Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The Debate Continues

Over at The Commentary. (Sorry, permalinks don't work there.)

It looks like we're having a communication problem, even though I've refrained from the 5,000 word posts.

No blogging tomorrow. I'll be out of state all day, probably returning late. Sorry.
It's Not Justice, But It Could Have Been Worse

Thanks to Kim du Toit, I now know what happened in the case of Ronald Dixon, the Navy vet who shot an intruder in his home. Dixon discovered the intruder in his son's bedroom. Said intruder had a LONG criminal record.

Dixon was charged for using an unlicensed handgun to defend himself and his family. This was, after all, New York City - where they consider deporting resident aliens who shoot robbers because said alien used an unlicensed handgun while defending his life.

Of course, if you WANT a permit in NYC, it costs a minimum of $329 and takes a minimum of six months to get - unless, of course, you're politically connected or a celebrity (but I repeat myself.)

In Mr. Dixon's case, enough people raised enough stink that the prosecutor found it necessary to reduce (but not drop) the charges to "disorderly conduct." Dixon will, unfortunately, serve three days, but the conviction will not show up on his record. So, supposedly he could still qualify for a permit. But seeing that the number of permits in NYC has been declining, and given the difficulty and expense involved in getting one (especially since Mr. Dixon currently works two jobs) I don't see how he's going to have the time.

Now, how about we raise a stink and get Sr. Acosta's charges reduced to "disorderly conduct."

And let's see if we can get some NYC District Attorneys out of office next year.

One other thing: The NY Post editorial called Acosta and others who recently defended themselves in NYC "vigilantes." Note to NY Post: Use a dictionary. A vigilante is defined as "a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily." What these guys did was self-defense. Let me see if I can clarify the difference. A vigilante is someone like, oh, say Barbara Lipscomb, (AKA Barbara Graham) who shot a young man who she thought was responsible for the death of her son. He wasn't. But even if he had been, that would have been the act of a vigilante, as per the dictionary definition. But shooting someone who is directly threatening your life and property? That's called self-defense - not "vilgilantism."

Oh, and Mrs. Graham/Lipscomb/Martin? She was one of the organizers of the original Million Mom March. And she was supported during her trial by Bernadette Trowell, the President of the MMM organization.

Odd, that.

Real Quick:

The tidal wave of hits from getting Instalaunched seems to have passed. For those of you who decided to hang around like driftwood washed ashore, welcome! I promise to build a bonfire I'll try to post something worth reading this evening.

In the meantime, read up on Canada's complete disaster otherwise known as their attempt to register all (legal, honest) gun owners and their firearms.

It seems that they had recent computer crashes that wiped out quite an unknown number of names in the registry. But that's just the latest in a long series of problems.
Here's what has happened since May 7:

- The Justice Department revealed it had awarded $400,000 to a gun control coalition last year and the money was used to hire lobbyists to press the government to maintain the program;
I cannot help but wonder if The Brady Center or The Violence Policy Center receives federal dollars. I know that the Centers for Disease Control are using tax dollars to promote gun control as a "health care" topic.
- The former head of the centre said no one was fired at the centre despite Prime Minister Jean Chretien's claim that people were dismissed or demoted as the costs of the registry soared;
You mean he lied? But, but, he's a government official!
- It turns out the government had spent at least $17 million more on the firearms registry than the outrageous $1 billion cost cited by Auditor General Sheila Fraser last fall; and

- Ontario announced it will join Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Alberta and Manitoba in refusing to prosecute people who have not registered their guns, leaving the job up to already over-burdened federal prosecutors.
The registry, which was sold to Parliament and the general public on the promise that it would only cost taxpayers $2 million, and then be self-supported from fees. Now, according to this piece, the bill has exceeded the $1 billion that the Auditor General projected. I have to give her the benefit of the doubt - she did say that the accounting was so screwed up and that the information was so hard to drag out of anybody that at best the $1BN was a guess, but she figured it would take until 2005 to hit that mark. It's only 2003. And estimates are that at least a quarter of Canadian gun owners have not registered. There's some question as to just how many gun owners there are in Canada, but the government estmates that 500,000 owners have not complied. They have until the end of this month.

On the good side, five of Canada's provinces have refused to prosecute violators, leaving it up to the federal government to enforce.

But gun control proponents here think, for some reason, that American gun owners would go along with the idea.

Not bleeding likely.

Monday, June 09, 2003

Great, Juuuuust Great...

I get linked by the 800lb gorilla of blogdom, and I'm swamped and unable to post new, gripping, insightful stuff.

Not only do I not have time to blind you with brilliance, I don't have time to baffle you with bull#^!t.

My posting will be restricted all week, and possibly for some time. Apparently the economy is improving.

Hopefully I be able to get something worthwhile in in the evenings, but I'm not promising much.

To new visitors, please read the "Best Posts." They might make your visit worthwhile. And remember, this is a new blog. Don't expect War and Peace.

Thank you for your attention. We now return you to our regular programming.
Mystery Solved

Now I know what it's like to be linked to by the Blogfather.

YOWZA! Talk about traffic!

Thank you, Professor Reynolds!

UPDATED 6/17/03 because of image server problems

Want to see the power of Instapundit?

I started this blog May 14. On June 2 I won the inaugural New Blog Showcase competition. The evening of June 8 Glenn Reynolds linked to the Chuck Asay cartoon. Here's the hit trend for the last month:

Nothing further need be said.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

OK, Who Linked to Me?

According to Sitemeter, over the last two hours this site has been hammered by visitors.

Who do I thank?
Whittle Alert! Whittle Alert!

Bill has an extended dance remix version of Magic up, by popular demand. It is, he says: "by far the longest (essay) to date." Great! I'll make popcorn!

Go read!

And we might get to see Trinity (the essay, not the Matrix star) by next weekend. But I wouldn't count on it. I imagine Bill's going to polish and buff that one to a high gloss before putting it on display.

Another Golden Oldie

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far away.... Wait, that was Star Wars.

A couple of years ago there was a failed experiment called that was, for all intents and purposes, a really BIG multiuser blog. The primary difference between Themestream and the blogs was that contributors were supposed to post not just little bits and pieces they found interesting, but essays. It was a site for aspiring writers, whether those writers were op-ed producers or poets or fiction authors, and the site paid you to write, (at least at first) based on the number of hits your pieces garnered. It produced a surprising amount of really good stuff. C.D. Harris, of Ipse Dixit was one of the better contributors. There was one author, C.D. Cameron, I wish I could find again. Hopefully he's blogging somewhere if he's not writing professionally (which he should be.) Alas, the experiment failed and Themestream bit the dust.

I was a contributor there almost from inception, and I learned to polish my writing quite a bit. I also practiced the then-unamed art of "fisking" on some of the pieces written by others. In perusing The Truth Laid Bear's New Blog Showcase (see post below), I noticed that there were several contributors of the moonbat liberal persuasion. At first, my thought was "Awww, isn't that cute," but on reflection I remembered a piece I'd written on Themestream (and I saved everything before it collapsed) that I thought I'd post here. This piece was written on April 9, 2001 (remember the election debacle) in response to a somewhat erratic piece by another contributor, a self-confessed liberal. I've taken the liberty to insert additional commentary.

I entitled it:

Liberal v. Conservative: Both are Necessary (Names have been changed to protect the guilty innocent.)

John Doe's article "The Aims and Abilities of Liberals and Conservatives" was quite interesting and thought-provoking. As a conservative-leaning libertarian type, I thought I'd comment on the article, but there was so much to comment on, I thought that perhaps a response article would be a better choice.

On Basic Philosophy:

Mr. Doe writes that "Liberals are nomads" who are open-minded and have widely varying viewpoints due to their "various travels", and who have a hard time getting together because they "live in separate truths, with no single reality dominating their lives". This is, he says, in opposition to conservatives who "exist in cliques" because they "largely possess one mind." ("We are Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.") Conservatives, he writes, "have the ability to mobilize very quickly by repeating the same thought until they convince themselves of it." (I cannot help, however, in reflecting just how fast the Liberals mobilized themselves and repeated "we must count all the votes" until they convinced themselves that it had not happened.) ("No Blood for Ooooiiiiilllllll!!!!" comes to mind presently. And "BUSH LIED!" And others, but I digress.)

"Conservatives", he says, "may not communicate the truth, but they have the ability to change reality so that it reflects their truth."

Excuse me? If Liberals "live in separate truths" then what makes the Conservative version of "truth" any less valid than the myriad Liberal versions? Because more than one person believes it at any one time? This strikes me as psychobabble. Is there "truth" at all? How does one judge? It seems to me that the objective criteria is: is your version of "truth" consistent with observable reality? If not, it doesn't matter if you're Liberal or Conservative, you're wrong.

On Liberal v. Conservative and Government:

He continues with a discussion of the difference in how Liberals and Conservatives view the role of government. I agree with his description to a large extent, but not his reasoning. "Liberals", he writes, "believe in the power of government, and people, because they fundamentally believe that human beings have the ability to improve themselves and their behavior." Ok, well and good. He also writes "Liberals have a fundamental faith in the ability of humans to better themselves and act appropriately when the situation calls for it."

Oh really? Then why do Liberals find it necessary to use Government to coerce people to do things they think are obvious and necessary? If Liberals truly believe that humans will "act appropriately when the situation calls for it", then isn't legally mandated behavior contraindicated? Why, for example, is it necessary for us to pass a law requiring the government to take hard-earned money from its citizens and use it to support those less fortunate than ourselves? If humans will "act appropriately when the situation calls for it", shouldn't that behavior be voluntary and automatic?

"Conservatives", he writes, "believe humans are mostly stuck with a terrible nature, and cannot really do much to over come (sic) it, at least not with human help. They believe that any organized efforts to improve the human condition will only make things worse." Well, yes and no. We believe that some people are stuck with a "terrible nature", and that given the opportunity, those few can cause some real damage. Overall, however, we believe that most people are good and decent or at least neutral, and will do the right thing when the situation calls for it without being forced to by law. You see, we've looked at history and noted those occasions when those few with that "terrible nature" have taken control and the mayhem that has resulted.

He writes further, "Thus governments, while necessary to prevent total chaos - which can lead to the worst of human behavior - are inherently evil because they are simply the tools of humans to either coerce other humans into evil acts, or to make humans the slaves of evil acts. Government is supposed to be held at bay, like a dog on a leash. If there must be government, conservatives don't trust people to run it. They trust written laws and procedures to make sure human behavior stays in check." Again, yes and no. Again, Conservatives trust most people to do the right thing MOST of the time, but we understand that there are those who will not. We understand that those who will not are attracted to power, and government is nothing if not power.

In that vein, I must disagree with his assertion that "the worst of human behavior" results from total chaos. That is not correct. The worst of human behavior occurs when humans are directed by a malignant governing force. That is why government should be held at bay like a dog on a leash. Examples: the organized slaughter of Native Americans by our own government (in violation of our own laws, by the way), the Holocaust under Hitler, the Stalinist purges, China's "Cultural Revolution", the "Killing Fields" of the Khmer Rouge... the list is nearly endless of governments who have killed large numbers of their own people. This does not even touch on wars between nations. Therefore it is simply prudent to make the accumulation of power very difficult through written law and procedure and to enforce those laws and procedures. These limits aren't there to stop the majority from doing what is necessary, but to restrict the few who will abuse the system for their own gain at the cost of the rest of us.

"Liberals", he writes, "believe that collective human efforts bring out the best in people". On the other hand, he says: "Conservatives believe that collective human efforts can only bring out the worst in people, robbing people of their individuality and coercing people with the 'General Will' ". BZZZT! I don't think so! The difference, Mr. Doe, is in whether the "collective human effort" is voluntary, or coerced. The space program of the 1960's was a perfect example. It was a government program. It was a "collective human effort" that was incredibly well supported by those directly involved. In fact, I daresay that if those who worked on the project hadn't involved themselves to the incredible levels that they did, it would have failed. The "general will" was behind it, but those involved were dedicated on a voluntary basis.

Contrast this project with the democratically popular idea of "universal health care" in which all people have access to government sponsored medical attention. Sounds great, but one of the restrictions in the original plan was if you paid the doctor for better care, you both went to jail. This means that you are coerced into settling for a lower standard of health care than you might otherwise afford. You'll note, that idea died a rapid death here. It does work to varying degrees in other countries, but you'll note that our system - as obviously flawed as it is - attracts people from all over the world (including our neighbor to the North) for better health care than they can get at home.

On the Constitution and Government Expansion:

Mr. Doe writes: "Liberals apply a loose-constructionist interpretation to the Constitution. Conservatives apply a strict-constructionist interpretation." Truer words were never written. I sometimes wonder if Liberals have actually bothered to read the Constitution before attempting to "interpret" it. It's a clearly written document, not overly long. It even includes rules by which it can be modified. But instead of actually following those rules in order to form the kind of government Liberals think we should be living under, they'd rather just "interpret" what they think it should mean. I object to that. I guess that makes me a "strict-constructionist". Guilty as charged.

"Liberals believe", Mr. Doe writes, "society is getting better and better, if it simply has the framework to grow. Conservatives believe society gets worse and worse as it moves further away, temporally and intellectually, from the values and ideals of historical thinkers." Pardon me if I disagree again. Conservatives recognize that society is changing. Change is the one thing we can never escape, nor should we wish to. However, the Constitution provides the framework to grow. In an earlier article a writer commented that we'd freed the slaves, and given blacks and women the right to vote, and I pointed out that we certainly had - using the rules set up in the Constitution, not by "interpreting" it. By using the framework of the Constitution it ensures that we will have a government that always recognizes the rights of that smallest minority - the individual. (So that's where that came from! I'd forgotten!)

What Conservatives actually believe is that "interpreting" the Constitution is a grievous error. If it needs to be changed, by all means change it, but you ignore its rules at everyone's peril. Remember, those "historical thinkers" put the rules by which the Constitution can be changed right into the document. They understood that times do indeed change, and our government must be able to change along with them. "Interpret" that.

Conservative v. Liberal Thought:

"...liberals always have to play catch-up with conservatives in acting, but conservatives usually have to play catch-up with liberals in thinking. The conservative's thought is eventually debunked, while society suffers for their actions based on anachronistic thought. The liberal's thought is eventually vindicated, and society is only able to act upon it after it has become fed up with the actions of conservatives." My first reaction to this was "Oh, bunk", but he does have a point. Conservatism does act as a brake on rapid change. This does tend to extend the period between when a real injustice is recognized and when a corrective change occurs. The examples given above - slavery and universal suffrage - are good examples of this. However, rapid knee-jerk reactions that are not restrained can also cause problems.

The braking action that conservatism provides is a good thing for the health of a nation overall. If the change is truly needed, the majority of people will eventually overcome the inertia of the society and change it. Hey, that's what democracy is all about, no? If the liberal's initial reaction to "DO SOMETHING!" isn't immediately acted upon, and eventually turns out to not have been such a great idea after all, it disappears without a whimper and is never heard from again. No foul, no error. This beats having to live with the consequences of a bad idea passed in haste, doesn't it? The question, then, is "Is it better to have a few old bad ideas last too long while we come up with a workable solution, or have a whole lot of new bad ideas get implemented while we try to fix our problems?"

I'll skip over a good chunk of the article to the next important point he makes:

Liberals, Conservatives, and History:

"Liberals are so scattered, always turning over a new leaf to adapt to today's circumstances and trying to figure out what the next big idea is to reflect society, that they really don't remember anything past today." I don't really get the "reflecting society" reference, but boy, am I glad he admitted to the part about ignoring history. Who was it who said "Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat it"? (Ed.: Santayana) Conservatives, he writes "...act today and tomorrow on the basis of yesterday." I don't have a problem with that. Past behavior has been proven to be a good predictor of future behavior. Why would anyone simply ignore it? "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Liberals, it seems, can be fooled every time?

Liberals, Conservatives, and Ideas:

"The tendency of conservatives is based on a fundamental premise: some ideas are superior to others, and their ideas are better, and truer, than all the rest. The tendency of liberals is based on the opposite premise: all ideas have equal merit, and the ideas that should be implemented are those that match the needs of the moment." Now, given that Liberals admittedly tend to ignore history while Conservatives study it, might it seem a novel idea that some of the ideas Liberals propose have been attempted in the past? And failed? That Conservatives might actually be right when they suggest that a proposed Liberal idea is unworkable or counterproductive? It is demonstrably untrue that all ideas have equal merit, and it is demonstrably true that some ideas are superior to others. Whose position does this more accurately reflect?

Liberals, Conservatives, and Individuals:

"Many liberals...would willingly have the government take from them (obligatory charity, in their view) to help causes that are greater than them. The liberal perspective is that the cause - the idea or ideal - is greater than any one person, and thus the individual should serve the cause.... The conservative perspective is the opposite: instead of the individual serving the cause, the individual is the cause, and all ideas serve the individual." That's a bit convoluted but an essentially correct observation. And it illustrates the primary disagreement I had with Mr. Doe's entire essay. Remember, at the beginning he wrote:

"Liberals have a fundamental faith in the ability of humans to better themselves and act appropriately when the situation calls for it."


"Conservatives believe humans are mostly stuck with a terrible nature, and cannot really do much to over come (sic) it, at least not with human help."

You see, if Liberals really believed that humans will voluntarily act "appropriately when the situation calls for it" then "obligatory charity" would be unnecessary. In reality (and yes, Virginia, there is a reality) what he refers to as "obligatory charity" is an oxymoron. If it's obligatory it cannot be charity. It's extortion at gunpoint. Conservatives understand that, and rightfully object when they see "liberals and liberal government are continuously by overt and covert action, plotting to "take things from me" in order to meet their objectives...." To Conservatives, if the cause is worthy it will be voluntarily supported by people who actually believe in doing the right thing. To Liberals, if they believe the cause is worthy, well then they must immediately coerce the rest of the population into supporting this obviously worthy cause. And they cannot understand when "conservatives" object.

You will note that nowhere in Mr. Doe's essay did he state that Liberal ideas are majority ideas until after these ideas overcome Conservative inertia. I therefore submit to you that both groups are necessary for a healthy, functioning society. Without Liberals our society cannot advance, and will die from stagnation. Without Conservatives our society will die from chaotically running in search of the next "truth." Liberals provide the wind in the sails. (Being largely blowhards...) Conservatives provide the rudder. The Constitution provides the ship in which we all sail.

Forgive me if I think it appropriate for some of the crew to object when others start pulling up the planking for a bonfire just because some of the passengers are cold.
In the Interest of Paying Back

The Truth Laid Bear's New Blog Showcase is up for its second week of competition. In a stunning come-from-behind fashion (and no one was more stunned than I) my blog won the inaugural competition last week. As a result, I got a LOT of traffic, and quite a few links.

It seems only fair that I pay back that largesse by voting on a couple of contenders out of this week's entries.

I believe that blogging is about to take off like CB radio did back in the late 70's. Steven Den Beste stated that 90% of the blogs out there right now are crap, and I'm afraid that he's largely correct, but the difference between CB and blogging is that feedback is immediate, and it's a positive loop correction mechanism. If you're crap, nobody links to you or reads you. There is no equivalent to slapping a 100W booster on your station and using a Moonraker to wipe out everybody within 50 miles. And good bloggers have come to act as really excellent corrective feedback loops on the mainstream media, as the recent New York Times debacle, and the even more recent Guardian fauxs pax have proven.

So I found this entry by The Blog Herald really interesting: Europe goes to the Blogs. Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing. Lets hope that it reaches Iraq very, very soon.

I also liked Rkayn Knowledge's post of Tuesday, June 3 (scroll down, the link may be bloggered) concerning the state of judicial nominees. Fact checking Elanor Clift of (and) Newsweak. See what I'm talking about? Corrective feedback. Pass this one around. The Truth Shall Make You Free.

I WANT to read Graham Lester's column, "A Nonbeliever's Defense of Religion," just on the strength of the blurb he put up on TruthLaidBear's site, but apparently Blogger isn't the only service to have problems. I get a "Cannot find server" error at this time. I'll give him a vote anyway.

My final vote this go-round goes to DANEgeurs's quite well-done fisking of Gary Hart. More feedback!

It will be interesting to see who wins this week.
I've Started Reading Atlas Shrugged

I'm probably not the first to mention this, but when Rand wants to make a point, she's certainly not subtle about it, is she? Not when she can bludgeon the reader a few dozen times, just to make sure he gets it.

One-thousand sixty-nine pages.

I hope it gets better.

That It, This Guy Goes on the Blogroll

Feces Flinging Monkey points to this really cool animated illustration of the growth of "shall issue" CCW in the U.S. He notes that he found the link at Lead and Gold.

Ah, I love interconnectedness.
Back from the Range

Just one picture, a 5-shot 100 yard group from the Enfield, off sandbags. Remember, this is open sights, where the front bead is the diameter of the black bull at that range:

No one is more surprised than I am.

Of course, I wasn't able to duplicate that group, but I'm blaming that on the wind. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Saturday, June 07, 2003

My 1917 Enfield

Just a few pictures as a test.

The Redfield rear sight.

The front sight.

Close-up of the receiver. Winchester, baby!

There's supposed to be a screw-in aperture for the rear sight which didn't come with the rifle. I'm trying to locate one. As it is, the rear sight is about equal to a No. 4 Enfield's "battle sight." I miked it at about 0.15" Not quite big enough to drive a truck through, but...
No More Blogging Today

At least not until much later. I have honeydo's to do, and I'm going to load some ammo. I'm going to the range tomorrow. I want to play with my "new" 1917 Enfield (made by Winchester in 1918) and my Kimber Custom Stainless .45. And maybe my 1896 Swede (Carl Gustaf, 1916). And yes, both rifles are sporterized (not "bubba-ized").
Our Collapsing Schools - Update (Trying out a new header style)

In my last post on this topic I covered the story of the teacher that had been attacked by the student she had suspended, the student's brother and his mother. Rachel Lucas has more on this topic. This is not, apparently, an isolated case.

Why am I not surprised?

Friday, June 06, 2003

You People ELECTED This Asshat?

More from the Pasadena Star News article about the proposed 10¢ per round tax:
Assemblyman Mark Ridley- Thomas, D-Los Angeles, authored AB 992 because he said he believes the state's health- care system needs relief during the current fiscal crisis. Officials estimate that the state's budget shortfall is about $38 billion over the next 13 months.

Ammunition qualifies for a sin tax because guns are even more harmful to society than alcohol and cigarettes, he said.

"Alcohol and cigarettes are not by definition designed to do destruction. Guns are,' Ridley- Thomas said.
Really? Let's see: According to this Centers for Disease Control site, "Cigarette smoking accounts for approximately one in every five deaths in the United States." Some 2,403,351 deaths occurred in the U.S. in 2000. That would make tobacco the cause of some 480,000 deaths that year.

According to this CDC page, "Excessive alcohol consumption is an important factor in more than 100,000 deaths in the United States each year." According to this CDC report alcohol is directly responsible for 19,358 deaths not including "accidents, homicides, and other causes indirectly related to alcohol use as well as deaths due to fetal alcohol syndrome." According to this site Fetal Alcohol Syndrome affects about 1 in 1,000 newborns and "(t)wo to three times that many are born with an alcohol-related developmental disorder, but they do not have any obvious physical abnormalities." There were 3,959,417 births reported in the U.S. in 1999. That means that over 3,900 infants were the victims of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Some 8,000 to 11,000 more suffered from alcohol related disorders. I thought the big concern was over The Children(tm)? Alcohol was a contributing factor according to this CDC site, in 17,448 motor vehicle fatalities. That's on top of the 19,358 deaths caused directly by alcohol, and just a small part of the 100,000 deaths annually.

Death by gunshot, both homicide and suicide accounted for 28,663 of the total, and many of them also involved alcohol or other, illicit drugs. If you take suicides out of the equation (and I do, because I don't believe that the method of suicide has much to do with the act of suicide) the number drops to 11,807.

Considering that there are an acknowledged 200,000,000 plus guns in private hands, that's an awfully low number for something "designed to do destruction."
Gunshot wounds, about half of them accidental, cost the health-care system more than $250 million annually, Ridley-Thomas said.
Yeah? According to this site, the percentage of accidental gunshot injury nationwide over the period from 1993 to 1997 is 20%. Are Californians somehow more accident-prone than the rest of America? And according to this site, "the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that alcohol-related crashes in 2000 were associated with more than $51 billion in total costs." Thats Billion. With a "B." Divide equally by 50 states (although California has far in excess of 1/50th the number of automobiles in the country) and you're still looking at over a billion dollars.
"We just have the proliferation of these weapons of destruction and it has a completely negative effect on society,' he said.
It doesn't have a negative effect on ME. It doesn't have a negative effect on the absolute minimum 108,000 people each year who use a gun to defend themselves.

Come out and say it, goddamnit. If you want to ban guns, say it. Stop this incremental death-by-a-thousand-cuts before you piss us off enough to do what the Declaration of Independence says we ought to. Put it up to the voters and let them decide. Enough of this nanny-state "we know what's best for you" bullshit!

But When a Long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, Pursuing Invariably the Same Object... links to this story about how the fine legislators in California, seem to want to fix the massive debt their state is running by putting a 10¢ per round tax on ammunition. Actually, they say it's to "help reimburse shooting victims and help pay their health-care costs." but we know what legislatures do with money, don't we? And if they're going to put a $500 tax on a $200 case of .22 rimfire, then all they're going to do is start a new black market. We're already seeing it with cigarettes in the Northeast. Supply and demand, you morons.

They call it a "sin tax." Gee, what was once a highly regarded practice, one guaranteed to us by the Bill of Rights, is now a sin? One of the ethicists interviewed for the piece states that "sin taxes" put the legislature in charge of labelling right and wrong. And here's the money quote:
"Once you start doing that, then government becomes something above and beyond what the American founders thought it should be,' Palm said. "Government becomes more of a parental figure.'
I'm not sure where Mr. Palm's been, but our government's been parental since the 1914 Harrison Act. Prohibition followed close behind.

Big Brother knows what's best for us chillun's.

No wonder politicians are concerned about the armor-piercing capabilities of the .50 BMG cartridge.

Ten cents a round, eh? How many legislators are there in Sacramento?

Give me a few minutes. I have more to say on this matter.
Screw This, Time for Some Gun Stuff!

I have one of these:

but I want one of these:

And while I'm at it, one of these:

MSRP is $832, $1,153, and $1,058 respectively, though you can do a bit better at your local Kimber dealer.

Beautiful tools.

Oh, and just so you don't think I'm an autoloader snob, I'd like a pair of these:

The S&W 627, eight-shot .357 revolver. They run around $800. But the guy responsible for putting "8 TIMES" on the barrel flat should be drawn & quartered.

Here's a fine one, a Custom Shop snubbie 627:

I hate to think "How much?"
Our Collapsing Schools

Remember when I said that parents were a big part of the problem? Well, here's an extreme example.
Mother, Sons Charged With Beating Teacher Unconscious

NEWBURGH, N.Y. — Police say a mother and her two sons beat a teacher unconscious at school with a desk and a chair because she had suspended the younger boy.

The teacher, who works in an alternative school program for troubled youth, had suspended the boy for spitting in her face and pushing her, police said.

Jamie Mereness, 34, and her 17-year-old son William Ramos, went with her 12-year-old son to the school Tuesday afternoon to confront the teacher, who was not identified, police said Thursday.

Police said Mereness, Ramos and the younger son choked and punched the teacher, then used a desk and a chair to beat her in a basement classroom, Detective Lt. Santo Centamore said.
The victim's 11 year-old son witnessed the attack and called 911.

I wonder why the hell anybody would want to be a teacher these days. Attacked from above and below, and unable to control your classrooms, it just sets you up to be a victim.

Oh, So THAT'S It!

Ravenwood details the Democratic campaign strategy for the upcoming elections.

Yeah, that about covers it.

Modest 3BR/2BA Bungalow, Ocean View...

 Clayton Cramer links to this quite large photo of Barbara Streisand's palatial home - the one she wants pulled off the net because of "privacy" issues. However, as Clayton says: "I suspect it's more that she doesn't want everyone to see how absurdly large her home is."

Does she own an SUV, too?
Michelle Needs to Get a Life Outside the Web

She holds a conversation with her cable modem.

I wonder if that would work with my wife?
Rachel Lucas - Piquance. Impudence. Ordnance.

Rachel rips off a rant on National Ask Day.

So I don't have to.
Much Crunchy Goodness

Today's Bleat is a helluva way to end the week:

The reason Abby Hoffman killed himself,

Andrew Sullivan channels the Force,

A review of an unreleased (and really bad) film,

A liberal reporter "outs" himself on Fark,

And gets bitch-slapped,

and, the one that made me laugh the loudest:
Real-life pr0n videos are doomed; it’s all going to be CGI in a few years as the technology trickles down. And it will be just as mindless as ever. Dixar Pictures presents Finding Reamo.
Unfortunately, he's probably right.

Damn, that's funny. I love the Internet.
I LOVE This Comic Strip

Day by Day

Thursday, June 05, 2003

Where the Hell Were the Parents - Follow-up

Well, right on schedule: JoinTogether jumps on the "WE NEED MORE GUN LAWS!" bandwagon and fires up the calliope before the blood dries. Right. All the laws we've got now haven't helped. Let's do it some more, only harder.
"Sadly, school shootings and gun suicides have become all too familiar in the United States and Pennsylvania," said Miller, "but they needn't be. These avoidable incidents don't happen in other developed countries, where guns are not readily available for disturbed youth to take to school to threaten or harm students, adults or themselves, like occurred today in Wellsboro."
They don't drug their children instead of raising them in other developed countries, either. We didn't have these kinds of "disturbed kids" in the 40's or 50's or 60's or even 70's. Why was that? Guns were certainly "readily available" back then. What's changed isn't "gun availability."
Edbril continued, "A law was recently passed in New Jersey which will soon require all new handguns to include childproofing technology that will prevent their use by anyone but authorized adult users, thus reducing the potential for the sort of tragedies we have seen three times in six weeks here."
Which will have absolutely no effect on the 200,000,000+ guns already out there you IDIOTS. And the "child" was 12 years old. He's probably more than bright enough to defeat any "safety mechanism" including a gun safe.
Miller expanded: "We don't know where the guns brought to school today were acquired by this child, but we do know that prohibited underage purchasers can obtain handguns too easily through illegal street sales. The illegal market for handguns devastates Pennsylvania. We can drastically reduce the illegal market by disrupting straw purchases of multiple handguns through passage of CeaseFire PA's Handgun Trafficking Reduction Act."
Right. A 12 year old bought a duffelbag full of guns on the street. My sweet freaking jebus.

I Hate the Ignorant Media

Nod to for the story.

Rap entrepreneur Master P has been busted at Newark Airport with six hollow-point bullets, the deadly and illegal ammo known on the streets as "cop-killers."
Like hell they are. They might be known as "perp-killers" because they're carried by damned near every police officer in America, and by most people with defensive handguns in the rest of America. "Cop-Killer" bullets, you moron, are the nearly apocryphal "armor-piercing" ammunition that hollow-points most definitely are not.
The Louisiana-based hip-hop star and record executive, 36, whose real name is Percy Miller, was due to board an America West flight to Los Angeles late Tuesday when he was stopped by Transport Security Administration agents.

Law-enforcement sources said the "gangsta rapper" told guards he was checking a small case which held a licensed, unloaded handgun. Officials found the six bullets in a separate magazine.

Possession of the deadly ammo is a third-degree felony in New Jersey - with probation for conviction on a first offense and up to 18 months in prison for a subsequent conviction.
Not quite. New Jersey law says this:
f. Dum-dum or body armor penetrating bullets. (1) Any person, other than a law enforcement officer or persons engaged in activities pursuant to subsection f. of N.J.S.2C:39-6, who knowingly has in his possession any hollow nose or dum-dum bullet, or (2) any person, other than a collector of firearms or ammunition as curios or relics as defined in Title 18, United States Code, section 921 (a) (13) and has in his possession a valid Collector of Curios and Relics License issued by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who knowingly has in his possession any body armor breaching or penetrating ammunition, which means: (a) ammunition primarily designed for use in a handgun, and (b) which is comprised of a bullet whose core or jacket, if the jacket is thicker than.025 of an inch, is made of tungsten carbide, or hard bronze, or other material which is harder than a rating of 72 or greater on the Rockwell B. Hardness Scale, and (c) is therefore capable of breaching or penetrating body armor, is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. For purposes of this section, a collector may possess not more than three examples of each distinctive variation of the ammunition described above. A distinctive variation includes a different head stamp, composition, design, or color.

g.Exceptions. (1) Nothing in subsection a., b., c., d., e., f., j. or k. of this section shall apply to any member of the Armed Forces of the United States or the National Guard, or except as otherwise provided, to any law enforcement officer while actually on duty or traveling to or from an authorized place of duty, provided that his possession of the prohibited weapon or device has been duly authorized under the applicable laws, regulations or military or law enforcement orders. Nothing in subsection h. of this section shall apply to any law enforcement officer who is exempted from the provisions of that subsection by the Attorney General. Nothing in this section shall apply to the possession of any weapon or device by a law enforcement officer who has confiscated, seized or otherwise taken possession of said weapon or device as evidence of the commission of a crime or because he believed it to be possessed illegally by the person from whom it was taken, provided that said law enforcement officer promptly notifies his superiors of his possession of such prohibited weapon or device.

(2)Nothing in subsection f. (1) shall be construed to prevent a person from keeping such ammunition at his dwelling, premises or other land owned or possessed by him, or from carrying such ammunition from the place of purchase to said dwelling or land, nor shall subsection f. (1) be construed to prevent any licensed retail or wholesale firearms dealer from possessing such ammunition at its licensed premises, provided that the seller of any such ammunition shall maintain a record of the name, age and place of residence of any purchaser who is not a licensed dealer, together with the date of sale and quantity of ammunition sold.
New Jersey Title 2C, Section 39-1
So, is it illegal to possess hollowpoints or not? And just where was this guy going with his licensed, cased pistol? The story continues:
The bust came three months after an aspiring rap producer was sentenced to a year in jail for stalking the platinum-selling Miller.

Antwan Baker, 32, was ordered to stay away from the record mogul for the next 10 years after first accosting him at Chicago's O'Hare Airport.

Sources said yesterday they believed that Miller had bought the gun in Louisiana and that it was properly registered.
So he's been threatened and has a licensed handgun for self-defense with bullets that are kinda, sorta maybe illegal in Jersey?
Port Authority cops questioned the rapper, then arrested him for having the bullets. He was taken to Union County Jail in Elizabeth, issued a summons and released.

The controversial bullets, also known as "dum-dums," are designed to mushroom on impact and to cause a maximum of serious physical injury and pain to the target.

The bullets also are outlawed in New York and their use is prohibited in warfare by international treaties.
Not quite right. They're outlawed for mere peons to have, but the Police carry them because they're the most effective handgun ammunition you can use. According to this site the NYPD has used the Speer 9mm 124 grain +P Gold Dot Hollowpoint as its issue ammo since 1999.

"Dum-dums." Nobody's called them that since the 60's. Why can't reporters spend ten minutes and gather FACTS? (At least he called it a "magazine" and not a "clip.")
I Would Have LOVED to Hear This Speech points to this Imprimus transcript of a recent Hillsdale College speech given by Brit Hume. Teaser:
(T)he majority of the American media who were in a position to comment upon the progress of the war in the early going, and even after that, got it wrong. They didn’t get it just a little wrong. They got it completely wrong.
This level of imperviousness to reality is remarkable. It is consistent and it continues over time.

I think about this phenomenon a lot. I worry and wonder about the fact that so many people can get things so wrong, so badly, so often, so consistently and so repeatedly.

And I think that there are ideas lurking under the surface that help to explain why this happens. In brief, when it comes to the exercise of American power in the world, particularly military power, there seems to be a suspicion among those in the media – indeed, a suspicion bordering on a presumption – of illegitimacy, incompetence and ineffectiveness.
As they say, read it all.
Where the Hell are the PARENTS?

Suicidal Student Had Bag Full Of Guns At School
WELLSBORO, Pa. -- A 12-year-old student who committed suicide in a middle school bathroom had brought more than one gun to school but only fired the shot that killed him, authorities said.

Elementary school and high school classes resumed Thursday in the Northeast Pennsylvania twon, and students were expected to return Friday for the last day of classes at the middle school.

Police haven't said why the boy, a fifth-grader, might have shot himself.

I don't know about the rest of you, but when I was growing up I "had access" to guns and ammunition. Most of the kids I knew did. And they didn't do this shit!

"Gun availability" is not the problem! "Making guns safer" doesn't address the problem. "Safe storage" won't keep this from happening. And concentrating on these idiocies avoids the question of "what is the cause?" "Gun availability" hasn't changed. What has?

What makes a 12 year old load a duffel-bag full of guns and (I have to assume) decide to kill just himself instead of a bunch of other people first? What makes someone think this is an answer to anything? How can parents not notice that their child is that disturbed?

And, finally, was this kid on prescription drugs? Prozac? Xanax? Luvox? Ritalin? Paxil? Something else? Are we trying to replace parenting with chemicals? And are the chemicals at fault, or just a symptom of a bigger problem?

What the hell is warping our children?

We didn't "waste" a goddamned thing.

[UPDATE] I was correctly reproached. The artist is Chuck Asay from The Colorado Springs Gazette.
Sorry, but Blogging Will be Light Today

I've got a lot to do, and not a lot of time in which to do it.

New visitors: Please peruse the archives, or just read the "Best Posts" list.

And leave some comments, please. Feedback affords opportunities for improvement and an exchange of ideas.
More Day by Day


Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Arm the Wimmin! Dept.

This week's Carnival of the Vanities over at Drumwaster's Rants held a Second Amendment gem. The link belongs to WalterinDenver , but it points to this Boulder Weekly story. Follow the links. Here's a teaser:
Ari tells me he hopes two things will come out of this weekend. He hopes first of all to demystify guns so that I come to see them as tools, as opposed to little metallic monsters, the embodiment of violence and evil. He also hopes to combat stereotypes I might have about people whom we in Boulder might simply call "gun nuts."

I go to bed feeling more than a little nervous. Before I fall asleep, Neo pops into my mind. "Guns," he says. "Lots of guns."

I’ve never even held a gun.

Oh, and please inform everyone you know about the invitation on the left side of my page.
Quagmire! Quagmire!

Den Beste strikes again with a (for Steven) remarkably short and (typically) razor-sharp post on the modern domino theory.

As Glenn says, "Indeed."

I found this piece on Yahoo! News, and overall I don't have a problem with it. But THIS left my jaw on the floor:
Each day, more than 100,000 teens bring handguns to school.
No attribution for the factoid, just a baldfaced - statement.

Now, why should I believe anything else in the story?

Here's the original piece.

I think I need to ask Dr. Fow where he gets his statistics.

UPDATED: I found this link that has this attribution:
Each day more than 100,000 weapons were brought to school and approximately 40 children and youth are wounded or killed by these weapons (Children's Defense Fund, 1990).
AH! Statistics creep! The story goes from 100,000 weapons (which includes pocketknives, clubs, brass knuckles, etc.) to 100,000 handguns.

That's very much like this quote:
"And what about the more than 4,000 children who die in gun-related accidents each year? That's 11 kids a day. And we're not talking about crimes, or intentional shootings. We're talking -- or not talking enough -- about accidents." "What a few good mothers can do,", March 13, 2000
Yup, give 'em a little information, and they'll stretch it all out of proportion to aid their agenda, and pass it on (without attribution, because "it's common knowledge") as gospel truth.
Follow-up to: "It's Not My Place To Second-Guess..."

Apparently his shooting was effective
TACOMA - Police in Tacoma have found the body of a man they believe was killed by a disabled homeowner, after he attempted to rob the bedridden man in his Tacoma home Monday afternoon.

A 64-year-old man, reportedly a paraplegic, told authorities he heard someone enter his house in the 600 block of 88th Street at about 12:30 p.m.

That's when he armed himself with his gun. When the masked intruder entered his bedroom, the man fired at least one shot at the suspect, who fled from the home.

Jim Mattheis, Tacoma police spokesman, said investigators followed the blood trail and scoured the area, but found no sign of the suspect.

It wasn't until just after 1 a.m. Tuesday morning that officials received a phone call from a man who claimed he was shot in his back. That led them to a house in the 6400 block of South Lawrence Street.

Inside, they discovered the man suspected of breaking into the victim's home. He had already died.

Officer Mark Fulgham, of the Tacoma Police Department, said the 33-year-old suspect was well-known to officers, and had a lengthy criminal history, including robbery.

The homeowner was not injured in the incident. It is still unknown whether charges will be filed against him, but Fulgham said initial investigation finds that he acted in self-defense.
Just had to get that in, didn't they? Can't show approval of mere citizens actually defending themselves. Even when the guy is a bed-bound paraplegic.
What a Terriffic Idea!

Brought to you by the good people at (where I'm a Gooooooooold Member):

Go have a look

(Hmmm....What am I doing in October?)
I think Den Beste's Cold Medication is Getting To Him

But I'm not complaining!
Bill Whittle Has Apparently Found a Job.

Or it found him...

No excuses, Bill. I'm still waiting for "Trinity."

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Just ONE more - Scary Gun Images for Our Congresscritters

Does this

Bother you?

Or this?

Too bad.

They're available from DSA Arms. They start at about $1,400.

I'm sure the gang-banger's love 'em.

I want one.
One More Before I Call it a Night

Jeff over at Alphecca is taking entries for "the biggest "howlers" involving guns that you've seen in the movies and on TV."

I sent him mine:
The one that comes immediately to mind is in the recent "Road to Perdition" when Tom Hanks's character executes his quarry by shooting him while he bathes.

Shown in profile, his 1911 in clear view, Tom empties the magazine - firing each shot with the hammer DOWN. Oh, and neither the hammer nor the slide appear to move.

I didn't know Para-Ordinance made double-action 1911's back that far.
You think he'd have known better after making "Saving Private Ryan." Anyway, e-mail him yours. It should be an interesting collection.

The ACLU Hasn't Changed Its Tune

ACLU President Nadine Strossen recently gave an interview to Reason magazine. In it, she was asked about the ACLU's position on the Second Amendment:
Reason: So why doesn't the ACLU challenge gun-control laws on Second Amendment grounds?

Strossen: We reexamine our positions when people come forward with new arguments. On the gun issue, I instituted a reexamination a few years ago in response to a number of things, but the most important one was an article by Sanford Levinson at University of Texas Law School that summarized a wave of new historical scholarship. Levinson's argument was that in the 18th century context, a well-regulated militia meant nothing other than people in the privacy of their homes.

So we looked into the historical scholarship there and ended up not being persuaded. The plain language of the Second Amendment in no way, shape, or form, can be construed, I think, as giving an absolute right to unregulated gun ownership. It says, "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right to bear arms shall not be infringed." Certainly, when you have the notion of "well-regulated" right in the constitutional language itself, it seems to defy any argument that regulation is inconsistent with the amendment.

Putting all that aside, I don't want to dwell on constitutional analysis, because our view has never been that civil liberties are necessarily coextensive with constitutional rights. Conversely, I guess the fact that something is mentioned in the Constitution doesn't necessarily mean that it is a fundamental civil liberty.
Pardon the hell out of me, but why the hell do you think they put it in the Bill of Rights? What this means is "We're the ACLU - WE define what is and what isn't a civil liberty."
Strossen: So the question becomes, What is the civil-liberties argument of those who would say we should be opposing all gun control? What it comes down to is the very strong belief that having a gun in your home is something that can ultimately fend off the power of a tyrannical government. I find that really unpersuasive in the 20th-century context. Maybe it made sense in the 18th century. I would hope that's the kind of thing we do through words rather than through guns and that, to me, is the function that the First Amendment serves, not the Second Amendment.

Reason: Would you support a total ban on gun ownership?

Strossen: We might very well oppose that. I would think that our present policy would not foreclose opposing that the way we oppose many other kinds of prohibition, such as drug prohibition.
Let's go back to that statement: "What it comes down to is the very strong belief that having a gun in your home is something that can ultimately fend off the power of a tyrannical government. I find that really unpersuasive in the 20th-century context. " 

I'll tell you what the civil-liberties argument of those who would say you should be opposing all gun control is, Nadine: It's the same reason you fight each new attempt to infringe the First Amendment - to keep it from coming to the point where you have to defend elimination of the right in its entirety. So you never have to fight a "total ban on ownership." If it comes that far, it's too late.

Her quote reminded me of something I wrote a while back, so I'm going to dredge that up, too. I wrote the original piece back in December of 2000 on the ThemeStream site (now long gone) because of the ACLU of Massachussetts defending NAMBLA in a First Amendment case, but no ACLU chapter has ever (to my knowledge) defended a Second Amendment case. I wondered why that was, so I looked:
It has been said that if the ACLU defended the Second Amendment with the same vigor that it defends the remainder of the Bill of Rights, gun ownership in America would be mandatory. I respect the ferocity with which they defend unpopular causes. I do not always agree with the ACLU position, but I understand the idea of the "slippery slope" - that any infringement on a right makes the next infringement easier. They protect every word of the Bill of Rights with the tenacity of a pit bull, regardless of the odiousness of those groups who bring the cases.

Every word except for these:
"A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
I have been somewhat at a loss to understand that lack. I recently visited their web site and found their explanation for it. Let me quote:
"We believe that the constitutional right to bear arms is primarily a collective one, intended mainly to protect the right of the states to maintain militias to assure their own freedom and security against the central government. In today's world, that idea is somewhat anachronistic and in any case would require weapons much more powerful than handguns or hunting rifles. The ACLU therefore believes that the Second Amendment does not confer an unlimited right upon individuals to own guns or other weapons nor does it prohibit reasonable regulation of gun ownership, such as licensing and registration."
Think about that position for a moment. I did, and it made me angry. Very angry. The ACLU has just shown itself in a few words to be completely hypocritical. They didn't even try to hide the fact in their language, it's out there for anyone with a sixth-grade level of reading comprehension to pick up.

Primarily a collective one.

Intended mainly to protect the rights of the states.

Reasonable regulations.

Somewhat anachronistic.

However, the ACLU has no problem defending the North American Man-Boy Love Association in what they consider to be a First Amendment case of free speech. NAMBLA was named in a lawsuit as an accomplice in the rape and murder of a young boy by a member of the organization who, just before committing the crime, accessed the groups web site for mental reinforcement. No, the ACLU claims that there is no such thing as a "bad idea". Their press release on this case states:
"The principle is as simple as it is central to true freedom of speech: those who do wrong are responsible for what they do; those who speak about it are not. It is easy to defend freedom of speech when the message is something many people find at least reasonable. But the defense of freedom of speech is most critical when the message is one most people find repulsive."
No wishy-washy weasle words here. The freedom of speech isn't primarily a collective one. It isn't there mainly to protect the rights of individuals. It isn't subject to reasonable regulations. Freedom of speech can't be licensed or registered. It is treated as an unlimited right.

And apparently those who do wrong with a firearm aren't responsible for what they do, for the ACLU won't defend firearms manufacturers in similar lawsuits.

No, the primary reason the ACLU declines to defend the Second Amendment is clearly expressed in the sentence "...that idea is somewhat anachronistic and in any case would require weapons much more powerful than handguns or hunting rifles." Sanford Levinson, in his essay "The Embarrassing Second Amendment" addresses that position:
"...if one does accept the plausibility of any of the arguments on behalf of a strong reading of the Second Amendment, but, nevertheless, rejects them in the name of social prudence and the present-day consequences produced by finicky adherence to earlier understandings, why do we not apply such consequentialist criteria to each and every part of the Bill of Rights?"
Yes, why don't we? And why does the ACLU feel comfortable doing it to the Second Amendment? How do they justify to themselves defending all other "rights of the people" as individual rights, and ignoring only one as "primarily a collective right"?

UPDATE:  As of August 8, 2013 due to the herculean efforts of reader John Hardin, the original JS-Kit/Echo comment thread for this post is now available (for reading only) here.

And the ACLU STILL hasn't changed its tune, ten years later.

The Blog that Ate Poughkeepsie

(I'm currently engaged (if he ever responds again) in a debate with a gentleman from Ireland who currently lives in England. The debate is going on over at The Commentary, a blog that he runs that I don't have administrator priviledges at. This is a slightly reworked post from over there that I wanted to repost here because, damnit, I'm proud of it. It was a lot of work. Bear in mind when you read this that I'm explaining this as though the reader has no first-hand knowledge of the American system of government.)

The United States was established with the ideal that it would be a government of the Rule of Law. As Benjamin Franklin put it upon being asked what form of government the recently concluded Constitutional Convention had wrought, "A Republic, if you can keep it." You have to remember at all times, government is made of and run by humans. Henry Louis Mencken wrote:
"The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods."
That is a VERY American attitude. People call America a democracy all the time. Even our government officials do, but it was never supposed to be a democracy. It's supposed to be a representative republic, and those representatives were to be chosen from a small and self-selecting pool. The system of elections wasn't intended to be a "one man, one vote" democracy, but a meritocracy where the people making and enforcing the rules had a talent for government. And it worked very, very well for a while. Honestly, the system as it was established has worked well for over 200 years, being that it was constructed in the full knowledge that power both corrupts and attracts the corrupt. Unfortunately, the accumulated crap produced by those whom Mencken described (and he wrote that probably in the early 1930's) is apparently catching up with us. This is nowhere more apparent (if you study this stuff) than in the battle for the right to arms. It has become a litmus test for freedom.

Let me explain. (And pardon me - this is going to take a while, but it directly addresses your question and is the heart of the whole right-to-arms thing.)

You ask: "...let's say a liberal government came to power and wanted to ban gun ownership. It would not be able to, because of the Second Amendment, right?"

That's the question, all right.

Here's how the whole Rule of Law thing is supposed to work in our Representative Republic. There's a set of rules on how the government itself is supposed to be established - division of powers, rules for electing officials, appointing officials, so on and so forth. There's a list of things that the government is prohibited from screwing with, i.e., the Bill of Rights. There's a set of rules laid out in the Constitution for modifying the Constitution as times and conditions change. That modification process is made intentionally difficult, because the need must be great and there must be consensus that the change is necessary. No modifying the foundation of our government on a whim. No 50% +1 vote is sufficient to, say, expel all left-handed redheads from the nation. (Note that this hasn't stopped us from making some bonehead changes, such as Prohibition and the popular election of Senators.)

On legal questions relating to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the various courts are supposed to defer to the intentions of the Founders. Thomas Jefferson put it this way in 1823:
"On every question of construction (of the Constitution) let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one in which it was passed."
When it comes to the Second Amendment there is no evidence that anything other than an individual right to arms was intended, and abundant evidence that an individual right is what was intended. Court cases dating up to the Civil War and beyond make that apparent. The most illuminative of these cases is also one of the most reviled. It is Scott v. Sanford, better known as "Dred Scott," and it occurred just prior to the Civil War. In fact, it has been called "the match that ignited the Civil War." If you're interested, go look it up. The central theme of the case was whether a slave, having been taken by his owner to a "free" state was, in fact, free. The Supreme Court in the 7-2 opinion written by Chief Justice Taney not only said "no," it said that "free" blacks were not and could not be citizens, because:
(Citizenship) "would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, and inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State." (My emphasis)
FIFTY-EIGHT YEARS after the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the highest court in the land acknowledged that the right to keep and bear arms was an individual one, and no mention of the militia, well-regulated or otherwise was made. And the court found it necessary to deny all of the rights guaranteed to citizens to free blacks - why? To ensure public safety.

Further, shortly after the war (which was fought in no small part to determine just who "the People" were and was hell on the "public safety") the highest court in the land once again stepped on its penis, allowing the denial of the right to arms to the newly established citizens who had been made such by the 13th Amendment, and who were guaranteed equal protection under the law by the 14th Amendment. In U.S. v Cruikshank the Supreme Court declared not that the Second Amendment protected militias, but:
"The right there specified is that of 'bearing arms for a lawful purpose.' This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes..."(My emphasis)
In other words, the Bill of Rights didn't protect the rights of individuals against infringement - it protects them against infringement by Congress. The STATES were free to do as they damned well pleased. You had to depend on your fellow citizens for the protection of your rights there.

This was blatantly in opposition to the intent of the 14th Amendment, but because government is made of men, it still flew. And gun control in this country began to take root, fertilized with the manure of racism. State laws prohibiting blacks from possessing firearms were reinstated, and not one was struck down on Second Amendment grounds. The Supreme Court had ruled!

Since that time every other "right of the People" has had a Supreme Court or Appeals Court ruling that has "incorporated" it against infringement by the States - including the 3rd Amendment protection against the housing of troops in peacetime! Only the Second Amendment right of "bearing arms for a lawful purpose", "keep(ing) and carry(ing) arms wherever" we may go has not. And so we have a bewildering patchwork of gun control laws that varies from state to state, and county to county, and county to city, all over the country. Guns are licensed here, they aren't licensed there. You have to get government permission to buy a handgun in some states, but not in others. You aren't allowed to possess a handgun in some cities, but in Vermont there are no laws against carrying concealed at all. No permit required. Not even in Montpelier, the capital.

The Second Amendment was last addressed by the Supreme Court in 1939, after Congress passed the 1934 National Firearms Act - an act that many people believe did infringe on the right to arms. The NFA was passed in response to the general violence and lawlessness caused by that cranial flatulence, Prohibition. The lower federal court judge in the case certainly believed it did, as he dismissed the case against Jack Miller and Frank Layton on those grounds. In fact, what he said was:
"The National Firearms Act is not a revenue measure, but an attempt to usurp police power reserved to the states, and is therefore unconstitutional. Also, it offends the inhibition of the Second Amendment to the Constitution - "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."
The case was appealed directly to the Supreme Court - do not pass through the Appeals Court, go directly to jail. The decision in U.S. v Miller is a beautiful example of the judicial system dodging a bullet, so to speak. Miller and Layton were moonshiners (manufacturers of an untaxed alcoholic beverage) who were arrested by two Treasury agents for the possession and interstate transport of a "shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches" which, under the 1934 National Firearms Act, was illegal unless they had a form with a stamp attached that proved they'd payed the required tax. That law said that if you had a shotgun and wanted to take it across state lines, the barrel had to be longer than 18" or you had to pay the tax. Of course, that "tax" also required you to file an application in duplicate, be fingerprinted and photographed, undergo a background check, and get the permission of the local head of law enforcement. Oh, and the tax was a mere $200. For a $10 shotgun. The same rules held for rifles having a barrel shorter than 16", and for fully-automatic weapons. And the law established a registry of all weapons so taxed.

Now I ask you: was this or was this not what the lower court judge said it was?

(This law is the one that most people think of when they claim that "machine guns are banned" by the federal government, but they aren't banned. Just registered and taxed and heavily restricted. There are states that ban them, but Arizona is not one of them. I know several people who legally own fully-automatic weapons.)

When the case appeared before the Supreme Court, Mr. Miller was nowhere to be found. Apparently he died in the interim, but Mr. Layton was still alive. Either way, neither Mr. Miller nor Mr. Layton was represented by anybody before the Supreme Court. No briefs were filed on their behalf, no evidence was presented to support their case. The prosecution claimed before the Court that Miller and Layton's claim that their Second Amendment rights were voilated was null because neither one of them was a member of a militia. That's the argument you've been making. The Court considered this, but it didn't decide the case on those grounds. It could have done so easily. They discussed the militia question in fervent detail, but never came to a conclusion on it. Instead, the Court decided that Miller and Layton's claim was invalid because:
"In the absence of any evidence tending to show that possession or use of a 'shotgun having a barrel of less than eighteen inches in length' at this time has some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia, we cannot say that the Second Amendment guarantees the right to keep and bear such an instrument."
Which raises the interesting question, "what if they had some evidence?" And the more interesting question, "What if Miller and Layton had possessed a Browning Automatic Rifle instead?" The BAR was standard military equipment for the time, and was also available to the general public since its introduction in 1917.

So, once again, the Supreme Court made a bad decision - in the name of "public safety."

But what's worse is that the lower courts have since interpreted U.S. v Miller to say that there is no individual right to arms outside militia service, and that's a conclusion that cannot be drawn from an honest reading of the case. Since 1939 we've been fighting an uphill battle, and there have been no other cases brought before the Supreme Court. They've dodged every one.

With the door now opened, gun control forces such as the ones that have stripped England of the right to arms expanded the laws to affect not just "those people," but everybody. The good-old-boys who used gun control laws to keep the blacks unarmed now saw those same laws used against themselves. Horrors! And the courts offered no respite. The courts were responsible for this.

But in the last two decades our side has been fighting back, and with growing success. First, we got the legal scholars to actually look at the law. Then they started writing. And getting ostracized by their liberal coworkers, but that didn't stop them. I could quote a number of them, but I'll quote just one - Laurence Tribe. Yale Law School professor, author of the ConLaw text American Constitutional Law and one of Al Gore's lawyers in the last Presidential Election. In the first edition of his textbook, he didn't even mention the Second Amendment, but in the most recent one he has:
"Perhaps the most accurate conclusion one can reach with any confidence is that the core meaning of the Second Amendment is a populist / republican / federalism one: Its central object is to arm 'We the People' so that ordinary citizens can paricipate in the collective defense of their community and their state. But it does so not through directly protecting a right on the part of states or other collectivities, assertable by them against the federal government, to arm the populace as they see fit. Rather the amendment achieves its central purpose by assuring that the federal government may not disarm individual citizens without some unusually strong justification consistent with the authority of the states to organize their own militias. That assurance in turn is provided through recognizing a right (admittedly of uncertain scope) on the part of individuals to possess and use firearms in the defense of themselves and their homes -- not a right to hunt for game, quite clearly, and certainly not a right to employ firearms to commit aggressive acts against other persons -- a right that directly limits action by Congress or by the Executive Branch and may well, in addition, be among the privileges or immunities of United States citizens protected by §1 of the Fourteenth Amendment against state or local government action."
He was villified by other liberals for writing that.

Then there was the recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in US v Emerson which did (for the first time since 1939) an "original intent" review of the Second Amendment, (including a thorough review of US v Miller) and which concluded that the right to arms was an individual right. HOWEVER (and I'm finally getting back to the "nukes in the garage / RPGs in the basement" argument):
"Although, as we have held, the Second Amendment does protect individual rights, that does not mean that those rights may never be made subject to any limited, narrowly tailored specific exceptions or restrictions for particular cases that are reasonable and not inconsistent with the right of Americans generally to individually keep and bear their private arms as historically understood in this country."
Halleluja! The right is individual, but not unlimited! The difference is, whatever restrictions (at this time) the FEDERAL government wants to place on the right must be "narrowly tailored specific exceptions or restrictions" and (elsewhere in the decision) due process must be followed in order to deny an individual his rights. In the case of Timothy Emerson, he received due process and the restriction met the "narrowly tailored" requirement test of that court - "albeit likely minimally so".

Now, you would think, we would be able to discuss just what laws were and were not "narrowly tailored" and specific enough to meet the test, but not so! The NINTH Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision even more recently that bitch-slapped the Fifth Circuit's decision, although several of the justices disagreed with the majority most eloquently. The Fifth Circuit is based in New Orleans. The Ninth Circuit is based in California. In San Francisco, to be exact. It's the most liberal of all the courts, and the most overturned by the Supreme Court. But there are some justices out of the 25 who still can think, and I'm going to end this post with the words of one of them.

The case is Silviera v Lockyer, and it has to do with California's version of the "assault weapons ban." The Ninth Circuit rejected the claim on the basis that there is no individual right to arms, holding as precedent an earlier case where the Ninth Circuit concluded that this was what US v Miller meant. The case was then appealed to the Ninth Circuit en banc, so that instead of only a three-judge panel, all 25 would hear it. That appeal was rejected on the same grounds. There were FOUR (4) dissenting opinions. This one was, by far, the best:
Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that “speech, or . . . the press” also means the Internet...and that “persons, houses, papers, and effects” also means public telephone booths....When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases - or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we’re none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it’s using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.

The able judges of the panel majority are usually very sympathetic to individual rights, but they have succumbed to the temptation to pick and choose. Had they brought the same generous approach to the Second Amendment that they routinely bring to the First, Fourth and selected portions of the Fifth, they would have had no trouble finding an individual right to bear arms. Indeed, to conclude otherwise, they had to ignore binding precedent.
United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174 (1939), did not hold that the defendants lacked standing to raise a Second Amendment defense, even though the government argued the collective rights theory in its brief. The Supreme Court reached the Second Amendment claim and rejected it on the merits after finding no evidence that Miller’s weapon - a sawed-off shotgun - was reasonably susceptible to militia use. We are bound not only by the outcome of Miller but also by its rationale. If Miller’s claim was dead on arrival because it was raised by a person rather than a state, why would the Court have bothered discussing whether a sawed-off shotgun was suitable for militia use? The panel majority not only ignores Miller’s test; it renders most of the opinion wholly superfluous. As an inferior court, we may not tell the Supreme Court it was out to lunch when it last visited a constitutional provision.

The majority falls prey to the delusion - popular in some circles - that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll. But the simple truth - born of experience - is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people. Our own sorry history bears this out: Disarmament was the tool of choice for subjugating both slaves and free blacks in the South. In Florida, patrols searched blacks’ homes for weapons, confiscated those found and punished their owners without judicial process. In the North, by contrast, blacks exercised their right to bear arms to defend against racial mob violence. As Chief Justice Taney well appreciated, the institution of slavery required a class of people who lacked the means to resist.
See Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393, 417 (1857) (finding black citizenship unthinkable because it would give blacks the right to “keep and carry arms wherever they went”). A revolt by Nat Turner and a few dozen other armed blacks could be put down without much difficulty; one by four million armed blacks would have meant big trouble.

All too many of the other great tragedies of history - Stalin’s atrocities, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Holocaust, to name but a few - were perpetrated by armed troops against unarmed populations. Many could well have been avoided or mitigated, had the perpetrators known their intended victims were equipped with a rifle and twenty bullets apiece, as the Militia Act required here. If a few hundred Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto could hold off the Wehrmacht for almost a month with only a handful of weapons, six million Jews armed with rifles could not so easily have been herded into cattle cars.

My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

Fortunately, the Framers were wise enough to entrench the right of the people to keep and bear arms within our constitutional structure. The purpose and importance of that right was still fresh in their minds, and they spelled it out clearly so it would not be forgotten. Despite the panel’s mighty struggle to erase these words, they remain, and the people themselves can read what they say plainly enough:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The sheer ponderousness of the panel’s opinion - the mountain of verbiage it must deploy to explain away these fourteen short words of constitutional text - refutes its thesis far more convincingly than anything I might say. The panel’s labored effort to smother the Second Amendment by sheer body weight has all the grace of a sumo wrestler trying to kill a rattlesnake by sitting on it - and is just as likely to succeed.
(All emphasis in original, most legal references removed for clarity.)
So, in answer to your question "...let's say a liberal government came to power and wanted to ban gun ownership. It would not be able to, because of the Second Amendment, right?", let's just say the jury is still out on that one.

(Update: Both U.S. v. Emerson and Silveira v. Lockyer were appealed to the Supreme Court. Emerson's appeal was denied in 2002. Silveira's appeal was denied in 2003. The Supreme Court continues to avoid addressing the question of just what the Second Amendment really protects.)