practically begging bad guys to steal their guns. I don’t get it. It seriously makes zero sense. This goes back to “carrying to prove a point”; I’d guess that most of the people open carrying pistols in crappy holsters are trying to prove something personal or political, and in so doing make bad tactical decisions that put them in more danger.

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So keep this in mind: if your weapon is ever going to be exposed in public, you should use a retention holster. And remember that concealment is a level of retention. It’s hard to take someone’s pistol when you don’t even know they have one.

  • SO NOW WE MOVE ON TO HOW TO CARRY. 

There are many methods of carry, and pretty much all of them make sense in some situations. I’ll address some of the most common, and provide a little insight into their strengths and drawbacks.

  • Strong Side Waist, outside waistband (OWB): not bad, but a decent-sized gun on your hip will stick out and maybe “print” (show a gun-shaped object) under your shirt. A thin gun with a good holster that holds it tight to your waist usually alleviates the printing problem. Also, in a physical confrontation you probably have a pretty good chance of protecting your gun if it’s carried strong side waist. On the other hand, one thing to consider is whether or not you can access a gun on your strong side with your weak hand if your strong hand is disabled. In a worst-case scenario, you want to be able to draw with either hand.
  • Four o’clock, OWB (over your back pocket on your strong side): I carried this way for years. I was wrong. While it had advantages in that it didn’t stick out to the side and was accessible with either hand, in a physical confrontation it would have been almost impossible to protect. But it’s not always wrong; if you have to wear a suit, for example, it’s not a bad concealment method.
  • Small of back OWB: basically the same issues as four o’clock carry.
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Pistol printing under a shirt. Photo credit Luckygunner.com.

Now, change those from OWB to inside the waistband (IWB). Generally speaking, IWB is far more secure than OWB. On the other hand, it’s way less comfortable. One crappy truth about carrying a pistol is that it’s heavy and uncomfortable. Deal with it, or don’t carry.

More carry methods:

  • Ankle carry: good for concealment but terrible for a quick draw, especially if you’re moving. If you’re unfortunate enough to have to run for your life while someone’s shooting at you, you’re not getting that gun out of an ankle holster until you stop or at least slow down. On the plus side, if you’re carrying on the inside of your ankle the weapon is accessible with either hand. Even with easy concealment, that’s still not enough of an advantage to make me choose ankle carry for daily use. Of course, there are plenty of situations where you might not be able to carry any other way, and that’s cool. Just make sure you understand that carry method’s limitations and how it affects your tactical plan.
  • Pocket carry: if you have a small enough gun and a good pocket holster, it’s great for concealment. There are many holster makers producing kydex pocket holsters that break up the pistol’s outline in your pocket, and not many people look at other people’s pockets anyway. It’s great for retention. It’s also not a terribly slow draw with your strong hand. But if you have to draw with your weak hand, it sucks. If you have to draw while seated, it sucks. One important note is that pocket holsters made out of soft materials can be dangerous; I tried one with a Glock 42, and during practice at the range I somehow got my finger inside the holster and brushed the trigger in my pocket while drawing. That’s that, I’ll never use a soft pocket holster again.
  • Off-body carry: that is, carrying in a backpack or man purse. While there are situations where it’s necessary or practical, I generally won’t do it unless there’s no other option. Most tactical man purses that carry a gun look exactly like a tactical man purse with a gun, and most backpacks with a gun will take a long time to draw from, so I don’t like that method of carry. That said, I do carry a gun in a small backpack or chest pack when I jog, because there’s really no other way to do it. One of my rules of thumb for carrying a gun is “if it’s not on my body, it’s not loaded.” With all the possibilities of having a bag stolen, or having to take it off in formal situations like business meetings, I’d be real nervous about having a loaded pistol in a bag. But as I said, there are times it makes sense.
  • Shoulder holster carry: never done it. I’ve seen a lot of older cops do it, younger guys not so much. I’m told it makes sense when you’re wearing a suit or flying a helicopter. One thing I was warned about is that in a physical confrontation we automatically take a bladed stance against our opponent, and if you’re using a shoulder holster you’re actually putting your pistol closer to him butt first, which makes it easier for him to grab. I’ve also never seen or heard of a retention security holster; they all just have a single snap thumb break, as far as I know.
  • Cross draw: I can only think of one situation where this might make sense, and that’s drawing a pistol while seated in a car or other confined space. But that possible advantage disappears the minute you’re on your feet; now you have to reach in front of your own body to draw your weapon, which you probably can’t do if you’re rolling around in a fight. You also probably can’t draw at all with your weak hand, and if you do draw you have to make an arcing motion to bring the weapon on target so you’ll probably swing past your target and have to reverse motion to bring it back. Cross draw is slow, impractical and dangerous. One of the biggest indicators that a gun carrier has no idea what he’s doing is if he’s carrying in a cross draw holster. I’ve never seen a well-trained shooter carrying cross draw and never heard of any reputable instructor advocating it. I’m all ears, though; if someone knows good reasons to do it, please let me know in the comments.
  • Appendix carry (IWB just off center from your navel): uncomfortable, awkward, fear inducing because you’re just sure you’ll shoot your weiner off, and one of the best carry methods out there. Appendix carry is extremely secure, and with a good appendix holster you can run and fight without the slightest worry about losing your gun. It’s also one of the fastest draws. On the negative side, if you have a gut it’ll push the grip outward and make your pistol print. Also, appendix carry generally requires two hands for reholstering your weapon, which might cause a problem in some situations. And no matter how much you train to shoot from appendix, you never quite stop worrying about shooting your junk. I carry appendix almost exclusively, and will probably always feel a tinge of worry about it.
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Me appendix carrying at a training course a few years ago.

There are other carry methods, but I’ll stop with these. If anyone has questions about others, please leave a comment.

  • AT THIS POINT, WE PROBABLY NEED TO DISCUSS PEOPLE YOU SHOULDN’T LISTEN TO ABOUT CARRYING A GUN. 

Unfortunately, the gun world is full of guys with an ounce of experience and a ton of advice. Many of them have literally no business telling anyone how to carry, because they don’t know how to do it correctly themselves. So let’s talk about a few types of people who give bad advice:

  • Pretty much any random guy on the internet. The net is a vast cesspool of bad advice, and the random people offering tips in discussion forums are often the worst offenders. If random guy says something that sounds good to you, find a legitimate source confirming it before you believe it.
  • Bearded, overweight guys at ranges, gun shows and gun stores who start conversations with “I was a Navy SEAL on Recon Team Delta during the Battle of Fallujah off the coast of Afghanistan in 2010.” The gun world attracts liars and posers like Twinkies attract Rosie O’Donnell. A rule of thumb for life is to not believe anyone who claims to be a Special Forces hero without evidence, and that’s doubly important for a new shooter and gun carrier.
  • MANY veterans. “Veteran” can mean anything from Delta Force pistol instructor to a cook in a mess kit repair unit, and there are a lot more cooks than Delta Force instructors in the military. Most troops get little to no pistol training, so unless you know a veteran has advanced training there’s no reason to believe they’re skilled with a pistol just because they served.
  • MANY gun store employees and dealers at gun shows. Gun businesses are businesses; good ones won’t sell crappy or unsuitable guns to new shooters, bad ones don’t care what you buy as long as they make a profit. Back in 1995 when Texas passed the concealed carry law, some dumbass gun show dealer tried to sell me an AR-15 pistol for concealed carry. So if you’re new to the gun world, don’t walk into a gun store and expect every employee to give you only the best advice. Far too many only care about getting your money.
  • Most cops. Yeah, I said it. I’m super proud of my police brothers and sisters, but damn, a lot of them only train when they absolutely have to. I know cops who fire exactly fifty rounds a year, because that’s all they need to shoot for annual qualification. I know cops who refuse to carry a gun off duty. Being a cop does not guarantee being well trained; also, as far as concealed carry goes, remember that cops don’t have to worry about getting in trouble if someone sees their gun. A cop might say, “I’ve carried in a Serpa holster on my right hip for years and never had a problem,” and they’re right. But part of the reason they’ve never had a problem is because it doesn’t matter if they get spotted with a gun, so they don’t care if they’re sloppy about concealment.
  • Anyone whose basis for giving advice is “I’ve never had a problem with [my gun/ammo/holster/etc].” Sure, someone can “never have a problem” with something; that doesn’t mean they’ve ever actually trained or tested their gear. A beloved relative of mine (may he rest in peace) carried a cheap .25 in his pocket for years and never had a problem with it. Then he finally took it to the range, pulled the trigger and found out it was broken and wouldn’t fire. The cop I mentioned earlier could have carried his Glock just stuck in his waistband and never had a problem with it, as long as he never had to actually run or fight. There’s a certain brand of holster a lot of people use and never have problems with, because thus far nobody has torn their cheap holster off its paddle, (which is easy to do). A shooter with a notoriously unreliable pistol can brag about how he’s never had a problem with it, without mentioning he only fires one box of twenty rounds through it every other year. Pistols like Glocks and Sigs have been repeatedly torture tested and continued to fire, and many reputable companies make great holsters that stand up to abuse. One person’s personal experience with what may be the worst piece of gear or weapon ever built isn’t a valid reason for you to mimic him.
  • The guy who says, “I carry a .45 cuz they don’t make a .46, HAR HAR HAR!!” or any other version of “a real man carries a huge gun.” If you ever hear that, just slowly back away. Trust me.
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“But this Army Green Beret guy told me he’s carried a Hi-Point for years and never had a problem with it.”

  • BUT LET’S MOVE ON TO SOMETHING NEAR AND DEAR TO MY HEART: SPARE AMMO. 

For reasons I will never, ever, EVER understand, many gun carriers are convinced they’ll never need to reload. They carry their weapon with one mag in the mag well, and that’s it. “Well of course!”, they might say. “I carry a Glock 19 with a seventeen-round magazine, why would I need more than that?”

BECAUSE THINGS GO WRONG. Shooters in a gunfight shoot more and faster than they realize. Ammo fails. Magazines fail. Weapons double feed, requiring you to strip your magazine from the pistol, rack the slide several times, reinsert a mag and reload. Are you planning on stripping your mag from your weapon and taking the time to put it in your pocket, clearing your weapon, then taking the magazine back out (and maybe having to reseat or strip the top round because it’s sticking up vertically, as sometimes happens during double feeds) and then reloading, all while someone’s shooting at you? What if you’re running while clearing your weapon, how easy will it be to clear and reload with the same magazine?

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Double feed. Photo credit Dailycaller.com.

In real life, malfunctions happen even with the best of weapons. You can accidentally bang your pistol on a wall and unseat the magazine. You can induce a malfunction with an improper grip during a rushed draw. Or, far more likely, you can empty your weapon in seconds without realizing it (like the cop who shot a guy pointing a gun at me years ago; the officer thought he fired two or three rounds, when he had fired eight). Don’t be the guy who never thought he needed spare ammo, and died with an empty gun in his hand. That would be embarrassing.

Spare mags can be carried several ways, from belt pouches to mag holsters that clip to the inside of your pocket to carrying loose in a pocket. Respected tactical trainer Matt Graham taught me several years ago that pocket carrying mags works fine, and that’s what I’ve done since then. Others prefer different methods. However you do it, just do it.

One brief side note: if you get a small auto like a Glock 43 that only carries six rounds in a short magazine, remember that you only need ONE six-round mag. You might need that magazine in the gun for concealment, but your spare mags can have extensions to give you more ammo capacity. All my spare mags have +2 or +3 mag extensions from a reputable manufacturer. But whatever you do, don’t buy cheap mag extensions.

  • THE CURSE OF THE “GET OFF ME GUN” 

I’ve heard people say they just carry a “get off me gun” (GOMG). This is a weapon intended to just make an attacker stop his attack, not necessarily to incapacitate them. A Derringer, .25 Raven or any number of other small pistols are often referred to as GOMGs. People who carry them frequently don’t bother carrying spare ammo, and often say things like “I just plan on shooting it over my shoulder as I’m running away” or “It might not kill ‘em, but by god it’ll make ‘em quit coming at me.”

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.25 Raven. Photo credit Auction Arms.

No, it won’t. If you’re going to carry a gun, please, for the love of god, study the realities of gunfights. Determined attackers often take multiple hits and continue shooting, stabbing or punching. Even an unsurvivable wound might not kill someone for a while, as we saw back in the 1986 Miami FBI shootout where a robber/murderer took a lethal hit in the first few seconds of a fight but still managed to kill two FBI agents and wound several others before dying. Real life bullets don’t do what TV and movie bullets do, and if you think you’ll always drop someone with one dramatic shot you’re just wrong. GOMGs are typically underpowered with poor ballistic performance, and will likely be ineffective against someone high or drunk (or even just really mad, like one of the suspects in the FBI shootout).

Also, what if you’re not alone? The guy who plans on shooting as he’s running away seems to have failed to consider, oh, being robbed in the Wal-Mart parking lot while he’s with his wife and kids. Is he going to abandon his family and shoot over his shoulder while running away? Unfortunately, you don’t get to write the script for your gunfight. If you’re an armed citizen, any confrontation you have with a criminal is almost guaranteed to be an ambush where the criminal chose the time, location, and method of confrontation. You’ll already be on the defensive, don’t make it worse by carrying a GOMG with no spare ammo.

Again, there are situations where a GOMG is all you can get away with, and ya gotta do what ya gotta do. But for daily carry, I strongly recommend you carry a larger pistol you can actually fight with.

There are many, many more factors involved with carrying a gun, but I’ll stop here for now. If anyone has counter arguments to my points, please present them in the comments. I ain’t no expert on nuthin’, I’m always learning, and if I’m wrong about something I will gladly acknowledge my mistake. Thanks for reading, and if you’re going to carry a gun in public, please keep this in mind: a lethal force encounter is one of the most demanding, intense, complex situations anyone could ever face. If you’re untrained and get into a gunfight against an opponent with any skill whatsoever, you’re almost guaranteed to lose. So for yourself, your family and your fellow citizens, TRAIN WITH YOUR GUN.

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This post is dedicated to the memory of Kevin O’Brien, writer of the Weaponsman blog, who passed away unexpectedly last week. Kevin was a retired Special Forces Soldier, fellow Afghanistan veteran, true American patriot, genius about weapons, and hell of a nice guy. He enthusiastically supported my writing, and wrote the back cover blurb for my novel Line in the Valley. Kevin was taken from us far too soon, will be missed by many, and is hopefully enjoying the peace he truly earned. Rest in peace, brother.

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Chris Hernandez (pictured above) is a 23 year police officer, former Marine and retired 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 three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

 


Alleged Nazi Richard Spencer got punched last month. Then rioters at UC Berkeley beat people for going to see conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopolous, who is apparently also a Nazi. Since Milo’s a Nazi, the people who wanted to see Milo must also have been Nazis. One of the Nazis who wanted to see Milo was beaten unconscious, others were bloodied. For the last month, there’s been tons of Nazi-punching going on.

Who likes to see Nazis gets punched? Everyone, right? Well, not exactly. It turns out, punching Nazis isn’t as good an idea as one might think.

Before I get into why it’s not such a good idea, you should know I pledged my life to defending America from enemies, including Nazis, for 27 years. Some relatives I’m most proud of spent their formative years shooting Nazis. In our current political climate anyone who speaks out against punching Nazis is likely to be called a Nazi himself, but I actually hate Nazis. Not only have I studied World War II and the Holocaust for years and know what horrible crimes Nazis actually committed, I’ve also heard Holocaust survivors speak, visited Holocaust museums in America and Europe, and personally argued with neo-Nazis. I recognize that Nazis think they’re inherently superior to me, which kind of gets on my nerves. So before some “antifa” (“anti-fascist” rioter) gets all jacked up and calls me a Nazi, they should know that Hispanic Nazis fall under the category of “people unclear on the concept.”

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Since I don’t care much for Nazis, it might seem surprising that I don’t think they should be punched. To be more precise, I don’t mind punching actual Nazis; the problem is, the people getting punched lately aren’t Nazis. Richard Spencer is in fact a white nationalist, but he doesn’t actually do anything except talk. Milo Yiannapolous is a gay Jew with an affinity for black men, which would have gotten him killed three times over in Nazi Germany. The people who went to his event at Berkeley weren’t Nazis at all, they were just regular people who wanted to hear a dissenting opinion. One was just a young girl who didn’t agree with the mob. She wasn’t punched, she got pepper sprayed for it.

And therein lies the problem. When we cheer a violent rioter because “he punched a Nazi!”, without having any actual evidence the victim was a Nazi, what we’re really saying is, “It’s okay to use violence on people because I think I know their opinions, and I’ve decided some opinions aren’t allowed.”

But hey, Nazi opinions shouldn’t be allowed. Right?

Yes, they should. Nazis suck, and Nazi opinions suck, but we live in America. ANY opinion is allowed; not every opinion is valid, not every opinion is respectable, not every opinion is or should be safe from well-deserved ridicule. But an opinion – ANY opinion – is harmless. In America, we don’t beat people up for their opinions.

There are plenty of opinions I’m not fond of. I don’t like communists, since they murdered more people than Nazis ever even tried to. But if I encounter these people, I won’t beat them for their incredibly stupid opinions.

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Unlike many fringe leftists, I don’t care for the idea of killing every last white man, woman and child. At least one well-known member of the New Black Panther Party, on the other hand, has advocated white genocide on video on at least two occasions. So should we punch any NBPP member we see, since by association they advocate genocide?

Richard Spencer advocated “peaceful ethnic cleansing” to create a white nation. Just having that opinion means you should get punched, right? Oddly enough, a current major American political figure once advocated the creation of a black nation in the American south, with the caveat that “peaceful whites would not be compelled to move away,” which was awfully nice of him. But since he didn’t define “peaceful,” and we see that much of the left considers language itself “violence,” it’s not much of a stretch to see whites with wrong opinions ethnically cleansed from the black nation.

Think this modern political figure is some far-left loon? Nope, it’s Keith Ellison, in the running for chair of the Democratic National Committee. Since he advocated what sounds like ethnic cleansing, is anyone going to sucker punch him like they did Richard Spencer?

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“Nazis” are not the only people who say incredibly stupid or offensive things. But once you decide to beat people for being Nazis, without evidence they’re Nazis, your definition of what constitutes a Nazi tends to broaden. As we’ve heard repeatedly during and after the election, Spencer is a Nazi. Since he supports Trump, Trump must be a Nazi. Since Trump is a Nazi, anyone who supports him must be a Nazi. And since Nazis can be justifiably beaten in the streets, about half the country has now become legitimate targets for violence in the eyes of the radical left.

 

This violence has already gotten so bad, Trump protesters literally set a Trump supporter on fire the day after the inauguration. But since it’s okay to use violence against Nazis, which includes any Trump supporter, my ears are still ringing from the left’s deafening silence about a Trump protester literally setting someone on fire for their political opinion.

Two Trump supporters were beaten unconscious by leftist mobs within three days. And yet UC Berkeley students are writing essays justifying violence against unarmed people solely for their opinions as “self defense,” and protest organizers are proudly calling for even more violence against people for their opinions.

 

Long story short, 1) Americans shouldn’t get beaten for political opinions even if they’re Nazis, and 2) the people currently getting beaten aren’t Nazis anyway. I’d point out that the same liberal/leftist/democratic side of the aisle that was justifiably aghast at any violence by a Trump supporter is too busy watching the Flintstones or something to loudly condemn the mass violence, arson and looting being committed by radical leftists, but that’s too easy. So instead, I’ll do the radical leftist rioters who like to punch Nazis a favor, and tell them this:

Mob violence against people for having forbidden opinions is great fun and all, until your forbidden opinion is the one facing the angry mob. So stop it. Stop covering your face, joining up with your gang and beating up innocent people because you don’t like what they think. This isn’t just a moral issue, it’s a practical one. I’ve watched what you people do, and to be honest you suck at fighting.

Don’t get me wrong; you’re great at being cowards and forming large groups to attack individual unarmed people, you’re highly skilled at breaking windows, you’re proficient at arson, but you suck at actual fighting. And since your groups are made up of people who hate guns and hate the military, you don’t have armed, trained people experienced in the use of violence.

But your targets do. The people you consider Nazis are far more likely to be armed, trained, and prepared to fight than you are. And the more incidents of mass violence you commit, the more likely regular Americans are to fight back. Those regular Americans will be better at fighting than you are. The only reason you people haven’t been beaten down en masse in the streets is because regular Americans are following the rules and expecting the police to stop you. It won’t always be that way. Some day, probably very soon, you’ll encounter people who are intimately familiar with the kind of violence you think you’re capable of. And you won’t win.

“Antifas” and “Nazi punchers” are currently marching toward today’s equivalent of the L.A. Riot’s “roof Koreans,” people who didn’t just roll over and take it when rioters tried to loot and burn their businesses.

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Unlike way too many people on the fringes of both the right and left, I don’t want to see violence in the street against any American citizen for their political opinion. I don’t want to see Trump protesters assaulted at his rallies, or Trump’s supporters beaten unconscious by black-masked rioters who violently oppose pretty much anyone who doesn’t think Lenin is the mother of all thats holy. So please, if you support beating up “Nazis”/aka “regular American citizens with opinions you don’t like,” think about what you’re doing and what response you’re likely to provoke.

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and retired 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 three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).

 

 


As I’ve written before, I have an autistic son. I’ve also been a cop for almost 23 years. So when I saw the video of North Miami PD shooting the caretaker of an autistic man last July, and heard the officer’s explanation that he was actually trying to shoot the autistic man, I was…perplexed.

Just from a tactical perspective, I didn’t get the reasoning behind that shooting. From the camera’s angle I didn’t see anything that looked like a gun, I clearly saw the caretaker with his hands up explaining the situation, and I didn’t get why the caretaker was cuffed after being shot if the officer supposedly fired to protect him.

But most importantly, I saw the autistic man doing something that could have been a sign to the responding officers.

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On many occasions I’ve seen my autistic son lift objects to his eyes like that, or rub his fingers together at the corners of his eyes. Had I been on that scene, I would have immediately told everyone to back off, and explained why. The officers on that scene, through no fault of their own, seem not to have recognized that sign.

I’ve never been scared of a cop (at least in America; overseas was a different story). Despite the alleged oppression Hispanics have suffered, despite having family members complain to me about their awful treatment when they were arrested for things they were actually guilty of, despite the usual negative portrayal of cops on TV and in the media, I was never, ever, scared of an American cop. But now that I have an autistic son, I have to worry. Because I don’t know if my son, when he reaches adulthood, might somehow wind up in a situation where an untrained police officer might mistake him for a threat.

When I became a cop in 1994, I don’t remember any training about autism. We get some now, but what I’ve received is more about the basics of autism than how it specifically applies to my job. The number of kids diagnosed with autism has skyrocketed since I started this career, so new cops can expect to encounter a lot more autistic people than I ever did.

I speak autism and I speak cop, so after the North Miami shooting I started trying to figure out ways to spread knowledge about autism to street cops. I’ve come up with some examples, based on firsthand knowledge, of situations where a cop might mistake an autistic person for a threat.

First, I should say THIS IS ORIENTED TOWARD PATROL OFFICERS. Pretty much every other type of cop (detectives, accident investigators, etc.) arrives after the situation is settled and main players identified, but patrol shows up to mass confusion and a thousand unknowns. Patrolmen need this more than any other type of cop.

EXAMPLE 1: You’re on patrol and get a “see complainant” call at a house, with no additional information. You arrive at the house, knock on the door, and get invited inside. Inside the front room are a middle-aged couple and a teenage boy. Everything is calm. As you begin talking to the middle-aged couple, the teenage boy suddenly grabs your arm and yanks you toward the front door.

What would you do?

Something similar happened to me while I was conducting an investigation. I knew when I entered this house that a teenage boy with autism lived there. When he grabbed my arm and pulled me toward the door, I knew exactly what he was doing: he wanted to go for a ride. He wanted me to put him in my car and drive somewhere. I knew this because my autistic boy loves to go for rides, and has done the exact same thing with me many times.

As cops, we should always be vigilant. We should always be prepared to encounter a surprise threat. If I hadn’t known an autistic person was in that house, and didn’t have an autistic son myself, I would have reacted defensively when that teenage boy grabbed me. I would have yanked my arm away. I would probably have shoved him away to create distance. I would likely have drawn a Taser or baton. And none of that would have been necessary, because the boy wasn’t any kind of a threat.

If I had reacted like a cop instead of the father of an autistic son, I would likely have made the situation worse. Foreknowledge of autism kept me from overreacting and maybe harming an innocent person.

Example 2: You receive a “prowler” call in a neighborhood late at night, with a detailed suspect description. You drive into the neighborhood, turn a corner and see your suspect walking down the street. You drive up to him, get out of your car and yell at him to stop. He immediately sticks his fingers in his ears.

Most cops I know would get mad. We’ve known since childhood that sticking your fingers in your ears means “Lalalalala I’m not listening to you!”, and that would piss most of us off.

But you know what else it could be? It could be an autistic person who wandered from his house (like the man in North Miami) and has sensitivity to loud noises. I’ve been around autistic kids who have to always wear hearing protection because they’re so sensitive. I’ve seen my son melt down at an airshow, even with earmuffs, because he couldn’t stand the sound of the Blue Angels flying overhead. I once took him with me when I taught a class on autism, and at the end when the audience applauded he immediately stuck his fingers in his ears.

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[Photo from FriendshipCircle.Org]

Autism often involves hypersensitivity to sensory stimulation. If you encounter someone who acts like they’re ignoring your shouted commands, it may mean they actually can’t handle the shouting.

Read the rest here on Breach Bang Clear.

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired 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 three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).


NBC New York published an article on January 8th, two days after the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. The article is headlined “Mental Health Effects of Serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The authors of the article point out that Esteban Santiago, the Fort Lauderdale shooter, is the eighth veteran to carry out a mass shooting since 2009. The authors wrote, “The shooting highlights the need to ensure veterans are receiving adequate help for service-related trauma and the plight service members face when they return to civilian life,” and provided a timeline with brief summaries of all eight veteran mass shooters from the last eight years. The clear inference is that simply serving in war causes mental problems, and some veterans are so distraught by the transition to civilian life that they carry out acts of unimaginable violence.

The only problem I have with NBC’s article is that it’s a load of absolute nonsense.

Of the eight active duty or veteran active shooters listed in the article, three never went to war. One of those shooters was Nidal Hasan, the 2009 Fort Hood active shooter. He was an avowed jihadist who communicated before the attack with Anwar al-Awlaki, a notorious Islamist orator tied to several terrorist attacks and attempts. Nidal’s mass attack had nothing to do with any trauma, he killed American soldiers as part of his radical Islamic jihad.

The second shooter was Wade Page, a white supremacist who killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012. He was a missile repairman and PSYOP soldier who was discharged before the War on Terror for going AWOL, being drunk on duty and other unspecified misconduct.

The third was Navy veteran Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard shooter. He had a history of minor misconduct and one incident where he shot out the tires of a car, before he joined the military. He was never in combat, or near it.

So three of the eight mass shooters listed in the article never deployed. And remember, the article’s headline is “Mental Health Effects of Serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Now let’s look at the five who did deploy:

1) Ivan Antonio Lopez-Lopez was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, when he carried out the second Fort Hood mass shooting in 2014. Lopez served four months in Iraq, during which time one convoy he was on was hit by a roadside bomb. Lopez claimed to have been directly involved in the attack. Those unfamiliar with convoys might not know that convoys can be miles long, and it’s possible for one vehicle in a convoy to be hit with an IED while other soldiers in the convoy aren’t even aware of it. The army’s investigation determined Lopez wasn’t in the bomb’s blast radius, and “noted instances in which Specialist Lopez, who had served in Iraq in 2011, had been ‘misleading or deceptive’” about his wartime service. He seems to have been an outright liar; the Army determined that despite Lopez’s claims he had never been in direct combat, and “A Facebook page created by Lopez claimed that he was a sniper who had been to the Central African Republic.”

Lopez also had numerous stressors prior to the shooting: “Lopez was allegedly distraught over financial issues and the deaths of his grandfather and then his mother during a two-month period five months prior to the shooting. He was also undergoing regular psychiatric treatment for depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder.” As noted earlier, the PTSD diagnosis is suspect (and PTSD doesn’t cause uncontrollable mass violence anyway). The incident that actually sparked the shooting was a dispute over leave.

So Lopez was a liar who exaggerated his wartime experiences, was never in direct combat, had personal, financial and family issues, and got into an argument just before he murdered three innocent people. Nothing suggests his four-month Iraq deployment caused the mass shooting.

2) Dionisio Garza III killed one man and shot several others in Houston in May, 2016. He was an honest-to-god actual infantry combat veteran of Afghanistan. He also appears to have been severely mentally ill and delusional when he carried out the attack. He had left California for Texas just before the shooting because he believed the dollar was about to collapse , and left numerous irrational notes on the walls of a small building he had turned into a fighting position. “Police say after the shooting, they found random piece[s] of paper and writing on the walls inside the tire shop. While they didn’t appear to be terror related, they seemed to be the writing of a person in a ‘mental health crisis.’” Not surprisingly, his family and a friend blame it all on PTSD; however, the symptoms of PTSD do not include “mass violence directed at random people.” Military service in Afghanistan may have in fact caused Garza to have PTSD, but it didn’t create psychosis.

3) Micah Johnson, the Dallas police mass murderer, had deployed to Afghanistan. Johnson was a carpenter on Bagram Air Force Base, which is basically a small city with a big PX, 24-hour restaurants, internet service, weekly salsa and country dancing nights, concerts, visits by celebrities, and pizza delivery service (my battalion was headquartered there in 2009, although I was lucky to be at a small firebase a couple of hours away). According to the Army, “[Johnson] also served general guard duty, but there is no evidence that he participated in any combat.” Bagram has ten thousand ridiculous rules and occasional incoming rockets that sometimes kill people. Stressful, sure. But did non-combat carpentry service make Micah Johnson steal panties, hate white people and especially white cops, get him kicked out of the Houston New Black Panther Party for bucking the chain of command, and murder five police officers including one I trained with?

No. Johnson’s actions were racially motivated, not a result of cutting 2x4s on a huge base in Afghanistan.

4) Gavin Long, the Baton Rouge police mass murderer, had served in Iraq as a Marine data network specialist. He deployed from mid-2008 to January 2009, when Iraq was relatively calm, and never received a Combat Action Ribbon (which Marines and sailors are awarded for engaging in direct combat). Long was also a radical separatist, involved with a black “sovereign citizens” group, told his mother he was being followed by the CIA, went to Africa to help people avoid “remote brain control experiments,” claimed to be a member of the Nation of Islam, and was generally a weirdo.

Did Long’s seven months working on data networks in Iraq well after the height of the war “trigger” uncontrollable violence? No. His delusions and radical views weren’t created by the Marine Corps or Iraq.

5) Esteban Santiago killed five people at the Fort Lauderdale airport less than a week ago. He served tens months in Iraq. He also appears to be psychotic, having reported to the FBI last year that he was hearing voices telling him to watch ISIS videos. He also may have been a radical jihadist sympathizer, although we’re still waiting for confirmation on that.

We do know that two soldiers in Santiago’s unit were killed by a bomb blast during his deployment. We don’t know that Santiago was ever in combat himself. And even if he was in combat, even if he did have PTSD, PTSD doesn’t make you hear voices in your head. It doesn’t make you murder innocent people in an airport. And it doesn’t make you sympathetic to radical jihad.

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Esteban Santiago, Fort Lauderdale airport shooter

After examining each veteran mass shooter, I don’t see any reason to believe that their military service caused the shootings. In Dionisio Garza’s case his experience sure made him more deadly, but nothing suggests military service was a the proximate cause or even a contributing factor. The truth is, some veterans have mental problems unrelated to their service. Some are criminals. Some are just evil people. The fact that a veteran committed a crime doesn’t mean they committed it because of their military service, just like if a former professional athlete commits murder that doesn’t mean he committed murder because he was a professional athlete.

Besides that, the stats show that veterans are actually underrepresented among mass shooters. A 2014 FBI report on mass shootings counted 160 mass shooting incidents between 2000 and 2013. 93 of those shootings occurred between 2009 and 2013, the time frame included in NBC New York’s article. Only three of those 93 active shooters were military (assuming NBC’s reporting is accurate), and those three shooters never even deployed to a war zone. I found reports of one more veteran active shooter during the 2009-2013 time frame, which means vets comprised 4 of 93 shooters, just over 4%.

But America’s roughly 22 million veterans comprise just over 6% of our population. Which means vets are statistically less likely than civilians to carry out a mass shooting. Is NBC going to publish an article showing that civilians are the more dangerous threat?

To be fair to NBC, plenty of vets push the stupid “poor, pitiful, damaged, hair-trigger veteran” narrative. Plenty of vets wear stupid “dysfunctional veteran” shirts and hats, and way too many proudly pose beside “I’m a hardened combat vet but can’t handle fireworks” signs in their front yards. NBC New York seems to have bought the damaged veteran myth, and the journalists who wrote the article may even think they’re helping us wretched loser veterans by telling the world that it’s not our fault we were ruined by the military.

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But NBC should dig a little deeper. If they did any actual investigation they’d find that many veterans are exaggerating or, like active shooter Lopez likely was, outright lying to get a PTSD diagnosis and the free money for life that comes with it. NBC might even learn that some of the voices screaming loudest in support of ridiculous “no fireworks” yard signs were never in combat. They might find former VA psychologists and psychiatrists who estimated at least half their patients were lying. They might learn the veteran community itself is split on the issue, with many combat veterans dead set against the “damaged vet” narrative and many others eagerly embracing it because it gets them money, sympathy and free stuff.

But one thing NBC wouldn’t find is anything about military service that causes people to go on mass shooting sprees. Military service doesn’t make people insanely violent; if it did, 22 million veterans in America would be murdering a hell of a lot of people every day. People commit mass murder because they’re mentally ill or just plain evil. They don’t do it because they served in the military, went to war, or don’t like civilian life.

So do some damn research, NBC. And next time you want to publish an article as stupid as this last one, talk to a veteran first. I’m fairly certain there’s not a single vet in your offices, or they would have set you straight. Contact me, and I’ll do the basic fact checking you didn’t bother to do.

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Chris Hernandez is a 22 year police officer, former Marine and recently retired 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 three military fiction novels, Proof of Our ResolveLine in the Valley and Safe From the War through Tactical16 Publishing. He can be reached at chris_hernandez_author@yahoo.com or on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ProofofOurResolve).