Saturday, July 28, 2012

Go Team USA!

We're a mixed bag

With all of the bad press going on about guns lately, I am glad I have the chance to get on my soapbox so I can talk about the positive side of gun culture. Also, keep in mind that I am the Liberal Gun Guy, so my view is more middle of the road. My views on the world are like those of many Americans - mixed. I lean left on some things and right on others. Sometimes these views conflict and I have to work it out - I supported Afghanistan, but not Iraq for example.

Once we all start to accept that people can be a mix of beliefs and not just black-and-white, I think we will agree that we agree - at least on a few things.

Now. With that off my chest, I realized that other than referencing Kim Rhode's ammo use, I failed to mention that there is a small sporting event going on in London.


You know? Where the history is from.

Olympic Shooting 2012

There is a lot going on in the way of shooting at the Olympics! The largest field of Shooting competitors ever will be at the games.

By the time I am writing this, the Women's 10m Air Rifle and the Men's 10m Air Pistol are over. The US was out of the medals in each, but the female shooters represented us well, coming in 5th and 7th.

One of the great things about the Internet Age is that the network of tubes we rely on will allow us to watch some of the events that typically do not allow spectators or attract many viewers. NBC, this years contracted broadcaster, will be streaming most, if not all, of the shooting events - including the qualification rounds. All I know is that I will be watching Kim Rhode shooting skeet at 8AM Sunday morning! Between this and her chance in Trap, she has the opportunity to become the first American to medal as an individual in five consecutive Olympics.If that isn't awesome, I don't know what is.

Good luck to team USA!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How much ammo does one person need?

Guns and Ammo

No, I'm not talking about the magazine. I am talking about Guns and I am talking about Ammo.

Actually, I did already talk about these once today. I had a great time on internet radio with Bennet Kelley (and here) on the CyberLaw & Business Report. We spent a half hour discussing some of the various points of purchasing guns and ammunition online. In light of last week's shooting (no, I'm not linking to it), we looked into the various rules and regs of buying guns, magazines, and ammunition.

The best thing about this is that I was able to walk Bennet and his listeners through what it takes to purchase these online, talk about how more regulations won't necessarily be a good thing, and how some common sense and education would definitely be a good thing.

Note to Gun Guys: DO NOT EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER sell a personal firearm to someone across state lines or who even jokes about not being able to pass a NICS check without going through an FFL!

As a sidenote, I want to give a nod to HARO (Help A Reporter Out). This is a website set up to help reporters get into touch with subject specialists. I jumped on the mail list and within a few days I was on the web (and getting hits as a result).

Now on to business...

How much ammo does one person need?

Over the last few days I have been in a few conversations about the shooting in Aurora (nope, still not linking it). Each one included the question, "Why did he need six thousand rounds?"


A little voice in the back of my head snarked, "Because he couldn't afford seven?"

I had to ask why that was a problem. It wasn't like the shooter needed much. By all of the reports I have heard, the C-Mag in his M&P 15 jammed - but we have not heard when. His shotgun likely carried 5-8 rounds (several versions of the Remington Model 870 exist). The standard magazine for the Glock G22 holds 15 rounds. There are extended magazines available (similar to those used by the shooter in the Tucson Shooting), but there have been no reports of these being used. Totaling that, we are looking at about 123 rounds (barring any backup magazines or loose shotgun shells). With some number of those not being fired, this is less than 2% of his ammo stash. 

I'm just damn glad it wasn't stadium seating and that the C-Mag jammed. Seconds here... seconds there...

Shooters and Ammunition

I remember years ago (as a young Liberal Gun Guy) buying a box of shells,  going to the range, and shooting EVERY LAST ROUND. How many rounds were left at home? none. I couldn't afford any ammo other than what I put into the cinder cliff behind the target. Now? I'll shoot about half of what I buy (maybe). If I'm in a 100-round trap shoot, I'll get 150 shells and come home with 40-some. Sure, those extras get shot at some point, but they build up.

As a result of the conversations recently, I did some mental calculations. Given range bringbacks and the odd lots I have picked up along the way, I think I have about 1500 rounds of different types - 40 S&W, 12 gauge, .410, .30-06, 7.62x54R, .303, and .22. I think I also have some loose .45ACP (which I don't even have anymore...). Don't think I'm the only one. I didn't intend to get there. I just did. Now, if I was an active shooter (in a local-gun-club-regular-shoot-winner), I would be buying or reloading hundreds of rounds a week (high power rifle maybe being a little less).

Shotgun sports, 3-Gun, Cowboy Action Shooting, name it. If these folks want to stay on top of their game at the local/regional level, they will shoot (conservatively) 300-500 rounds a week - often a non-standard round. That is somewhere around 5,000 rounds in a few months. This is a supply that can't be supplied by your FLGS (Friendly Local Gun Store) or Wal-Mart.

Kim Rhode, two-time Gold Medalist in Double Trap, shoots 500-1000 rounds A DAY. Even on the south side of that (and taking a couple months of over the year), this comes up to more than 150,000 rounds over a year. Take that order to the Gun Shop up the street.

EDIT: I was reminded by a Facebook Friend that another reason competition shooters buy in bulk is to ensure that the ammunition is part of the same production lot. This ensures that differences from cartridge-to-cartridge and box-to-box are kept at a minimum.

Unfortunately, these aren't the folks we hear about. We hear about the folks stockpiling against armageddon, further government regulation, and zombies... OK, maybe not necessarily the last.

Also, unfortunately, we have the guy in Colorado. I don't know his deal. He had a lot of ammo. He also had a lot of issues (based on numerous articles and his appearance at his hearing. It does reflect poorly. I want to stress that while he had lots of ammo, he didn't apparently have a plan for it except to leave it in his apartment to burn it. This may give a tip to his knowledge of guns and ammo.

Ammunition in a fire will go nowhere - it needs a chamber to prevent a splitting case and a barrel to give direction. I have seen the aftereffects of a house fire on several hundred rounds of .30-06 stored in a wood case. It was a beautiful, semi-artistic piece of lead, mangled cartridge cases, and copper bullets.

The Upshot

Seeing as how he passed a series of background checks while purchasing four firearms over the previous several months, the knucklehead in question would have undoubtedly passed any sort of check someone would want to create for ammunition. There are legitimate reasons (sane or otherwise) to obtain or store bulk ammo. Registering bulk purchasers would be tantamount to registering gun owners. To my mind, this seems to be something that the majority of gun owners would oppose. I don't mind some regs and laws, but I don't want my name on a list.

Weak close, I know, but I had a good (long) day and I am glad I got to teach some folks about guns.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Gun Violence, Personal Choice, and America in an Election Year

OK, we know what happened...

So, I won't go into the details. There.



First, I would like you to watch this video about the Winnendon school shooting in 2009. I found it in Patton Oswalt's Facebook feed (I freaking lurve Patton Effing Oswalt). Pay really good attention starting at 1:34.

Now. I will let that point sit on its own. Please don't go all 24-hour-news-cycle on us. We don't need to see his face. We don't need to hear nonsensical eyewitnesses give their side of the story using hyperbole and incorrect gun terms. We don't need news readers making comments of a technical nature.

We do need facts. We do need what happened (as far as we can tell). We do need who did it (as far as we can tell). We do need to know what we need to do next (lock our doors, pack our bags, hug our families).

We do need restraint. 

We do need to get on with the other things going on in the world. This may sound callous, and my heart does go out to the victims, their families, and their friends, but I am glad I have the internet so I could see if there was something else going on in the world.

First Response

I guess you know how I feel about the network coverage. Between the inane rambling of people still on an adrenaline high after surviving the worst shooting since the Va Tech Massacre and the inane rambling of a news anchor who knows next to nothing about guns (I love you, Robin Meade, but you need to get to the range sometime), I was boggled. The only decent eyewitness account I felt was legitimate was that of a combat-experienced Marine who was with his wife. He calmly described what he saw and heard. He didn't exaggerate. He didn't make guesses. He told what he knew.

Sadly, I believe the best journalistic effort of the day came from the Onion, citing an imaginary person as saying "Nothing really surprises me when it comes to this kind of thing anymore. And that makes me feel terrible" and "In exactly two weeks this will all be over and it will be like it never happened."

Yep. This.

The United States of Guns

I'll let most of the pundits go into the facts and figures.

TL:DR - There are more guns in the hands of fewer people now than there have been historically. Violent Crime has been decreasing rapidly. Concealed Carry is available in almost every state (several without permitting).

Let me use my golden, reassuring voice to scare you into buying something.
Since Senator Obama was nominated as the Democratic Party Candidate in 2008, sales of guns and ammunition went up in the mistaken belief President Obama would take all of our guns away because of his following a European socialist who was attempting to ban our guns. I was there and I watched it happen. The last four years saw the gun industry as one of the only recession-proof areas of the economy other than the gold sellers advertising via Glenn Beck. (I do have to admit, I expected the bottom to fall out of the gold market by about 2010-2011... I was wrong)

I like my guns. I like being able to shoot them. I like being able to teach people about the role of firearms in American and World history. I like teaching museum people about firearms (reaaaallll small slice of the Venn diagram there...). I like talking to Gun Guys (and Gun Gals).

However, I also can't stand talking to Gun Guys.

Most Gun Guys I know are great people. Some are religious, some aren't. Most are on the right, some are on the left. Some are active shooters. Some are collectors. Some just buy guns. Most are the salt of the earth. Most are white. Most are upstanding members of their communities. Genuinely nice folk, for the most part.

Sometimes, though, being around guns has placed me in the company of some people I really did not like. Racists, White Supremacists, Anti-Government Conspiracy Theorists, Separatist movement folks, and a few Aryan Nation folks. Real great crowd. Shining examples of a group of otherwise great people. Also, the folks who will easily get on camera because they fit the stereotype.

Stuck on the NRA

Then there is the mix. Good people who are believing everything the NRA is telling them. When pundits mention the core of the Republican Party, they are talking about these people. I have written previously about my feelings on the NRA. I will reiterate that I appreciate the non-lobbying activities - firearms use and safety training, youth shooter programs, and grants for ranges to make improvements, to name a few. As I am happy to share, I am a life member of the NRA. However, I have to admit I giggled when I saw the Onion giving Wayne LaPierre a dig.

Over the last couple of decades, Wayne and his people have been pushing Social Security off of the third rail of the political subway and replacing it with Firearms. For the last 10 years especially, they have made the life of our Congresspeople harder than it already was. Vote the wrong way on a bill and every gun owner in your district will find out. nice.

The NRA, as usual after a situation like this is lying low. They did the same after the Gabby Giffords Shooting - smart move on their part.

Some folks, however, are pointing to a decline in the power of their organization. There are different reasons behind why this may be happening. One is that they are outliving their utility as a result of one success and one failure. The success is that they have pushed back or removed many gun restrictions across the country (including hamstringing the ATF through limiting their investigative power). The failure has been in catching the graying of the gun community too late. The retirees with guns are passing away. The greatest Generation is all but gone. The youth are in single-parent homes with no dads (This is what happens when you believe "Only boys shoot guns"). The majority of our population lives in an urban setting. On the one hand, you have one of the most liberal environments for gun usage. On the other, the percent of the population that does own guns is decreasing.

Worshipping at the Altar

The result of this is that those with guns see themselves surrounded by those without. Tie this with the belief in family, church, and country shared by many of these folks and you get an almost religious fervor that has spread among the gun-owning public.This was best shown through the Pat Robertson-esque comments made by Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert. Referring to our Founding Fathers and asking repeatedly, "Where was God in all of this?" he is searching for ties that aren't there. In asking why no one in that theater was carrying concealed, he is making an assumption of your typical concealed-carry permit holder and the situation in the theater. My money is on Representative Gohmert never having a concealed carry permit.  

I have. After arriving in Wyoming in 2003, I applied for and received my concealed carry permit. That permit allowed me to carry concealed in more than 1/2 of the United States. I regularly did. Even in Cody, Wyoming, I would carry to Wal-Mart, to restaurants, and, yes, to the movies. Why? Because I knew then what some folks are just starting to understand. This can happen anywhere. Statistically, you have a better chance of getting cancer, but there is always that chance.The best training doesn't just teach safety and how to shoot. It teaches you when to shoot and how to determine IF you should shoot. Many was the time at Wal-Mart when I knew that I would not be shooting - I would be grabbing my kids and doing my best Franco Harris impersonation.

Part of the reason I support legal carry is simply that I have met too many idiots with guns. Most of them, fortunately, do not get the concealed carry permit. Sitting in a class for 16 hours (in a lot of states), filling out forms, writing a check, and then waiting is too much for some. Others aren't legal residents of the state in which they live. Some get refused because of a past crime. Some have "issues." These folks decide to carry concealed for reasons unknown. These are the people I worry about. 

And then there are the people like Aurora (I won't call him by name). He picked out what he wanted to do. He picked a great place to attack. He chose a good time to go "in costume." He chose some good weapons for the job. The guns were purchased legally. There were no warning signs (that have been reported). He was not going to be stopped.

Weapons in the Hands of Private Citizens

Even if someone had been carrying (like that Marine I mentioned earlier?), I would expect that their first and best response would have been to get the hell out of Dodge and keep your eyes open. This is due to the stories of the smoke grenade (if that is what it was) and the combination of the Remington 870 and AR-15. If I have a handgun and the other guy has a rifle or shotgun, I am finding hard cover. Why? Because they can do more damage and are more accurate over range.

The larger firearms (and the ones folks tend to freak over) have historically been designed and used for hunting. Even the venerable AR-15 uses a round very similar to small game cartridges. I have an 870. I've shot trap, grouse, and rabbit with it. I would likely own an AR if I had the spare cash. Why - because they can be so heavily modified. Otherwise, there are other firearms that don't look so scary that are more dangerous because that can fire larger ammunition just as fast.

Whether or not we should have these firearms is, to me, not an issue. I believe we have the right, but I would give them all up for a happy peaceful world (this is why I am damned to be a Liberal). The more I have thought about it, though, the more I am surprised the Democratic Party is not on the side of gun rights. This is one of the only rights issues that the Democratic Party does not support. We support the right to choose, the right to love who we want to love, the right to vote, the right to think and worship (or not worship) as we wish. We should be the gun rights party.

The Upshot

I'm just rambling now, but there are bigger issues than gun rights and bans. There is the issue of our society. There is the issue that we have a nation that does not pay attention to mental illness as it should. There is an issue in that our society does not engender more empathy and respect for life. It's not guns, it's not video games, it's not kids underlining 'Eskimo' in their copy of Moby Dick. It's responsibility, it's family, and it's love.


Peace, out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Planning for the Future - Firearms and your Estate Planning

It always starts the same...

"Mr. Kennedy?"

"Yes, how can I help you?"

"Well... my husband passed away."

"I'm sorry to hear that."

"Thank you. It's just that he was a gun collector and..."

The rest of the conversation usually pans out the same way. Almost every time. The husband had lots of guns - maybe 20, maybe 50, maybe 100, maybe more. He died. She didn't realize how many he had, what they are, what they are worth, and (most importantly) who to trust.

The reason I get this call is that some buddy of the late Mr. Hoplophile is nosing around, knows a little (or a lot) about the collection and wants to help the widow by giving her some money to help her out by buying one (or more) of the guns - with a pained expression and at a cost WELL below retail. I received calls like this about once or twice a month while I was the Curator at the Cody Firearms Museum. I still get them through friends and acquaintances now. Maybe I seem to be the trustable sort. Maybe it's the boyish good looks, maybe it's the glazed look and the paunch, I don't know.

The sad thing is that it is preventable. As fanatical as many of us are with our guns while we are alive, we sure don't seem to care much about when we're dead. This needs to change.

Why is it always the Gun Guys?

I'll tell you why. It's because we did all we could to beg, borrow, and steal to get them in the first place and we don't want the government (or anyone else for that matter) to take them from us.

Take the guy from the opening scenes of Red Dawn for a case in point. Cue it up to 1:30 and enjoy. I'll wait.

Now. That guy isn't too far off from the truth. I have known... well... not this guy, but many like him. According to the American Firearms Institute (an organization devoted to defending gun rights) "there are 250 - 280 million firearms in the US" and "40 - 50% of US homes own a firearm, that's 120 - 150 million people". Easy math. that averages out to 2 per household in about half of the homes in America. However, as with most averages, there are outliers. I know many folks who own just one gun. I also know a couple guys who could outfit a small Latin American country, so long as they don't mind bolt actions from the two World Wars.

What is common amongst all of these people? They will not give up their gun(s) easily. If they are like this while they are alive, why do it when they are dead?

I don't know. 

I don't know if it is a lack of planning, an unrealistic belief that they will always have time to divest themselves of the collection before they pass on, or just simply believing that it will work itself out on it's own as part of the rest of the estate. But it drives me crazy and tells me that they care more for their guns than they do for their wife and family.  


Many gun owners arm themselves initially because they feel they need to TCB - Take Care of Business. This could be defending life and limb from an intruder or getting groceries through the barrel of a gun. However, we all protect ourselves and our families in other, less dramatic ways. Unless you are supporting your self solely on Social Security, you are taking care of business - financial business. 
Elvis (Mr. TCB) and a few of his guns - note the Luger on the left and the suppressor on the top right

Think about it. We all plan in the boring, mundane, "Gee, I hope the economy doesn't tank again before I retire or die, taking my nest egg with it" way. We set up retirement plans, 401(k)s, investments, stocks, bonds, annuities, and all sorts of other things that make me fall asleep. Some of these guys have retirement plans that cover EVERYTHING - except their guns. No plan, no inventory, no appraisals (scrawling a list of 100% values from the Blue Book doesn't count). I don't get it. But I have come to terms that it happens. Every day.

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail

Regardless of how you pass on, not having a plan for your guns is a bad, bad thing. Think about it. No matter how much warning you have, you cannot prepare. You die in your sleep of a heart attack (you eat red meat and stay off the treadmill, right?), you get an aneurysm on the floor of the gun show (we've all seen prices on guns that could lead to this...), or you stroke out on the golf course. 

Just kidding. That last one never happens to gun guys. They stroke out during a round of Sporting Clays.

During any of those, there is no time to prepare. But that's OK, you have emphysema, ALS (I know way too much about that one now), or the big 'C'. I'll have plenty of time. Sure. Once you get past "Depression" and on to "Acceptance", you have a short window. By that time, though, you will be hip-deep in medical bills, clinic appointments, and last checks on your bucket list. There will be time to take care of the guns later - besides, you may get better. You're right. You might. Lots don't.

So. While you are still healthy, wealthy, and (hopefully) wise, here are some things to do to prep your collection for your demise, sudden or otherwise.
  1. Inventory - Get a list with make, model, and serial number (separate from any bound book you may keep as an FFL or C&R). Tag the guns - you can use those little hangtags they sell at most office supply stores. For Pete's sake, no tape, no markers, no pens, pencils, sticky dots, or other adhesive badness. 
  2. Photograph - Get digital pictures of it all. Use a generic mount (you can use a range sled/sandbags with a nice cloth over the mount). Get both sides and necessary details (barrel address/sns are not necessary but inscriptions/engraving are). Have a card in frame showing make, model, and sn. Use decent lighting - a shop light behind the camera on the left and right should be good - prevents flash shadows. Use a tripod. Use a neutral background - not a plaid tablecloth. VERIFY that all of the pictures are clear.
  3. Appraise - Get a legitimate appraisal. If it is a few nice guns, you can Blue Book it. Write it down. Again, record make, model, and serial number with the value, the source for your estimation, and why you think it fits in a certain grade/%. Depending on the size or value of your collection (and your insurer's limits), you may want to go to one of the major national GUN auction firms or a private appraiser. Repeat this at least every five years - or if something happened that would otherwise increase the value of your collection. Legitimate appraisers will charge you for their time, per gun, etc. If they charge a percentage, they benefit from high-balling your collection. 
  4. Insure - Theft, fire, or any number of other things can happen. Now that you know what you have, insure it. Most reputable companies have a firearms policy rider. Boost the limit to whatever you are willing to go to, not surpassing the value of the collection. If you think the value has gone up, get it reappraised and insure accordingly.
  5. Secure - Keep it locked up. Keep it in a safe. Keep it in a locked display case. Keep it in a locked room. Ask a trusted (industrious) buddy to figure out how he would steal your guns. Fix what he would do. Why? Because someone will try to steal them (with a check or otherwise) after you are gone. Also - make sure someone trusted stays at the house while you are in the hospital or the casket.
  6. Allocate - Figure out where they go. Now. Just like anything else in your will (the house, property, etc.), this should be established well before you are de-established. Which ones go to your son or daughter. Which ones go to which friends. Make conditions (with a list of prices) to allow private sales (helps with the 'buddy' mentioned above). ID which guns go to an auction house. Figure out which ones go to a museum.  Figure out which ones go to other non-profits (If you plan to send them to the NRA, let the NRA know first).
  7. Note on Museums - Make arrangements with any museum AHEAD of time. I have had to refuse gifts from the deceased because of conditions they set. There are things responsible museums cannot agree to, in good faith. I am certain they were small issues that could have been resolved simply through a discussion beforehand, but legal conditions are exactly that.
  8. Organize - Keep all of the documentation on ALL of the above in hardcopy and on a USB thumb drive. Keep these in at least two places - with the guns and off site (safe deposit box if you have it). 
I recognize that some of this appears to be expensive. That's because it is. Ask yourself how much you spend on investment counseling, overhead fees on your IRA, or your accountant. Now ask how much you are willing to spend to take care of your family in this way.

Step up. Do it.

Now, on to the ammunition...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sorry, but we can't fail...

I love how folks on both ends of the political spectrum believe that their beliefs are the only ones that support Freedom and Liberty and that the other end of the spectrum is, at best, sending our Country down the drain or, at worst, actively striving to destroy the country or turn it into some sort of fascist or socialist state (depending on how you roll).

The beauty of our system is that NO ONE PERSON who gets elected - regardless of office - is able to irrevocably harm the nation. As the Chief Justice just told us, if you don't like what someone does, vote them out. If they do something illegal, they will be prosecuted. If they do something stupid, they will be called out for it. If the minority gets beat up, they can (and often do) come back in the next election.

No one person can destroy America. 236 years of various idiots, plutocrats, warmongerers, adulterers, liberals (Yes, I consider TR to have been a Liberal), conservatives, slave owners, racists, gays, Christians (they were all Christians of some sort), or other -ives/-ists have failed to screw it up beyond recognition yet.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Argument Clinic - or "How I Disagree with the White House"

This isn't an argument... It's just contradiction...

Lots of fun lately watching people on the talking box "discuss" things. 

Quite often it's as Jonathon Bernstein pointed out - the "out" party gainsaying the "in" party, regardless of where they stood when they were in power, a la Monty Python. The President or Democrats say one thing and the Republicans are instantly against it - especially if Grover passes it along as the official line on the weekly phone call.

However, I think one subject has been gaining some traction lately. It is something that people can form a little bit of a personal opinion about and a subject that was not much of an issue a few years back. It is the use of a 'kill list' and its widespread use around the world and across borders.

I have asked a few people if they can think of something illegal or unconstitutional the President has done. I rarely get a response. Often it is something easily disproved by a quick trip to or [As a side note - anyone concerned by how "Liberal" these sites are needs to go back to them, you would love how they have been finding fault with the President. They are equal-opportunity fact-checkers.] This is the one thing on the top of my head that I have questions about - legality.

Men and Machines

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or Drones have been in use by the military in a wide variety of purposes since World War I. The MQ-9 Reaper is the current top-of-the-line version of the drones that first arrived in the 1990s. The US Air Force and the Central Intelligence Agency use these to kill targets around the world - mainly in the 'Stans - 309 in Pakistan, alone. However, there have been strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and the Philippines.

These missions have been carried out from bases around the world. Besides bases in-theater, there are now 64 known drone bases in the US. Some of these bases are for training, some of these bases are for war fighting, some of them are for national defense. Some are all three. Most of the drones are for optical/signal surveillance only. Some can be configured to carry ordnance.

Unfortunately, this means that some of these birds can "accidentally" spy on you (even though the military is not allowed to do so). I'll be the first person to say that if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. However, as much as I trust the military, I harbor less trust for local and state jurisdictions operating these UAVs. Granted - there are the legitimate uses we hear about, but my money is that there are as many times (if not more) in which somebody was wondering why that remote control plane was orbiting their yard while they were sunbathing.

On the civilian front, there is a growing culture of amateur UAV pilots who are using their camera equipped drones for fun. Some of them are inadvertently catching evidence of illegal activity. My thoughts on this are about the same as my issues with Law Enforcement using UAVs. Pervs will Perv.

Legality and Targeted Killing

I can understand how it is OK to kill an enemy combatant with any weapon. I was in the Army. We were soldiers first, regardless of our MOS. Granted, I was a Bass Guitar Player for two different units that were without arms rooms, but I was still a soldier and knew what it could entail.

From my historian perspective, I know that you win wars by the correct application of force. Add in a little politics... A little economics... A little public relations... and you have a won war. This one, I am not too sure about.

I know that assassination is illegal. You can't just go out and kill someone who your country doesn't like. In the realm of targeted killing, however, the target has lost protection of the Geneva Convention through a "allegedly taking part in an armed conflict or terrorism, whether by bearing arms or otherwise". The 'allegedly' part is what concerns me. The only time I hear the word 'alleged' in conversation, there is a court, a judge, and a jury involved. Many of the targets had it coming to them, I am sure. Some of them concern me (there I go using that word again).

None of my reading has given me sufficient satisfaction that due process is being followed and that some attacks have been badly-researched, badly-thought-out, or badly-executed.

Much of what has been happening in Pakistan and elsewhere has been the result of the CIA, not the US Military. Concerns have been raised as a result of both this and that Pakistan is not "a zone of armed conflict." Even though we may see this as being a fully legal act, I doubt that Pakistan, a sovereign nation the last time I checked, considers it to be against the law. And 74% of Pakistanis consider America to be an enemy... hunh. I wonder why.

I can only imagine how the US would feel if we were to suddenly experience a spate of (officially) unauthorized attacks by a nation-state on American citizens because they are involved in some sort of military adventure in a 3rd-party country. I think that would last about 2.4 seconds before we would be going on alert as a nation.