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

Sunday, February 29, 2004

Oh Crap! One More!

From Publicola, as a matter of fact: Mail Barbara Boxer your unused gun locks!!

I've got a couple laying around here somewhere....
While I've Been Gone

The Geek and Publicola have been doing yeoman duty in keeping tabs on our congresscritters in the Senate. Please, stroll over and read. And the Geek's got a link to a helluva Kerry-bashing story in The Village Voice, no less.

And now I must go to bed, because I have to get up at 4 AM again, and leave for more field work. Back Tuesday night, I hope.
It's Over, I Think.

David Baker says:
I will have to agree with your last debate partner and say:

"I think that my position now is actually more liberal (in terms of my approach to gun control) than when we started."

There are certainly regulations already in place that need to be strengthened by enforcement, and it seems I have much more to learn on the subject. I believe I am on the road to a possible core value change on this subject. (although I still have a usefulness issue with automatic weapons and probably always will. And no, not because they are scary, either. Just without need.)

So you may chalk up another "win" in your column on this issue. You are certainly a formidable advisory
(sic) on this issue, and I have really enjoyed myself and learned a lot.
(I think he meant "adversary," but "advisory" might have been a freudian slip.)

Damn, only thirty some posts and less than a month. I was just getting warmed up!

C'mon, c'mon... another challenger out there? I'm ready!
Give Me a Break, a Book Review

I recently finished reading ABC journalist John Stossel's book Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media....

Excellent book, highly recommended.

The book runs just short of 300 very fast pages chronicling Stossel's career to this point (it was published just before Barbara Walters announced that she would no longer be co-anchor of ABC's 20-20 with Stossel). It begins with a short retrospective of his career. Opening chapter excerpt:
"I was once a heroic consumer reporter; now I'm a threat to journalism.

--

I won 18 Emmys, and lots of other journalism awards. One year I got so many Emmys, another winner thanked me in his acceptance speech "for not having an entry in this category."

Then I did a terrible thing. Instead of just applying my skepticism to business, I applied it to government and "public interest" groups. This apparently violated a religious tenet of journalism. Suddenly I was no longer "objective."

--

These days, I rarely get awards from my peers. Some of my ABC colleagues look away when they see me in the halls.
What follows is a description of the journey from rewarded "advocate" to shunned "gadfly."

I found it interesting that Stossel repeats the "journalism is a religion" meme I first ran into in a Jay Rosen editorial. Stossel makes it explicit in the title to his book that there is such a thing as "liberal journalism," yet he himself is not part of that orthodoxy. He explains this simply:
I never planned to be a reporter.

--

Every time a company sent a recruiter to Princeton, I volunteered for an interview. I got a dozen job offers and took the one that offered me a free flight that would take me the farthest: Seattle Magazine. They said they'd teach me how to sell advertising or do bookkeeping. But by the time I graduated, Seattle Magazine had gone out of business. I was lucky, though: Ancil Payne, the boss of the parent company King Broadcasting, called me to say, "We have a job available at KGW, our Portland, Oregon, TV station. Want to try that?"
And he did, starting as "gofer," then researcher, newswriter, and finally reporter. Stossel says:
In retrospect, I see that it probably helped me that I had taken no journalism courses. Television news was still inventing itself then, and I was open to new ideas. I learned through fear. My fear of failure made me desperate to do the job well, to try to figure out what people really needed to know and how I could say it in a way that would work well on TV.
But what Stossel doesn't say, outright, is that his lack of ordination in the Church of Journalism left his mind open to question what he saw. The first inklings of this willingness to question came shortly after he moved from Portland to the "big leagues"; WCBS in New York, where he met up with what I call the "union mentality" and was exposed to regimented reporting:
We'd show up for work at 10 A.M., and the assignment editor would tell us what we'd cover that day. I sometimes suggested we ought to report on someting else, and he'd tell me, "Do what you're told." Each correspondent would then grab one of the three-man union crews and drive to the scene of the fire, murder, news conference, or whatever the assignment editor wanted us to cover. We'd arrive like a lumbering army. It was remarkable how much time a cameraman, a soundman, and an electrician could take just getting out of the car. Every move was deliberate.

They had no reason to hurry because no one ever got fired. There was no reason to work harder because union rules demanded everyone be paid the same. Many union workers were masters not at just killing time, but at killing innovation. "Can't be done." "Against the rules." "Equipment won't do that." It stunned me that so many of them could be indifferent to what I thought was important work.
More on "regimented reporting" and how Stossel avoided it:
At WCBS I was steadily growing more frustrated with following the assignment editor's vision of what was "news." Perhaps because of my stuttering, I'd always avoided covering what the pack covered. I didn't think I could succeed if I had to compete by shouting out questions at news conferences, so I seldom vounteered to report the day's "big news." That turned out to have an unexpected benefit, It helped me realize that the most important news happens slowly. The assignment editor aw WCBS was focused only on that day's events: government pronouncements, election results, grisly fires and murders. But the world's real life-changing developments were things like the women's movement, the shrinking of computers, the invention of the birth control pill. They mattered more but happened quietly, well off the radar screen of my assignment editor, because they weren't in that day's news releases, the AP daybook, or that morning's paper. (That would be The New York Times in this case.) I decided I wanted to search out those trends and cover health and science news, the environment, sociology, psychology. The assigmnent editor wasn't interested.

One day, with great trepidation, I went over his head. I brought Ed Joyce a list of the stories the assignment editor had rejected. I said I thought my ideas were better. I feared Joyce would fire me or tell me to shut up and do what the assignment editor had told me. Instead he said, "You're right - yours are better. Do them."
And Stossel was unleashed upon unsuspecting hucksters, cheats, scam artists and the liberal media.

What follows are 14 chapters on the evil and idiocy practiced upon the American public by those Stossel exposes. In Chapter 2, Confrontations, Stossel recounts how he started doing "In-your-face" consumer reporting, and his shock at the reactions of those he exposed - blasé. Generally "stonewalling, lying, and weird politeness." It's an excellent look, psychologically, at the people who make their living out of cheating others. Especially the concluding paragraph:
Donald Trump was offended when I called him a bully for trying to force an old lady out of her house to make more room for his Atlantic City casino. After the interview, the producer stayed behind to pack up our equipment. Trump came back into the room, puffed himself up, and started blustering, "Nobody talks to me that way!"

Well, someone should.
Amen.

Chapter 3 recounts Stossel's continuation down his path to journalistic heresy, his "Confusion" over the fact that his consumer-advocacy work wasn't having any results, or at least not positive ones.
It was satisfying to confront the bad guys, but it wasn't enough. I'd expose them, and a month later, they'd be back at it. I wanted the government to do something to stop the crooks, to compensate the victims. After I spent time with the victims listening to their sad stories, I was angry. I wanted someone to help those people. What was the purpose of government if it couldn't protect them?
But that's not what happened:
Occasionally the government did act, but its actions rarely worked out well.
Every regulation seemed to have an unintended consequence. Taxpayers' dollars wound up in the pockets of the rich instead of the poor. Well-meaning regulation designed to protect consumers often hurt them by narrowing their choice.
As an idealist fresh out of college, no wonder he was confused. The chapter goes on with example after example of how government regulation of business hurt innovation and profited established business: Hair salons, milk producers, unions, public transportation, the FDA. It's angering to read, but the honesty is refreshing.

Chapter four is aptly entitled "Epiphany" and is a scourging of regulators and regulating:
I had moved from seeing regulation as a good thing to seeing it as a necessary evil. More years of reporting led me to conclude that much of it is also unnecessary evil. We don't need a million rules because free markets police themselves.
And here we see in print Stossel's small "L" libertarianism really take off.
By contrast, government almost never polices itself. When government agencies lose money, or fail at their missions, they ask Congress for more money. They usually get it, citing their failure to achieve their goals as proof they need more funds.
Followed by example after example.

I'm not going to go through all the chapters, but I will comment on the one that is one central theme of the book: the need for tort reform. The chapter entitled "The Trouble with Lawyers" begins:
I don't hate lawyers. We need lawyers.

We need them to preserve the rule of law. We need them to defend if others cheat us, steal from us, trample on our rights. However, we also need nuclear missles - to keep other nations from trampling on our rights. We try not to use them, because they harm innocent people.

We should treat lawyers the same way. Lawsuits are necessary, but evil.
And he goes on to make a very cogent case. His conclusion? We need a "loser pays" system of tort. I recently read John Grisham's The King of Torts which I found to be a fascinating and repelling look into the business of "personal injury law." Stossel's right - it's got to change.

Everyone needs to read this book, right and left alike. The right for ammunition, the left for reflection on their failures. I would have preferred some more in-depth information on each of the examples Stossel relates, but then the book would have been a thousand pages at least. I imagine his research archives must be a gold mine. Stossel makes an outstanding argument for small "L" libertarianism, and concludes with this:
My epiphany was seeing that we don't need experts to "run the country." We need limited government, a referee that keeps the peace. But that's all. Then free minds and free markets will make good things happen.
Sounds remarkably like the system our Founders envisioned, doesn't it?
I'm Back, Sorta...

Got home Friday night about 8 PM, ate dinner & crashed. Got up Saturday at 5 AM, left the house at 6, and ran my combination IHMSA pistol & NRA pistol & cowboy rifle match. Got home about 5 PM. Laid down on the bed "for a few minutes" about 6. Got up this morning about ten minutes to 8.

I head back to the job site tomorrow morning at 5 AM, and will be there probably through Tuesday.

I'll try to post some insightful commentary or biting satire today, but as burned out as I feel at the moment....

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

OK, So I Lied

Not really, though. I'm buried in work, but I found this over lunch and had to post it.
'Bankrupt' Forces may shut 5 bases
Internal reports say $500M shortfall may cause closures from Winnipeg to Labrador

Chris Wattie
National Post

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Canada's army, navy and air force are facing a funding shortfall of up to half a billion dollars, defence sources told the National Post, and the military is recommending drastic measures to make up the difference, including closing some of the largest bases in the country.

The federal government is stalling the release of internal documents that outline the looming financial crisis, but military sources said the reports indicate that in the fiscal year beginning on April 1, the air force expects to be $150-million short of funds needed to fulfill its commitments, the navy will be $150-million shy of its needs and the army will be as much as $200-million short.

The figures were submitted to General Ray Henault, the Chief of Defence Staff, last month by the heads of the land staff, the maritime staff and the air staff in anticipation of this year's defence budget.

The military sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the reports foresee a situation so dire that they recommend curtailing operations, dry-docking ships and mothballing vehicles or aircraft and closing at least four Canadian Forces bases.

Unless additional funding is awarded by the government, the air force is suggesting closing bases at Goose Bay, Nfld., Bagotville, Que., North Bay and Winnipeg, the sources said.

Further, the air force report says that unless its fleet of ageing CC-130 Hercules transport planes is replaced or modernized, the main transport base at Trenton should be closed within 10 years. "There won't be enough Hercs flying by then to justify keeping that base open," one air force source said.

The navy predicts it will not be able to live up to treaty obligations to NATO and other alliances and cannot carry out enough patrols of Canadian waters to comply with agreements with other government departments such as Immigration Canada or Fisheries and Oceans.

"We will not be able to meet our domestic defence obligations," one naval officer said.

The army is said to be in the worst financial state of all three branches of the Canadian Forces. "Everyone knows that the army's broke and has been for a couple of years," said one military source familiar with the reports.

Colonel Howard Marsh, a former senior army staff officer now working as an analyst for the Conference of Defence Associations, said he was not surprised by the size of the shortfall.

"This is a look forward ... at what they need in order to keep the army going," he said. "Nobody has ever seen a bankrupt military in a developed country.... This year I predict we will see that in Canada."

Col. Marsh said the military is saddled with ageing bases and increasingly dilapidated buildings that are fast reaching the point of collapse. "What they've been doing, year in and year out ... is not replace or repair those buildings, or buy new equipment," he said.

"The average age of the equipment in the Canadian Forces is over 20 years and it hasn't been well-maintained."

The Liberal government reduced defence spending by 23% and cut the number of regular military personnel to approximately 60,000 from 80,000 between 1993 and 2000. There were 120,000 people in the Canadian military in 1958.

In 2003, the defence budget was increased $800-million to $12.7-billion, the single largest increase since the Liberals came to power. But that still left the total below that of 1991, when the Mulroney Conservatives committed troops to the Gulf War and the defence budget stood at $12.8-billion.

Jay Hill, the Conservative defence critic, said the reports outline the result of more than a decade of Liberal cuts to the Canadian Forces.

"They shouldn't even be in this position," he said. "They shouldn't be having to look for nickel and dime savings when the government is blowing hundreds of millions on sponsorship programs."

Mr. Hill called on the government to make the three reports available immediately. "This flies in the face of this Prime Minister's stated commitment to being open and transparent," he said.

The Department of National Defence has refused to make public the annual reports, known as command impact assessments.

Defence officials this week turned down a request by the National Post and the influential defence publication Jane's Defence Weekly to see the reports under access to information legislation.

Judith Mooney, the director of access to information for the Department of National Defence, said the reports will not be made public for another three to five weeks because they are considered "draft" documents.

"I exercised my discretion to withhold the documents until the [Defence] Department's business-planning process is complete, at which time they will be released," she said.

Ms. Mooney could not say when exactly the reports would be released, but indicated they would be available by the end of March.

Although that would delay them until after the release of the federal budget, which is expected on March 23, she said David Pratt, the Defence Minister, was not involved in the decision to withhold the reports until then. Mr. Pratt did not reply to repeated requests for comment on the reports.

In previous years, the assessments have been made public.

This year's reports paint a picture even more bleak than last year's, which said the military would be unable to sustain itself without additional resources or a reduced workload.

They were the basis for a story last year in Jane's Defence Weekly, the prestigious London-based magazine, which caused a furor in Canadian and NATO defence circles. Under the headline "Running on Empty," the story said the army, navy and air force did not receive the money they needed.

The article said the navy asked for an additional $50-million to bridge the funding gap, but received only $6.7-million. The air force expected a $104-million shortfall but received about $7-million. The army had a larger gap between what was expected of it and the funding available, and received $85-million in extra money.

Major-General Terry Hearn, the chief of finance for the Canadian Forces, acknowledged the military has had "issues" with funding over the past four years.

But he said the department is implementing a long-term plan to stabilize its finances. "We'll become sustainable over the next couple of years," he said. "We have long-term strategies to deal with these issues ... [but] we're not going to solve them next year."

Peter Stoffer, a New Democrat MP whose Nova Scotia riding includes a large military base, called the government's refusal to release the reports "very suspicious."

"If anyone out there honestly believes that access to information will be any easier under this government, they are fooling themselves," he said. "They say one thing and do another."
Yet Canada's Auditor General Sheila Frasier has reported that implementing registration of all long-guns and all firearms owners (and failing) had cost, as of April 2002, $629 million. The projected cost through 2005? One BILLION.

Yet the Canadian military is sorely underfunded. Think that money might have been better spent?

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

No Blog for You!

I'm going to be out of town on business for the next three days or so, so no new posts for a bit. Sorry.

It'll be real interesting to find out what happens in the Senate over the bill protecting gun manufacturers and dealers, once S.659, now S.1805. The Geek is all over this, so please stay tuned in there.

And thanks for visiting! The archives are still open.
Yup. Federalizing Airport Security Ensures Professionalism

Presented without further comment:
Six security screeners curious about their brains face disciplinary actions for misconduct

The Transportation Security Administration is not saying exactly who x-rayed themselves or when because of privacy reasons, but a source tells 9NEWS the six screeners were working at passenger checkpoints when they decided to x-ray their own bodies.

Like a piece of luggage, the screeners would have rolled down the conveyor belt into the opening, about 2.5 feet high and a foot and a half wide.

"There's enough training, enough education available in the public domain, let alone the circumstances of the TSA, to know this is a foolhardy thing to do,” said David Forbes, president of Boydforbes, Inc. “The questions that come out of this though are what is the level of supervision?"

Forbes, a security expert, says this highlights a lack of good management and training. But TSA spokesman Mike Fierberg says it was just someone doing something stupid. He insists it did not interfere with security.

TSA would not say if the screeners were still on administrative leave. In fact, it would only confirm that "some kind of action" was taken against one screener at DIA.

As for the screeners’ health, the manufacturers of the x-ray equipment say the exposure is actually too low to hurt anyone. They say a chest x-ray at a hospital would be 50 times stronger than an x-ray from an airport system.
There are also news video reports on the site.

OK, one comment: Do you feel safe? No, wait! Two: Think your tax dollars are well spent?

So... Gunshows are "Supermarkets for Criminals" eh?


Not according to J. David Phillips of Crystal River FL, and his experience is just about a duplicate of mine. Which is why I don't go to Evil Loophole Gunshows anymore. Here's an old rec.guns newsgroup post on the topic. Keep spewable liquids away from the keyboard:
Is your show anything like this one?

Arrive early. Usually a short wait to get in. For parking that is. Overpriced parking that costs more than show admission. Gunshow is usually held at the same time the Women's Knitting Society Doll Show is held, and they open earlier, so all the good parking is snapped up. Oh well, I suppose no one in Florida has any right to complain about walking in the rain.

Now we've got the line to get in. Let's see, there are three lines. Gee, this one is a bit shorter. Oops, why is it going so slow? Why the #### is everyone in MY line paying with loose change? Cripes, the other lines have cleared out twice over. Finally get to the booth. Oops, now it's shift change. At 9AM?

A couple of sleezy looking good ole boys holding up the wall shout "Hey, what'ya got on that chrome AK? Does it have the switch on it ?"

Now for the line to get in. Everyone has to be checked for guns. No, I'm not carrying a gun. Thank goodness. The old geezer rent-a-cop is having trouble trying to figure out how to open someone's 30-30 action.

OK, now we're cooking with gas. Literally. I have to run the gauntlet of BBQ grill dealers.

Ah, a gun table. Looks interesting. Oops, spoke too soon. Someone must be kidding. These are parts guns and this guy wants 50% over MSRP? Move on.

Here's a familiar sight. This old fella always has a table full of Winchester Model 71's. The same table full. Meaning he hasn't sold any for several years. I guess he's just displaying his collection and is tired of saying they aren't for sale, so he's resorted to putting astronomical prices on them to discourage sales. At least that's what I can figure out.

Oh look, the Beanie Baby dealer fom Ozello has managed to move closer to the front door.

Couple of ultra fat sleezy good ole boys holding up the South wall shout "Hey, what'ya got on that there chrome AK? Has it got duh switch on it ?"

Now I have to run the gaunlet of safe dealers who take your order but never deliver. My sister had to get the state attorney general involved to get her money back from one. Quickly move on.

Make quick pit stop. Wish I had gone before I left home. The facilities are so filthy that I cannot describe them here. Wish I had used the safe of the ripoff dealer to relieve myself.

Now I pass the snack bar. I could never figure out why it is located right next to the restrooms. People are standing in line for hotdogs that look like they've been cooking since the last gunshow. The smell of hotdogs and urinal mints must make some people hungry, I guess. Quickly move along.

This guy seems to have quite a crowd around his gun parts. Wait to get close to table. Dang. It's all the pot metal 1911 bushings with built-in comp and bayonet lugs. Work my way out of the crowd and on to the next table.

More Beanie Babies from a dealer in Aripieka.

Now a jerky and sausage vender from Brooksville.

Darrel and Darrel come up to me and ask "Hey, what'ya got on that chrome AK? Do it have the switch on it ?"

Ah, some real gun parts. Unfortunately none for any of the many gun projects I have. but it's good to know that if I ever get a Mondragon that this guy has cornered the market for firing pins.

More beanie babies from an idiot in Crystal River.

Say, here's three tables with books. Let's see... "How To Turn Your 10-22 Into A Thousand Yard Assault Sniper Rifle". "How To Make A Fully Automatic 10-22 Assault Sniper Weapons System". "Converting Your 10-22 Into a Fully Automatic Thousand Yard Assault Sniper Weapon". Hmmm, I'm begining to see a pattern here. Move along.

Ah, the mountain man muzzleloader dealer. This guy seems knowledgable, reasonably priced, has lots of inventory and accessories, and is friendly. Too bad I'm not into muzzleloaders.

Here's a fellow I can't figure out. He is a collector. Yet he brings glass display counters. Six of them. Full of brand new guns with warranty. No 4473, cuz he ain't a dealer. He's a collector. Gee, wish I could be a collector and sell dozens of brand new guns still in the box from my collection each weekend. Course, if you are in 'business' , then you have to have a license.

Next is the eight tables of guns from a local storefront dealer. They are selling like hotcakes. Can't be the price, because they are marked up even more than what they sell for in the store. After looking over the guns and hearing "You gunna buy or what?" from three different clerks, it begins to dawn on me that people are there for the abuse. I think they're from Inverness.

Quickly move along.

Here's a table dedicated to sniping. He sells sniper rifles, sniper scopes, sniper ammo, sniper clothes, sniper books, sniper bumper stickers, sniper posters, sniper conversion kits for 10-22's, sniper jacket pathes and how to snipe video tapes. Quite a crowd too. The seller is telling some youngsters about the brave and noble Waffen SS snipers who would hold their fire while old Russian women crossed the street with their babies. Made sour mental note that perhaps Waffen SS snipers might be a level above Lon Horiuchi.

Stop at a little table with an interesting old pistol. Unfortunately, the seller is not there, as he ate one of the hotdogs and is soaking up some of the restroom mints, but his sister's cousin's daughter's boy is, and he's watching the table. Have to come back later.

Oh look, the magazine dealer. This old gentleman makes my visit worthwhile. His prices are pretty high, but it's amazing the magazines he comes up with. I need a magazine for a Walther P-38 in 22LR. By George, he's got one. New in wrapper. $60. Ouch. Buy it anyway. Have to make the parking and entrance fee seem worthwhile. Wish he'd sell out of his house, but no, only at gun shows.

More Beanie Babies from another idiot in Lecanto.

Bruce and Larry from Queer People, Inc, ask "What'ya got on that there chrome AK? Does it have the switch, sweetie?"

Another magazine dealer. Let's see what he has. Lots and lots of bins of magazines for every imaginable military firearm since WWII. Uh oh, they are all USA magazines. But, they're guaranteed for life.

And another book dealer. Let's see. "How To Turn Your 10-22 Into a...." QUICKLY move along.

A pawn shop table. Cheap jewelry, watches and junk from a competitor in Crystal River. I guess he's finally found out that one has to watch how much stuff they take into the store.

Another sausage and jerky dealer from the place next door to the pet store in Crystal River.

Alright! An old west firearms dealer. Rusted pre-war Win 1894 - $650. Rusted Iver Johnson topbreak 32 revolver with peeling nickel finish - $400. Halfway decent Colt SAA - note says it was owned by Jesse James. (sigh)

Another parts dealer. Yep. Lots of parts alright. Too bad they all are either demilled by being torch cut or look like they've been salvaged from a sunken U-Boat. Thought I heard someone say they're from the Atocha, and found by Mel Fisher.

Here's an interesting table full of guns. Decent prices. Decent looking old guns. Hey, just what I'm looking for. Says the bore is good. Can you please snip the ty-wrap so I can inspect the bore? Why not? Oh, you aren't allowed to do that? Show management said so? How come all the other dealers do it? You won't sell to me because I'm a trouble maker? Geeeesh, must be from that Hernanidiot club.

Surplus military clothing. Lots of it. Along with surplus moth holes. All at non-surplus prices.

Table full of cheap toys made by slave labor in communist China.

Oh boy, this looks interesting. Lots and lots of reloading equipment, much of it in older boxes. Might find some obsolete dies. Yep, just what I need. 25-35 and 32-40. I figure $20 each is fair. What? Do you know your price is double the new RCBS price? Take it or leave it? They got a lifetime warranteeee. Leave it.

A guy selling gun stocks. Do you have a stock for a pre-64 Model 94 Winchester? Looks around, slightly confused, then says his stocks fit all Winchester 94's. Sorry, but no, they don't, they are the same stock as the Win 1892. Well sonny, I've been in the stock biznuz for thutty yaars, and I oughta know.

Familiar looking cast bullet dealer. Lots of nice looking bullets. Ask him the same question I ask at every gun show. Do you have soft cast 45-70 and 45 Colt bullets with either SPG lube or no lube? I see, only hard cast with lube so hard it might as well be plastic. What's SPG ?

Another gun dealer. Hmmm. Interesting Broomhandle Mauser. Say can I ***HEY MISTER YOU WANT TO SELL THAT SPRINGFIELD?*** look at your ***WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR THAT WINCHESTER?*** Broomhandle Maus- ***I HAVE A BAYONET TO FIT YOUR GARAND RIGHT HERE*** Give up and leave. He'd rather cast his line at fish going by than one nibbling on his hook.

Another Beanie Baby dealer from New York, shouting out " Such a deal for youse".

See an old acquaintence of mine that is a total gun show whore. Hey Samuri Davie boy, you sure have put on weight. How much ya got on that there chrome AK? Does it have the switch on it?"

A table with all sorts of old junk, none of it having anything to do with firearms, being manned by a kindly looking old lady. Politely smile and nod and move along.

Table full of project guns. All torch cut in two. Yep, they'd be a project alright.

Samuri sword dealer. I started feeling for my pocket gun and the switch on the AK.

Nazi collectibles dealer. Why are these guys always about 330 pounds, need a shave, have a tooth missing, wear plumber's butt jeans and wife beater t-shirts and have their hair slicked back? Oh, the 'DEATH TO ZOG' bumper sticker is a nice touch. Skip whole row.

Demonstration row. Here's a guy with a hotplate and tea kettle showing how his goop fog proofs your eyeglasses. I bought some of the stuff a couple of years ago from a woman with huge tits. Still have it, as it doesn't work. Here's a guy showing how his vacuum cleaner can pick up a bowling ball (will keep that in mind when the bowling ball buildup on my carpets gets out of hand). Here's a guy selling a complete butcher shop kit. Bandsaw, huge sausage grinder, giant meat slicer, more knives than a Ginsu ad, everything to keep Jeffery Dahlmer happy. Here's a guy selling a meat blade that attaches to your chainsaw to cut up your deer. Must be for the high volume hunter. What else? A knife sharpener. Carpet shampoo. Car wash. Kit for making 800 lbs of jerky. At least walking this isle was better than going by the hotdog and urinal mint stench.

More Beanie Babies from the Christmas Store down the street.

Table with lots of AR15's. And the obligatory old geezer spouting off to no one in particular, "By gum, that be them thar ay-salt wippins thet be gettin the rest of ouh gun rayhts taken away, yessir. No self ray-spectun sportsman would evah own one o dem. No sir. They need ta be banned." Notice at least he has a wide space around him. Maybe it's a plan to keep from being jostled by the crowd. I think he's the guy that sells the blowguns down the aisle.

T-Shirt vendor. Has t-shirts like "DEATH TO ZOG". Gee, this guy is about 330 pounds, needs a shave, has a tooth missing, wear's plumber's crack jeans and a wife beater t-shirt and has his hair slicked back. Shake head wondering if he's related to the Nazi collectibles dealer.

This table is loaded with all the gun gimmicks of the last 30 years. Glow in the dark sight paint. Folding 10-22 Assault Sniper Weapon Stocks with Flash Hider and Built In Bayonet Lug and Oversized Tactical Safety and Magazine Release kit. Barrel heat shield for 10-22 (they get might hot after conversion to a thousand yard fully automatic assault sniper rifle, ya know). Ah, this is interesting. Why I don't know. A 150 round snail drum for a Charter Arms AR-7. At least when you're living off the land you won't have to reload all winter.

Jerky and sausage dealer from New Jersey, shouting " Oy Vey".

Bikers selling Harley parts for 20% above retail from one of the biker trash shops around Crystal River.

Mutt and Jeff stop by and ask, "What'ya got on that chrome AK? Duhs it have switches on it?"

Local gun club group who says they are raffling off a Winchester 22 Magnum rifle with a 3-9 scope. Raffle tickets are $10 each and go to defending gun rights and their building fund. What building? Free club patch, suitable for patching holes in your shirt. Ask them who won the last rifle they were raffling off. Sorry, can't tell ya. Privacy and all that. Do you at least have a photo of the winner holding up his gun? Uneasy silence while they all look at each other with that "gee, maybe we'd have more credibility if we faked a photo like that."

Guy with a few bins of gun parts and a HUGE-BY-LARGE sign that says I CARRY ALL GUN PARTS - JUST ASK!. Do you have a loading gate for an 1886 Winchester? No. Do you have a firing pin for an 1892 Winchester? No. Do you have an extractor for a Rem 788? No. (Hmmm, let's try an experiment.) Do you have a kit for converting a Ruger 10-22 into a thousand yard fully automatic assault sniper rifle? Yessir, sure do.

Old woman at a table full of books. She weighs about 330 lbs, has a tooth missing, greasy hair and is selling books with titles like "DEATH TO ZOG". She vaguely resembles someone. Shake head and move on.

Only a couple of tables to go. Getting hungry too. And need to make a pit stop. Figure I'll drive to the nearest McDonald's rather than risk the toilet mint aroma hot dogs and the filthy facilities.

And what are the last two tables?

Beanie Babies seconds from their factory.

And a guy who has REALLY figured out marketing. His table has jerky, 10-22 conversion books, rusty gun parts, old reloading dies, a few Nazi medals, and a rusted up top break Webley revolver, formerly owned by Jesse James.

My contribution? Parking fee, entrance fee, bought one pricey magazine, headache from the toilet mint smell, and two black tire marks out of the parking lot.
The only difference between Mr. Phillips' experience and my own is that the gun shows out here have a lot fewer gun vendors, and only one "DEATH TO ZOG" booth.
(Multiple Expletives Deleted...) THIS is What We're Fighting

Via AR15.com I found this... (*ahem*) propaganda video produced by those concerned citizens of the Brady Center. The NRA is "bullying" Congress into "ending" the AWB! No, we concerned gun owners are "bullying" them into letting the damned useless law sunset like it's supposed to. But that's not how the Brady people spin it, oh no! It will "put dozens of illegal weapons back on the street!" Excuse me? It never took them off the damned street. At least they got the quantity right. Dozens is about it.

But what do they do? Frighten the kiddies! "Criminals will have access to a terrifying arsenal!" You morons, they already do! Even in England, where guns are banned, they have access to machineguns and handgrenades!

Oooh! Look at the scary guns! Right.

"12 rounds into a cop's body in 2 seconds." Suuuure! Can you pull a trigger twelve times in two seconds and hit anything?

Oooh! "In a recent poll, 70% of Americans supported keeping and strengthening the Assault Weapons Ban." Well, how surprising. Who funded the poll? Who worded the poll? And who is responsible for ensuring that the populace doesn't understand the idea of Constitutional protections of individual rights?

"Favor #2: Slam the courthouse door on victims and their families." Oh, right. It's the gun manufacturer's fault when somebody is shot during a robbery. It's the gun manufacturer's fault when some moron points a loaded gun at someone and pulls the trigger. Are we going to sue cutlery manufacturers for stabbings with evil "assault knives?" Willl we sue them when someone cuts a finger while chopping celery? The Lousville Slugger company for baseball-bat assaults? Or players injured by flying ones? Ford, when someone deliberately runs someone over? Or drives drunk into a tree? That's not justice, it's a perversion of it.

"The NRA is pushing a bill giving sweeping immunity from civil lawsuits." Well, YEAH, because the Brady Foundation and others have been using civil lawsuits in an attempt to bankrupt gun manufacturers. Here's what several decisions in these lawsuits have said:
"Although this public nuisance lawsuit is brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the State of New York - while the Hamilton action was one initiated by private parties for negligent marketing - both were brought against handgun manufacturers and sellers. Plaintiffs attempt here to widen the range of common-law public nuisance claims in order to reach the legal handgun industry will not itself, if successful, engender a limitless number of public nuisance lawsuits by individuals against these particular defendants, as was a stated concern in Hamilton (96 NY2d at 233). However, giving a green light to a common-law public nuisance cause of action today will, in our judgment, likely open the courthouse doors to a flood of limitless, similar theories of public nuisance, not only against these defendants, but also against a wide and varied array of other commercial and manufacturing enterprises and activities.

"All a creative mind would need to do is construct a scenario describing a known or perceived harm of a sort that can somehow be said to relate back to the way a company or an industry makes, markets and/or sells its non-defective, lawful product or service, and a public nuisance claim would be conceived and a lawsuit born. A variety of such lawsuits would leave the starting gate to be welcomed into the legal arena to run their cumbersome course, their vast cost and tenuous reasoning notwithstanding. Indeed, such lawsuits employed to address a host of societal problems would be invited into the courthouse whether the problems they target are real or perceived; whether the problems are in some way caused by, or perhaps merely preceded by, the defendants completely lawful business practices; regardless of the remoteness of their actual cause or of their foreseeability; and regardless of the existence, remoteness, nature and extent of any intervening causes between defendants lawful commercial conduct and the alleged harm." - from the appeals court decision upholding the dismissal of New York v. Sturm Ruger et. al.

--

"Knives are sharp, bowling balls are heavy, bullets cause puncture wounds in flesh. The law has long recognized that obvious dangers are an excluded class. Were we to decide otherwise, we would open a Pandora's box."

"The city could sue the manufacturers of matches for arson, or automobile manufacturers for traffic accidents, or breweries for drunken driving.

"Guns are dangerous. When someone pulls the trigger, whether intentionally or by accident, a properly functioning gun is going to discharge, and someone may be killed. The risks of guns are open and obvious.

"We hold that the trial court properly dismissed the city's complaint. The city's claims are too remote and seek derivatively what should be claimed only by citizens directly injured by firearms. The city cannot recover municipal costs. We overrule its assignment of error and affirm the judgment of the trial court." - Judge Ralph Winkler, Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals in the decision upholding dismissal of Cincinnati's lawsuit.

--

"As an individual, I believe, very strongly, that handguns should be banned and that there should be stringent, effective control of other firearms. However, as a judge, I know full well that the question of whether handguns can be sold is a political one, not an issue of products liability law, and that this is a matter for the legislatures, not the courts. The unconventional theories advanced in this case (and others) are totally without merit, a misuse of products liability laws." Judge Buchmeyer in the dismissal of Patterson v. Gesellschaft, 1206 F.Supp. 1206, 1216 (N.D. Tex. 1985)
But you won't be hearing any of that from these people.

"Even the notorious Bull's Eye Shooter Supply will be protected by the bill. 52 crimes were traced to guns sold by Bull's Eye. The government discovered 238 guns missing or stolen from Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, including the Bushmaster used by the DC snipers. Victims will have no recourse against dealers who supply guns to the criminal market."

Where do I start? First "52 crimes were traced" is exactly backward. The BATF traces guns not crimes, so did we have one guy committing 52 crimes with one gun, or 52 different guns and different crimes? It's pretty damned vague. How old were the guns? Were they in the possession of the original owners? Were they illegally purchased by felons? Were they "straw purchases"? Were they stolen? None of this matters to the Brady people, because all guns are bad to them. So, the "government discovered 238 guns missing or stolen" from Bull's Eye. Wonderful. If the company was so fucked up, why did it take years for the BATF to pull the license? Regulating licensed dealers is their goddamned job! And Bull's Eye was the source of the DC sniper's Bushmaster? But I thought the sunsetting Assault Weapons Ban kept these guns off the street! Guess not, huh?

Get this straight - if it can be proven that the DC snipers bought that Bushmaster "under the table" then Bull's Eye's previous owner is civilly liable even if the preemption law passes. But if the gun was, as Malvo has confessed, stolen it's not his fault. But you won't hear that either.

"The NRA wants complete immunity for Bull's Eye and other bad gun dealers and justice denied to victims and their families." HORSESHIT! The NRA wants immunity against nuisance lawsuits that are nothing more than blatant attempts to litigate businesses into bankruptcy. The Brady bunch doesn't give a rat's ass about "victims and their families" except as poster-children for their pogrom against guns. They know that these lawsuits are groundless, but it hasn't stopped them from filing them all over the country, and appealing defeat after defeat. If they actually gave a damn, they'd be giving "the victims and their families" the money that the greedy fucking trial lawyers are expecting.

"Right now gun victims can sue irresponsible gun manufacturers and dealers. The NRA wants to change this." Fucking-A right they do. For all the reasons listed above.

"Right now, military style semi-automatic weapons are illegal."

NO THEY ARE NOT

That is a blatant lie and the Brady bunch doesn't give a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut about lying to you if it furthers their agenda. And their agenda is to make that statement true.

"STOP THE MADNESS" Here's an idea: STOP THE BRADY BUNCH AND THEIR ILK!

Here's the source of this shameless bullshit, hunted down by AR15.com contributor colinjay:
Kenneth Lerer Associates
331 West 57th St
PMB 465
New York, New York 10019
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com
Domain Name: NRAMADNESS.COM
Created on: 29-Sep-03
Expires on: 29-Sep-05
Last Updated on: 29-Sep-03

Administrative Contact:
Lerer, Ken lerken2003@yahoo.com
Kenneth Lerer Associates
331 West 57th St
PMB 465
New York, New York 10019
United States
917.254.8732 Fax --
Technical Contact:
Lerer, Ken lerken2003@yahoo.com
Kenneth Lerer Associates
331 West 57th St
PMB 465
New York, New York 10019
United States
917.254.8732 Fax --

Domain servers in listed order:
VARICK.DATAGRAM.COM
VANDAM.DATAGRAM.COM

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
1225 Eye St, NW
Suite 1100
Washington, District of Columbia 20005
United States

Registered through: GoDaddy.com
Domain Name: NRABLACKLIST.COM
Created on: 26-Sep-03
Expires on: 26-Sep-05
Last Updated on: 26-Sep-03

Administrative Contact:
Hall, Keith webmaster@bcpgv.com
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
1225 Eye St, NW
Suite 1100
Washington, District of Columbia 20005
United States
(202) 898-0792 Fax --
Technical Contact:
Hall, Keith webmaster@bcpgv.com
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
1225 Eye St, NW
Suite 1100
Washington, District of Columbia 20005
United States
(202) 898-0792 Fax --

Domain servers in listed order:
VANDAM.DATAGRAM.COM
VARICK.DATAGRAM.COM

Campaign, Brady (ZSATDLEOQD)
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
1225 Eye St, NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
US

Domain Name: STOPTHENRA.COM

Administrative Contact:
Campaign, Brady (35898741P) webmaster@bcpgv.com
Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence
1225 Eye St, NW
Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20005
US
202-898-0792

Technical Contact:
Network Solutions, Inc. (HOST-ORG) customerservice@networksolutions.com
13200 Woodland Park Drive
Herndon, VA 20171-3025
US
1-888-642-9675 fax: 571-434-4620

Record expires on 04-Sep-2006.
Record created on 04-Sep-2003.
Database last updated on 24-Feb-2004 03:24:21 EST.

Domain servers in listed order:

NS61.WORLDNIC.COM 216.168.225.201
NS62.WORLDNIC.COM 216.168.225.202
AR15.com contributor rayra googled and found this:
"Ken Lerer" pops up as a publicist / shill in New York. There is another hit for "ken lerer" in DC, and joining AOL / TIme Warner.
Then there is a "ken lerer" who left AOL Time Warner, and joined something called the "New Democracy Project" - http://www.newdemocracyproject.com/about/board/
http://www.newdemocracyproject.com/about/board/#Lerer
which states -
past Executive Vice President at AOL Time Warner, is currently head of Kenneth Lerer Associates, LLC and a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
Don't let anybody tell you that gun owners are paranoid and that "nobody wants to take your guns away."

These fuckers do. And they're well organized and well financed. And I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find out that Mr. Lerer has one of the few NYC gun carry permits, or employs an armed bodyguard.

(Pardon my language, but these people really piss me off!)

Now, call your Senators and tell them that you want Senate Bill S.659 to pass without amendment.

The number is 202-224-3121. You have to call twice, once for each Senator. Do it now.
And it Started off SO Well

Via Keepandbeararms.com
Playing with weapons breeds violent behavior, if only for a moment

BY DEBRA-LYNN B. HOOK

Several of us couples were gathered for dinner at the home of a friend, when one of our young desperados emerged from playing.

The little bandito must have been packing heat because we heard the hostess sing out from the kitchen:

"All weapons in the playroom!"

I caught the eye of my conscientious mother friend sitting across the table from me.

Weapons?

It's not like my friend and I are purists.

Her son has in his toy chest two vintage Army tanks that once belonged to her husband. My son has a plastic box filled with miniature Revolutionary War soldiers. Her son has a toy gun his grandparents gave him for Christmas one year. Both our kids own plastic swords.

But a pack of boys of varying ages and sizes playing outside their parents' view with a random bunch of violent toys? Hmmmm.
How times have changed. I used to play "War" with my friends literally for hours "outside my parent's view."
When I became the mother of a son 15 years ago, I didn't consider toy weapons for playtime, mostly because my own girlhood toy du jour was Chatty Cathy.

As the years went by and my normal American boy began to notice he was the only male child on the block without an Ouzi
(sic) for a squirt gun, I felt compelled to research the appropriateness of weapon play.

I learned that while some childhood experts believe kids who play with toy weapons become Columbine shooters, that there is no conclusive evidence to support such a theory.
Who'dathunkit? "no conclusive evidence to support such a theory"? How about any evidence to support such a theory?
I learned that Mister Rogers thought war play an appropriate, dare I say necessary, way for kids to act out a violent world. Even peacenik Joan Baez reportedly let her kids play with toy guns, contending if she didn't, they would want them even more.

I learned from my own experience that boys will be boys, that a pork chop bone readily becomes a Colt 45 in the hands of a 4-year-old, even a 4-year-old who's never seen anything on TV more violent than Barney.
Amazing, that, isn't it? And another nail in the coffin of the idea that "boys and girls are the same, it's just the way we raise them that makes them different."
As time went on, as I watched my first son and his friends grow up - some of them with toy guns, others not - I concluded that weapon play does not necessarily breed violent tendencies, that whether a child should play with cap guns depends partly on the child, that it is not necessarily a bad thing for a child to play with toy weapons, that it may even be good.

I still didn't like it. When all was said and done, expert wisdom or not, I simply didn't like the way kids acted when they played with certain violent toys. Never mind violent tendencies later. The way I saw it, weapon play produced violent behavior now.
And this is a bad thing....why? Shouldn't children learn the effects of violent behavior when they're young, rather than find out after years of being coddled and protected? Violence often hurts, but if you don't learn that as child, doesn't that leave you unprepared to learn it as an adult?
And yet, knowing the power of culture and a little boys' urges, I ultimately decided to take it one supervised weapon play at a time. Two well-behaved boys playing toy soldiers on the floor became acceptable. Ouzis (sic) in the hands of 6-year-olds, or 15-year-olds, for that matter, did not.
Even if they're just squirt-guns? Why?
An occasional sword fight in the living room, as long as there was no actual contact, was tolerable. Neighborhood gun battles were not. All weapon play, regardless, was heavily monitored and controlled, so it didn't escalate into something it shouldn't.
Oh for Jebus's sake. They're CHILDREN, not porcelain dolls!
I didn't say anything the other night to the hostess - a mother whose parenting I trust, by the way - even though eight boys, and, I might add, two girls, apparently were chasing each other around with what I later learned were pretend guns, swords and firefighters' axes.

As a matter of fact, after my initial eyebrow-raising, I didn't think much at all about the kids' choice of play, partly because I trusted this particular group of kids and their parents, partly because I didn't think it was my place. It wasn't even my house. Who was I to order the kids to put down their toys and find something else to do?

And yet, as it turns out, as we parents all later realized, that's exactly what one of us should have done. Because things did escalate, because one of the kids ended up getting hurt, because halfway through dinner, my conscientious friend's 6-year-old son emerged scared, crying and asking his parents to take him home. She later said he had bumps on his head and a cut on his face.

Direct contact with a weapon was not the cause. The kids assured us of that. But I doubt very seriously this would have happened, had they been redirected to a rousing game of, say, Tiddlywinks.
"Bumps on his head and a cut on his face." I shudder to think what generations of kids who are raised killing and maiming characters on a video game display, but who have never been injured when playing "War" would be like when they hit adolescence. Boys play rough, and "bumps and scratches" are a normal part of that. Wrapping them in cotton and only allowing them to play Tiddlywinks is idiocy. Pain is a corrective feedback mechanism. Eliminating all pain and injury from childhood is a sure way to leave kids unprepared for life.

It would appear that Ms. Hook is the same kind of parent who would oppose competition because it might affect her child's "self-esteem."

Monday, February 23, 2004

This Is IT

If you want to keep your right to arms, tomorrow is the day you need to make your voice heard.

Read the Geek's post. Right now.

And do your part.
Joke of the Day

A minister was seated next to an U.S. Army Ranger Officer on a flight to Fort Benning, Georgia. After the plane was airborne, drink orders were taken. The Officer asked for a whiskey and soda, which was brought and placed before him. The flight attendant then asked the minister if he would like a drink.

He replied in disgust, "I'd rather be savagely raped by brazen whores than let liquor touch my lips."

The Officer then handed his drink back to the attendant and said, "Me too. I didn't know we had a choice."

Sunday, February 22, 2004

It's Official!

Ralph "Unsafe at Any Speed" Nader is out to spoil any chance the Democrats thought they had. Again. He's running for President as an independent. He got a whopping 2.7% of the vote in 2000, but in more than one race his totals were more than the difference between Bush and Gore. I hope the race this year won't be so tight as to make a Nader candidacy important, but you never know.
"It is an offence to deny millions of people who might want to vote for our candidacy an opportunity to vote," he said
Well, he might generate "millions" of new "protest" voters, but he's more likely to draw the Deaniacs and the PETApeople and their ilk who would be inclined to hold their noses and vote DEM.

Meanwhile, I and many like me will hold our noses and vote for Bush, because as James Lileks wrote
Bush is serious about the war. The Democrats are serious about the war against Bush.
First Alaska, then Colorado, now New Hampshire?

According to this story the New Hampshire Senate on Thursday passed a "Vermont Carry*" bill which now proceeds to the House. Colorado's legislature is debating such a measure (though I think it'll die on the vine) and Alaska passed "Vermont Carry" last year.

Now New Hampshire?

Did some elected officials get replaced with reasoning beings when no one was looking?

(*For those of you new to this blog, "Vermont carry" is legal, permitless carry of a concealed weapon. i.e: You don't have to prove to the state that you're worthy, they have to prove you're not.)

Saturday, February 21, 2004

One Before I Resume Programming

Via KeepandBearArms.com

David Codrea, professional writer for gun magazines, wrote this excellent letter to San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, acting Chief of Police Heather Fong, and Judge James L. Warren, which I will reproduce here in whole:
Dear Mayor Newsom , Judge Warren and Acting Chief Fong,

Mayor, I see you are authorizing city employees to perform homosexual marriages, Judge Warren, you are allowing them to proceed, and Chief Fong, you are allowing California law, as enacted by a vote of the people, to be publicly and repeatedly broken without making any arrests.

I'm not commenting on that issue, per se, so much as observing that you are all three instigating and abetting the violation of that law.

Judge Warren, you went so far as to state that you couldn't issue a restraining order to halt the marriages because, as Reuters reported, "there was not enough evidence presented showing that immediate damage would be done by allowing them."

Which leaves me with an interesting dilemma.

You see, I also belong to a group that is forced by social prejudices to keep a low profile—often times to hide my choices and practices lest I suffer disapproval and ultimately, life-threatening persecution by the state.

I am a gun owner and I live a gun owner life style.

I don't know if I was born with a tendency to be this way, or if it was an acquired disposition. All I know is, I don't see why I should be forced to change. Truth be known, I like owning guns, and am happy with who I am. I hope I suffer no repercussions by "coming out of the safe," but I just can't hide the truth any longer.

We gun owners have been living and working among you. Our kids go to school with yours. We may be your doctor, or minister, or your child's teacher. We may even work in city administration, or the courts, or on the police force. And we are sick of being abused for simply being who we are, all because of hoplophobic* prejudice and fear. We don't see any reason why we should have to put up with it any more.

Which brings me back to my dilemma and the reason I am writing you.

You have shown progressive thinking and tolerance for that which the majority condemns. So I was thinking of coming up to San Francisco and exercising my right to keep and bear arms, maybe showing up at City Hall with a state-banned AR-15 and a couple 30-round magazines, and also carrying several pistols concealed without a permit.

Yes, I know, it will be a violation of California laws, but you've shown that you're willing to disregard those when it serves your goals. And because I am a peaceable citizen, I should easily meet Judge Warren's criterion that no immediate damage would be done by allowing this.

So what do you think, if I visit your city and proudly display my lifestyle choices, can I count on your support? As a private citizen, don't I have as much right to disregard laws I find reprehensible as you public officials? Isn't that what equality is supposed to be all about, where no class of citizen enjoys privileges and immunities not extended to all?

How about it? You wouldn't have me arrested, would you?

Please let me know if I have your support.


Sincerely,
David Codrea

* Credit and gratitude to the peerless Col. Jeff Cooper for coining this term.
The response to this excercise of freedom of speech? An investigation by the San Francisco Police Department because the letter was perceived as threatening. David received a phone call from a Inspector Peter Walsh of the SFPD who conducted an interview. Read David's account of whole thing, but these are the parts that I think are important here:
He explained several times that it was just routine to follow up on things like this, that his job was apolitical, and they just have to investigate. I told him I understood that, and hoped he also understood what a chilling effect a police response to political speech created.

He indicated I did not sound like a threat and sounded "intelligent".

I was left with the impression that they were probably not going to put much more energy into it -- although I would be surprised if they haven't checked my background, records and gun purchases, and wouldn't be surprised if a judge didn't consider the circumstances probable cause to tap into my phone and internet. But anyone who is an activist is an automatic target, especially if it's about something that scares the hell out of civil authority (people with guns!!!), and I've felt there's probably a good chance the government has been doing that for some time.

He told me he had also asked the Redondo Beach Police to drop a message off at my home as backup to the message he left on my machine, so to just ignore the message they delivered. We then said our goodbyes.

--

I do find it bizarre that civil authority is so fearful of an armed citizenry that if they feel there is any chance of it happening, their response is to send armed men. It also confirms my opinion of the corrupt gangsters in charge of San Francisco's city government -- ready to use the force of law to advance their agenda, but publicly flout the law when it doesn't.
But of course. They're the government. That puts them above the law.

Friday, February 20, 2004

STOP THE PRESSES!

Fox News reports:
Nader to Jump in Presidential Race

Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate who ran for president in 2000 as a Green Party candidate, will enter the 2004 race for the White House as an independent candidate, advisers told Fox News on Friday.

A formal announcement by Nader is expected this weekend.

"He's felt there is a role for an independent candidate to play," Linda Schade, a spokeswoman for Nader's presidential exploratory committee.
Yeah - spoiler of any hope the Democrats have.

Run Ralphy, RUN!

(Return nose to grindstone, shoulder to wheel, and ear to ground. How am I supposed to get any work done in this position?)
Last One for a While

And it's a doozy! Via Instapundit comes a Reason piece about a recent Arizona gathering of morons racists idiots um.... Oh! Yeah! "White Supremacists." It seems that Arizona was the home of "Aryanfest 2004" (doesn't that sound like a real good time - sheesh!). However, one of the attendees didn't quite get the idea:
Aryanfest's gates opened at noon, and about an hour later, the gathering assemblage gradually hushed as all eyes turned upon the young man who had just paid his entrance fee and was casually perusing the hate-rock compact discs, swastika flags and white power watch caps at Panzerfaust Records' merchandise booth.

He was in his late teens or early 20s, had a shaved head and sported Nazi and white power tattoos on both arms, in addition to wearing the white tee shirt with bold, black script.

He would have fit in just fine, except for one thing: He wasn't white. Not even close. There was at least half a cup of Kahlúa in his cream.
He was also wearing a "WHITE POWER!" T-shirt. Read the whole thing. And the comments. And read the link to the original Phoenix New Times story that covers "Aryanfest 2004" in more detail. (Why does "Aryanfest" make me think of beer in steins and fat men in lederhosen?) Man, those are some sad, sad people.
Well, I'm not Posting Much,

But Ravenwood is, and in his typical brief and wickedly pointed way. Go thus and read. Start with "GOP becoming the Tax and Spend party" on Virginia's "limited government" party wanting to raise taxes more than $2 billion more than their Democrat counterparts, then 1984: NM House approves mandatory car breathalyzer (self-explanatory). Keep working your way down, but monitor your blood pressure. You don't want to blow a major artery.

Now, where did I put my tar and feathers?
Tyranny and Its Fringes

As noted below in Read the Curmudgeon. The Curmudgeon is Wise, I noted that Francis Porretto is writing a series on our government's decay, and what we might do to reverse that trend.

Well, Part VI is now up. Go read.

(Yes, I am posting this at 5:30AM. I need a life.)

Thursday, February 19, 2004

The Only Redeeming Feature of the LATimes - Mike Ramirez

Mike Ramirez is a Pulitzer-prize winning (and one of my favorite) political cartoonist. Here are five of his most recent. You can see why:


Photorealism is so hard, but Mike nails it.


Reason does seem to be AWOL here.


The treatment seems to be working, though.


And I think this is precisely why Kerry shouldn't have a chance to win in November. His position hasn't wavered much since the 70's - the use of force and the American military is, to Kerry, a great evil. His words and his actions since returning from Vietnam demonstrate his unfitness to be Commander in Chief.

And today's pièce de résistance:



That's it from me for a while. I have more work to do than there are hours to get it done in. The economy (at least here) has recovered. Boy, has it recovered!
More on InterOrdnance

Though this will have to be quick. I found this message board thread on InterOrdnance (and other "parts kit" vendors), which indicates that, at best, the people who sell "parts kits" aren't all that reliable. (I wouldn't know, I've never bought one.) But this post was the one that got my attention:
(Subject)ppsh 41 (Author)grandpawoo (Date)8/11/03

I can't believe that so many of you are bitching about the condition of your Inter Ordnance ppsh 41 kits. The real issue is that Inter Ordnance sold us a ppsh 41 parts kit that does NOT meet BATF requirements. How do I know, you might ask? Well on 08/07/03 Agent Brooks Jacobsen of the BATF and his partner showed up at my door step with orders to confiscate it. After showing me all the paper work from BATF as to why they are taking them (none of which made any sense), I was given the option of signing a "Notice of Abandonment of Property" or going to jail. BATF now owns my parts kit and said they would be destroying it (as if all those torch cuts weren't enough), and those cuts aren't enough. Each Inter Ordnance ppsh 41 kit has at least 4 cuts. BATF requires 3 cuts through the receiver. You might note that none of these 4 cuts are through the main receiver. They are through the cooling jacket, barrel (sometimes) and upper receiver. None of these cuts count. Oh, by the way, it gets better. BATF is in the process of inditing
(sic) Inter Ordnance for selling illegal firearms and neither Inter Ordnance nor BATF will reimburse you when your ppsh 41 is taken from you. One last thing. How did BATF get my name and address? They went to Inter Ordnance with a warrant and told them to hand over a copy of all sales invoices for ppsh 41 sales. When agent Jacabsen arrived, the first document he handed me was a copy of the Inter Ordnance invoice. I am one very unhappy former ppsh 41 owner and you need to be very careful.
Then there's this one:
(Subject)ATF and Law Suit (Author)gunwriter (Date)8/26/03

I too got a call from the ATF (at my parents house)... not pleasant... and I ordered the kit for a friend... He wanted some parts and I sold the others off at a gun show ... I may or may not have the torch cut receiver parts... but I think I threw them out. Unfortunately all my firearms related stuff is in storage while I'm stationed overseas...

I'm not too happy with Inter Ordnance... and as for the ATF -- how does a receiver chopped into junk constitute an illegal weapon?
Sounds like InterOrdnance is a very shady business, but did they sell machineguns? Only if you accept the premise that a receiver chopped up with a saw or a torch - just not to the BATFE's exacting specifications - is a "machinegun." For those of you wondering, this is a PPSh 41, the original Soviet "burp-gun":

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Sorry About the Lack of Posting

Work is overwhelming at the moment, and I am running a discussion over at The Fabulous Baker Boys which is growing at about a post a day.

I think I'm winning.

Monday, February 16, 2004

The (Considerably Less Than) Million Moms are Going to Try Again

According to this press release:
On Mother's Day Weekend, Million Mom March Will Gather in DC, Urge Congress to 'Halt the Assault' on Child Safety
Oh, right. Fighting idiotic gun laws is an "assault on child safety." You want to protect children? Teach them how to swim. Keep them away from household chemicals. PUT THEM IN CAR SEATS AND MAKE THEM WEAR SEAT BELTS. Finally, STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM FELONS.
With children at risk in their schools, their playgrounds and their communities, America's mothers and others will gather this Mother's Day weekend, May 8-10, in the shadow of the Capitol in Washington D.C., to demand gun violence solutions, Million Mom March members announced today.
"Demand gun violence solutions" = "Demand sweeping gun bans." Not a solution, but that's what they want.
Concerned citizens, community leaders, gun violence victims, and a coalition of state-based gun safety groups gathered with Million Mom March members in New York today to announce plans for the Mother's Day 2004 Halt the Assault Weekend, May 8-10. The announcement was made outside Martin Luther King Jr. High School, where two students were shot on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in 2002.
What?!? At a gun-free zone?!?
"There are war casualties all around us. We need to stand up and say we've had enough," said Shikha Hamilton, official spokesperson for the Mother's Day March to Halt the Assault. "America's mothers have had enough. We are calling a timeout in the war against the next generation -- our children."
Ms. Hamilton, then I suggest you direct your attention towards the problem of drug trafficking, because that's what's driving the violence that's killing your children.
The Million Mom March, a chapter-based, grassroots organization with thousands of members and many more thousands of supporters (Even they no longer claim anywhere near a million.) throughout the nation, announced the support of Essence Communications Partners and ESSENCE magazine, which have agreed to underwrite some of the event's costs and to reach out aggressively to attract supporters over the next three months.
Really? "Aggressively"? Does that mean junk-mail and dinnertime phone calls? TV propaganda ads? What?
The main element in the Halt the Assault weekend plans announced today is a public gathering at the West Front of the Capitol starting in the late morning of Mother's Day, May 9. Following an interfaith service at the start of the program, a number of speakers and entertainers will fill the afternoon. Informational booths and other visual elements will be scattered throughout the area.
And hopefully the 2nd Amendment Sisters will be there too. Maybe this time they won't be harassed and threatened, and their literature won't be stolen and thrown away by the nice Mommies.
The weekend will be preceded by events throughout America urging rational steps to reduce gun violence through legislation, public education, lobbying (REDUNDANCY ALERT!) and other activities. Locally based chapters of the Million Mom March will hold press conferences and other events in their cities to call attention to the need for action to protect America's children.

Further details of the weekend, as they develop, will be posted on the official Mother's Day March to Halt the Assault Web site, http://www.mmm2004.com.

On Mother's Day 2000, with memories of the horrible events at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado fresh in the public's mind, hundreds of thousands of people gathered on the Mall in Washington D.C. to demand saner gun policies in our country.
Best estimates I have seen give the attendance at something over 100,000. Max. But who are we to dis a good soundbite?
"Since our last march, 120,000 Americans -- almost 14,000 of them children -- have died from gun violence.
Numbers that have declined steadily, year by year, until just recently. But because they can't point to a gun control law (or six) as a cause of this decline, it's not "progress." Never mind that the CDC's study couldn't find any correlation between gun control laws and changes in gun crime statistics.
We are deeply disappointed that Congress hasn't made progress -- and instead is trying to turn back the clock on the progress we've made," said Mary Leigh Blek, president emeritus of the Million Mom March. "We are resolute, and we won't rest until our children are safer."
As I've said, they equate "progress" to "more gun laws." Nothing else. And "safer"? "Safer" than what standard? Don't want your kids dead of gun violence? Move out of the city. That will be your best single thing to do.
The gathering comes at a time of great challenge to responsible gun policies.
"Responsible gun policies" = "more and more restrictions on the right to arms."
Unless Congress acts to renew and strengthen it, the nation's landmark assault weapons ban will expire on September 13 of this year, and AK47s and Uzis will be legal (still are) and easier for criminals to acquire. (They can get them regardless.) Weeks ago, the gun lobby's friends in Congress passed a dreadful law that requires rapid destruction of Brady background check records. (And this was "dreadful" why?) In the coming weeks, those same Congressional allies of the gun lobby will try to pass gun industry immunity that would slam the courthouse doors on gun violence victims and protect reckless gun dealers like Bull's Eye Shooter Supply, the gun dealer that "lost" the assault rifle used by the infamous Washington D.C. area snipers in October of 2002.
This is another of my pet peeves. The lawsuit is also against Bushmaster - the manufacturer of the firearm. How, precisely, is Bushmaster responsible for a gun stolen out of, or even legally sold out of any gunshop? If it can be proven that Bull's Eye illegally sold the weapon, the lawsuit against it is not protected under this legislation, but Bushmaster is. And rightfully so. But you will never hear that from people like this.
"We are all entitled to a life free of gun violence," said ESSENCE magazine's Editor-in-Chief, Diane Weathers.
Like hell you are, Ms. Weathers. Nor are you "entitled" to a life free from cancer, nor a life free from want.

This "entitlement" bullshit really jerks my chain.
"The magazine will work hard to help spread the word that women of every color and every economic background have an opportunity to be a force for positive change. The Million Mom March will unite these women and show the impact they have in saving lives."

As the nation's largest national, non-partisan, chapter-based grassroots organization leading the fight to prevent gun violence, the Million Mom March is dedicated to creating an America free from gun violence, where all Americans are safe at home, at school, at work, and in their communities.

ESSENCE magazine is the preeminent lifestyle magazine for eight million African-American women. The magazine delivers cutting-edge information on careers, money, health, fashion and beauty. Last year, ESSENCE was ranked seventh on Advertising Age's "A-List," which spotlights the best in the magazine industry for the year. This is the first time that an African-American targeted publication received this honor.
I will say that ESSENCE is probably a good forum for this, as the overwhelming majority of both perpetrators of homicide and victims of homicide are the tiny minority of urban black males between the ages of 15 and 35. They are, in fact, suffering from the equivalent of an epidemic of gun violence. But if you're not young, male, urban, and black, your odds of being a victim of gun violence aren't all that much worse than that of any average European. This argues that the problem isn't one of guns, but one of culture - especially as recent black immigrants from African and Carribean nations have about the same risk as the general caucasian population.

Want to end it? Address that problem.

Oh, and stop defending Barbara Lipscomb. At least be consistent on that.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Anybody Know Anything About This?

Seems the BATF has indicted Oliver M. and Ulrich H. Wiegand, owners of InterOrdnance "on 83 counts alleging conspiracy, illegal importation of machineguns, illegal possession and transfer of machineguns, structuring, and money laundering."

Really? Only 83? The ATF press release says:
The charges involve the Wiegand brothers' federally licensed firearms business, Interordnance of America, L.P., located in Monroe, North Carolina, as well as foreign companies located in Witten, Germany and Ferlach, Austria, at one time owned and controlled by the Wiegand brothers.


According to the indictment, Ulrich and Oliver Wiegand are German nationals who established Interordnance of America in June 1995 as a firearms importation business and used the business to illegally import machineguns into the United States as machinegun component parts. According to the indictment, Ulrich and Oliver Wiegand also owned and controlled two foreign companies Wiegand Ordnance GmbH, located in Witten, Germany and Interordnance Waffenhandel GmbH, located in Ferlach, Austria, which were used by Ulrich and Oliver Wiegand to illegally import Russian-made PPSH 41 machinegun component parts into the United States for subsequent sale by Interordnance of America. In addition, the indictment alleges that Ulrich and Oliver Wiegand also illegally imported FN FAL IMBEL and STEYR MP69 machineguns. The indictment alleges that Ulrich and Oliver Wiegand imported the machinegun component parts knowing that the machineguns had not been destroyed according to ATF specifications. Further, the indictment alleges that Ulrich and Oliver Wiegand sold these machineguns as parts kits to customers throughout the United States knowing that the component parts could be assembled as functional machineguns. According to the indictment, Ulrich and Oliver Wiegand, through Interordnance of America, sold over 2000 PPSH 41, over 1000 FN FAL IMBEL and over 500 STEYR MP69 machineguns to customers throughout the United States without conducting any background checks and without recording any ownership registration information with the National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.
So, what they're saying is that some 3500 illegal machineguns are now in circulation? Good job ATF! A two-year investigation! Job security!

I seem to remember something about torch-cut FAL receivers that the BATF was running around trying to collect from people who had purchased parts kits.

Oh, and of course here's another example of asset forfeiture at work:
The indictment includes a Notice of Forfeiture that asks that the defendants be required to forfeit to the United States all of the property involved in the offenses charged in the indictment and all property traceable to such offenses.
Which means, effectively, "everything they own."

InterOrdnance has a response up at their web site. The response is here. Key quote:
Interordnance maintains that its actions regarding the importation and sale of the parts kits were at all times legal and in accordance with BATF regulations. Presently, none of the parts kits are offered by Interordnance pending resolution of the formal charges, even though similar parts kits can be found for legal sale by other firearms dealers.
Problem is, the BATF has such a bad reputation with me that I tend to believe almost anybody over them.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

Dept. of Our Collapsing Schools

Via Clayton Cramer comes this disturbing shocking irritating not unexpected story of the further deliberate distruction of our schools. A sample:
A School Engineered for Failure

The daily life of an educrat is far from uniform. Some of us have no contact with students whatsoever, and create reams of paperwork which apply to children whom we’ve never met. I, on the other hand, am one of the lucky ones who gets to interact with pupils directly for assessments, observations, or group therapy.

It is my role to academically assess, on an annual basis, all of the children at our alternative school. This is due to our kids being exempted from district wide testing based on what I call “The Spicoli Effect.” This refers to their habit of drawing rocket ships on evaluation protocols if left unsupervised in auditoriums.

One-on-one sessions with students are the most rewarding aspects of my vocation. On one occasion, last October, while timing a student completing mathematics problems, the young man suddenly threw his pencil down and rose from his chair, in response to an “all call” from the PA. He walked towards the door after announcing, “I’m going to the tug-o-war.”

I told him to wait a minute. I called up front, and discovered that the whole school, in the midst of academic instruction, was being summoned for festivities in the gym.

What occasion were we celebrating on that day in October? The fall harvest? No, it was yet another in a long line of contrived events, and this one happened to be titled “Wacky Wednesdays.” Bizarre holidays from curriculum have become the rule rather than the exception since our school hired a new principal in 2001.

Old-timers like myself dubbed her “Princess Sparkle.” It is a most appropriate nickname for our leader as it surgically captures her vapidity, lust for attention, lack of seriousness, and ever-present sense of entitlement. No one has ever witnessed her read a book or keep her mouth shut for more than two minutes.
Read the whole thing. Move the breakables first, though.
An Interesting Email Exchange

Ok, so I found it interesting, but I thought you might, too.

When I started The Fabulous Baker Boys, Swen Swenson of Coyote at the Dog Show was the first to comment (and the first to link), and he took exception to my characterization that "rights are whatever the majority says they are." Thus began an email exchange that ran the better part of a week. I asked him about it, and we decided that posting the exchange might be interesting to others, so here it is, my comments in blue, his in grey (and no, I don't mean anything by that color combination.)
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2004 8:53 PM
Subject: RE: A right is what the majority believes it is.

Swen:

Thanks for the link.

Actually, that's the subject of an essay I wrote a while back. I didn't link it at the debate site, but if you'd like to read my reasoning, it's here:

http://smallestminority.blogspot.com/2003_05_11_smallestminority_archive.html#94367045

And you're right - it's a pragmatic view of the idea of rights. Idealism is all well and good, but not all that useful in the real world. Words on paper don't hold the idea - we hold it in our hearts.

A couple of posts above that one is a concise explanation of the idea, supposedly stated by Associate Justice Scalia, though I've never been able to find a definitive citation:

To some degree, a constitutional guarantee is like a commercial loan, you can only get it if, at the time, you don't really need it. The most important, enduring, and stable portions of the Constitution represent such a deep social consensus that one suspects if they were entirely eliminated, very little would change. And the converse is also true. A guarantee may appear in the words of the Constitution, but when the society ceases to possess an abiding belief in it, it has no living effect. Consider the fate of the principle expressed in the Tenth Amendment that the federal government is a government of limited powers. I do not suggest that constitutionalization has no effect in helping the society to preserve allegiance to its fundamental principles. That is the whole purpose of a constitution. But the allegiance comes first and the preservation afterwards.
My purpose in blogging is to help in my small way to keep that abiding belief alive in those who hold it, and rekindle it in those who have let it die out. If we don't do that, once gone getting it back will be a bad, bloody business.

Kevin


Sent: Monday, February 09, 2004 7:34 PM
Subject: Re: A right is what the majority believes it is.

>>Idealism is all well and good, but not all that useful in the real world. Words on paper don't hold the idea - we hold it in our hearts.

And what is it we hold in our hearts if not idealism?

I understand what you are getting at, and I agree with you. But consider -- Encyclopedia.com offers this introduction to its definition of natural rights:
"Natural Rights -- political theory that maintains that an individual enters into society with certain basic rights and that no government can deny these rights." http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/n1/natrlrig.asp

So you see, I really am making a pretty quibbling point. *By definition*, no government or majority of people can deny your natural rights. You still have the right to life, liberty, and happiness, after they've stoned you to death. Cold comfort, I know. I think this is what Heinlein was getting at, that you may *enjoy* only the rights you are willing to fight for, and strong and intelligent enough to fight for successfully. After all, he was espousing the philosophy of a country that had put that philosophy into practice, where only those who had served in the military had full rights.

There would be little need to discuss natural rights, human rights, or whatever, if there weren't a distinct tendency by governments and various other entities to violate those rights. Yes, a majority can vote to violate your rights, just like a brutal dictator can do it on his whim, but in either case it is no less a violation of rights. So perhaps you might better say that you can only *exercise those rights* that a majority agree to.

Here, I think, is the rub: It's well and good to say you have 'certain basic rights', it's not so easy to say what those rights might be, and it is in defining our rights that all the problems arise. The old socialists argued that human rights included the right to a job, food and shelter, and medical care. Tangible things very different from 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'. You'll note that the constitution and amendments are vague throughout about other unenumerated rights held by the states and/or the people. A good part of that was because our constitutional framers couldn't agree on what constituted our rights. Oddly, we've never achieved a consensus since, nor do I expect we ever will.

So yes, pragmatically, our rights are *effectively* whatever a majority agree they are, but to put it quite this way is definitionally and philosophically awkward.

Cheers!

Swen


Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 7:53 PM
Subject: Re: A right is what the majority believes it is.

Swen:

You're right, we're having an argument of philosophy. Do I believe I have an inherent right to be armed? I do. Do I believe I can exercise that right if society does not hold that ideal? I do not.

The problem I've got with many advocates of the right to arms is that they state, forcefully, that the Second Amendment protects an ABSOLUTE right to arms, and screw anybody who thinks otherwise. I hate to tell them, though, it does NOT. A cursory study of the legal history of the Second Amendment pretty much puts paid to that argument. The Second Amendment doesn't protect ANYTHING - only an abiding belief in the right to arms can do that, and that belief has been under attack from long before ratification of the Bill of Rights. The Second Amendment has simply provided a (rather steep) speed bump to the complete denial of the right, but hardly an impregnable barrier.

So to be semantically accurate I would have to say that the right to arms is a natural right, but governments CAN AND DO DENY IT. They can only SUCCESSFULLY deny it when the majority of the population does not hold the ideal in its heart. More accurately, they can only successfully deny it to the HONEST POPULATION when they do not hold the ideal. The criminal and the anarchist will exercise the right at the risk of sanction regardless.

Kevin


Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 11:41 AM
Subject: Re: A right is what the majority believes it is.

>>So to be semantically accurate I would have to say that the right to arms is a natural right, but governments CAN AND DO DENY IT.

No. *By definition* a government can't deny your natural rights. However, governments do frequently *violate* them, hence the term 'human rights violation'.

>>Do I believe I have an inherent right to be armed? I do. Do I believe I can exercise that right if society does not hold that ideal? I do not.

I'd point out that throughout history there have been plenty of people who have exercised their natural rights despite prohibitions by government -- passing out bibles in an Islamic country comes to mind. Those folks know it's against the law, they know they may be caught and punished, or even killed. They also believe that they are answering to a higher authority. Likewise, I suspect there are a lot of folks in places like NYC who exercise their 2nd amendment right and their basic right to self-defense despite their society's denial of that ideal. They know they may be caught and punished, but perhaps their fear of criminals exceeds their fear of the law and they've made a simple, pragmatic decision.

Philosophically, I think you either believe you are 'endowed by your creator with certain unalienable rights' or you don't. If you do believe you have rights that have come from some *higher source* [and it doesn't have to be religious], how could you possibly argue that those rights should be submitted to the review of the unwashed masses? How could you even much care what society thinks? Is it *safe* to ignore society and follow your conscience? Of course not, never has been. But let's not forget the old rub about trading freedom for safety -- you will have neither.

I think I agree that there is no such thing as an absolute right. The right to bear arms should not give you the right to threaten or injure innocent people with them, any more than the right to free speech extends to shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater. [I would argue that the right to bear arms doesn't give you the right to run around like a lunatic playing vigilante either, an activity that seems to draw a lot of applause in some circles.] Bottom line, sometimes it comes down to whether you should follow your own conscience and common sense, or obey a law you know is foolishly, even dangerously wrong.

As in all things, we make our choices and we take our lumps.

Cheers!

Swen


Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 6:55 PM
Subject: Re: A right is what the majority believes it is.

Swen:

Oy, semantics.

Denial vs. violation of natural rights: Um, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, being the portion of the government responsible for ensuring the legal protection of my right to arms, denies that I have one. However, to date the actual violations of my right have been relatively minor. (I live in Arizona, thankfully.)

Exercise of right: Pardon me if I was unclear. Do I believe I can FREELY exercise my right if society does not hold it dear? No, I do not. I exercise it at the risk of prosecution, persecution, or worse, or I don't exercise it at all.

Do I believe that I have an inherent right to arms? Indeed I do. "(H)ow could (I) possibly argue that those rights should be submitted to the review of the unwashed masses?" I'm not arguing that they SHOULD, I'm arguing that they ARE. Fait accompli. I don't have a choice in the matter, being but one voice among the "unwashed masses" that have decided that the right I believe in really isn't what I believe it is. Since the government that supposedly represents them has accepted (or imposed) that view regardless of the written guarantee, and that government has the overwhelming firepower to carry out whatever it wishes (see Waco, TX) then I have but four choices: Follow the law even though I disagree with it; violate the law, but keep a low profile and hope for the best; violate the law openly (ride in the front of the bus) and risk certain incarceration; or violate the law violently and die for my beliefs.

Given those four choices, I VERY MUCH care what the public believes, as I like not being dead or incarcerated.

My remaining options, then are either to live with the status quo, which is ever-dwindling individual rights or to be an activist to try to affect the beliefs of the "unwashed masses" and their representatives in government in order to change the direction we are traveling. I choose option B. I'm not "trading freedom for safety," I'm retaining my freedom so that I can work to recover the ability to freely exercise my inherent rights. The point may come where I decide to choose to violate the law and take my chances, or even violate the law and die for my beliefs, but I am not at either of those points - yet.

Is this helpful?

Kevin


Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2004 10:53 PM
Subject: Re: A right is what the majority believes it is.

Sigh.

I concluded my first email to you: "So yes, pragmatically, our rights are *effectively* whatever a majority agree they are, but to put it quite this way is definitionally and philosophically awkward."

That, and only that was my disagreement with your original post and I believe I said from the first that it was only a minor quibble.

Cheers

Swen


Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2004 6:18 AM
Subject: Re: A right is what the majority believes it is.

Swen:

Yeah, but arguing about it is SO entertaining, isn't it? :-)

Look, my entire point is that if we don't AS A GROUP recognize the reality that we live in a pragmatic world, our view will end up marginalized (as it is most definitely becoming.) That's the reason I wrote that piece - as a wake-up call. Words have meaning, but as our exchange illustrates, unless we all agree on the meanings, any conversation we have will be useless. That's why discussing things with a gun-control proponent is so difficult. We use the same words, but they don't mean the same thing. And in my not-so-humble opinion, they understand that and use it on purpose to achieve their goals. That's why they've dropped "gun CONTROL" and switched to "gun SAFETY". But both terms, in their lexicon, mean "gun ELIMINATION."

The problem is there's not just two groups, us and them. There's three: us, them, and the majority of the pragmatic population that lives somewhere in between. We've got to reach those pragmatists, and spouting idealism - regardless of which side you're on - tends to chase them away. Our side is big on idealism. The gun control groups have learned that pragmatism works. Scare 'em with "assault weapons," "plastic guns," "cop-killer bullets," etc, etc. Doesn't matter whether anything they say is factually accurate, they just have to convince those in the middle that it's a pragmatic thing to do to eliminate the perceived threat.

Anyway, it's been interesting.

Kevin


Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2004 8:12 AM
Subject: Re: A right is what the majority believes it is.

>>Look, my entire point is that if we don't AS A GROUP recognize the reality that we live in a pragmatic world, our view will end up marginalized (as it is most definitely becoming.)

Absolutely. Can't eat all those principles and ideals. [A gripe I have with big 'L' Libertarians. Abolish the IRS indeed.] Although the bottom line I tend to draw is that some things are simply sacred and not to be trifled with -- like the Bill of Rights. That, I'll admit, is rooted in my gut, not my head. It's my gut feeling that you've got to take a stand on something, so it might as well be on principle. *However*, you are absolutely right. Principles are very personal and emotional things, and it's about impossible to get everyone together on what our principles should be. [Or even how we should verbally express them. Gad! Do you suppose the awkward construction of the 2nd amendment was due to similar problems? I bet it was.] Therefore, I'll argue that while we should always be guided by principle, we must act pragmatically.

From a pragmatic point of view though, with the proliferation of 'shall issue' CCWs and even the recent jaw-dropping proposal of Vermont-style carry in Colorado, I'm surprised you'd suggest that we're becoming more marginalized. It would appear to me that, shall we say, 'pragmatic gun rights'* have been on the ascent since CCW passed in Florida [well, okay, there was the little Brady mess in there], and 9/11 has given us an immense boost, sending a wake-up to a lot of people who thought the government could protect us.

*Here I should point out that while pragmatically, CCWs are a great advance in exercising our freedom, idealistically, licensing a natural right is an atrocious idea. For that reason, I'm mightily heartened by the new initiative in Colorado. One might even suggest that, by giving in a little on our ideals, in the form of CCW licensing, we've gotten a foot in the door to get back to a more ideal situation vis bearing arms. Give up a little in the short term to gain a lot more in the long. As you note, given the incrementalism gun banners are so fond of, I personally never would have believed I'd see the day when our congress critters would stand up in a state legislature and legitimately argue that the people should be able to bear arms. !What a concept!

Colorado's new initiative is, I think, a shining example of why it is better not to be too rigidly absolutist and idealistic. In the give and take of politics it is difficult to get anywhere if you won't compromise at all. Unfortunately, the record from the '60s, when GCA '68 was passed, to '80s, when we started making gains again in places like Florida, has been that any compromise on our part meant all give for us and all get for the gun controllers. That, I think, is what makes so many, including myself, so absolutist and unwilling to compromise.

Of course, whether one is willing to compromise depends a good deal on which direction we're moving. When it was 'Oh, it's a perfectly reasonable bit of gun control, give a little will ya?' Compromise started to sound like a dirty word. But now that it's 'The Brady Bill was a useless bit of tomfoolery, give us back that little bit' -- when *we* gain by the compromise, which we seem to be doing on occasion now -- it becomes a whole lot easier.

Bottom line, we've got a long way to go, but I think we're making progress on a number of fronts.

Cheers!

Swen


Sent: Thursday, February 12, 2004 8:12 PM
Subject: Re: A right is what the majority believes it is.

Swen:

Y'know, we should have blogged this.

And I'll retract that "more marginalized" comment. That was true without question up until, possibly, Florida's passage of CCW. There are signs that the pendulum may be starting a backward swing, but I'm going to remain vigilant.

Kevin
So, your thoughts?