About the Author

Woody is a 10 year veteran of the US Coast Guard, where he has served at various units including the International Training Division and Maritime Security Response Team. He has held qualifications including Deployable Team Leader/Instructor, Direct Action Section Team Leader, and Precision Marksman – Observer. He has deployed/instructed on five continents and served in quick reaction force roles for multiple National Special Security Events in the US.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reply from Senator Kaine

March 24, 2014
Dear Woody:
Thank you for contacting me to share your views on proposals to reduce gun violence. I appreciate hearing from you. 
No one can deny that gun violence is a serious problem in this country today.  We owe it to the victims of the growing number of mass shootings to vigorously debate specific and comprehensive proposals that can keep our communities safer.  The right approach focuses on many issues - improvements to the mental health system, better security protocols and common sense rules about gun use, including keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.
When I was on the Richmond City Council in the 1990s, our city was mired in an epidemic of gun violence that included the city having the second-highest homicide rate in the United States.  The most successful step we took was implementing Project Exile, a program that involved federal prosecution and tougher penalties for gun crimes that were previously treated more leniently in state courts. Celebrated by diverse groups engaged in the gun violence debate - including the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign - the program helped drive down Richmond's homicide rate by nearly 60 percent within a few years.
In 2007, the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech revealed glaring weaknesses in campus security protocols at colleges and universities, in our mental health system and the gun background check system for gun purchases. In a bipartisan spirit, I worked with then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell to immediately improve our background check system and issued an executive order ensuring that those adjudicated to be mentally ill and dangerous would be entered into a national database and barred from purchasing weapons. We also changed standards for mental health treatment and increased funding for community health programs while dramatically improving campus security and efforts to assist college students suffering from mental stress.
On the sixth anniversary of the horrible shootings at Virginia Tech, I took to the Senate floor to remember the 32 Hokies who lost their lives. The tragedy happened after a dangerous young man illegally purchased weapons due to flaws in the background records check system. I was pleased to cast my vote on April 17, 2013, in support of S. 649, the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act legislation, which included tougher laws on gun trafficking and straw purchases, and ways to improve safety in schools. I also voted in support of a bipartisan proposal to expand background checks on gun laws, but unfortunately a filibuster of this measure prevented it from passing. I also voted for a ban on large-capacity magazines, and for a proposal to ban combat-style weapons. I am disappointed a minority of the Senate chose to use the filibuster to block common-sense reforms.
As your U.S. Senator, I will continue to work to bring that kind of comprehensive approach that will strengthen the safety of our communities, while protecting our Second Amendment rights. As a gun owner who worked with others to constitutionally guarantee Virginians the right to hunt, I know that you can be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment without tolerating the gun tragedies that are too often a part of our daily lives.
Thank you once again for contacting me.
Tim Kaine

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Letter to my Senators

Dear Senator Warner (and Kaine),

I respectfully ask that you decline to sign the letter currently being circulated by your fellow Senator Dianne Feinstein urging President Obama to use his Executive Authority to ban import of certain classes of firearms in common usage.  Senator Feinstein attempts to portray these firearms as not suited for a sporting purpose.  I disagree.  These firearms are commonly used in many sporting events throughout the country, such as 3 Gun Competition.  Also, as has been shown time and time again, banning a firearm based on its cosmetic features accomplishes nothing.  Senator Feinstein seems to believe that these imports are fueling the drug violence in Mexico through smuggling.  I struggle to understand how an international crime syndicate, who is capable of acquiring hand grenades, rocket launchers, and military grade weaponry from arms dealers around the world, or capable of acquiring the weapons needed from government armories or corrupt soldiers, needs civilian firearms to supplement their arsenal in any meaningful way.

Senator Feinstein's arguments do not withstand careful scrutiny, and far more real evidence is needed before making an end-run around the Congress's authority to legislate and using Executive Action to go against the will of the United States People as expressed through their elected representatives such as yourself.

Very Respectfully,

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Rhetoric and the armed citizen (this may get long and rambling)

There is no doubt that recent events in Connecticut, New York, and California have raised questions in the minds of gun owners across America.  Rightly so, as many of the actions taken by the federal, state, and local governments are clearly a violation of Constitutional rights, no matter if they are "duly passed laws" from the legislature.  Many of these laws were passed with little to no time for public debate or scrutiny and with backroom negotiations, which creates (at the very, very least) an appearance of impropriety, and should prompt a reaction from armed citizens across the nation.

The issue I raise this evening is with the reaction I have seen.  You will never find me opining loudly on Facebook, Google, or Instagram for an armed confrontation with the government.  It is not because I don't believe that our rights are worth fighting for, but because at my heart I am an idealist.  I was raised on John Wayne and apple pie, and I've seen enough of the world to believe that the United States has the greatest system of governance ever devised by mankind.  Our Founding Fathers spent a great deal of time, and shed their blood, to ensure that the noble experiment they devised would last, and that freedom would persevere, so long as the people were good stewards of, and active participants in, the process of governance.  I'll try not to go too far into political ramblings here, but the adage of "people get the government they deserve" is old, but true.  If you are an armed citizen, I don't care if you've taken forty classes from high-speed instructors, have stockpiled enough ammo to survive the zombie apocalypse, and carry every single day.  If you do not vote, you are useless to me.  If you do not get educated on what is going on in government, you are useless to me.  If you do not contact your representatives about issues that you care for deeply, you are useless to me.

If you sit behind your keyboard, and endlessly type MOLON LABE while talking about shooting it out with government agents and calling for armed revolution, you are just as useless to me as the hipsters in their Che shirts.  First, most of the guys I know that have actually fought, watched their brothers die, and killed in the service of their country don't speak of violence lightly.  So if all I hear out of you is about how you can't wait to get the shooting started, I get a very strong feeling that you don't know what you are talking about, and when the shooting does actually start, you'll need a change of pants, if you bother to show up at all.  Second, you are doing a massive disservice to armed citizens everywhere.  Gun control advocates have a well-oiled public affairs machine, and they have very few morals about using it when and how they feel necessary.  They mine bulletin boards, pro-gun discussion groups, and citizens on the street (read: surveys) for quotes that they can use to paint the picture of armed citizens as angry, violent extremists.  The worst part of it is, they don't have to look hard.  We give them all the ammo they need to shoot us in the foot.  Then we limp around trying to explain our side of the argument to a public that already has a negative perception, and an extreme one sometimes.  Any good firearm instructor will tell you that those who go armed have an even greater responsibility than your average citizen to avoid letting a situation devolve to where force is the only option.  I would submit that the same applies to their rhetoric.

So what am I asking of you?  Shut your mouth.  Take a minute to think about what you are going to say before you jump into a heated discussion on Facebook.  Stick to facts.  There are loads of solid, factual articles out there (John Lott jumps to mind as one author) and good studies that you can use to make articulate arguments.  Don't hand the anti-Second Amendment crowd any more than they have already.  And participate.  The Colorado recall was an outstanding example of what can be done by ordinary citizens who are willing to fight for what they believe in.  Contact your representatives and let them know what you think (remember, articulate arguments, not angry rhetoric).  If your representative does not believe in what you believe, or ignores the voices of his constituents, remove them.  There are processes in place for recalls, and elections are held every two years.  Support pro-Second Amendment candidates, not a party line, even if they "don't have a chance."  Recruit others to vote, educate your friends and families.  If you feel led and are willing to bear the consequences, civil disobedience has shown in the past to be an incredibly effective tool.

Maybe it's just the idealist in me, but I believe that we can still win this fight without having to resort to violence.  It will not be easy, in fact, it will be extremely hard.  It will interfere with your life.  It will pull you out of your comfort zone, and it may end some friendships, even when you speak with the best of intentions.  It's worth it though.  The rights protected (not given) by our Constitution must endure for future generations.  Our children deserve no less.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Neighborhood Defense Organizations (NDO)

I’m going to touch on what many outside the gun community consider to be a touchy concept – Neighborhood Defense Organizations (NDO).  I won’t go so far as to call these “militias”, primarily because that term (although used in both the Constitution and US Code) has been repeatedly co-opted by those who seek to overthrow the government, vice actually providing a shield for themselves and their neighbors against legitimate threats, such as that posed by tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, or other natural or man-made phenomenon.  I’ll see if I can pose a useful outline to you:

First, what is an NDO?  An NDO is essentially a loosely codified, quasi-organized, version of being a neighbor.  Things used to be a lot more neighborly.  Neighbors had cookouts, watched out for each other’s houses, kids, dogs, etc.  This sometimes evolved into a Neighborhood Watch, and in modern times, occasionally evolves into a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) or similar group.  I’m not saying that doesn’t occur now, but life does seem to move a lot faster, and I know that I’m not always the best neighbor.  Most of my contact comes from my wife, who is far more social than I am, but it does at least provide me with some names, occasional visits, and a general idea of what is going on in the neighborhood.  Ideally, an NDO would actually have meetings, maybe even a Facebook page.  These meetings would discuss issues, threats, and basically keep the rest of the neighborhood informed about goings-on (this is not a gossip circle, FYI, information passed should be pertinent, ie, “Bob is going out of town for a week, please keep an eye on his house”).

Second, what would an NDO do?  Ideally, in addition to the informational side, an NDO organizes and seeks out useful training that allows the neighborhood to take care of itself during both times of crisis and day-to-day life.  This training could include CPR, First Aid, CERT, special needs, how to properly shut off gas valves, electrical precautions, self defense, Refuse to be a Victim classes, you name it – the sky is the limit.  Then, the NDO utilizes those skills when needed.  Taking care of a neighbor’s house while they are gone, attending to the neighborhood kids that get the required bumps and bruises of childhood, or responding to the windstorm that ripped roofs off houses or blew trashcans through windows.

Third, what does an NDO require of people?  Well, it very much depends on what the people want to give.  An NDO needs a leader, and they can’t do it by themselves.  An NDO needs someone to set up training, and people willing to attend the training.  It also needs people who are willing to give their time to help neighbors, usually above and beyond their normal workday.

Obviously, this is a very loose outline.  I haven’t really spent a lot of time coming up with an organizational structure, mostly because I’m not sure how much interest there is in the idea.  If this resonates, or you have a neighborhood organization that performs a similar function, I’d love to hear how it works and what you do.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Shooting with gloves afteraction

So despite living in Virginia for going on seven years now, I had never really devoted any serious time to shooting in winter gloves.  I have shot in the cold before, but always wearing tactical gloves, which really provide no warmth whatsoever, but do help out with grip once your hands get a little numb.  With the high yesterday reaching freezing (yep, 32 degrees was the high), I decided that it was a good time to give gloved shooting a try.  The main impetus behind this was that I have been wearing winter gloves more and more when I concealed carry, and defending my life is not a good time to figure out what changes gloves make in my shooting style.

The gloves I used were Outdoor Research Gripper Gloves, which I had picked up at the Exchange on base.  I also have a pair of their Backstop Gloves, but I don't wear them as frequently and decided to stick with the Grippers.  Both are very comfortable, and I recommend them, although they are made in China and I would prefer something US made.

As a disclaimer, since this was my first time shooting with heavier gloves and I was wearing multiple layers of clothing, I shot from a Safariland drop holster, not from my usual G-Code belt holster.

Overall, the gloves did not make a huge difference in my shooting style.  The biggest point to take away was that because of the decreased sensitivity brought on by the gloves, I had to make a conscious effort to ensure that my trigger finger was adequately contacting the trigger.  My first few shots tended to be left of center, as I only placed the tip of my finger on the trigger.  Once I adjusted for that, things went pretty smoothly, although my draw stroke was slower, mostly due to the hood on the Safariland, which my G-Code doesn't have.  I conducted magazine changes and immediate action drills with minimal difficulty, which I think was partially due to the Vicker's extended mag release and base plates, which perform exactly as advertised.

Stay safe, train hard, train real.