Category: Commentary

Guns

Up until now I’ve tried to keep the topic of firearms out of this blog. I’ve never really felt it was applicable to having a 72 Hour Bag. I don’t think there will be an apocalypse suddenly calling for the need to arm yourself like in the movie The Road or The Road Warrior… It just ain’t going to happen. And during an earthquake or in the aftermath of a disaster those first 72 hours typically have shown one of unity, so I remain completely impartial on how any individual feels about packing a gun in their 72 Hour Bag.

The Orlando shooting has prompted the gun control issue to the fore front of the national debate. Because of my experiences during the weeks after Hurricane Katrina it became abundantly clear that there were people who owned guns and gained power and those who didn’t. I never owned a gun till I moved back to Los Angeles and looked critically at my surroundings, we live in a disaster prone area – and here too there will be a power vacuum when disaster strikes. After I made the choice to purchase a gun, I told myself that if I were to own a gun, I wanted to become very proficient with it, like obsessively good. I sought out training, and probably because of the line of work I am in I had access to people who used weapons in the most hostile situations and several of the people I worked with were some of the most elite warriors of their time allowing me to gain insight into how a highly proficient shooter operates. I practiced and I practiced on my own and taking classes – classes that were typically not available to civilians. I learned quickly that going to the range with 1,000 rounds of ammunition for one single day of shooting was just barely scratching the surface to become proficient. When I hear of someone caught with 1,000 rounds of ammo I generally laugh for two reasons. One, I have friends who typically drive around with close to 10,000 rounds and two, the same people who scream in horror at the though of a person having 1,000 rounds are the same who feel you should have to pass a marksmanship test to own a fire arm. What do you think you just pick a weapon up and can actually hit the side of a barn. I can tell you, it ain’t that easy.

For those of you who have never purchased a gun or shot a gun I can tell you this: this myth that you can walk into a Walmart and walk out with a gun is ridiculous – at least here in California. The are background checks, there is finger printing, there is a test. Every time I purchase ammunition I am finger printed. Period. If you peer into the looking glass you will see just how difficult it is to acquire a weapon legally. With every law the legislators create they make it more difficult for legal owners to purchase and it does nothing to prevent criminals from owning a gun. I have been critical of the NRA not stepping up and helping solve the problem of criminals getting guns, as well as figuring how to stop a psychopath from gaining possession of any weapon. The need to become more proactive in solving those two issues.

Today there are four pieces of legislation going up, I have no issue with any of them. You can read about them here. They propose the following:

1. Tighten the background check system. (Republican lead)- Great, go for it.

2.Expand Background checks. (Democrat lead) – Great, sounds like the same thing but what ever.

3. Prevent terrorist from buying guns. (Republican version) – WTF? Are you serious, sounds like a no brainer.

4. Prevent Suspected Terrorists from buying guns. (Democratic version) – Same as above. Just do it.

Here’s the problem with most gun legislation that bans a specific type of weapon. Most legislators couldn’t tell the difference from a AR15 to a magazine or a clip. A friend of mine who was law enforcement in Los Angeles said that when trying to prevent gang shootings in South Central during the 80’s the legislators reacted by banning the Uzi. Those weapons had unarguably caused some high profile shootings but my friend argued that if they really wanted to prevent a large number of homicides they would have banned the Saturday Night Special. He claimed the Saturday Night Special was the gun of choice during that era and more homicides had been committed by that weapon than the Uzi. I know what you are going to say, but the Uzi is an automatic weapon and can spray bullets killing a greater number of victims. Here’s the rub. There is already a law on the books banning that weapon, the National Firearms Act of 1934. Automatic weapons are illegal and have been since 1934, the sale or purchase of any weapon must be regulated by a person with a Federal Firearms License. So getting back to banning specific weapons, a friend recently said there is no reason for a person to own a weapon such as the AR15 (which wasn’t the weapon used in Orlando), it’s only purpose is for killing people. Well I say that is it’s only purpose if that’s what you do with it. But mine is locked up in my safe and I like shooting at paper targets with mine, so I guess there’s one other use. Or perhaps if you go hunting with it, that could be another use. And if you don’t think it’s a good weapon to hunt with, why is it called a Varmint Gun? Just watch an episode of Life Below Zero and you’ll see there is another use for that weapon. Why use it for hunting? Well it’s pretty darn accurate and really reliable.

Listen, evil people do evil things, and they will always find a way to do harm to their fellow man. I’m not saying there aren’t crimes committed with a gun, but there are a lot of crimes committed with a knife. Point being mere hours after the Orlando shooting 29 people were killed by attackers in a subway in China with knives. We had a saying when training with knives – if a person has a gun, take it away. If a person has a knife, run. The knife is far deadlier than the gun. A gun takes skill to use, a knife doesn’t. In the United Kingdom they banned possession of all handguns. And now? You guessed it, they have one of the highest incidences of knife attacks in the world (probably second to the Philippines) and as a result? They are discussing the possibility of outlawing knives over a certain length. This highlights one of the issues with people who know nothing about what they are legislating. The large knife looks really scary, but in fact a small blade is far deadlier. With a large blade you gain distance, good in a knife against knife fight, but a small blade gives you stealth and it makes it all the more difficult to take away from the attacker.

So I say instead of legislating against an object figure out a way to change behaviors, Canada has more weapons per capita than the US, but has a far lower homicide rate… Why? Answer that question and we might get some where.

Enough of my rambling, here are some infographics I fin applicable to the conversation, especially the one on Kennesaw GA.

 

 

IMG_2835 IMG_2836 IMG_2837 IMG_2838 IMG_2839

When you don’t have the 72 Hour Bag ready

I ran upon this article from the International Rescue Committee and feel it applies to this blog. In this article they show what little the refugees have with them as they make their way out of Syria. Many were carrying suitcases as they made their way to the boarder and realized lugging a heavy suit case on a journey like this is impractical and ditched them pulling what items they could out of the suitcases which would fit in a small backpack. Others were told they could only bring one small bag. If you were given one hour to pack up only what could fit into a back pack and never return to your home, what would you bring? Many Americans would freak out plain and simple. But here are the things the refugees brought. It’s a lesson about needs and wants. It’s also a lesson about having a 72 Hour Bag ready to go because having an hour is sometimes a luxury.

Photos: What Syrian refugees carry in their bags as they leave their lives behind

When Syrian refugees flee their war-torn country,

they can bring only a small selection of belongings with them.

Large suitcases won’t fit on the tiny boats that are overloaded with people,

and so asylum-seekers travel with the few possessions they need the most.

But of course, what a person needs the most varies hugely.

And many refugees lose or have to shed items during the dangerous and arduous journey.

The International Rescue Committee has released these poignant photographs of the contents of refugees’ bags,

which offer a glimpse of them as individuals.

Taken as a whole, the images also paint a heartbreaking picture of what people cling to—and let go of—as they leap into the unknown.

A child

Omran, a 6-year-old from Damascus,

Syria, brought sweets in his colorful rucksack,

as well as a toothbrush and a syringe for emergencies.

(Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)

One pair of pants, one shirt
A syringe
Marshmallows and sweet cream
Soap, toothbrush and toothpaste
Bandages

(Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)

A teenager

Iqbal, a 17-year-old from Kunduz, Afghanistan,

said he picked out items that would help him fit in.

“I want my skin to be white and hair to be spiked,” he told the IRC.

“I don’t want them to know I’m a refugee.

I think that someone will spot me and call the police because I’m illegal.”

(Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)

One pair of pants, one shirt, one pair of shoes, and one pair of socks
Shampoo and hair gel, toothbrush and toothpaste, face-whitening cream
Comb, nail clipper
Bandages
100 U.S. dollars
130 Turkish liras
Smart phone and backup basic cell phone
SIM cards for Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey

(Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)

An artist

Nour, a 20-year-old artist from Syria,

packed two bags but was told by smugglers that he could only take one.

He left behind his clothes to keep his bag of items with personal meaning.

(Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)

Small bag of personal documents
A rosary (gift from his friend; Nour doesn’t let it touch the floor)
A watch (from his girlfriend; it broke during the journey)
Syrian flag, Palestinian charm, silver and wooden bracelets (gifts from friends)
Guitar picks (one also a gift from a friend)
Cell phone and Syrian SIM card
Photo ID
One shirt

 
 (Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)

A mother

Aboessa, who is 20 years old and from Syria,

has been travelling with her 10-month-old daughter, Doua.

They were in a rubber raft when Turkish police detached the boat’s motor,

and they had to use makeshift paddles to make it to shore.

 (Tyler Jump/ International Rescue Committee)

Hat for the baby
An assortment of medication, a bottle of sterile water, and a jar of baby food
A small supply of napkins for diaper changes
A hat and a pair of socks for the baby
Assortment of pain relievers, sunscreen and sunburn ointment, toothpaste
Personal documents (including the baby’s vaccination history)
Wallet (with photo ID and money)
Cell phone charger
Yellow headband

A pharmacist

This 34-year-old father lived and practiced medicine in Germany for eight years,

and so he escaped the war in Syria to travel to Europe.

He travelled in a dinghy with 53 others and almost made it to Greece,

until a coast guard started yelling for them to stop and the boat was punctured.
He treaded water for 45 minutes before he was rescued.
(Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)

Money (wrapped to protect it from water)
Old phone (wet and unusable) and new smart phone
Phone chargers and headphones (plus extra battery charger)
16GB flash drive (containing family photos)

 

A family

One family of 31 people (seven women, four men and 20 children)

lost all their belongings on their journey from Aleppo, Syria, to Greece.

They saved just one bag.

(Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)
(Tyler Jump/International Rescue Committee)

One shirt, one pair of jeans,
One pair of shoes
Toiletries
One diaper, two small cartons of milk, and some biscuits
Personal documents and money
Sanitary pads
A comb

Willet, Chapter 2 Part IV

If you are new to this series here is the link to Chapter 1 Part I.

 

Chapter 2 Part IV

Out of its dormant state it comes alive, lurching at me with a loud moan. The door swung in so now I can’t retreat I have to go forward. Raising my leg, I hit him square in the chest with a front kick sending him back. He stumbles and falls onto his ass. Not wanting to risk hand to hand combat with a Moaner who even if I beat will still potentially kill me from just a mere scratch on my knuckle let alone what would happen if he was able to get ahold of me and sink his teeth into my flesh.

Hanging on the wall next to the door is a variety of garden tools. Next to a spade is a hard rake. Grinning for a moment thinking of my Hard Rake Ninja friend. Before I can grab the rake he’s up. Working my way around the back of the car taunting him to follow he comes forward. I dance as best I can with my back still sore in front of him trying to keep distance but getting him to follow me. Slowly in a game of cat and mouse I’m able to get to the hard rake. Pulling it off the rack swinging it horizontally in one motion I hit the car antenna on its way towards the Moaner’s face. The antenna makes a loud metal “thwang” and shakes back and forth as the rake sinks into the side of the Zombie’s face higher than I aimed for. Not being a blow deep enough to kill him he’s now attached to me with the long handle of the rake. I’m able to push him and keep him at bay by the length of the handle. Working my way back to the rack I hold the rake with one hand and grab the spade with the other. Orienting the spade on edge like an axe I bring it down onto his skull.

The explosion of putrified brain matter is like a stench grenade. Triggering the gag reflex I erupt with vomit onto the Moaners twitching corpse.

I should’ve known better. The guy was dead in the kitchen and the door was locked from the inside. What was I thinking? That the Zombie let himself out and locked the door behind him with a key to the joint? Of course he was still somewhere in the house. He must’ve gone through the open door to the garage and closed it on himself somehow. Stupidity like that is going to get me killed. I know it’s not a case of ‘If’ but ‘When’. It’s like riding a motorcycle in Los Angeles, eventually you’re going to get hit by a car. It’s definitely going to happen.

Looking through the old man’s tool bench I find some twine and shove it in my pocket. There are jars of screws, nut and bolts. It’s an old work bench built in the 70’s out of 2×4’s and 1×6 planks as the surface to work on. He was a handyman with several toolboxes filled with vintage Craftsman tools from the days when if after you bought a Craftsman tool, if it ever broke you could bring it back and get a brand new one for free. Even if it was ten or twenty years after you bought it. I had a set of Craftsman chisels that were my Grandfather’s from the 50’s. I never used them because they were so valuable to me. They’re still in my tall stackable toolbox, that set got it’s  very own drawer. Nothing else was ever put in there.

Rummaging through the tools I find a military knife. It’s a KaBar, with a reinforced plastic sheath. This guy must’ve had a son or nephew who fought in Viet Nam, unless he was an officer during that time. They had KaBar bayonets earlier most certainly, but this one has the plastic sheath and they weren’t used till the Vietnam war, even in Korea they had sheaths made from webbing material and metal. I unsnap the guard and draw it from the sheath. There’s some surface rust, but it’s in very good shape. Using my thumb to feel the sharpness of the blade, I can tell it’s moderately dull. In the corner of the garage, next to the wall of the kitchen is the water tank. I tap on it. Full. It had been well maintained and the valve works effortlessly so it’s easy to top off my hydration bladder. On the shelf are some empty glass bottles, the kind juice used to be put in and a box of black plastic lawn and leaf bags. I pull two plastic bags out and stuff them in my cargo pocket. Grabbing the largest glass bottle I bend down to open the valve on the water heater and let just enough water out to rinse away any dust which had collected over the years. Filling the glass bottle, I can use it as a reserve. The glass is too heavy to carry in my pack, but at least I’ll have something to drink for the next couple of hours without having to come in and fill my hydration bladder again with the stench of putrified brain mixed with vomit.

In the corner of the garage is the washer and dryer. Opening the door to the dryer I pull the lint screen out, its full. The lint makes a perfect fire starter. I stuff it into my pocket to save it for later.

Stepping over Zombie rake guy I re-enter the kitchen and begin to open the drawers. In the drawer next to the sink are the utensils and the knives. Moving stuff around I see a long dowel type of sharpener. It’s 11:45am and it’s going to keep getting hotter till around 4pm, I want to get some rest before having to move in the latter part of the day. Gathering up my pack and all the trinkets I head back to the master bedroom.

Spending the next 20 minutes sharpening the blade on the Kabar I evaluate my work. It’s a long blade, 7” with a wooden handle. On the sheath it says USN M.K. 2. I set it on top of my pack with the twine and lie down on the bed. With the door closed and the dresser wedged against it I feel relatively safe to rest.

There’s enough light for me to open A Farewell to Arms and I begin the first chapter. Not two pages in my eyes begin to blur but it feels good to read the printed word. I miss the printed word, even before the collapse words printed on paper were rapidly giving way to an electronic device, removing people from the romance of the printed word and the lush library smell of a vintage book. It’s a smell making me feel nostalgic. Quickly I fall into a deep slumber.

The front door was kicked in, I still had my keys, I’d been carrying them for well over a month now. The inside is pretty ravaged, all the kitchen cabinets are open and what ever contents had been in there are rendered useless and strewn across the floor. I look in the garage, the car is gone. She must have been out when the EMP hit. I had gone into every camp I came across on my way home, it had taken me the full month to get from Huntington Beach back up to West Hills, about 50 miles, but they were a tough 50. I knew there’d be little chance of finding them in the camps to the South of our house but there was always the chance she might try to work her way South to meet up with me. She would’ve tried to get home with out her car when the EMP hit, then head out of town with our daughter when things got bad. Other than things being wrecked in the house there were no signs of blood or any serious zombie altercation. There were crowbar marks on the safe, but they didn’t get in. I tried the combination, but the electronic lock had been fried by the EMP. I had a backup controller in case the batteries died in the panel on the safe, but that too had been fried and even if it hadn’t I doubt it would’ve been able to activate the internal workings of the safe. No matter what, those electronics were toast. In hind sight I wish I had bought the old fashion mechanical dial kind, it would’ve been cheaper than the electronic kind, but who knew at the time. So much for the Gold, pistols and the lower receiver for my M4 neatly stacked on the velvet lined shelves of the safe. The upper receiver to the M4 was still stowed away inside the wall of my shower stall vacuum sealed. I left it there safe and snug in case I ever came back this way. It serves no purpose now, just dead weight.

Waking, I feel the sweat pouring off me and I can hardly breath. My throat is completely dry. I choke while gasping for breath and reach for the glass bottle of water.