Tag Archives: guns

So, You Want to Go to the GOP Convention…

No.  Don’t.  Stay away.

It’s not that I don’t like Cleveland.  I’m not saying this due to any political feelings.  I’m stating this due to my perspective as a former Secret Service agent who has worked events like the Olympic Games, a couple of inauguration’s, and the 2000 DNC Convention in L.A.  Stay home.  Unless your home is in Cleveland.  Then, you should leave.

Any major political event has challenges and all draw emotionally charged people with conflicting points of view.  Even in election years when our society seems to have become polarized and the Democratic and Republicans have platforms so far apart the Juno spacecraft would have trouble covering the distance, most of the security challenges can be overcome to a reasonable extent.  Normally, there are countermeasures and logistical solutions to potential threats and disturbances.  Normally, manpower can be added and technological tools can be utilized to secure a site.  This is not normally.

This election season, guns and violence are not just part of the rhetoric used by factions of supporters.  Some prominent political personalities have actually encouraged violence while, in the same breath, expressing a love of guns.  The situation in Cleveland is compounded by the fact that Ohio has open carry laws, meaning people will be able to carry guns outside the convention location even in areas where glass bottles and tennis balls are prohibited.  This creates an impossible situation for police officers and security officials who are supposed to be able to determine, in a split second, who might be the “good guy with a gun” as opposed to an aggressor while wading through a panicked crowd.

Ohio is an open carry state.

Ohio is an open carry state.

A few months ago, the Cleveland Police ordered 2,000 sets of riot gear.  My first question was:  Is that gear going to have to be used inside OR outside the convention?  My second question was:  Will that be enough?  Forgetting that multiple police jurisdictions (each with their own concerns) will be assisting the Cleveland Division of Police (the department’s official name), the host department is still under heavy scrutiny after the Tamir Rice shooting and other incidents.  They aren’t alone as police departments all over the country are on edge as anti-law enforcement sentiment is on the rise and there are serious concerns regarding how police treat minorities and use force.   Police officers are already under the microscope.  Now thousands of officers will be gathering in Cleveland in an effort to keep the peace among a public that does not trust them.

This is their nightmare scenario.

The Secret Service can’t do it alone.  The agency depends on local and state support and this is no exception.  As I’ve written previously, the Secret Service has a specific role in these events and have no political agenda.  Earlier in this election year, they received negative media attention when an agent was involved in a scuffle with a photographer, although only half the story was told.  Regardless, they are being faced with a scenario in which some level of violence is almost certain to exist and the agency has to protect not only specific individuals, but also ensure the security of the entire venue.

This is their nightmare scenario.

Those who wish to demonstrate outside the convention location in order to peacefully express an opinion are likely to be caught in between frustrated groups who not only dislike each other, but may be armed.  Many of those in the crowd will be carrying deep feelings regarding racial inequality, economic disparity, and religion.  Many will be carrying deadly weapons.  The peaceful and well-meaning will be right in the mix of things.

This is their nightmare scenario.

Regardless of what happens during the actual GOP Convention, one thing will not happen.  Healing will not be part of this process.  If anything, I expect more cuts to be made and more scar tissue will show after the event.  You can watch.  But, watch it from a distance.

Feel free to comment below!

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, Chalk’s Outline, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

 

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

resolve-cover art CL (1)

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

 

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Is There Really a “War” Against Law Enforcement?

Throughout the past couple of years, the public perception of law enforcement has become increasingly negative due to several high-profile incidents in which officers or agents either exceeded their authority, or were believed to have done so.  At times, some media outlets have fanned the flames and rushed to judgment and shaped the “facts” to fit a narrative that would help to create outrage and therefore generate ratings.  Some law enforcement officers are not without blame as we have seen most recently in Chicago where not only did an officer improperly apply force, but it appears multiple members of the police department and city government conspired to conceal a homicide.  Although I have been extremely critical of some police actions, I am still sometimes accused of being a police apologist whenever I have emphasized the need for objectivity and calm in the face of controversial acts that understandably generate strong emotions.  Some in law enforcement believe that the negative shift in public perception is part of a “war” against law enforcement that is being played out on our televisions and through social media.  I have a different take.

“War” = Ratings = Attention

The matchup between these two heavyweight boxers is going to be an absolute WAR!

There is a WAR on Christmas!

The WAR on drugs, the WAR on poverty, the WAR on Christian values, etc.., etc., etc.

Philosopher and Theologian James Childress describes the use of the word “war” as a dilemma:  “In debating social policy through the language of war, we often forget the moral reality of war.”

I tend to agree with Childress and would add that not only does the using the language of war while discussing social issues cause us to forget the harsh realities of war, but it polarizes debates and changes the mode of communication from meaningful conversations to relentless battles.  Conversations include ideas whereas battles ultimately result in casualties on both sides.

So why all this talk about war?  It’s simple.  Throughout history, if you want to mobilize the masses then you claim you are at war against a formidable enemy – be it physical or ideological.  Additionally, if you want to rally your followers and generate increased support then you need to control the media.  Major media outlets are controlled by massive corporations and therefore we constantly hear about the WAR against Christmas or the WAR against illegal immigration, but not about the WAR against corporate tax loopholes.  That war does not exist because the media has not declared that social problem to be worthy of inflammatory terminology.

The Treatment of Law Enforcement Officials is Getting Worse

This is absolutely true.  As our society has become more polarized in our beliefs and respect for governmental authority has decreased, the police have become targets of verbal and physical assaults.  As a former law enforcement officer, I admit there are times I have to make sure I don’t get an “us versus them” mentality when discussing the police and those who are heavily critical regardless of the facts.  The best way for me to do this is to keep things in a historical perspective.

In the United States, there is a long history of police forces being used as a tool for oppression.  This is a sad fact that is evidenced by how some organizations were utilized throughout the civil rights movement.  Additionally, police are the most visible symbol of governmental authority which is fine until people become disenchanted with the government and believe the government is responsible for society’s failures.  Therefore, in a polarized society where 24/7 media outlets are quick to assign blame and use terms such as WAR, people lash out at the most visible and accessible symbol of governmental authority.  The hard truth is that most people do not know the name of their Senator, but they sure know what the local police cruiser looks like.

No –  There is No War on the Police

I do not believe there is a WAR on the police any more than I believe there is a WAR against Christmas.  Law enforcement as a profession is going through a difficult time and is suffering from wounds that are sometimes self-inflicted, but often caused by misconceptions, misinformation, and the hunger for ratings.  For decades, departments have tried to remind us that 99 percent of police officer are doing a great job.  However, that claim has become a cliché that is often falling on deaf ears.  Social media outlets are being flooded with videos of law enforcement officers doing the wrong thing, but few remember that it is rare for anyone to find it worth while to post videos of the police doing their jobs with honor.

In response to these difficult times, many law enforcement organizations (such as those where I live in the area of Pittsburgh, PA) are changing their ways, becoming more transparent, and joining forces with the community to improve both operations and perceptions.  These changes result in conversations, rather than battles.  The removal of violent terminology opens the door to reason and accountability and discourages knee jerk reactions.  The challenges police are facing on our streets are real and can be horribly violent.  To ignore this would be naïve and irresponsible.  However, we must be careful not to buy into the WAR mentality that is being pushed on us at every turn.

When a society believes it is at war with its protectors, it’s time for everyone involved to take a big step back from the frontlines.

Maybe it's time to put the pin back in this thing

Maybe it’s time to put the pin back in this thing

If you have any thoughts on the matter, feel free to leave a comment below.

 

 

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

February 2016

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.

Can a Gun Owner Support Gun Control?

I am a gun owner.
I believe in gun control.

For whatever reason, there is a segment of the population that believes these two facts conflict and that gun owners who believe in gun control are hypocrites. This faulty reasoning often originates from a misguided belief that “abolition” and “control” are the same thing.

They are not.

Some argue we already have effective gun control measures in place in the form of the meager background checks that are conducted on those purchasing a weapon.

We do not.

Others argue gun control cannot be totally effective because criminals often do not purchase weapons through legal means. The argument that criminals will not follow the laws, therefore stricter laws should not exist is, on its face, ludicrous.

If we were to follow that thread of logic, then we should eliminate speed limits because a significant number of drivers exceed the posted limit. Even with speed limits in place, we test new drivers, mandate drivers wear seatbelts, enforce a myriad of traffic laws, and then we STILL have guardrails along the sides of highways because we expect there to be those who will stray off the designated path either by choice or accident.

Our cars are filled with airbags and new safety mechanisms seem to pop up with every new model. We nod with approval as car manufacturers brag about exceeding government safety standards, yet yawn when gun companies advertise extended magazines that will hold more ammunition and silencers that can be purchased online. We accept – and even expect – regulation in nearly every aspect of our lives. It is part of the social contract we have with our government. We surrender some rights in order to live in a society of rules that will protect us, our children, our future.

Limits are good things. I own guns, but I do not need guns that are capable of carrying buckets of ammunition that can be fired at a furious rate. Many argue they need such things for home defense. Let me be clear about something. If you cannot stop a threat with a handgun or two, each capable of holding 10 or 12 rounds, you don’t need more guns. You need more practice.

I am a gun owner.
I believe in gun control.

It’s funny. After you drive down the interstate for a while, we barely notice the guardrails that may keep us from driving off a cliff.

J.J. Hensley is the author of RESOLVE, which is set against the backdrop of the Pittsburgh Marathon, Measure Twice, and other works. Hensley is a former police officer and former Special Agent with the U.S. Secret Service.

https://hensleybooks.wordpress.com
http://www.hensley-books.com
https://www.facebook.com/hensleybooks
https://www.goodreads.com/JJHensley
Twitter @JJHensleyauthor

AVAILABLE NOW!

An addict is killing Pittsburgh city officials, but Homicide Detective Jackson Channing has his own addiction.

cropped-measure-twice-750-x-1200-jpeg.jpg

Also:

In the Pittsburgh Marathon, more than 18,000 people will participate. 4,500 people will attempt to cover the full 26.2 miles. Over 200 of the participants will quit, realizing it just wasn’t their day. More than 100 will get injured and require medical treatment. One man is going to be murdered.  When Dr. Cyprus Keller lines up to start the race, he knows a man is going to die for one simple reason. He’s going to kill him.

Resolve

Finalist – 2014 International Thriller Writers Awards – Best First Novel
Named one of the BEST BOOKS of 2013 by Suspense Magazine!
Top Ten Books of the Year – Authors on the Air

 And look for my short story FOUR DAYS FOREVER in the LEGACY anthology

Legacy cover

Coming February 2016

image1Cyprus Keller wants a future.
Jackson Channing has a past.
Robert Chalk has a rifle and a mission.  Kill Cyprus Keller and anyone who gets in his way.