Grow Your Portfolio the Intelligent Way

‘He Shot My Arm Off’

By Jim Woods
  • ‘He Shot My Arm Off’
  • ETF Talk: Gain Exposure Dividend-Paying Companies with This Fund
  • Life’s A Cruel Mistress
  • On Preparation  


‘He Shot My Arm Off’

“Don’t mess with Norco.”

That was a headline of a story on my local Southern California news website KTLA, as it described one reaction to video of liquor store owner Craig Cope shooting an armed robber with a shotgun.

Now, this incident, as well as the very clear, high-definition video with sound that documented it, has gone viral and national. And if you haven’t seen it, then you should right now.

Oh, and if you are wondering why I chose this story as this week’s lead in The Deep Woods, well, it’s because this incident took place in my hometown of Norco, California, with this store located approximately 1.5 miles from my home.

It’s also because this is an example of why it’s so important to defend gun rights of law-abiding citizens. And yes, I am a passionate defender of the Second Amendment.

The reason this incident has become so popular is because the video shows the 80-year-old Cope taking action with a firearm to protect himself and his property. And in this case, the assailant and his accomplices were sent away running like scared rabbits.

The video shows a man armed with an assault-style rifle walk into the Norco Market at 816 Sixth Street around 2:45 a.m. this past Sunday. The man pointed the weapon at Cope and ordered him to put his “hands in the air.”

Seconds later, Cope stepped behind a glass display and fired a shotgun at the suspect, hitting him. The would-be robber immediately ran out of the store screaming and shouting, “He shot my arm off!”

A camera pointed at the store parking lot showed the suspect jump into a dark-colored SUV with at least several accomplices before driving away. The four suspects were later found at a hospital, with one of the men “suffering from a gunshot wound consistent with a shotgun blast,” according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Ah, yes, justice served up from Cope’s shotgun blast — I must admit, I love it.

What I also love is the response from local law enforcement about this incident. Here’s the response as reported in the KTLA story from the Riverside Country Sheriff’s Department: “In this case, a lawfully armed member of our community prevented a violent crime and ensured their own safety, while being confronted with multiple armed suspects.”

Contrast that rational response to last month’s incident in New York City where a convenience store worker, Jose Alba, was charged with murder after he fatally stabbed a man who had gone behind the counter and attacked him in an attempted robbery.

The contrast here makes me glad that I no longer live in New York City, and that I now live in Norco, where police and the justice system recognize a person’s right to his own physical autonomy and his right to defend himself using a firearm.

Understandably, the horrific mass shootings that occur in the United States rightly capture the headlines. But there are far more incidents of citizens using firearms to protect themselves from would-be assailants than there are cases of mass murder using firearms.

A clear voice on this issue is Dr. John Lott, an economist and president of the Crime Prevention Research Center. In a recent Fox News interview, Lott said, “Having a gun is by far the safest course of action when people are facing a criminal by themselves.”

Lott also went on to describe that, in a typical year, the media reports about 2,000 defensive gun use stories. However, he says, “that is a dramatic undercount, because the vast majority of successful self-defense cases don’t make the news.” Lott says there are about 2 million defensive gun uses per year, according to the average of 18 national surveys.

The think tank The Heritage Foundation maintains a database that tracks how often guns are used in self-defense cases. The numbers here indicate that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at various studies and found “that Americans use their firearms defensively between 500,000 and 3 million times each year.”

The facts are the facts. “A is A.” And the fact is that the best way to prevent someone from violating your rights by force is to employ a greater amount of force against them in your own defense.

That’s exactly what the brave Norco store owner Craig Cope did, and that’s why I and others have the utmost respect and admiration for him. It is also why he’s come to embody the description, “Don’t mess with Norco,” which, if you know me, you also know makes me smile.

Now, unfortunately there is one negative to this story. After calling 911 and reporting the crime, Cope was taken to the hospital as he suffered a heart attack. Happily, Cope is not only out of the hospital, but after doctors inserted three stents, he’s already back to work at the store. This is one tough mudder!

In closing, I will leave you with my favorite quote from this incident, which was given by Cope’s wife to CBS News. This sentiment pretty much sums up why I am proud to have chosen Norco as my residence:

“Stay out of Norco, because everybody in Norco has a gun.”

Mic drop!


ETF Talk: Gain Exposure to Dividend-Paying Companies with This Fund

What happens if bond yields have peaked? What kind of investments would tend to do well in that environment?

That’s the question many are asking, especially now that bond yields have come well off their mid-June highs. One segment of the market that stands to benefit from this trend is dividend-paying equities.

The First Trust NASDAQ Technology Dividend Index Fund (NASDAQ: TDIV) tracks a modified dividend-weighted index of U.S.-listed technology companies that pay regular dividends.

TDIV holds a dividend-weighted portfolio of up to 100 companies considered as technology or telecommunications businesses under the Industry Classification Benchmark. The fund limits its portfolio to U.S.-listed stocks that pay dividends.

These criteria significantly narrow the global technology universe, causing it to exclude certain segment giants. Its international exposure comes mostly from American depository receipts (ADRs).

The companies included are first weighted according to their dividend yield relative to other securities within the index, then they are adjusted accordingly so that tech companies occupy up to 80% of the index, while the telecom companies occupy only 20%. Rebalancing occurs quarterly while reconstitution occurs semi-annually.


TDIV has $1.7 billion in assets under management and a 0.05% average spread. It currently has 92 out of 100 possible holdings and a nice 2.22% dividend yield. Its expense ratio is 0.50%.

The fund will normally invest at least 90% of its net assets (including investment borrowings) in the common stocks and depositary receipts that comprise the index. The fund is non-diversified.

While TDIV provides investors with great exposure to the dividend-paying stocks, this kind of ETF may not be appropriate for all portfolios. Interested investors always should conduct their own due diligence in deciding whether the fund is suitable for their investing goals.

As always, I am happy to answer any of your questions about ETFs, so do not hesitate to send me an email. You just may see your question answered in a future ETF Talk.


In case you missed it…

Life’s a Cruel Mistress

You can love her, take care of her, be truly good to her, but the next thing you know, she delivers you a heart-crushing blow.

Yes, life can be a very cruel mistress.

Allow me to get personal here for a moment, as recent events in the lives of those close to me have prompted me to share them with you today. And in doing so, I hope to illustrate a couple of important points about life that can help us all through pain, sadness and struggle that are an inextricable part of existence.

I just received word that a good friend of mine from my U.S. Army days was diagnosed with a heart problem. This problem is one that will require surgery and the installation of a pacemaker. Now, this man is in his early 50s, doesn’t smoke, hardly ever drinks alcohol and generally leads an active life. Why was he afflicted with this heart ailment? We don’t know, but he is, and that is what he must deal with.

After giving me the downbeat news about his situation, my friend proceeded to tell me that his circumstance was “the good news.” He then told me about what he considered the actual bad news in his life, which was that his wife of nearly three decades had just been diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. To combat this disease, she will have to undergo chemotherapy, surgery and then more chemotherapy.

As you might imagine, a shadow crossed my heart when I heard this double-dose of bad news. Unfortunately, the tales of pain and loss weren’t nearly over.

Just a few hours later, another friend of mine told me that she was feeling overwhelming sadness, because it was one year ago today that her husband of 32 years had died due to complications from COVID-19. Her husband also was in his 50s, was very healthy and had no known comorbidities that anyone could identify.

Now, I wish I could tell you this was the end of the woe for the day, but it wasn’t. Late last night, another very good friend and I were reflecting on the sadness he felt regarding his recent separation and impending divorce. I knew that the chief reason for the dissolution of his 20-year marriage was his wife’s struggle with drug and alcohol abuse, which led to her mental and physical deterioration into a person he no longer recognized.

As I slept on the events of the prior day, I woke with a jumble of thoughts that I wanted to put down. The reason why is because I hope that my conclusions can illuminate not only my approach to the world for you, but hopefully they can help if you are struggling with these same type of difficulties. And even if you aren’t dealing with these now, life isn’t likely to let you off the hook.

There’s a great line in the novel “Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk that says: “On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”

Well, on a long enough timeline, and no matter who we are or how well we’ve managed to organize our lives, nearly all of us will experience profound sadness, crushing loss, deep disappointment and likely intense physical pain that becomes both all-encompassing and debilitating.

Moreover, every one of us, if we haven’t already, will likely have to deal with the pain, hurt and loss associated with the death of either a grandparent, a favorite aunt or uncle, a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a close friend or even what is said to be the most difficult loss to bear, the loss of a child.

What’s even more intense is that, as humans, we know that we are mortal. We know we are going to die, and we know that everyone we know living today also is going to die.

For me, knowing this allows me to focus on what I am doing right now — in this very moment. Because all we are sure of is that we have this moment. And this moment. And this moment.

This realization that life is now prompts me to ask myself why anyone would ever want to squander the now.

Why would you ever allow yourself to consciously live in a state of negativity, one replete with unhappiness, anger, distress, discontent and malaise over trivial things you have no control over? And let’s face it, nearly everything in our lives we have little to no control over.

Of course, that’s not to say we should feel something other than deep sadness over pain, loss and other adverse circumstances. It is proper to feel these emotions, and you do not want to shut them down or cut them off, as that would be a form of squandering the now.

Yet, think about all the times we do squander the now by not paying close enough attention to our own minds.

We get mad when someone cuts us off on the freeway. We get upset if the barista gets our coffee order wrong. We become angry because one of the stocks we own slides after the company announces downbeat earnings guidance. But, if you realize that it is your reaction to these things which is the cause of your sadness, and not the actual events themselves, you realize that with a little effort, you can alter your mental state.

The first step in doing this, at least for me, is recognizing that thoughts are the root cause of all our emotional states. Indeed, the ideas you have in the now are what is affecting you right now. So, if you can consciously identify those thoughts, process them and either let them go, change them or integrate them for future use, you will be much better off when the inevitable wave of life’s sadness slams into your own shore.

By knowing your own mind, and by cultivating a self-awareness capable of identifying thoughts as the root cause of all discomfort, pain and pleasure, arousal and peak experience, you can avoid squandering the now.

Instead, you can embrace the now for what it is, and you can become better at dealing with the good, the bad and the ugly — because life is replete with all these elements, and that isn’t going to change.

So, do not let your head wander its way into despair. Take control of your thoughts, which one can do via practices such as mindfulness meditation and other active efforts to recognize the content of one’s own mind.

By recognizing the “you” in there, and the content of your inner life, you will put yourself on the path to making sense of the kind of day I had recently, and the gloriously happy days I know I will experience in the future — and everything in between.


On Preparation

“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

–Alexander Graham Bell

Have you noticed that those who fail to achieve are often those who fail to prepare? Conversely, when you prepare, i.e., when you do the hard work, hard thinking and burn that lean tissue studying and striving for more, success is often right where you thought it would be. Of course, luck, fate and circumstances play a major role in all our lives. Yet if you are prepared to succeed, luck, fate and circumstance have a funny way of smiling your way.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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