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

Saturday, November 29, 2003

The War on...Bologna?

This is too weird not to comment on:
Cops seize 756 pounds of smuggled bologna

November 25, 2003 (EL PASO, Texas) — Border agents last week landed a meaty bust, seizing 756 pounds of bologna arranged into the shape of a car seat and covered with blankets in a man's pickup.
Marijuana I can understand. But lunchmeat?
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized 81 rolls of Mexican bologna Friday at the Paso Del Norte bridge as the pickup entered the United States.

"It puts the ultimate consumer at risk," said customs spokesman Roger Maier. "Who knows how long these products have gone without refrigeration or without proper handling?"
Proper handling? Somebody sculpted them into the shape of a car seat!
Children were sitting on top of the illegal load before it was discovered, Maier said. The rear seat had been removed from the extended-cab pickup and the bologna was put in its place.
Eeewww! Anybody know where those kids had been? Think about it: 500 cases of Hepatitis from green onions...
He said the agency plans to pursue civil penalties against the Mexican man driving the truck. Maier said the agency won't release the man's name until the case goes to trial.

Maier said the bologna goes for about $1 a roll in Juarez. When it is sold to a customer in the United States, it can go for between $5 and $10 a roll , he said.
Just wait until cigarette taxes go just a bit too high....

Oh, right.

"That Sumbitch ain't been BORN"

Early last week I received two comments from a reader in Brazil who goes by the handle "tupiniquim." One was in response to "You're American if you Think You're American," and the other was to the piece "They Keep Making Better Fools." In "Better Fools" I wrote:
I am an unabashed supporter of America. I truly believe that it's the best of all possible places to live, and that our form of government is superior to all others ever practiced.
Tupiniquim responded:
You believe that your form of government is superior to all others because you, i'm sure, did never take a look at everything that's happening out of USA. Take a look at Latin America, or Africa. Read Noam Chomsky. Read Allen Ginsberg. A lot of people out of your country is suffering with this "superior form of government". Believe me, I really know what I'm talking about.
"You're American..." was a response to this Steven Den Beste piece where Steven made some sweeping generalizations that I generally agree with. In response to this, Tupiniquim was a bit more verbose:
Well, despite the fact that I am a Brazilian and a Latin American, I don't hate North Americans. I really think there are great people in USA, alive and dead, like Noam Chomsky, John Steinbeck or Allen Ginsberg. But, in USA, there are George Bush or McCarthy too. Great people live together with some tirans. What would Martin Luther King think about George Bush, the father and the son? Or about Collin Powell? Why do the country where was born the jazz, rock'n roll, beat generation, the "flower power", the hip hop, is the same country where was born McCarthism, Ku Klux Klan and the crusade of "War against terrorism"? Excuse me, I don't want to look offense, but I just can't comprehend what's the idea you all share. Steven Den Beste needs to write a book, but not compiling his essays. He needs to write a book explaining what is this one idea that all North Americans share.
I promised him a response. This is it.

First I'd like to say that, like most Americans, I'm not a student of our government's actions in South America. What has gone on between our government and the various governments to our South hasn't interested me a great deal, and is not in the forefront of the news up here. Perhaps it should be, but one of the failings we Americans are often accused of is that we're uninterested in what goes on outside our borders. Guilty as charged, for the most part. I'm aware, however, that the U.S. government has supported some pretty vile regimes around the world in the Kissingerian "but they're our bastards" foreign policy plan. I attribute this to our Cold War policy of "anything's better than Communism."

Well, perhaps for us, but certainly not for the people under the governments receiving our support.

Criticism of our behavior both in South America and around the rest of the world is valid - to a point. But the job of our government is to keep us safe, and the people we elect do that as they think best. I was both greatly heartened and somewhat troubled by President Bush's recent speech to the British people when he said:
As recent history has shown, we cannot turn a blind eye to oppression just because the oppression is not in our own back yard. No longer should we think tyranny is benign because it is temporarily convenient. Tyranny is never benign to its victims and our great democracies should oppose tyranny wherever it is found.
Heartened, because this statement repudiates the "our bastards" policy, troubled because a real commitment to this policy will require the U.S. to intervene, and America has not been really interested in becoming the policemen of the world. It is not something we've done well, because, by and large, we really are uninterested in what goes on outside our borders, and we've been unwilling to spend the lives of our soldiers in efforts not perceived as directly related to our own safety and security. That may be changing. It remains to be seen.

In response to Tupiniquim's comment about reading Chomsky and Ginsberg, let me say this: Some criticism of the behavior of America is warranted. Chomsky goes way, way over the line. (I'll admit right up front that I've never read Ginsberg, and have no plans to.) Cox & Forkum recently did a political cartoon (about another professor) that illustrates precisely what I think of Chomsky:

Here's something for you to think about: Chomsky, in my opinion, isn't an American in anything but legal citizenship. He belongs in Europe. But if he were there, and said things about those governments as he does here about ours, I doubt his voice would be tolerated, much less celebrated.

This brings us to the thing Tupiniquim doesn't understand: What is the idea that all Americans share? (Well, he said "North Americans" but we know what he meant.)

So, what is "it"? "It" doesn't fit on a bumpersticker. The idea we share won't fit on a protest poster. It doesn't fit on a T-shirt, and it isn't a single thing. Let's see if I can distill the idea down.

Let me start by saying that everybody who holds American citizenship doesn't share the idea. We're far too diverse for that. Many people born here never do understand it. Den Beste was making a generalization, and generalizations don't hold up under a microscope. I'd also like to say that, while I believe the majority of Americans do understand it to a greater or lesser degree, there is a large and growing contingent in this country that not only doesn't understand it, but rejects the idea outright. Go read Democraticunderground.com if you want to see some prime examples of this.

Our Declaration of Independence says:
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.
The first line of the Declaration is one strongly definitive of an American ideal - equality of birth.

There is a story, a joke in some ways, an allegory in others, that dates way back. In it, a British Lord travels to the Frontier West, America in the 1800's. His horse throws a shoe on the trail, so at the first little frontier town he comes to, he finds a blacksmith's shop to have the shoe replaced. As he rides up, he sees a large, sweaty, filthy man hammering on a piece of red-hot iron. The Lord sits on his horse, waiting to be served, but the blacksmith doesn't pay him any attention and continues to work his iron. Finally, the Lord, outraged to have been ignored this way by an obvious servant, dismounts, approaches the 'smith, and taps the man on the shoulder with his riding crop.

"You, man!" he barks, "Who is your Master! I wish to have a word with him!"

The blacksmith turns, looks at the Englishman, spits a stream of tobacco juice on the point of the Lord's boot and says,

"That sumbitch ain't been born."

That's one idea Americans share.

Another is that government should work for us, not us for it. (But Americans are not one monopolitical block. Just how government should work is something we've been fighting about since before the end of the Revolutionary War, so being an American is more than believing that we are not the servants of our government.) That, too, goes back to "That sumbitch ain't been born" - just because someone draws a government paycheck does not make them our masters.

"Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness." That's another thing Americans believe in, and that's what draws people to this country - the liberty required to pursue happiness. In very much of the world, for a very long time, what you were allowed to do was constrained by your birth, and in many places today that's still true. America is that place you could go where what you could do was constrained only by your own capabilities. The ideal is that we are born equal, but that we succeed on our individual merits - equality of opportunity, not outcome. And note, our Founders didn't promise happiness, only the opportunity to pursue it. That's also an opportunity to fail - the risk is ours to take. And we've been risk takers the likes of which the world has never seen before. Bill Whittle wrote:
Next time you look at the moon, challenge yourself to think of something: there are footprints up there. Footprints, and tire tracks. Also three used cars, and one golf ball.

Why are they there? Because we decided to go to the moon, that's why. What a typically arrogant, unilateral, American conceit! Damn right it was, and that footprint - you know the picture - will still be there, unchanged, a million years from now. In ten million years, it might begin to soften a little around the edges. But in a billion years - a thousand million summers from this one - it will still be there, next to glistening pyramids of gold and aluminum junk decaying under the steady cosmic drizzle of micrometeorite hits.
That was liberty risking life in the pursuit of happiness. Trust me on this, I grew up during the race to the moon. My father was an engineer for IBM working on the Saturn V Instrument Unit. I know whereof I speak.

America is the place where you can dare to dream, and Americans all over the world, regardless of their legal citizenship, understand this too. Is America perfect in this regard? No, but no place is. However, where else but in America can a first-generation immigrant be elected Governor? Where else but in America can a college drop-out become the wealthiest man in the world? Where else but in America can you come get the finest education available? We're not perfect, but I believe we're the best that's available.

And yes, we make mistakes, and those mistakes cause misery and death to some. But America is not the "Great Satan" - our mistakes are simply that, not deliberate efforts. No, we're not perfect, but ask the people who lived in the former Soviet Union how they would grade their governments. Ask the victims of Nicolae Ceausecsu. Ask the Czechs after the Russian armor rolled in in 1968, and there are uncounted other examples. Ours is a difference in kind not just degree. Sometimes we make an error, and instead of admitting it, we compound it.

We're human too. That's something else Americans understand.

One more thing Americans understand (though fewer of us than I'd like) - government is not a panacea, it's a necessary evil. It is seldom the answer to our problems, and it is often the cause of them. Americans have a love/hate relationship with government. We're schizophrenic about it. We want it to do what we want, not what we ask it to do. We want it to take care of us, and we want it to leave us alone. We want it to do extravagant things, and we want to not pay for it. And we forget, constantly, that a government that can give us everything we want can also take everything we have. I said in "Better Fools" that I believed that "our form of government is superior to all others ever practiced." I really do. But I also believe this rather sad comment made by someone:

The Constitution may not be the greatest work ever set to paper,
But it beats whatever it is the government is using these days.

I truly believe that our Constitutional Republic, as established by the Founders, was the best form of government ever conceived. It resulted in the greatest nation this world has yet seen. Not perfect, but unmatched in potential or performance when it comes to the individual and to the society. Its only failing is human nature. How do you make people want to stay free? How do you make them do the work necessary to ensure their freedom, when they can be so easily convinced to give it up in exchange for some promise of security? I don't know the answer to that, and neither did the Founders. At least I'm in good company.

One last thing I'll discuss here that Americans understand: "...whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." We believe that, even though we've propped up some despots and overthrown some others. Those of us who really believe it are often those who have the least say in what our government does. We're the ones who want to be left alone by government instead of taken care of by it, and we're the least likely to be elected officials or employees of the government. We also believe "that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed." If your government is "destructive of these ends" it's your job to alter or abolish it - even if it's our government supporting the bastards. Yes, we're schizophrenic that way, too. It's another reason Europeans don't understand us, and it goes right back to "that sumbitch ain't been born" - our people often don't do what our government tells us. Hell, our government often doesn't bother to tell us because even they know it won't do any good. When enough of us are pissed off, it listens. As a result we can and do things as a nation that our government has no control over, as the French economy experienced just recently.


In conclusion, let me address the questions of good & bad, King & McCarthy, jazz and the KKK et al. America hasn't seen any real "tyrants" since we threw the Redcoats off our shores. McCarthy? Arguably crazy, but he wasn't wrong about the infiltration of communists. Any parallel you draw between Bush (father or son) and McCarthy is one strained to incredulity. What, pray tell, is your problem with Colin Powell? The KKK is a small bunch of losers who feel that somebody has to be inferior to them, and their teeth have been pulled (no pun intended.) But this is America - like Chomsky, they have a constitutionally protected right to spew their venom, and we have a constitutionally protected right to ridicule them. America is a great country because it provides a marketplace where all ideas can be expressed to survive or fail on their merits. The KKK and Chomsky have small followings because their ideas fail in that marketplace. Repressing them would give them legitimacy they don't deserve. That's also why we don't ban Mein Kampf. It deserves to be read, to remind us of what those ideas lead to. America is hardly the only place where bad ideas originate.


America is still the beacon of freedom to the rest of the world. The Land of Opportunity. As such, we are held to a high standard - one we occasionally fail. When we do, those who hate us, those who fear us, and those who simply don't understand us point to those failures and declare that our leadership is illegitimate, our freedom is false and our promise of opportunity is a trick. They say we are evil.


And we ignore them, and go on.


We're not perfect, but is there a nation superior to America in this world?


That sumbitch ain't been born.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Thank You.

At 10:24 this evening, a visitor from rr.com became my 40,000th hit, as recorded by Sitemeter, in just over six months of blogging.

Hell, I'm impressed if no one else is.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

It's Small of Me, I Know...

But I can't wait to listen to the Democrats - especially the Deep Space Nine - froth at the mouth about this:

Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Troops in Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Turkey with the commander in chief was a surprise Thanksgiving treat for American troops in Baghdad Thursday.

President Bush flew in under the cover of darkness to dine with U.S. forces at a Baghdad International Airport mess hall. It was the first trip ever by an American president to Iraq -- a mission tense with concern about his safety.

With the president out of sight, L. Paul Bremer, the chief U.S. civilian administrator, told the soldiers it was time to read the president's Thanksgiving proclamation and that it was a task for the most senior official present.

"Is there anybody back there more senior than us?" he asked. That was the cue for Bush, who promptly stepped forward from behind a curtain, setting off pandemonium among the troops.

"I was just looking for a warm meal somewhere," Bush joked to some 600 soldiers from the 1st Armored Division and the 82nd Airborne Division, who were stunned by the appearance and applauded wildly while giving Bush a standing ovation.

"Thanks for inviting me. I can't think of finer folks to have Thanksgiving dinner with than you all."

"We thank you for your service, we're proud of you, and America stands solidly behind you," Bush said. And he urged the people of Iraq to "seize the moment and rebuild your great country based on human dignity and freedom."

Soldiers at the dinner spoke enthusiastically about Bush.

"He's got to win in '04. No one else can prosecute this war like he can," said Army Capt. John Morrison from Butler County, Pa. Said PFC1 Kyle Crittenden of Humboldt County, Calif.: "I'm proud to serve in his Army."
I imagine that Hillary is a bit peeved about being upstaged.

And they keep calling Bush an idiot.
Blogroll Addition

I've added Francis W. Porretto's Curmudgeon's Corner to my blogroll. Somehow, Francis manages to crank out an excellent essay on a daily basis, and since I've started reading him every day, I thought my six readers might also enjoy his work. Keep it up, Francis.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

A Reminder: Please, Don't Drink and Drive

There are worse things than accidentally killing someone on a holiday weekend. And make sure any teenagers in your house take a good, long look, too.

(Via Feces Flinging Monkey)
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sorry about the lack of posting (and thanks to everybody who linked to the last couple of posts) but I've been extremely busy with work (which pays the bills) and haven't had time. That's unfortunate, because there's been a lot I've wanted to comment on, but oh well.

I have the next four days off, like most of you, so hopefully I'll get a few posts in before Monday. Thank you for your patronage.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

New Jersey Considers This to be an Assault Weapon


That's a Marlin Model 60.

It's a .22 caliber rimfire semi-auto.

It has a fixed tubular magazine.

It sells for in the neighborhood of $100.

That magazine holds 17 .22 Long Rifle cartridges. Or at least older models used to.

And if you possess one in New Jersey, it can get you five years in the slammer on a felony charge.

Commenting on "Two Rounds = "Assault Weapon" below, reader Pete linked to a heartwarming New Jersey Superior Court decision regarding the case of New Jersey v. Pelleteri (broken link updated 1/16/14). I'd never heard of this, even though it occurred in 1996 and I was really getting into the issue of gun rights starting in 1995. Here's the basis of the case:
On May 30, 1990, our Legislature proscribed the "knowing" possession of "assault firearms." N.J.S.A. 2C:39-5f. Persons legally in possession of such firearms prior to the effective date of the statute could retain these weapons by obtaining the appropriate registration. N.J.S.A. 2C:58-12. Included in the definition of "assault firearm" is "[a] semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine capacity exceeding [fifteen] rounds." N.J.S.R 2C:39-1w(4). Defendant was convicted of "knowingly" having in his possession an assault firearm, a semi-automatic rifle with a magazine capacity of seventeen cartridges.

--

Defendant, an expert marksman who at one point was employed as a firearms instructor, won a Marlin semi-automatic rifle in the late 1980's by placing first in a police combat match. An avid gun collector, defendant placed the weapon in his safe. Defendant claimed that he neither inspected nor used the firearm. When the police recovered the gun from defendant's residence in December 1993, it still had the manufacturer's tags and the owner's manual attached to the trigger guard. The owner's manual indicated that the rifle could hold at least seventeen cartridges. Defendant claimed that he never read the manual. While conceding that he knew the rifle was a semi-automatic weapon, defendant contended that he was unaware that the firearm had a magazine capacity exceeding fifteen rounds.
Here's the kicker:
When dealing with guns, the citizen acts at his peril. In short, we view the statute as a regulatory measure in the interests of the public safety, premised on the thesis that one would hardly be surprised to learn that possession of such a highly dangerous offensive weapon is proscribed absent the requisite license.
I have not found the sentence Mr. Pelleteri received, but he could have gotten five years. He certainly lost his right to arms, as he was convicted of a felony. He was an expert marksman, a firearms instructor, and a collector. Now he cannot (legally) touch a firearm.

I. Am. Aghast.

A "highly dangerous offensive weapon"? It's a .22 FOR CHRISSAKES! TWO WHOLE ROUNDS OVER THE LIMIT!

A fourteen round magazine capacity (that Marlin now makes) = perfectly safe, harmless little plinker.

But SIXTEEN rounds makes it "a highly dangerous offensive weapon."

If it isn't licensed.

Stick a fork in New Jersey, it's done.

Will the last gun owner leaving New Jersey please turn off the lights?

I think Claire Wolfe's admonition that it's too early to shoot the bastards doesn't hold for Jersey.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

"You're American if You Think You're American"


Steven Den Beste writes another excellent essay on the difference between America and Europe. Money quotes:
I'm afraid that one of the reasons there are problems of communication and diplomacy right now across the Atlantic is the incorrect European assumption that "the US is essentially a European country".

--

Someone pointed out a critical difference: European "nations" are based on ethnicity, language or geography. The American nation is based on an idea, and those who voluntarily came here to join the American experiment were dedicated to that idea.

--

You're French if you're born in France, of French parents. You're English if you're born to English parents (and Welsh if your parents were Welsh). But you're American if you think you're American, and are willing to give up what you used to be in order to be one of us. That's all it takes. But that's a lot, because "thinking you're American" requires you to comprehend that idea we all share. But even the French can do it, and a lot of them have.

--

We are Americans. We are not Europeans living in America. If you don't understand the difference, then you do not understand us at all, and as long as you persist in thinking of us as Europeans living in America, you'll continue to be mystified and frustrated by what we do.
And be sure to read the last two paragraphs.

Oooh! Ouch!

I think Steven needs to compile his essays into a book, too.

Friday, November 21, 2003

England Slides Further Toward Bondage

Remember the Tytler quote?
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following 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 to bondage.
Well, it looks like they've taken another step along the path.
Britain OKs Jeopardy Law Reform

The British Parliament on Thursday approved legislation to overturn "double jeopardy" protection for offenses such as murder, rape and armed robbery.

The centuries-old legal rule prevents suspects from being tried twice for a crime, and it is enshrined in the legal codes of many of Britain's former colonies, including the United States.

Under the Criminal Justice Bill, introduced by Prime Minister Tony Blair's government last year, a person acquitted of certain serious offenses, including rape and murder, would face a second trial if compelling new details, such as DNA evidence, come to light.

The legislation, hailed by the government as the biggest reform of Britain's criminal justice system in a generation, now needs only royal assent, which is virtually automatic, before it becomes law.
And why are they doing this? Because England has the highest rate of violent crime in the Western world. Because you are far more likely to be a victim of crime in England than anywhere else in Europe. And why is that? Because Britain's liberal courts don't see the judicial system as a tool for punishing criminals, but treating them. Because the police are overwhelmed and the citizenry is powerless. Because nobody wants to be a witness. It's so bad that the police are not reporting crime in an effort to make things look better than they are. Video surveillance cameras, in an eerie 1984 parallel, are going up all over England - to make the subjects safer, you see. Now they're trying to introduce a national ID card. Individual privacy is becoming a thing of the past - if you're a law-abiding subject.

Here's the image of England today:

Make the People powerless. Make them dependent. Pass more and more and more laws, each stripping the law abiding of more of their rights, all in the name of "public safety." Allow government to acquire more and more power - also in the name of "public safety" - all the while not providing public safety. As Mencken put it:
All government, of course, is against liberty.
and
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
Except in this case, the hobgoblins aren't imaginary, which I think makes it worse.

In my humble opinion, this dates back (at least) to the end of World War I. In 1900 the government of England still trusted the people to be their own guardians. Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, the Marquess of Salisbury, said in 1900 that he would "laud the day when there is a rifle in every cottage in England." But in 1903 England passed its first gun control law. A minor one, simply requiring an easily acquired permit to purchase a handgun, and restricting the age of purchasers, but it was the first toe over the slippery slope. In 1919, in fear of anarchists and communists, England passed its first sweeping gun law - as a crime control measure - even though crime involving firearms was rare as hen's teeth. You could only have a handgun or a rifle if you showed "good reason" to have one. (Sound familiar?) So much for "a rifle in every cottage" being a laudable goal. The descent had begun in earnest.

In 1936 short-barreled shotguns and fully-automatic weapons were outlawed - not regulated as they are here, outlawed. The reasoning? Civilians had no "legitimate reason" for owning them. Another slide down the slope. The reasoning had changed from the government needing to show reason for the restrictions to the people needing to show reason to exercise the right, to government telling them that there was no acceptable reason.

The English Bill of Rights stated "That the subjects which are protestants, may have arms for their defence suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law." Sir William Blackstone, commenting on this in his Commentaries on the Laws of England said:
"THE fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute 1 W. & M. ft. 2. c. 2. and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression."
Whatever happened to the "natural right of resistance and self-preservation"? Have not the "sanctions of society and laws" been proven "insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression"? And I'm just talking about the criminals, not the government.

In 1936 the British added a "safe storage" requirement for all handguns and rifles. (Sound familiar?)

As a result of the 1920 restrictions, not only didn't England have "a rifle in every cottage," they didn't have many rifles period. In 1940 England was in danger of being invaded and begged America to send it rifles with which to defend its shores. And we, American private citizens, sent them. Rifles, shotguns, and pistols.

But at the end of the war the English didn't get to keep them, and we didn't get them back.

In 1946 self-defense was no longer a "good reason" to have a firearm. The slope got steeper.

In 1953, carrying a weapon for self-defense was made illegal. Any kind of weapon.

In 1967 the law was amended to require a license to own a shotgun, and jury trials no longer required a unanimous decision.

In 1982 reloaders and blackpowder enthusiasts were made subject to police inspection without a warrant to ensure "safe storage" of the reloading materials. In other words, agents of the government, without a warrant, could come into ones home at any time, without warning.

In 1988 all semi-auto and pump-action rifles were banned. By this time there weren't many rifle owners anyway, but that didn't matter. The personal property of law-abiding subjects was, once again, made illegal. And they were all registered - that is, the ones belonging to the law-abiding.

In 1996 all handguns were banned. And they were all registered... Well, you get the point.

Also in 1996, carrying any kind of knife was made illegal - unless you could prove you had a good reason for having it. The presumption of innocence was gone.

Defending yourself in England has become progressively more and more risky, as you stand a very good chance of being prosecuted for use of excessive force. You cannot carry a weapon when out in public, and you cannot use a firearm in self-defense in your home. The law has made crime safe for the criminals. It's no wonder that crime in Britain has been on the climb since the 1950's.

Am I suggesting that this has been some nefarious plan all along to strip the British of their rights and bind them into slavery? No I am not. I'm suggesting that this is a cycle of human behavior - long recognized - that we should be paying attention to and trying to break. We know what government does: it acquires power at the expense of the governed, for good reason or bad. And it does it slowly, almost imperceptibly, because we never believe that each "next step" is leading where we've been told it always leads. "Not this time," we think. "We know better."

Yeah?

Ask the English.

How long before we follow them?
READ LILEKS

Today's Bleat is Lileks at his best.

Teasers:
“You’re my best daughter only and ever.”

Big hug. She looked at the TV, at the pictures of the wreckage in Turkey.

“I don wan news. I want Blues Clues.”

Roger that.

--

You know what? Michael Moore is right. There are many Americans who are ignorant of the world around them. And they’re all TV news producers.

--

You already read it around the web – the bombings in Turkey were a response to Britain’s assistance for toppling Saddam; what did we expect? In other words: if we fight back, we get what we deserve. If we do not fight back, and we are attacked again, you can blame it on the crimes for which we have not yet sufficiently atoned. The only proper posture for the West is supine. Curl up and let them kick until they’re spent. Give them Israel and New York and perhaps they’ll go away.

This is either going to end on their terms, or ours. Which would you prefer?
Read it ALL.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

I KNEW the 9th Circuit Would Do This!

No other Court is liberal / activist (but I repeat myself) enough.

Eugene Volokh reports that the 9th Circus Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to hear a lawsuit against gun manufacturers on the basis of "Negligent distributing".

He starts here, so read that one and the next three above it. He concludes:
No trial, no proof, you lose your business -- that's what the law says.
Hey, why not? If the USF&WS can shut down a business on suspicion of selling a protected plant, why shouldn't you be able to sue a gun manufacturer out of business for not breaking the law?

The circuit decision is here, if you have the stomach for it.

"There's No Way to Rule Innocent Men"

The whole quote, from Rand's Atlas Shrugged goes:
There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system!
Well, here's another example, and a reference to Carnivore - the program that sifts through e-mail for incriminating evidence:
Spring man raided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services

Three days before Halloween, George Norris, 24407 Pine Canyon Drive, Spring, got a visit from a U.S. agency that proved scarier than any spook or goblin.
He is still recovering from the encounter.
Norris, 65, and his wife, Kathy, own Spring Orchid Specialties.
"I import orchids from all around the world and have been doing it more than 25 years," he said.
A small greenhouse is located in the back of their home.
The income supplements his Social Security check.
He suffers from diabetes, arthritis and heart problems and is unable to work, he said.
At 10 a.m. Oct. 28, he said, three pick-up trucks pulled into his driveway and six people, five men and one woman, got out.
All of the men were wearing body armor and carrying sidearms.
Four of them came to the front door and two went to the back.
When he answered the front door, one of the men identified himself as a special agent with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), a branch of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
"They serve me with a search warrant, they sit me in a chair in my kitchen, tell me not to move out of the chair. They read me my Miranda Rights, then tell me I'm not under arrest, but I can't leave that chair," Norris said.
"They wouldn't even permit me to get my glasses to read documents they were showing me. They had to send somebody to get my glasses for me."
The agents had a search warrant issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy in Houston, empowering them to search for a certain type of orchid imported from Peru without required United States import permits.
According to FWS, Norris represented the plants as lawfully imported and sold them via electronic mail. The importation and selling of the orchids is a violation of the Lacey Act and is a felony.
Selling a flower is a felony?
The agents proceeded to rummage the entire house and greenhouse for nearly four hours, he said.
"They went through our dresser drawers, they went through my wife's underwear drawer; they went through my sock drawer; they went through our closets; they went through all the rooms in the house.
"They tore up everything, particularly my office. They took 20-something boxes of documents; they took my computer; they took my customer list; they took invoices; they took everything. They even took floppy disks that had fishing pictures on them."
Norris said he tried in vain to explain to the agents he was in compliance with U.S. and international laws allowing the sale of the type of orchid for which they were searching, phragmipedium, which grows in Peru.
Of course it was in vain. This is the U.S. GOVERNMENT you're talking to. They know everything!
Two types of classifications, Appendix One and Appendix Two, exist for some orchids, Norris said.
Appendix One orchids are endangered and Appendix Two are threatened. Appendix One applies to a limited quantity of plants considered seriously endangered in the wild.
All the rest of the plants are Appendix Two, which are considered threatened but legal for trade.
"I imported some Appendix One type plants from Peru in August, but they were artificially propagated. Any of the Appendix One plants that are artificially propagated, they don't come from the wild. They are either grown from seeds or divisions of plants that have been in greenhouses for a long time or something other than wild collected. They're no longer subject to Appendix One; they become automatically Appendix Two if the grower can certify that they are artificially propagated," he said.
Though the FSW agents listened, he said, they didn't seem to understand the explanation.
"They don't understand the differences. These are people that mostly make raids on folks with illegal parents, people trading in rhinoceros horns, tiger products, things of mostly animal nature," he said.
Norris said he believes his troubles may stem from FSW's use of CARNIVORE, a government system that can tap into computer e-mails.
"They showed me page 3 of a 5-page e-mail from several years ago where I was being offered smuggled plants. They did not show me pages 4 and 5 which were my answer to this fellow telling him we would not buy any such plants that were undocumented. This was so old that I don't even remember this e-mail," he said.
"Well, they went down and convinced the judge to give them a search warrant because they had an old copy of my CITES document from Peru showing these plants on there which they generally regard as Appendix One plants.
"But I imported them on my permits which allow me to import artificially propagated Appendix One plants," he said.
About four years ago, the FWS conducted a similar investigation of his premises and concluded he was in compliance with all laws, he said. "And this search was done without a search warrant by only asking me to cooperate, which I did."
Terry Thiebeault, the FWS supervisor of the agency's latest search of the Norris premises, declined to comment Monday on the case.
Norris has not been arrested or charged.
BUT HIS PROPERTY HAS BEEN CONFISCATED.
Norris said he will ask Judge Milloy to rescind the search warrant order and to instruct the FSW to return all the material they confiscated.
"For now, I am out of business and prevented from conducting my business," he said. I am getting checks coming in for payments of bills, but I do not have any of those records to make the payments to."
So, again we have the heavy hand of government coming down on someone over what appears to be a misunderstanding on the .gov's part.

Now, was it really necessary for USF&WS officers to be armed over a flower raid?

I guess they haven't taken kitten-stomping lessons from the BATF.

Yet.

Assigning Blame

In another of my semi-regular looks at the political cartoons, here's a series on blame:

Jack Ohman of the Portland Oregonian blames fast food for making people fat:


So does Jeff Koterba of the Omaha World Herald:


Mike Smith of the Las Vegas Sun points a finger, too:


Then Henry Payne of the Detroit Press takes it to the next logical level:


David Horsey of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer also blames the wrong people, but on a different subject:


Don Wright of the Palm Beach Post blames the RIGHT people here, though:


And finally, blame is assigned where it's due. Now the question becomes what punishment is appropriate? Chuck Asay of the Colorado Springs Gazette weighs in:

You can imagine what my choice would be.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KIM!

Well, Looks Like New Jersey Will Be Disarmed Soon

According to Jointogether.org, New Jersey passed a "Personalized Handgun" law last year:
After a 90-minute debate, the New Jersey State Assembly passed the Childproof Handgun Bill, which calls for stricter controls on firearms, the Montclair Times reported Nov. 21. (2002)

--

The bill calls for all guns to be equipped with technology that only permits the weapon to be fired by the owner, once such technology becomes available.
In related news, Jointogether also reports:
Smart-Gun Deal Cut

An agreement between an Australian gunmaker and a U.S. university paves the way for the manufacturing of smart guns, the Associated Press reported Aug. 30.

The agreement between gunmaker Metal Storm Ltd. and the New Jersey Institute of Technology will combine Metal Storm's electronic handgun with the institute's "dynamic grip-recognition" technology to create a firearm that can only be fired by its owner.

"It is a very robust system that can work in all kinds of extreme conditions, left or right hand, whether you are wearing gloves or not, and even whether you are in muddy or wet conditions," said Ian Gillespie, Metal Storm's Australian general manager. "It can also be programmed for multiple users if required."

Donald H. Sebastian, vice president for research and development at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, said the gun would meet standards set under the New Jersey smart-gun laws passed last year.
Well, there you go! No more new handguns in New Jersey! Now, the question is does the law really call for "ALL guns" to be so equipped, or merely all new guns?

And are the police exempt from having to use this incredible technology that will keep them from being shot with their own weapons?
Gun Grabbers Controllers Never Let Mere Facts Interfere

In a bit of possibly poetic irony, a police organization is holding a raffle fundraiser for a law-enforcement memorial.

The prize? A Rock River Arms CAR UTE Elite, a .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle (article doesn't say whether the stock is the Law-enforcement-only collapsible or the peon civilian fixed style.)

Needless to say, the GFW's are frothing over it:
Tom Mannard, executive director of the Chicago-based Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, said guns like the CAR UTE Elite may not be on the banned list, but they basically are cloned replicas of assault rifles that are, like the Colt AR-15.

Mr. Mannard said the fact that it is being raffled off to help fund a memorial dedicated to officers killed in the line of duty is disturbing.

"To raffle off a gun used, more often than not, to kill innocent people, and particularly law-enforcement officers, is pretty misguided,'' he said. "To raise money for a memorial is wonderful, but you'd hate to see an officer's name go up on that memorial because they're killed by an AR-15 or a similar weapon.''
"...used, more often than not..."??? Ah, hyperbole. But they keep stating it as fact!

The officers have a pretty effective response, though:
That's highly unlikely, said Det. Karzin.

Only one officer in the last 44 years has been killed by a weapon of this sort in the state of Illinois,'' he said.
But since when have actual facts bothered gun controllers? Tell a lie often enough and people believe it.
John Johnson, executive director of Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence, said he was surprised to learn of the raffle one day after visiting the Quad-Cities to lobby for tighter assault-weapon restrictions.

"It's almost more than ironic that police officers would be auctioning off a weapon that is used in a disproportionate number of officer shootings,'' he said. "One out of five officers killed by guns are killed by assault weapons, even though they make up less than 5 percent of all guns.''
Mr. Jones? I want a cite for that "fact." Original source, not a "Brady Bunch" report.

Detective Karzin puts up a good defense, though:
"It's not what they're portraying it as,'' he said. "It's a legal weapon you can buy at any gun store in the Quad-Cities. It is not fully automatic. We couldn't raffle off a banned weapon, or I'd have to put myself in jail.''
Give 'em a little more time, Detective. Just ask New Jersey farmer Dennis Pryslak.

TWO ROUNDS = "ASSAULT WEAPON"

Only in New Jersey (for now)...

New Jersey farmer Dennis Pryslak was convicted of possessing an "assault weapon" after an incident at his farm store in which Pryslak pulled his firearm when one of his employees was arguing with a customer. The article is quite lacking in detail, but it does say this:
State police investigating the incident discovered that the gun is considered a prohibited assault weapon in New Jersey, authorities said.

The semi-automatic gun comes with an ammunition magazine capable of holding 17 bullets. In New Jersey, guns with magazines that hold more than 15 bullets are considered assault weapons, authorities said.

Defense Attorney Jack Cornish argued that his client bought the gun from a friend and didn't know it was an assault weapon.

Warren County Assistant Prosecutor Steven Siegel cited a 1997 state Appellate Division ruling that essentially puts the onus on gun owners to know whether or not a particular gun is banned in New Jersey.
Anyone want to bet what it was?

Now, explain to me please how a 15 round magazine in this pistol makes it not an "assault weapon," but a 17 round magazine in it does.

Another One I Wish I'd Written

But I know I couldn't have done this one justice. The Rev. Donald Sensing writes most eloquently about Why compassion cannot be a basis for public policy. Money quote:
Individuals exercise compassion, defined by the Oxford dictionary as "sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others." Governments and social arrangements exercise justice. Justice is only accidentally compassionate because justice, to be justice, must balance the valid, competing needs of persons and groups within society. Justice attempts to answer, "What is right, what is fair?" Justice is enforced against the will of at least one of the contending parties. Hence, justice is at its foundation coercive.
The Merriam-Webster definition of the verb coerce:
1 : to restrain or dominate by force
2 : to compel to an act or choice
3 : to bring about by force or threat
As George Washington supposedly said, "Government is not reason; it is not eloquence; it is force!" And Rev. Sensing makes a very cogent argument why government should not be used as a source of compassion. As always, RTWT.
I Think the AP Missed Something Here

While the Yahoo caption to this photo says:
US Army soldiers take rest during patrol in Baghdad suburb, Monday Nov. 17, 2003. U.S. forces have reacted to the increasing attacks in which dozens of Americans and their allies have died by mounting a massive show of force in central and northern Iraq
I think they missed the (*cough*) "editorial comment" of the soldier in the foreground:

Excellent work, soldier!

UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me, LGF covered this yesterday. I feel so behind the curve...
Damn, I Wish I'd Written That

Dave at Pervasive Light links to this piece by Jonathan David Morris concerning the link between the recent Lester Campbell and Stratford High School incidents. Money quotes:
Stories like those of Mr. Campbell and Stratford High don't happen in a vacuum. There's a very real pattern here. There are forces at work in this country trying to "protect" us from things. If it's not guns, it's drugs. If it's not drugs, it's bad choices. But whatever it is, it always ends up costing us a fortune.

Our better welfare is a billion-dollar industry. From concealed carry statutes straight on down to seatbelt and helmet laws, we're consistently told our welfare depends on new rules, police powers, and legal settlements. We buy into this bait-and-switch every time. Which is great if you're a congressman -- since you can vote yourself a pay raise, collect a nice pension, and gerrymander your way to absolute power -- but not if you're anyone else.

When politicians try to protect us from ourselves, they often only protect themselves from us. That's a problem.
Read the whole thing.

I wish I'd written it.

Monday, November 17, 2003

Another New Cartridge

There have been a number of new cartridges introduced recently, some say in an effort to boost lagging firearms sales because the new cartridges don't do anything all that much better than the old ones. Maybe, maybe not, but one thing I believe is that cartridge development by the manufacturers generally follows the work of successful wildcatters - people who develop new rounds just for the fun of it.

I've been seriously considering getting a Thompson/Center Contender rifle barrel in the wildcat Tactical Twenty caliber, which is a .223 Remington cartridge necked down to .204". There are (or at least there were) no commercial firearms barreled for a .204" projectile, but there are several bullet makers producing bullets of this size - which means there's a market for them. There are bullets available ranging in weight from 30 to 50 grains.

The wildcat Twenties include the .20 Squirrel, the .20 Ackley Hornet, the .20 Ackley Bee, the .20 Vartag, the .20 Vartag Turbo, the .20 Slammer, the .20 TNT, the Tactical Twenty, the .20 Terminator, the .20 PPC and the .20 BR.

The wildcatters have been having a field day.

At least one manufacturer has taken notice.

As I said, the Tactical Twenty is based on the .223 Remington case, and it pushes a 33-grain Hornady V-Max bullet out of a 26" barrel at over 4200fps with reportedly excellent accuracy. This piqued my interest, but custom barrels and custom dies and all the other toys that go along with them tend to be on the expensive side, and I don't have a lot of spare change laying around.

Well, Ruger has now introduced another new cartridge: The 204 Ruger. This is a .20 caliber based on the obsolescent .222 Remington Magnum case. According to Ruger:
When compared directly with either the 22-250 Remington or the 220 Swift, the 204 RUGER offers higher muzzle velocity and flatter trajectory. Because the 204 RUGER cartridge achieves a higher velocity with less propellant than either the 22-250 Remington or the 220 Swift, this new cartridge does not compromise barrel life. The 204 RUGER also offers lower recoil and muzzle report than comparable high-velocity, sub-caliber ammunition. Its conventional case shape avoids feeding problems and increased rearward bolt thrust associated with short and super short magnum cartridges.
You know, I've always wanted a Ruger #1.

Something like this:


Gotta start saving my pennies.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

FINALLY!

I've been running this blog for about six months now, and finally I've attracted the attention of a GFW an anti. It goes by the (appropriate) nom de plume of "flamebait," and like all its type does not leave a valid e-mail address.

First, in response to One More Example it left this comment:
Keep arming yourselves against murderers and rapists it still won't help you.

You are far more likely to die when your super polluting SUV rolls over.

Or you have one cigarette too many.

Or all of that fast food you eat leaves you with obesity, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Or your children end up with athsma and emphysema from the off-gassing compounds that are used in new home carpets, flooring, etc..

Or you end up with athsma, emphysema or cancer from all of the household chemicals you use when you clean.

It goes on and on. You are far more likely to have your life impacted by any one (or all) of those things before you are attacked by an assailant despite what the evening news tells you.

Rapists don't pay for TV spots, SUV makers do. Murderers don't pay for network ads, household cleaners do. Armed muggers don't pay for magazine ads, cigarette companies do.

You Americans are scarred of all the wrong things.
What we can gather from this is that "flamebait" is not an American, so not understanding the American attitude is understandable. We can also assume that "flamebait" is an environmentalist a Luddite, given its apparent horror of SUV's, fast-food, and chemicals, so don't expect much in the way of logic.

Second, in response to Yup, He's a Thorougly Dangerous Man! it writes:
Let's see... He had a gun and it still didn't stop him from getting robbed. Even after he pulled it out the assailant still went for the cash and got away with it.

Wow, guns really help huh.
Note the last line is formed as a statement, not a question. Yes, "flamebait"'s mind is all made up - guns never help people defend themselves - ever. And if they do, it's an aberration.

Finally, in response to Aren't Sawed-Off Shotguns Illegal? "flamebait" pulls out all the stops. Yes, this one encouraged me to sit down and generate a response before I go to bed. The alleged thought processes behind this one are so illustrative of the gun-control mindset that it merits it. Let's dissect that response nearly line-by-line:
As far as I can tell, the only reason the intended victim isn't dead is pure luck. How would your opinions change if the intended victim was shot as well?
Luck, it is said, is often largely a matter of being prepared. How would my opinions change? Not at all. That was a risk that the intended victim took upon himself. It is his choice as to whether a forcible response was correct - not the State's. He made his choice, and regardless of whether he'd been injured or killed I believe he made the right one.
Or the victims children if they were present? or someone on the street walking by?
He was the man on the scene at the time. The choice was his to make. As a result, one perpetrator won't (apparently) ever perpetrate again, and the other may very well be wounded. I will be the first to say that things might not have gone as well, but resisting crime is never immoral. Not resisting crime encourages more. That is, I believe, why England and Wales has the highest rate of violent crime in the developed world - self-defense there has been made, for all intents and purposes, illegal, and the mindset required has to a large extent apparently been bred out.

Defending self and family is risky.

So is submitting meekly.

But institutionalized submission to it is destructive to society.

The choice belongs and should belong to the individual.

(Yes, we kill each other far more, but we mug, assault, and rob each other far less. But we've always killed each other at a much higher rate than Europeans. It's apparently an American cultural trait. Only after English law made defending oneself legally risky did their violent crime rates begin to climb, and now they're far higher than our own with the singular exception of murder - which is apparently not an English cultural trait, but one they're learning.)
You can bet that the sawed off shotgun that was used was probably stolen from some "law abiding citizen's" home and is now being used in home invasions; or it was until he was shot.
Possibly. And your point? Oh, wait, that comes later...
How many home invasions do you think he successfully pulled off because of the shotgun before his luck ran out?
Um, this appears as though you're suggesting that the shotgun caused other home invasions? Or are you just suggesting that the shotgun ensured that other home invasions were successful? How so? You need to be more clear. The fact is that I don't know how many other home invasions this pair (or the individual with the sawed-off) have attempted, but "home invasions" are far more common in England, per capita, than they are here. Criminals there don't need to fear that they might be met with lethal force.

A sawed-off shotgun isn't a magic talisman, it's merely a weapon - as this incident illustrates.

I reiterate: Not resisting crime tends to encourage more crime. Even you seem to understand that.
You joke about Mr Reid having a laoded(sic) gun next to his bed, "Unsafe Storage" you laugh, are you not far more likely to get killed in the United States by your own gun than you are by an unknown assailant?
Depends on how you twist interpret the statistics. Since the majority of firearm-related death in this country is by suicide, then statistically you're more likely to die "by your own gun" than "by an unknown assailant." I've covered the case of suicide extensively here, if you're interested. (Read the link before flying off the handle, eh?) However, if you're talking death by criminal action, then no.

If "Safe Storage" laws were in effect, the only people they'd affect would be the victims. What "Safe Storage" laws say to the citizen is:

"You're not responsible enough to decide whether keeping a gun available for self-defense is a good idea or not. The All-Powerful, All-Knowing State knows that it's not, so don't do it or you will be criminally prosecuted.

Depend on the State for your defense. You're not qualified.


Problem is, it's not the legal responsibility of the State, and it's not logistically possible anyway. I've got quite a bit to say about that here.
How many American children die due to unsafely stored guns in their homes? Is it still a joke to you?
You miss the point. The death of children is never a joke. It's too many, but I believe it's far fewer than you'd imagine. I cover that topic also in this post.

The number of children who die by accidental gunshot (in a country with possibly 250,000,000 guns, where possibly 40% of households contain at least one gun) is about 160 per year, and that's for "children" up through 18 years of age. Just for comparison, more than that die in bicycle accidents, and almost seven times as many drown. Unsecured guns are apparently not that dangerous, since the gun control groups indicate that twenty percent of gun owning parents surveyed kept a loaded firearm unsecured in the home.

That's a lot of guns.

Now, I have a question: How intrusive must the government become in order to prevent or even significantly affect less than 200 accidental deaths a year?

"Safe Storage" is the joke.

And finally, the kicker:
Don't get me wrong, I don't like crime or criminals anymore than you do. Where our opinions differ is that I believe that all guns should be outlawed.
Of course you do. And from that statement, you also apparently think that, by outlawing them, you'll make them go away.

I recommend that you study the success of that tactic. It doesn't work. In fact, by all the evidence, it doesn't help. Guns are a technology - and not a particularly difficult technology either. You can't stuff that genie back in the bottle. They aren't going to go away no matter how much you wish, meditate, chant, pray, or legislate.

First, you cannot disarm governments - they aren't going to do it. And governments have historically, by far been the largest killers of their own people than criminals have been. So, as long as my government is going to be armed, I think I'll be too. Second, laws that ban things only keep those things out of the hands of law-abiding people. See (again) England, where the only people with handguns these days are A) the criminals and B) the government. Third, because firearms are merely a technology, then eliminating that technology doesn't fix the underlying problem, which is people willing to use violence to get what they want.

There was a time when there were no guns.

The world of that time was run exclusively by large men with swords.

It wasn't a particularly safe, nor free, nor democratic world.

Firearms aren't a panacea, but neither are they a pestilence. They come with a significant cost, but what they have provided is greater personal freedom of the individual - for good and for bad - than at any time in the history of man.

The most governments can do is disarm the good people.

We forget that at our own risk.
Not Slacking

I see by SiteMeter that, although I haven't posted since Tuesday, I'm still getting about 200 hits a day.

Thank you.

Sorry about the lack of posting, but work has intruded severely. Up early, back late, and for the last three days - out of town. I got home last night at 11 PM and I leave for a job site tomorrow morning at 5 AM.

I'm spending today with my wife, who hasn't seen me much either. (You can guess, dear readers, who is more important to me - you or her. No offense.)

Hopefully I'll have some time next week for new posts, but I'm not holding my breath at this point.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

One More Example: Gun Control Only Disarms the Victims

AlphaPatriot has the story from Papua New Guinea of a horrible home invasion.
A horrific attack on a family in Port Moresby has prompted calls for Papua New Guineans to be granted the right to arm themselves against murderers and rapists.

In an incident that shocked a city accustomed to a high level of violence, 10 drunken bandits last week attacked a family home, murdering a man who tried to protect his wife and two daughters, aged nine and 13.

The woman and her daughters were forced to watch as their father was shot and chopped up with an axe.

The three were then dragged outside and pack-raped.

The wife said the criminals then placed her husband's body in their bed and set fire to the house.
"...to be granted the right to arm themselves...."

In 1857 the Supreme Court of the U.S. said that, among the "privileges and immunities" of American citizens was the right to "keep and carry arms wherever they went." But that decision said that blacks therefore couldn't be citizens.

The right to be armed for "lawful purpose" was, as the Supreme Court said in its U.S. v Cruikshank decision of 1875: "This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence." But that decision made it perfectly legal for the states to strip certain American citizens of that right, because it left: "the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes....". Our fellow citizens didn't protect that right, and neither did our Federal courts.

That right was never protected in Australia or any of its possessions, and now the people there are seeing the result of having that right legally stripped. As AlphaPatriot remarks, the attackers didn't need a gun. They had overwhelming force on their side even without one.

BUT THEY HAD A GUN, AND THEIR VICTIMS DIDN'T.


The law-abiding have a snowball's chance of getting "the right to arm themselves against murderers and rapists" back if they're going to wait on the State to give it to them.

They Keep Making Better Fools


I am an unabashed supporter of America. I truly believe that it's the best of all possible places to live, and that our form of government is superior to all others ever practiced.


But it's far from perfect.


It's a good distance from ideal.


To be honest, it's got some significant flaws.


When our Founders sat down and constructed our tripartite system of government with its checks and balances among the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial branches, they made certain assumptions (how could they not?) about the behavior of their descendants. First, after much wrangling, the Bill of Rights was attached. With that addendum, they recognized the risk of government infringment - even via popular, democratic government - and hoped that the Bill of Rights would remind the generations to come that some things should remain inviolate, even if it appeared to be a good idea at the time. With that change, I think, they hoped the Constitution represented the blueprint of a truly foolproof system of fair, representative government. I believe they felt that our system of a free press would act as an additional check on government corruption, and the idea of an armed populace would serve as the final one, given failure of all the other safeguards.


But they knew, I think, deep in their souls, that nature keeps making better fools.


In a recent post from Samizdata, Perry de Havilland notes that "Woodcutters cut wood. Politicians make laws."
These simple truisms go a long way to explaining MP & blogger Tom Watson's support for passing laws regarding the use of fireworks. On his blog, and on this blog in our comments section, the Honourable Member of Parliament for West Bromwich East calls for more regulation and makes it clear that fireworks will simply be banned if that does not produce the desired effects. And yet when talking about an incident in which a woman was injured by some idiot throwing a firework he himself notes:
Granted the little thug that conducted this assault was breaking existing laws
…and then proceeds to ignore that fact from then on. I do not know Tom Watson personally but I heard him speak in Houses of Parliament and he seems both affable and reasonable for a politician. But as Brian Micklethwait's article today says regarding the 'problem' of obesity, it is only to be expected that a person whose salary depends on passing more laws to, well, always insist on passing more laws.This is something I've noted as well. The Frank & Ernest cartoon showing the two bums standing in a law library, staring at the stacks, where one says "It's frightening when you think that it all started with just ten commandments" is bang on the money.

I can identify the flaw in the Constitution:
The key to understanding the American system is to imagine that you have the power to make nearly any law you want. But your worst enemy will be the one to enforce it. - Rick Cook
but I don't see what we can do about it now. I think the flaw is that the Founders never thought that we'd forget that basic reality. It's not like we weren't warned:
Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. - Thomas Paine, Common Sense, (1776), Chap. 1.
Aside from the Bill of Rights, they made no provisions for that eventuality. They warned us in their writings, but didn't codify it in the Constitution itself. I guess they hoped we'd live up to their expectations, rather than down to their fears.

We've had 214 years since the ratification of the Constitution with politicians endlessly making laws - some good, some necessary, but the overwhelming majority at best useless, at worst malignant. As I pointed out below (along with a highly appropriate political cartoon), Henry Louis Mencken in the 1930's described politics with deadly accuracy:
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's the flaw - when the only tool you have is a hammer, sooner or later every problem begins to look like a nail. If you have a body of people whose only power is to pass laws, then they'll pass laws. About anything and everything, but in large part to: A) enrich themselves and B) ensure that they keep getting re-elected by enriching the people who get them elected. As the cartoon says, "The power to take his money and give it to you." Not, of course, before taking his percentage off the top, though. And they'll pass law to make it easier to get re-elected, and harder to be unseated. And they'll pass laws to gather more and more power so that they can "Do something!" when the populace demands it.

As Perry notes:
And therein lays the problem at the heart of modern democratic states: so much of society has been made amenable to literal force (i.e. political action) that it makes little difference in the long run who is in control of the democratic means of coercion, the end result for civil liberties and several ownership (including self-ownership) will be the same. Face it, in Britain there is little to choose between Tory Michael Howard and NuLabour David Blunkett when it comes to which of them has abridged more civil liberties whilst serving as Home Secretary. Likewise, Janet Reno may have presided over the mass murder of a bunch of wackos in Waco, Texas, but is anyone really going to claim John Ashcroft is not continuing the process of shredding the much vaunted Bill of Rights?

The problem is the whole meta-context of seeing as axiomatic that politics is always acceptable just so long as it gets the imprimatur from a plurality of the politically engaged. Until enough people are willing to look to the moral basis of a law and simply refuse to accept the legitimacy of laws just because they are laws, we will always have politicians singing their siren song for your votes to empower not you, but themselves, by offering to solve your every problem with more laws. It is not enough to just not vote for them, you must find innovative ways to not cooperate with them.
"Until enough people are willing to look to the moral basis of a law and simply refuse to accept the legitimacy of laws just because they are laws...." THAT is the basis behind Jury Nullification. That is the basis behind civil disobedience. But look, for example, at this comment left in response to the recent self-defense incident in NYC involving an 80 year-old man using a .38 revolver to defend himself against a mugger (Via Pervasive Light):
The law is the law.
It may not be right or just, but it is the law.
"Justification" is not absolute.
"Necessity" is not excuse enough do
[sic] violate any law.
If you break the law, then you should be prepared to face the consequences.
I disagree with the law, but it is the law. Until overturned, it should be obeyed (or those who decide to disobey it ought be ready to pay).
Follow the Law said @ 11/07/2003 02:03 PM EST
Another poster, blogger Amy Alkon says:
Regarding the charges against this guy, the law is the law. Guns must be registered.
What we were protesting was the fact that Mr. Campbell had both of his firearms confiscated by The State, and was charged with not having them registered. But "Follow the Law" doesn't see a problem with that. In fact, he disavows Jury Nullification in a later response:
And if you honestly think the law is just what the jury says then I guess all white juries letting off fellow whites for lynchings was ok, too. After all, the jury is never wrong and they decide the law in a vaccum.

--

I side with Rev. King: break the law, but do it happily and take your punishment if you think you are just with a smile.
He's got a point. Jury Nullification is an evil thing when it condones evil. But that is a failure of The People, not The Law. "Follow the Law" is one of those who Perry protests against. One of the masses who is "amenable to literal force". He (or she) accepts the legitimacy of laws because they are laws - and so does Amy. Is there no point for people like this at which a law should rejected? How about when the punishment is ridiculously excessive? Like, say, ten years without parole for an 18 year-old because he had consensual sex with a minor? Confiscation of your very expensive personal property because you didn't get a $200 tax stamp? Having your land sold out from under you because - while the state conformed to the letter of the law - you didn't manage to pay your taxes on time? Having your school raided by the cops - and guns stuck in your face - because somebody was selling drugs in your school? And, of course, having your only means of self-protection confiscated because you couldn't afford the time and money required to even apply to the State for their permission.

And those are only this week's examples.

And what about the chilling of our freedoms by these innumerous laws? What about those of us unwilling to "do it happily and take our punishment?" As the "Geek with a .45" put it recently:
The fact that things have gone so far south in some places that people actually feel compelled to move the fuck out should frighten the almighty piss out of you.

Ten or fifteen years ago, I would’ve dismissed that notion, that people were relocating themselves for freedom within America as the wild rantings of a fringe lunatic, but today, I’m looking for a real estate agent.

--

When was the last time you built a bonfire on a beach, openly drank a beer and the presence of a policeman was absolutely no cause for concern? Hmmm?
And what other laws has Big Brother passed that you can think of that were done merely to protect us from ourselves?

And we're supposed to "do it happily" and take our punishment "if we think" we are just.

I don't fucking think so.

Claire Wolfe was right - "America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards."

The real problem with the Constitution? The Founders never imagined we'd become sheep.

Postscript: Dave at Pervasive Light raised $1265 for Lester Campbell. I hope Mr. Campbell buys another .38 with some of it.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Blogosphere to Albert Gore Jr.: - We Remember

Via Feces Flinging Monkey, Jay Caruso bitch-slaps Algore's assertion that Dubya has "taken us much farther down the road toward an intrusive, 'big brother'-style government — toward the dangers prophesied by George Orwell in his book '1984' — than anyone ever thought would be possible in the United States of America."

Go read. And be pissed.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Just ONE Reason to Read Ipse Dixit

This week's Caption This Picture contest winner:


"Can you find the nine candidates for the Democratic nomination for President?" - Daniel Aronstein



THAT's a classic!

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Aren't Sawed-Off Shotguns Illegal?

Police: Man shoots intruder

Two men armed with guns who burst into a home in the 400 block of Victoria Drive Wednesday and demanded money got a little surprise when one of the people inside the home had better aim, police said.

One of the intruders, identified by police as Rameek Neal, 22, of Lancaster, was hit and is now listed at the hospital as a quadriplegic. Police are still looking for the second man.
Quadriplegic, eh. I bet he now wishes he hadn't done the home invasion.
According to police reports, Neal and another man knocked on the door of the home sometime before 10:30 Wednesday night.

After one of the home’s occupants opened the door, the two men forced their way in, baring guns and demanding money, police said. Reports said the man police have not yet arrested pointed what witnesses said was a sawed-off shotgun at the two people in the living room. Neal, meanwhile, left the living room and went to the home’s master bedroom, police said.
Think he had the NFA paperwork for that scattergun?

Nah. Me either.

What big-ticket item do you think they can confiscate from him?
Inside the bedroom, police said Neal threatened the two occupants who were in bed. According to police, Neal threatened to shoot or beat them with a pistol if they did not give him money.

Police said one of the bedroom’s occupants, Omar Reid, 25, reached out of bed, grabbed a pistol from the dresser and shot Neal as Neal shot at him.
Let's see: A loaded gun kept in a dresser drawer next to the bed. That's unsafe storage, isn't it? Are there any children in the home? Does he have a permit for that firearm? Oh, wait, this is a suburb of Philadelphia, not New York City.
With Neal down on the ground at the foot of the bed, police said Reid left the bedroom and walked into the living room, where he encountered the second man.

Both men fired at each other, police said.

The man Reid fired at fled from the home. Police said Reid was not hit.
He has a sawed-off, they shoot at each other across the distance of a living room (couldn't be more than seven or eight yards, tops) and he misses!
Neal, who was found by police still laying in the bedroom, was flown to Crozer-Chester Medical Center for his injuries.

Police are still looking for the second man, who they say may have a gunshot wound.
And probably has stained underwear.

It would be poetic justice if Mr. Reid hit his second target.
Police said Reid’s actions are being considered self-defense.
I should hope so!

<bradycenter>But these people should have done what the criminals wanted! Then maybe no one would have gotten hurt! There's a poor victim in the hospital who's now a quadriplegic!</bradycenter>

Good.
He was THIS Close!

It must make serving time a lot less dull...
Women's jail prisoner admits he's a man

A convicted marijuana grower has told prison authorities he is a man - after spending more than eight months locked up with women.

An inquiry has been launched after Billie Jo Hawks told wardens at Kentucky's Correctional Institution for Women that a mistake had been made.

For eight months before that, Hawks, 43, had been held in the women's section of a detention centre having been convicted of growing and trafficking marijuana.

He was then transfered to the jail, and it wasn't until he faced a medical examination that he alerted wardens of the error.
I bet there are some red faces in the Corrections department, and it isn't Mary Kay blush.
One More Dividend from the War on (some) Drugs™

Yup. The police raided a high-school, weapons drawn, and searched everybody in a hallway (that, of course, had Big Brother cameras installed.)
"They would go put a gun up to them, push them against the wall, take their book bags and search them," Aaron Sims, 14, told CNN affiliate WCSC. "They just came up and got my friend, not even saying anything or what was going to happen. ... I was scared."

Sims said his mother was "a little angry," but his father understood and "thought it was necessary."
I'd be fucking outraged. Necessary my ass. The decades-long "War on Drugs" has brought us to this?
Police monitored video from school surveillance cameras for several days and "observed consistent, organized drug activity," he said. "Students were posing as lookouts and concealing themselves from the cameras."
Great. Then arrest those students. Instead we get Gestapo tactics.
Anytime narcotics and money are involved he said there is "the reasonable assumption that weapons will be involved. ... Our primary concern was the safety of the students (and) everyone else involved."
<sarcasm>But, but guns are not allowed in school! How could any of the students be armed?</sarcasm>
Jared Weeks, 14, told WCSC that police were aggressive.

"They kind of pushed us against the wall and started searching us," Weeks said. "I didn't think all that was called for."

Weeks said he was "kind of nervous," but not scared "because I didn't have anything to hide."
I have news for you, Jared: The State often doesn't care whether you have anything to hide or not.

One more time: If there's any way you can swing it - HOME SCHOOL

UPDATE: This incident reminded me of something. Back in May, shortly after I started this blog, I came across this video clip of a Las Vegas PD officer negligently discharging her sidearm, very nearly shooting either a suspect being restrained, the officer restraining him, or both. I checked. The link is still good.

Watch that and tell me that the kids in that school hall were in no danger.