Amateur Radio Operators - ARRL ARES "weapons policy"

This is a discussion on Amateur Radio Operators - ARRL ARES "weapons policy" within the Concealed Carry Issues & Discussions forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Originally Posted by whoppo I'm an EC and a DEC in an ARES/RACES/CERT team but we work directly with county EMA. We've already been discussing ...

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Thread: Amateur Radio Operators - ARRL ARES "weapons policy"

  1. #46
    Member Array W9HDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whoppo View Post
    I'm an EC and a DEC in an ARES/RACES/CERT team but we work directly with county EMA. We've already been discussing separation from ARES and the ARRL due to many other practices and policies that are "out of touch" with the times. The agenda for the next meeting will include this topic as many of my team place a high value on their 2A rights... as do I. My prediction: ARES will lose it's official presence here and it will be replaced by a state-level EmComm group with policies and procedures that work without alienating its volunteer members.
    Sounds like a great plan and I wish you the best of luck, but some forewarning, that's been tried around here in a couple of counties and the ARRL has sent in their lawyers to make sure that ARES was the only game in town.
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  3. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by W9HDG View Post
    Sounds like a great plan and I wish you the best of luck, but some forewarning, that's been tried around here in a couple of counties and the ARRL has sent in their lawyers to make sure that ARES was the only game in town.
    If we don't use any of their trademarks, documents, etc. there's no legal grounds for them to act upon. They can control their intellectual property, but they have no monopoly on communications. I invite them to kindly "bring it on" :)
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  4. #48
    Member Array W9HDG's Avatar
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    Its been a while since anyone has replied to this thread, I just thought I would throw my resignation from ARES/RACES out here for anyone that might be interested.

    To the WI ARES/RACES leadership that receives this message,

    The purpose of this communication is to address how Wisconsin ARES/RACES has taken what was a very enjoyable part of our hobby and turned it into a paramilitary subset of the hobby that is no longer enjoyable. The vast majority of this e-mail will be consumed by the ARRL's no weapons policy for any ARES activity, but before I get to that, I will begin by making my feeling known on the other issue first.

    I will start with my concerns over the way certain members of the WI ARES/RACES communicate, or rather the lack of communications skills. Several times over the last year, there have been requests for information from the section level leadership that lacked enough details to effectively answer those questions. When clarification is requested the request is met with a very rude and otherwise unprofessional response, or in the case of the most recent incident, no reply at all. I later found out that the person the clarification was requested from had replied to other members of the senior and executive leadership. I have seen the contents of this e-mail and it was extremely unprofessional. Instead, the proper response would've been to reply to me directly and thank me for my comments and address the concerns, or in the case of this specific example, say something to the effect of "although this e-mail was not directed at you, thank you for bringing the short comings of my request to my attention," and send out another e-mail addressing those short comings. The reaction of the rest of the senior leadership was to ignore the incident beyond noting (not to me), that there are others that have problems with this individual as well.

    Now to the elephant in the room, I am fairly certain that most of the recipients of this e-mail already know my take on the ARRL's weapons policy. It strikes me as an uninformed knee jerk reaction, and I am certain that most of you will consider the contents of the remainder of this message to be a knee jerk reaction as well. Understand that I have been giving this a lot of thought for over the last couple of months since I first heard of the upcoming policy. The lack of any "wiggle room" in this policy in my opinion only makes it worse; there are times that it just makes good common sense to be armed in some manner (not always a firearm,) when you are out and about. The world we live in today is far from a "Leave it to Beaver" society, and many people's worst comes out after a disaster, which is when and where we will be operating.

    I understand the arguments that during any ARES/RACES activation all ARES/RACES personnel fall under the incident command system and that the first order of the ICS system is safety. However, I feel that if that was really true, that there would be no problems with a person being armed in some manner in order to help ensure their own safety from the unforeseen. I understand that if I feel I am asked to do something under the ICS system that I feel is unsafe, all I need to do is speak up, however there is always the unexpected, and what happens when the unforeseen turns an otherwise safe situation/assignment into that rare occasion that is no longer safe. I tire of the arguments of "how many times has that happened to you?" The times that I do choose carry a weapon, I do so NOT because of what has happened in my past, but because of what MAY happen in my future.

    The word "choose" brings up a very big point as well. This policy takes away my choice of being armed or not. Despite what many people may think or desire, that choice is still mine and mine alone and I will not have some bureaucrat local, or half a country away or otherwise making that choice for me. Last I checked the second amendment affords me the RIGHT to keep and bear arms, and according to the founding documents of this great country as set down by the founding fathers, this right, along with the others spelt out in the US Constitution are self evident and that we are "are endowed by their [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights," and that no man had the power to restrict those rights. I have little doubt that the framers of our country would be shocked to find that most people go about their daily lives unarmed, and unfortunately in most cases, unaware.

    As far as the argument of being auxiliary communicators and nothing more, there has been a push for ARES/RACES personnel to be more versatile in order to be more attractive to our served agencies, therefore the blatant disregard of the scenarios that put us in areas where we may have to take responsibility for our safety such as search and rescue in the woods, or watching a dam for potential flooding, etc. is poor planning and management at best, and reckless at worst. No one has addressed the question of who is responsible if the unforeseen happens and I get hurt during those type of activations, especially if the situation could've been resolved without harm to myself or others, had I been allowed to be armed? Who will provide for my family if the unforeseen event in question results in my being hospitalized, or worse?

    There are several portions of the email from the ARRL that I feel need to be addressed:

    • “We are not going to talk about choice here, or 'rights' or anything else on this issue.” <-- If rights and my choice to exercise those rights are not important then the writers of this policy may be living in the wrong country. In my view the ARRL does not have the power to tell me how I can and cannot protect myself.

    • “There is no place within ARES for weapons of any type.” I will agree with regards to shelters, EOCs, Hospitals, Schools, and any other place that is posted as no weapons allowed and those of us who choose to be armed are not dumb enough to carry into those areas, but what about a dam that I might be asked to watch during a flood, or the rural neighborhood that I am performing damage assessment or welfare checks in? Or the woods I may be walking through during a search and rescue operation? It seems to me that this policy was put in place to address the people who are not smart enough to know when it is not appropriate to be armed and as such, have elected to restrict the rights of everyone instead.

    • “We can't have any liability on this issue.” <-- Just what liability are they referring to? Wisconsin law grants immunity to any employer/organization that allows legal weapon carry from any civil or legal ramifications of that decision. If anything, this particular decision opens the ARRL up to more liability. We live in a sue happy society, I am sure that if someone were to be hurt as a result of this decision to ban weapons, that the ARRL would be facing a lawsuit that they would most likely lose as a direct result of that decision.

    When I attempted to communicate my thoughts on this policy, not in an attempt to get it reversed but to explain why I could not in good conscience adhere to it, I received lectures as to why my beliefs are wrong, or just flat out ignored despite my various attempts at contact.

    I am certain this has been said before with regards to this policy but it does fit my position and feelings properly: "Any group or organization that restricts your rights and freedoms is not worth belonging to."

    With this new policy and the other issue laid out above, I feel that my services within ARES/RACES are no longer required or desired and therefore tender my immediate resignation from all levels of WI ARES/RACES from County member to State HF Net Manager, however I will remain as Net Manager until a replacement can be named. Please keep in mind that this is my choice and my decision alone and I do not expect to see any lectures about my decision. Everyone in the end has to have their line in the sand and mine has been reached.

    Travis Augustine W9HDG


    Feel free to comment if you wish!
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  5. #49
    Senior Member Array justherenow's Avatar
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    I remember this as always being a policy. When I first started in ARES they were anal about even a pocket knife. If I participate in activities, as long as I am not in a restricted space, concelaed is just that. Most of my activities are more Skywarn related.
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  6. #50
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    Well said Travis. I'm an EC and a DEC and a few days ago I discussed the issue with my SEC, who had also never heard about this policy. He was at an event this weekend with the Section Manager for ARES and has added this topic to their agenda (I expect I'll hear the result later this week). My SEC's thoughts were that should this be confirmed and presented to the general ARES membership in this state, we'd lose at least half of the current members, including himself. Maine is a very rural state and much of our activity places us in remote areas in addition to the usual shelter communications tasks... as you say, "watching dams" and "assessing damage". Maine is also a very pro-armed-citizen state with a significant percentage of the adult population issued CCW's (my town has issued to more than 20% of the adult residents) I'm fairly certain that the SM's response will echo that of the General Counsel and I've begun writing my own resignation, which I'll share here if/when submitted to the league.
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  7. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diddle View Post
    As a former, AEC, EC, DEC, RACES officer, SEC and assistant SM I agree with the ARRL. NO WEAPONS WHAT SO EVER. Here in KY nearly all major (think Tornado, Flood etc.) emergency response involves the Department of Emergency Management which fall under the direction of the Kentucky Department of Military Affairs. You DO NOT want to find yourself in the state EOC comm. room with a firearm. Especially when the Governor may be in the next room with security staff. YOU DO NOT want to find yourself in a City or County EOC with a firearm either! Here we have the CSEPP program for the 523 tons of nerve gas and blister agents at the Richmond KY Army Depot. A firearm there will likely get you a free trip a Federal Prison and one not of your choosing.
    Aha, so, George, your position is that you assume every member of ARES is automatically too stupid to know where it is and is not legal to carry a weapon, AND that because some tiny fraction of potential ARES operating positions might be in restricted areas that therefore we are all too stupid to carry any weapon in a legal manner at any time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddle View Post
    More often than not law enforcement sees ARES as a pain in the butt.
    I assume that this is your observation of the law enforcement agencies that you have had dealings with. I would further assume that these agencies consider ARES a "pain in the butt" because they had to deal with YOU and others like you -- arrogant, condescending, etc., etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddle View Post
    ARES volunteers are often viewed by LEOs as a "COP want-to-be" This started when ARES people wanted lights, sirens etc.
    Clearly the ARES groups you have been familiar with consist largely of idiots. -- You might well be right that THESE people really are as stupid as you suggest.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddle View Post
    ARES is simply a FREE communication resource maned by volunteers for the purpose of serving their fellow man in time of need - WHERE and WHEN their service is beneficial.
    The WHEN is usually under very bad circumstances.

    While YOU might sit on your butt in the EOC (telling everyone how important you are), most of us find that the WHERE is likely to be in the middle of nowhere (most of Kentucky happens to be rural).

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddle View Post
    [I]With that being said, I do not mean to sound hi-handed, like an ass, a know-it-all or dictator.[/I}
    Why to people think they can says "I do not mean to sound" or "no offense intended" to somehow make all the arrogant, insulting, condescending crap they just spewed magically disappear?

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddle View Post
    In twenty plus years of building ARES programs I have learned what is best not to do and most importantly, know when to back off and keep my to myself.
    Obviously not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Diddle View Post
    I have written ARES and well as RACES programs for a number of counties in KY, PA, VA and MO. Three things always come up that propagates animosity and is lights, sirens and firearms.
    They "come up" because of idiots who want to invent their own laws instead of following the existing laws. All three issues are thoroughly regulated by existing laws and none of those issues have any place being "regulated" by any sort of private organization policies.

  8. #52
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    I Would Like To Look At This In A Different Manner..

    It would seem to me if one were to follow their rules and regulations to the letter, ie: No Weapons of any kind, then one would have to be completely NAKED!

    After all, anything one wears can be used as a weapon for ill intent. So with that being the case..

    Once again we have people making up rules and regulation who haven't given any thought into the ramifications of what they're asking to be done.. or not done!

    FireStar M40

  9. #53
    Member Array W9HDG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whoppo View Post
    Well said Travis. I'm an EC and a DEC and a few days ago I discussed the issue with my SEC, who had also never heard about this policy. He was at an event this weekend with the Section Manager for ARES and has added this topic to their agenda (I expect I'll hear the result later this week).
    Out of curiosity, how did that discussion go?

  10. #54
    Senior Member Array justherenow's Avatar
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    A bit off topic, but it I was reading the Central Arkansas ham club website, and one of the things they talk about in the ARES section is that one should not self dispatch, and an unauthorized search and rescue could get you shot. Anyways, back to the discussion.
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  11. #55
    Senior Member Array mastercapt's Avatar
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    Here in central florida, the "shelters" are in schools, so carrying firearms are verboten. ( I am allowed a defensive spray with I do carry) They also station a uniformed LEO in each shelter as a control for the occupants. When the wind exceeds 40 MPH, the LEOs are taken off the road and stay in the shelters until it subsides.

    In other areas, I do know there are some hams which do carry, in spite of the ARRL rules. If the worst that can happen is I get "fired" from a volunteer position, using my own radio equipment, etc, I'll have a means of protecting myself. However, deep concealment.

    One thing I would like to add. I was stationed in a small town in the southern tier of NY state during the hurricane agnes emergency. The flood water got up the the second floor of many downtown buildings. No electricity, no passible roads in or out, not even a commercial radio station on the air nearby. We brought all the radios stuff and a small generator by national guard helo. The shelter was in a school on a hillside which was not flooded.
    Many people lost their homes, all belongings, and their place of employment. There is a heavy potential for someone to go postal in this situation. The entire police and fire department were also in the shelter. The people in the shelter behaved, maybe because of all the law enforcement there. Actually, in many small towns which were involved, there are white rings on some of the power and telephone ploes to mark how high the water came up to.

    In Hurricane Andrew, some of my fellow hams took a converted travel trailer there and were set up in a mall parking lot. They said looting went on in the stores while they were there. They did not have any problems, but they had a weapon inside the trailer with them.

    What I am saying is: there is a big potential for a situation where having a weapon may save your own bacon.

    Travis: I also resigned from ARES this year because of the politics from the "leaders".
    I was a professional communications technician and can repair radios. They wanted me to repair everyone elses radio pro-bono.

  12. #56
    New Member Array JohnKHut's Avatar
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    ARRL/ARES concealed weapon statement

    Mr. Imlay's statement is, not surprisingly, very problematic. He wrote, "There is no place within ARES for weapons of any type." and in another sentence, "We do not want anyone participating in ARES while possessing a weapon outside their home or vehicle ..."

    These two quotations (not taken out of context) seem to be diametrically opposed to each other. In one he says no weapons at all and in the other he realizes that he cannot overide the Castle Doctrine.
    If they do not have the authority to overide the Castle Doctrine they also do not have the authority to overide the provisions of a state issued CCW.
    In other words, the ARRL/ARES do not have the authority to mandate a no weapons requirement.

    Mr. Imlay's email prompts 2 questions from me.
    1) This seems to indicate I cannot carry a folding blade pocket knife (which I am NEVER without) nor may I carry my cane because it may be used as a cudgel. How say you counselor?
    2) Mr. Imlay's email also seems to indicate that the ARRL/ARES organization(s) are affirming the "Castle Doctrine," inthat I MAY have a weapon upon my person when in my home or automobile even while I MAY BE PARTICIPATING in an ARRL/ARES function?

    John
    WD0FIN
    Last edited by JohnKHut; June 8th, 2012 at 02:29 PM. Reason: to clarify my original questions and statements

  13. #57
    Member Array danwdooley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard58 View Post
    I never got involved in any of those groups due to the attitudes of the leaders, Now I know I will not due to that policy, 73 KF4ISO
    I never thought about that either but I've never been active in any of the emergency service activities. I know, I guess selfish on my part but I just don't enjoy that aspect of ham radio. Shucks, my hectic schedule hardly allows me time to turn my radios on when I'm in my office at home which doubles as my ham shack. Let the non-armed guys who enjoy that sort of thing do it. This new revelation is one more reason I'd not be interested in participating.

    73 de WB5TKA
    Dan,

    CZ82 nut

  14. #58
    Member Array danwdooley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Armey View Post
    Interesting comments. I never had the time to particpate in ARES but would of considered it maybe when I retire someday. Now I would need to certainly reconsider any thoughts of putting additional risk in the way of particpating in a voluntary situation.
    Best 73s.....Arney NK9O
    May be a bit of a misconception, Arney there. When you retire, the fact is you will have LESS free time than you do now. I guarantee it.

    73 de WB5TKA
    Dan,

    CZ82 nut

  15. #59
    Senior Member Array DoctorBob's Avatar
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    I've been a member of ARRL for over 50 years. They are sort of "The NRA of Ham Radio." They are a private organization and can make up their own rules. You can participate or not. Given the potential for bad press (seen lately in the Z-M case and some OC cases) they seem to prefer to not take the risk. One point that hasn't been mentioned: some states have "Emergency" laws that prohibit carry when the governor (or other official) has declared a state of emergency. You might not want to be carrying under those conditions ham or not...
    'Guerir quelquefois, soulager souvent, consoler toujours.'

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  16. #60
    New Member Array Anvil6's Avatar
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    Helping Bring About Change

    Bringing about change in an organization of hide-bound traditionalists is no task for the impatient.

    Trust me, both ARRL and (by extension) ARES qualify as being hide-bound by tradition.

    I wasn't around Ham Radio when the spark gap transmitter was laid to rest but I can immagine the gnashing of teeth. Then came Voice Mode in AM form, a ruination of the art of radio, it was called. Later followed by Single Side Band emissions, the ruination of the voice sub-band allocations. More recently came the Final Insult, when it became no longer necessary - even for new Amateur Extra Class hams - to copy CW ("morse code") to earn their Extra Class operating priviliges. And the number of "Hams" went . . . UP, not down!

    Consider that all those changes took somewhat over a century to happen. It is then not suprising that with Illinois and Washington, D.C. STILL (as of 06/10/2012) not allowing carry by ANY of their citizens, that ARRL/ARES is not riding the cutting edge of Concealed Carry advocacy. For the greatest portion of the lifetimes of the "Brass" at ARRL, Concealed Carry wasn't just "ungentelmanly" IT WAS FLAT OUT ILLEGAL!

    Perhaps LARGE numbers of "Gee, I'd like to join/participate/participate more fully, but I have serious concerns about your policy that forbids me from carrying a weapon where I am legally authorized to do so to protect myself from violent assault by criminals or vicious animals" letters overflowing the desks at ARRL might begin getting the issue of Concealed Carry removed from the "UNTHINKABLE" listing and nudged toward the "WELL, JUST MAYBE" listing.

    Just my $00.02 worth.

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