Wednesday, August 13, 2008


That's my new word of the week. :)

I may have mentioned this in the past, but I don't particularly agree with the politics of the NRA. As much as they claim to be a non-partisan group, they are still heavily involved in politics. I do, however, admit that they are the strongest of the Second Amendment advocacy groups out there, though a couple chapters of the ACLU are actually starting to come around.

That being said, I also recognize that they're also the only organization out there that provides credentials that are widely recognized in terms of being able to teach... I love to teach. I've been doing it since my senior year in high school; I have this thing about sharing what I know with others. That's why when I offered to teach the students in the Criminal Justice program at Delaware Tech how to shoot, the first thing that was asked of me was, "Are you certified?"

I begrudgingly grumbled that, even though I was very active with IPSC and USPSA Competitive shooting, that I was not certified... the issue pretty much went away.

Fast forward a few months, and I actually have the opportunity to take classes to get my certification. So, as of last weekend, I successfully completed my class to become a certified Range Safety Officer and qualified as an Instructor. This weekend, I'll be taking my class for my focus discipline: pistols.

So, starting shortly, I'll be offering classes to the general public under my new company: Delaware Patriot.

Courses will be offered for the NRA developed F.I.R.S.T. Steps and Basic Pistol program.

Additionally, for those who take my NRA Basic Pistol course, they then qualify to take both the Delaware Carry Concealed Deadly Weapon License course and the Florida Carry Concealed Weapon License course.

I'm in the process for creating the website, however, its current incarnation can be found here. If anyone is interested in obtaining their license to conceal in Delaware or would just like to learn how to shoot a pistol, definitely drop me a line -- the rental of a pistol to use for the course is available.

I look forward to teaching and sharing my knowledge with others.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Change of Focus

Well, I've had quite the opportunity fall into my lap...

As I've indicated in some of my previous blogs, I'm working towards my B.A. in Criminal Justice with the intent of going on to Law School, most likely to focus on Criminal and Constitutional Law.

Well, a podcast I'd recently begun to listen to, Life of a Law Student, had been a stalled project for some time... The podcast basically entails of a law student going to class, learning and researching the material for that class, coming home and creating a podcast discussing what the professor had gone over -- this allows a few things:
  1. Gives a student incentive to truly learn the material, enough to act as an authority on the matter.
  2. Disseminate legal knowledge in a user-friendly format for free.
  3. Allow the student to develop their oral skills by speaking on subject matter related to their field.
  4. Create a body of work and to build a reputation in the legal community so that, when they receive their J.D., they're able to provide more than just a simple resume.
Project lead, Neil Wehnemen, had gotten caught up working on the current presidential campaign, taking courses at his law school and, of course, being a good husband, so I had sent him an email offering to provide some undergraduate content to flesh out what he already had, also offering him my extensive background in the field of computer science and sound production to also further the project. Well, he countered with an offer to take the project over.

Needless to say I was floored. It took me a few days to mull things over, but I eventually agreed and, as of last week, I begin the process of updating the site's code and recorded my introductory podcast, which I'll be publishing later on this week.

I hope that any of you with an interest in law, whether it be specific or latent, stop by and check it out -- Neil has already posted so much content, I'm sure there will be something there of interest for you.

On another note, I'll be taking a few training courses over the next couple of weeks -- my Range Safety Officer, Basic Instructor and Pistol Instructor so, hopefully, but the end of August, I'll be able to begin offering training courses for the NRA Basic Pistol Certification, Delaware Carry Concealed Weapon Licenses and the Florida Concealed Handgun Licenses... If anyone is interested in any of these courses, please feel free to drop me a line.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One Issue Voter

I'll be the first to admit it. At this time, I'm a one-issue voter.

It wasn't a year ago that I would very much "Go along to get along." I didn't really mind the concept of a National ID card -- being a computer geek, I though the convenience of carrying everything on a single card might be less cumbersome for me.

Sure, I still leaned right for fiscal and foreign relation issues and left for social issues; however, it all started when I bought my first firearm. Yes, this boils down to owning a pistol.

Being the person I am, when I get into a new area of knowledge, I'm compulsive to the point where I need to learn as much as I can on the subject. So, it started off innocuously enough... safety, handing, storage, cleaning. Then, I began to research the laws to know where I could and could not carry. This ultimately re-ignited a passion I'd had for US History; I know it's a bit of a stretch, there, but for the first time in probably 15 years, I read the Declaration of Independence. I read the Constitution. I read some of the Federalist papers. I took a course in Constitutional Law. I continue my learning to this day learning about Criminal Law.

The thing is, I see what the framers intended and what they did to struggle out from being under the thumb of the King and I see what the government does today and I have to shake my head.

Here's another issue I have. I still believe that the government can be fixed -- in my research and forum activity, I've met many people who are either borderline or full-blown seditionists. I don't begrudge them their point of view; however, I don't advocate a second Civil War, nor the introduction of an Anarchal government.

But it does go to show you how the past 20 administrations have enacted laws and policies for the greater good that have pushed its citizens to the edge of rebellion.

I'll 'stick to my guns', if you'll forgive the pun. I'm a one-issue voter. It's my belief that someone who truly and honestly believes that an armed society is beneficial byproduct of the right guaranteed by the Second Amendment, then they'll believe in the rest of the Constitution and do their best to live by it.

I may be holding my breath for a while waiting for a candidate who will have the support of the people.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Why Open Carry?

For the uninitiated, "Open Carry" is the peaceable, unconcealed carry of a firearm by a citizen. For example, in a holster, on your belt in plain view. In Delaware, this is lawful, though highly uncommon; however, there is a strong movement throughout the country of people who do open carry -- you can read their stories at

I write this preface, so you have an understanding of what it is. Myself and at least a dozen others have been open carrying in Delaware for some time now -- for the most part, without incident. On the above mentioned forums, someone asked the following:

"Other than to exercise a right, I'm not yet convinced that open carry serves any other useful purpose. My thinking is that concealed carry with a permit should fill any desire to carry without the side effect of alarming or scaring the public or drawing the attention of law enforcement. I am worried that open carry, with no permit, is actually counter-productive in the long run to the goal of perserving[sic] our right to bear arms in public. What am I missing?"

Here is my reply to him:

The long-term goal of preserving our right to bear arms in public has already been accomplished. Forty-four states in the union have some type of firearms preemption in place to prevent the regulation or possession or transport of a firearm. In addition, a good number of states have Constitutions which guarantees our right to keep and bear arms in even more plain language that the Second Amendment.

For example, the Delaware Constitution states in Article I, §20, "A person has the right to keep and bear arms for the defense of self, family, home and State, and for hunting and recreational use."

And, just so it's clear, the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land -- state Constitutions "override" the US Constitution because their provisions must equal or be more strict on the government, e.g. providing more freedoms to the people.

States have, historically, been granted the right to regulate the concealing of a firearm and most states have statutes in place for a citizen to obtain a permit that allows them to carry concealed. In the state of Delaware, this process costs around $400 and violates your privacy by requiring the following:
  1. You must publish your full name and home address in the news paper with your intent to apply for a permit. Not the best thing to do for the victim of abuse who is attempting not to be found by their abuser.
  2. You must have five people fill out questionnaires, asking questions about why you intend to file. Isn't the point of concealing a sidearm to not let people know you're carrying?
  3. You must be fingerprinted and have a criminal investigation performed by the state police and the Delaware Department of Justice. This is in addition to the state and federal background check you're submitted to when you purchase your firearm.
Outside of carrying for self-defense, the primary reason for most anyone who carries, open carry is, mostly, a political statement or symbolic form of speech. I openly carry my sidearm to demonstrate that I am a free individual in my state and country and encourage others to ask about my point of view, whether they be for, against or ambivalent, much as the religious witness the masses or the protesters speak against a wrong.

If I wanted to simply 'exercise a right', I'd conceal; however, I'm out to educate people and desensitize the public to the stigma that 'Guns are bad'. The more the general public's only exposure to firearms is the mass media, the more our overall right to keep and bear arms is put in jeopardy.

We don't force the point. We don't think everyone should open carry. It's a personal choice. As much as we respect your right to only conceal or not carry, we ask that you respect our decision to carry openly. In addition, if you're curious about why or, better yet, how YOU can start carrying -- whether you're looking to conceal or open carry -- feel free to ask.

In the now-immortal words of former Delaware Attorney General Charles M. Oberly, III, "Under current Delaware law, virtually anyone, excepting felons, may strap on a holster and carry a gun in plain view." As long as folks understand that, in exercising your right to self-defense, there also comes a huge responsibility of knowing and respecting Delaware law, I believe our state can become a safer, more civilized place.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Delaware: Even in Death, A Nanny State

Ripped from today's headlines: "On Wednesday, Rep. Peter C. Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, introduced legislation to automatically make people donors unless they opt out." "As long as people have the ability to opt out of the organ donation program, it's OK to make the change, said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania." "If the only people bothered by the registration turn out to be from a small religious sect or from some libertarian [mind-set], I'm not sure that justifies keeping the burden the way it is now," he said. "The burden is unfairly distributed right now."

Well, color me one of those "libertarian" mind-sets -- how is the burden unfairly distributed? The government currently asks me permission to dismember and use parts of my body once I'm dead... That certainly sounds like a fair distribution of burden there to me. Instead, he'd rather have the government assumed permission to rip someone apart without their consent, unless they specifically are informed and make the time to go and opt out.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm one of the 90% of Delawareans that believe organ donation is a good thing and I even have the heart on my license indicating my donor status; however, this follows too closely in the wake of the UK's similarly proposed program that gives me reason to pause in caution.

Since England is one of the worst offenders of legislating life in the known world, it should, hopefully, give ANYONE pause to see that Delaware is following suit.

As for alternative options, I can think of several... Create a policy, law or ordinance where:
  1. Each time you renew your license, the DMV agent MUST ask you if you'd like to opt in.
  2. Each time you go through inspection, the DMV agent MUST ask you if you'd like to join in.
  3. Each time you register to vote or change your party affiliation, the DMV agent MUST ask you if you'd like to opt in.
  4. Each time your registration expires and you need to renew it, the DMV agent MUST ask you if you'd like to opt in.
Do you see the commonality in all of these? The burden remains where it should remain: on the state to BE GRANTED PERMISSION to use my body, instead of assuming that right.

"Under a 2001 state law that upholds the decision of Delaware residents who make a documented gift of donation, the family of a designated donor cannot revoke the donor's consent after death."

I could see this law seriously being challenged if we did see a shift of assumed consent to the state, and rightly so. Perhaps a newly immigrated member of a 'small religious sect' that Caplan seems to unconcerned with is unaware and, upon death, the hospital tells the family they'll be harvesting their dearly departed's organs with no form of recourse. I can only imagine the devastation.

Delaware, even in death, has the legislative mindset of a nanny state.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What's to Hide?

"Senate Republicans hope to win passage of several open-government measures, including legislation to subject the General Assembly to the Freedom of Information Act and a package of bills designed to open government finances to more public scrutiny."

"Adams, who has blocked such moves in the past, said he could not predict how this year's battle will turn out. He already has salted away in his Executive Committee desk drawer a bill to subject the General Assembly to FOIA -- Senate Bill 4 -- sponsored last year by Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton."

"Adams said the desk-drawer veto is appreciated by members on both sides of the aisle -- particularly when the House passes a bill that senators would rather not have to vote on."

So, if you've never heard of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), essentially, you can write a letter to a government body requesting all documents, records, recordings, video, audio, emails, voicemails -- you get the idea -- regarding a particular topic or incident. These are quite popular with the police for people getting the dashcam video of a police stop and, by law, they must provide you with the requested documents.

The Delaware General Assembly is attempting to claim that it is not a public body and, thus, not subject to the scrutiny of the people that voted them into public office... is anyone else seeing a contradiction there?

The fact that he ADMITS using it as a way to get out of doing work, is all the more reason this antiquated politician with antiquated ideas needs to be voted out of office. Open government invites accountability, as the constituency will actually be able to 'check up' on their elected officials... Mr. Adams certainly can't have that now, can he?

Do your job. Vote the bills. Be the voice of your constituency. If you vote with our voice, you'll be re-elected. If you attempt to skirt around having to do your job, we'll do our damnedest to find someone who'd like to take your place.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Changing Laws

I can say that I've made my mark on Delaware law when it comes to maintaining the right to keep and bear arms.

To preface the folks who aren't aware of the current state of gun control, many years ago, the federal government passed a law that basically prevented the passing of legislation that regulates the carrying of firearms. Most states have adopted this at the state, county and local municipality levels so, in essence, anything enacted after July 4th, 1985 is repealed, while everything before is grandfathered in.

While Delaware does have this preemption and cannot regulate the carrying of a firearm, the regulation of the discharge of the weapon is permissible and usually carries a fairly substantial fine unless the discharge of the weapon was, of course, in the process of defending yourself.

As I was doing some general research on our state laws and local ordinances, I came across New Castle County Ordinance Sec. 24.01.014 (in Chapter 24) -- outside of a city's local ordinances, parks are generally the other place in law to check for firearms ordinances. In any case, the title of the ordinance is "Possession of certain knives; discharge of weapons." It looked normal and, as I began to scan over, I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary...

"No person shall carry a knife upon his or her person having a blade three (3) inches or longer in length or have possession of or discharge a BB gun, air rifle, pistol, firearm, paint ball gun, bow and arrow or any other type of lethal weapon in any park. (Ord. No. 98-050, § 1(24-14), 5-26-1998)"

I reread it again and couldn't believe my eyes -- it appeared to have been passed in 1998 and it had a provision for regulating the possession of firearms. I drafted up a quick email to the Delaware Attorney General's office asking them about it, thinking that they'd respond... Technically, if I was correct, anyone who was convicted on this charge could potentially appeal the decision because, according to preemption (as I read it), if the law is passed and controls the possession or carrying of a gun, it's immediately repealed. Their response:

Your e-mail communication to the Attorney General dated December 6, 2007 was forwarded to me for response on his behalf.

As you are requesting an interpretation of a county ordinance and how it may impact on the future conduct of an individual, those in our Department are prohibited from providing advice, an opinion or such interpretation. We may only do so in the course of an active case and then only on behalf of the State as the prosecuting agency.

If you feel that a given municipal or county ordinance suffers from a deficiency or ambiguity, that is a matter that must be addressed by the County Council as the legislative body that enacts and amends the county code.

Thank you for giving the Department an opportunity to address your request.

I expected as much from them, as I'd written them in the past with a similar response. So, I looked up my County Councilman and basically sent him the same thing I'd sent the AG's Office. His name is David Tackett and, despite being a democrat being handed a gun issue, the response I got from him was promising to say the least.

Dear Rob,

Thank you for reaching out to me and bringing this to my attention. Give me a little while to work on this issue and get back to you. You are correct if in deed it is in conflict I will fix this and if it is not I will explain why?

Thanks again and give me a few days to have my attorneys review this and I will get back soon,

Thanks again,

I also discovered during this period that he's "The Honorable David L. Tackett" which was also promising as we all expect judges to be impartial and interpret the law with an even hand. My hopes were dashed a little as a few days stretched on to a week and, by that time, I was on vacation for two more weeks and hadn't heard anything from my Councilman.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt -- it was close to the Christmas and New Years season and, as a government employee myself, I know how much I value my time off, so I dropped him a quick email asking if he had a chance to pass the information on to his attorneys. I received a very prompt response:

Dear Rob,

Thanks for reaching back out to me. To update you, Yes I had the subject matter has been reviewed by our attorney and was determined there was an error that needed to be corrected on our park and the legislation will be drawn up to read that guns can be brought into a county park legally, they will just not be allowed to be discharged in the park. Except for say self defense.

Thanks again for bringing this to my attention and I will have this introduced at the [January] 22nd council meeting and hopefully voted on the first meeting in Feb.

Thank you for all the research you had done also.

Thanks again,

This about floored me -- I couldn't express how pleased I was. Bear in mind that, though I had a passive interest in listening to politics and have only voted in the last two elections, until I purchased my first firearm and found an outlet for my old, high school love of history in the form of the Constitution and law, I had never been an active participant.

It's hard to express knowing that, as a father, I made a difference that will allow me to lawfully carry my sidearm into the parks we often visit and have the ability to protect my children should the need arise.

There are a few hurdles left for Delaware in terms of making us a Gold Star State...
  1. Pass legislation that changes us from a MAY ISSUE state to a SHALL ISSUE state. As it stands, the process is cost prohibitive enough to ward away the average Joe from obtaining a permit.
  2. Place a time limit on the state for processing permit applications.
  3. Amend the grandfathered ordinance in Dover that regulates the carrying of firearms in that city to, instead, regulate concealed carry and the discharge of weapons to bring it in line with every other municipality in Delaware.
I don't know how realistic these goals are, but hopefully we'll have a chance to find out in my lifetime.