Restoring Gun Rights & Vacating Convictions

We handle employment discrimination, most criminal cases, including felonies, and firearms law. We can also help get some convictions vacated:


Washington law permits vacating some misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor convictions.

When the court vacates a conviction, you are released you from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense- but not from the prohibition against possessing firearms when you have been convicted of a felony or most crimes of domestic violence even if the conviction was for a gross misdemeanor or misdemeanor.

Nevertheless, once a conviction is vacated, the fact that you have been convicted of the offense shall not be included in your criminal history for purposes of determining a sentence in any subsequent conviction. For all purposes, including responding to questions on employment or housing applications, a person whose conviction has been vacated may state that he or she has never been convicted of that crime. Vacation of a conviction, however, does not affect or prevent use of the conviction in a later criminal prosecution. Vacation of a conviction does not automatically restore your right to possess a firearm.

The law does not automatically vacate your conviction. If you want to have a conviction vacated, you must file a motion with the court. The following information will assist you in deciding whether the new law applies to your situation and, if so, how to ask the court to vacate your conviction.

If you meet the following criteria, a court may, in its discretion, vacate the conviction.

1. There are no criminal charges pending against you in any court of this state or another state, or in any federal court.

2. You have not been convicted of a new crime in this state, another state, or federal court since the date you were sentenced on the crime you wish to have vacated.

3. You have never had the record of another conviction vacated.

4. You are not currently restrained, and have not been restrained within five years prior to the vacation application, by a domestic violence protection order, a no-contact order, an antiharassment protection order, or a civil restraining order which restrains one party from contacting the other party.

5. The conviction you are seeking to have vacated is not for one of the following crimes:

Driving while under the influence, RCW 46.61.502;

Actual physical control while under the influence, RCW 46.61.504;

Operating a railroad, etc., while intoxicated, RCW 9.91.020;

A violation of chapter 9A.44 RCW (sex offenses);

A violation of chapter 9.68 RCW (obscenity and pornography);

A violation of chapter 9.68A RCW (sexual exploitation of children);

A violent offense as defined in RCW 9.94A.030 or an attempt to commit a violent offense.

If the crime you are seeking to have vacated involved domestic violence, you must:

Provide the prosecuting attorney’s office that prosecuted you with timely notice of your motion and declaration for order vacating conviction and file the original notice with the court.

You must not have been convicted of any other domestic violence offense arising out of any other incident. (If the current application is for more than one conviction that arose out of a single incident, none of those convictions counts as a previous conviction.)

Five years have elapsed since you completed the terms of the original conditions of the sentence, including any financial obligations and successful completion of any treatment ordered as a condition of sentencing.

If the victim of the crime you are seeking to have vacated did not involve domestic violence, three years must have elapsed since you completed the terms of the original conditions of the sentence, including any financial obligations.

If you can satisfy each of the above requirements with respect to the conviction you are asking the court to vacate, your next step is to complete the form CrRLJ 09.0100, Motion and Declaration for Order Vacating Conviction. This form will allow the court to determine whether you are eligible to have your conviction vacated. You may want to review the court file or the court docket for the offense you are asking the court to vacate to obtain information you need to fill out the form.

You should also obtain copies of your criminal history records and attach them to your motion. Read the local court rules or contact the clerk of the court where you will file your motion to find out if this requirement, or any other local requirement, applies to you. Once you have completed and signed the motion and declaration form, make at least two copies.

The next step is to schedule a hearing for the motion for order vacating conviction. To schedule a hearing, contact the clerk of the court where you were sentenced and ask for the date and time for the hearing. Then complete the form that court uses to schedule a hearing. Make at least two copies of the notice.

File the original motion and declaration for order vacating conviction and notice document. On the same day that you file those documents with the clerk of the court, you must also provide a copy of the documents to the prosecuting attorney’s office that prosecuted you.

To notify the prosecuting attorney’s office of the hearing, you may also use form CrRLJ 09.0150, Notice of Motion for Order Vacating Conviction. If you use this form, file the original with the clerk of the court and provide a copy to the prosecuting attorney’s office, with a copy of the Motion and Declaration for Order Vacating Conviction attached. Keep a copy of the motion and declaration for order vacating conviction and the notice documents for your information.

The judge will hear your motion for order vacating conviction on the day scheduled for the hearing. You will need to attend the hearing. If the motion is granted, the judge will complete an order vacating your conviction. The clerk of the court will send a copy of the order to the Washington State Patrol and to the local law enforcement agency, if any, which holds criminal history information about you.

Keep in mind that vacating a conviction does not restore your right to possess weapons in Washington. We can petition the court to restore your rights provided you meet all the criteria under RCW 9.41.040:

(4)…Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section, if a person is prohibited from possession of a firearm under subsection (1) or (2) of this section and has not previously been convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity of a sex offense prohibiting firearm ownership under subsection (1) or (2) of this section and/or any felony defined under any law as a class A felony or with a maximum sentence of at least twenty years, or both, the individual may petition a court of record to have his or her right to possess a firearm restored:

b)(i) If the conviction or finding of not guilty by reason of insanity was for a felony offense, after five or more consecutive years in the community without being convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity or currently charged with any felony, gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor crimes, if the individual has no prior felony convictions that prohibit the possession of a firearm counted as part of the offender score under RCW 9.94A.525; or

(ii) If the conviction or finding of not guilty by reason of insanity was for a nonfelony offense, after three or more consecutive years in the community without being convicted or found not guilty by reason of insanity or currently charged with any felony, gross misdemeanor, or misdemeanor crimes, if the individual has no prior felony convictions that prohibit the possession of a firearm counted as part of the offender score under RCW 9.94A.525 and the individual has completed all conditions of the sentence.

Terrorism, Safety and Situational Awareness

When the first aircraft struck the World Trade Center what were your thoughts? Was terrorism your first thought? Or, was your first thought more like “How could that happen?” The first crash caught most people trying to figure out what human or mechanical error could have caused the crash. However, a little over 15 minutes later and the instant Flight 175 came into view we knew we were under attack. As the jet slammed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center our view changed and the response of police and fire personnel to the WTC and the other incidents changed.

Our response changed because the additional information of the second aircraft changed our perception regarding the first. Our perceptions moved closer to the reality because additional information gave meaning and enhanced our comprehension of what we were observing. By gaining additional information we became aware of the true nature of the situation.

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness was a term originally used to describe the tactical situation during aerial combat. While the term doesn’t go back as far, the idea surfaces in World War I, when pilots first took to the sky in combat. At first, it was the ability of the pilot to know where he was in relation to the enemy and the other pilots of his flight. In reality that is only positional awareness. However, when pilots added their knowledge of aircraft capabilities and known battle tactics with positional awareness, they were able interpret, comprehend and anticipate. Comprehension of observation is the essence of situational awareness.

Police officers use situational awareness daily. While it has obvious applications for street tactics, it is likely most used in the development of reasonable suspicion (RS) and probable cause (PC). Both RS and PC are an officer’s interpretation of observations based on their education, training and experience. Whenever you detain someone, conduct a warrantless search or make an arrest you are practicing situational awareness. Just as you and I were able to make better arrests as we gained knowledge on the job, we were also safer. Our safety was enhanced because there is a predictive element to total situational awareness.

Situational awareness has three levels – perceiving critical factors, understanding those factors and finally understanding what those factors will cause to happen in the near future. Just as we gained an edge over the common criminal element by education, training and experience, we can gain that edge over terrorists by enhancing our comprehension of what we observe as it relates to terrorism. We can protect our communities and ourselves by an enhanced situational awareness of terrorism.

Know what terrorism is

In the first article of this series, Terrorism: Crime or Asymmetrical Warfare, we noted that the “the definition of a crime dictates our response.” In that article we further explored the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s definition of terrorism:

“ Domestic terrorism refers to activities that involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any state; appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; to influence the policy of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and, occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States .”

You will increase your situational awareness, or the ability to use your comprehension of the facts to predict short-term future events, by understanding the history and nature of terrorism.

Know your beat

If you received a radio call of a shooting on the southwest corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Central Avenue you would have some positional awareness, but not much situational awareness. You would know the best route to get to the call, and probably the best way to approach, but little more. However, what if you knew the location was an apartment building rife with druggies? Alternatively, what if you knew the location was a Jewish Daycare Center? Either set of facts would add to your situational awareness, it would change the way in which you handled your approach and the call.

Most of the literature for first responders on terrorism emphasizes the need to be aware of the critical infrastructure in your community. However, how you define critical infrastructure may somewhat limit your situational awareness. As an example, the Critical Infrastructure and Key Assets: Definition and Identification report to Congress ultimately defined critical infrastructure as:

“The framework of interdependent network and systems comprising identifiable industries, institutions (including people and procedures), and distribution capabilities that provide a reliable flow of products and services essential to the defense and economic security of the United States, the smoothing function of government at all levels, and society as a whole .”

Based on this definition, bridges, chemical factories and government facilities, etc. are part of the critical infrastructure. However, given the purpose of terrorism, first responders should be aware of their community’s political, social and cultural infrastructure. The Jewish Daycare Center probably doesn’t fall into the category of critical infrastructure, yet it would be part of your community’s social and cultural infrastructure and in today’s world a potential terrorist target.

The following list of indicators is a checklist that is by no-means all-inclusive. It should be viewed as a place from which to start your discussion about terrorist planning:

1. Possession of extremist or radical literature;
2. Interest in law enforcement tactics, yet not in law enforcement;
3. Surveillance of critical infrastructure, or community political, cultural or social infrastructure;
4. Possession or attempts to obtain surveillance or planning materials, i.e., maps, photographs, blueprints, cameras, surveillance equipment;
5. Possession or attempts to obtain materials for improvised explosive devices i.e., chemicals, timers, wires or other components;
6. Possession (or the attempt to obtain fraudulently) identification documents;
7. The rental, or attempt to rent, storage units or a living space for a large group of people;
8. Economical and non-descript lifestyle;
9. The abandonment of typical cultural identifiers such as facial hair or clothing;
10. No interest in learning English; and,
11. Relationships with suspicious groups.
Note: This checklist is by no-means all-inclusive. It should be viewed as a place from which to start your discussion about terrorist planning.

Since 1996 the State Department has issued an annual report on patterns of global terrorism. Between 1996 and 2004, the varying reports list well over one hundred different foreign terrorist organizations. Furthermore, this does not include the large number of domestic terrorist or potential domestic terrorist groups and individuals. Clearly, it is impossible for the first responder to have an in-depth knowledge about the all the potential threats. Similarly, in Los Angeles it would be difficult to have an in-depth understanding of every gang; however, it would be possible to understand enough about gang members in order to increase your situational awareness. In order to increase our situational awareness, we want to understand some overarching principles about terrorists:

• For the terrorist, the end justifies the means. The result is that no matter how bad the act, if the terrorist perceives the act as moving toward their goal, they do not consider the impact of the act on the individual or groups. Their only concern is the impact of the act on their end goal.

• The planning and execution of most terrorist acts seems to indicate that first responders are dealing with criminals that have an above average intelligence and are tactically astute. Research indicates that many terrorist leaders come from middle class families and are relatively well-educated.

• The point of terrorism is always publicity for the cause, through terror. Think of it this way – in war, the point of a mine field is to slow or stop enemy progression; with terrorism, the point of an improvised explosive device along a highway is to gain publicity for the cause.

• The target and the victim need not be the same. On September 11th, the victims who were killed or injured were not the targets. The United States government was the target. This concept reinforces the idea that for every terrorist – the end justifies the means.

Know current intelligence

The current national system for a terrorist alert is almost too general to be of much use to the average first responder. There have been, however, instances when the Department of Homeland Security has issued alerts that were specific enough to be useful. An alert that says that financial institutions in a specific region should be in a higher state of preparedness is specific enough for the first responder to take action. Indeed, the Department of Homeland Security not only issues alerts, but general recommendations for action based on those alerts. Every first responder should have a good grasp of how a heightened alert impacts their assignment.

One of the most common deliver methods of explosives is through the use of a vehicle. Some of the indicators may be:

• Vehicles that have a strong chemical smell, or the scent of something burning coming from them;
• Signs of recent body work, especially of poor quality, or with patches welded to the cab or body of the truck;
• Extra fuel tanks or extra antennas, or recent signs of a reinforced suspension;
• Inappropriate license plates or misspelled artwork or badly executed stencil painting;
• Heavily tinted windows, particularly if used in an unusual manner (for example, if the front screen of a delivery truck is tinted); and,
• Signs that the vehicle is heavily over-loaded on its suspension.
One of the problems with American law enforcement is that we tend to “stove-pipe” critical communications. That is, we send information up and down a specific chain of command, often failing a timely dissemination of the information to where it is most needed. You can work to short-circuit this by developing your own sources of information. Whether you subscribe to the Department of Defense e-mail briefings, the State Department email advisories or any one of the great public sources of Open Source Intelligence, you should find a source of information that you continually and regularly consult for intelligence on the latest trends in terrorism.

Total situational awareness is gained through increased comprehension of what we observe. It results in a greater ability to make short-term predictions about what is going to happen and therefore make decisions regarding our response. Comprehension is gained through education, training and experience. If you attain total situational awareness you will be better able to prevent, respond and apprehend.

“© 2007 reprinted with permission”

About the Author
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA is author of Police Technology (Prentice Hall, July 2004), and co-author of Leadership: Texas Hold ‘em Style (Quill Driver Books, August 2006), From NYPD to LAPD: An Introduction to Policing (Prentice Hall, July 2007), over fifty articles on technology, policing, leadership and terrorism and a dozen educational websites like Raymond can be reached at or through his blog at

Crucible of War

I got interested in the French and Indian War from viewing one episode of a PBS documentary series called “The Making of America”. “Crucible of War” is available in a relatively shorter format under the same title as the documentary, “The Making of America”. The title of the PBS series and the abridged version of this amazing narrative tells a great deal about the importance of the years before, during and after the Seven Years War (officially spanning the years from 1754-1763).

The Seven Years War, fought between Britain and her allies and France and the forces aligned behind the French power, splayed out across continents and oceans. There were at least three other such wars that set the stage for conflict between Britain and France in the theater of North America- King William’s War (1689–1697), Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713) and King George’s War in the 1740s.

The first way that warfare between two European super powers in the wilderness of America “made America” is in that warfare with the French and Indians trained future American leaders and operated as a crucible of character to men like George Washington. The Jumonville Glen skirmish in 1754 was George Washington’s first taste of action.

Washington led an ambush against a band of French; initially ten French soldiers were killed and then, to young George’s horror, he lost control of his Indian allies and the Indians suddenly massacred the French who had already surrendered and been disarmed. The French commander Jumonville claimed he had been sent to extend an offer of peace with the British.

The Battle of the Great Meadows (or Battle of Fort Necessity), was a disaster for Washington and his men. Due to Washington’s inexperience, the enemy was able to fire upon Washington’s men from concealment within the tree line. Washington’s men were pinned down in trenches and were taking fire from within a log palisade that provided poor cover. It started to rain. To make matters worse, the British were out of ammunition. Washington asked for terms and surrendered to the French.

The focus of this book review is on character and the author does a good job of drawing out the characters of all the major players, from King George to George Washington to Pontiac, who led a final bloody war to try to bring back his French allies who had been ousted from Montreal in 1760. By that time Britain controlled most of the interior of North America at least to the banks of the Mississippi and beyond.

Britain’s naval power was crucial to winning North America. Without the fighting abilities of the colonial backwoodsmen, however, the outcome might have been in doubt. The French had much better relationships with their Indian allies than the British and understood how to effectively fight guerrilla warfare.

The Brits, on the other hand, marched into battles in regimental ranks with only their quintessential pluck. They were often cut down mercilessly by fighters concealed in the woods.

Beyond the obvious difference in tactics and the benefit that men like Washington attained by emulating the British officers with whom they came into contact, there was a more subtle process going on. The colonial militias were mustered from small communities and each unit contained men that knew each other as brothers, relatives and neighbors.

The British regular army officers, drawn from the upper classes of Britain, treated the colonials in ways that began to breed resentment and often contempt. The militia volunteers saw British rule in a less favorable light after seeing their brothers and friends flogged and even hung for infractions against strict British discipline. The fact that elitist British officers disdained the frontier “rabble” and refused to understand that a new breed of man was emerging from the colonial wilderness, created a belief that American colonials were lazy and only interested in what they could take out of the British mercantile system and for themselves.

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (aka “the Great Commoner”), took over the direction of the war and, as Secretary of State, managed the war personally.

Perhaps his greatest success in North America was recruiting cooperation from the colonial politicians and encouraging enlistment by recalcitrant colonial British subjects, aka the Americans. He did this in a way that is very familiar to Americans today, with huge injections of borrowed cash pumping up the colonial economy and pay incentives for the volunteers.

In 1763, the warring parties in Europe signed the Treaty of Paris, thus ending the conflict. The colonial economy went into a tail spin along with the rest of the British economy, a result of deficit spending and Britain’s attempts to restructure colonial trading policies in such a way as to justify the expense of maintaining a military presence within the colonies.

Consequently trade within the British Empire languished for several years. When the Stamp Act was introduced (a small fee on legal documents and other official papers), the colonials exploded. Some of the worst elements in the cities took to the streets and began looting the homes of British officials.

Along with other elite members of the British power structure, the British leadership was forced to hide from throngs of sailors, tradesman and other “Sons of Liberty” hell bent on burning the ruling class members in effigy, accosting them, stealing their household goods (which were sumptuous) and literally burning them out.

This conduct arose from a number of economic and political factors that seemed to be caused by different situations in each region. But the eruptions occurred all over the Eastern Seaboard and took Parliament totally by surprise.

So what is the character of the New Man that emerged from out of this maelstrom? To most British, the Americans were ungrateful and treacherous malcontents, fighting to free themselves from French and Indian terrorism only after benefitting from ungodly infusions of cash. Now that the war was over, the Americans did not want to pay any taxes levied by Parliament, unreasonably insisting that such taxes violated their rights under England’s common law and the natural law (inalienable God-given rights of English citizens). From an objective perspective, any legal basis for denying that England could impose relatively small taxes or even large taxes on her subjects is highly dubious.

But something had happened at a deeper level. The study of warfare inexorably demonstrates that protracted conflict shapes men’s consciousness in ways that are impossible to predict. The very concept of being an American was developing as young British colonists interacted with members of the most powerful military in the world, closely observing strengths and weaknesses, the foibles, follies and valor of the mightiest army and economic machine in Europe. The young backwoodsman would have grown up with romantic notions about British culture, coming to military service enthusiastically embracing the mores and military culture of the cherished homeland.

But many mustered out with the sense that Americans were different than their English cousins. We fought differently, thought differently and our very consciousness was, well… American!

Think about struggling up a clear-cut hillside with only a few stumps for cover toward an abattoir (literally slaughterhouse) of trees felled to halt your progress in an open kill zone. The British officers are goading you on at the point of a sword to proceed into a hail of grapeshot, musket balls and canister explosions (pieces of metal exploding out of projectiles fired from cannons). Cannonballs are bouncing off the ground and ripping the limbs off your brothers, neighbors and fellow militia troops- mostly colonial British-American volunteers (i.e., Americans) fresh off the farm. The officers have made it clear that they consider you and your neighbors to be lazy, ignorant and backwards. At best a disorganized mob of rabble.

It may help to think about our professional volunteers in Iraq trying to train the Iraqis to fight. The difference, however, is the American could probably shoot better than the British and had experience fighting Indians that totally eluded the professionals, trained as they were to stand and deliver musket shot in close drill formation.

British Army (First Model) Long Land Pattern Brown Bess Flintlock Musket

The main criticism I have for the author, Fred Anderson, is that he spent too much time on the details of colonial and Parliamentary politics. I never was able to learn when and how the colonials were using their smooth bore or rifled firearms (probably all smooth bore at that time?). The book discusses little or nothing related to weaponry or comparisons between the respective technologies of firepower on each side.

I am assuming that the colonial militiamen were expected to provide their own weapons but the long rifle may have just started getting a foothold in America at this time. I suspect the British may have had the Brown Bess and some rifled weapons- although available, muskets, not rifles were the mainstay for the British. The doctrine in most European armies of the time was that aimed fire was a distraction from the regimented cadences of firing on command, loading and waiting for the next command to fire, all the while standing squarely before cascades of musket ball ripping through the ranks of your fellow soldiers standing at attention. Hopefully some of our weapons experts will weigh in on such questions.

The author states that he was trying to:

1. “…give a sense of movement through time”; …and “concentrate on critical transitions from the past toward the present.”…to integrate “latent events”–demographic trends, migration patterns, and other fundamental conditions that contemporary witnesses did not fully grasp, but which have become evident in retrospect–with “manifest events” such as wars and commercial depressions, on which contemporaries commented;

2. …because these new narrators had to connect the latent and the manifest in history, they would need to address the “critical transitions” they described not narrowly or in isolation, but as part of world-historical processes. Finally, the writers of these narratives would have to integrate the history of culture and consciousness into the history of external events;

3. …include static, “motionless” portrayals of situations, circumstances, and points of view of the past, but they will be essentially dynamic; they will concentrate on change, transition, and the passage of time; and they will show how major aspects of the present world were shaped–acquired their character–in the process of their emergence.

The author argues that “the Seven Years’ War was a theater of cultural interaction. Insofar as each group had leaders, their actions, decisions, and understandings had to play a central role in creating the tapestry of stories that would make up the narrative as a whole. Because the war was also a world-girdling conflict, I tried to frame these largely North American interactions with the strategic, political, and diplomatic narrative of the war as a whole. Finally, because I intended to examine both the war and its effects, I extended the coverage of the narrative beyond the typical endpoints of 1760 (the conquest of Canada) or 1763 (the Peace of Paris) into the postwar era, in order to explain such events as the Stamp Act crisis not as harbingers of Revolution, but as results of changes in imperial relationships.”

Whenever I read such a book, I try to relate the historical facts to how we live and make individual decisions today, decisions that have foreseeable and unforeseeable effects on our personal character, the characters of future generations of our individual offspring and the cultural characteristics of life in the United States. But most of all what I am asking myself is about that abstract sense of what it means to be an American. Or how does it feel to be an American?

For some people it evidently causes feelings of shame to be identified with a war in Iraq that is “colonial” and immoral. See book review about the Philippine-American War:

The War in the Philippines (officially lasting from 1898-1902), like most wars, actually continued for many years afterwards. The war with the Moros in the southern regions of the Philippine archipelago is being waged to this day with the U.S. presently engaging Islamicists in a rarely reported theater of warfare.

The Philippine conflict was a protracted war that, without a doubt, caused more loss of life on both sides and collateral damage to civilians by intentional brutality and disease than the war in Iraq. The Iraq expedition has been the most precisely waged and politically correct exploit in the history of warfare. The war in the Philippines had no geopolitical strategy, was almost purely accidental and only came about as a result of McKinley’s total inability to decisively rein in Theodore Roosevelt and others like him that made today’s Neo-Conservatives seem like Sunday School teachers. Yes, Virginia, the attempts to put down the Philippine “insurrection” had far less legitimacy than the incursion in Iraq (no one even voted for it right before they voted against it).

Roosevelt, without any authority whatsoever (he wasn’t the president or even the appropriate cabinet official), took it upon himself to send the Navy to Manila. There wasn’t an important commodity like oil at stake, or allegations of WMDs stockpiled in secret warehouses and laboratories for nerve gas, biological weapons, etc. There was not even a Hans Blix to oversee inspections and provide an imprimatur of propriety and moral outrage and, oh, the anti-imperialists howled. Today, most Filipinos love America, economic imperialism notwithstanding, and even though the foreign aid has been diminishing for years. We are quietly spending a great deal of money to fight Islamic terrorists in Southern Mindanao, however, but I digress.

Every day we have more men and women returning from Iraq. What have they seen there, how do they feel as they listen to the cacophony of dissension at home? What are they learning about the Middle East and that cultural tapestry in which they are required to interact, obtain intelligence and win hearts? What are they seeing in the American people?

I don’t know, but I do know that one tenet of Neo-Conservative philosophy is that war builds character. War changes character but I dare to suggest that war in and of itself cannot improve character. The wars in China over hundreds of years culminated in the reign of Chairman Mao, the ultimate warlord. The wars in Europe revealed Hitler and Stalin and a century (the Twentieth Century) of worldwide genocide and brutality that has no parallel in the past.

All this, and more, while unparalleled human and industrial progress exploded in exponential leaps of quantum and technological energy.

And what is happening to the younger generation that stayed at home? According to the media, morale has been destroyed and faith in the social contract has never been lower. Supposedly the torch is about to pass, either from a regressive baby-boomer President to a “progressive” baby boomer like Hillary or to someone like Barak Obama that claims to represent a break with the stagnating controversies of the Sixties that still bedevil the body politic. But there are other indications that the people of Iraq are experiencing a surge of freedom, relative peace and burgeoning prosperity. In whom do we place our trust?

To me such questions and issues of character constitute the fascination of history and the salient theme of the book on the “war that made America”. We don’t know what we are becoming as a people. It may be that we are headed for a dark fascist future as women like Naomi Wolf tell us, along with a choir of assorted Chomskyites and diverse Chicken-Littles chanting in the wings.

The soothsayers sing-songs that are starting to sound like a dirge for the fall of Constantinople. But, on the other hand, we could be at a divide within the history of the Republic where our decisions actually lead to doom for our way of life.

If doom is our future it will likely be due to something more subtle than terrorist teams invading our public spaces with riacin, dirty bombs and horrible death. On the other hand, such attacks have the potential to further divide and confuse a public that is struggling with what it means to be an American.

Everyone agrees that there is something wrong with the way the news is reported and many of us feel manipulated by a corporate media complex that is driven by elitism. The elitist combinations are much harder to identify than King George’s moneyed interests that funded his war in Europe and the New World. Some people think the UN is the source of the subversive undertow beneath the U.S. governing powers. Or George Soros and currency speculation combined with covert political operations?

Others on the left and right point to the New World Order’s tax exempt foundations as engines driving social change and the influence of invisible government operating covertly in the financial, academic, media and intelligence worlds. A man like Ron Paul calls for abolishing the Federal Reserve, CIA and FBI (according to the news reports I have heard) and there was and (still seekms to be) an apparent groundswell of popular support. If there is reason for hope, what is the greatest evidence that hope exists?

As for me, all I can give is my one opinion that we seem to have a majority of strict-Constitutionalists on the U.S. Supreme Court at a time in history when the Second Amendment is finally coming before the Court. If it is as bad as the left and the right say, then our hope is first of all in God (that is always the case) and, second of all, in the Second Amendment and that thin red line of original intent. You will not get very far with your First Amendment or any other rights without your guns- if the Fascists are really at the door.

Here’s a footnote with some great links from Martin Morehouse: The French Royal forces would have used some variation on the 1717 or 1728 French infantry muskets. The French supplied a cheaper version, known as a ‘trade gun’, to their Indian allies. The British troops would have used the Long Land Pattern (1st model) Brown Bess from 1742, or in the later stages of the war, may have used the 1756 Brown Bess. Militia would have used what they could get.

In 1755, the Governor of North Carolina imported 1000 Dutch muskets and associated equipment for the use of the militia, since, “There is not half the Militia armed”.

Thank you to Martin Morehouse

The Last Line of Defense


Every time I pick up a newspaper or magazine I am confronted with arguments for and against the Bush Administration’s policies in Iraq. I recently decided to go back and read everything I could about the Korean War, a war that most of us want to forget if we ever knew much about it in the first place. (See my book review of “The Forgotten War” in the book review section of this website for a little more information concerning our war with Russia, China and the Korean Communists from 1950-1953.) It is worth analyzing the strategic thinking of Mao Zedong in order to grasp how China’s leadership may be approaching developments in the world today.

I was actually shaken when I realized how brutal the limited “police action” in Korea was. Seoul, the capital that the U.S. defended (we were a member of the United Nations Forces fighting North Korea, a proxy for the Soviet Union and Communist China), changed hands four times with many lives lost by civilians, and military personnel on both sides. The United States, five years after the end of WW II, was totally unprepared in leadership, training, manpower, equipment and intelligence. For me, the most surprising aspect of the war was the realization that Mao Zedong cunningly enveloped whole divisions and battalions and slaughtered Americans after Mao’s troops crossed the border of China at the Yalu River and quietly infiltrated U.N. lines. The waves of Chinese and North Koreans were often coming from behind, in front of and from all sides of the U.N. lines.

Mao took great pride in his ability to carry on what we now refer to as “asymmetrical” warfare from mountain strongholds against opponents with much more well equipped armies. Mao’s economics may be out of fashion in China, but Chairman Mao’s strategic thinking is still influential within Chinese military circles. The following are some salient features of Mao’s thought:

· Political factors are more important than technology and material factors in determining who ultimately wins the war;

· A liberal democratic society has many conflicting priorities and interest groups that can be exploited in times of war;

· Given patience and time, an adversary with an advantage in numbers and material resources can eventually be defeated.

The Vietnam War is the oft-cited example of how patience and time work in favor of a determined military force that is less well equipped with technology and weaponry. Mao taught revolutionaries all over the world how domestic political dissension and other cultural peculiarities of liberal democracies could be turned into weapons that were more effective than aircraft carriers and missiles.

Many of the Chinese leaders fought through years of civil war in China and were assisted, then and now, by Russia’s huge military-industrial complex. In recent times, China has developed anti-satellite weapons, including land-based laser weapons that can destroy the sensors of satellites. I even understand that China can now destroy military satellites with a high-altitude nuclear burst launched from its own satellites.

Aircraft carriers are America’s chief instrument for projecting U.S. military supremacy around the world. In this category of “hardware”, the US has no equal. We maintain a total of twelve aircraft carrier battle groups; China has none. But in naval war games, our carriers were eliminated repeatedly. Many of our naval experts are reported to be very concerned. Of course, no one in the Navy is going to stand up and declare that carriers may be all but obsolete. In view of the current technologies, the carrier groups may be as effective in a war between superpowers as the Maginot line in France which Hitler merely by- passed and then mopped up after the dust settled on his blitzkrieg. Medium- and short-range ballistic missiles which China seems to be on the verge of perfecting can hit slow-moving targets at sea up to 2,500 km away.

China possesses missiles, some with a range of 300 km that can be armed with electro-magnetic pulse warheads. China has purchased much of this new technology, which includes nuclear warheads, from Russia. There are also massive torpedoes in China’s arsenal against which aircraft carriers are virtually defenseless.

Furthermore Chinese and some U.S. military experts believe that our high-tech military is vulnerable to electro-magnetic pulse attack (EMP) which can blanket the US with an electro-magnetic pulse that will damage all electrical grids on the US mainland, shutting down everything that is operated electronically, including computers in vehicles and other military equipment. Such an attack is a corollary to cyber-warfare, which is basically a very sophisticated form of computer hacking. Experts tell us such electronic sniping and pinging goes on constantly in preparation for economic and social confusion that will create a “perfect storm” converging with the other tactics discussed herein.

So if all this is true, what is the motive and what can a patriotic citizen do? Hasn’t China invested a great deal of money in the U.S. economy and would they want to risk their investments?

Financial manipulation and maneuvering for control of oil are additional weapons in an asymmetrical arsenal but are also motives for the scenarios outlined above. It is interesting to see how much aid China has received from Japan, the U.S. and Europe over the years even as China increases military spending and aid to countries which have gradually entered the Chinese sphere of international influence.

China’s immediate objective, however, is Taiwan. China has announced the goal of “repatriating” Taiwan unequivocally. The U.S. position on Taiwan over the years has been equivocal in the extreme but also provocative from the Chinese standpoint. The ambiguity of our own foreign policy and the lack of any U.S. national interest at stake in Taiwan (or at least an interest that is clearly articulated and discernable to the American public; i.e., the electorate) is an invitation to China to make a gambit at almost any time. China has boldly enunciated its intention to use force to seize Taiwan by force. In the event that China deploys force across the Formosa Straight, how will we as a people deal with being asked to make sacrifices based on the United States’ past commitments to Taiwan? Especially where we stand to lose many more lives than we have lost in Iraq or even Vietnam?

Unless we the people can detach from our subjective feelings about Vietnam and all it symbolizes, the American voting public will continue to be the most effective weapon in a potential enemy’s arsenal, a vulnerability to be exploited in time of war. We now have many aggressive enemies all over the world and we have arguably never been so divided within since the Civil War. Whether a Democrat or a Republican wins the presidency, the chances are we will be in Iraq for a long time.

If Mao were still alive he would probably be prepared to act- not to invade America but to exploit our fixation with partisan politics and our own “cultural revolution” that seems to consume the talking classes. If we abandon Taiwan then what will be our attitude toward the Philippines or Japan? What if our economy is ailing and foreclosures are looming when a crisis develops in the Formosa Straight? A terrorist attack occurring closely in time with some other grave crisis (in the Middle East, perhaps?) could severely weaken our political will to deal with an aggressive Chinese military that goes on the move. And they have more than enough troops to operate in more theaters at one time than we can! The political will of the Chinese population is not a problem- it’s just an ideological issue for the Party to decide.

All this may be alarmist, of course and, of course, it would help if we were not so dependent on foreign oil. Men and women that possess far more expertise than I possess can list many valid reasons why the frightening scenarios I have outlined above can never happen. But the thought of all those veteran Chinese and North Korean fighters coming across the hills and crossing behind our lines in Korea in 1950 and 1951 keeps bothering me.

Even when we started taking prisoners that were obviously Chinese in North Korea, our leadership was in denial. Many of our men lost their lives. The Chinese Communists often executed prisoners after the American troops (and other United Nations troops) surrendered. U.N. troops were totally surrounded and had to fight their way across narrow mountain roadways that were controlled by heavily armed Chinese roadblocks. The Chinese did not use roads so it was hard to know when and where they were infiltrating our lines. We left a great deal of American blood on Korean soil because of faltering political leadership, faulty intelligence and positive assertions from politicians and military officers as to how the Chinese leaders would act.

In modern times, the Chinese have tried to manipulate elections in the U.S. while our corporations were transferring electronics with military application to China. When we take off our rosey lenses, we will stop being so confident and start walking and talking very carefully.

Too many folks seem to think that the real enemy is President Bush. But whoever sits in the Oval Office will probably carry on in much the same way as the current administration. The continual dissension in Washington DC will eventually bear a high cost as the people become more and more alienated and confused by the constant wrangling, subpoenas, accusations and blame shifting that goes on in both parties while our enemies (like Iran and possibly China) may be crossing our borders, probing our vulnerabilities and/or outsourcing terrorism to nongovernmental third parties in such a way as to maintain plausible deniability.

Geo-political terrain can be very different from the way it appears! We need our own American “cultural revolution” in which average Americans at the local level start looking at security issues for ourselves. At the grass roots where matters are local, it all tends to stay more focused and real when we stay informed and vigilant. How many of us have extra water and food to sustain us for even a few days in the event that the power grid is down for whatever reason? How many of us have even talked to our neighbors about methods for preventing criminal activity and dealing with disasters at the neighborhood level? The professionals in the state, local and federal government are important in safeguarding us from criminals, terrorists and other threats to our freedom and well-being but they can drop the ball (look at New Orleans).

The first item in any security agenda should be to figure out who the enemy is. If the Chinese government is the enemy, neither political party is likely to sound the alarm because both parties have invested too deeply and too long in “China-as-a-country-that-is-becoming-more-like-us”. If you think you can depend on the Democrats or Republicans in Washington, DC just remember that most of us never heard much about Osama bin Laden before September 11, 2001- even though the authorities were well aware that he was a threat. We keep hearing about how the dots were all set out for the intelligence agencies but no one at the higher levels of government connected the dots. It sounds like that experience at the Yalu that gave rise to my frightful epiphany.

Finally, history demonstrates that various perpetrators of tyranny will align with each other to victimize innocent parties even where such tyrants are supposedly on opposite ends of the ideological spectrum (like Hitler and Stalin with their Mutual Nonaggression Pact on the eve of WW II, an alliance of dictators in which the principals agreed to divide up Poland while the leaders of Europe were swooning over “peace in our time”).

We need to convey a message to our leaders that we are tired of Congressional investigations and constant chatter about scandals in Washington, DC. The brutal infighting in our nation’s capitol replicates some of the more endearing aspects of how Mao and Stalin typically dealt with their domestic foes. I respectfully suggest that we the people, including our political leaders, are our own worst enemies because we have been divided, isolated and lulled into thinking that the enemy is our fellow American on the opposite side of the partisan trench.

During the Korean War, prior to Gen. MacArthur being dismissed, Gen. MacArthur and President Truman were busy maneuvering behind the political scenery while the enemy’s human waves were pouring out of the hills and carving up our troops. While we wait for our leaders to unite around some real priorities, we the people need to remind each other that this is the time to watch and be alert. A time may come that those of us in the shooting community are the last line of defense.