Monday, April 18, 2011

Clarifying Scuttlebutt

After my NPR interview back in January, I received a lot of hate mail and some outlandish comments about my position on gun ownership. Here's a few clarifying points:

  • I only attended two conference calls with the American Hunters and Shooters Association and was on the "advisory board" for only a short period of time when I found it was not my cup of tea. I wanted to further the female perspective in the world of gun ownership, but it was not the right arena in which to do so.

  • I believe that every U.S. citizen who has a legal right to own a gun should be able to do so. When I say "legal right", my intent is to make sure felons, especially those with violent criminal backgrounds, have no right to own and operate a gun. If that makes me "anti-gun", so be it.

  • As a responsible gun owner who uses her weapon for personal defense and protection, I still see no purpose whatsoever to own a weapon with a magazine that contains more than 10 rounds of ammo. However, if someone wants to own one, then it should be registered with the ATF. Not saying a legal citizen can't own one, but as a strong supporter of our men and women in blue, there needs to be some regulation on that kind of power to prevent police officers from walking into an ambush if such an owner takes a turn to the dark side.

  • I'm against any U.S. jurisdiction that prohibits residents from owning a gun for personal protection. We should have the right to protect ourselves with at least the basic protection of a handgun. If I eventually move to NYC, you can bet my handgun's coming with me.

I think of our fine nation's founding fathers and try to put myself in their shoes when they developed the second amendment. Young America was much different back then - hell women couldn't vote and many owned slaves - and the basis of this amendment was likely more for personal protection against the British militia from rampaging into the cities and towns of our young nation. Our founding fathers could not have the insight to the advances in technology - they were thinking with muskets and bayonets, not AK-47s and sawed-off shotguns. If they would have had the insight of how guns and ammo would advance in 200+ years from the time they crafted the U.S. Constitution, I think the second amendment would have been more specifically defined.

Nevertheless, I'm not paid nor have I ever been paid by anyone from the anti-gun side of the fence to take any of my stands or opinions. The only thing that has influenced my opinions is life itself - having a best friend in high school murdered by a felon's bullet; being mugged on the street via a gun; going to the funeral of a highly respected police officer who was blown away by a shotgun fired by a convicted felon; and seeing a dead child on the floor of a bedroom who accidentally got ahold of a gun that should have been locked by his parents. I'm not saying that anyone should give up their guns, but that it's not the worst thing in the world to have such guns registered and known by law enforcement. I'm perfectly happy to let officials know what I have in my house - I have nothing to hide.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where did civility go?

Given my crazy work schedule, I tape quite a bit of news from both sides of the fence - from FOX news to shows on MSNBC with CNN being somewhat in the middle with most of their commentary and coverage. While there is quite a bit of hypocrisy on all sides, my point here is to not critique in detail about what they are's more about how they are saying it. How is it that everyone is so extremely mad all of the time?

Too many commentators use negative tactics such as fear and screams to motivate their supporters, and take to throwing out rancorous insults against their opponents. How did we get to this point of using third-grade bully behaviors to make our points?

Last week, one of the reporters for wrote an article after the McCarthy bill was introduced, and while I don't agree with his opinion, he wrote it in a manner that was constructive without lowing himself to ludicrous name calling. What really irked me was those who posted comments to the article that makes me question what these people are thinking.

One in particular - a Wendy Weinbaum posted this comment, with the misspelling and grammatical errors as she posted: "As a Jewes in the US, I feel that Eric Fuller, the whining Tucson survivor, survivor, is just another impotent metrosexual pussy."

The gentleman she's talking about, a military veteran, was indeed arrested the week before last for making threats against a Tea Party leader during a televised town hall meeting. I'm not condoning his actions, but to call this man names after he was shot in the knee and back during the Tucson massacre is just plain wrong. Sounds like the guy is suffering from PTSD and it seems rather shallow to kick a man while he's down.

It's time we grow up, get past the grade school name-calling bully stage, and use civil language to express our views. There is so much anger going around these days, and while it's human nature to result to profane language when other words escape us when we get angry, we're also adults who should possess the maturity to take a breath and think about what we say before we utter words that hurt rather than get our points across.

We all love our great country and aren't happy with the way things have been going for about the last decade. Rather than ripping each other apart and getting no where for solutions to our real problems (unemployment, job creation, health care costs, just to name a few), it's about time we express our views with respect to the opposing sides and make a real conscious effort to find solutions that will appease as many people as possible. We won't please 100% of the people 100% of the time, but all of this name-calling crap is not getting us any closer to solving the big issues of the day.

All of the gun control reaction to the Tucson shooting is just that - a reaction to a tragic event where some people think that additional regulations will prevent such an event from happening again. I see where Congresswoman McCarthy is coming from, and while I agree with her on the high capacity magazine bill, I certainly don't agree with others calling for the repeal on owning handguns in urban areas or other significantly restrictive actions. We have the right to bear arms - the Second Amendment gives us that right - and while the First Amendment gives us the right to assemble and to speech, maybe we need to consider what speech we use before we say it. This doesn't mean we need to censor ourselves, but it would be nice to bring back a level of civility that will likely be more productive to finding solutions we all seek.

Monday, January 17, 2011

High-Capacity Magazines - What's the Purpose?

Earlier today, I was a guest on the radio show "On Point with Tom Ashbrook" of which the first hour of the show was titled "The 33-Bullet Magazine: How Much Firepower is Too Much?" This segment focused on high capacity magazines like the one used by the Tucson shooter earlier this month and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy's bill being introduced in Congress tomorrow that would limit magazine capacity to 10 bullets.

Other guests on today's segment included the Congresswoman herself; Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence; and Robert Levy, co-counsel in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, which led to the Supreme Court to uphold an individual's right to possess a firearm. A lot of heavy hitters and me as the citizen gun owner who supports the 2nd Amendment and who takes a more progressive view on gun ownership.

The basics on magazines: they are attached into a particular type of gun to provide an individual with a certain number of bullets without having to reload. A pistol, like the one I own, only has 5 in the chamber and does not use a magazine. If I use all my bullets, I have to reload in a hurry if I need to get more rounds off. For a weapon such as a Glock, there is the ability to use larger magazines than the clip that may come with the gun itself. You can purchase a separate magazine that has a larger capacity so if you expend all of your ammo, you take the magazine out and put in another one with very little down time.

Why the average gun owner needs more than 10 bullets in a magazine is beyond me. One question that I was asked during the show was if I was worried about a mob or riot outside my door (like in the Los Angeles riots back in 1992) and that I wouldn't have enough fire power to defend myself. First off, we're talking worse case scenarios to the extreme. My worse case scenario is someone actually breaking into my home while I'm here. No gun owner ever wants to use their gun to defend themselves, but I will definitely shoot to kill if someone enters my house to do me harm. But a riot or mob breaking into my home - odds are very VERY slim that will ever happen.

I've lived in two states (Oregon and Texas) with pretty large rural areas that I wouldn't want to be in without some firepower. But do I need a 33-bullet magazine to do that? Heck no - that's way too much firepower for what may face you out there - person or beast. Coming from a family of elk and deer hunters, no one would use a high capacity magazine attached to a semi-automatic gun to kill game. Worse case scenario may be a rabid bear, but a 10-round magazine should take care of that, esp. with a couple of kill shots to the head.

The other guests on today's show brought some very valid points to the table. Levy wasn't completely against the idea of this ban, but he wants to see some valid statistics that show this would curb violence. Helmke mentioned that previous items that have been banned, such as cop killer bullets and guns with plastic components that make them easy to pass through detection, with no impediment toward the general ownership of guns. The Congresswoman, who was personally impacted by a high capacity shooting in 1993 that left her husband dead and son critically injured, strongly defended her intent and reason for introducing this bill.

My take: this bill banning high capacity magazines will NOT prevent a legally-able person from owning a gun - period. It is not taking away someone's right to bear arms. It is very similar to a component of the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 - and a sensible component too. A high capacity magazine is a massive amount of firepower - not the type that is used for personal protection, hunting or target shooting. The intent of this type of equipment is to provide the user with some serious firepower such as for the military and law enforcement - definitely not for the common gun owner and user.

I don't see this as some slippery slope for future bans on smaller magazines or clips used in guns. We've had this provision before and it didn't lead to even smaller amounts. There will likely be a large uproar by the NRA and other pro-gun groups pushing for this bill to not see the light of day, but it's just good gun ownershop. Just as we're not able to have certain type of bullets or silencers for safety reasons, high capacity magazines need to fall into this same category. One possible consensus - maybe we can propose that high capacity magazines are treated the same way as silencers/suppressors - if your state allows them (only 38 of the 50 do), you have to go through the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to register for silencer ownership and have it registered. It doesn't mean that you can't have one in your gun collection - it's just registered through the ATF.

While we can't regulate crazy, we can establish reasonable and sensible laws and procedures to protect the general public from people who should not own/use firearms. In addition to taking actions such as this bill, we also need to urge our lawmakers to make sure mentally ill people do not gain access to guns. Although mentally ill people probably don't care if they are abiding by the law, we still need to get those laws on the books. It's a complex issue with no easy solutions, but we need to start the dialogue now with the medical community to craft and pass the right legislation to protect the public.

I wish Congresswoman McCarthy the best of luck and will offer to do what I can to help make this bill law. It will be interesting to see what statements the NRA will make in countering this bill, and I'll plan to break those down as they come across the news lines. I hope others take today's show as an example of what is means to have a civil discussion about guns and use it as a basis to create sensible regulations that protect our rights to bear arms without giving too much firepower to those who should not have it.

Heck, it would be nice to see Washington and other talking heads in the news media today to have civil and rational discussions - imagine that. Civility and rationality on the airwaves - something to strive for.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Origins of The Well-Heeled Shooter

I initially started this blog back in the summer of 2009 when I was much more active in party politics and had more time to spend toward hobbies and the like. But then a layoff occurred and I switched careers entirely, leaving very little time for involvement in the Democratic Party and caucus activities. Now that life has returned to somewhat normal, it's time to start fresh and pick up the baton again in support of the right to bear arms and related issues.

The primary mission of this blog is to keep women informed about the world of guns - legislation that would impact their ownership and operation of weapons, resources on where to learn more about guns and other key issues that influence decisions we need to make to properly defend ourselves.

When I poll my friends on whether they own a gun or not, while many of my guy friends either own or know how to operate one, very few of my girlfriends a) own a gun and b) know how to shoot one. It's time for that to change.

The Second Amendment was not written for men alone - as more single women live and travel alone, we need to take it upon ourselves to properly arm ourselves with protection of some kind. A gun is a much better line of defense than mace, pepper spray or an alarm system and I'm willing to guess that since not many offenders would expect a woman to be carrying, the element of surprise would play in the woman's favor if the situation arises.

Women don't need to be scared of guns or be afraid to ask the men in their lives to help them gain a comfort level on how to properly use a weapon. I hope to change that with this platform - to help provide the information to women about how to get a gun, how to get the training to use one (why have one if you don't know how to use it) and to diffuse some of the confusion in the issues being tossed around in today's political arena.

So, reader, you may be asking why I called this "The Well-Heeled Shooter"? It all goes back to my involvement in the early days of the Democratic Party of Oregon's Gun Owner Caucus in the summer of 2006 and my letter to the editor of The Oregonian surrounding fashion and a certain pair of Prada boots. The then-chair of the Caucus teased me a bit about my uber-girly side and I showed up to the next gun shoot wearing a flashy pair of designer sandals. As a female who believes in the right to keep and bear arms for protection, who knows what kind of shoes I'll be wearing if I ever have to use my weapon to defend myself. Rest assured that regardless of footwear, I'll be packed, stacked and well-heeled if and when that time ever comes.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

When will the political chaos end?

I realize that it has been a very long time since I blogged here - unfortunately life and career got in the way, leaving little time for hobbies and such. However, today's events in Tucson, Ariz. which resulted in a member of Congress in critical condition and at least six people dead due to an act of domestic terrorism lead me to finally return to this blog and comment on the chaos occurring in our political world.

Before everyone gets reactionary and start to demand for the repeal of gun rights, we need to allow the police to do their investigation first. Once we find out how this individual came to obtain a gun, if it was done illegally, then those who did not follow the laws in place should be held accountable - the blood is on their hands. If the assailant was legal to carry, then we need to delve into why he felt the need to use a weapon to kill and injure. If the evidence shows that all of the hateful speech being tossed around in today's political arena sparked this guy's rampage, then we need to start looking at another amendment - the First.

I'm pretty true to our U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights - I enjoy the freedom of jury trials; protection against cruel and unusual punishment; the right to a speedy trial; protection against illegal search and seizure; the right to bear arms (obviously); and the freedom of religion, of the press, being able to assemble, and especially the freedom of speech. But my fear is that the wicked tone of all of the political mud throwing since President Obama took office is beginning to ignite my fellow U.S. citizens to commit criminal acts.

We have seen a number of unlawful activities pop up during the last Congressional session. Those members of Congress who voted for healthcare reform had offices vandalized; hate mail of large proportions have been sent to all levels of Democratic elected officials and even fractures within the Republican party have led people who adhere to the Tea Party to spew viseral tones of dissent with very little mention of alternative actions or proposed legislation.

Some within the right-wing media use the First Amendment as a crutch to defend their hateful speech, but with such speech spawning acts of violence across the nation, there is a correlation to someone yelling "fire" in a crowded theater which leads to people being trampled to death, or even closer, those within the Aryan nations using hateful racist speech to cause their members to commit violence against their targets.

It's time for America to come together and unite against all this hateful political speech being vomited into our societies. Instead of buying into what these angry and spiteful people say, we need to listen to our hearts, think on our own with our own minds, and treat our fellow citizens with kindness and respect.

This doesn't mean we have to agree with each other, but it does mean we need to act in a respectful manner to those with which we disagree and actively try to find some level of consensus, without all of the vitriolic commentary. To the Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks and Tea Party leaders in the nation, I challenge you to learn how to convey your thoughts without all of the hate and destructiveness. The rest of America, outside of your followers, don't buy into your fear tactics. Isn't it time we put all this bitterness aside and work for some real solutions for America?