Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Bait Is Evolving

Twitter genuinely needs to die for the benefit of humanity.

It is very rare that I would genuinely say that a form of speech should be taken away, but if there is one that I sincerely feel needs to be stopped, it's Twitter. The now-arbitrary character limit breeds lack of context (be it intentional or otherwise), and the sheer volume of communication in such brief snippets breeds confusion and contempt when that lack of context comes into play.

It's a playground for misunderstanding and miscommunication, and nowhere is more clear than when one of these 'hate campaigns' starts. I am reminded of the aftermath of the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with the scene of the Tattooine Jakku desert and Finn's head popping up in his Stormtrooper outfit, when some lore-heavy nerd's first thought was "Wait, how is there a black Stormtrooper? Weren't they all cloned from a Maori guy?"

Thus began a game of Chinese Quantum-Entanglers that ended with mainstream press outlets reporting on violent white supremacists on Twitter raging about "The Black Stormtrooper"... and then it turned out the movie had gone with the Extended Universe strategy of conscription and enlistment in the twenty or so years since the end of Return of the Jedi, and that this wasn't even the Empire, and Finn had a perfectly good reason for being there. But the point still stands that there were maybe six people, all obvious trolls from their profiles and other tweets, that were 'raging' over "The Black Stormtrooper", and the media, hungry for controversy, picked them up and ran with a global white supremacist nerd conspiracy as the headline.

This time, though... this is different. In the wake of the Orlando shooting, and during LGBT Pride Month, the hashtag #HeterosexualPrideDay started to trend. Dutifully, the media picked up the story and ran like crazy. They ran hard, without doing even the most basic of research, which is what I did instead.
Google Translate can't even figure that out completely. 

The first tweet reads something like "I am a man gatda example cheonge coincidence hetero pride daeyi tag 've achieved so laughter and pain" and the second one "Sincere people who really funny flame went bosae."

I can't be 100% certain what it means, but from context of the words that were successfully translated, it would appear to be a South Korean trying to bait a reaction. Trying and failing, as it seems the hashtag had very little traction until at least June 22, at which point since it's been one half ironic mockery of straight people and one half outrage at the existence of the hashtag. This isn't just a troll this time, it's self-perpetuating troll bait. There was no troll campaign like the half-dozen twitter trolls trying to set a fire under "The Black Stormtrooper" situation; this was literally people searching for #HeterosexualPrideDay in the hopes of being outraged, and the media was no different.

And so, since then, I've been seeing outrage stories from the likes of The Guardian and Huffington Post popping up on my feeds, and personal missives from people angry at those darned heteros, and I've been trying to defuse the situation where I can... but at this point I can't be patient anymore. I'm just disappointed. I mean, I understand it if some really clever trolls manufacture a situation that sets everyone off -- that's what they do -- but in the absence of effective trolls, we're now making our own outrage.

Please, I beg you: Stop using Twitter. One day, there will be nuclear fire, and it will be because someone said something on Twitter and a whole shed-load of people overreacted. And I'll sit there amongst the ashes, cackling and saying I told you so. And you don't want me to be right, do you? Not on that scale. Not even *I* want that.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

More Media Coverage of Blazing Sword

Hopefully you kind folks aren't getting sick of me flogging Blazing Sword just yet. I know that eventually enthusiasm (and media coverage) of it will fade, but hopefully that won't happen until after we've become a 501c charity that can actually make a positive difference in people's lives!

Until then, I'm going to keep promoting OBS so that it remains relevant and in the public eye.

The first news article is from Little Village: Iowa City's News and Culture Magazine, and is titled "Post-Pulse: Gun classes for LGBTQs promoted in Iowa". Which sounds a bit limited, since OBS isn't just Iowa, but since it's a local magazine I can't fault them for keeping it relevant to their readers.

In addition to giving us more than half the article and embedding our map, I also got the last word with the Pink Pistols quote "Armed gays don't get bashed."

The second article is on Vocativ, and while I take mild issue with the title "Meet The Woman Who’s Trying To Arm The LGBT Community" because it makes me sound like some rainbow-striped arms merchant, I adore the subtitle: Erin Palette wants to bridge the gap between conservative gun groups and the LGBTQ community. 

Can I get a "Hell yeah!"?

This article is all abut Operation Blazing Sword, and has not one but two money quotes (both from me, so please pardon the bit of ego and pride that has crept into my voice):
“The point is to tell the LGBTQ community ‘You know how you’ve been told that gun owners are all conservatives who hate you? That’s a lie. Look at all the people willing to accept you and train you because it’s your right as a human being to protect yourself, and we want you to use the most effective method possible,'” she said. “It also tells gun owners, ‘See these LGBTQ people who you think are all liberal and want gun control? They’re looking to you for instruction. Welcome them into the community.'”
For Palette, it’s more than just training, it’s combining two communities of which she is a part that frequently fall on different sides of the political spectrum.

“I hope this destroys the notion that gun owners are all middle-aged white heterosexual males,” she said. “We aren’t.”
This is an exciting time to be an LGBTQ gunblogger, friends. Lets see if we can make heads on both sides of the political aisle explode!

Monday, June 27, 2016

My BBC Interview

To be honest, it's really not that impressive. We shot for about 45 minutes, and talked for about an hour... and the segment is only 2:45 long.

Truly, the cutting room floor is a voracious beast.

Still, I'm told I gave a good interview and made good points. Personally, I'm just relieved I didn't screw up! Were it just my derriere on the line, saying something dumb would be humiliating but eventually folks would forget about it; but if I made the gun community or LGBTQ community look bad, I'd feel terrible for having brought shame to my people.

My segment starts at the 7:45 mark.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #97 - Adam's Big Announcement

In this Very Special Episode of the GunBlog VarietyCast, Adam makes an announcement that will forever change the future of the podcast.
  • Erin Palette talks with Sean's wife about the car emergency kit they built together.
  • Tiffany Johnson suggests that people should think about what they are saying before running their figurative mouths off at the keyboard.
  • That embarrassing moment when your child outs you as a concealed carrier -- Beth Alcazar considers the question of what, and when, you should tell your child about the fact you carry a gun.
  • Barron notes that as soon as Congress fights off a challenge to due process when it comes to firearms, everyone changes sides and argues the other direction about computer privacy.
  • And Weer'd dissects our President's latest speech about guns, post-Orlando.
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here
Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

Upcoming Law of Self Defense seminars:
  1. August 7 - North Carolina specific - Raleigh, NC
  2. August 13 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR
  3. August 20 - Tenessee and Kentucky specific - Nashville, TN
  4. September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
  5. October 1 - Pennsylvania and New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
  6. October 16 - New Mexico and Texas specific - Las Cruces, NM

Saturday, June 25, 2016


This is PROBABLY a typo.

But I'm too scared to go outside and find out.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Guest Post: I Feel So Helpless About Orlando

Forty-nine people died early last week.

I live in Michigan, the cul-de-sac of the United States. Nobody comes here unless they meant to,  or else they got lost in Ohio and didn't hit a deer on the way. Our outdoors are great, the beer is fantastic, and the city life is alright if you don't mind driving past an endless field of corn to get to it.

Not much happens here either (at least not in terms of people dying at a mass murderer's hand) and for that I'm both thankful and incomprehensibly pissed off. My life is as safe as it gets; I'm a reasonably young, healthy, straight white adult male who lives in one of the safest cities in one of the safest states in one of the safest countries in one of the safest eras we've ever known.

And yet as fortunate as I am, as fortunate as we all are, forty-nine people's lives were still brutally cut short by intolerance, hatred, bigotry, and violence.

And for that I feel so fucking helpless.

I can't even begin to imagine, in the sheltered womb that is my life, how the LGBTQ community must feel about this. An icy hand of evil has reached up from the past to claim wonderful, innocent souls. Why? No, seriously, why?

Because the people at Pulse committed the horrible, unforgivable crime of loving someone?

Because the people at Pulse were somehow disgusting monsters for having a different identity?

Because the people -- no, wait, that's the whole problem. To this misguided asshat, they weren't people. They were reduced to nothing but their “sins,” deserving only of death, certainly not of mercy. But they were people and they didn't deserve this.

And I feel so fucking helpless because even with all my advantages, I can't personally stop evil from reaching out and striking at a community of people who are beautiful and worthy of life, and yet live in fear.

And I feel helpless because every time something like this happens, social media blows up with so many candles and prayers you'd think there was a PartyLite convention at a church. We all leap to the ramparts to defend our castles of logic and reason, and damn you for being heartless or damn you for trying to solve violence with a vote, or loathing with a law, like it'd actually do anything. Meanwhile, the bodies cool in morgues and I am left feeling helpless in the face of ridiculous, senseless horror.

Some indeterminate time later, the whole cycle starts anew, because not enough of us personally reached out past our keyboards to damn well do anything to help.

Look, my position is pretty clear, and it's trying to fix a problem like hatred and bigotry with a politician's pen is like trying to put out a fire by yelling at it. If you do nothing to address the source of the fire, you've done nothing to remove its effects. Banning objects to control behavior doesn't fucking work and you all know it, because it didn't work for alcohol and it didn't work for drugs and it didn't work for guns and just knock it off already! And yeah, I know we're all making a lot of noise about banning people now, too, but the Internet has no borders and that isn't going to work either. Hell, it didn't even work when the Internet didn't exist. If you want to know more, look up the Japanese internment camps. What a godawful legacy that was.

My position is also pretty clear on how I feel about the LGBTQ community, or at least I hope it is: people are all wonderful, complex, flawed and fantastic, all at the same time. I'm not some paragon of virtuous thinking, but it never made any good sense to me to hate a person for what they are or who they love. We are all weird, wounded, and wild, and if I have any right to life and happiness, so do you, no matter who “you” are.

Assuming you're not the asshole who murdered forty-nine fabulous people, that is. I hope you saw the truth of things before you perished, you miserable moron, but I don't regret or mourn you. You ran out of chances, you misguided and stupid person, when you murdered another.

That's right, even the killer is a person. Not because he's done anything special to deserve it, but because if we dehumanize even the worst of us, we risk dehumanizing the least of us. And that leads only to more of the violence we saw on Sunday. I won't perpetuate it.

Despite how I feel, though I'm not helpless. Not really. And for that, I am profoundly grateful.

Instead of another long virtue-signaling diatribe or stupid meme about what “should be” or how nobly offended I am about what just happened, I can actually do something. We have a tremendous surplus of speech, but we also have a terrible deficit of action. If any of the actions I'm taking today do anything at all to help, then I'm more lucky than I have any right to be. And if just one life is spared by my efforts then it's more than I could hope or dream.

I'm donating blood tomorrow, because wounded people keep needing blood and they can damn well have every drop I don't need right now. I couldn't do it earlier because my schedule sucks and so do donation center hours, but I'll get there tomorrow, probably right around the time they'd actually need some more to replace what was used. Lucky them, I'm O+ and that's a popular flavor.

I found out you can't easily donate to the Pink Pistols, but you can volunteer your time, and that'll have to do for now. Even a straight guy can pass out flyers, even if they're suuuuuper pink. Or I can help teach people who want to defend themselves. I'm not saying they should have to, or that it's their fault if they don't. I'm just saying if they want to, I'll damn well help where I can.

I've joined the Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners to improve the rights for people in my state to protect their lives however they wish, and I was one of the first 50 people to sign up for Operation Blazing Sword. Human life is a tremendously valuable thing, and it's worth protecting in whatever way is needed. If a good, law-abiding person chooses a firearm to do so, then I'm going to work harder to make that possible for them. There's no good reason the least advantaged of us should suffer at the hands of those most advantaged. And I'm not just chucking money at them, either; I'm going to volunteer my time, any time that the Pink Pistols, if they'll have me, don't consume.

I will seek out more training not just to defend life, but also to preserve it. I will train harder to defend against violence and also to save a life if it happens to myself or another.

I will strive to make my life, my home, my words and my actions a true “safe space” for people who need it. I'm not talking about what the phrase “safe space” has become these days; I'm talking about what it used to mean many years ago. I promise that if you are gay, trans, whatever; my home, my car, my office, even my shoulder, is a place you can go for refuge if you are in danger. Because you are a person and you have value.

Most importantly though, I will speak and act against hatred, against bigotry, against intolerance. No person should fear for their lives based on who they are or who they love. I promise I will stand against hate by speaking out against it, not just on Facebook where it's easy, but in person and in public where it actually matters. The solution to speech one finds abhorrent is more speech refusing it, with every word an expression of compassion, of justice, and of outreach.

I am also asking you (you beautiful, wonderful, capable person reading this) to do the same. All my strength doesn't amount to much against the problems we face. But if you help, even a little, even anything at all, we can nudge the world to better.

Can you speak out against intolerance and bigotry, even when it's tough and personal? And can you speak to our youth so that they might learn tolerance and compassion better than we did?

Can you donate blood? They were full yesterday, but they'll need more, a constant red flood of it, until all are healed. And can you keep donating even months and years from now?

Can you go beyond what I'm doing now, and return again to ask me to do the same as you have?

Do one thing, at a minimum, right now, if you can do anything at all. Social media won't save lives, but action will. Let's help.

Raymond Garety III

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Nightmare of Everyday Life

I woke from a blissful slumber yesterday, just an ordinary day.

Moments before waking, my phone's alarm went off like a nuclear shockwave, jolting me from that blissful slumber into terrifying reality, leaving me shaking for hours.

I lifted the covers, and immediately the cool air from my air conditioning left ice crystals forming upon my delicate skin.

I swung my legs off of the bed and immediately pulled a muscle in my groin, sending fire shooting through the nerves of my body, leaving me incapacitated and weak.

I hobbled to the toilet and had a morning pee, which left me dehydrated from loss of fluids. I felt as if I had just trudged for days through the Sahara desert.

I stepped into the shower and the hot water scalded me, leaving me with third degree burns across 90% of my body.

I dried off after my shower and felt what little skin remained sloughed off by the roughness of the towel.

I brushed my teeth and felt the bristles of the brush, powered by the frightening motor held within, tearing massive chunks off of my gums and chipping through the enamel of my teeth.

I sipped delicately at my morning cup of coffee, and felt my lips being seared by the unforgiving molten lava in my Frozen mug. I can still see Elsa's smiling face, mocking me.

I got dressed carefully, the rough fabrics of denim and cotton seizing my body hairs and plucking them out ferociously, as if I were in some Vietnamese torture camp.

I stepped outside of my apartment, and immediately went blind as the mid-day sun shone ultraviolent death rays into my eyes.

I stumbled to my car and fell into the seat, turning the key and having a heart attack in fear as the terrible roar of the four-cylinder death engine of my Corolla turned over.

I drove carefully out of the parking lot of my apartments, enduring the whiplash and partial paralysis of the speed bumps spitefully shaking my car.

I dished out my life savings buying a sandwich at gunpoint from Subway, as they filled the loaves of bread with poisonous materials that would likely render me sick for days.

Returning home, I switched on my work computer and settled into the slavery of my day job, prepared to be humiliated beyond belief for having to work for a living.

In short, yesterday was a day like any other day. I write this as tribute to the sheer suffering and torment that Mr. Gersh Kuntzman subjected himself to when he fired the terrifying AR-15. I have just a few select words about this issue:

Gersh, you are no martyr for having fired a rifle. Knock it off. A 7 year old can fire that thing with no problem. Look, here's a 7 year old firing it.

And either the blood vessels in your skin are worryingly delicate, or your shoulder is fine.

And you did not have "Temporary PTSD." Speaking on behalf of only myself, but echoing what is surely the sentiment of anyone who has ever suffered from this, you don't just get "temporary PTSD" and then recover a few hours later. This is the most insulting use of the term since, and possibly more-so than, Melody Hensley's "Twitter PTSD."

As for your follow-up rebuttal, I'd like to say that what you said regarding masculinity and femininity is just as, if not moreso, misogynistic than anything that was said to you following your original article. Women are just as capable of handling firearms like grown adults (even when they're only seven years old) as a man. To draw a correlation between women and your experience with an AR-15 "bruising" you is insulting to any woman who has ever handled a firearm -- from the ones on funny YouTube recoil videos to the professional shooters who hold records and can fire and reload firearms faster than the human eye can easily track.

So congratulations, Gersh. You managed not to kill anyone when holding that 'death machine', but you certainly shot someone: Yourself. In the foot. That's a metaphor, by the way. Not a scary death threat, since we're on the topic of grossly wild exaggerations.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Operation Blazing Sword: Our First Success Story

The first part of this story comes from Sean Sorrentino, one of the very first people to sign up for Blazing Sword (in fact, he was promising his help before I began collating the list which later became OBS, so he actually predates it):
My first student with Operation Blazing Sword. I think it went well!

This is 25 rounds at 4 yards and 15 at 7 yards. Slow fire, .22LR out of a Ruger 22/45 with a Volquartsen trigger. This was my student's first time with a handgun. Group could be covered easily by a small woman's fist.

Now that all the gun geekery is out of the way, this shooter is a member of the LGBT community who came out specifically because of Orlando. This person only knew to contact me because of Erin's map.

I have two more people planning on coming to shoot soon. They would have come tonight except one had to work late unexpectedly.

The location is Triangle Shooting Academy near RDU airport. Thanks to Josette Chmiel who works there for negotiating us a special discount because the owner believes in this project.

The student is waiting on a NC Pistol Purchase Permit, and is eyeballing the Glock 19, the M&P9C, and the SIG P320 Compact. We will go back and shoot the three of them on another day.
But that's not all! His student, John Doughty, weighed in with his side of things:
Had an awesome time today at Triangle Shooting Academy in Raleigh with super welcoming and helpful instructors and staff. They are very generous with their time and committed to helping the LGBT community stay safe. Do recommend. They are great. I was given a chance to shoot a Ruger target pistol on the range and to handle several other guns recommended to me.

Facility is clean, safe, nice and friendly. Sean is a great instructor and Josette on staff went out of her way to make sure everything went well. Even the facility owner stopped in to say welcome. I felt completely safe and was given excellent training and advice, very generously.

When my purchase permit comes through (I applied for it today just before going in for the class) I'm definitely buying here, their prices are fair and they really went out of their way to be welcoming.

I guess my shot grouping didn't suck too much for a first handgun attempt. Spread about the size of my fist. At a whole 4 and then 7 yards on a baby target drawn in magic marker, this is not exactly big brag fodder. But hey, you gotta start somewhere. I managed to stay coloring in the lines and didn't shoot anything outside the big circle anyhow.

Sean:  Good job. Keep it up.

John: Excellent shooting for a first-timer! Welcome to our community.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

And Then The Media Happened

Hello, my darlings! I'm still getting caught up from the delightful insanity that was last week. But thing have settled down enough here at Chateau Palette (or perhaps I've just delegated enough) that I have time to get caught up with what has happened since my last social update.

I showed up at Volusia Top Gun (which is a VERY nice gun shop/shooting range, by the way -- I highly recommend it)at 10 am to meet with Stacey Dooley of BBC 3. Stacey is a cute blonde, five-foot nothing, maybe a hundred pounds if she's carrying a bowling ball. She was quite friendly, understanding of my concerns, and went out of her way to put me at ease.

After we'd gotten the camera gear set up and I was mic'd (and I made a point of letting everyone know I was recording audio as well so I wouldn't get Couriced), we had our safety briefing and went onto the range. 

They took some stock footage of me loading magazines and shooting with my Glock, and then Stacey and I "met" on camera and I introduced her to pistols, starting with my .22LR single-action revolver. 

I will say this for the lady: she had EXCELLENT trigger discipline. Her finger was pressed along the frame whenever she wasn't actually shooting. She also didn't muzzle anyone, although a few times it did veer off to the side instead of downrange. 

Unfortunately, her stance and posture were terrible. She was standing with her strong leg cocked out to the side like a model on the catwalk, was doing the expected "chick lean" backwards, and didn't quite grasp the concept of "look at the front sight through the rear sight", so all of her shots were too high. The RSO eventually asked if he could take over, I said "Yes please!", and he got her squared away before too long. 

Out of 6 shots, two of them were on paper: at about 1:00, well outside the furthest ring. After that, she decided she'd had enough. I offered to let her shoot my .380 Colt Mustang, but she demurred. While I don't think the recoil hurt her, there were other people on the range shooting some pretty high-caliber stuff and the noise made her visibly flinch when she wasn't on-camera. 

There were some pictures of my other guns and their calibers, and a brief segue with my AR that didn't really go anywhere. 

Now that we've all gotten that frisson of fear out of our system, let me explain what I mean. I was showing her the difference in how calibers looked -- .22LR vs .380 vs. 9mm vs. .223, and how even thought .223 is longer you can see that the bullets themselves are pretty close to the same size -- and she said something to the effect of "I can see why carrying a pistol can be a good thing; why do you need something so much more lethal like this rifle?"

I could have answered this a lot of ways: I could have talked about need vs. want, or "I have the right, that's why", or "You have the pistol to fight your way to your rifle." or any number of things. But I didn't, because
  1. Whether deliberate or not, I felt we were veering toward "Evil assault rifle" stuff;
  2. I didn't want to get into the weeds regarding gun control etc because I wasn't prepared for that discussion -- after all, I was there to talk about what it's like to be LGBTQ and own guns; 
  3. and most importantly, A BBC reporter said that she could see the need for carrying a pistol for self-defense. At that point, I felt I'd won, and saying anything else could only make things worse, so I just said "I don't feel comfortable having that debate with you" and shut up.
After that, we adjourned to a quieter venue where we had a nice sit-down chat. Again, Stacey was very pleasant and accommodating, and I found myself genuinely liking her. We talked some more about guns and gun violence (with again, more questions that could be construed as "Don't Americans need to do something about gun violence?" and I essentially said  "I don't have the answers for that, but I'll be happy to connect you to someone who does."), as well as what it's like to be an LGBTQ gun owner, how owning a gun doesn't make you a vigilante, and that Operation Blazing Sword proves that both sides of a political divide can come together after a tragedy.

I probably wasn't as smooth as I needed to be, but it was my first time. I give myself a B overall: some questions I absolutely nailed and some I stumbled on, but I didn't fumbled any of them. I'll do better next time.

I got the feeling that Stacey genuinely liked me. When we were done and she offered her hand, I told her "Do you give hugs? Because I hug," and she said "Oh I absolutely hug!" and not only did she hug, she also rubbed her hand up and down my back.

So I'm pretty sure that I'm going to get a fair shake from the BBC, but we won't know for certain until the interview is aired.

After that, I came home to discover that I, and Operation Blazing Sword, had been mentioned in The India Times! Here's the money quote form the article, titled America's Gays & Lesbians Are Buying Guns In Record Numbers, And Gun Owners Are Teaching Them How To Shoot!

In my books, this is much real and credible than the solidarity candle light marches and open letters that happen after any attack on minorities in America. 

Unfortunately there is no link to my blog in that article... but there is a link to our interactive map! And the best part is, we're international, baby!

I was pleased to discover that David Kopel, of the Volokh Conspiracy, wrote an article for the Washington Post that not only mentioned me and Blazing Sword in the first paragraph -- but there's also a link to my Blue Collar Prepping post about it!

The rest of the article, titled The history of LGBT gun-rights litigation, then goes on to talk about other people and things, and that's okay. This movement isn't about me, and I'm just thrilled to get a mention.

Joe Huffman's blog, The View From North Central Idaho, had a really nice graphic made by Stephanie!

I also got an email from Stephanie with this picture:

And this may have happened before Sunday, but that's when I first noticed that Blazing Sword (okay, sometimes we're a Project and sometimes we're an Operation -- frankly I'm not picky) had its own page on the Pink Pistols website. Thanks, Gwen!

And that brings us to yesterday, when I was "interviewed" by Cary Harrison of the Progressive Radio Network. I say "interviewed" with bunny rabbit ears because it wasn't so much an interview as it was for the host to pontificate rapid-fire and then ask me a question in the hopes I would give him soundbites. I'm pleased to announce that I hit every answer out of the park, and while I likely didn't convince any of his regular listeners, he sure didn't score any points off me nor did he convince anyone on the fence.

Oh, and don't you love how he throws the West Hollywood gay community under the bus by essentially claiming that most of them are meth addicts and/or are likely to commit felony perjury by lying on a form 4473?

If you'd like to listen to just my segment without wading through the rest of it, my podcast editor Sean Sorrentino has got you covered

And that brings us to today, where nothing special happened -- just the usual emails and Facebook notifications and coordinating with other members of the media for interviews.

I've apparently become a minor news celebrity and I still don't know how this happened. Living right, I guess?

Monday, June 20, 2016

Gunnies Helping Gunnies: Let's Beat Cancer a Third Time

The gun community is no friend to cancer.

Between Kilted to Kick Cancer and the various friends and family members we have lost to it, I believe the general consensus toward it (as elucidated by Barron) is "Fuck cancer sideways with a rusty chainsaw."

If you feel that way as well -- congratulations! Now's your chance to do something about it!

Help Dawn Faust Bibby Beat Cancer

Not only is this woman one of us (as is her husband, John), but she's already beaten cancer twice. Won't you please help her beat it a third time?

Photo by Oleg Volk; gun is Kel-Tec CMR-30

In 2009, I was diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. I beat it -- but it cost my 401k plan, my job, my home and a husband of 6 months. His parting words were, "This cancer thing is not what I signed up for. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll be gone when I get home”.

In 2014, an MRI found 22 metastatic tumors in my brain. My local doctors gave me 6 months to live. Thankfully, I found Dr. Aizik Wolf in Miami who is a magician with Gamma Knife. He destroyed every tumor in my brain and 18 months later there is no cancer in my brain nor any cognitive impairment.

Now in 2016, I need your help to beat cancer a third time. I have been diagnosed with advanced tumors in my lungs, bones and liver. Again, the local doctors have written me off. Another physician in Miami, Dr. Beatriz Amendola , has the ability to beat this with a procedure called Varian Edge . This machine combined with drug therapy is greatly effective. However, my insurance company has denied coverage, If I want to live, I must pay CASH. The Varian Edge alone will cost at least $150,000. There will be CT scans, PET scans, MRIs, the drug regimen, co-pays and of course transportation and time away from work for my husband.

This is why you are so important. By donating to this fund and by sharing my message you inspire me to fight even harder and you will make the finances of what needs to be done possible. With your help I can beat this disease again. I am a survivor. I have a great husband who has been my champion through this entire cancer journey. Please help me have more time to enjoy with this great man and the love we spent a lifetime to find. I have a caring support structure, four amazing kids, fabulous friends and a tremendous will to live. What I need today, is your help raising money and getting the word out. Please help if you can, no amount is unappreciated or too small.

If any excess funds are raised, they will be donated to St. Baldricks Children's Cancer charity. Because cancer in kids is inconceivable!!

Please donate if you can. I have.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #96 - It's On Like Voltron

Form feet and legs! Form arms and body! And Adam and Sean will form the head of the GunBlog VarietyCast!
  • Erin Palette gives us the lowdown on her new and exciting life as National Coordinator of the LGBT Friendly Firearms Trainer map. And she wondered if she was ever going to make a difference! We all knew better, didn't we?
  • It's amazing how many people try to write laws about things they just don't understand. Tiffany Johnson brings in well-respected firearms trainer Tom Givens to give an exact definition of an "Assault Rifle", and why that definition matters. 
  • Everyone remembers their "First Time." Beth Alcazar tells us about her first time. Her first time carrying a gun in a holster, that is...
  • You'd think being a "Chief Technologist" for the FTC would mean you were safe from getting your phone hijacked, right? Wrong! Barron explains how, when it comes to security, people are once again the weakest link.
  • And Weer'd finds us a doozy. It's either an amazing example of a pro-gun group hiring a woman to write the most awful song in the universe in order to parody the gun-grabbing mommies, or this is further proof that some of these people have zero idea about how they sound. Give a listen and let us know what you think!
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here
Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

Upcoming Law of Self Defense seminars:

  • August 7 - North Carolina specific - Raleigh, NC
  • August 13 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR
  • August 20 - Tenessee and Kentucky specific - Nashville, TN
  • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
  • October 1 - Pennsylvania and New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
  • October 16 - New Mexico and Texas specific - Las Cruces, NM

Friday, June 17, 2016

I Keep Forgetting to Mention #IllTrainWithYou

I didn't make them. I'd love to mention who did, but I was asked to keep that identity anonymous.

Can we make #IllTrainWithYou a trending topic?

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Orlando: Playing the Blame Game

I'm having real trouble putting all of the thoughts of the past week in a sensible order, but I'm told my writing skill outpaces my opinion of my writing skills, so here goes: I have seen very, very few people in the last week being anything but complete and utter assholes.

On Sunday, June 12th, a man entered an Orlando night club. When the dust settled, 49 people were killed and 53 were wounded.

This is the fact of the matter, at it's basest level. Further details include that the man was the son of an ideological supporter of the Afghani Taliban; that he used legally purchased weapons which were illegally modified; that he called 911 and pledged allegiance to ISIS and insisted that the US stopped bombing ISIS targets in Syria. But all of those are, apparently unimportant.

So far I've seen:
  • Progressives blaming white people, Christianity, and guns. 
  • The gaming press demonizing the games industry for daring to have the biggest games event of the year, planned months in advance, in the wake of the shooting. 
  • BlackLivesMatter speakers using the tragedy to attack white people.
  • An argument with an associate who blamed it all on 'toxic masculinity.'
All this because a Muslim man pledged allegiance to an extremist group and opened fire on a crowd of gay and trans people, most of them Latino, and in the aftermath I am completely disgusted by the mediabatory frenzy that ensued, primarily on the progressive side, jumping to rationalize blaming everything but the belief system of the shooter.

Because we can't know, can we? We can't ever truly know his motivations, only that he was carrying a big scary AR-15 and that he had a problem with gay people. That much we know. Anything else is speculation. We have to discount what he posted on his own Facebook, and what he told a 911 operator. We have to discount what his religion's stance on homosexuality is, and how widespread that belief is, or the treatment of alternate sexualities in some quarters of that belief system. And we certainly must discount ISIS claiming him as a 'soldier of the caliphate.'

Because as Western progressives, we would know better than he would know his own motives.

I'll tell you what I know, because I've seen it:
  • I've seen gay and trans friends immensely worried because they're being thrown under the bus to protect a religion and being used as a tool to attack other people. 
  • I've seen some incredible mental gymnastics to blame anything but a set of ideas that might well be needing some criticism. 
  • And I've seen my lovely editor herself putting together something wonderful, by taking the common-sense approach of "do what you know to help people."

As a final thought, and I'm not at all sorry who I may offend here, be it those of either conservative or progressive nature: I don't care what your belief system is, it's not above question. I spent my teenage years in the deep south of Alabama questioning Christianity. I've questioned Islam. I'll question any ideology or religion you put in front of me if I see something contradictory or that doesn't make sense. And I'm not going to stop because you call me a racist or an infidel.

And just to go on the record: I'm not a gun owner. I don't plan on buying one because I don't trust myself with one. But I'm not going try and take away anyone's right to own one. I'm also not gay or trans, and I'm not an ally (because I've seen how allies get treated) -- but I'm a friend if you need one.

So long as you're not an asshole to me, of course.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Day the Internet Broke Me

Everyone is saying I broke the internet, but it's more the other way around. I am completely inundated with messages from people offering to help -- which is a great problem to have, don't get me wrong -- but even though I and my two Lovely Assistants are working nonstop on adding entries when we're not doing our day jobs or dealing with families or other things, it just keeps growing on us.

This is because the internet found us and right now we're taking a long drink from a live firehose.

First, Larry Correia decided that posting on his Facebook wasn't sufficient, and so he linked to us on his blog, Monster Hunter Nation. Woohoo!

Then -- and I'm not sure of the chronology here -- we were Instapundit-ed not once, but twice, the latter by Sarah Hoyt, as well as featured in a lovely write-up on PJ Media.

Oh, and then last night we were Imgur'd.

Gob status: completely smacked.

Oh, and apparently someone from the BBC is in Florida doing a report on this, and they want someone who is both LGBTQ and a gun owner to talk to, and they asked me. I'm taking them to the range on Friday.

(Yes, I know about Katie Couric. I will be recording the interview myself as well.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

This Response To Help LGBT People Learn Gun Safety Is OVERWHELMING

... reads the title of this article from Chicks on the Right,  which talks about my project to map out LGBT-friendly firearms trainers.

I was insanely busy Monday night, but I took the time to do an email interview with Miss CJ, who is married to one of the lovely people volunteering to help with what has become known as Project Blazing Sword.*

I encourage you to check it out. It's a good read, and it puts the lie to the liberal left's assertion that gun owners are all intolerant, gay-hating conservatives.

Oh, and some dude known as Larry Correia linked to us on Facebook. ;)

As as result of these referrals, my little map is getting huge now. We can hardly see the continental USA for all the purple pins. And this isn't even all of them!  I still have scores of emails and Facebook PM's to sort through.

Thank you, everyone, and great job!

* It's a Voltron reference. As busy as I am, poor Gwen Patton of Pink Pistols is even busier, and when someone said I should coordinate my efforts with her I said "We're both too busy right now, but when things settle down we'll form up like Voltron."

To which Gwen said "And I'll form the head."

From there, calling this little project "Blazing Sword" was pretty much a given:

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Google Map of LGBT-Friendly Firearms Instructors

So, I had a good idea this afternoon and it just kinda... BLEW UP on Facebook.

Long story short: There have been lots of cool people on social media saying things like what my awesome friend Nicki Kenyon said on her blog:
To my LGBT friends – I know you still face prejudice, bigotry, hatred, and ignorance even in this day and age. I know many of you are still afraid to walk down the street with your partner holding hands and are still apprehensive about entering a public bathroom for fear of becoming a victim. I know many of you still face physical threats.

I just want you to know I want you to be safe. I want you well-defended. I want you to have the tools and skills to protect yourselves.

If you are in the VA/DC/MD area and want a partner with whom to go to the range, just ask. I’ll not only go with you, I’ll pay for your range time! I’ll go with you if you want to purchase a gun for self defense. I’ll help you learn how to use it safely and properly. I’ll help you get your CCW.

I never want to see my friends trapped unarmed and terrified in a situation like the one in Orlando, begging for their lives and saying “goodbye” to their loved ones while waiting to die. I want you to have the tools to at least fight back against the prejudice and hate you face. I want you to live to see hatred and bigotry eradicated from this world. J want you to have a chance.

I want you to live. I love you all.
Enough people were saying this sort of thing on blogs or Facebook that I thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if there were a master list of all these cool people?" and so I posted as much on my wall.

And that's when my Facebook page blew up, your honor.

I have literally been working ALL AFTERNOON collating the names, cities, and contact information from people willing to donate their time, their guns, their ammo and gasoline to help people learn how to use guns and discover if they'd like to own one for self defense.

It got so big that it turned from a Facebook list into a Google map. And then it got so big that I needed help. And then it got so big that I eventually said "OK, I'm setting this private while I take a break*. You folks just add yourselves and when I come back and make the map un-editable and this status visible again, we'll see where we stand."

So, to all my gun-owning friends who have volunteered yourselves: Bless you. You're doing a great things. And if you want to volunteer, just contact me with your name, city & state, and your preferred method of being contacted (email, telephone, etc).

To all the preppers out there who are wondering if they ought to learn how to use guns, the answer is a resounding YES.

To anyone wondering "Do I have to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Trans to get help from these folks?" the answer is no, it's welcome to everyone -- we're just pointing out that LGBT folks are extra-welcome and won't be judged by these folks.

I encourage you all to spread this map. As the Pink Pistols say, "Armed gays don't get bashed", and helping train our LGBT brothers and sisters might prevent them from becoming another victim of ISIS.

*Which is when I'm writing this post, BTW.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gun Blog Variety Podcast #95 – The Cheesecake Episode

It's the GunBlog VarietyCast cheesecake episode!
  • No, not that kind of cheesecake. Adam is eating his birthday cake, and Sean has a bad knee. 
  • Ever get so sick of something you'd rather go hungry than eat it? Erin Palette explains a phenomenon called "Appetite Fatigue," and shows us how to avoid it.
  • How does an award for "Civility in Politics" given to Joe Biden and John McCain relate to gun ownership? Tiffany Johnson explains it all in "The Bridge".
  • Beth Alcazar wrote a blog post about women crying on the shooting range, and you wouldn't believe the pushback she got! She and her friend, fellow shooting instructor Heather Borland, sit down at USCCA headquarters to talk about it.
  • Teamviewer got hacked and everyone should uninstall it immediately! ...or everyone is overreacting and needs to calm down. Which one is it? Barron tells us what he thinks is going on.
  • And finally, our old friend Joan Peterson convinced someone to stick a camera in her face again, but this time she managed not to make herself into the victim. Weer'd is here to tell us about the anti-gunners' latest project, the "Wear an Orange Shirt to Signal Your Virtue" campaign. Bonus appearances by Andrew Rothman of Minnesota's Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, and Paul Valone of Grass Roots North Carolina!
Thank you for downloading, listening, and subscribing. You are subscribed, right? We are available on iTunes, Stitcher Radio, and now on Google Play Music!
Listen to the podcast here.
Read the show notes here

Thanks also to Firearms Policy Coalition for their support.

And a special thanks to our sponsor, Law of Self Defense. Use discount code "Variety" at checkout for 10% off.

Upcoming Law of Self Defense seminars:
  • August 7 - North Carolina specific - Raleigh, NC
  • August 13 - Oregon and Washington specific - Sherwood, OR
  • August 20 - Tenessee and Kentucky specific - Nashville, TN
  • September 10 - Alabama specific - Talladega, AL
  • October 1 - Pennsylvania and New Jersey specific - Bensalem, PA
  • October 16 - New Mexico and Texas specific - Las Cruces, NM

I'm All Right

Hi, everyone. I'm fine. I know a lot of you were worried that I might have been harmed in the Orlando nightclub shooting last night (I've gotten more than a few emails, PMs and at least one G+ comment) so let me set your minds at ease by stating I was at home all last night.

Home, by the way, is Daytona Beach, which is at least an hour's interstate drive from Orlando (and that isn't counting time spent in traffic within the city), I was literally in the next county over, so if anything happens in Orlando that affects me it's going to be BIG. As in, Nuclear/Biological/Chemical attack big.

That said, it's not unreasonable to think that I might have gone into Orlando for a night of clubbing. However, Florida has statutes against carrying in businesses whose primary source of revenue is alcohol sales (and I'm not going to analyze a location to see if it's primarily a bar or primarily a dance club), and my rule of thumb is "If there aren't armed guards and I'm not allowed to carry, I don't go there unless it's unavoidable."

Thank you to everyone who expressed concern for my well-being. I appreciate it more than you know. You take care of yourselves as well -- in the words of fellow GBVC contributor Beth Alcazar, "Stay safe and be well-armed."

Thursday, June 9, 2016

'Cuz We Are Living in a Post-Context World, and I Am A Post-Context Girl

Context is a wonderful thing. Context is what paints a picture around a very small thing and gives it meaning. It's a very important thing; without context, that very small thing is open to being wildly misinterpreted.

These are all obvious things, so why am I bringing them up? 


A couple of weeks ago, the big news going around was that Rose McGowan, well known for playing the least popular sister on Charmed, a less popular series 'inspired' by The Craft (seriously, Piper was best girl on Charmed anyway), posted a scathing invective against the marketing campaign for X-Men: Apocalypse, scolding the studio for portraying 'casual violence against women' and not being able to 'manage to put any women directors on your slate for the next two years' and including a quote from a friend's 9-year-old that said 'Dad, why is that monster man committing violence against a woman?'
The classic Claremont Grip. 
The Casualness Angle
Some minor spoilers for X-Men: Apocalypse here, and some context, as well.

Mystique is very strong, very agile, and a very skilled fighter. She's shown, throughout the six X-Men films she appears in, incapacitating men much larger than her with ease, being generally fearless, and (thanks to her mutant powers) an expert at infiltration and espionage. Mystique is, in short, not one to mess with. She's a major player in the X-films universe, and a persistent villain in the comics.

Apocalypse is two steps shy of being a god. Hulk and Thor would probably have trouble standing up to him, as he completely walks over the X-Men, even overpowering Charles Xavier in his own mind. In short, Apocalypse is the biggest threat the X-Men have ever faced in a movie, so much so that even the MCU's Avengers team couldn't have taken him down either. The fact that he has Mystique in a classic Claremont Grip on the billboard isn't showing 'casual violence against women'; it's showing that an insanely powerful supervillain has the upper hand over one of the main stars of the movie, who is also an extremely capable combatant. It speaks volumes to her combat prowess that she was able to get close enough for Apocalypse to lay hands on her, considering Google searches for "Marvel Apocalypse" and "Marvel Apocalypse choke" turn up very few results for choke-holds.

The one exception being Apocalypse choking The Hulk out. From behind. With tentacles.
Or possibly cables.
But saying "Apocalypse Hulk tentacle asphyxiation"
really ought to help our position in the search rankings. 

The Marketing Angle
There is a meme floating around showing images from Deadpool with Angel Dust choking out defenseless Weasel and very defended Colossus, juxtaposed with Apocalypse strangling Mystique, and Deadpool wondering why two of those images are fine and one isn't.
Dammit, Wade, it's "you're". 
The obvious retort that I've seen has some merit, in that Angel Dust wasn't strangling anyone on the billboards for Deadpool. But if we take that a step further, there were five billboards that I saw for X-Men: Apocalypse: 
one with Magneto hovering menacingly with metal objects;

one with Storm shooting lightning from her hands;

one with Psylocke in a threatening pose;

one with Jean holding Scott's head as he fires his optic blasts;

and one with Apocalypse holding Mystique by the throat.

That's five billboards: four featuring one of the previously well-marketed female characters, one controlling the actions of a male character, two being generally awesome, and one in an inferior position to a god-like being. Deadpool's billboards... had no female representation.

[Nerdvoice] Actually, Salem, the billboard that was a satire of a typical Valentine's Day chick-flick had a picture of Morena Baccarin. [/nerdvoice] -- Erin

The 9-Year-Old Angle
Do 9-year-olds speak like Gender Studies majors, or do Gender Studies majors speak like 9-year-olds? I can never keep track of this stuff anymore. Either way, a 9-year-old didn't say that. Or maybe a 9-year-old had been fed that shit like Sunday School and was parroting it. 

My point here is that context is everything, and Rose McGowan is just another in a very, very long line of people that attack without context, whether they genuinely don't know the context or purposefully ignore it. This is no different than people that were against theBatgirl cover last year, where context (the fact that Barbara was once victimized when she was shot and paralyzed by The Joker, but has since faced him and overcome her fears to beat him) was also ignored, or any one of a number of huge public outcries. 

I'm rapidly losing the ability to give people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to whether or not they're just ignoring context to try and gain attention over something. Rose, you're free to point out stuff you might find 'problematic', but I'm also free to point out that you're willfully ignoring context to make a point. 

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

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