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

Monday, June 30, 2003

BIG POST ERROR, POST ID 105702478749413506
REPORT IT

You have NO idea just how infuriating this error message is.

A long, involved, link-filled post that I've been working on for AN HOUR AND A HALF is GONE!

You think the Incredible Hulk gets pissed?

The expression "going Postal" FITS.
Clayton Cramer Reiterates My Question

In his post Why The NRA May Be Right To Not Rush a Second Amendment Case to the Supreme Court
There are a lot of gun rights activists who are upset with NRA's reluctance to go to court with a Second Amendment case. These recent decisions by the Supreme Court are strong arguments for why that reluctance is sensible. In the University of Michigan law school case, the Supreme Court decided that even though the Fourteenth Amendment is explicit that there will be no discrimination based on race, discrimination based on race, as long as it's not made too explicit, is okay. In the other case, the Supreme Court ignored precedent, rewrote some of Colonial America's sodomy laws, and then used due process and a lot of armwaving to strike down a state law of the sort that has been present for centuries--and then discounted everything more than 50 years old as not particularly relevant to their decision. And you suddenly are going to trust the Supreme Court to make a decision about the meaning of the Second Amendment? All your arguments in favor of an individual right are based on:

1. Historical evidence that will be ignored, just like colonial Connecticut and Plymouth's homosexual sodomy laws were ignored.

2. Precedents of both federal and state supreme courts that are largely more than 50 years old.

3. Notions of individual rights that are even older.

Against this, the gun control side has the same elites that wanted the sodomy law struck down. I think the NRA may be right not to rush to the Supreme Court of Urban Elitism.
I disagree. I don't think that waiting will do us any good. I think that the Silviera case is the most cut-and-dried violation of the Second Amendment extant, and I think it's the perfect one with which to overturn U.S. v Cruikshank and Presser v. Illinois. But he's right: SCOTUS could very well ignore historical evidence. It very well could ignore older precedents and uphold Cruikshank. It could ignore that the right to arms was held as an individual one since before the ratification of the Constitution. It's a hard question to consider: Do individual citizens have a Constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear weapons of military usefulness? And are the States restricted by the 14th Amendment from infringing on this right? Yes or no?

SCOTUS might very well answer: "No." It might (probably would) be a 5-4 decision, and the dissents might be philosophical works of art.

BUT:

That would be, to me, the signal that the system is broken beyond repair.

Right now, I still believe the system can work as designed. I think, though, that if SCOTUS can take it upon itself to render meaningless a part of the Bill of Rights that is explicit, then the Constitution is, for all intents and purposes, null and void.

I've often wondered if SCOTUS has denied cert. on Second Amendment cases just because the Justices couldn't bring themselves to be that blatant in violating the Constitution. Easier to avoid than to do that.

I'm betting about 60-40 that they'll deny cert. to Silviera, too. THEN where will that put us? In one circuit the right to arms will be legally recognized, but in another (the one where I live) it will not.

UPDATE:

Given the newness of my Comments, I'm going to copy and reply here:

AlphaPatriot responds:
I'm going to quote an earlier post on my website because I think it's relevant:
The other issue that mitigates against granting cert in the Silveira case is that the issue involved was a state assault weapons ban and Emerson was a Federal statute. Just two different ways of reaching a result. What you need to understand is that the Supreme Court is not in the business of doing justice in an individual case, only if taking the case will affect the law. And that case is not necessarily about whether there is an individual right, rather, about whether it's a "reasonable regulation." In other words, if the ban would likely be upheld on other grounds, even if the Supreme Court found an individual right, it is unlikely that it would take the case.
However, the issue that mitigates for granting a writ of certiorari is the fact that two Circuit Courts are in disagreement on a key issue. This often prompts SCOTUS to step in and settle the dispute.

I fully expect them to dodge if they do grant cert. The 5th Circuit certainly did - ruling as narrowly as the could get away with and avoiding addressing anything outside the question at hand. The 9th did not. They stated plainly that the right was not individual, and that individuals had no standing in bringing the question before the Court.

Somehow, I don't see how SCOTUS can let that slide given the decision in Emerson.

But you might be right - they very well could decide that it's a "reasonable regulation" of an individual right. That, I think, would be a not-quite-phyrric victory for gun owners. I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but I've read a LOT of case law concerning the right to arms. Since Silviera appears to hinge on whether or not the right is indivdual (as that's how it was decided: "The district court dismissed all of the plaintiffs’ claims. Because the Second Amendment does not confer an individual right to own or possess arms, we affirm the dismissal of all claims brought pursuant to that constitutional provision" citing Hickman v. Block.) At a minimum it would mean remanding the case to the 9th Circuit for re-hearing on the basis that Hickman was in error. THEN the 9th would just find it a "reasonable regulation."

Let's be honest here: I'm not expecting a Brown v. Board of Education-like earth-shattering decision, should they decide to hear it at all.

But I can hope.

Oh, and go read AlphaPatriot's older post on this topic. Very good.


Beware of Engineers with Screwdrivers

Sometimes I really hate my job.

I'm an engineer by profession. I've got the State license and everything. I've got a customer's machine that refuses to behave. It's got a (Star Trek Technobabble Alert!) single-ended 1024ppr quadrature encoder on it that yeilds 129 pulses per inch - most of the time. Except occasionally when moving in one direction, it will drop some counts. Like several inches worth. And since we're trying to measure to 1/64" accuracy, that's not a good thing.

The encoder is connected to an Allen-Bradley high-speed counter card that just counts, 0-999, then rolls over. The counter card communicates with an Allen-Bradley PLC 5/20 processor that totalizes the count. There are three other IDENTICAL encoders on the machine, and they all work hunky-dory. We've changed the encoder, we've changed the high-speed counter card, today we changed the CABLE.

It's still thumbing its nose at us.

(Edited to add: It's not mechanical, either. Rack & pinion gearing, positive keyed zero slip coupling. Anybody got a chicken to sacrifice?)

UPDATE! Problem solved! Of course, after the fact it was something simple, and blindingly obvious - the 5VDC power supply was only putting out 3.5V - just barely enough to make the encoder card work - most of the time.

Engineers with screwdrivers? Should be engineers with voltmeters.
Dept. of Our Collapsing Schools

Connie du Toit has an excellent post up on the state of education in this country - the difference between learning versus memorizing, and much, much more.

I forwarded it to my sister, who is a math and science teacher, for comment.

If you have children, you need to read this. If you don't, you need to read it to understand why we're graduating people who are essentially illiterate ignorants.

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Oh Yeah, Gun Control is a Critical Issue

Thanks to Ravenwood, I just discovered that the Million Moms March organization had a gathering at the West Palm Beach City Hall to commemorate national ASK Day.

Four (4) people came.

Yup, those Democratic Presidential hopefuls really need to beat the gun-control drum so they can reach their electoral base.
I Just...Aww Screw It.

Go read THIS (I can't improve on it,) then watch the piece. (7Mb - broadband is recommended, but if you're on dialup, it's worth the wait.)
Another "Bankrupt the Gun Manufacturers & Dealers" Lawsuit Bites the Dust

According to the Associated Press, Appeals court affirms dismissal of state's lawsuit against gun makers
June 24, 2003, 5:59 PM EDT


NEW YORK -- A Manhattan appeals court Tuesday affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a lawsuit in which the state accused gun makers of knowingly contributing to the "flood of illegal guns" in New York that result in injuries or death.

The Appellate Division of state Supreme Court found 3-1 that it was "legally inappropriate, impractical and unrealistic" to require the gun makers to take unspecified steps to lessen the availability and criminal use of handguns.

State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer
(hawk, spit) sued members of the gun industry in 2001. He alleged that they had created a public nuisance by knowingly distributing firearms in a way that put large numbers of guns in the hands of people who use them illegally.
And really massive numbers into the hands of people who use them legally, and that's what really bothers you, Spitz, isn't it?
"Defendants know that a significant portion of their guns become crime guns but turn a blind eye so as to increase profits, at the cost of many human lives and much human suffering," Spitzer said in his original complaint.

State Supreme Court Justice Louis York ruled Aug. 10, 2001, that Spitzer had presented insufficient evidence to support his claim that nine gun manufacturers, 12 wholesalers and three importers had violated the state's public nuisance law.

York, finding the state's case failed to link the gun industry directly to the public nuisance, wrote, "it is obvious that the parties most directly responsible for the unlawful use of handguns are the individuals who unlawfully use them."

"We agree and affirm," the appeals judges wrote.
How about that - logic and reason from two New York courts.
They said the defendants were engaged in "the lawful manufacture, marketing and sale of a defect-free product in a highly regulated activity (!!!) far removed from the downstream, unlawful use of handguns."

The appeals judges said it would be impractical for the courts to try to regulate the gun industry.
Not to mention, illegal. The making of laws is restricted to the legislative branch, not the judicial branch.
The legislative and executive branches of government might be "better suited to address the societal problems" at issue in this case, the appellate majority wrote.
And you fail there, every time.
Juanita Scarlett, a spokeswoman for Spitzer, said, "We believe that the court misapplied certain doctrinal principles. We are considering an appeal."
Let's see, you've been slapped down by a State court, then bitch-slapped by the Appeals court, but you're going to appeal again.

Another example of the bottomless pockets of the State (financed by the citizens) trying to punish the gun manufacturers and distributors financially through the court system because they cannot accomplish what they want in the legislature.
Lawyers for the gun manufacturers could not be reached by telephone for comment.
At the rates they charge, I hope not.
Spitzer's lawsuit was similar to one brought in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The civil rights group alleged that gun makers knew corrupt dealers were selling firearms to criminals in minority communities and did nothing to stop it.
This was another of the nine lawsuits so far thrown out or defeated out of something around 33 that have been filed.

Then there's the case of Bryco manufacturing losing a lawsuit when a moron failed the first rule of gun safety and didn't keep a gun pointed in a safe direction. A babysitter, trying to unload a Bryco .380 took the gun off safe to clear the chamber (just as you must with a 1911) and PUT HIS FINGER ON THE TRIGGER. The gun discharged and 16 year-old Brandon Maxfield was struck in the jaw. The jury found Bryco liable for $50.9 MILLION.

Bryco makes crappy guns, but that one wasn't defective. It worked as it was designed to.

Bryco is also being sued in New Mexico for what amouts to the same thing. The Brady Center (hawk, spit) reports that both Bryco (manufacturer) and Jennings (distributor) should be held liable for making handguns that can be accidentally fired by children. Their argument: the Jennings J-22 doesn't have a magazine disconnect. Again, neither does a 1911. And the magazine disconnect is usually one of the first things removed from a Browning Hi Power in order to give it a better trigger pull. I don't think Glocks have a magazine disconnect, do they? (I'm not a Glock fan.)

As far as Brady and the VPC and the rest are concerned, if it can go "BANG!" it's too dangerous for anyone outside of the government to have.

Interestingly, there's some retaliatory action going on. Valor Corp., the distributor that was found to be 5% at fault when 13 year-old Nathaniel Brazill shot teacher Barry Grunow with a .25 caliber Raven that had been purchased several years before, has had the $1.2 million judgment against it thrown out. Brazill STOLE the gun from a family friend (found 50% responsible - the school district was found to be 45% responsible. The shooter was apparently not responsible at all, though he's serving a 28 year sentence for the killing.) So, according to the Sun-Sentinel, Valor is suing the Grunow widow for court costs and legal fees.

Payback's a bitch, ain't it? You can bet the lawyer rich from the tobacco settlement that represented her last time won't be available for this, and I doubt that the Brady Center will pay her bills, either.

Let's get the lawsuit pre-emption bill passed and signed and end this crap. If a gun manufacturer really makes a defective product, they can still be sued for product liability, but if it works as designed there should be no lawsuit.

PLEASE CALL OR WRITE YOUR U.S. SENATORS.

URGE THEM TO:

1) Support S. 659 and

2) Defeat a filibuster of the bill.

E-MAIL your Senators.

WRITE or FAX your Senators

CALL your Senators via the Capitol Switchboard at: 202-224-3121.

Please contact your Senator today, and help keep the rights of gun owners intact!

Saturday, June 28, 2003

Comments Are Functional

But I've switched services, so all the old comments are, unfortunately, gone.

Sorry about that. But this site is only six weeks or so old, and there weren't that many comments anyway. Hopefully Haloscan will be more reliable. (It's free too, so I won't hold my breath.)
Back from the Casa Grande Shoot

We knocked off early due to the increasing heat and had lunch at Famous Sam's, but a great time was had by all.

I got to set off the one tannerite charge (one shot, thank you,) and I found out that the 1917 Enfield makes a pretty decent skeet gun. (No kidding! I have witnesses!)

I've gotta do some more of that!

Still have quite a bit of ammo left, but not a single round of .30-06.

I plan on taking care of THAT little problem shortly.
Open Mouth, Insert Foot, Shoot Foot

Day by Day, it just keeps getting better...

(Off to the AR15.com Casa Grade shoot. I'll write about it later. I've got 450 rounds of .223, about 200 rounds of .45, about 100 rounds of .30-06, and 200 rounds of .22. That ought to last until about noon, I hope.)

Friday, June 27, 2003

7,000 Hits

At 7:56 tonight, someone from the Mindspring.com domain was my 7,000th visitor since I started running Sitemeter.

I started this blog May 14th. I believe I got sitemeter running a couple of days later.

7,000 hits in six weeks.

Whoa.
Sorry About the Light Posting

Life intrudes, you know. But, a quick one - today's Friday Five:

1. How are you planning to spend the summer?

Working

2. What was your first summer job?

I worked in a hobby/crafts shop. (I was seriously into building scale models at the time.)

3. If you could go anywhere this summer, where would you go?

The Florida Keys.

4. What was your worst vacation ever?

Last year's. I didn't get one.

5. What was your best vacation ever?

My honeymoon. In the Florida Keys.

Thursday, June 26, 2003

Comments are Down, and Blogging Will be Light

I'm really busy, and there's an AR15.com shoot this weekend, so I've got a lot of ammo to load tonight and tomorrow.

Having said this, I did want to mention the recent decisions of the Supreme Court. They don't fill me with confidence should they grant cert. to Silviera v. Lockyer. The majority has demonstrated that they don't consider the Constitution as any kind of limit to their power. The 14th Amendment apparenty doesn't mean what it says (University of Michigan decisions). On the other hand, they're willing to use the 9th Amendment to recognize an unenumerated right of privacy, and use that to overcome the democratically passed laws of some states. The Founders did fear that, by enumerating some rights but not others, that future societies might denigrate the unenumerated rights.

In the case of the Second Amendment, we have an enumerated right that has been denigrated.

So here's the question: If Silviera makes it to SCOTUS will they ignore the meaning of the Second Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment on the basis of "public good?" Or will they decide that the Bill of Rights really means what it says, even if an individual right to arms means that bad things with guns can happen?

You can bet your ass it will be a "divided court" again. And O'Connor will probably be the swing vote.

If you wish to discuss this, e-mail me and I'll put up the interesting ones in a post.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Dept. of "Kill all the Lawyers"

According to the Detroit News, Ford will no longer lease vehicles in the state of New York because of New York's ah, unique liability laws.

It seems that the law in NY prevents lessors from being held responsible for accidents.
Ford cited a $1-million verdict against its consumer loan unit resulting from a suit by a girl whose father, while driving a leased car, ran over her while she was sunbathing.
Well, hell, that was obviously Ford's fault.

Jebus.
Ayup.

Artist is Larry Wright of the Detroit News.

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I Want to Start a Local Chapter

I Wasn't Going to Comment on This Member of the Deep Space Nine, But... (Thanks to Charles Austin who's filling in for Dodd over at Ipse Dixit for the oh-so-apt allusion.)

Well, I won't, really. I'll just repeat what Glen Reynolds said.

When Gephardt said during a C-Span televised rally:
"When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day."
I didn't find it surprising at all. As Glen said:
"Gephardt's not a constitutional ignoramus, or an incipient dictator. He's just your standard-model lying politician!"

Woohoo! That gets my vote.
Indeed.


Somebody Needs to Take This Kid to a Range

Carly's Story

And let her learn some of the REALITY about firearms.
In Other Words, LIE

Our friends at Jointogether.org have some Suggestions for Discussing Gun Safety with Other Parents:
Emphasize your child's curious nature:
"You know, my Timmy is so curious. He has the easiest time opening things that even I have a hard time with. It seems every time I turn around, he's got the TV remote opened and the batteries are spilling out all over the place."
Perhaps you should keep a closer eye on little Timmy, then. What if he gets into the kitchen where the knives are?
Localize the issue:
"I just heard the most amazing thing. Did you know that 39 percent of homes have firearms in them? That means a number of houses on our block (may have firearms). It's frightening to think that there are that many guns around."
If THAT bothers you, my house would give you the willies.
Set the example:
"My pediatrician convinced me that we had to do something with our gun. It was easy. Now we keep our gun empty, and locked up in a gun safe, with the ammunition locked elsewhere. It feels more responsible."
Really? Your pediatrician? And he got his gun training from....? What kind of gun to you have? Sporting-clays shotgun? Deer rifle? No? A 9mm handgun you bought for self-protection? Lots of good that bad boy's going to do you if you need it in the middle of the night, huh? "Sorry, Mr. Burglar, can you wait until I unlock the gun safe, unlock the ammo, and get this thing loaded?" Since it's useless to you, I'd offer to buy it, but I'm not all that enamored of the 9mm Europellet. Have you considered a quick-access safe? Oh, right, precocious Timmy. Well, how about wearing the gun during the day, and then putting it in the quick-access safe at night while you sleep?
Make it a joint effort:
"You know, I feel good that Timmy and his friends won't stumble on a gun in my house. I'd never forgive myself if a child got shot while playing here. That makes me realize that I hope the same thing is true at his friends' houses. So I've decided to ask everyone about it even though I feel a little funny (awkward) asking. I hope you won't feel funny (uncomfortable) when I ask you if you have a gun and if so whether it is properly stored (or how you store it)."
No, I don't feel funny (uncomfortable) at all. If you're that worried about it, keep little Timmy at home. I don't need him prowling around my house, taking my remote controls apart, and looking for my guns. Oh, and here's a nice sign for your front yard:

Rest assured, if I hear any screaming coming from your house in the middle of the night, I won't get my gun and come over to see what's happening. I'll just let the police handle it. That's what they're for, right?

Dept. of Oh for Jebus's Sake:

From the Seattle Post (lack of) Intelligencer comes this little op-ed, Gun recklessness should be a crime
One of the reasons commonly given for legislators repeatedly blocking a bill to punish adults for unsafe storage of firearms is that the existing reckless endangerment law is sufficient to protect children.
Yes, it's always for the Children
We'll see.

The test will come with the case of Amy Levitt, a Kirkland woman alleged to have been so careless with her .357 Magnum revolver that she didn't note its absence for two weeks and blithely accepted her 12-year-old son's denial that he had taken it.

Police say the boy had taken the pistol all right -- taken it to school, and many times. They say he brought it to A.G. Bell Elementary School, pointed the loaded pistol at other kids' heads and threatened to kill the principal.

The boy faces 10 criminal charges in juvenile court, including assault and felony harassment. Levitt faces at least one charge herself: reckless endangerment, a gross misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

That would seem the minimum punishment for someone whose behavior is so careless, so reckless, as to allow so many children to be put at risk. Is it enough to deter unsafe firearms storage?

Perhaps the Kirkland case will make the case against the need for firearm-specific legislation. It may also make the case that existing law is deficient.

We know this much: If this sort of reckless treatment of a lethal weapon is not a crime, it sure should be. And the Legislature should make it so.
(All emphasis mine.)

OK, what do we have here? Morons. And so is Ms. Levitt. Let's get this straight - she can receive a YEAR IN JAIL and a $5K fine, but THIS IS NOT ENOUGH TO DETER HER FROM BEING A MORON. Noooooo, we need a bright & shiny NEW LAW that will make it REALLY, REALLY illegal to be a moron. THAT will stop people from being stupid! THAT will make them lock up their guns that we shouldn't allow them to have, but can't prevent because of that useless pesky Second Amendment thing.

Get this straight, members of the Seattle P.I. editorial board: Laws like this punish people after the fact. They aren't going to prevent stupid people from being stupid, even if you threaten them with death.

And they aren't going to make them good parents, either.

Monday, June 23, 2003

So This Means I Have About 22 Regular Readers?


Of course, there's probably some regulars among the "Only ISP" and "Miscellaneous" groups, too.

Thank's, y'all!
What Do You Think Dachau and Auschwitz WERE?


Artist: Mike Ramirez, LA Times.

And what do you think all those mass graves represented?
This Could Have Been Very Ugly.

The British newspaper Guardian Unlimited reports that a freighter was boarded by the Greek Special Forces. The ship was carrying 680 tons of dynamite and 8,000 detonators.
"The cargo was destined for a company with a post office box in Khartoum [the capital of Sudan] that does not exist," Mr Anomeritis added.

"Someone could think that it would have some connection with terrorist groups," the Associated Press quoted him as saying. "That is why we stopped it when it entered Greek territorial waters."

"It should have reported that it was sailing with an atomic bomb cargo," Reuters quoted Mr Anomeritis as saying, referring to the quantity of explosives on board.
I keep expecting something like this to sail into the Port of Los Angeles.

That gives me the heebies.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Holy Recognition, Batman! What a Time to Be on Vacation!

C. Dodd Harris IV is on vacation in Belize with his family, when Chris Muir immortalizes him for blogdom!



Congratulations, Dodd, you lucky dog! You deserve it. Sorry you missed it!
Well, THIS is Nice to Know!

Thanks to the Single Southern Guy, I just took the Brain Useage Profile test. And here are my results:
Your Brain Usage Profile

Auditory : 35%
Visual : 64%
Left : 50%
Right : 50%

Kevin, you exhibit an even balance between left- and right- hemisphere dominance and a slight preference for visual over auditory processing. With a score this balanced, it is likely that you would have slightly different results each time you complete this self-assessment quiz.

You are a well-rounded person, distinctly individualistic and artistic, an active and multidimensional learner. At the same time, you are logical and disciplined, can operate well within an organization, and are sensitive towards others without losing objectivity. You are organized and goal-directed. Although a "thinking" individual, you "take in" entire situations readily and can act on intuition.

You sometimes tend to vacillate in your learning styles. Learning might take you longer than someone of equal intellect, but you will tend to be more thorough and retain the material longer than those other individuals. You will alternate between logic and impulse. This vacillation will not normally be intentional or deliberate, so you may experience anxiety in situations where you are not certain which aspect of yourself will be called on.

With a slight preference for visual processing, you tend to be encompassing in your perceptions, process along multidimensional paths and be active in your attacking of situations or learning.

Overall, you should feel content with your life and yourself. You are, perhaps, a little too critical of yourself -- and of others -- while maintaining an "openness" which tempers that tendency. Indecisiveness is a problem and your creativity may not be in keeping with your potential. Being a pragmatist, you downplay this aspect of yourself and focus on the more immediate, obvious and the more functional
Damn! I'm quite a guy, based on a single 20-question internet test.

(That must be the "critical of others" and "pragmatist" part of my personality, eh?)
Let's See If I Can "Germinate an Intelligent Thought" Here

A fellow Arizonan by the name of Jon Garrido has an, um, interesting site that goes by the name of "Out of Many, One", and on that site, he waxes poetic about his growing up in rural Arizona and his love for firearms on the gun control page. (Edit 5/16/04: The site has moved, and these links have been updated to the new URLs. The site is no longer called "Out of Many, One, but now Jon Garrido Writes) Example:
I grew up in rural Arizona with a love for guns. I still remember my first gun. A thousand shot Red Ryder BB gun. I don't remember exactly how old I was. Somewhere around 6 or 7 years old. I moved up quickly. My second gun was a Daisy pump 50 shot BB gun. I was the only one of my gang who had a Daisy pump, much more powerful than my Red Ryder. I was the envy of all my buddies. I think I was 7 or 8 years old. We went everywhere with our BB guns and anything that moved was fair game. I remember lizards. They were fast but they always came to a stop after a short burst run.

Pigeons were a lot easier. I guess that is where the term comes from. I cleaned my first pigeons when I as 8 or 9 and we roasted them in a fire. We all seemed to carry salt with us in those days.

At age 9-10, I moved up again. This time my parents bought me a Crossman pellet gun. It used CO2 gas to propel pellets and it was a great gun. I still have it. I gave it to my son once but now it is back home in my closet where it belongs.

It seem I would never be old enough but the time finally arrived. I finally got my 22. A Remington bolt action. Now doves, quail and rabbits were the targets of choice. I think I was 11 years old.

All my friends had 22s. We did not have to go far to shoot our guns. Just out the back door. All we had to do was go behind my grandparents' house and shoot targets. When targets became boring, off we went to explore the hills and mountains around our little town.

A 22 was a great gun to start with but my hunting was limited to small game until the Christmas of 1955. That was the year I got my Winchester Model 94 30-30. I was 12 years old and I killed my first deer when I was 13.

In those years, there were deer everywhere. I remember shooting deer and taking them back to my grandmother who made the deer meat into jerky. It seems our pockets were always full with dried jerky. Her jerky dried with chili was the best. We probably shot more javelinas than deer but they were more trouble cleaning than they were worth eating.

I was born in Superior, Arizona, a copper mining town of 4,000 persons. Probably a lot less now because the mine has been closed for twenty years. Superior is two hours east of Phoenix. My mom was born there and my dad was born up the road in Jerome, then the site of the biggest copper mine in Arizona. Jerome is now one of Arizona's ghost towns.
Nice, nostalgic stuff, no? Rural Americana at its best. He goes on to describe his experience with handguns:
Handguns were also used then for hunting but really weren't made for out west. I had three handguns and my Dan Wesson 357 magnum with a six inch barrel was my favorite. I could hit a oil barrel one hundred yards away yet I never used it for hunting. Why use a handgun when a rifle is so much more accurate? Nor did I ever carry a handgun in the car. At home, it was always in one of my drawers.
(Just as an aside, oil-barrel jerky doesn't sound too appetizing.) But here's where it turns South:
I got rid of my handguns before I married and never bought another gun again.
But he doesn't say why, and I find that interesting. Continuing:
While I still love guns, gun ownership today has certainly changed for the worst. I hate the way most guns are used today.
Non sequitur alert! Non sequitur alert! "...the way most guns are used today?"

What planet does this guy live on? We've got 280,000,000 people in the U.S. and over 200,000,000 guns, and he hates the way most of them are used? What, hunting and target shooting? I thought that was what he did as a kid? No, he means this:
I think senseless killings of innocent people is absolutely sinful.
Well, hell, who doesn't?
I strongly favor total gun control of hand guns and automatic weapons. The National Rifle Association claims it is guns that kill people and not people. Such a stupid comment.
Pot? Meet kettle. Let's look at reality here. (And remember, Mr. Garrido wrote his op-ed in 2000.)

According to the Department of Justice's Crime Atlas 2000, the homicide rate in the 20th Century peaked first in 1933 at 9.7/100,000 population, then dropped to a minimum of 4.5/100,00 in 1957, then increased again in the 70's, peaking at 10.1 in 1974, and at 10.7 in 1980, and at 10.5 in 1991. Since then it has been on the descent, reaching 6.3/100,000 in 1998. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports, it continued its decline, reaching 5.5/100,000 in 2000, and it nudged up one tenth for 2001. We haven't seen a rate of 5.5/100,000 since 1965.

Here's a good graphic showing the trend over time:


It would appear that Mr. Garrido grew up during that low period between 1945 and 1960. Too bad he didn't take some time while growing up to study history. And too bad that he hasn't bothered to study current events, either. Ignorance is not bliss. Homicide rates are back down where they were when he was a young man, and there are a lot more guns, especially handguns, in private hands today than there were then. Looks like most guns are being used just like they were when he was growing up.

He continues:
As I listen to spokesmen of the National Rifle Association, I can not understand how supposedly intelligent rational men can make make such ludicrous statements supporting the sale of guns with out adequate controls.

I love guns but only as a gun lover using a gun to go hunting or for protection. I think gun registration is an obvious way of limiting gun ownership to sensible persons.
Really? And just who gets to decide who's "sensible?" Is there a test? If so, administered by whom? I thought our system of government was based on rights? Since when are we tested before we're allowed to exercise them? And what do we do about all those people who own guns now? Sorry, Mr. Garrido, but there's a thing known as prior restraint, and another known as due process. The first says that you can't deny a right because someone might do something wrong, the second says you can only strip an individual of any right through the legal process. Doing it to the population wholesale is unconstitutional.
It also makes perfect rational sense to make everyone wait at least one month to purchase a gun if it will lessen the amount of innocent killing. Why a person needs to buy a gun and be able to use it the same day is beyond any rational thinking.
Let's see...could it be...for PROTECTION? And IF it will lessen the amount of killing? What if it doesn't?

But here's the kicker - the last line in his little holier-than-thou sermon:
Those that think gun control takes away any constitutional right are not capable of germinating an intelligent thought.
OK, now it's obvious he hasn't been studying current events.

England did everything Mr. Garrido thinks is a good idea - registration, restricting guns to "sensible people," the whole nine yards. Now not one law-abiding citizen in England has a handgun anymore. And no one can legally use a firearm for self-defense there unless they're a police officer or other government official. We're supposed to have a constitutional right, but there are people - as I illustrated here who want to take that right away. And as I illustrated here, our Constitutional right to arms currently doesn't exist in Arizona - the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has so ruled. More than once.

Mr. Garrido represents a large number of gun owners who think "they'll never take my guns. I'm a sensible person." Right, Mr. Garrido. Pay attention: Tell that to a few hundred-thousand Brits who have had their handguns taken, and their semi-auto rifles and shotguns taken. Tell that to a bunch of Australians that have lost a lot of rifles and shotguns and are about to lose a lot of handguns. Tell that to the Canadians who are, even now, fighting a "common-sense" registration scheme that has wasted a billion of their tax dollars.

Here's an intelligent thought, Mr. Garrido: We've seen "total control of handguns and automatic weapons." They've seen. Why haven't you seen?


(Image courtesy of Oleg Volk's A Human Right website. Go look. Excellent stuff.)

(All emphasis in the quotations from Mr. Garrido's page are mine.)
How the Military Kills Snakes

This is pretty funny. Acidman had an encounter with a snake a few days ago, so he's been getting snake-related e-mails.

This one's pretty good!

Not much posting today - I've got an IHMSA match to run and won't be back until this afternoon. It promises to be WARM today.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Funny How This NEVER Happens Anywhere CCW is Passed, but They NEVER Stop Predicting It:


From Citizens for a Safer Minnesota.

(You'd think that after 34 other states passed CCW and became safer they'd be for CCW, wouldn't you?)
OK, THIS is Funny as Hell!

IMAGE REMOVED AT THE REQUEST OF THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER - OR SOMEONE PRESENTING THEMSELVES TO GOOGLE AS THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER, ANYWAY.



Click on the image to go to the MacroMedia Flash movie.


Edited 5/9/07
Just One More Reason I'm Jealous of Kim du Toit

His Mrs. has this excellent post up entitled Solving the Crime Problem. Go read.

And while you're at it, read the post that inspired it.
Another Sign of the Apocalypse

Mark Moron Morford of the San Francisco Chronicle was funny Friday. Normally he's just tiring. The column is entitled Stop The Gay Canadians! First icky legalized homosexual marriage, then the apocalypse. Conservative America trembles And it just gets better from there.
"I don't really know what this means, what it represents, what it entails, what gay people stand for, where they come from or what they do or why they do it or how they become that way in the first place or even if they're allowed to vote or fly in airplanes," announced a very trembly George W. Bush at a hastily arranged press conference in the Super Mega Hetero Gun Room of the White House.
Wow! Where do I go to get a Super Mega Hetero Gun Room installed in my house?

Of course, I'm a South Park Republican, so I think these stereotypes are freaking hilarious!

(Nod to Michele for the pointer. I don't read Morford as a rule.)

Friday, June 20, 2003

The Debate Continues Drags Along Slowly

I've posted my latest two missives in the debate over at The Commentary. However, Jack is off on holiday at the end of this month, so I don't think I'll be hearing from him any time soon. As usual, the permalinks aren't working over there and neither are the archives, so just go in and scroll down.

G'night, y'all. I'm tired.

(UPDATE: I got the archives to work, but the permalinks are still bloggered. I can't get Jack to republish the archives to fix this.)
Have a Few Hours to Waste?

I found this game a while back, but now it's new and improved - and it's Shareware

Prairie Dog Hunt Pro '97 (hey, I didn't say I'd visited it recently.)

It's got it all, but mostly it's got exploding prarie dogs! (no SARS here!)


They blow up REAL good!

Give it a shot (pun intended.)

Correction: Kim du Toit pointed out (damned quickly, I might add) that prarie dogs are spreaders of monkeypox not SARS. See the cartoon:


(Steve Benson, of the Arizona Republic)
This Must Be What Living Next to Vesuvius Looks Like

This is a view of the smoke plume from the Aspen fire in the Catalina Mountains North of Tucson. It's taken from the Northwest suburb of Oro Valley, not too far from where I live.

The smoke today isn't as bad as this, but that's because the worst of the fire has descended down the back slope of the range. Ugly.



The story is here.

I guess I won't be going up to Summerhaven for a while.
Sometimes It Feels Like This


"Oh, we almost forgot to unplug Kevin..."



I think I spend entirely too much time on-line.
The Catholic Church Brought This On Themselves, I Think

If you haven't been following this story, Bishop O'Brien of the Phoenix, AZ diocese made a deal with Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley to admit that he'd sheltered preists who had sexually abused parishoners. Worse than that, it appears that Phoenix was made the dumping-ground for "troubled priests" as Boston's Cardinal Law (no saint, himself) considered Phoenix a diocese "with policies that are less restrictive than ours." Then, O'Brien backpedalled on his statement.

Then O'Brien was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident. He is now the first Bishop to have felony charges pressed against him.

Frank Keating, former governor of Oklahoma and a member of an investigative board examining the breadth and scope of sexually abusive priests in the Catholic church was recently forced to resigned from the board after he "compared the Catholic Church's instinct for secrecy to that of La Cosa Nostra."

Chuck Asay, once again, hits the nail on the head:

Thursday, June 19, 2003

I'm 3-for-3!

Pickings must be slim.

The local lefty rag here in Tucson, the Tucson Weekly, is a fairly amusing paper I read every now and then just to see what the other side is up to. And, give them credit, they do a better job of bird-dogging the local government than either of the two local "mainstream" yellow-journals. They even print stuff by conservatives! (Well, one conservative, and he's pretty close to where the right-wing raving lunatics meet the left-wing barking moonbats.)

What they do print, though, is letters to the editor, and I'm three-for-three now. The Weekly has a far-left columnist by the name of Renée Downing who publishes every other week or so, who wrote a column for the April 3 edition entitled "A Fine Line" that - to put it bluntly - pissed me off. So I wrote a letter to the editor. And they printed it, almost verbatim. They only edited it for length, and the cut was minor. If you want, you can read it here. (It's entitled "Meet Renée Downing, Hateful Liberal" - I'm not responsible for the title. Scroll down, it's the last one on the page.) That column drew fire from at least one other person. In the April 24 issue, see the letter entitled "Renée Downing's Biggest Fan".

The same week they published my first missive (and after the taking of Baghdad) Renée equivocated with her column, "In Search of Some Good Amusement" and I felt I ought to task her for it, so I wrote another submission. It was accepted. It's in the May 8 issue, entitled "Yet More Love for Renée Downing" (next to last letter on the page).

Well, apparently the criticism got to old Renée, so in the June 12 issue she wrote a column entitled "I Can See Clearly Now" that, once again, inspired my pen keyboard. I was tempted to write a complete rebuttal column, but I knew they'd never print that, so I whipped out a short and pithy piece and wafted it through the ether to them Tuesday afternoon. They called me today and told me to expect to see it in a week or two.

In order to spare you the wait, (like you really care) here it is in its entirety now:
I see Ms. Downing's been affected by the volume (and vitriol) of the mail responding to her op-eds. ("I Can See Clearly Now.")

Alas, her conversion seems somehow...contrived.

The heart of the liberal still beats firmly in that breast. Yes, the caring and compassion of the true liberal still shines through like a beacon. There's no fooling us. She cares deeply about everyone and everything around her. I mean, just read her words:
"I'm a female Republican so reading and listening aren't really necessary for me."

"...those soft, balding, white men who, even in middle age, must struggle every day with crippling mother issues."
Yes, by G_d, she does care about each and every one of us! She wants us to get everything that's coming to us. Good and hard!

But on the off-chance that some of that criticism did crack the liberal shell, I sincerely invite her to join this soft, balding white man (who has no mother issues I'm aware of, crippling or otherwise) at the Tucson Rifle Club where I would be pleased to introduce her to some of the contents of my in-home arsenal so that she can free herself of the crippling fear that most liberals seem to have of firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens.

Any step forward is a positive one, I always say.
I cannot help but wonder if she'll take me up on the offer....


Have You Taken the Political Compass Test?

Here's my result:



About what I expected.

You can take it here.

More on Atlas Shrugged


As I noted here I have started reading Ayn Rand's seminal work, Atlas Shrugged, a book that at least one survey deterimined was the most important book after the Bible to a good number of people.

Normally I'm a voracious reader, and I read quite quickly.

No offense to people who love this book, but IMHO it's dreck. Her characters are cardboard cutouts with psychoses for personalities - all of them. Her prose is stilted, repetative, and bombastic. Her world-model has all the intricacy and detail of a Leggo construction, but less color. And the BIG Leggo blocks, not the little ones. I'm not a third of the way in, and it's almost painful to read. Dagny and Reardon have (in the modern vernacular) "hooked up" and they're so dysfunctional that I keep expecting Francisco to show up in leather and dominate them both. Methinks Rand had some pretty severe issues with sex.

Her essays are interesting, though her style even there is heavy. (Struggle through The Comprachicos some time. I think her analysis is correct, and a few decades after she wrote it we're paying the cost of what she accurately described, but a stylish and engaging writer she was not.) I give her the benefit of the doubt because English was not her native language, but this manifesto badly camoflaged as a novel is almost more than I can deal with. I have been promised that it will improve, but there's this thing called "suspension of disbelief" and it requires better writing than Ms. Rand seems capable of. If I haven't suspended disbelief by now you can bet your a** I'm not going to.

I'm going to slog to the finish, I'll read all the essays she writes as dialog and cringe at the relationships between the pricipals, but I doubt that I'll enjoy the experience as so many others seem to have.

(I wonder if this will result in hate-mail?)

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.
Our Collapsing Schools Dept.:

This news is from Canada, but it's an idea that I think is probably a good one: Hamilton school to offer single-sex classrooms
Learning improves when boys, girls are separated, studies say

An Ontario school is giving parents an option rarely offered in the public school system -- all-girl and all-boy classes.

Starting in the fall, parents of Grades 7 and Grade 8 students at Cecil B. Stirling School in Hamilton will have the choice of keeping their children in a co-ed classroom or moving them into single-sex classes, which have traditionally been limited to private schools.

The program taps a growing body of research that suggests boys and girls learn differently and benefit from being separated, particularly in such key subjects as mathematics, reading and writing.

Teachers used to worry about girls falling behind in science and math but the concern has now switched to boys.
There's more, go read the rest.

I think that there's a lot wrong in the school systems here that single-sex classrooms aren't going to affect, but any effort to actually improve things is welcome. I've become convinced that the destruction wrought on our schools cannot have been an accident - at least not completely.



On a Lighter Note



There's nothing that can't be fixed with the proper application of a little high-explosive, I always say.

Artist is David Jacobson, Journal-News, NY.
Oh, so THAT Explains It!



Day by Day

Then There's This:



Isn't THAT the truth.

Artist is Chuck Asay, again, from the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Rand Simberg Weighs in on the O'Reilly Controversy

I can't compete with that. Go read it. Now.

(Nod to the Blogfather for the link. Who else?)
Another Opportunity for Free Enterprise and the Internet

JoinTogether.org continues to be an unending font of material for me. In this piece they report that More Newspapers Banning Gun Classifieds. This happened here in Tucson a couple of years ago. The result? UsedGunsTucson.com, a web-based classified system for people buying and selling their firearms privately. At no cost, mind you. This guy runs the site on his own dime. And I've used it. It works quite well.

I hope others establish sites like this to replace their newspaper classifieds.
"...they know [guns] are trouble and anytime there is one around, someone is going to get hurt."

That quote from this San Francisco Bay Guardian column on the local chapter of the Pink Pistols who are trying to get San Francisco's CCW permit process changed. According to the article there are only "five permits issued to non-law enforcement personnel in the city." Five. And you can bet they're either celebrities or government officials. Mere peons need not apply. And, of course, the header of the section on this push is entitled "Licensed to kill".

Here's the whole quote:
"This is an antigun city, and I'm proud to say that our District Attorney's Office has the highest gun-prosecution rate of any county in the state," District Attorney Terence Hallinan said. "San Franciscans don't like guns; they know [guns] are trouble and anytime there is one around, someone is going to get hurt."
Yeah, all those armed police officers sure are dangerous.

The article does get in this excellent zinger:
In California it's up to the discretion of the chief law enforcement agency in each county to grant a CCW permit. Evidently Marin County is lenient about CCW permits, as it issued one to actor and resident Sean Penn, who recently made the news when his car was stolen, along with two of his handguns, when he was in Berkeley. It is no secret that Penn has been convicted of assault and domestic violence, a history that would normally disqualify any applicant from permission to carry a concealed weapon.
But he's not a peon - he's one of the priviledged class.

And, of course, there's this inevitable question that comes up every time "shall-issue" is mentioned:
What would be the implications if more people were issued CCW permits in San Francisco? Would there be shoot-outs over parking spaces and taxis? Would queer bashing decrease but homicides by queers increase? Will there be a day when you'll have to check your gun at the bar, like in San Francisco of 150 years ago?
At least the author answers that question - "Not likely" he says.
I Think He'll be Charged with "Assault with a Deadly Weapon."

Nod to Acidman for the pointer.
Business Owner Chases, Runs Over Robbery Suspects In Hummer

A business owner in Phoenix, Arizona took matters into his own hands after a group of men robbed his business, according to a Local 6 News report.

Police say three armed suspects walked into the Mr. Insurance building in Phoenix and demanded money. A fourth suspect was in the getaway car, according to the report.

Investigators said after the suspects left with the store's money, the co-owner jumped into his Hummer and chased after the suspects.

Police said that the man, identified only as Peter, followed the suspects through a neighborhood and eventually caught up with them. He then rolled his Hummer over their car.

Two of the suspects were taken to the hospital in critical condition.

The two other suspects managed to get away but police later caught them as well.
I don't think he can claim self-defense here. The attached poll is running 85% against charging him, though. I'd like to be on that grand jury.

Man, the Hummer did a job on that car.


You can bet it wasn't an H2.
Just Googling Around, and I Find This:

From the Timberjay News in Minnesota, comes this little op-ed (I don't know how long the link will be valid - I suspect only one day) entitled: "Public's fear the biggest issue with concealed carry law"

Why, yes indeed, that is the biggest issue. And that fear is well fed by the gun-phobic groups and by the media. But the part of the editorial that really grabbed my attention was this:
Whether they are used or not, guns are intimidating to many people - and with good reason. Police officers carry guns and most never use them. But the presence of the gun is a reminder to the public that they have the ability to use deadly force if needed - and the intimidation factor that provides gives police officers an upper hand over the rest of us.
That's quite correct - government is essentially exercised through the threat of force against its citizenry. But it continues:
That’s acceptable when they are highly trained and their job is to enforce the law and keep the peace. But statewide polls have already demonstrated that the idea of the average Joe walking around with the same intimidating firearms isn’t appealing to most Minnesotans.
And why is that? Because most people have been taught that defending yourself isn't your job - it's the job of the state. You aren't "highly trained" or qualified to do that job. Leave it to the experts. The column continues, though, with this:
Are such fears irrational? Perhaps. The data is far from clear on the point, despite the rhetoric of supporters.
The data is far from clear??? We've got data from 35 states dating back years that proves "such fears irrational."

The piece concludes:
In the end, this debate isn’t really about guns—it’s about fear and public perception. And as public officials and polls around the state have been stating loudly and clearly, this new law will make more Minnesotans feel fearful, while offering an ineffective security blanket to a very small minority. Some of that fear will likely dissipate over time. Five years from now, many people will probably have forgotten about this and moved on to worry about something else. And as one letter writer pointed out, most people will stop carrying guns once the novelty wears off and they realize it’s mostly just an unnecessary burden.

But for now, it has increased the public’s fear in Minnesota, whether justified or not. Does that serve the overall public good? It’s hard to argue that it does.
If the strongest argument you can make against concealed carry is that it inspires a little temporary fear in the brainwashed populace, then please explain to me why fifteen states still don't offer "shall-issue" - 'cause that's a piss-poor excuse.
Eugene Volohk Fisks the "Guns in the Home = Risk" Meme

And well. In a National Review Online column today, Professor Volokh fisks a recent repeat of this nugget of half-truth that gets repeated as often as "thirteen kids a day" does.
What the University of Pennsylvania study found was a statistical correlation: Gun ownership is correlated with gun deaths. But that two things are correlated doesn't prove that one causes the other. The sex-crime rate is correlated over time with the use of air conditioning, but not because air conditioning causes sex crime; rather, both rise during the summer months. Likewise, whether someone in your home has been to the hospital recently is correlated with death in your home, but not because hospital care tends to kill people (though sometimes it does). Rather, both hospital stays and deaths often have a common cause: serious illness.
Logically what they are practicing is the fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc - "after this, therefore because of this" - and it doesn't work that way, as he deftly illustrates. But here's the money quote, and the thing I find so angering about "studies" of this type:
Unfortunately, this is how conventional wisdom is molded. A badly flawed study leads to an even more flawed New York Times article. Readers read it and say "Wow, it's dangerous for me to own a gun" — or "Since guns endanger even their owners, there's really no reason to keep them legal." Precisely because the study seems so authoritative, so scientific, it's likely to be influential, even when it's misdesigned and misreported. And this is especially so when these flaws are repeated in study after study, as they have routinely been in the gun debate. Bad social science leads to bad legal policy.
Amen.

His piece concludes with a comment on the suggestion that medical professionals should make recommendations to their patients:
Finally, the study concludes with a recommendation to the medical profession: Physicians should "discuss with all patients" "the consequences of having access to guns." But "discussions" are only helpful if the physician actually knows what he's talking about. Many physicians have little personal knowledge about guns, and haven't read the rebuttals to these studies. If they start spreading this erroneous information to their patients, the results won't be good either for the patients or for the reputation of the medical profession.
They're way ahead of the curve on this one, Professor. Just look below at my post "This is the Kind of Thing That REALLY IRRITATES ME!"


I Can SEE!

Back from the eye doctor a couple of hours ago. My pupils are starting to come back down (very freaky having vampire eyes). So now I can read the computer screen.

Man, I missed some stuff.

Monday, June 16, 2003

This Concludes the Blogging for Today

I'm going to load some ammo.

Blogging will be light tomorrow, as I have an appointment with my opthalmologist, and she's going to dialate my pupils and practice Chinese Light Torture photograph my retinas, and do other things to and with my eyes. As a result, I won't be able to see very well for a few hours.

Have a pleasant evening.

Leave a comment, if you would.
Steven Den Beste Weighs In On Europe's Proposed "Right of Reply"

In which he states again that the EU is being set up as a benevolent dictatorship. For now.

Rachel Lucas weighs in on the topic, too.

I predict this is going to get ugly in a few years or less.

This always reminds me of the (possibly apocryphal) 18th Century quotation from Sir Alexander Frasier Tytler:
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

from bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complacency to apathy;
from apathy to dependency;
from dependency back again to bondage.
I think the Europeans are just a bit ahead of us on the curve. They've hit "dependency" and are about to descend - voluntarily - back into bondage.
On a More Serious Note,

In relation to the Doctors for the Reduction of Handgun Injury piece below, comes this link from Prof. Volokh concerning a 52 year-old woman who used instructions she found on the internet to take her own life. Now St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce wants to prosecute the provider of that information for voluntary manslaughter.

Where do these people get law degrees?

Ms. Joyce believes that the suicide victim would not have killed herself if she hadn't found that information. What planet is she from? She'd have found some way to end her life, if that's what she'd decided to do. As I noted, 29,350 people offed themselves in the U.S. in 1999. Women don't use a firearm as much as men do. The tend to use asphyxiation or poisoning, generally by drug overdose. This woman could have just as easily used the Japanese method of throwing herself in front of a train.

Question to Ms. Joyce: What if this information had been printed in a novel?

I'm quite tired of the government trying to protect us from ourselves.
Department of "What the Hell Were They THINKING?"!

Thanks to some sharp-eyes over at AR15.com, I found this extremely humorous link.

It would appear that someone at Mattel wasn't thinking when they created the Harry Potter Nimbus 2000 Broomstick toy. Then again, maybe they were...and they should be investigated.

It appears that the toy is extremely popular with the young ladies.Bzzzzz......

Oh, and Amazon no longer carries the item for some reason....

(I predict a comment from the Reverend Falwell on the pernicious evil of making witchcraft into childs-play after this hits general circulation.)

UPDATE: Get your pre-ban's at ebay! It went for $51! I'm sure she'll really enjoy it!
No More Guns In Church! - Followup

Kim du Toit provides the link to the followup on this story.
Big Lake pastor to stand trial in killing of chapel intruders
GRAND JURY: Mielke indicted on charges of manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide
Had this happened in Texas, no charges would have been filed. Note the money quote:
The location of the men's wounds probably swayed the jury, as did the distance between the chapel and Mielke's home and the fact that the pastor chose to confront the men rather than call 911, Kalytiak said.
Yup. Depend on the State. They'll show up after a while and take a report.

I bet the spree of church break-ins has stopped.
I Can't IMAGINE Why No One Has Interviewed BILL on Hill's New Book!



The artist is Steve Benson of the (Phoenix) Arizona Republic.
"We Come from Hearty Stock" - or - Our Ancestors Said: "Fuck You, We'll Leave!"

Mrs. du Toit has an excellent essay up on the kind of people who came to America - the ruly, unrepentant non-conformists.

What the hell happened to us?

I've said before that when a society becomes too restrictive, then the individualists will head for the new frontier. Unfortunately we no longer have much of a new frontier.

We'd better figure out a way to exploit space, and soon. I hate to think what will happen when the pressure builds up because there's no longer a safety valve.
The Sun May Have Set, But Some Brits Still Have A Pair

Also from Samizdata comes this story of Geoff Bean an unrepentant and belligerent Brit who has no patience with government bureaucrats. Here's part of what he wrote to his government:
Were I a one-legged homosexual Afghan refugee/terrorist living on the welfare state, you and your ilk would not dare write in such a manner for fear of having all the human rights lawyers in creation round your necks, but as you are speaking to an honest, hard-working and overstressed Englishman, you appear to think you can behave like all too many of the vast and ever-increasing army of totally useless, non-productive, arrogant and bloody-minded officialdom, who are now only too successfully doing more damage to this once great and free nation than was ever achieved by Adolf Hitler.
That's the kind of attitude we need more of here before we become more like there. Go read it.

Buy that man a beer!
Socialized Medicine - Equally Bad Care for All

Samizdata reports on the status of socialized medicine in England - this time in how it relates to soldiers injured in service.

Seems that if you were injured and need to see a specialist or require surgery, you get to wait six months to a year to see a government-paid doctor.

Or you can get it taken care of expeditiously if you want to pay for it yourself.

"I'm sorry leftenant, but that mine fairly mangled your foot. We can have it off and get you fitted for a prosthetic in, oh, eight months. What? What do you do until then? Well, here's a prescription for painkillers, and stay off that...foot. Eh wot?"

Remember Hillarycare? With that plan you couldn't pay for it yourself.
Lileks on the Wellstone Assassination Theorists
“Before you write me off as a crank . . . ” - ink’s dry, sir. Ink’s dry. “. . let me ask you a simple question. Do you know what caused the crash?” I’m guessing gravity had something to do with it. “If you don’t know, then how can you know that I am wrong?” He’s got me there. I also don’t know why the shuttle crashed, which is why I cannot rule out the possibility that Romulan warbirds fired their disruptors as the ship began its descent. But I suspect you are wrong about this, because you are wrong about nearly everything else. Want proof? Mr. Fetzer’s U of M website links to his other sites, assassinationscience.com and assassinationresearch.com.

As the saying goes: when all you have is an assassination-related URL, everything looks like a covert hit.
Oh, and Lileks also assassinates some ants. Good read.


At Home, I Have this Large Gun...



Day by Day

(I hope everyone had a nice Father's Day. I did!)

Saturday, June 14, 2003

More Control Loop Feedback from the Blogosphere

Mr. Harris over at Ipse Dixit has an excellent analysis and disassembly of Michael Kinsley's latest Slate piece, "Return of the Class War". This is why I loved reading his stuff back on Themestream and why I'm happy to find him still writing. An excerpt:
Gaze, my friends, at the living, beating heart of the Left. Here, in its natural habitat (an op-ed in an elitist, left-leaning publication), is the very essence of liberalism: The care and feeding of envy. No-one is wealthy but that they were blessed by "the luck of the draw." Capitalism in America is a massive, US$10 trillion lottery in which the lucky few get to drive Rolls-Royces while the rest of us toil and sweat to make their lives of ease and idleness possible. But they accept this dreary lot because - hey! who knows? - maybe one day they'll get the lucky hand and be given a key to the secret inner kingdom.

The facts: 80% of American millionaires are self-made. The average American millionaire earns US$150,000/year and drives a Ford. He lives modestly and saves 15% of what he earns. But you'd never know that reading to this quasi-Marxist pabulum.
Go read every damned word.

Oh, and I happen to work for two of those 80-percenters. In 1981 they risked everything they had to build a company - the company I've worked for the last 17 years, and that pays me a pretty damned good salary. I don't begrudge them their money at all. They busted their asses for it, and I helped them get where they are.

And if I want to take the risk they did, perhaps in ten or fifteen years I too can have the kind of income they draw now. This is America - land of opportunity, not the land of handouts.
The Sun Has Set on the British Empire

Emperor Misha has this post about the current status of English farmer Tony Martin, who was convicted for shooting two burglars in his home.

I've written about Martin before, as I studied what was available in detail during his trial. Unlike many gun-right supporters, I have said that even here (except in Texas, South Carolina, and some other localities) what Mr. Martin did would have put him in jail here, too. He set up an ambush, and he shot the perps with (regardless of how you feel about registration) an unregistered pump-action shotgun. Then he lied to the cops and claimed self-defense. The evidence proved otherwise.

HOWEVER, what's going on over there now doesn't border on the ridicuolous, it goes way over that line.

Go read it and be pissed off.

This is the Kind of Thing That REALLY IRRITATES ME

The organization Doctors Against Handgun Injury has produced a pamphlet that YOUR doctor can give you to help you recognize the dangers of keeping a firearm in your home. It's an Adobe Acrobat PDF file, entitled Is Your Family Safe? It's a two-page tri-fold, made up of little soundbite-sized blurbs of statistics and recommendations. Mixed in with a little reasonably good advice, is a lot of (I believe) intentionally misleading statistics, which I will illustrate here. I'm not going to quote the whole thing, just selected parts.
Why having a gun in the home is a problem
Well! Let's just start off with a blatent assertion! We're doctors, after all, and the only difference between a doctor and God is that God doesn't believe he's a doctor!

Having a gun in the home IS a problem? Not "may be" a problem? Not "can be" a problem? Not "is sometimes" a problem? Only "IS" a problem? When some 40% of households in this country have a firearm in them?

Next:
Doctors treat the victims of gun violence every day. We want to reduce the number of deaths and injuries and prevent you and your family from being a statistic.

• 16,599 Americans used a gun to commit suicide in 1999

While suicidal thoughts may be fairly constant, the decision to act on those thoughts is usually brief – often fading within just a few seconds or minutes. If a gun is available, that is enough time for thought to turn to action.
Ah, yes, the "guns are the cause of suicide" argument. Except they don't tell you some other interesting information. Yes indeed, according to CDC statistics 16,599 Americans did kill themselves with firearms in 1999. Another 12,764 killed themselves by other means. The total number of suicides was 29,350, and the rate per 100,000 population was 10.66.

That puts the United States, with its 200,000,000+ firearms, over 65 MILLION of which are handguns firmly in the MIDDLE OF THE PACK for suicide internationally. If firearms actually cause suicide, then our population should have offed itself a few generations ago. Let's look at some comparitives, shall we?

Japan, a nation with a population of about 126,600,000 in 1999, a little less than half our own, suffered 31,385 suicides - a rate of 24.8 per hundred thousand population. And there are essentially NO privately owned firearms in Japan. Even Japanese police officers leave their firearms at work when they go home. The Japanese kill themselves by asphyxiation (either by hanging or car exhaust) or by jumping off of buildings or in front of moving trains. To be fair, Japan's suicide rates have skyrocketed with their recent economic downturn (it would appear that a bad economy represents a much higher risk of suicide than individual ownership of a firearm.) On average, the suicide rate in Japan has run at about 17 per 100,000. Considerably higher than the U.S. but not more than double.

But most people are aware of the high rate of suicide in Japan, and dismiss it as being "cultural." Are they also aware, however, of the suicide rates in France? According to this CDC report from 1998, France had a suicide rate of 21 per 100,000. Leading method? Suffocation. France is followed closely by Denmark with a suicide rate of 18 per 100,000. Leading method? Pretty much evenly split between suffocation and poisoning.

According to this table, in 1997 of the eleven countries with the top per capita Gross National Products (the US ranks in the middle), the US has the second lowest suicide rate. Only the Netherlands was lower. See the chart:



Yup. All those guns CAUSE suicide. But the pamphlet reinforces this claim:
• 10,828 Americans died in firearm homicides in 1999

The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide and increases the risk of suicide fivefold.
The source of this assertion? "Suicide in the Home in Relation to Gun Ownership" from the New England Journal of Medicine, August 13, 1992. Primary author? Dr. Arthur Kellermann of Emory University, and staunch defender of thorougly discredited history professor Michael Bellisiles. They were, after all, both professors at Emory, and they are both apparently practicing deliberate mendacity when it comes to firearms statistics.

Dr. Kellermann is also the source of the "43 to 1" claim of guns in the home being more deadly to the occupants than to criminals. The organization Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership (an admittedly biased group) produced this excellent piece: Disarming the Data Doctors: How to Debunk the "Public Health" Basis for "Gun Control" where it disassembled that "study." Kellermann's biased research resulted in Congress pulling $2.6 million from the CDC's budget in 1997 - precisely the amount the CDC had spent on the National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control research into gun-related injury - because of blatant bias in their research. This article by Dr. Miguel Faria on that topic is worth the read. Dr. Faria is Editor-Emeritus of The Medical Sentinel of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons, and a neurosurgeon. This piece entitled "Guns in the Medical Literature - A Failure of Peer Review" by Dr. Edgar A. Suter of the Doctors for Integrity in Research & Public Policy is also a good one.

Pardon me if I take Dr. Kellermann's statistics with a grain pound of salt. I wish everyone would, but with government funding and backing from the CDC and journals such as the NEJM, his numbers are the ones repeated in citation after citation as "fact."

Next:
• 824 Americans died from unintentional firearm incidents during 1999
THIS is the part that REALLY CHAPS MY ASS. Indeed, in 1999 the CDC reports that there were 824 unintentional firearms deaths in the U.S., but associated with this fact comes the line
Research shows that educational programs designed to teach children not to touch guns do not work. If kids find guns, they usually play with them. Such play can quickly turn deadly.
And right next to it, this picture of a toddler reaching into a dresser drawer:
Image server down

Now, what are you to infer from this? That the overwhelming majority of those 824 accidental deaths were that of very young children, no? This is pure propaganda, and it's propaganda that works, as illustrated by my favorite reference, Jean Hanff Korelitz's Salon.com piece "What a few good women can do" from March of 2000:
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.
She believes not 824 little kids, but 4,000 die from gun accidents.

Let's look at the facts, as unpleasant as they actually are. In 1999, as the piece says, 824 accidental deaths by gunshot were recorded. But how many of these were children? If you define it as I do as "under the age of 18" then the total number of "children" who died by accidental gunshot wound was 158. If you mean small children, such as the one in the picture - say, under the age of 10? 31. Not 4,000. Not 824. Thirty-one.

Compare that to the number of children under the age of 10 who died by drowning in 1999: 750. The number under the age of 10 who died in bicycle accidents? 81.

But we're told endlessly that they're no longer interested in gun-control any more, but now it's gun-safety they pursue. I'm sorry, but guns are apparently safer than water or bicycles, at least for small children.

Next:
• Firearms are the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults

Guns kept in the home can threaten the health and safety of the family, especially if they are not stored securely.
Again, the intention to mislead. Firearms ARE the second leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults. Between the ages of 15 and 24, it isn't accidental death, it's homicide. "Safe storage" doesn't have any effect on that. The third leading cause of death in that age group is suicide, and hopefully I've already covered that topic in sufficient detail.

But here's something really interesting that will undoubtedly get me labled as a racist: Who makes up the overwhelming majority of the homicide victims? In 1999 a total of 4,998 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 (inclusive) died from homicide. Of those, 2,453 were black males - 49%. But black males between the ages of 15 and 24 (inclusive) represent only 7.6% of the population of the US of that age. Read that again - 7.6% of all Americans between the ages of 15 and 24 provide 49% of the victims of homicide by all methods for that age group.

Now, is it a "gun storage" problem, or is it something else?

Finally:
• For every time a gun in the home is used in self-defense, there are 22 criminal, unintentional or intentional self-inflicted shootings

The data suggest that the risks of a gun in the home, especially a handgun, outweigh any benefits.
Source? "Injuries and Deaths due to Firearms in the Home," Journal of Trauma, 1998. Author? Dr. Kellermann again. You think they'd try and find someone else just to be a bit more broad, but you'll notice in the pamphlet that they don't tell you who the author is, just the prestigious journal the "statistic" was published in. This is toned down from his "43 times more likely" claim, but only barely.

Now I ask you, given the statistics provided by the CDC itself, do you think "guns in the home" are the problem?

(Extensive use of the CDC WISQARS tools were used to compile the data in this post.)
I Vote With Her

Another laser-guided strike on being over 40:

Friday, June 13, 2003

Sometimes I REALLY, REALLY Hate Myself

I just spent the last hour and a half working on a killer post, and I just deleted it - BY ACCIDENT.

Rule #1: Back up your work.

Rule #2: See rule #1.

It's too late to generate it again tonight, but rest assured I'll do it tomorrow.

DAMNIT!
Reloader's Alert!

If you reload, especially if you reload military rifle calibers (.223, .308, .30-06 & such) then you might want to look at Widener's, specifically their military surplus pulldown powder. "Pulldown" powder is powder recovered from unfired surplus ammunition. They are apparently having a sale on WCC-844 (equivalent to Hodgdon H335) and WC-846 (equivalent to Hodgdon BL(C)-2). They're selling both for $49 per 8lb. keg, plus freight and hazmat charges. I just bought one of each, and it worked out to $8.25/lb. Considerably better than the $20/lb. plus tax that I pay for the commercial versions here in town. I've seen the same powder elsewhere at $64 per 8lb. keg.

Oh, and that nice group I shot with the Enfield? The powder was WCC-844.

Get it while you can.