Some of you may have seen a story that made the headlines this weekend about a young Kansas boy with downs syndrome being forced to give up his letter jacket that his mom had bought him because the special needs team he plays on does not qualify under school rules for "lettering". For me, this story leaves me with a very bitter taste in my mouth and more than a bit torn. For starters, where the heck did his mother find a letter jacket with letter on it? Obviously it wasn't from the school, especially since even they admit that the letter was a completely different style than the ones they use. Secondly, didn't she think to check with the school before purchasing this thing? Most school districts have very strict guidelines on this sort of thing. I know this for a fact, partly because I never lettered when I was in high school. The fact that she didn't even bother to check first was just the start of things that let her son end up having his feelings crushed! But as bad as that may sound, she does not bear all the responsibility here.
The second thing that really hits me is the fact that the whole thing started because another mother noticed his jacket and complained to the principal about it. Really lady? Is it really so important to you that your son be known as one of the select that you need to ruin a special needs child's day, or even year? This poor kid was so proud of the fact that he had made it onto the school's special needs team, but you've managed to help destroy all that for him just because he was wearing a jacket that didn't even look that much like the official school letter jacket that your son wears. To be completely blunt, only someone who is legally blind could possibly mistake one for the other so, at least in my opinion, it takes a special kind of pettiness to make this big a fuss about it.
And then there's the school officials themselves. Okay, I get that you had to do something once the mother of one of your precious varsity athletes complained; but don't you think you could have handled this at least a little bit better? Especially since you didn't just stop at making this poor child remove his prize jacket, but then went on to make him wear a ladies sweater? And couldn't even do that in private, but instead did it in front of the entire school? Really? Was it really, really necessary to humiliate him like that? You do realize that very few parents of special needs children are going to be able to forgive you that slap in the face don't you? To many of us, what your actions say is that special needs children are a nuisance to be tolerated simply because it helps bring more money to the school and all the special programs are little more than window dressing to be discarded when ever it starts to interfere with important things. You know, things like making sure the real athletes get their fancy cars, college scholarships, and are looked up to as heroes. That sort of thing.
In short, the only one completely blameless in this whole ordeal is the child himself. Suffering downs syndrome, this child would have completely missed the social cues that would have told him that he shouldn't be wearing a letter jacket of any kind without the approval of the authorities in charge of his school. But he did miss those cues, and he did think he was eligible for a letter jacket; and once his mom bought it for him, it quickly became something of pride. But instead of being allowed to carry himself with that pride, a jealous mother complained to a clueless principle about a jacket bought for him by an equally clueless mother which resulted in the only true innocent in this story being embarrassed and humiliated in front of his entire school. Well done people, I applauded your pettiness and stupidity, and especially the way you've so masterfully proven to this poor child that in your collective opinion he isn't even worth as much as the manure you scrape off the bottom of your shoes when you come in from the garden. Well guess what. As far as I'm concerned he's worth more than all of you combined, and if I could I'd give him a new letter jacket to replace the one he lost that would make the letter jackets of all of your precious varsity athletes look like cheap costumes.
At several of the recent Gun & Knife shows I've attended as a vender, I've had some instructors approach me about both the full size NRA approved B-27 targets I carry as well as a pain, black version of the Shoot Like A Girl bull's eye targets (6 nine inch targets in pink on a 23x35 inch target). The one thing they all seem to have in common? The tend to be independents who are not I with a large range and for one reason or another can not buy their targets in batches large enough to get any type of reasonable discount. So, this weekend I plan on adding a section just for instructors, groups, and clubs offering my targets at a discount for orders greater than 50 targets. What's more, if the order is large enough and you are with in 3 hours of Greenville, SC, I will personally deliver your order to you allowing you to avoid shipping charges (which for items mailed via media mail class shipping can run around $6.00 for 25 23x35 inch targets and up to $36.00 for priority mail). The discount you receive will be based on the size of your order and the number of orders I receive that quarter, so the price may fluctuate by as much as 10 cents a target but should stay below a maximum of $0.65 a target for small orders and go as low as $0.40 a target for larger orders. If you have any questions, or would just like some more information or even to chat; please e-mail me at email@example.com .
Okay, so it's not Monday; and yes, I have been extremely spotty with my rambles so far this year. I must admit this has not been a great year so far, and I'd be tempted to ad something along the lines of so sue me except that as a Healthcare Professional I've learned that making that sort of challenge is always a bad idea! For those of you who don't know me personally, I've recently been diagnosed with possible seminoma ( a type of testicular cancer ) and last week underwent what surgeons call a radical inguinal orchiectomy which means that I've got a fair amount of time to think on my hands right now while I'm not allowed to lift anything heavier than 6 pounds or so (keep in mind that a gallon of milk weighs in at 8 pounds and you'll get a feel for my limitations for the next week and a half). It also gives me a great deal of time to answer questions as well, and one of the most common is how can I justify owning guns when I also have an autistic son. And it is one that I must admit deserves a well thought out and serious answer, especially since the thought of Wills with a gun is one guaranteed to to turn my hair from salt and pepper to pure white.
Now if I'm going to answer this fully, I really need to deal with two main aspects. One is why own a gun at all and the other is how to make sure my son never gets his hands on a loaded weapon, and while the first is a fair question that deserves an equally fair answer it is the second aspect I plan to cover in some detail today. After all, while I fully intend to answer the question of ownership in a later ramble, only an absolute idiot would consider owning a firearm if he or she could not be certain that their child, autistic or not, would not be able to get ahold of a loaded weapon without the knowledge and approval of the weapon's owner. And it is this reason why I sold my guns just before my daughter's birth and have only recently started buying new ones.
The first thing to keep in mind is that curiosity is a natural aspect of any child's life, and that's no different for one on the autism spectrum than it is for a neurotypical child. The difference is that if you leave something out where a neurotypical child can get to it, they are going to pick it up if for no other reason than to find out just what the heck it is unless you have taught them not to and reinforced that lesson on a regular basis. A child like my son on the other hand is slightly different. If the object holds no interest for him, he's just going to completely ignore it until it gets in his way; and even then he'll only pay it enough attention to get it out of his way. Fortunately so far that's the way Wills is with firearms. The problem is that it's extremely difficult to predict just what will catch his interest that hadn't before, and once it does, keeping him away from it can be a problem fit for Einstein or DiVinci! Wills has more than once proved his ability to hack four digit pass codes such as commonly used on iPads and iPhones unless they're changed on a regular basis (every 6 weeks at a minimum) and he's found and hidden my keys in an attempt to keep me from going to work more often than I care to admit. Indeed, I almost got fired one year because of how many times I was late to work for exactly that reason. This means that a measly 3 digit combination lock or a key lock is pretty much useless against him, so most entry level gun cabinets with metal cases about the thickness of your average gym locker are out. Fortunately many modern safes and lock boxes come with electronic locks that can be programed with combinations as long as 8 or even 10 digits long and changed whenever you wish, including many decent quality low costs models from companies such as Sentry and First Alert. Of course, if you're going to go with a small one you really need to bolt it down to something. After all, if a thief (or your son) can just pick the bloody thing up and carry it off then it really doesn't give you any protection now, does it?
"Okay" I hear you thinking "but what happens if he should manage to hack the combination or you and your wife get sloppy about hiding it from him?" For this I do two additional things, and you really should be doing them as well if there is any chance of a child getting to your firearms. The first item that really should be used if any child might come in contact with your gun is a trigger lock or gun lock. A trigger lock fits around the trigger of your gun so that the trigger is completely blocked from use until the lock has been removed, and you'll often see them on the long guns that are out where people can actually touch them at many places such as Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, and Walmart. A gun lock on the other hand is designed to fit through the action of the gun so that the firing pin can never come in contact with a round (indeed, with most you can't even load a round let alone get it in the action where the firing pin might come in contact with the primer). Most modern guns come with one or the other of these locks when new, but if yours didn't, or you bought a used gun, you can get them at many places including Amazon.com.
The second thing I do, and heartily recommend you doing as well is that the only gun with a loaded magazine when I'm not shooting it is my carry gun, and even that I unload before I put it in the safe. All the other magazines are stored in a separate safe from the guns themselves and kept unloaded, while the ammunition is kept in locked ammo boxes in a locked cabinet in another part of the house. Finally, the keys to everything are kept in a key safe so that Wills cannot get to them unless he first finds it and a way to get it open. Does all this make getting to the guns when I do want to go shooting a pain in the ass? Well yes, I must admit that it does. But it's the only way I can guarantee Wills safety, so it's what I will continue to do as long as he's alive and living with me. Oh, you want to know about my carry gun? How do I make sure he doesn't get his hands on that? Two things. First, as long as I'm up and the gun is loaded it's on me. Second, I carry it in a holster with an active retention system that makes it nigh on to impossible for Wills to get away from me or to fire it unless I choose to let him. In addition, I've tested the retention system in my holster with multiple senarios run with my Kenpo instructor so I know a bad guy can't get my gun from me without some freak, unpredictable accident occurring; and if a bad guy can't get my gun, my son doesn't stand a chance.
There are of course other alternatives out there. For instance quality furniture with hidden compartments seem to be making a come back, especially amount gun enthusiasts. Two brands I particular like are Top Secret Furniture and Covert Furniture. Another option are biometric safes. Now I must admit I'm still a bit leary of these. Why? Well consider that most biometric locks that meet military specs are still running around $5000.00 just for the lock, and you have to ask just how good can one on a $300.00 gun safe be. Plus, if you work with your hands a lot, new calluses, burns, and nicks or cuts can keep a biometric lock from recognizing your finger prints! Still, prices have been dropping and I must admit that some are getting some really good reviews from people in the industry who I trust, including this one from Gun Vault that I must admit I am considering for mounting next to my bed.
I think that will give you enough to think about tonight, so for now I'm signing off. Keep well dear reader, and I hope to see you in my little corner of cyberspace again soon.