“A Mans Got To Know His Limitations……..”

Detective Harry Callahan, AKA Clint Eastwood uttered these iconic words in the movie “Magnum Force” upon discovering a bomb in a mailbox. Certainly, in the real world, it is an excellent philosophy, a violation of which often results in an unnecessary failure ranging from simply embarrassing to catastrophic. In an effort to avoid violating this simple premise, I am forced to acknowledge that in an activity that I love, I have reached a practical limitation.

I love to fish. For the past 50 or so years, I rarely passed on an opportunity to slather on sunscreen and hop in a boat for an hour, day or week of fishing. I have enjoyed the urgency of bass and crappie tournaments as well as the relaxed atmosphere of laughing and lying while simply catching a limit of freezer fare to get us through a winter. I have found that acquaintances share strengths while true friends share weaknesses and there is something cathartic about a day on the water with a trusted friend. In addition to the art of fishing, I also enjoy blasting across one of Missouri’s beautiful, often tree choked reservoirs in search of that perfect little niche or pocket far up a creek that may hold the fish of the day. Arguably, I am obsessed with a need for speed, and the marvel of today’s high performance bass boats is one way to assuage this passion. This passion, however, requires two functioning hands and feet. This is where the wheels are coming off. Let me explain.

I am plagued with inflammatory osteoarthritis. This malady is especially aggravating in both of my feet and hands, particularly my thumbs. To complicate things, I have a disc that is all but gone in my lower back. Launching and loading a bass boat requires some degree of dexterity, unless you enjoy ramp diving! Launching is not too bad, as your friend simply backs you down and you float off the trailer. Retrieving the boat requires not just driving onto the trailer, but hitching to the winch strap and cranking the boat onto the bow roller. After a day of teasing my thumbs with a rod and the intricate dance with one foot on the trolling motor pedestal, I am down for the count. These simple acts are further complicated by dropping and retrieving the trolling motor, dozens of times each trip. One thumb has been surgically corrected and the other is scheduled for late this year. Did I mention the pounding you take as you scoot across a choppy lake? Pain takes the fun out of just about anything…..

I am not complaining. Thankfully, I also love to stand in a trout stream and float a river or creek in a canoe! An occasional trip to a farm pond and a day of bank fishing is also rewarding. I am not giving up altogether, but it is time to sell my beloved bass boat, and at least some of the thousands of dollars in rods, tackle and equipment that are a part of the bass boat experience. (Amazingly, as I was bent over the live-well, retrieving fish, on the last day we were on Truman Lake, a very nice couple approached the boat to see our fish. They were in the market to buy a boat, and it appears they will soon have the opportunity to enjoy this boat as I have the last 8 years. They will not be disappointed.)

Limitations abound as we age. While I hope to catch a boat ride with a friend someday in the future, it won’t be at the helm, rather in the back of the boat, content to let someone else handle the piloting chores. When my hands and feet begin their chorus of “enough” I will be content to sit back and enjoy the sights and sound of the lake. Actually, I am okay with this limitation, as I have had many good years and great experiences in a boat. My task, at this point, is to keep old “Arthur” from placing yet another limitation on me…..such as the Harley. A good friend of mine also struggles with Arthur and his thumbs. We have discussed this affliction on a number of occasions. Try a day without your thumbs…..you will soon get the point here.

A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. (I have no earthly idea who coined this saying.) I am steeling myself for the day, soon to come, when I watch my bass boat disappear from sight behind someone else’s tow vehicle…another chapter closed. A limitation realized. It won’t be easy…….

A Gift for God……..

Many of my readers know that my friend and fishing partner, Ralph Biele, can spin a yarn. He has that rare ability to capture the emotion and beauty in the telling of a story about some adventure or happening in a lifetime of observing human behavior. So it was when Ralph related the following story to me as we searched for crappie on Truman Lake.

Ralph and a good friend, Bill Plassmeyer, had served together as ushers at St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Jefferson City, Mo. It should come as no surprise that Ralph and Bill had developed a friendship strengthened by the tenants of the Catholic Church as they shared many experiences over the years. Ralph smiled as he described Bill’s flashy and colorful fashion sense as well as his warmth and regard for people in general. One of their common interests, a passion for both of them, was Special Olympics, which really needs little in terms of introduction. Bill’s son was a Special Olympics coach and his grandson was a Special Olympics athlete. Each of these individuals harbored a deep respect and love for this program, a premier organization dedicated to the provision of athletic opportunities to athletes who likely would not be able to participate in competitive sports should it not exist.

On March 23d of this year, Mr. Bill Plassmeyer passed away at the age of 87. Mr. Plassmeyer had enjoyed a long and successful career in traveling sales, having worked for Uniroyal and the Hershey Corporation before retiring. His warmth and affability were put to good use in this competitive business environment. So that you might get the full measure of this man, he was also an avid golfer and coin collector. Those that knew him came to appreciate his keen wit and refined sense of humor. The picture below is of Mr. Bill Plassmeyer.

Ralph made his way to the funeral home for the visitation and noted what appeared to be Rosary Beads clasped in Bill’s hands as he approached him for his final respects. It was then that Ralph noticed that instead of Rosary beads, Bill was clasping a special Olympics medal that his grandson had won in one of the events he had participated in. Subsequently, Bill and his grandson competed in a unified golf match, in which a Special Olympics athlete was paired with a non-special Olympics partner for a match they then won. Ralph’s thoughts were immediately taken back to a conversation with Bill after the golf match during which Bill expressed his pride in partnering with his grandson in this golf competition. Bill was effusive in his praise for special Olympics and for the terrific efforts of his grandson during the golf match. So much so, that he told Ralph that when he died he was going to take one of his grandson’s medals with him to present to God with the intention of telling the Master how important this program was and what it meant to everyone that it touched. Ralph said he smiled broadly as he recalled the conversation and noted that Bill Plassmeyer was a man of his word. The medal was on it’s way to the home of the Master.

When our time comes, and it will soon enough for each of us, what gift will we take to the Master? Thank you Bill, for reminding us that a gift of appreciation just might be the best gift of all……..

Why I Admired R. Lee Ermey…..

R. Lee Ermey is gone at the age of 74, having been felled by complications related to pneumonia. It is sad that a man’s man is felled by a disease rather than in a blaze of glory, leading a charge or in a firefight in some third world country, as so many have before him. The truth be known, R. Lee or Gunny to the world, likely would have preferred it that way, but surely died knowing he would be welcomed in Valhalla, that final resting place for uniformed patriots and centurions.

I deeply admire a man who checks pretentiousness at the door, and strides purposefully into a room, offering only himself as a measure of his character. This was the case with my own father, who shared many of R. Lee’s traits. Gunny was the real thing, a man who parlayed a humble upbringing into a fortune in Hollywood. What is unique about his success is that he didn’t let the sniveling, liberal, Hollywood elite change him. He remained true to himself. How many of us can say that with conviction.

Gunny left the Marine Corps after an 11 year stint. He was a drill instructor, or to those of us who have experienced the character building, humbling experience of boot camp, a DI. Drill instructors are not to be trifled with. When they are in your face, you have no where to go, but if you could, would gladly crawl back into your mother’s womb and start over again, anywhere besides where you are standing. Such is the business of preparing young men and now women for the savages of combat. It was this background that earned him a role in Full Metal Jacket, where he improvised at least 50% of the script handed to him by Stanley Kubrick. It came naturally. Kubrick cast R. Lee after watching a home made tape of Gunny berating an individual for a protracted period of time while tennis balls were thrown at him, never once deviating from the dialogue that was imprinted upon his brain. Kubrick described the Gunny’s repertoire of insults as being in the neighborhood of 150 pages. Age has reduced my memory, but the name of my DI along with the Senior Drill Instructor will be among the last things to leave my mind when the day comes to depart this world.

The Gunny had some 60 Hollywood credits, usually playing a hard nosed individual who was principled and possessed a flint rock edge. It wasn’t hard for him to “get in character”. Lately, he hosted the popular “Lock N’ Load” television series as well as “Mail Call”, another popular series. He was a spokesman for Glock firearms, lending urgency and purpose to the individual right to carry a firearm. The Gunny also served on the board of directors of the National Rifle Association, where, I am sure, his pragmatic approach to firearms coupled with his considerable presence was most welcome.

With R. Lee Ermey, what you saw was what you got. He did not let the black-balling nature of Hollywood change him. He was well aware of the distaste that most of Hollywood had for him, but did not give an inch. He was a conservative who made no apologies, finding the political correctness of today to be an abstract term for folks whose character swayed with the tide. Mathew Bodine, an actor, offered the genius of poet Dylan Thomas in his thoughts upon learning of the Gunny’s death:

“Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage against the dying of the light”

What is not to admire in a man who was exactly as he appeared, an epithet that few have earned. Rest In Peace Gunny, we’ll miss you.

The Rack…..

In the dark ages, for the most part, the rack was a torture device where upon a hapless sole was literally pulled apart, screaming until the sweet kindness of death prevailed. This torture is no longer in vogue and the racks of those horrible times have been replaced with new racks that torture us in an entirely different way. I am talking about the racks that populate the stores that purvey clothing. Racks filled with shirts and slacks designed to fit the models that appear in Cosmopolitan, Playboy or Men’s Journal. These racks of clothes are usually found in the front of a retailers floor space, and for me, represent an entirely new kind of “flyover” country. Let me explain.

A law enforcement officer, for the most part, is insulated from the fashion world. He or she relies on a uniform to protect themselves from the impossible task of coordinating outfits to wear to work. These officers generally own jeans, a few pairs of shoes and boots and enough civilian clothing to slip out to a movie now and then or maybe church on Sundays. I can practically guarantee they own more clothes devoted to their pastime, such as fishing, hunting or motorcycle riding than anything else. When I retired and accepted a position as the deputy director of the Gaming Commission, I was thrust into the world of Hart, Schaffer and Marx suits and the business attire world. It was a fun, expensive trip through a sort of clothing fantasy land. At one time, I owned 30 ties, just enough to coordinate with the variety of colorful dress shirts in vogue during that era. Today I can martial up enough dress attire to not embarrass Sharon at a funeral. Back to the rack.

Who wears this stuff? Pants with a stride so short that either plumbers crack or an octave or two rise in voice pitch is inevitable. Dress shirts that require pre-approval from your bank to purchase, often cut in a fit that guarantees that horrible gap in front when you sit down, accompanied with the ever present reality that if a button should give up, it could blind the person sitting across from you. While I like a little color in my clothing, I refuse to wear shirts that would make Cyndi Lauper green with envy. I have the legs of a line backer, not a good fit for any but the “generous” or “full cut” slacks and pants. It is no wonder that after wrestling with a pair of these pants in a dressing room, you leave them for the clerks to rehang and trot out to the rack for the next normal person’s error in judgement. Normal guys either spend a lot of time in the “Big and Tall” section or go where we are both welcome and comfortable. By that I mean my current tailors of choice, Duluth Trading, Cabela’s or Bass Pro shop.

Duluth Trading get’s it. They are purveyors of everything that a normal guy could possible want to wear. They sell a pant named “middle management chino”, so named because managing our middle is a struggle. They make a shirt aptly named a “free swinging chambray” cut with an armpit gusset to keep you from tearing out when you bend over or reach for something. They offer “spillfighter” shirts that will shed coffee or today’s lunch leavings with gusto. They produce a plethora of men’s underwear that eliminates a host of underwear related problems, such as “bullpen”, “buck naked”, “breezeshooter” and “free range”. It doesn’t take much imagination to figure which annoying underwear issue these different shorts address. Duluth sells a long tailed t-shirt which they say will cover your “asteroid”, surely a hit with men who must bend over to work! You have likely seen Duluth’s adds, featuring fire hose tough pants, on the TV.

Is it any wonder that retired guys find comfort in cargo pants, jeans and durable clothing that will fit with out working up a sweat in the dressing room or washing in ice water to keep them from losing that 1′ margin of room we need to get them on? Much of the inventory in my kind of stores is laying on shelves, with an occasional welcoming rack here and there, mostly shirts. This clothing is durable, comfortable and far more presentable than the current trends in upscale clothing sold in many places. We enjoy shirts with logos, such as Harley-Davidson, G. Loomis, and Under-Armor worn over a pair of “ballroom” jeans, aptly named, again, by Duluth Trading. It takes awhile, but you soon get used to forgoing the colorful tie, uncomfortable but stylish dress shoes and coordinated office ensembles.

So it is that we are ready for anything, fashion wise. We can climb into a bass boat or on a motorcycle, hitch up an RV, cut the grass, fly an airplane, walk the dog, or make a run to Hi-Vee on a moments notice without struggling with what to wear. These days, the same pair of cargos under a decent shirt is entirely appropriate for church. The aforementioned purveyors of our style of clothing make this possible.

We can smile when we “fly over” the racks of quirky, fashionable clothes that still capture the imagination of younger, more obligated folks than us. By now, most folks understand what they are getting with us. Clothing isn’t going to make much difference. If I you see me at Bass Pro or Cabela’s give me a shout…..the coffee is on me…and if the coffee really is on me, it won’t matter, as I will likely be wearing a spillfighter shirt!

Blue Bloods……

Over the past few days, a lively social media discussion has been developing among active and retired Missouri Highway Patrol officers relative to the relationship between salary and commitment to the organization. To be fair, I suspect similar discussions have transpired among the members of any uniformed organization currently in service to our citizenry. The general feeling among the experienced officers participating in this discussion is that salary is far more important today than it was in the early years of the Patrol, and I thought a peek into the motivations necessary to become a career Patrol officer would be entertaining.

Graduation day. The requirements attendant to becoming a state trooper have evolved a bit, however; the moment that you square up in front of the Superintendent, render a crisp hand salute and receive your commission is a moment that is etched into your permanent memory. I cannot speak for the climate in today’s academy, but am certain it is a rigorous and demanding experience. You will have demonstrated courage, mental acuity, physical strength and an appreciation for the complexity of the laws that we are charged with enforcing. You will have met the requirements necessary to donning the uniform and tools of the trade attendant to the application and judicial use of authority on our streets and highways. You are not quite there, but the blood in your veins will have begun the transformation from bright red to deep blue. At this point, you have set aside considerations relative to your earning power in other occupations, instead focusing on becoming a tested member of the Highway Patrol.

The road. Your first real road day, riding with an experienced officer, marks the beginning of what, for most of us, is a career that blends excitement, challenge and an eye opening appreciation for authority in an enforcement role together. You are becoming keenly aware that you are viewed differently by the community you serve. In my day, your presence in a restaurant was noted by everyone there as you enter and you were accorded a level of respect commensurate with your role. It was unimaginable to think that a restaurant, or any business, would not welcome your presence, an unfortunate reality today when officers are disdained in certain businesses. From the warmth of a coffee stop to the brutality of a fatal traffic accident, you begin accumulating experience. You become acquainted with the businesses in your zone, the bad actors and good citizens, and every square inch of navigable road, street and highway. Most importantly you are becoming a student of human behavior with an eye to lending as much dignity as possible to every interaction. You soak up the wisdom and experience of your fellow officers and are quick to ask questions about the unbelievable array of circumstances you confront. Every day brings a fresh challenge and a sense of accomplishment when that challenge is met. Your blood is becoming a deeper shade of blue.

The maturation phase. Somewhere around your second or third year of autonomous work, you begin mastering the complexity of the job. You will have fully assimilated into the fraternity of brothers and sisters in blue. The Highway Patrol is becoming a part of your very being and identity. You have begun to understand the internal squabbles and political machinations inherent to a state police organization and realization that you are a member of a closed society. Police organizations are masters at circling the wagons to fend of political challenges as well as other threats to their necessary autonomy. You become very comfortable with your role, having become a textbook example of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs related to personal security, financial security, health and well being. Your sense of social belonging as it pertains to friendship and family has been established in a bifurcated fashion with your family being both your personal relationships and the Patrol family. Your blood is blue.

I worked for a fine, old school Sergeant in my formative years. He would declare on occasion that if you take away quitting time or your paycheck, no one would work anywhere for anyone, doing anything. He was right, of course. During those same years. I worked along side a fine career officer who would often opine that he could not believe he was being paid to do what he does, as he was enjoying his job so much. The truth lies somewhere along the line separating these two philosophies, which takes us back to the genesis of this discussion.

At a point in my career, I was offered a lucrative job selling handguns for a major arms manufacturer. Decision time. After a week or so pondering the numbers, I came to the conclusion that while I would enjoy the financial reward, I could not abandon my identity as a state trooper. This identification is as strong today as it was when I took my uniform off for the last time. My last day in uniform is marked by a photo of my daughter, now a state trooper and me, standing together hand in hand. I drove home, drank a whiskey sour, and teared up a bit……making every effort to accept the ending of one hell of a ride through the life I had lived. I, like so many of the officers before, and surely after me, placed the Patrol ahead of the salary……never letting salary become the means to an end.

I loved the Highway Patrol and revere the associations with my many brothers and sisters over the 27 years that I wore the uniform. Somewhere on the marker that notes my final resting place will be a reference to this great organization, as important a part of my identity as the name next to it.

My blood is still French blue……..

Convenience Can Be Expensive…..

Low tech thieves risk biting dogs and nosy neighbors to boost a delivery from Amazon left on your porch by FedEx or the US Postal Service. The sophisticated package booster is alert to your cleverly hidden camera in a doorbell and will park his vehicle a few feet down the curb so as to preclude the capture of his or her license plate. Many of us have had bar-b-cue grills, bicycles and hose reels stolen, all aggravating and terribly inconvenient. Recently a thief walked into our open garage and helped themselves to Sharon’s purse, left in the car seat, which was a major and expensive event for us. (The smart key for her car set us back 500.00 and that was just the beginning!) If you are reading this post, then you are at least computer savvy enough to be at risk for another, far more sophisticated kind of thievery that is rocking our world. Privacy is no longer a matter of closed doors and window blinds. Let’s have a look at what is going on, in terms that do not require Sheldon Cooper’s skill set to understand.

Your online identity is for sale. A recent Fox News article notes that cyber-security experts have attached a price tag of just north of $1,700.00 for for this information that typically contains such things as credit card data, your SSAN, billing address and the names of your children and purchasing preferences. There is an active market for your identity on the “dark web”, information that enables high tech thieves to rely on technical expertise rather than a strong back to steal from you. Although the price fluctuates, much like the stock market, a Netflix account, Uber login, or AirBnB account will fetch around $10.00 each, a la carte. Your g-mail log in can be bought on the dark web for as little as 1.00 while your I-Tunes account is worth around $15.00. If you rely on PayPal, and we do, the account information for this little gem will bring around $250.00 to the enterprising cyber thief. Did you ever have unauthorized purchases on a credit card? In spite of chip readers and other retail technologies, credit card information in the hands of a internet thief can be quite lucrative, the price for a single credit card on the dark web ranges from $5.00 to $20.00 with savvy dark web buyers paying as much as $100.00 for two complete card ID’s or $350.00 for ten. When you secure an online purchase with a credit card, you are “guaranteed” the security of the card information. By whom and what is the penalty for compromise? Years ago, I received a Sunday morning phone call from a Discover fraud investigator. Our Discover account had been used to purchase a large assortment of baby clothes and furniture. I established a rapport with the investigator and was able to obtain the delivery address for this purchase. One of our investigators was able to locate this address and the young, very pregnant resident who, after careful questioning, confessed to pulling our card information from a file in her place of employment, a movie rental store. She and her attorney pressed us for a compassionate response given her condition. These pleas fell on deaf ears and we went to court resulting in her sentence to a term in jail. (This was not her first use of a customer’s card to steal). Dark web operatives are much, much harder to detect and adjudicate, than this high tech porch thief!

An old technology is the use of passwords to gain access to various accounts, the first level of security. There is malware, such as “Keylogger” that will capture every one of them, a handy acquisition for the dark web operative and obviously terribly inconvenient for you. The recent FaceBook fiasco, in which millions of account records have been compromised, is a treasure trove for dark web operatives with each complete social media account worth about $40.00 to the thieves. Do you have a Smart TV? Yes? Perfect as these essential components of virtually every household in America are also capturing data about your life’s preferences. There is a little understood aspect to viewing your favorite shows called “Automatic Content Recognition”, capturing remarkable marketing information for use by companies who will rely on it to direct market to your preferences. It is just another way that your behavior is being tracked, a potential bit of intelligence that can be used by dark web operatives. This information seems harmless, and usually is, but can become a part of your dark web profile and provide lead information related to your retail preferences, and by extension, account information. Wow!

The astute reader, by now, is asking about counter measures. Yes, they exist and dark web operatives are constantly refining their arsenal of counter measures to the counter measures that we rely on! It is a never ending game to these folks. I have friends who have been alert to these possibilities for years and avoid the internet when making purchases, instead relying on brick and mortar retail. When we talk, I promote the cost advantages and convenience of the internet and they respond with the horrid cost and inconvenience of a compromised identity. When you are not compromised, the convenience afforded by the internet is a great thing. An enterprising hacker can turn this convenience into a tremendous inconvenience by simply shopping the dark web.

Convenience can be expensive……

ARS, The Latest Mental Disorder……

Even if you do not know the difference between the muzzle and butt stock of a rifle, you likely will immediately recognize the iconic silhouette of the venerable AR-15, the maligned moniker given to “black rifles” or the media approved descriptive, “assault rifle”. This image has given rise to a new mental affliction that I now refer to as ARS, or “assault rifle syndrome”. This malady manifests itself in the form of hysteria, rage and blind finger pointing at an otherwise excellent class of firearms that are at once, innovative, accurate, incomparable, controversial, hated, loved and virtually indestructible. This syndrome is born of the images of US soldiers and Marines, carrying these rifles into combat in the jungles of Vietnam and the deserts of Afghanistan and the heart breaking images of an M-16, thrust into the ground, balancing on it’s bayonet, with a fallen warrior’s dog tags and helmet resting on the butt in the form of a crude battlefield cross. This rifle has become the very image of the American warrior, seriously challenging the hysterical masses who refuse to see the utilitarian side of this firearm. It will never enjoy the crossover love that an old Willys Jeep invokes, reincarnated as the popular CJ series, or less popular Hummer, a descendant of the Hum-V of recent military fame. Folks afflicted with ARS see these rifles with pistol grips, flash hiders, collapsible stocks, exotic optics and “high capacity” magazines as devices designed for the sole purpose of killing our citizenry in mass shootings. Can we take a minute to look at these firearms objectively? If you refuse this offering, I understand, as ARS has proven to be a stubborn and irreversible malady, but I still appreciate your reading to this point.

Black rifles came into being in the early 60’s, having been designed by a fellow named Eugene Stoner who sold his design to a company named Armalite who subsequently sold the manufacturing rights to Colt. This rifle was the M-16. The rifle was introduced to our combat troops in Vietnam who pretty quickly realized they had a problem firearm on their hands. It was poorly made, jammed easily, and was being fed inferior ammunition that was inconsistent in manufacture. It led to a number of unintended combat deaths. Out of this adversity came a steady evolution of the weapon and ammunition which led to subsequent models such as the M-16A2, which then led to the production of superior rifles, the M-4 and M-16A3. Who can question the ergonomics of these newer rifles, now coming equipped with rails to mount optics and other equipment as well as telescoping stocks for rather obvious reasons? Still, the combat history was overshadowing the advancements made, particularly in a civilian adaptation of this platform. The rifle was not popular with the big manufacturers, until Sen. Dianne Feinstein authored the infamous AWB, or assault weapons ban, that was signed into law by Bill Clinton. This “time out” for civilian ownership of this type rifle gave the tinkerers and arms manufacturers the time they needed to begin perfecting the AR concept. The logic behind this law was these guns somehow contributed to crime because of how they looked. In 2004, when the AWB quietly expired, the popularity of a rifle that possessed the incredible utility of the military version exploded and manufacturers began building them in numbers. From a military perspective, the old M-16 had been replaced by rifles with far greater range and reliability. On the civilian side of the market, AR styled rifles were being chambered in a wide variety of calibers and possessed incredible long range capability. The market exploded with innovations in optics and mounting systems that silhouette shooters and target masters loved. In the field, these rifles became excellent hunting platforms, inherently reliable and extremely durable with unbelievable ergonomics. From a market loser, the AR platform became the lifeline of the gun industry, as they are now one of the most popular firearms in existence. This photograph is of the Springfield Armory Saint, currently in my gun safe.

The AWB, of course, resulted in no shift in crime statistics. If your are afflicted with ARS, you will likely ignore this inconvenient truth. The folks who are attracted to these rifles were not the descendants of Al Capone, and did not dwell quietly in basements stoking their hatred of mankind. Instead they turned out to be competitive shooters, bench shooters, hunters, active duty military, police officers and enthusiasts who love to tinker with guns. A case can be made that black rifles are perhaps the most successful innovation in the shooting world since smokeless powder.

A common refrain often heard from folks with ARS, is that we don’t “need” these rifles, and particularly increased capacity magazines. This same logic would apply to the “need” for a Corvette, or the “need” for a motorcycle. I suspect very few folks “need” to own a jet-ski. For the most part, pilots don’t “need” to own an airplane. In America, we routinely cross the “need”/”nice to have” barrier. Are deranged people killing others, sometimes in large numbers, with black rifles? Yes, on occasion they are. Anti-social behavior occurs daily, often with tragic results, such as the killing of 168 folks in Oklahoma by a sociopath with a truck load of fertilizer. It is important to note that drunk drivers are killing far more people, with no demand that alcohol be eliminated (we tried that once and failed miserably). Deranged folks have used vehicles to intentionally run down other people and kill them. The “need” argument cuts across the very fabric of a freedom loving people, which of course, we are. “Need” is a poor test for many activities.

In summary. The AR style rifle is an ergonomic masterpiece. To be an ergonomic masterpiece, it looks menacing for the reasons mentioned above. If you are grappling with ARS, this is the only argument you have against this firearm. At the end of the day, it is only a semi-automatic rifle, used for the same things that less menacing looking semi-automatic rifles have been used for over many years. If you do not suffer from ARS, at least you have a little history to support your position. Beating up this rifle is not moving the football!