...but this blog is static and not being updated, except for one final update and clarification:
I stopped participating in Minuteman groups as of October 2005--not because of the potentially dangerous situation described below, but because of hints of white supremacist thinking among a few of the members, which I didn't want to be anywhere near. I don't believe that element has ever been more than a tiny fraction of Minutemen, and I still support the goal of controlling the border first, before addressing immigration reform, but the constant in-fighting among egos in these various groups has never ceased and I've decided to focus my efforts on reaching out to new immigrants (legal or not), trying to communicate why it is so important for everyone to preserve American culture--particularly the God-fearing gun culture which guarantees our freedom.
This is a brief account of my involvement as a California Minuteman on the electric and stormy night of July 30, 2005, in high-desert Jacumba, CA -- how a transactional lawyer with no government military experience found himself crouched behind a boulder with a battle rifle (unloaded) and four ten-round mags of .308, ready to provide cover for fellow Minutemen across the street in the event a certain SoCal gang made good on its threat to come down and shoot us all.
I am definitely not a Rambo, in appearance or disposition. I have never been involved in any sort of militia before. I am certainly no racist--I actually would like to see healthy legal immigration increased (and made fair, so that legal immigrants don’t have to bear unconscionably long family separation). Like most of the Minutemen I have talked to, I view the border issue primarily as a matter of homeland security and fairness.
Although other commitments prevented me from fully participating like the real heroes who stood border watch for weeks at a time (several of whom were actually shot at), I felt it was important to at least make it down a few times.
After attending a rally led by Senator Morrow and Minuteman-founder Jim Gilchrist at the VFW Post in Campo, I joined an advance team headed for the tiny border town of Jacumba. Our mission was to scout the area and prepare the way for a larger body of Minutemen to show its numbers later that night. Group leader "Big Bob" warned that Jacumba was largely controlled by a drug cartel, that this operation was much more dangerous than the widely-publicized and peaceful Arizona operation, and that shots were actually fired at Minutemen in Jacumba one week prior.
I was stationed with several others at Hill Road in Jacumba, a route suspected to be in use by drug traffickers, to monitor license plates of vehicles coming and going. I wasn't finding much success in my personal effort to monitor the license plates, and was adjusting to the technical difficulties (and mosquitoes), when Big Bob arrived with some urgent news. Standing in front of me as he was being taped by the FoxNews journalist accompanying us, Big Bob relayed word he had just received that a certain major SoCal gang was on its way to shoot all of the Minutemen now in Jacumba.
Alarmed by this news, I interposed, "Should I sling my rifle?" Bob replied "Yes!" I grabbed the M1A from my SUV and slung it, muzzle down and unloaded.
As a former Eagle Scout and regular practitioner of concealed carry, I try to adhere to the motto, "Be prepared." I recognized this border activity to be somewhat dangerous even before I knew I was going to Jacumba, having heard of the previous shootings. So I already had -round mags of .308 on my belt, plus another 40 rounds of .45 for the two handguns I had concealed, plus body armor, pepper spray and other defense tools. I brought the M1A battle rifle along as a precaution, but of course I never really thought it too likely I would have to use it (if I did, I would not be there), so I was surprised like everyone else at what seemed to now be happening. One thing I knew from my training at Front Sight: never bring a handgun to a gunfight. Though thankful for the portability of the Glock and 1911 .45's I had concealed on my person, I valued the rifle more at this particular moment.
Big Bob and another leader, Little Dog, asked me to go across the street and take up position behind a large boulder in order to provide cover for the Minutemen below. I took up the position as requested, the threat apparently posed by the gang eclipsing my concern over other perceived threats such as scorpions, rattlesnakes, even lightning which increased in frequency and proximity during the hour or so I stayed in position at the boulder. My rifle was on the ground next to me, unloaded, but I was ready to load a mag quickly should I see a threatening vehicle approach. Should gang members arrive and commence shooting at my fellow Minutemen, absent adequate police protection, I would perform the duty I assumed by taking up this defensive position. I would empty a whole ten round mag--one mag would be enough--into the vehicle from which shots were fired. (Really.) However, with the assistance of another Minuteman (“Dan the Picture Man”) who was among the group down below, it was determined that I would fire only if the aggressor vehicle was within a certain demarcated sector, in order to avoid any likelihood of a "friendly fire" incident. (I believe that Minutemen groups should have some type of drilling, like real militias, to reduce such risk of friendly fire--it is not tenable to ignore this risk in the long run.)
Gradually, an increased presence of law enforcement made the situation less tense. Before long, a couple of border patrol vehicles came by, and I confirmed with these officers that they were ok with my possession of the M1A while taking up this position. After about an hour or so, there were several sheriff and BP vehicles in the area, as well as Minutemen reinforcements, and so I removed myself from the position, rejoining the rest. Minutemen vehicles were now lined up and down the whole town center. A bit later, we all left Jacumba and spent the rest of the night traveling over rough terrain to a remote section of the border fence, where we spaced our vehicles at tenth-mile increments to form a great line extending for miles along the border, flashing our hazard lights to create quite a spectacle for the folks south of the border.
As I write this account of my experience in Jacumba one month ago, today's news is of the tragedy unfolding in New Orleans. At this very moment, people are using arms in New Orleans to defend themselves and others against imminent and actual threats, in circumstances far more severe than those I faced in Jacumba against an apparent threat. Beyond the situation in New Orleans, scholars such as John Lott have demonstrated guns are used in self-defense by Americans on streets and in homes approximately 2.5 million times each year (usually without a shot, by merely brandishing the weapon). Even the most conservative estimates put that number at at least 500,000. An increasing number of women now carry handguns regularly, prepared to defend their dignity with honor.
These are very strange times. I hope enough people recognize, before it's too late, that in order to achieve lasting homeland security we must remain faithful to Liberty. This requires personal responsibility, one important aspect of which lies in preserving and exercising our natural right (and social obligation) of self-defense, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence. From the hour the Pilgrims landed, to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace, security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.
The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand, arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and the plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as well as property. The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside...Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived the use of them...the weak will become a prey to the strong.
What Part of "Shall Not Be Infringed" Don't They Understand?
The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. A well-regulated militia, composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the best and most natural defense of a free country.
A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walk.
It is in vain, Sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace! -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the North will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that Gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.
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