Today, May 11, 2015, is Richard Overton’s 109th birthday.

Overton survived World War II, Jim Crow and countless other hardships, and did so while smoking cigars and drinking whisky in a house full of firearms. Suck-it Dr. Oz.  I want to be like him when I grow up.

Ben Philippi from Guns.com visited him recently to talk to him about his time in WWII and the guns that he keeps to make sure that foul play doesn’t rob him of his 110th birthday. Enjoy.

 

The Heroism of the Tulsa Oklahoma Race Riots: Our Alamo

Aftermath of the Tulsa Oklahoma race riots. 6000 African residents were "detained" and "interned" by white residents. 35 Square blocks were destroyed. As many as 300 were killed, and the economic center of Africans in America was burned to the ground.
Aftermath of the Tulsa Oklahoma race riots. 6000 African residents were “detained” and “interned” by white residents. 35 Square blocks were destroyed. As many as 300 were killed, and the economic center of Africans in America was burned to the ground.

 

Tulsa wasn’t just a tragedy. It was our 300. Our Alamo. And when we talk about it, that is how we have to phrase it. It is the finest example of Black men and women standing up and fighting to defend themselves and their families.

This is what we know about Tulsa.

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Men being rounded up and moved to the detention center.

It erupted May 31, 1921 with an encounter between a Black man and a White woman in a downtown elevator. He would say that he tripped and innocently caught himself by grabbing her arm. She claimed that he had tried to grab her. While rumors spread that an attempted rape had just taken place, many whispered quietly that they were actually lovers embroiled in an argument. It doesn’t matter anymore.

Threats of lynchings were met with action. Thirty Black men, many of whom were well trained and well armed veterans of WWI, went to protect the young “assailant”, who was now in custody at the local courthouse. Soon, a counter force of 1,000 White men arrived at the courthouse while another contingent went to the National Guard Armory for more firearms. They were repelled by the hastily mobilized Guardsmen. They then descended on the courthouse, their numbers now nearing 2,000.

When a second armed contingent of 75 Black men went to the courthouse as reinforcements, the situation exploded. One of the White men demanded that a Black man surrender his pistol. When he refused, the White man shot him down. That was the first shot of a gunfight that would consume the city.

  • The First Wave: Those shots cascaded through the mob. The White men opened fire, and were met with return fire by the Black men who had gone to protect the courthouse. Several men on both sides lay dead or dying in the street.
  • As the Black contingent began to fight their way back to Greenwood they were pursued by the mob. Bystanders leaving local businesses were panicked as the mob shot them down indiscriminately.
  • Late that night, National Guard units were deployed to quell the riots. They stationed themselves to protect the White areas adjacent to Greenwood. They also began picking up Black people who hadn’t returned to Greenwood, and detaining them at a local convention hall.
  • Early the next morning groups of armed Whites and Blacks battled along Frisco tracks, the dividing line between the Black and White commercial districts. Whites made wild forays into Greenwood, taking shots when they could and setting fires along the way. They were met with return fire. When a rumor got around that Black reinforcements would be arriving by train, the White mob littered it with gunfire as it pulled into the station.
  • The mob set fires along the commercial corridor of Archer Street. When the firemen came, they were repelled at gunpoint. Within hours, dozens of Black businesses were burning to the ground.
  • Daybreak. The mob made an all out assault on Greenwood. While the residents fought back, they were simply outnumbered. They were herded into the street where they were either rounded up or marched at gunpoint to the detention center. Their houses were looted, and the mob shot them down indiscriminately.
  • It should be noted that there were numerous reports of WWI biplanes flying overhead, leading to the claim that Tulsa marked the first time the government dropped bombs on its own soil. Residents of Greenwood said that they witnessed men dropping firebombs onto their homes and businesses, and taking shots with rifles. Local law enforcement countered that the planes were conducting reconnaissance over the “negro uprising”.
  • Whites were attacked too. Those who employed Blacks found themselves confronted by the White mob, who demanded that they turn their employees over to the detention centers. Those that didn’t were attacked and their property was vandalized.
Child holding wounded sibling in the aftermath of the Tulsa Race Riots, our Alamo
Child holding wounded sibling in the aftermath of the Tulsa Race Riots, our Alamo

Troops from the Oklahoma National Guard arrived later that morning, and had suppressed the violence by noon. By then the damage had been done. It’s hard to say how many Black people lost their lives. Estimations run from about 30 to 300, but there was no way to account for those whose bodies were consumed by the fires that destroyed Greenwood.

Greenwood was made rich, in part, as an unintended consequence of segregation. The money made there stayed there, circulating 19 times according to some estimations. It was a bastion of Black lawyers, doctors and business men who were able to find freedom that was unavailable in the South.  All of that ended in the span of less than 24 hours.

We talk about the tragedy. What we don’t talk about is the heroism. The 125 brave men who went to the Courthouse to ensure that a young man wasn’t lynched that night. The men who confronted the armed mob at every step, and defended their lives and their homes. Tulsa wasn’t just a tragedy. It was our 300. Our Alamo. And when we talk about it, that is how we have to phrase it. It is the finest example of Black men and women standing up and fighting to defend themselves and their families.

The self-confidence of Tulsa’s Negroes soared, their businesses prospered, their institutions flourished and they simply had no fear of whites… Such an attitude had a great deal to do with eradicating the fear that a Negro boy growing up in Tulsa might have felt, in the years following the riots.

John Hope Franklin, Historian and witness to the Tulsa Race Riots.

 

 

Walk Before You Can Drive: Looking for Solutions for Driving With Guns

The universal vehicle handgun holster mount. There is no shortage of options out there for carrying a handgun on the roads of Georgia. The question is, what are you comfortable with? Photo from Tactical-Life.com
The universal vehicle handgun holster mount. There is no shortage of options out there for carrying a handgun on the roads of Georgia. The question is, what are you comfortable with? Photo from Tactical-Life.com

Fast, short video on AIWB seated weapon draw from Raven Concealment Systems Eidolon holster system, the “Every man’s Appendix rig”

Posted by Samuel R Hayes III on Monday, May 4, 2015

I’m new to carrying.

For the past two months I’ve been dipping my big toe in the pool; carrying every night as I take my dog on his nightly walks.

At first the gun and its holster were all I could think about. Is it printing? Is it falling? Is the safety on? It’s not really supposed to feel like this, is it? We are so used to everything being designed for maximum comfort that putting on something that prioritizes utility over comfort feels strange.

At first the gun and its holster were all I could think about. Is it printing? Is it falling? Is the safety on? It’s not really supposed to feel like this, is it? We are so used to everything being designed for maximum comfort that putting on something that prioritizes utility over comfort feels strange.

Call it progress, but I don’t think about it much anymore. Every night I rack the slide, activate the safety, put it in the holster and walk out the door. And every night, about 20 minutes later, I return. So far I haven’t dropped it. It hasn’t discharged, either accidentally or on purpose. My nights are just as predictable with the gun as they were before I carried it. The only difference is, I don’t feel quite as nervous about those things that I can’t predict.

I haven’t made the leap to carrying all day everyday. I’m can walk okay, but I spend far more time behind the wheel than I do pounding the pavement. I could put it in my glove box, right? I’m going to stretch across my 15-year-old daughter every morning with a loaded 9mm? Push aside juice boxes, plates containing precisely three chicken nuggets and catsup, and toilet paper (three children = a lot of sneezes.) and drop it into the center console? No bueno. I don’t want them to be afraid of guns, but I don’t want them to be casual around them.

Not to mention how difficult it would be to fish it out from the glove box on the one in a million chance that I need it.

Above is Sam Hayes of Caliber Training Group. He is wearing an Inside the Waistband holster from Raven Concealment. He’s not a little guy, but neither am I. It looks effective, not comfortable, but I don’t expect that anymore.

Observations from the First Meeting of the National African American Gun Association

Bass Reeves was an ex slave and renegade lawman pictured here among fellow Marshals on the bottom left. Keep in mind, there are three other Black lawmen pictured.
Bass Reeves was an ex slave who lived among the Seminole and Creek Nations in Oklahoma and became a Deputy U.S. Marshall in Arkansas. He is credited with bringing close to 3,000 men to justice. Pictured here among fellow Marshals on the bottom left. Keep in mind, there are three other Black lawmen pictured. The Atlanta Branch of the NAAGA is named after him.

I spoke earlier about the National African American Gun Association. Until recently it was an unknown quantity. A good idea (an organization established with the unique needs of Black gun owners in mind) in search of the right execution.

The first meeting took place about two weeks ago, at Stoddards Gun Range in Midtown Atlanta. It is a testament to the growing popularity of firearms that they were able to build a state of the art gun shop and shooting facility within walking distance of the High Museum of Art and some to the most expensive real estate in the city. Members arrived at around 9:30 am and convened in a meeting room just off of the showroom.

It was a Saturday morning. If you were in Atlanta, you might remember the driving rain that morning. Or, maybe you were sleeping. As I found a parking space behind the facility, I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t really sure if anyone else would even show up.

There was about 15 people there. The NAAGA’s founder, Phillip Smith,  Sam Hayes of Caliber Training Group and 12 others. There was no “type”. One brother has locs longer than mine. He sat off to the side with a green ammo can and a soft sided case. The guy in front of me looked like my daughter’s favorite math teacher. There were five women. Two, I would later find, didn’t actually own guns, but were interested and wanted to find the right information.

They went over the fundamentals of firearm safety with a guy from Stoddards. There was an exercise to find your dominant eye, the five rules of safety and handling, and then we parted ways. They went to the range and I went to pick up my daughter from a sleepover.

This is what you need to know.

  • Membership is free. Just go to the site and find the tab that says, “Want to join.”
  • As of the time of the meeting, there were 50 members in Atlanta, and more than 100 nationwide, including Oakland and St. Louis.
  • Each chapter is named after  a famous African American warrior. For example, Atlanta is the Bass Reeves chapter.
  • If you’re in the Atlanta area, the next meeting will be called
  • Their next meeting is May 16, from 9am to 11am. They will be discussing Stand Your Ground in Georgia among other things. You should come and bring a friend. Guests are welcome.

If you’re interested sign up for your free membership and ask for information.

 

 

 

Kelli on #Queensshoottoo. A New Shooter who Took On Her Fear

Kelli contributed her story to #Queensshoottoo. She is a beginning shooter who has decided to  cast her fears aside and see for herself.
Kelli contributed her story to #Queensshoottoo. She is a beginning shooter who has decided to cast her fears aside and see for herself.

This week on #Queensshoottoo we are going to be going to the other side of the threshold. Dasia trains five days a week and is building her own rifle. Akua has been making bullets with her step-dad since she was 14. They aren’t common.

For every Dasia or Akua, there are hundreds of women like Kelli. She grew up in an anti gun family but decided to find out on her own. Now she is taking control of her education and discovery, visiting ranges and renting firearms.

She’s the first to admit that she isn’t an expert, but she’s on the right path.

Anyone that wants to own a firearm should go through training and not just training to shoot the gun but how to deal with situations that rise. If everyone had to take classes before owning a gun I feel like less people would be dead and more people would feel safer.

What are your earliest memories of firearms?

My earliest memory of a firearm had to be in a movie because I honestly did not see a real gun until high school.

Were there guns in your home as you grew up?

My mom has never had a gun and chances are she won’t ever.

What were your parent’s attitudes towards guns?

My mom doesn’t like guns, she doesn’t like violence.

 What was your perspective as a child, and how has it changed?

As a child I was afraid of guns. I’m still somewhat afraid of them because of the power behind them. I use to get so nervous when I would see a gun, my stomach would knot up. Once I used a gun my fear calmed down. I’m still not 100% cool with them because I don’t know about a lot of guns.

Describe your first time shooting a gun.

My first experience shooting a firearm, it was right after my 20th birthday and it was a revolver. I don’t know what model it was. It was my first time having a gun up and personal, I was very scared. I did not know how to hold it or anything. The guy that worked there showed me everything I needed to know. I thought when I shot it it was gonna kick back hard but it really didn’t kick back much. I was very shocked of how much easier it was. It was kind of addicting when I started shooting, thoughts of how I could protect myself where going through my head. It was such an amazing experience. When I ran out of ammo,  I was very sad.

 20150315_105419Do you currently own a gun?

I don’t currently own one because I want to do it the legal way with a license so I can carry it on me if needed but I will in the future.

How often do you go to the range? What is your attitude towards training?

I go to the range every once in a while, it’s not cheap and I love training. Practice makes perfect and a better chance of me defending myself if needed.

 What advice would you give to someone who was interested in owning a gun?

For anyone that’s interested in guns, educate yourself on them and always handle them legally.

 What skills do you think that every gun owner should know?

Anyone that wants to own a firearm should go through training and not just training to shoot the gun but how to deal with situations that rise. If everyone had to take classes before owning a gun I feel like less people would be dead and more people would feel safer. A lot of people don’t like guns but if they get educated maybe they won’t be so scared.

 

The NAAGA: National African American Gun Association

Crazy like a fox.
Crazy like a fox.

I don’t know if my problem is with the NRA or its leadership.

They are the undisputed big dogs when it comes to insuring that we continue to have the right to keep and bear arms, and they are vicious. They are so rabid about our rights to keep and bear arms that they have begun t0 push for rights that I am not entirely sure are necessary.

But the leadership… Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre and newly elected President Jim Porter come off as paranoid people and they say crazy things. Witness this post with Think Progress entitled the Nine Most Insane Quotes from the NRA’s New Apocalyptic Op-ed. Reading it gave me the impression that we are about three weeks away from a living like Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead.

RickGrimesSeason2
The NRA wants us to go through life at Defcon 9.5, hyper vigilant about the coming and inevitable collapse. Self defense is good. Paranoia isn’t.

Not to mention race. LaPierre painted a picture where there were threats around every corner ready to kidnap, rape or loot. And most of them, be they the looters of South Brooklyn, Mexican drug gangs, Al Queda or the President, were people of color. No mention of white power groups or pumpkin rioters. Go figure.

Notice, I didn’t say that they were crazy. You don’t maintain one of the most powerful lobbying groups in the country by being crazy. The NRA pushes self reliance and security. Not easy, when  according to the FBI, crime is at an all time low?

What some people call nutty is probably shrewd, calculated organizing. Some lobbies boast a sensible membership. The NRA cultivates passion. Few people are driven to write letters to their congressmen in fits of sensibility. Passion = power, and the NRA is powerful.

Their formula works perfectly. I just don’t know if I’m comfortable with it.

Sam shot me a link to the National African American Gun Association. Below is their mission statement.

THE GOAL OF THE NATIONAL AFRICAN AMERICAN GUN ASSOCIATION IS TO HAVE EVERY AFRICAN AMERICAN INTRODUCED TO FIREARM USE FOR HOME PROTECTION,  COMPETITIVE SHOOTING, AND OUTDOOR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES. WE ARE A CIVIL RIGHTS ORGANIZATION FOCUSED ON SELF PRESERVATION OF OUR COMMUNITY THROUGH ARMED PROTECTION AND COMMUNITY BUILDING.

Makes sense to me.

This weekend I will be going to a meet and greet at a local gun range. I’ll keep you posted.

Maryland 10th Calvary Gun Club. Photo from NPR
The NAAGA is a new shooting organization for African American shooters. Pictured are the Maryland 10th Calvary Gun Club. Photo from NPR

How Not to Suck at Shooting: You Need Schoolin

Michonne on The Walking Dead, tea-cupping a gun. She's going to mow down a dozen zombies. Don't expect the same results.
Michonne on The Walking Dead, tea-cupping a gun. She’s going to mow down a dozen zombies. Don’t expect the same results.

My father owned guns my entire life. In that time I remember him going to the range a handful of times. By range I mean an expanse of red clay and briars behind a friend’s house in South Carolina and the back yard of our family’s home in Virginia.

We called it plinking, and we didn’t accomplish a whole lot. I learned to load and shoot all of the guns. I learned a healthy respect by seeing what they were capable of. I got over my fear, and I learned some important lessons about safety. I guess, loading the magazines for his Mini-14 prepared me to load the Glock 17 that I eventually bought, but I’m pretty sure I would have figured it out.

Most gun owners will never go through the process of becoming an effective gun-fighter. People don’t think that you have to. TV and movies show us that if you are a good guy, God will bless you with infinite bullets and guide them to the skulls of your enemies.

We didn’t do accuracy. We did our best but my father didn’t know about acquiring a sight picture or proper grip. We never discussed draw and fire. To my knowledge he doesn’t own a holster.

My dad wasn’t alone. Most gun owners will never go through the process of becoming an effective gun fighter. People don’t think that you have to. TV and movies show us that if you are a good guy, God will bless you with infinite bullets and guide them to the skulls of your enemies.

On the Walking Dead, Michonne tea-cups her Beretta? and lands head shot after head shot. All of the good guys do, until the directors decide that a miss would advance the plot. Everybody thinks they are the good guy. And a whole lot of gun owners think that righteousness is a guarantee of safety and accuracy.

I thought I was an okay shot. Good enough to put a bad guy on his back. My first visit to the range with Samuel Hayes of Caliber Training Group not only showed me how good I wasn’t, but it also made me better. Not great, but better.

I learned to hold the gun by emulating the guys in the gun magazines. The devil is in the details. It’s easy to make your grip look like their grip, but there is a lot going on beneath the surface. If your learning strategy is trial and error, you will spend years trying to figure out something that a professional could correct in about five minutes. And there are some things that you will never figure out.

In the spirit of figuring it out, in a few weeks I will be going to Urban Gun-Fighting Combatives at Caliber Training Group. The course puts the gun into the context of urban combat. It includes an extensive look at non-lethal options. I am preparing myself to be humbled.

Speaking of grip, below is Bob Vogel. According to his website, he’s a World Champion Shooter. I don’t follow the IDPA, but I’ll take his word for it. The video covers a lot of the ground that Sam discussed with me at our first meeting. I don’t know if I’ll be extending my support index finger around the trigger guard though.  

Dry Firing 101: The Wall Drill

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once. I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

Bruce Lee

Sam Hayes (Caliber Training Group) showed me the wall drill weeks ago. It is one of those things that is greater than the sum of its parts. You practice dry firing with your barrel extended to within an inch of a plain wall. It ain’t calculus.

What does it do? When your front sight is an inch away from a wall, you can’t kid yourself. It puts your trigger pull under a microscope. If it’s smooth, the sights will stay centered. If it’s like mine, you will see every flinch, shake and drift.

There are a million variations. I sometimes practice it as the last action of my four step draw. If you remember, the last time I went to the range with Sam, I was humbled by my inability to shoot the black dot. Well, this is my medicine.

Why a wall? This is how, Master Sargent George Harris, Director of training for Sigarms Academy and  United States Army Reserve shooting team coach answered that question.

“Your eye wants to transition towards the target during the stroke of the trigger. The wall makes sure that doesn’t happen. [The wall] keeps your eye focused on the front sight, keeps your eye open, and makes sure your trigger control is clean and pure.”

Always practice safely. It has been said that most accidental discharges occur during dry fire practice. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I don’t want to find out what happens when you shoot a cinder block wall with a 9 mm at point-blank range.

Keep your live rounds out of your practice area. I practice in my garage. My hot magazine stays on the kitchen table. I check the chamber after I switch in my practice magazine, and again immediately before I start practicing. Also, I wait for the kids to go to bed and then practice using a wall that doesn’t have anything behind it but the empty Georgia woods.

What you do is up to you, but you need to take it seriously.

 

Don’t Be Shaneen: Know the Law

Shaneen Allen and son. Her child was in the car when she was pulled over as she left an Atlantic City birthday party.
Shaneen Allen and son. Her child was in the car when she was pulled over as she left an Atlantic City birthday party.

Yesterday I wrote about Shaneen Allen. I focused on the overzealous prosecutor, mandatory minimums and pretrial hypocracy. Then a friend who knows much more about guns and the law pointed something out to me. It could have all easily been avoided.

There will always be routine traffic stops and asshole prosecutors. But if you get a gun and a license to carry, you have an obligation to learn the laws, not just of your home state but wherever you happen to be. The moral here is Know your Rights.

Soon my wife and I will drive from Atlanta to Philly. Our trip will take us through seven states, each with its own set of laws. South Carolina doesn’t respect the Georgia CCW, but North Carolina does. Virginia is cool with open carry. It appears to be legal in Delaware, but not as common. Don’t even try it in Maryland.

That’s just carrying. What about transport? Virginia lets you carry a loaded gun in your unlocked glove box. In North Carolina, this crosses the line into concealed carry, which is a no no unless you have a concealed carry permit. (Open carry is legal. So what about driving with it sitting on your passenger seat?)

You get the point? The laws don’t always make sense, but it’s still our responsibility to make sense of them. And Allen should have known better.

Yesterday I wrote that telling the officer about your license was a courtesy. That isn’t exactly true. In some states like South Carolina, it’s a law. If you are pulled over, you have to tell the officer about your weapon and show him your license, whether or not you are asked. That isn’t the case in Jersey. Allen had no obligation to volunteer the fact that she had a Bersa 380 in her purse and he had no probable cause to look for one.

The relationship between Philly and Jersey is special. When I lived in Philly, we crossed the bridge whenever we got bored. We would go to the Mall in Cherry Hill, hit up the Olive Garden down the road and then end the night at the movies. Throw in occasional trips to Atlantic City and then jaunts to New York, I must have put in 10 thousand miles on the Turnpike. And I wasn’t alone.

I still don’t think she deserved to spend 40 days in jail. I don’t think her son should have had to watch his mom get taken away and I can’t imagine what it must be like fighting a possible five year sentence. But Shaneen should have known better. That information is just a Google search away.

I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a link to Handgunlaw.us. They have a clickable map which will tell you everything you need to know.

This is the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action.

Now you really don’t have an excuse.

 

 

Georgia SCLC president suggests Black People Exercise Constitutional Rights to Bear Arms

Samuel Mosteller was suspended from the SCLC for suggesting that Black people should start practicing their rights to bear arms.
Samuel Mosteller was suspended from the SCLC for suggesting that Black people should start practicing their rights to bear arms.

 

 

 

 

 

“You know, the SCLC stands for nonviolence, but nonviolence hasn’t worked in this instance,” said Samuel Mosteller, President of the Georgia Branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. “I am going to have to advocate, at this point, that all African-Americans advocate their 2nd Amendment rights.”

Samuel Mosteller said those words earlier this week. His statement followed the deaths of 27 year old Anthony Hill, a naked, unarmed veteran who was in the throws of a mental breakdown, and 23 year old Nicholas Taft Thomas,  who was shot to death as police attempted to arrest him for violating probation. The police said Thomas was armed and sped towards them in a Maserati.   Bystanders said that he was going in another direction. Curiously, the bullets holes were in the side of the car. Read more here.

Mosteller was suspended almost immediately from the SCLC pending investigation and internal training. For a representative of the SCLC to take the platform and advocate anything besides, ‘non-violence’ is foolish. Non-violence is the foundation upon which the SCLC stands.

The fact that its leadership routinely either exercised their 2nd amendment rights or enjoyed the protection of men who were doing so, is largely forgotten.

Dr. Martin Luther King’s home was once described as an arsenal. One journalist who covered the SCLC, recounted a visit to King. He went to sit down on an armchair in the living room and almost sat on a loaded gun.

King made it clear that Black men have a right to protect themselves.

“When the negro uses force in self defense, he does not forfeit support. He may even win it by the courage and self respect that it reflects.”

In time he abandoned the use of firearms, feeling that it would be hypocritical to espouse non-violence while traveling with armed guards and retiring to a home full of guns.

He also drew a clear line between arming yourself to protect your life and loved ones, and arming yourself in hopes of political gain. The former was acceptable, and even commendable. The latter he felt was tactically impossible and morally unjustifiable.

Although he abandoned firearms, I’ve never heard him tell rank and file Black men and women to do the same. I don’t remember the speech where he suggested that Black people turn the other cheek to KKK, unjust law enforcement or violent criminals, whatever their color.

Did Mosteller cross a line by issuing the statement at a press conference? Maybe. More than one reporter has said that he suggested Black people arm themselves “against police”. If he did, it wasn’t on the video.

I’m more concerned with the idea that Black men and women exercising our constitutional rights is somehow new or subversive. We’ve been doing it for a very long time.

There is nothing revolutionary about self defense. It’s a fundamental human drive that goes back further than language. It might not have been responsible or even smart, for Mosteller to bring up the second amendment in the context of police protest, but it’s hardly scandalous.