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By Linda Simms

On December 1, 2023, the U.S. Military confirmed that they will permanently end live fire trainings in Hawaii's Makua Valley on Oahu. This was a major win for Native Hawaiian groups and environmentalists after decades of activism. Notification of the end of live fire trainings came in a twenty five year old case through a court filing. The lawsuit was filed by Malama Makua a local activist group, with the assistance of Earth Justice an environmental nonprofit, to compel compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. The act requires federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of proposed actions. Associated Press. December 3, 2023.

The negative impacts of live firing ranges on the environment and those living within hearing distance is vast. It disrupts ecosystems precipitating fierce forest fires destroying native forest habitats and sacred cultural sites. Stray bullets are a frequent concern jeopardizing precious wildlife. The severe psychological harm upon those surrounding live fire ranges is profound. They can suffer from multiple disorders. Post traumatic stress disorder. Anxiety thought disorder. And depressive thought disorder. Just to name a few.

Human beings have developed over the last few hundred years to fear gun shots. The sound triggers subconscious lethal warning signals. Increasing cortisol levels due to the acute stress and anxiety inherent in the loud firearm blasts. Primal instincts go on hyper alert. They may not even realize they are experiencing harmful damage. Yet they may get fidgety, nervous, or wary. These symptoms are exhibited when one looks around frantically for where the gun shots are coming from. Or hurriedly freezes to ascertain if they are in danger of getting shot. The lethal noise is ingrained in our collective psyche as a people. Very few people are ignorant of the sound of live gunfire. For all intent and purposes knowing the sound may save their lives.

"Virtually everyday, from when I wake up until I go to sleep, they are shooting high velocity rifles, semiautomatics, or handguns," said Daniel J. Simms, imprisoned Author, Prison Reform Activist, and podcast Host. "The distinct sound of gunfire triggers my mind every time to dwell on how the guards could kill us like fish in a barrel. The constant overriding fear that I, and most every prisoner across the whole Country has, is that the government could declare martial law and kill each one of us with a flick of a pen. It is very debilitating and mentally tolling. When Correctional Officers believe we should be sleeping on concrete, given only bread and water, rags for clothes, and forced into hard slave labor daily, it is not hard for us to believe they would gleefully murder us. These are the types of thoughts that run through our minds everyday when we hear them shooting high capacity rifles and guns as we walk in circles in the big yard. It is a terrible existence! They need to end live gun fire next to prisons."

U.S. Courts have long known the horrible adverse impacts on the mental health of those housed around active gun ranges. "[P]laintiff was experiencing increased anxieties due to live fire trainings at Quantico nearby her home (for which Dr. Torres prescribed a trial of Hydroxyzine), which tends to support her opinions that Plaintiff had mental limitations." Angela L.A. v. Kijakazi, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174908. Constantly hearing repeated live gun fire over days, weeks, months, and even years produces severe immeasurable traumas that are hard to quantify. For instance when a firing range was being proposed local opponents stated, "'[t]he psychological and physiological responses to gunfire sounds may cause greater stress than exposure to vocal sounds' and would therefore 'likely be more than bothersome' than vocal sounds at the same level..' and 'more thorough evaluation over a longer period of time and under differing seasonal and meteorological conditions' were needed to meaningful assess the sound impact of a firing range." McGuinness v. United States Forest Serv., 741 Fed. Appx. 915. The government is well versed in the hazards of live gun fire, even patriotic Veterans that served our Country years ago, during the Vietnam War, complained of the incredible damage. "[P]laintiff was previously diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. That previous assessment noted that Plaintiff experienced two non-combat traumas arising during military live-fire training exercises and underwent a ten day psychiatric hospitalization in 1978." Chapman v. Comm'r of Soc. Sec., 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2336.

Despite the government being fully apprised of the insidious effects live gun fire has on the mental health they have intentionally placed them beside virtually every prison. It is rare to find a prison that does not have live fire ranges within hearing distance of a prison. We can empirically prove that severe mental health traumas are inflicted upon hearing gun shots repeatedly over a period of time. Yet the government has chosen to place the shooting ranges next to prisons anyways. This causes one to wonder if this is a tactical stratagem commonly known as psychological warfare. The government, Federal and State, are the largest slaveholders (prisoners) in human history. They have a lucrative incentive to keep their slaves compliant and damaged so they will come back shortly upon release. This tactic is working flawlessly. The current recidivism rate is eighty two percent (82%) returning to prison within ten years. Sixty three percent within three years. The strategy of placing live fire gun ranges next to prisons has, and will continue into the future, inflict severe psychological and physiological damage upon prisoners. As such, we the people, demand the government to end this torturous policy. We seek to have our troubled community members returned whole and of sound mind.

At we strive to highlight and remedy injustices such as the above. If you would like to support our efforts please consider subscribing to our podcast and blog. You will receive one of two free digital guides, PRISON POLITICS FOR DUMMIES: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO UNDERSTANDING PRISON LIFE, or, THE PRISON LOVER'S TEN STEPS GUIDE TO A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP. You can also get the supporters bundle of my three books, HOPELESS IN SEATTLE: A FOSTERKID'S MANIFESTO, THE ART OF LIVING: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW TO ACHIEVE SUCCESS IN LIFE AND BUSINESS, I LEARNED IN PRISON, and DEFUND D.O.C.: TURNING ALL PRISONS INTO TREATMENT AND CAREER CENTERS, all three for the price of one book, at fourteen dollars and ninety nine cents. Lastly you can support the social justice cause by shopping from our amazing new collection of items. All proceeds go to this mission.

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