Random thoughts from flyover country

Wednesday, November 28

You think it's bad HERE?

I don't want to downplay the gang problem in the Tulsa area, but at least we haven't had funerals in Roman Catholic churches shot up. It seems that a fine, upstanding, young, rising music star named James Holman, age 32, died, and the funeral home rented St. Columbanus Catholic Church for the service. Unfortunately, someone at the service decided to take out some rivals. Two members of the Gangster Disciples were shot resulting in one dead and one wounded. Police recovered two guns at the scene - one from the newly dead thug and one from the wounded thug. The shooter(s) is(are) still at large.

Oh, yeah: "Holman, identified by police as a gang member, was gunned down last week at an apartment building in the Washington Park neighborhood."

Final note: Chicago will most likely have 500 murders or more this year. Last time I checked, they were up to 477 or so year-to-date. Illinois is the only state that has no provision for law-abiding citizens to carry handguns either concealed or openly, and Chicago still has the most draconian gun laws in the United States.


Tuesday, November 20

With the thanks of a grateful nation...

Nothing like serving your country in war and/or peace for 20 years with the promise that after you retire that the government would provide for you and your family. Now, with one war "ended" and another fixing to wind down, the government finds itself facing a "fiscal cliff" of its own making and its first reaction seems to be grabbing military retirees and throwing them over the edge. According to Military.com, not only is the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) targeting future pay raises for active duty military which have gone up more than civilian pay over the past 10 years (Can you say "recession?"), it is also targeting TRICARE and future retirement benefits.

The CBO suggests raising TRICARE enrollment fees, deductibles, and copayments. It also recommends phasing the increases in over a five year period in a "tiered approach" so higher-ranking retirees pay more than lower-ranking retirees.

This would result in higher collections from retirees, thus discouraging us from relying on the military health care that the government promised us rather than using civilian employer health insurance. The higher deductibles and copayments would also lower costs by discouraging us from using medical services (death panels by proxy).

The CBO also wants to save money by restricting access to TRICARE Prime by retirees under age 65 and their families.

It's nice to know that the government honors our service and the sacrifices we and our families made in the course of that service, isn't it?


Monday, November 19

Open Carry in Oklahoma

As of 1 November 2012, individuals with a Concealed Weapon License (henceforth know as a  Handgun License) issued under the Oklahoma Self-Defense Act can carry legal* handguns either concealed or openly. Initially (before 1 November) there was a great deal of hand-wringing in the media about Open Carry with the concomitant alarm about how businesses would handle it and what the "risk" would be to law enforcement. Letters to the editor and comments on TV and radio station websites were full of the expected whining from the hoplophobes and scaredycats about having to see a handgun on someone's hip.

On 1 November the media covered Open Carry quite breathlessly as if waiting for something bad to happen. The only "thing" that happened was a luncheon at the Trail's End Barbeque in Owasso where about 50 folks from the Oklahoma Open Carry Association (OKOCA) showed up carrying their sidearms to celebrate. Of course there were, again, the letters and comments from the hoplophobes and scaredycats, saying how worried they were and how uncomfortable open carry made them.

I open carry every day at work, because it's part of my job. I have open carried off duty only a few times since it became legal (mostly to avoid conflict with my wife) and then only to run to the grocery store or Hallmark, mostly because it's generally too cool to run around without a jacket when I'm not at work.

Interestingly, even though a sign maker reported a run on "No Guns Allowed" and "No Open Carry" signs, I haven't seen any that weren't there before. One of the branches of my bank has a sign that reads "Please remove all hats, sunglasses, and hoods before entering. Failure to do so will result in being denied entry." It does NOT have a "No Guns" sign. Next time I need to get change, I think I'll leave my hat, sunglasses, and jacket in the truck!

Only twice have I seen other people not readily identifiable as police officers carrying openly. One of those was the local Regional Coordinator for OKOCA and her husband who had to remind an event organizer that just because he got a permit to close a street didn't give him the right to deny open carry. I don't think we'll really see that much open carry until the weather warms up again, but it's nice not to have to worry if the wind is going to blow your cover garment up and expose your holstered handgun which was breaking the law under the old law.


*(Pistol means any derringer, revolver or semiautomatic firearm which:

a. has an overall length of less that sixteen (16) inches,
b. is capable of discharging a projectile composed of any material which may reasonably be expected to be able to cause lethal injury,
c. is designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand, and
d. uses either gunpowder, gas or any means of rocket propulsion to discharge the projectile.)

Wednesday, November 7

Well, we're qualified!

Qualification week started Monday, 22 October, and everyone did very well. We had two practice days the previous two Sundays, and turnout was excellent. People paid attention and worked hard to improve their skills.

I was in the first firing order on the 22nd and qualified with 100% on the handgun course with my S&W Model 686-6 revolver. In fact, I had the only 100% handgun score for the week, much to the dismay of the combat Tupperware® shooters. We changed duty ammunition for the revolvers to the Speer 135 grain Gold Dot Hollow Point .357 Magnum and .38 Special +P rounds, and accuracy was exceptional. Duty ammunition for the semiautomatic shooters remained Federal 155 grain JHP which has proven accurate and effective.

The best news is that NO ONE had to shoot the course of fire more than the two times required. (You get three opportunities to qualify twice on each course of fire.) I'm very proud of the hard work and dedication demonstrated by my fellows.


PS. I would have posted this earlier, but 57 hour work weeks have really interfered with my play time.