Saturday, December 12, 2015

Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook Billionaire / Extends Invitation / Muslims Welcome Here!

Interesting recent comment from Mark Zuckerberg (compassionate to a fault and incidentally a multi-billionaire), he stated:  “… add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here.”

Of course, the rest of us know or should know, that the very gracious Mr. Zuckerberg and his family are continually surrounded by high-tech security systems and armed guards.  So, they don’t (of course) share all the same concerns as the majority of Americans regarding potential terrorist attacks.

Moreover, Facebook is a business requiring massive participation from people who have little else to do with their time.  And, there are billions of Muslims out there who are current or potential customers. Ka-Ching!

Zuckerberg has extended an invitation for them to come here.  With all his money, why doesn’t he go and live there?

True Nelson

Monday, December 7, 2015

Syed Rizwan Farook's father describes his son's beliefs. And no surprise there.

Have you ever noticed, that in almost every instance when there is a ‘terrorist attack,’ relatives and friends of the perpetrator invariably say something like:  ‘Gosh, I never noticed anything unusual about him.’  This, of course, is self-serving, even logical.  After all, no one wants to admit that the person they knew gave indications that he (or she in the most recent tragedy) was a danger to themselves and to others.  Who wants to be ridiculed by the news media, for not doing something to prevent the murder of innocent people?

So, it was interesting and highly unusual to read some of the statements by Syed Rizwan Farook (father of the San Bernardino terrorist of the same name, Syed Rizwan Farook).  The elder Farook was interviewed by an Italian reporter with the publication La Stampa.

  • "He (the father) said he (the terrorist Syed) shared the ideology of al-Baghdadi to create an Islamic state, and he was obsessed with Israel, the father told a reporter in an interview outside the home of his other son, Syed Raheel Farook, in Corona, Calif.”
  • "I kept telling him always: stay calm, be patient, in two years Israel will no longer exist, the elder Farook told the newspaper.  Geopolitics is changing: Russia, China, America too, nobody wants the Jews there."
  • “The father said his family was destroyed when his son sided against him with his equally religious mother.  Rizwan was the mama's boy (the father said), and she is very religious like him.  Once we had a dispute about the historical figure of Jesus, my son yelled that I was an unbeliever and decided that marriage with my wife had to end.”

As recent as last night, the President reiterated that Islam is a ‘religion of peace.’  OK, I guess it depends upon one’s own interpretation.  I’m not sure where the President got his interpretation of fundamentalist Islam; but maybe he is just telling us what he wants us to believe – you know, keep the lid on things until he can exit stage right (or left).

True Nelson

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mass Murder by Islamic Terrorists Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik / San Bernardino, California 12/2/15

San Bernardino, California:  The mass murder by Islamic terrorists (Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik) is on everyone’s minds.  It’s the hot topic of discussion around the proverbial watercooler.  In fact I had a lengthy discussion with friends this morning at coffee.  The San Bernardino situation, chaotic at first, is beginning to come into focus.  I’d just like to make a couple of comments.

Working in corporate security, after leaving the FBI, ‘workplace violence’ prevention was always a priority of my job.  The Fortune 100 Company that I worked for at the time sent me to the best schools and seminars on the subject.  Seminars that were presented by prominent psychiatrists and experienced law enforcement personnel.  I learned a lot.

When the first reports of the shooting in San Bernardino were released, it was immediately clear the incident was a terrorist act and not ‘workplace violence.’  If it had been workplace violence, it would have been an action entirely without precedent.  Law enforcement knew this.  The FBI knew this.  It kind of surprised me – no not really I guess – that initially the Obama administration and indirectly the Justice Department and the FBI (to a certain extent) parsed words – hoping, I imagine, that it was workplace violence; and not a terrorist attack.

Why?  Simply put:  ‘Workplace Violence’ is a finite event.  A ‘terrorist attack’ is an infinite event, far more serious, and lacking in any clear resolution.  A ‘terrorist attack’ is a symptom, an indicator of more to come.

The only other thing I would like to mention, at this time, is extending my sincere compliments to law enforcement for their competent and courageous handling of this tragic situation.  Very well done.  Something to tell your grandkids about.  You not only stopped these terrorists, but undoubtedly prevented some other equally devastating events planned by Farook and Malik.

True Nelson

Thursday, November 26, 2015

An Apology about my Previous Post / “President Obama, you are wrong!”

If you read my previous post (prior to my subsequent correction), you will have noted that I obviously confused Serbia with Syria.  I was attempting to state my personal, and I believe justifiable, opinion that Syrian Christian refugees should be given priority for admission to the United States.

I don’t, of course, have an editor to read my stuff.  I was tired and grand-kids were visiting.  Grandchildren have a way of disturbing one’s focus – as most grandparents could attest.  That said, I referred to Serbia rather than Syria.  I do know the difference.  And, I have corrected the error.

As an aside, Serbia’s population is approximately 90% Christian.  To my knowledge they are not being persecuted because of their faith – as is the case in Syria.

In addition to my apology for maligning the wrong country, someone close to me said that my comments about President Obama were unkind and just plain mean, and that I shouldn’t have said them.  Said someone might be right.  Barrack Obama is currently the President and deserving of due respect.  However...

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

True Nelson

Monday, November 23, 2015

President Obama, you are wrong! Syrian Christian refugees should be given first priority.

I disagree with the President.  We should give priority to Christians fleeing persecution in Syria. And I’ll tell you why.

I suppose that I should say, up front, that I am an Agnostic (with some spiritual tendencies I suppose).  Oh, I know, no one particularly cares; but it does give a certain frame of reference to my comments.

First, I’m convinced that Americans will face increased security risks with the importation of Syrian refuges.  Some say 10,000 Syrian refugees.  Some say 100,000 or more.  And, yes, there will be some radical Muslim extremists among them – no doubt about that.  ISIS will use the refugee situation as an opportunity to import terrorists (sleepers) who will strike when the opportunity presents itself.  Come on, think about it, why wouldn’t they?  Americans are generally pretty gullible, hobbled by their penchant for political correctness – and ISIS is well aware of that fact.  On the positive side for us, this situation will be far worse for the Europeans.

Why should Christians receive priority?  Well, we are basically a Judeo-Christian nation – and have been since our founding.  Moreover, United States Law gives priority to those refugees fleeing religious persecution.  Who has suffered the most, been murdered, tortured, raped and enslaved by ISIS solely due to their religious belief?  Yes, of course, the Christians.  Are not they the ones we should help first?  The President has said such ‘discrimination’ would be against everything that the United States stands for.  He is wrong.

Can Syrian Christians be positively verified as such?  I’m not sure, but I believe they (Syrian Christians) are fairly clannish and have been generally residing in certain areas of Syria.  Someone, probably a Syrian expert, could probably identify a Christian refugee – as opposed to a Muslim refugee.  Should this be an absolute qualifier for refugee status and admission to the U.S.?  No, some Muslims, principally parents with children, should also be considered for admission after appropriate vetting – a second priority.  Unaccompanied Muslim men between approximately 20 and 50 years of age should be the last priority for admission to the U.S.

I heard the comment bandied-about that 23 million Americans believe that President Barrack Obama is a Muslim.  I don’t know where they dug-up that statistic; but let’s just say that the statistic is true.  I don’t happen to believe the President is a Muslim.  On the other hand, I don’t happen to believe he is a Christian.  Being perceived as a Christian was just one more concession the President had to make in order to pursue his political ambitions.  No, my opinion is that when the President thinks about a higher-being, he simply looks in the mirror.

True Nelson

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

'Gun Control' / Why Discuss? / Nobody is Listening

After reading an article in the LA Times by Jonathan Zimmerman – well, it really caused me to pause and consider.

What so impressed me about Dr. Zimmerman’s (who is a professor at New York University) article?  It was interesting, about ‘gun control,’ and a little bit different take.  Dr. Zimmerman made the observation that whether you’re a gun advocate or a gun control proponent, we are generally wasting our time attempting to argue the finer points of the ‘gun control’ issue.  In other words, nobody is listening – certainly no one whose views are the opposite of yours.  He compared the ‘gun control’ issue with ‘Prohibition.’

Zimmerman said:

“… a book by a University of California – San Diego sociologist named Joseph Gusfield convinced me that Prohibition wasn’t really aimed at ridding America of beer, wine and whiskey.  It was instead a ‘Symbolic Crusade’ by native-born Protestants, who seized on prohibition to affirm their historic dominance over immigrants and Roman Catholics.”

“… this controversy isn’t really about guns, any more than Prohibition was about drink.  It’s about different ways of seeing the world and – most of all – about who will gain the symbolic upper hand.”

“The question brings us back to Gusfield, who reminded us that politics are a battle for symbolic as well as material advantage.  Even if alcohol prohibition could never make America ‘dry,’ it made its adherents feel as if the country was still theirs.”

If this is true, and it may very well be true, there is no point for me to belabor the many issues and potential problems associated with gun control.  After all, no one, other than some in the choir, are listening to me anyway.

Nonetheless, I’d still like to make a couple of comments.  And, oh yes, I wanted to tell you why I left the NRA.

  • You can't ban 'assault weapons' if you can't define what they are.  They are basically a semi-automatic rifle.  The simple description of  'military style' just won't cut it.
  • Were you aware that rifles are seldom used in crime - maybe two percent of the time - if that?  Assault weapons, whatever your definition, are hardly ever used.
  • High capacity magazines could be banned, but they are even less commonly used in crime – particularly in a rifle.  Semi-automatic pistols often hold 10 to 14 rounds.  To reduce that capacity would require a redesign, and ‘grandfathering’ millions of pre-existing pistols.  Any legislation along those lines would have minimal effect on crime.  Moreover, ammo magazines can be switched within a matter of seconds.
  • Background checks on all gun sales is theoretically possible; but there is no evidence said action would have a meaningful effect on crime.  Gun owners, to sell guns, would be at the mercy of gun stores; and they could, potentially cheat, or extract maximum profits from average gun owners who are attempting to comply with the law when selling a gun.  It would, as a result, create a gun ‘black market’ even larger than the one that already exists.
  • Universal gun registration would cause a civil upheaval bigger than prohibition.  Honest citizens would become criminals.  And current criminals would benefit all around, be emboldened, and undeterred in their previous activities.
  • Bottom line:  The real answer is strict enforcement of the current law.  Note my blog’s sidebar – Three Laws for Effective Gun Control.

Why I left the NRA:  The NRA was running a quarter page advertisement for a ‘Street Sweeper,’ large capacity ammo-drum shotgun (depicted above) in their monthly magazine.  This gun has only one purpose, anti-personnel.  It cannot be used for hunting or any sporting events that I’m aware of.  It was extremely poor taste on the part of the NRA in that the ‘Street Sweeper’ would only appeal to someone who is, in my opinion, a few bricks short of a load.  Should it be banned?  I guess it could be said that it is no more deadly than a regular shotgun.  I just felt the ad was over-the-top offensive; and I couldn’t believe the NRA needed the advertising money that badly.  I just wasn’t sure that I could even be a fringe member of the organization – until, that is, the NRA starts exercising at least a modicum of discretion.

True Nelson

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Umpqua Community College Mass Murder (Part 6) / 'Assault Weapons'

Relevant to some recent school shootings, my topic for this posting is ‘Assault Weapons.’

This is a subject that drives gun owners right up the wall.  Why? Because ‘assault weapons’ have become such an over-worked cliché generally bandied-about by those, including politicians proposing laws, who cannot define what they are actually talking about.

To describe 'assault weapons' simply as ‘military type’ guns only exposes the lack of knowledge of the speaker.  All guns have a military genesis – all guns.  Guns were initially invented and developed to kill people in war; and it was only later that they were used for hunting and sport.  And, one could say the same about any number of common devices in use today, as well as some domestic animals; all of which were first and principally developed and promoted for the purpose of human conflict.

Generally speaking, I hope we all understand that many guns are already banned or not available to the American public.  Some of these can be obtained or displayed under very restrictive conditions and licensing standards.  All automatic weapons are banned.  What does that mean?  Well, an automatic weapon is generally a rifle type weapon (could be a pistol) that fires more than one round (a burst) ‘automatically’ when you pull the trigger.  In other words a ‘machine gun.’

Some in the public are familiar with the Thompson Sub-Machine Gun from movies of the ‘gangster era,’ (Pretty Boy Floyd, John Dillinger, and Baby Face Nelson.)*    In this context, it is sufficient to know that ‘machine guns’ (automatic weapons), of all varieties, have been banned for many decades – as they should be.  In more recent times, for reference purposes, the military version M-16 is an ‘automatic.’  That, too, is generally banned – not sold, and not legal to possess.

What is legal?  Well, ‘semi-automatic’ rifles, pistols and shotguns are legal to possess.  What does that mean?  ‘Semi-automatic’ is one trigger pull, one round fires (self-loading).  Some might immediately respond, ‘So what, it will fire as fast as you can pull the trigger.’  Yes, you are right in that regard.  However, the point is that semi-automatic weapons have been around for approximately 150 years and have been commonly used for hunting and sport most of that time.

The military’s M-16 (fully automatic) has a civilian counterpart called the AR-15 (semi-automatic rifle).  They look the same, but they are not.  Many hunters like the AR-15 for various reasons – principally for its durability.  On the other hand, most hunters would prefer other semi-automatic rifles and/or shotguns for their craftsmanship, quality, and performance.

So, what is the difference between the present-day, civilian-owned, so-called ‘assault weapon’ and other semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and pistols?  Functionally, there is no difference.  It is all about cosmetics.  All have the same ‘killing’ potential in the hands of a mentally deranged shooter.

What then is the argument against civilian owned ‘assault weapons?’  Well, basically, there is no valid argument.  Unless, you are talking about an illegal bootleg, modified, or stolen military weapon.

If you are a gun control advocate, and a gun owner should ask you why you hold a position against guns, in an attempt to engage you in civil discourse, be prepared to answer coherently.  Please don’t automatically use the vague, meaningless statement, ‘We should ban all 'assault weapons’ or, even worse, in my opinion, ‘We should ban all guns.’  If this is the sum of your incoherent comment, you will only have accomplished exposing your lack of understanding of the issues, or dare I say your ignorance.

Magazine capacity for semi-automatics is another issue.  And here, in my opinion, gun control advocates have a valid argument.  We’ll talk more about this.

Addendum:  Above Photo:  Top is a common semi-auto hunting rifle.  Bottom is the semi-auto AR-15.

True Nelson

* Baby Face Nelson is no relation, I’m happy to say, – his actual name was Lester Joseph Gillis; and he was responsible for the murder of three FBI Agents.  Gillis was later killed by FBI Agents in a shootout.  If you had lived in that period, and happened to meet Gillis, you would have required a ‘death wish’ to address him as Baby Face.  He did not like that nickname.  It was given him, reportedly, because of his small stature and child-like face.  The Nelson part was due to an alias he once used.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Umpqua Community College Mass Murder (Part 5) / 'The Second Amendment to the Constitution'

Regarding the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, this is basically what you should have learned in High School Civics’ class ‘if you had been paying attention.’

The first ten amendments, known as the ‘Bill of Rights,’ were designed to protect a citizen’s individual rights.  They are rights or protections guaranteed to us as individuals.  Read them and you will understand why they are individual rights and how each of ten is important to you and me.  If you’ve never read the ‘Bill of Rights,’ please do.

The Second Amendment is pretty straightforward – or is it?  Personally, I think it is.
“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Many in the public (principally those who support stricter regulatory gun control measures) point to the first part of the Second Amendment, “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…”  They say that our Founding Fathers’ intention, in modern terms, was referring to what we now call the National Guard, and not giving any special rights to citizen gun owners.  However, that is not the case; and, thus far anyway, the U.S. Supreme Court concurs.  The Second Amendment is an individual right, as are the other nine amendments within the Bill of Rights.  The important defining clause is the subsequent wording within the Second Amendment: “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  The Founding Fathers could not have stated it more clearly.  Remember, the Bill of Rights were meant as protection for the individual citizen, not to create an additional branch of the Army, which is exactly what our National Guard has become.

But, one might argue, they are basically citizens and part-time warriors – under the control of the Governor of each state; therefore defining a ‘well-regulated Militia.’  OK, I’d say to that, rhetorically speaking, what if a Governor said, ‘I’m not going to send my state’s young men and women into combat.’  The Federal Government’s response:  ‘I’m not asking you if you wouldn’t mind sending your National Guard unit, I’m telling you to send them without delay – or else!’

And, if you follow these issues and the many combat deployments required of the National Guard these days, you would realize that the U.S. Government is depending more and more on the Reserve and Guard units to fight wars.

Some in the public, I suppose, might read the Second Amendment as an opportunity for the Federal Government to bolster their military might in all respects, including overseas deployment and combat.  OK, but can you honestly say that interpretation has anything to do with the individual rights of a citizen?  On the contrary, you would have to say that the Second Amendment, of the First Ten Amendments, is the outlier and the only one that does not apply to the individual; and is in fact a right given to the government over its’ citizens.  But, if you were to say that, you would be wrong.

True Nelson

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Umpqua Community College Mass Murder (Part 4) / 'Security Improvements'

I have spent much of my professional career conducting security reviews at numerous facilities, including addressing some security issues at schools.  Admittedly, most of my experience was at manufacturing, distribution, and office complex locations.  And, I must admit that I have never visited Umpqua Community College, but I do have some suggestions for their administration based on my experiences.

Contrary to their current status, unarmed security personnel at the college is a mistake.  Although the school may feel that the concept of unarmed security protects them, in some way, from potential liability situations, it does not provide any actual ‘security.’

For consideration:  The Clackamas Community College, south of Portland, has ‘armed security.’  The Clackamas County Sheriff has had the good sense to ‘deputize’ security personnel at said community college, and allow them to participate in appropriate training.  Why doesn’t the Sheriff in Douglas County do the same?

It is my opinion all colleges (and I would include elementary through high schools), throughout the State, should be gun-free zones (no ‘open carry,’ no ‘concealed carry’) unless special authorization is given to a particular individual.  I professionally carried a gun on my person for several years and know that it can be a considerable hassle to maintain and protect.  In my opinion, ‘open carry,’ where allowed, is just an accident waiting to happen.  In addition, someone openly carrying a gun could be quickly and easily disarmed – the gun then used on its owner and others.  ‘Concealed carry’ has many of the same issues as ‘open carry.’  Those with ‘concealed carry permits’ should probably be allowed to keep guns in their cars, but not allowed to carry on campus.  Guns appearing on campus should set-off an immediate lock-down, security notified, local law enforcement summoned.

Many things can be done to improve security on campus – and there are improvements that are relatively easy and inexpensive.  Locks on classroom and office doors, plus ‘panic alarms’ are some examples - video surveillance another.  A full analysis by a qualified security consultant would be helpful.  (This is not a solicitation for business.  I am now retired.)  Schools often depend upon local law enforcement to conduct a security review.  Local law enforcement is a cheaper alternative.  Unfortunately, they are generally not qualified to do this sort of analysis, and are usually not current on potentially useful technology.

One procedure that proved beneficial in the business realm was a ‘hotline.’  This would be a dedicated number that faculty or students could call (24 hours a day), remain anonymous, and report concerns about security issues.  These reports need to be thoroughly investigated and evaluated.

In the long run, certainly not a quick fix, colleges should consider how security might be improved in their newer facilities and campus renovations.  Card access to certain areas might be one suggestion; focused ingress and egress another.

The Umpqua Community College murders, as tragic as they were, will probably never be repeated there in our lifetimes; at least I hope not.  We have to be realistic about these incidents and recognize that they are exceedingly rare, that there are no easy answers, and no guarantees.  Life is sometimes dangerous and unforgiving.  Every security measure conceivable would probably not have prevented the deaths at the college.

However, there is one aspect that haunts me.  Chris Harper Mercer didn’t crawl out from under a rock.  People knew him, socialized with him, and lived with him.  Chances are that he was receiving some form of psychiatric assistance.  Someone knew or suspected he was potentially dangerous.  That someone failed to report those suspicions.  Even more likely, if there was such a person, they would say, ‘OK, report it to whom?’  Asked that question, my answer would be, ‘I don’t know.’  Some might suggest reporting it to local law enforcement.  That person is unfamiliar with law enforcement and how it works, how it prioritizes their responsibilities.

For example, take a walk down Portland streets.  You will see countless mentally handicapped, drug-addled people hanging-out on corners, begging, or sleeping under bridges.  Are most of them dangerous?  Probably not.  Are some of them dangerous – if triggered by an inexplicable, perhaps an innocuous situation or slight?  Yes, without doubt.  What are we doing about it?  Nothing!

True Nelson

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Gun Violence (Part 3) Umpqua Community College Mass Murder / 'Gun Lovers' vs. 'Gun Haters'

Regarding the renewed efforts / public demands for additional gun legislation (gun control) as a result of the murders at the Umpqua Community College, I would like to address some of the comments that are used to attack gun advocates and owners; often put forth in, what I consider to be, an uninformed and often a most condescending way.

I am a gun owner.  I like to shoot guns.  I like the craftsmanship that goes into a quality gun; and understand why some people collect them.  Moreover, I think guns still play a positive role in our society in hunting, sport and family protection.  Are they misused?  Yes, of course.

I was once a hunter, but I guess it has been a few decades since I last hunted.  There was a pivotal moment.  I remember it well.  I came home with a couple of pheasants that I had shot earlier in the day, laid them out on some newspapers and prepared to ‘clean’ them.  My young daughter came to see what I was doing.  Her comment was, “Daddy, did you have to kill them?”  I still remember that moment and the look on her sad face.  I didn’t answer.  I couldn’t.  If I had answered, I would have had to say, ‘No honey, I didn’t.  I’m sorry.’  But, that was it.  I was a hunter no longer.  And, I must say that I haven’t missed it much.  Oh, there is something to be said about the comradeship and excitement of hunting.  But now, I’m thrilled when a pheasant walks through my back yard.  I grab my binoculars.  Pheasants are after all beautiful birds.  I’m not against hunting you understand.  It’s just a personal thing with me.

There are considerable (perhaps unbridgeable) differences between ‘gun advocates’ and the ‘gun control crowd.’  Personally, I’ve fielded more than a few disparaging comments in the guise of good-natured kidding.  It’s uncomfortable when you are surrounded by like-minded ‘gun control’ people – particularly those who know little or nothing about guns.  Have you noticed that in a group everyone resorts to ‘bumper-sticker’ logic (or lack thereof)?  Statement:  “We should ban assault weapons!”  Counter Statement:  “You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold dead fingers.”  OK, I realize the last comment would be a rather long ‘bumper-sticker,’ but you get the idea.

Regarding the Umpqua Community College shooting, were you surprised at how quickly the politicians jumped in to politicize the actions of a psychopathic killer, and then blame it largely on guns?  I wasn’t.  My immediate thought, ‘shameful.’  But, as we well know, most politicians were born unable to feel shame.  That’s why they became politicians.

The following are some of my favorite discussion points regarding ‘gun control.’  Stick with me, you might find that I am somewhat of a moderate and could / would be receptive to some compromising, and additional legislation.  Oh, and why did I resign from the NRA?  I’ll explain.

Here are some topics that I will be discussing from a gun owner’s, gun advocate’s perspective:
  • How might security at a school like the Umpqua Community College be improved?
  • The Second Amendment and the inceptive clause “A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free state,…”
  • Assault Weapons
  • Universal Background Checks
  • X-Felons in Possession of Guns
  • The United Kingdom and Australia does it, why not us?
  • Why I left the NRA

True Nelson

Friday, October 9, 2015

Gun Violence (Part 2) Umpqua Community College Mass Murder / Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Ben Carson stepped out on the thin ice when he publically discussed a couple of his views on gun violence and legislation.  With some qualification, and as something of an authority on gun violence and protection practices, I would be happy to walk out on that ice with Dr. Carson.

In the context of the Umpqua College mass murder, he mentioned that individuals in that situation should immediately resist, even attack the shooter; and not allow the shooter to take control of the situation.  I tend to agree.  That is the best option.

However, it is very ‘human,’ when faced with immediate danger and possible death, to acquiesce and cooperate with the assailant.  Even among mature adults, it would be very unusual for someone to spring into action and theoretically rush an armed individual – facing, what would be perceived to be at the time, almost certain death.  Some would do it; and reportedly some did demonstrate exceptional courage at the college.  Most would not.  Unless, they have received training to overcome those natural tendencies to submit.  Such training is what the military and law enforcement attempts to instill in their personnel; but with far less than 100% success.

I have given presentations at various seminars on personal protection measures.  An example might be:  A woman is walking to her car at night in a mall parking lot.  She is confronted by a man with a gun who orders her into his car.  My recommendation to the ladies in attendance was to fight back, run and scream as loud as they can.  Do not, under any circumstances, get into the car.  Women sometimes have responded that they would be afraid that the assailant would shoot them as they ran.  My answer:  Yes, he might shoot, but odds are he won’t.  But, if he does shoot and hits you, your chance of survival is very good – emergency services would be there quickly.  If, however, you get into the car, you will have given your assailant the opportunity to kill you at his leisure.  This is an example where training might instill in a woman a proper, and statistically preferential, reaction to a threat.

Secondly, Dr. Carson referred to the ‘Holocaust,’ and the confiscation of weapons that took place prior to rounding-up the Jews and other minorities – stating that an armed Jewish population could have launched a significant resistance.  He has been criticized by the uninformed and the liberal media (of course) that he had stated or implied that personal weapons could have prevented the ‘Holocaust.’  I don’t think he said that or even remotely implied it.  In my opinion, Dr. Carson is exactly right.  What was the Jewish option at the time?  Walk to the train station and be loaded on box cars, or be forced to your knees and shot on the spot; because the Jews at that juncture had no real way to resist the Nazi maniacal machine.

This is at the heart of the gun rights issue.  Some believe that the government, under all circumstances, will protect them.  I don’t happen to agree.  You’d have to be a little dense, in my humble opinion, to not understand that civilization, as we know it, could be swept away in an instant.  Will it happen tomorrow, next year, fifty or a hundred years from now?  No one knows for sure.  It could be a natural disaster, or even man caused.  Some will say if that should happen that they are willing ‘to go gentle into that dark night.’  Some will say that they will resist with their last breath.  I prefer to associate with the latter group.

To be continued...

True Nelson

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

My Perspective on Guns and Gun Violence (Re: Umpqua Community College ‘Mass Murder’)

The murders at Umpqua Community College, to one degree or another, have impacted all of Oregon’s residents.  It hits so close to home.  And, why Roseburg, Oregon, of all places?

I had an appointment with a doctor a couple of days back and she, knowing a little about my background, asked me what I thought about the incident in Roseburg.  We didn’t have a lot of time to chat you understand, so I think she expected me to sum-up my opinion in as few words as possible.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  I answered something like, “It was tragic, awful; but, nonetheless, difficult to prevent.”  It was clear that she wanted to tell me what she thought.  I think this woman is a wonderful doctor, compassionate and very smart, but she stated:  “Well, I don’t think that anyone other than police and the military should even have guns.”  I was disappointed.  My response to her was weak and pathetic, “I don’t think that’s very practical.”

And, so goes the conversation between those of us who own and appreciate guns and those who abhor them.  Where guns are concerned, the bridge between she and I, as well as others like her, has long since crumbled.  It seems that there can be no handshake, no compromise, and no middle ground.

So, I’ve decided to write about guns and my thoughts, as well as my experience with guns.  I won’t attempt to dazzle you with obscure statistics – most of which are construed to project someone's personal bias.  The public, gets plenty of that in the Op Ed articles in the newspaper, authored by writers who generally reside in upscale, gated communities and often have little in the way of actual experience when it comes to guns, crime and the prevention of gun violence.  They largely write about their feelings and support those feelings with what information they can dredge-up from multiple, questionable sources that vaguely support their preconceived opinion.

‘It’s about gun control,’ they might say – ‘the time is now and we must do something.’  ‘And what is gun control?  What does that mean,’ I ask.  ‘You know what it means,’ they respond.  ‘Everyone knows,’ they continue.  ‘I don’t know, tell me.’ ‘Well, for one thing they should ban assault weapons.’  ‘And what do you mean by an assault weapon?’  ‘You know!’  ‘Yes, I have a pretty good idea about what you call an assault weapon, but you tell me what you think they are.’  Becoming frustrated, they terminate the discussion.  They have decided that I am not only a gun nut, but I am also a smart ass.

Before proceeding, I feel I must make some effort to establish my bona fides.  I don’t consider myself a gun expert or a ‘gun nut’ for that matter.  However…

I have served in law enforcement at the local and federal level.  I’ve been in the military.  I was in corporate security with a Fortune 500 company for almost twenty years, traveled extensively, and dealt with security issues and investigations at international manufacturing, distribution and corporate locations.  Workplace violence issues and prevention were considered a high priority aspect of my responsibilities.  Remember the days when ‘Going Postal’ was a popular catch phrase.  In more recent years, I had my own security consulting firm in Portland.

As an Agent in the FBI, I taught firearms proficiency and safe practices to police officers.  I’ve done civilian competitive shooting and have won some competitions.  I’ve owned and handled guns since I was fifteen years old.  I know and respect guns, and consider myself a moderate and responsible gun owner.  I have in the past belonged to the NRA.  I no longer belong.  And, in good time, I will explain why I discontinued my membership.

I would like to give you my thoughts.  I think there is some middle ground to be established – if all of us are just a little open-minded.

To be continued…

True Nelson

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Connection between Zachariah Peterson and Chris Harper Mercer. Coincidence? Doubtful.

When it comes to criminal investigations, I've never been one to believe a whole lot in coincidence.

What's the connection, and I don't necessarily mean a physical connection, between Zachariah Peterson and Chris Harper Mercer (the Roseburg killer)?

Peterson apparently intended to attack and murder teachers and staff at a Christian school.  Chris Mercer lined-up his victims, asked if they were Christians and, when they acknowledged that they were, he shot them in the head.

Coincidence?  Doubtful.  Power of the press to create deadly 'copycats?  Likely.

True Nelson

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Zachariah Peterson Threatens to Mow Down (Kill) Teachers at Local Christian School (Part 2 / update)

Just me perhaps, maybe I missed it; but the law enforcement handling of a recent situation strikes me as a little odd.  They are unusually quiet.  In view of several high-profile and tragic attacks on schools, we, locally, have Zachariah Peterson who, in an online statement, threatened to go to a local Christian school and “mow down,” “execute” teachers and administrative staff.  The school, located in the Portland Metro area, has not been specifically identified.

Refer my previous post

Peterson was arrested reportedly by the Oregon State Police and lodged in the Multnomah County Jail.  He has been charged as an x-felon in possession of a gun – as I understand it four guns.  His bail was set at $100,000.  There was some indication, early on, that federal charges were pending; but nothing has materialized.

This arrest occurred September 11th, and with the exception of the initial, somewhat perfunctory reporting of the incident, there has been little or nothing since.  Why?

It makes me wonder what is going on – a significant public interest arrest – and no reported follow up in more than two weeks – no official statements.  What’s up with that?  Was there some problem with the arrest?  Was the arrest and the circumstances misrepresented?  Is Peterson otherwise occupied with a pending psychiatric evaluation?  Has he been released on bail?  Was there some substance to Peterson’s claims of abuse?  Why hasn’t the school been identified?  Why hasn’t the school been called upon to comment?  

It seems like local media would be all over this story.  But, I don’t see it.  Strange.

True Nelson

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Zachariah Peterson Threatens to Mow Down (Kill) Teachers at Local Christian School

On September 11th, Zachariah M. Peterson, a Beaverton, Oregon resident, WMA, age 29, was arrested by federal and local authorities and lodged in the Multnomah County Jail.  He is currently being held on $100,000 bail and charged as an x-felon in possession of a gun – in this case several guns.  Other charges are reportedly pending.

This case interests me because of the stunning allegations that Peterson intended / threatened to go to a local school (a Christian middle school) and “mow down” the teachers with which he had grievances.

He has been arrested, but the resulting charges and bail, as well as the news coverage – so far – seems minimal.

“The investigation began Thursday (9-10-15) when state police received an email from the host of an unidentified online community forum.”

True’s note:  The online forum has now been identified as ‘General [M]ayhem.’  I had not previously heard of said forum.  I did check it out – a gathering of assorted nuts, in my opinion.  However, I’m glad this forum has an adult monitoring it with the good sense to report the psychotic posting of Peterson.

“The email alerted police about a disturbing post made on the forum site at 1:50 a.m. Sept. 4 by someone who claimed to have attended a Christian middle school as a youth and suffered abuse at the hands of teachers and administrators.”

“The poster wrote of planning to enter the middle-school building… catch each one of the abusive teachers and mow them down with a shotgun, according to a federal criminal complaint…”

“…the poster would enter the elementary school building and execute as many abusers as possible along with personnel in the administrative office, the federal affidavit said.”

True’s note:  I suppose it could be inferred that students present at the time, and injured or killed, would incidentally and merely constitute inadvertent collateral damage.

“The federal agents and state police traced the online post to an IP address…”

“On Thursday… the alleged poster, Zachariah M. Peterson, allowed investigators into his home. There, police located four firearms and ammunition. Peterson also admitted he sent the threatening online post and was taken into custody.”

“Oregon State Police arrested Peterson. He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center at 1:17 a.m. Friday on a federal marshal's hold and accused of a single allegation of felon in possession of a weapon. Investigators also seized his firearms.”

** Above quoted information from an article written by The Oregonian reporter, Maxine Bernstein on 9/12/15.

More to follow…

True Nelson

Saturday, September 12, 2015

So you want to hire (or perhaps become) a Private Investigator. There are some things you should know. (Part 3 & Conclusion)

This informational essay, in three parts, is best read in order:

Who becomes a private investigator?

The answer to that is almost anyone who is interested, over the age of 18, who has a clean record. 

The background check performed by the state licensing agency is probably the principal benefit to the public, and does give the public some assurance that they are dealing with a somewhat reputable person.  Please note that I didn’t say the person was necessarily qualified.

My personal opinion, albeit somewhat controversial, is that I find it hard to believe that anyone, without at least five years of law enforcement or other very intensive investigative experience, can be an effective private investigator.  There is just too much to know.  There are too many unanticipated situations that can quickly arise and become a serious liability issue, a violation of law, or even dangerous.  If you put your faith in such a person, all I can say is ‘good luck.’

What about private investigators’ fees?  What’s fair?  Well, it’s kind of an over-generalization, and a cliché, to say that you ‘get what you pay for.’  This is not necessarily true.  There are some very good investigators who specialize in certain areas (like surveillance) with fees that are relatively modest.  On the other hand, you can run into private investigators that have fees that are over-blown and exploitive.  Be careful and do your homework.  If a PI is very qualified and has good references, you are better served to consider this option – even if their fees seem a little higher.  A bad, inexperienced, or poorly trained PI can cause a client untold grief.  Moreover, you may not have actually saved any money.  Good PIs cover a lot of ground quickly.

Do private investigators have variable fee structures?  Yes, they often do.  This is usually based on good business practices and self-protection.  Is the client a potential repeat client?  Am I assured that I will not have any collection issues with this client?  Is the proposed case very complex and demanding, with short deadlines?  Nonetheless, professional investigators should be able to explain their ‘fee structure’ without too much hesitation – and be able to furnish you this information in writing.

Regarding fees in Oregon, particularly in the Portland Metro area, a potential client should expect investigative fees in the neighborhood of $80 to $150 per hour, plus expenses.  If you are quoted more than that, I would spend some time looking elsewhere.

If you are shopping for a PI in a major metropolitan area such as New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco expect the hourly rate to be higher.  Rural areas, the hourly rate will be somewhat less.

How do I locate a private investigator?  Well, the telephone book is probably your worst resource.  Internet searches are good and becoming better.  If you can get a referral, that’s great.  Attorneys are sometimes a good source for referrals.  Professional associations can be a good source for referrals, particularly associations which require or expect certifications, and/or standards for continuing education.  A quick word about ‘certifications’ (and there are many floating about):  some ‘certifications’ can be simply purchased for a small fee, and as a result are meaningless.  Always investigate the certifying association or body, and what is required to obtain a particular certification. These days this is easily done on the internet.  As with any profession, private investigation is definitely a profession filled with many skilled, educated and experienced people, and unfortunately quite a few duds.  Ask questions, get quotes and be an informed consumer.  If you don’t, you could quickly find yourself on the receiving end of a civil suit.

When I search for qualified private investigators in other areas of the country, I almost always look for someone with a law enforcement background.  Again, anyone, and I mean almost anyone short of an identifiable ex-felon, can become a private investigator.  A potential client should look for experience, references, and educational background – anything about the private investigator that you could conceivably verify, and would tend to give him or her a degree of credibility.

Good private investigators do have a certain amount of overhead:

Some have offices and staff.

Truly competent private investigators will subscribe to several databases, not customarily available to the general public.  They are not free.  These databases greatly expedite investigations, not to mention that they contribute professional thoroughness.

Advertising is critical.  If a PI doesn’t advertise through various outlets, the public just won’t find him.

All licensed PIs are required to take courses on various investigative subjects, plus ethics.
They belong to professional associations (all have dues).

If ‘certified,’ the PI will have additional fees to maintain the certification – as well as educational requirements that must be fulfilled.

All PIs usually possess an abundance of investigation related equipment such as cameras (still and motion), recording devices, tracking equipment, telescopic equipment, and – if they do quite a bit of surveillance – they will have a specially outfitted van.

Last, but not least, the professional PI must carry Errors and Omissions Insurance as a protection for the Client and for himself.

Final Thought:  Many believe that private investigation is easy.  Those people watch too much television.  It isn’t easy.  It can be difficult, stressful and sometimes dangerous.

Oh and one other thought:  As the client of a PI, you are invariably going to reveal some information that you consider confidential – perhaps even intimate details of your personal life.  Pick someone that you feel you can trust.

True Nelson

Friday, September 11, 2015

So you want to hire (or perhaps become) a Private Investigator. There are some things you should know. (Part 2)

This is part 2 of an informational essay on what is necessary to become a private investigator; and / or how a potential client might find and retain a qualified private investigator.  Information most understandable if read in order.

In Oregon, for example, you should understand that the licensing process is basic and generally attempts to determine if the potential applicant understands associated State law and general liability issues.

Additionally, the applicant is fingerprinted to verify that there is not some sort of criminal background of which the State should be aware.  The applicant is required to be bonded or insured.  In Oregon, a minimal bond is required.  However, many PI firms carry liability insurance for the protection of themselves and the client, with coverage in the neighborhood of one million or more.

In Oregon, and there are variations of this in other States, applicants with little or no prior investigative experience are allowed a ‘provisional license,’ – until they gain some rudimentary experience.  This might be something the potential client may want to inquire about.  Experience is generally important in most professions, but particularly in PI work.  Some states, a few, require no licensing whatsoever.

The ‘excepted category,’ referred to under Oregon law and frequently used in other States, largely refers to private investigators who work for a single employer.

Many law firms use this exception for the purpose of deploying their paralegal or administrative assistant (secretary) to conduct investigations, rather than retaining a licensed private investigator.  It is a practice that is not, for the most part, known to the public.  Theoretically, the paralegal or administrative assistant is under the constant supervision of an attorney; and, I believe, covered by the attorney’s ‘errors and omissions’ insurance.  Whether or not this constant supervision is actually true or even practicable is a controversial issue within the private investigative field.

Clients, when dealing with investigative fees incurred by a law firm (sometimes very expensive investigative fees), should not be shy about asking who conducted the investigation and what was his/her qualifications.  Attorneys use this ‘excepted category,’ as an additional profit opportunity.  Some paralegals and administrative assistants, possibly through trial and error, become quite competent.  Nonetheless, if a client has an important issue that requires a professional investigation, I recommend that you not trust that investigation to the Attorney’s secretary.

Furthermore, attorneys should be aware of the potential requirement that they might have to call a private investigator as a witness – perhaps to impeach another witness or another PI – and what type of impression their PI may have on the jury, including whether or not the PI appears qualified and professional.

One additional comment, that hopefully most attorneys are aware, is that attorneys need to insulate themselves from the witness interview process to preserve their own credibility.  Whether this necessary insulation is preserved by having one of their employees conduct a witness interview is, in my opinion, doubtful.

Some companies and corporations have ‘staff’ investigators.  And, I suppose it makes sense that these staff investigators not be required to be licensed in every state in which they work on behalf of their employer.  On the other hand, if the staff investigator is headquartered in a state that requires licensing, it’s hard for me to accept that he/she should be exempted from usual and customary standards, including the required periodic training and educational programs.  I think the public should expect consistent standards all around – just my opinion.

Who becomes a private investigator?

To be continued…

True Nelson

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

So you want to hire (or perhaps become) a Private Investigator. There are some things you should know. (Part 1)

This will be an informational essay on what is necessary to become a good private investigator; and / or how a potential client might find and retain a qualified private investigator.  I will split this essay into 'parts' to accommodate my blog format; and the information would be the most beneficial if the parts are read in order.

Many believe that the sole purpose of a private investigator is to ‘observe or interview and then report.’  As a result, it is commonly believed that these attributes fall within the province of almost any literate person regardless of background, experience, education and training.  Experienced investigators not only know the quickest, most cost efficient manner of accomplishing a project, they also carry-out the assignment in a legal and professional manner which does not adversely impact the client.  Furthermore, the more an investigator knows and understands about a situation the more useful and valuable his observations will be to others.

I’m occasionally asked about how one selects a private investigator.  And, I must admit this can be difficult.  I will attempt to simplify the process.

Licensing:  Most states now have licensing for private investigators, but not all.  Oregon and Washington do have licensing.  In other states, generally typing in your online search function ‘a State’s name with a request for licensed Private Investigators’ will immediately display the necessary information.

What is a Private Investigator:  Per Oregon Statute:  “Investigators solicit or accept employment to obtain or furnish information about persons, property, crimes, accidents, etc. [Oregon Revised Statutes 703.401(3)]

Investigators must be licensed unless they are in an excepted category. [Oregon Revised Statutes 703.411]” Other States generally have a similar definition.  (Will explain this later.)

What you really would like to know is what makes a good PI and how do you select a private investigator from the several hundred, perhaps thousands that are available in each State.  OK - can do.

To be continued...

True Nelson