Category Archives: Keep and Bear Arms

Did Kathryn Johnston Follow the Four Basic Rules?

Shane Vaiskauskas is a writer for the University of Georgia’s campus newspaper. He is apparently a junior in college, and just might be a wide-eyed idealist. Either way, I think he’s completely missing the point here.

Woman died from misuse of a firearm

What struck me first and foremost about this case was the irresponsible use of a firearm by Ms. Johnston.

Col. Jeff Cooper of the United States Marine Corps, the father of modern shooting theory and technique, outlined four basic rules of shooting:

1. All firearms are loaded, even when they are not.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to fire at your target.
4. Always identify your target, and what is behind it.

It was neither the war on drugs, nor unjustified or unwarranted police raids that killed Kathryn Johnston.

It was her failure to heed the four most basic rules of shooting.

We have heard the tired argument — it was late, she was old, she had just woken up and was disoriented, it was dark and her vision is roughly that of a 88-year old.

She made the conscious decision to either fail to properly educate herself on firearm usage or fail to follow it, and as is often the case with irresponsible use of guns, her life is forfeit.

Kathryn Johnston is dead not because she didn’t follow the rules. Let’s go over them:

1. Check. She knew the firearm was loaded.
2. Check. She was shooting with intent to kill.
3. Check. She was ready.
4. Check. She determined that her house was invaded with the threat of deadly force, and used deadly force to respond.

Rules 1-3 are clearly to prevent a negligent discharge, or “accident”. There was no accident here. So it all comes down to Rule #4. And that’s where it gets tricky. Shane’s argument is similar to the people who bemoan the cops after a shooting asking “why did they have to shoot to kill, couldn’t they have aimed at an arm or leg?” It’s ridiculous.

Kathryn Johnston lives in a bad neighborhood. In that neighborhood, someone busting down your door in the middle of the night is assumed to be doing so with ill intent. She had to make a quick decision with the understanding that refusing to act could mean imminent death. In the dark, in the middle of the night, with armed attackers invading her home, she made the decision that fighting back was her only way out. She did not have time to determine whether the invaders were police or burglars, because in the dark of night, by the time she made the determination, it would be too late.

As it turns out, the decision was wrong. The invaders were police, not burglars. What happened was a tragedy, but it was not “misuse of a firearm” or a failure to follow firearm safety rules. It was a result of a woman responding to a threat of force with force.

Would she have lived if she hadn’t started shooting? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Unarmed 18-year-old Peyton Strickland didn’t shoot at the cops, and he’s dead (along with his dog). Sean Bell wasn’t armed the night before his wedding, when he was gunned down by police.

What’s at issue in the Kathryn Johnston shooting isn’t firearm safety. While Shane may disagree, I think the issue is that police decided to conduct a no-knock raid on a house in the middle of the night, using overwhelming force and surprise tactics. The reason they did this is to ensure that the drugs they were searching for (2 grams of pot) were not destroyed. It seems to me that the entire matter is the war on drugs and police tactics. A raid that didn’t have to happen, likely wouldn’t have happened if the cops had done a proper investigation, and that was conducted using questionable tactics resulted in the death of Kathryn Johnston and the wounding of three officers.

But go ahead… Keep blaming the victim.

An Unhappy Thanksgiving

As most of the country chows down on turkey, ham, lamb and sits down to watch football or various Thanksgiving parades, I feel sad and I’m not in the celebratory mood. I find myself on this day that celebrates capitalism and individual liberty reflecting about how far our country has gone from the ideals our Founding Fathers laid out for us.

For example, I think Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison are rolling in their graves about the coming higher wage controls that will be imposed by the new majority in Congress.

I don’t think they would be too pleased either with the outrageous national debt and the unfair and burdensome tax code that we have now.

I don’t think they would be pleased that our universities have become centers for the suppression of the freedom of free speech and freedom of thought.

They would not be pleased at the corruption that infests Congress.

They would be irate about a 92 year old woman named Kathryn Johnson who was killed by plain clothes policemen who broke down her door. The handicapped ramp should have been a clue this probably wasn’t a crackhouse and there were innocent people inside. But no, instead the three pigs decided they wanted to be heroes and they decided to conduct a no knock raid on the house. The woman, who had a legally licensed handgun for protection because she lived in a high-crime neighborhood, thought that these three men in plain clothes were impersonating police officers and trying to break in. She reacted as many other honest and law abiding people would in this situation, she defended herself and her property. She shot all three pigs, unfortunately, they’ll live and they’ll probably be hailed as heroes. They cops returned fire, killing her.

This Thanksgiving while most Americans stuff themselves, the Johnson family will be making funeral arrangements to bury the latest victim of our War on (some) Drugs and the militarized police forces. The Johnsons have lost an aunt, a grandmother, and I’m sure a woman that was beloved by all who knew her. A woman that should be in the prime of her life, instead lost her life in one of the most brutal ways possible. Justice for Kathryn would be the three policemen facing at the very least a hearing and possibly criminal charges for their actions; but it looks like we’ll have to settle for getting rid of no-knock raids.

This Thanksgiving, we need to rededicate ourselves to fighting, through political activism and reporting on their misdeeds, these wannabe tyrants whether they rule from Washington D.C. or own the local level and fight to restore our lost liberties. We need to pressure the media to give this story the proper attention it deserves. The media is reporting that police politely knocked on Kathryn Johnson’s door and just started firing and the cops were defending theirselves. In fact, the supposedly conservative Fox News Channel had a panel discussion on today’s Live Desk where all five panelists, including the supposedly objective reporter Julie Banderas, called for a ban on keeping privately owned firearms inside homes and sited this shooting as a reason.

So have a Happy Thanksgiving and remember to be on guard for liberty, for its enemies are numerous and powerful.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at The and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

I Can’t Believe I’m Saying This

But, I actually like something that Markos Zuniga Moulitsas a.k.a “Daily Kos” has written:

The Case for the Libertarian Democrat

In this article, Kos attempts to describe why he thinks there is a more natural alliance between those with libertarian principles, and the Democratic party; as well as why the Republican party has been losing so much of it’s traditionally libertarian center…

…and but for two important points, I’m agreeing with what he’s written (which by the way isn’t what I think he truly believes. I’ve read enough of his stuff over the years that I know he’s way more to the left than he’s presenting himself here).

The first principle that I utterly disagree with, is that corporations are the ultimate evil in this world; and that capitalism must be strictly regulated and monitored by government or it will inevitably become a totalitarian evil.

The funny thing about that one is; it’s not too far wrong. Oh it is completely wrong in reality; but the difference between reality, and this socialists paranoid dystopian fantasy future isn’t very large. Mercantilist fascism is a distinct posibility if certain elements get tweakend in certain ways.

The irony of this principle, is that this result is exactly what we KNOW to be true, and will ALWAYS happen with an unfettered government; which brings us to the second issue I have…

The second principle he espouses here that I completely disagree with, is the core philosophy which separates Liberals, Democrats, Libertarians, libertarians, Republicans, and Conservatives alike.

Those on the left and the right (presuming a continuous linear spectrum as presented above) both believe that government can to some degree or another, do good; and be a legitmate and positive force; either for change, or to maintain stasis.

Those who are Libertarians, or libertarians; in general believe that all government is inherently a negative thing, but that some government is less negative than the alternative.

This principle was once the guide of the centrists wings of both the Democratic, and Republican parties; however those wings are severely weakened (in the case of the republicans), or have simply been purged from the party over the past 40 years (the democrats).

This means that there is no longer a functioning constiuency for severely limited government in power today. Both major parties are operating under the principle that with THEIR guidance, government can and WILL do good (or what THEY consider to be good – which is nothing of the sort), no matter the consequences.

One thing that these types never seem to understand, is the law of unintended consequences, and it most important corolary, the corolary of intentions.


No matter what you do, what you know, or what your intentions are; every word you say, every thing you do, will have consequences you did not intend, forsee, or understand. Good intentions matter, but good results matter more.

Oh, and I suppose there’s one other principle that Kos is espousing that I can’t take: The idea that the way to fix the country is by voting democratic; and that if enough libertarians come to the democratic party, things will be alright again (or it’s corrolary, that tactically voting against republicans will force them to become more libertarian as a reaction to their electoral losses).

I reject this concept as utter folly; and dangerous folly at that. If the democratic party is ever allowed into the kind of power position it had in the late 70s again; it will destroy America utterly, and possibly kill us all in the process.

No, I’m not being hyperbolic, I am simply doing that which is prudent: the consequences of following what democrats say are, or have proven to be, their policies; will be the utter subjugation of the west to political correctness, weakness, appeasment, “tolerance”, and “multiculturalism”; and that WILL get us all killed.

The Democratic party, and the left who have chosen the Democrats as their represntatives; are in fact not liberty oriented at all (though some individuals may be). They are controlled by totalitarian transnational “progressivists”.

If these political philosophies are given reign over the country, it will weaken us to the point where we would be unable to resist the muslim and communist assault on our society, and we would all be killed or converted.

This is not to say the Republicans are all that much better; but I do not fear for my immediate safety, or the safety of my children given Republican principles and track record. Yes, taken too far, we COULD become that totalitarian mercantilist fascist state that frothy leftists have paranoid wet dreams about… but I for one would rise in bloody revolution first, as I know would at least hundreds of thousands of my fellow citizens; and we’ve all got plenty of guns.

Of course we wouldn’t if the transnational progressivists had their way, now would we.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

Never Again

On July 4th, the United Nations will convene a conference on “the international trafficking and trade in small arms”; which is essentially shorthand for U.N. gun control.

For some time now the U.N. has promulgated treaties which would effectively ban private firearms ownership in signatory states. They have also attempted (thus far unsuccessfully) to add such provisions to their charter, and the universal declaration of human rights; which all U.N members are required to be signatory to.

The various gun rights organizations in this country (and to a lesser extent around the world), are making a very big public relations deal about this; and they have been for quite some time (since the 1970s in fact, but especially since Wayne LaPierre became president of the NRA. He’s even written a book on the subject which a kind reader is sending me to review). Conversely the statist media around the world are using these groups opposition, and sometimes seemingly paranoid rantings (believe me there are just as many whack jobs on our side as on theirs) of these groups supporters as their own public relations bonanza.

Which, in the U.S., is all this is; public relations.

The bald fact is that the U.N.; and the various NGO’s who support this initiative; have the stated and trumpeted goal of banning all private firearm ownership. This is not even an open question, it is their stated goal. It may not be their short term goal for today; but it is what they want in the long term, and universally; and they will stop at nothing to achieve their goal.

So what.

No treaty may take precedence over the U.S. constitution. It’ written right into the document itself; the constitution is the supreme law of this land. The constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms (note: it does not GRANT that right, it recognizes and protects the pre-existing right). This is incontrovertible.

We in America are safe from the U.N. and other NGOs manipulations in this matter; until such time as our constitution is amended; or forcibly ignored (but that’s another topic entirely). The rest of the bleating from the NRA and other organizations is essentially fundraising, and consciousness raising. They are using this issue to alarm folks who might otherwise not be paying attention (and god knows there are millions of gun owners who don’t); into understanding that there are organized, well funded, and even extranational (or transnational) efforts to abrogate their rights.

That part of the effort, or at least that purpose attached to it, I applaud greatly; but screaming “The UN is going to take your guns” to Americans is both untrue, and crass.

This is not to say that the UN’s efforts in this regard should not be opposed; they should; and not simply because the U.N. is a corrupt, criminal, and fundamentally unsound organization (though that is a sufficient reason, it isn’t the only one).

This reason alone is both sufficient, and necessary: The only effective long term tool to combat genocide and democide, is an armed and educated populace.

Please note it takes both components.

An educated unarmed population will still be slaughtered by those intent on enforcing their will on them; or in effecting their destruction.

An armed, uneducated population, is nothing more than a tool for a dictator to effect such genocide and democide.

Some would cry “but what can private individuals do against an army, or a government?“.

Let me tell you right now, it is amazing what an armed and educated population can do; even when their arms are limited, scrounged, and inferior; and their numbers seemingly too small to matter.

I could give you many examples, but I believe one is sufficient: our nation was founded by such men.

Even when victory is remote, one can choose to fight; fight for the chance to be free; and choose to be free in fighting rather than to be a slave, or to be slaughtered.

In 1943, no more than 200 Polish, Hungarian, and Lithuanian Jews held two divisions of NAZIs at bay for two months, using only captured and scrounged weapons; with which they had no training or experience (before the fighting ended another 750 men joined them). None of these men were soldiers, they were tailors, and scholars, and jewelers… but they had intelligence, and a will to survive.

Yes, they were eventually slaughtered; as the NAZIs did to so many others; but they died defending themselves and their families.. or what was left of their families. They were not simply mown under like wheat.

Even if one cannot prevail; it is sometimes better to fight and die, than to be led to the slaughter.

They had a choice, and they fought, and they were free for at least a time. They chose death fighting, over being slaughtered like cattle, or made to be slaves in the concentration camps.

In 72 AD another group of Jews; this one perhaps 1000 strong, but 2/3 of them women and children; made a similar choice. They withdrew themselves to the fortress at Masada, where they were besieged by perhaps 10,000 Romans. For two years they held the Romans at bay; but they received no support from their disarmed brethren; who were content to live under the heel of Rome.

Without outside assistance, they did not have the arms sufficient to resist the Romans; but rather than be enslaved or executed by them, thy chose to die; poisoning each other, and slitting each others throats.

“Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice…We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom.”

— Elazar ben Yair, Patriarch of Masada

An armed man need not choose to die at the hand of his persecutors; he may fight them, and he may win; he may fight them, and he may die; or he may be overwhelmed by them, and he may take his own life; but an armed man has a choice.

Leonidas held the pass at Thermopylae with 300 spartans, (along with 700 thespians, and 400 thebans); against many thousands (anywhere from 800,000 to several million) of Persians under Xerxes. He knew the battle was lost, but he would not submit. When Xerxes petitioned the Spartans to lay down their arms, and they would be spared; Leonidas responded “?O??? ????“… “Come and take them!”

They made their choices to die fighting, to die free. The unarmed man has no choice but to submit.

An unarmed populace, with an enemy bent on their genocide: Germany, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania Serbia, Bosnia, Armenia, Rwanda, Congo, Sudan, Kurdistan, Cambodia…

Hundreds of Millions dead in the 20th century alone… HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS

The U.N. must be stopped in this; if for no other reason than to prevent these horrible things from happening once more.

Never Again

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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