Friday, May 23, 2008

On the "Love" of Guns, and the Role of Private Security

I have received quite a few responses to the recent post Range Day Report in the various forms of email, comments and other -- most laudatory, some derogative. One email I received sought to take me to task for the "love" I displayed for my Smith and Wesson 686. Here is what I posted about that weapon:
The SW686 I had shot and trained with many times before. I stopped counting the rounds through it at 15,000. Purchased in February 1994, this revolver is hands down my favorite weapon in the world. I carried it on and off duty for over a decade and it bears the scars of holster and duty wear as badges of honor. This is the weapon I trusted with my life during trips into mortal danger along the Mexican border and El Paso's barrios. Since my wife and I were married, this is the weapon that resides on my wife's night stand when I am not carrying on duty. A joke my friends are tired of hearing is that soon after we were married, my wife stated that if I started calling it by a pet name she was calling the guys in the white jackets... The SW686 remains unnamed as I don't relish a trip to the looney bin.

The cumulative effect of thousands of rounds has rendered the trigger stroke, already smooth from the factory, a silky smooth experience. I installed pachmayr synthetic grips soon after purchase both for increased control and to mitigate the hardship of carry on the original rosewood grips. Other than that, the SW686 is stock from the factory.

If I am forced to pick one handgun to carry on duty, the SW686 is it. That being the case, I qualified with it first.

The quote in bold is the part that seems to have elicited the most strident objections. The email I mentioned rambled monotonously about my "love affair" with an inanimate object.


That charge is the result of a juvenile mind unable to raise itself from the gutter of prurient thought.

True, I fawn over this weapon. I trust it. Why? Because of the over 15,000 times I have fired it, it has never failed. I know that if I am in a position that requires use of a weapon to protect the lives of the people I love, that weapon will perform the task for which it was created. At various times over the years my life and those of my family depended on having a weapon that would function as it is intended.

Thomas Jefferson once wrote to George Washington, "One loves to possess arms, though they hope never to have occasion for them." That sums up exactly my "love" for that weapon, and the attraction I have regarding my collection of various weapons. I think I'll go with a couple Founding Fathers and presidents over the addled sophomoric objections of a misinformed bloviator.

Another would-be commenter sought to demean the part I wrote about carrying the SW686 "along the Mexican border and El Paso's barrios." He tried to use the term "security guard" as a pejorative. That I have worked private security is obvious, as I stated in the article that I was taking the Handgun Permit Carry course and the Armed Security course. In fact, I stated that taking the security course was the reason I qualified with two weapons -- so that I could carry either on duty.

What the commenter did not know, and what I do not believe I have written on this blog before, is that I have also served my time as a sworn peace officer. So yes, much of my time carrying the SW686 was as a private security officer in addition to the time I carried it as a peace officer.

However, the slighting comments the commenter made about private security are ill-informed and yet pervasive in our society. Many private security firms are guilty of only performing to the parameters of the contract under which they operate. Many public encounters are with the "warm bodies" that are hired to fulfill these "lowest bid" contracts. Unfortunately, these instances are the ones most often brought to mind when the subject of private security is raised.

The truth behind the subject is different. When one hears of government officials speak of "first responders" the professionals brought to mind are police, fire fighters and emergency medical services. The fact is that the first people on the scene are most often regular citizens and private security. During the September 11, 2001 attacks the first professionals to organize a response to the life taking situation were security guards. The most famous of these was Rick Rescorla who, as head of Morgan Stanley's security, saved thousands of lives during the disaster and died looking for stragglers when WTC 2 collapsed with him in it. Rescorla is also famous for being a member of General Hal Moore's unit that was portrayed in We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang--The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam. The story of his sacrifice was documented in Heart of A Soldier A Story of Live, Heroism, and September 11th by James B. Stewart.

Rescorla's story is not the only one of private security officers saving lives in the WTC attacks. Another is of Esmerlin Salcedo:
World Trade Center security guard Esmerlin Salcedo was in no peril on the day of the attack since he was attending a computer class at a safe distance away. But when he heard the first strike, he raced from his class to his desk at the command center on the B-1 level. He walked fellow worker Roselyn Braud to an open exit and told her to run for her life. The last time he was seen he was helping another guard to safety. The 36-year-old father of four earned $10.51 an hour. He has an $80,000 life insurance policy but, according to the New York Times, his survivors may not be eligible for survivor's benefits because he wasn't officially “on duty.”
Salcedo was not "on duty" but his sense of duty led him to give his lives for others.

Just a Rent-a-Cop.

The stories are there, but only if you dig deep for them. In another post I hope to write about the environment wherein security guards and officers must work, an environment created by lack of pay, lack of training, and lack of support and recognition -- most of which are caused by low bid finances and "warm body" mindsets in the private security sector and the public in general.

So, when that commenter sought to insult me for having been a security guard he failed. I simply considered the source.

Yeah, I love my gun -- for what it does to protect my family. And I am proud to have served as a peace officer and as a private security officer. The next time you see a security officer at a bank or store, think about just who it is the bad guys are going to target first, and who protects you from those bad guys if you have not availed yourself of your state's carry laws. Remember, the security officer is there on location and in high profile uniform, there when the "fit hits the shan." The guys at Emergency 911 are minutes away -- and when the bad guys hit seconds matter.

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