Gun control and the allocation of risk

Our country remains deeply divided on not only gun rights, but on what rights are in general. We have enjoyed decades or relative prosperity to the point that we have completely conflated the concept of rights and entitlements. This conflation manifests itself in the anti-rights debates in our country in some fairly peculiar ways that, when analyzed, fail to pass muster on validity to curtail the right. Here are some examples:

False: “I have the right to feel safe.”

Actually, you do. But even better than having this right, you have complete control over how you feel about something. Through thought, analysis, and simple control of emotion, you can completely adjust how you feel.

I once had a coworker who went through a routine every time he was given a new assignment. Step 1 of his project always seemed to be pre-populating his list of excuses why he will fail. He pointed out aggressive deadlines (they actually weren’t, but his work ethic caused them to be), supposed equipment conflicts (someone else is using the equipment I need), anticipated vacations that he had not yet put in for, probable excessive sick time he’s known for taking, lack of support from the development team (they were actually incredibly responsive), and even more.

The point is, he had a lack of control over his emotions, and was very vulnerable as a result. Had this coworker taken the time to understand the project fully, worked with the other testing personnel on some basic scheduling, and been willing to put in the effort necessary to diligently, but not break-neck, work towards his goal, he would have easily accomplished his project milestones.

Similarly, in view of our society as a whole, if there is something making you feel unsafe, you can either succumb to the emotion of fear and demand the government allay that fear by restricting the rights of others, or you can do something to address the fears, such as training, risk assessment, or more.

Those that utter “I have the right to feel safe” do so in an attempt to create a false obligation in others.

Instead, those that utter this line do so in an attempt to create a false obligation in others to manage their emotional state for them. No right may create an obligation in others. No one is required to coddle you and make you feel better. No one is obligated to give up their property to help you manage your emotions that you are proving you cannot manage on your own.

False: “I have the right to not be harmed and that trumps your right to own guns”

First, I am not entirely sure a person has the right to not be harmed. It may be pure semantics and I am open to debate on this, but a person, by their mere existence, has the right to avoid harm, but I’m not sure they have the right to not be harmed. The reason I suggest this is because the right to not be harmed creates an obligation to the universe to do no harm to the person. The universe does not obey that obligation. (As an aside, people do not have the right to harm others, in general, but we’ll get to that…)

Therefore, a person has the right to avoid harm. A rabbit has the right to run from a fox, but the rabbit cannot simply sit there and say “Sorry bruh, you don’t have the right to chow on my eyeballs” and expect the fox to slink off into the woods. Likewise, a person has the right to self defense. Through the means they are capable of, whether fight, flight, posture, or submit (people don’t ‘choose’ to freeze), they may attempt to avoid harm.

This being said, the person that erroneously equate another’s gun ownership to their potential harm attempts to create the obligation that someone else is responsible for their state of well being. They are not. This erroneous equivalency attempts to remove actual rights to own things to bolster a supposed right to not be harmed, while they shirk their actual right to avoid harm through their own means. Their supposed right to not be harmed creates an obligation in others to remove dangerous things, therefore it is not a right.

The allocation of risk

Politicians attempt to balance “managing the herd” with “getting reelected”, and this regularly creates a conflict of interest. If a politician were to hear a constituent say “I have the right to feel safe!” and reply with “No, you don’t!”, he would be vilified in the media and probably not get reelected, even though he was absolutely, entirely correct. Therefore, we will likely never see a society where our true rights are respected AND false rights are dismissed. It is because of that, we have gun control debates.

We must therefore come to the realization that to respect rights AND health of the populace, we must allocate risk appropriately. Simply put, as a peaceable protector, the in-the-moment value of a person’s life is inversely proportional to the level of force they are using against you.

The in-the-moment value of a person’s life is inversely proportional to the level of force they are using against you.

For the non-math oriented folks, inversely proportional means that as one value goes up, the other goes down. In this case, as the amount of force someone attacking you with goes up (they are threatening you with greater and greater harm), the value of the attacker’s life goes down.

This can be an incredibly unnerving thing to hear and come to grips with, but it is instinctively understood. If we are getting yelled at, chastised, or berated, we will likely either yell back, apologize, or move on. We are having verbal force used on us, which is not life threatening, and we are unlikely to escalate further because we generally don’t want to harm others. We may think ill-will of our tormentor but we do not necessarily wish to see them dead.

If that force is increased, and we are getting shoved, assaulted, or punched, we will do so in return to negate the threat. We are unlikely to escalate beyond what is necessary or what we perceive the level of harm being. As decent people we generally value peoples’ lives. Again, there may be emotional turmoil around the event, but we are unlikely to rush right to killing our attacker. There is more force being used against us, and we are willing to inflict greater harm on our attacker.

Most of us, if faced with threat of great bodily harm, will protect ourselves with the necessary force to stop it. If our child is being attacked or kidnapped, we will most likely use whatever force necessary to ensure it doesn’t happen. If we have a bat, a knife, a halberd, or a firearm, we will use it to the best of our proficiency to ensure we or our loved ones are not killed. Our regard for the attacker’s life drops to very low levels, and we hold their life nearly valueless compared to that of our loved ones.

Is there any sane person that would say “I took the beating because I didn’t want to harm my attacker”? What about “I let the kidnapper take my 13 year old daughter because I respect the kidnapper’s life”? As stark and blatant as it is, when we or our loved ones are faced with harm, we will do what is necessary to protect them, at the expense of the attacker. The attacker chose this level of consequence, we did not. It is the attacker that has chosen that the value of their life is inversely proportional to the force they are using against us.

It is the attacker that has chosen that the value of their life is inversely proportional to the force they are using against us.

As an aside, the attacker’s life value never drops to zero because it is ethical to neutralize the threat only, not to kill the attacker. Our application of force must cease when that threat is neutralized.

The failure of a gun-control governance

The failure of anti-rights politicians is that they listen to the false rights of the herd when making policy, without properly allocating the risk. All policy for the governance of a peaceable people must allocate risk to the evil-doer and not to the peaceable.

All policy for the governance of a peaceable people must allocate risk to the evil-doer and not to the peaceable.

In the case of anti-rights politicians outlawing firearms, it should be understood as axiom that the law will affect the law-abiding far more than the criminal. The law has created a state where the criminal now has a far superior potential of force to wield than the law-abider. The politician has failed his constituency by creating a vulnerability where the peaceable person’s life is far more at risk than the criminal, and the criminal may act with increased impunity.

Politician either naively believe , or they lie, that if the gun is taken away from the people, then all the statistics around gun violence will stop and those homicides will not occur. In reality, they will decline slightly (because the firearm does not rely on strength to wield effectively) but many of these homicides will shift to a different weapon type.

Additionally, many statistics around homicides do not take into account ‘justifiable homicide’. These are the instances when a firearm is used in a protective manner and a criminal was shot and killed while committing a crime. These instances show up as homicides. When a politician or government enacting gun control claims a decrease in firearm homicides, they rarely mention that a portion of that decline was from defensive gun use, and the defender may have incurred far more harm than if he had a gun to protect himself.

The root cause

Hopefully I wrote something above that infuriated you. That sentence was “Politicians attempt to balance ‘managing the herd’ with ‘getting reelected'”.

We are not a herd.

In an ideal world, the politician is not managing us as a herd, because we are individuals with individual rights. The politician should be managing a system that ultimately respects the true rights of the individual people that make up the populace.

The very notion that people need managing and that a politician is empowered to dole rights out or take away is a problem. The fact that so many believe it is actually government’s prerogative to do this is the root cause of the problem.

We, as a people, must tell government “No. That is my right. You are not taking it.” We must force all policy to allocate risk to the criminal and not to the peaceable.

Protection training during Stay-At-Home

Most of the USA is now closed for business. For many of us, we have lost access to martial training and firing ranges. This doesn’t mean we should be putting our protective training on hold, though. Here are a few ways to adapt or develop new training methods.

Strength and cardio training

There are honestly thousands of books, videos, and other sources out there for this training. For protection, a definite balance between strength training and cardio is needed. Look for strength-increase and flexibility-increase videos, not just “bulking up” exercises. The same with cardio.

Strength and cardio training by “definitely not me” and “also not my wife”.

If you don’t happen to have any equipment at home, add “no equipment” to your google searches. There are still many exercises that can be done using body weight resistance, as well as stretches!

Practice the basics you DO know

There are a number of martial arts apps out there that show applications you can do from your screen. We advise against these because there is no instruction or critique to break you from a bad habit or incorrect movement. Without this, imperfections (vulnerabilities) can become ingrained and need to be relearned.

But, if you happened to have trained well before this self-distancing, AND if you know some moves well enough to have not been significantly corrected on, continue practicing them!

I can honestly say that when troubleshooting trainee technique at the dojo, most of the trainee issues stemmed from improper positioning caused by poor footwork. If your training includes footwork patterns or routines, do them over and over, taking care you are doing them well.

Punching bags and artificial targets

Percussion training is kinda hard to get wrong. With some basic combinations under your belt, train them, and train them hard. Work them into a cardiovascular workout. If you have the means, a torso target allows you to work on target selection far better than a punching bag, but be prepared to load it up with sand (they leak a bit, don’t use water) to make it stable.

Physically striking is far superior to “punch into the air” martial movement. there is no substitute for actual striking to ensure your fists or chopping hand strikes are resilient.

Another great tool are the Cold Steel line of melee training weapons and the Rings Blue Gun line of firearm training weapons. These can allow for great weapon manipulation and movement training. If your martial skills involve breakfalls and rollouts, practice going into prone, supine, and urban prone. This will not only improve your ability to obtain cover/concealment, but the large movements will improve cardio.

Dry fire dry fire dry fire

When practicing dry fire, set up a place that you know is safe, and keep it that way. The rules of gun safety are not suspended while doing this; they are more important than ever.

Safety steps:

  1. Pick a dry-fire location in the home free from others, including pets or important valuable. Establish that this sectioned area is an ammunition-free zone.
  2. Ensure the area you will be dry ‘firing’ into is safe, and what is beyond it is safe and will trap a bullet if all else fails.
  3. Read your owners manual and confirm that firing on an empty chamber is not detrimental to your firearm. Most modern semiautomatic and revolver firearms are able to handle dry firing. 22LR pistols are a notable exception.
  4. In a separate area, remove all ammunition from your firearm. This includes the magazine and chamber or the cylinder for most modern pistols. If you have a training barrel for your firearm, install it here. Confirm the firearm is empty through sight and touch.
  5. Move to your dry fire location. Ensure it is free of obstructions and people.
  6. Reconfirm the firearm is empty through sight and touch.
  7. If for any reason you must pause this training and leave the area, perform all safety steps over to ensure the firearm and training area are in known states when resuming training.

Dry fire for sight alignment and trigger congtrol

A training program I took emphasized that most firearm issues can be resolved with sight alignment and trigger control. After spending a full 8 hours on these two factors alone, I am in complete agreement.

Fortunately, these two factors can be practiced without ammunition. When dry firing, you can work on maintaining sight alignment and picture while manipulating the trigger. These items are the very fundamentals of superior marksmanship, and it can be done for FREE.

  1. Perform all safety steps noted above.
  2. Practice dry firing by squeezing the trigger while maintaining sight alignment/picture on a target fastened to the wall.
  3. Pay special attention to any movement in sight alignment that trigger actuation provokes. Correct it. There is no rush here, and each trigger pull can take as long as needed to perfect.
  4. Repeat until your trigger actuation does not affect sight alignment/picture at all. (This can take years!)

Dry fire for draw and acquiring target

Once the fundamentals of sight alignment and trigger control are well understood, it’s time to bring the drawstroke into play. Using ALL the same safety steps shown above, AND all the sight alignment/picture and trigger control exercises, practice drawing from holster, presenting the firearm, and getting on target with a proper sight alignment and trigger actuation.

Remember the fundamentals of a good drawstroke:

  1. Using support hand, remove concealing garments from the holster area.
  2. Primary hand acquire a solid grip on the firearm with thumb-forefinger webbing lodged firmly in the tang of the handgun and fingers in a solid grip. Trigger finger must be extended.
  3. Draw the firearm deliberately to the pectoral index point. Support hand comes to the chest.
  4. Rotate firearm to the front. Shooter may need to engage from this position and firing from this position should be practiced for close quarter engagements.
  5. Extend the firearm forward with a “punching out” movement. Support hand should naturally acquire a proper grip on the firearm during this extension. During extension, begin to acquire sight alignment and sight picture. Shooter should be able to put rounds on target during the extension action for close quarter engagement training.
  6. Once at extension, finalize sight alignment and sight picture.
  7. Actuate trigger during the drill at the appropriate time determined for your practice.

Dry fire with moving and shooting

Using ALL the above steps, and adding in objects, navigate to cover/concealment, move around obstacles to get on cover. Add partial cover to your target… the list is endless what you can do here, and it all builds in movement familiarity with the firearm.

By now it should be apparent that there is so much that can be done with dry fire. In fact, the only thing missing is recoil management and the assessment of shot placement.

Train the mind

Internet research costs little, and finding good sources doesn’t take that long. Train the mind with good information. Justifiable use of force, the laws of protection and firearm ownership, the anatomy of violence, and so much more. Go for depth, not breadth. Find a subject and truly deep-dive it. Surface smatterings of many topics are easily obtained. Focused knowledge in one thing leads to much more understanding.

Training beyond stay-at-home

Of course, ALL of this must be reinforced with this most paramount of paradigms: You are NOT PLAYING. This isn’t a tactical LARPing exercise, Mr. Wick. You MUST do all the above training as if it is a live-fire exercise, with the exact same mindset for training and consequence. Do not train in poor muzzle discipline. Do NOT train in a bad drawstroke. If needed, record your training and play it back and scrutinize as if it were someone else’s Facebook post that the world will nitpick into oblivion. You could even send it to your instructors for their review, or a close group of training friends operating in an ego-free way.

Most of us have been ‘gifted’ with extra time on our hands. Whether it be working from home and no commute time to actually being furloughed. These times are hard, and they will get harder before it’s said and done. In desperate times, the worst in some people comes out, and the best in others comes out. It’s up to us to ensure our best is greater than their worst. Train hard, train focused.

Setting up a home quarantine room

The world is watching the Coronavirus spread with great concern. Prior to that, it was Ebola, or HIV, or whooping cough. In our increasingly interconnected world, disease can spread quickly and over great area. The Coronavirus has hit Wuhan, China hard. One of China’s major trade centers is effectively shut down, with industrial implications for the entire world.

Here at home, Michigan USA, the concern has become real. Being the cradle of the US auto industry and much of that industry having ties to China, it is not a stretch to realize it will affect our economy significantly. How can we, as emergency preparedness practitioners, take steps to ensure our family remains safe?

Understanding how disease is transmitted (routes of transmission)

There are 3 main types of disease transmission. Setting up a home quarantine room will need to ensure that all forms of pathogen transmission are addressed.

Aerosol

This form of transmission is when the pathogen are suspended in the air, either through vaporous liquid droplets (like coughing and sneezing) or particulates (like dust or pollutants). The pathogen is then inhaled, absorbed by the recipient (through eye or mouth deposit) or deposited onto a surface and later touched. Most pathogens do not survive long in an aerosol state, and close proximity to the infected person is required for transmission. Coughing, sneezing, and exhaling are all forms of initiating aerosol transmission.

The COVID-19 virus has been found to be transmissible through aerosol.

Direct contact

Transmission is achieved when contact is made with the pathogen. The pathogen is usually introduced by contact through skin, blood, mucous membranes, saliva, etc.

Oral/Consumption

Pathogens are often introduced through food and water. Unclean practices like failure to wash hands can introduction fecal and urine particles onto food which sustain the pathogen long enough for transmission.

There are other subtypes of these transmissions. Venereal is direct contact through reproductive activity. Fomite transmission is when a carrier touches an object that is later touched by a receiver (such as door handles, etc.). Vector-borne is a direct contact transmission through a carrier, such as a mosquito.

Considerations for the quarantine room

The widespread nature of this virus means for most of us, it will be a matter of when, not if, a loved one gets it. With hospitals quickly reaching capacity, the need WILL be to stay home and self-quarantine.

The following items and considerations will be needed to effectively quarantine a room and be able to tend a patient at home. Note that these considerations are to reduce/eliminate pathogen transmission. They do not include patient treatment. Isolating pathogens to this room and preventing spread to other areas is the primary objective.

Sanitation cart

A cart that can be easily moved as needed is ideal for a sanitation cart. Some people will choose to use a stationary location such as a linen closet or bathroom cabinet. Whichever is chosen, it should be easy to access and easy to determine when supplies are running low. Consider the following items for a general sanitation cart, and UNDERSTAND what items are applicable for the pathogen in question:

  • Antibacterial wipes.
  • Bleach (or other medical grade cleaner) and cheesecloth towels.
  • Disposable nitrile gloves.
  • Face shields, face masks, and safety goggles.
  • Biohazard and vomit bags.

Room preparation

If at all possible, the quarantine room chosen should be free of porous materials and surfaces. Cushioned furniture aside from the bed, clothing in closets, stuffed animals, papers, books, carpet, and more, should be removed or minimized. This may be well above and beyond the capability of most to do, but understand that these surfaces can harbor pathogens and are a risk to those giving care to the quarantined person.

The quarantine room should also be chosen, ideally, to have its own bathroom with shower. With water vapor, toothbrushes and toiletry needs, and human waste disposal, this bathroom is a significant source of pathogen transmission.

Quarantining aerosol pathogens

This is the hardest thing to accomplish, as airborne pathogens can become direct contact pathogens as well when contaminated particulates land on surfaces. Those items will be covered below, and this section will focus on the aerosol nature of transmission only.

Create an entry/exit barrier. In addition to the room’s door, a plastic sheet hung a few feet outside the door creates a double-door barrier with an ante room space between them. This is the bare minimum necessary for effective quarantining. The care giver can gown outside the area, enter the first “door”, close it, then enter the second door. This greatly reduces the pathogen’s likelihood of escaping the quarantine room. When exiting, the caregiver leaves the second door, closes it, de-gowns and disposes of the gowning material inside the ante room space, then exits the first door and disposes of the gowning material.

While cleaning the quarantine room, vacuum carpet using hepafilter vacuums only, while wearing face shield, goggles, and respiration mask. This is a high risk activity that is agitating particulate matter in the room. Another alternative is to use a true steam-cleaning carpet cleaner at 170F or at least 5 minutes per surface, or 212F for 1 minute per surface.

If cleaning items in the room, minimize movement of the items, and do not shake out bedding, clothing, or other fabrics. This releases whatever pathogens were on them into the air. Aerosol transmission is the most difficult to mitigate. Do not take a direct contact item (pathogen on an object) and purposefully make it an aerosol.

If the temperature allows for it, close the vents from this room to the rest of the house. If conditions do not allow for it, add filtration and UV irradiation as necessary.

Install cold air return filters in the quarantine room and bathroom. Filters are rated with a “MERV” value, and a MERV value of 13-16 are medical grade that block bacteria, most dusts and aerosols, and suspended water droplets. Well ahead of needing this room, install a cold air return register than accepts these filters.

For the furnace filter, install a filter with at least a MERV rating of 9-12, but 13-16 is better. By the time a pathogen has gotten to the furnace, it will have traveled several yards or more. Most pathogens cannot survive an extended period of time in open air, and between the cold air return filter, the distance to the furnace, and the furnace filter, there is little chance of a pathogen being redistributed into the house’s HVAC system. These filters are an excellent preparedness item to stock up on before they are needed, and kept in their sealed packaging until needed.

Some return vent housings are able to accept filters in them.

Portable air filters that use filtration (not ozone) can help, but one must purchase the correct filters (HEPA only, not “HEPA style”), change the filters as indicated (they can get expensive), and actually leave it running.

Another excellent means of air filtration is an Ultraviolet furnace insert. These high intensity ultraviolet bulbs are excellent to destroy virus, bacteria, and mold, with the added benefit of reducing maintenance for mold on AC coils, etc. They can be expensive, but this is one of the more certain ways one can ensure air returning to the rest of the house is virus-free.

Quarantining direct contact pathogens

By creating a quarantine room, an attempt is being made to limit direct contact to one area only. Regular cleaning in this room is required, and wiping down all flat surfaces regularly with antiseptic cleaner is an important first step in minimizing direct contact transmission. Here are a few other tips:

  • Be prepared to dispose of everything: The clothes in this room, the cot/bed, blankets, books, TV Remote, etc., can all hold a pathogen. While a pathogen may not live on a surface for very long, porous surfaces can hold enough contaminant to allow a pathogen to live long enough for transmission. It may not come to this, but be prepared for this.
  • Learn to degown in the correct way so that degowning does not create an exposure. Have waste bags available for disposed of gowning.
  • Any eating utensils and serving ware should be immersed in a tub with bleach concentration, fastened with a lid, and removed to the house’s kitchen area.
  • Read, understand, and practice the surface decontamination methods for the cleaners you are using. Lysol disinfectant sprayed on a surface requires TWO MINUTES to be fully effective. This is very different than the typical wipe on / wipe off method most people use for cleaning.
  • Wear a face mask and goggles when dealing with all things in this room. It will help with instinctually touching face and eyes.

Quarantining oral/ingested contact pathogens

For quarantining, an important objective is to ensure food items and eating utensils do not pose a threat to those that use them subsequently. For best results, dedicate a set of utensils to the infected person and wash them separately. If this is unmanageable, soak the utensils and serving items in a basin with 1 tablespoon bleach per 1 gallon water for at least 2 minutes after all extra food material has been rinsed or scrubbed away. After that, run in the dishwasher with the highest heat setting available.

Cleaning kitchen sponges, washclothes, and more can be done by soaking in the same bleach concentration, then rinsing well, putting on a microwave safe plate, then microwaving the items for 2 minutes on high. Ensure there are no metallic strands or abrasion materials in the cleaning supplies when doing so.

Another important factor to consider is preparing foods in a clean way. First, ensure that the food preparer is not ill. Notrile glove, mask, and eye protection are excellent means to prevent contamination of food items, as is minimizing the handling of packaging and subsequent handling of the food item.

For cooked items reaching high heat, they will be pathogen free after heating up provided the heating goes above 170F for at least 5 minutes (assuming the heat has time to transfer throughout the food so that all areas of the food are 170F for at least 5 minutes). The very best practice one can do is to minimize direct contact with the food after heating.

Conclusion

Not all the above items will be affordable or even necessary depending on the pathogen that is being quarantined against. Nor should the above take the place of medical professional practices. This article should be seen as things to consider, and best practices to thoroughly research and enact.

Our very best option is to self-distance and prevent getting this virus in the first place.