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, May 30, 2004

In Memoriam

This reminded me of a M*A*S*H episode - on of the early ones - where Henry Blake told Hawkeye - "The first thing they teach you in command school is that the first rule of war is 'Young Men Die.'"

John Donovan has the story of 2nd Leutenant Leonard Cowherd, one most appropriate for this weekend.

That is all.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, In Conclusion...


I and Tim Lambert, professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of New South Wales, Australia and author of the blog Deltoid, have been having an ongoing discussion over self-defense in the UK starting back in March. The debate began over a news piece that stirred the outrage of those of us Tim calls "gullible gunners." Here's that piece, published in the UK paper, The Scotsman, in its entirety:
Man Who Killed Armed Intruder Jailed Eight Years

By Will Batchelor, PA News

A man who stabbed to death an armed intruder at his home was jailed for eight years today.

Carl Lindsay, 25, answered a knock at his door in Salford, Greater Manchester, to find four men armed with a gun.

When the gang tried to rob him he grabbed a samurai sword and stabbed one of them, 37-year-old Stephen Swindells, four times.

Mr Swindells, of Salford, was later found collapsed in an alley and died in hospital.

Lindsay, of Walkden, was found guilty of manslaughter following a three-week trial at Manchester Crown Court.

He was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment.

After the case, Detective Chief Inspector Sam Haworth said: “Four men, including the victim, had set out purposefully to rob Carl Lindsay and this intent ultimately led to Stephen Swindells’ death.

“I believe the sentences passed today reflect the severity of the circumstances.”

Three other men were charged with robbery and firearms offences in connection with the incident, which took place in February last year.
The reaction of several of us was commented on in Tim's initial post on the subject, Gullible Gunners. Tim commented, in part:
Pro-gunners such as John Lott, Glenn Reynolds and John Derbyshire have written about the Martin case, apparently unaware of the facts that showed that the killing was not in self defence, and proceeded to make bogus claims that self defence was against the law in Britain. Claims which they have never bothered to correct.

--

Now, there are two possible explanations for Lindsay’s conviction:

The jury knew more facts that those which appeared in the brief story and these showed that the killing was not in self defence.

Self defence is illegal in the UK.
The reaction from bloggers was swift and extensive. At the time of writing, Technorati reports 61 blogs linking to the story, all going for explanation 2, none even considering the possibility that the killing was not self defence.
Note that Tim doesn't wonder why 61 out of 61 blogs choose option 2 - to him it's obvious that we're all just "gullible gunners" and there is no prior evidence that would lead us to believe that "self defence is illegal in the UK," this story being only the latest example. No, we're obviously just leaping to conclusions based on our inherent pro-gun bias. (What that bias indicates, I leave to you, the jury.)

Tim noted that further details emerged indicating that perhaps this was not merely a case of self-defense. That, in fact, Carl Lindsay had pursued his attackers into a hallway and had stabbed Stephen Swindells in the back four times, thus prompting the murder charge. Instead, the jury found him guilty of manslaughter for an act of retaliation against the men robbing him.

I was one of those who posted on the story. In my piece I said:
The Next Time Someone Tells You that Self-Defense isn't Illegal in the UK, (for all intents and purposes,)...
And pointed to the Scotsman story. I then added, after the additional details were brought out:
However, were you a reader of this story - provided without nuance - would you not draw the conclusion that defending yourself against attack is legally risky?

That's my point - the general public in the UK is actively discouraged from self-defense, in fear of prosecution.

"You can't protect yourself! You're not qualified!"
The following week Tim posted his first piece, and I began the debate with him in the comments to that piece.

In response to that initial post by Tim I made this point:
[T]here have been numerous cases of the British courts charging people for defending themselves. The law there seems to be one based on "proportional response" - e.g., stabbing someone who isn't armed with a weapon is "excessive force." So is bashing them over the head with a brick. There are many of these cases, and they've lead us to the conclusion that private citizens in Britain had best not resist attack, or face prosecution for usurping the authority of the State in its monopoly on the legitimate use of force. My primary objection to the news story was that it reinforces that conclusion. If you are a reader of that story, ignorant as to the details, in combination with all the other similar stories of people prosecuted after defending themselves, the message is "don't resist, you'll go to jail."
In a later comment, I added:
You object to our near unanimous conclusion that "self defense in the UK is illegal," poo-pooing it as "gullible," but for all practical purposes that assertion is true. Stories like the Scotsman piece reinforce that understanding. All it said was (in abbreviated form) "One man attacked by four. One of the four had a gun. Man defended himself with a sword, killing one of the four. Defender sentenced to eight years." When faced by four attackers, one armed with a firearm, it seems the "instinctive" reaction the government wants is for the victim to curl into a ball and surrender. Any other action is deemed "antisocial," apparently.
Tim and I (and others) continued this debate over the course of the next couple of months. Tim posted a follow-on piece, Gullible Gunners, Again in response to my comments in which he states:
Baker continued to insist that self defence was illegal in practice in the UK. His argument was that England’s “laws concerning weapons make self-defense, for all intents and purposes, a lost cause”. His argument is badly wrong for two reasons.
1. Using a weapon is not the only way to defend yourself.

2. If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed.
My response was a post of my own. Tim responded in the comments of Gullible Gunners, Again, where he said:
As far as I can tell, American pro-gunners are constantly on the lookout for news stories about how terrible things are in the UK. So far they have found a total of exactly zero cases where someone has genuinely acted in self-defence and been convicted of (or even prosecuted for) a crime. That's zero. But you seem to think that it happens all the time.
and
Next we come to your bizarre misreading of my statement:
"If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed."
You claimed that I was somehow saying that "Honest citizens should never use a weapon in self defense" even though I wasn't and insisted that was the only possible meaning even though I had written nothing the slightest bit even remotely like that. Consider two scenarios:
1. Attacker has a gun. Defender does not.

2. Attacker does not have a gun. Defender doesn't either.
Self defence is possible in the second scenario while it isn't in the first one. Is that clear now?
One of my commenters, Sarah, rephrased Tim's statement thus:
If the law disarms citizens, then it can make self defence impossible where it would have been possible if the citizen was armed.
That about covers that.

I responded here. You can see this exchange has been quite involved. (I doubt many people have bothered to read this far, though I'm sure this post will draw some comments. If you really have struggled through to read to this point, please, let me know.)

Tim then posted his third piece, Gullible Gunners, Part 3 on May 4. In that piece he states:
He (that would be me) has “spent a considerable amount of time trying to do archive research through UK online newspapers for stories on self defense”, and found not one story where someone was prosecuted for defending themselves. So where do we stand here? Despite strenous efforts, we have not one case where the British courts have charged someone for defending themselves. All we have is two cases (Lindsay and Martin) where the killing was not self-defence, but were presented by pro-gunners to make it look like it was.
Now, if you've taken the hour or two necessary to slog through this entire discussion; links, comments, etc., to this point, I applaud you. There are probably forty-thousand words or more to this point, and we rambled on over a fairly wide variety of topics. But it all comes down to the original point: Is self defense in the UK legal in practice? I've already noted that it is legal by statute, but I have held that prosecution of what appears to we "gullible gunners" open-and-shut cases of self defense in fact proves that the State does not uphold the idea that violence in self defense is acceptable. Tim claims that I have found "not one story where someone was prosecuted for defending themselves," "...we have not one case where the British courts have charged someone for defending themselves."

There's that tricky semantics question again. Just what constitutes "prosecution for self defense?" I imagine Tim's definition is considerably more strict than mine. I did, in fact, point to this story in which a wheelchair-bound man used teargas to defend himself against a mugger. Teargas is considered an "offensive weapon" in the UK and is illegal (for a subject) to possess. The man was charged for possession of the teargas, but not, apparently, for using it. Was he "prosecuted for self defense"? I think so. Tim probably would not. I think that New York resident Ronald Dixon was "prosecuted for self defense" when he was charged with having an unlicensed firearm after he used that firearm in self defense. I think that Cook County Illinois showed decency and good sense when it chose NOT to prosecute Hale DeMar for the same "crime" when he used his handgun in self defense.

Now, consider those two American cases. In both, the home of the gun owner was invaded by a man. The owner did not know if the invader was armed, but in both cases the owner used deadly force against the intruder. In neither case was the owner charged for the use of deadly force, but only risked prosecution for having a weapon he was not legally entitled to have. It was patently obvious to the investigators that an intruder was in the home, and it was patently obvious that the homeowner had the right to use lethal force against the intruder. In both cases the intruder could have died. Contrast that to the case of Thomas O'Connor, a 63 year-old nearly blind man whose home was invaded by a 23 year-old man who broke the front door in, knocking it off the hinges and out of its frame. Mr. O'Connor grabbed a knife and stabbed the invader, giving him a fatal wound. Mr. O'Connor then suffered through a seven week murder investigation before the Crown decided not to prosecute because - and I quote - "[I]t is not believed we would be able to disprove a case of self defence against [this man]."

Still, it seems from Tim's writing that if I could come up with just one example of the government prosecuting someone for an obvious case of self defense, I would prove my point that government discourages the act of self defense by making it legally risky to do so. I promised that I would do more research and respond.

Well, I have, and this is it. (Hell of a prologue, no?)

First, let me go back again to the comments in Tim's posts. A couple of cases were brought up that Tim decided were at best inconclusive. The first was the case of Mark Barnsley, and second was that of Satpal (or Saptal, depending) Ram. Tim didn't comment on the Mark Barnsley case, but concluded based on this page that the Ram case couldn't be self defense because Mr. Ram had apparently also stabbed someone in the back. It's been said that on the internet anyone can write anything, so I'm not exactly certain why that one page makes Mr. Ram's claims of self-defense invalid. According to this Guardian article Mr. Ram was supposedly assaulted by a man using a broken glass as a weapon. His crime was apparently not backing down and being a good (read "meek") subject in the face of racism. Mr. Ram defended himself against attack, got a lousy lawyer, and received a life sentence. Hmm... So which version is true? You be the jury.

The case of Mark Barnsley seems less ambivalent to me. He was attacked by a group of as many as 15 drunken college students, and defended himself while receiving a severe beating. He, according to the story, picked up a knife dropped by one of his attackers and hung onto it during the attack to keep from having it used against him. Some of his attackers received wounds. Mr. Barnsley was the only person charged. What's the truth? I don't know, but I know what it looks like from what I've been able to read. I'll leave it to those interested to do the research for themselves, and again be the jury.

I've spent quite a few hours scouring the various UK newspaper online versions for stories of self defense. I have reached one fairly strong conclusion - either it doesn't happen much in the UK, or the papers simply won't report it unless it's a spectacular case. However, if someone is severely injured or killed, it is apparent to me that the Crown will file a charge unless, as it was in the case of Mr. O'Connor, it is blindingly obvious (no pun intended) that they cannot disprove self defense.

I said early on that self defense was legally risky in the UK because by exercising your right you run the very real risk of being prosecuted. That legal risk has a chilling effect on the exercise of the purported right. So let's look at a couple of examples I found.

First, there's the 2002 case of Barry-Lee Hastings, who was cleared of a murder charge, but convicted in a 10-2 jury decision of manslaughter and sent to jail for five years. (Tony Martin was found guilty of murder in a 10-2 jury decision as well.) This case has very much in common with the one that started all of this. Mr. Hastings, visiting the home of his estranged wife, found one Roger Williams burglarizing the home. Mr. Hastings, unaware that his wife and children were not at home, grabbed a bread knife from the kitchen and attempted to intervene in the belief that the burglar was armed with a machete and that his wife and children were at risk. Mr. Williams was stabbed 12 times - in the back - and died of his wounds. Here's what the prosecutor said:
"The law recognises a man is entitled to defend himself, his family and his property - only if his action does not go beyond the reasonable and the necessary.

"There is no doubt Mr Hastings stumbled across a burglary. There is no doubt that Roger Williams was a thoroughly bad hat in the eyes of the law.

"But, none the less, as a human being he is just as entitled to the freedom to live as anyone else. We argue that in this case, alas, this man overstepped the mark and went some distance beyond that."
But here's what the law says, as provided to me by Tim Lambert:
Section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 provides that a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime, and the question of reasonableness is subject to the amplifications contained in such cases as R v McInnes and R v Palmer. It has been held that "if a jury thought that in a moment of unexpected anguish a person attacked had only done what he honestly and instinctively thought was necessary, that would be most potent evidence that only reasonable defensive action had been taken." Normally only reasonable force is acceptable but if in the unexpected anguish of the moment excessive force is used it may still be acceptable, if the defendant honestly and instinctively believed it was necessary. It has been long established (prior to either the Criminal Law Act 1967 s 3 or AIDS) that a woman may take the life of a man attempting to rape her, though she may not generally carry a weapon to achieve this.
A fact that renders the right to use lethal force essentially meaningless, but I digress.
When a defendant deliberately used a lock knife he had opened prior to an incident, and stabbed an assailant after the defendant had received a single blow to the face, it was held that this could not possibly be reasonable.

On the other hand, if a plea of self-defence is raised when the defendant had acted under a mistake as to the facts, he must be judged according to his mistaken belief of the facts regardless of whether, viewed objectively, his mistake was reasonable. So where a policeman shot dead a man who was unarmed and had already surrendered he was still entitled to claim his action was self-defence if he honestly believed this to be the situation. The test is whether his action was reasonable in the situation as he perceived it, rather than as it actually was.
Note, it's apparently OK for cops to shoot people they believe to be armed, but not for people to stab - in the back - people they believe to be a danger. Now, contrast this case to the Hale DeMar and Ronald Dixon cases. In both of those cases the homeowner shot the intruder - a definite use of lethal force - yet neither was charged with attempted homicide or excessive use of force or anything having to do with the woundings. It was, to Americans, an absolute case of righteous self defense. In the case of Mr. Hastings, he believed that his wife and children were at home and at risk, and he attacked to protect them. Yes, the burglar was stabbed in the back. So? If you're grappling with an attacker with a knife in your hand, where is the blade going to go? Mr. Hastings' lawyer said:
"We are shocked by the verdict. The evidence clearly showed that Barry-Lee Hastings acted in self-defence. Most people will recognise that the verdict today represents an appalling miscarriage of justice and flies in the face of common sense."
Apparently he's another "gullible gunner."

Then there's this case from 2000 in which a homeowner beat the snot out of a burglar wth a baseball bat.
A judge yesterday reignited the debate over the law on self-defence by asserting that a householder who repeatedly beat a burglar with a metal baseball bat had been using "reasonable force".

David Summers, 21, a drug addict, suffered a broken wrist, fractured elbow, cracked ribs and a cracked skull. He had broken into the Peterborough home of Lee Gapper, 20, and his lodger George Goodayle, 21, both self-employed builders.

--

Mr Gapper and Mr Goodayle were arrested by Cambridgeshire police and held for 12 hours. The crown prosecution service decided not to bring charges against them.

Last week the Tory leader, William Hague, said the law on self-defence should be changed to give greater protection to people who were forced to defend their homes against intruders. He was accused of trying to exploit public outrage at the murder conviction of the Norfolk farmer Tony Martin, who shot dead a teenage burglar.
Gee, ya THINK? Still, they weren't actually charged.

And there's this case from 2003 in which an evil rich capitalist company director was charged with manslaughter in the death of a burglar. Acting as temporary night watchman, one Steven Parkin intervened in an attempt to steal a truck from his business, using a pickaxe handle and, supposedly, a knife with which he slashed the man across the back of the knee. However,
Judge Richard Pollard directed the jury to return a verdict of not guilty after a pathologist told the court he could not rule out the possibility death was caused by an accident.
Sounds like Mr. Parkin dodged a bullet, so to speak. But he was definitely charged and tried.

Still, there's other good news. In this case homeowner John Lambert (any relation?) was cleared by a jury in a case where he stabbed a burglar to death. Apparently this time the burglar wasn't stabbed in the back. Still, Mr. Lambert was held for two days before being released on bail prior to the inquiry that found his action to be defensive. I'd find that idea chilling - that for defending my wife and home I had to spend two nights in jail.

But this is all so confusing, isn't it? Well, this BBC piece from January 2003 says yes:
MP calls self-defence laws unclear

A Norfolk MP has said people are not sure what they are allowed to do to protect themselves and their property from burglars.

Henry Bellingham, a Conservative representing north west Norfolk, told the Commons the law should be made clear.

He said: "If lawyers, safe in their offices, can't work out what is right how can the householder be expected to weigh up the pros and cons in the middle of a violent struggle in the dark?
Damned good question. It goes right to the heart of that "reasonableness" argument, doesn't it? And the question of what you believe even if your belief is wrong.
People who believe they or their family are in imminent danger are allowed to use "reasonable force" to defend themselves but cases are examined individually and a decision to prosecute is based upon the circumstances.
And those decisions appear to be somewhat random and capricious. Not something you want associated with the law when your life and your freedom are in question.
One of Mr Bellingham's constituents is farmer Tony Martin, who was jailed for shooting dead a teenage burglar.
It would appear that Mr. Martin's case stirred up a hornet's nest of controversy concerning self defense in the UK.

So, have I found that one case that proves my point? I think so, and it just so happens to come from the very same paper that started all of this, The Scotsman:
Man Who Stabbed Blood-Soaked Cocaine Addict Jailed

By Simon Baker, PA News

A 23-year-old man was jailed for five years today for stabbing to death a cocaine-addled and blood-soaked intruder who terrified a group of friends after he smashed his way into a flat.

Brett Osborn knifed Wayne Halling five times in the back after the 30-year-old burst into the property in Romford, east London, following a drug-fuelled rampage on August 24 last year.

Mr Halling – a cocaine addict who had taken a massive dose of the drug – had already caused himself around 90 separate injuries by smashing the windows and doors of several other houses on Regarth Avenue.

Woolwich Crown Court heard that the huge cocaine dose had made him numb to pain and had also pushed him into a paranoid search for his girlfriend, who lived with him on the same street, but who was away on holiday.

Osborn, who had also taken a small amount of cocaine and had been drinking, told police that he stabbed Halling to protect himself and those at the flat, including a pregnant woman.

Mr Halling, who was “streaming with blood”, had already smashed his way into the maisonette once but had been kicked out by a friend of Osborn.

After the stabbing, paramedics were were unable to save Mr Halling and he was declared dead on arrival at hospital.

Osborn, of Upminster, east London, denied any wrong-doing on the grounds of self-defence, but then at a court hearing earlier this week admitted manslaughter by reason of provocation.

Judge Shirley Anwyl QC said that she accepted that Halling could have been perceived to be “dangerous to others”.

But she added: “With hindsight it is clear that Halling was presenting no real danger to anyone but himself.
Hindsight. It's always 20/20, isn't it? But that's not what the law is supposed to be based on, is it?
“By your plea you have accepted that you intended real serious injury. Your use of violence was not wholly unpremeditated in that you did equip yourself with at least one knife.

She added: “I am in no doubt about your genuine remorse and your appreciation of the appalling effect that the killing of Halling has and continues to have on his relatives and friends.”

The court heard that Osborn is already serving a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence handed down earlier this month at Grimsby Crown Court for his part in a benefit fraud conspiracy.
Not "unpremeditated" because he picked up a knife.

Mr. O'Connor "picked up a knife" and he didn't get charged. Mr. Lambert "picked up a knife" and he didn't get charged. But Carl Lindsay picked up a knife and got a manslaughter conviction. It appears that Osborne, like Satpal Ram, had a lousy lawyer.

That's not the only version of the story. There's one on the London Times site, but I'm not paying £10 to get it. There's also this version from The Telegraph:
Five years in prison for acting in self-defence

By Alasdair Palmer
(Filed: 09/05/2004)


On the night of August Bank Holiday 2003, at about 11.30, Brett Osborn, a 23-year-old casual labourer, killed Wayne Halling, a stranger who had forced himself into the house where Osborn and four friends were watching television over a drink.

When Halling entered the house he was covered in blood and was in a frenzy. He seemed impervious to pain and was suffering from drug-induced delusions. He had been smashing the windows of other houses in the street with his fists and head, giving himself more than 90 wounds - his wrist was cut to the bone and he had sliced half through one of his toes.

By the time he arrived at 19 Regarth Avenue, Romford - where Osborn was sitting with his friends - he was, as every witness who was interviewed stated, a "terrifying sight".

He got in because one of Osborn's companions, Kelly Hinds, had heard the commotion and gone outside. The drug-crazed Halling took her for "Emma", the girlfriend who, he screamed, had "set him up". Miss Hinds recalled that he "grabbed me and pushed me against a parked car. I immediately got blood from him on my top. I managed to push him away".

Halling pursued her back to the house. Miss Hinds managed to get inside but, even with the help of her pregnant sister, Jodie, was unable to close the door against his weight or stop him from pushing his way in. He staggered along the corridor, smearing the walls with blood. Jodie Hinds screamed "He's in the house! He's in the house!" and Jay Westbrook, her boyfriend, struggled with him, knocking him down. But he got up again and kept going.

Osborn recalls: "There is blood everywhere, things are flying everywhere, the girls are screaming hysterically. I just don't know what to do. Then he starts coming towards me." In fear and confusion, Osborn picked up a steak knife with a 6in serrated blade that he says was on the floor.

He would later tell the police: "I didn't know what he was going to do to me." Also, knowing that Jodie Hinds was pregnant, he was terrified of what might happen if she were attacked. "He came towards me, sort of grabbed me," says Osborn, "and I lunged, and stabbed him that was the only thing I could think to do. It was just the panic. He's mad, he's crazy, he's just smashed up three houses, attacked people, beaten up my friend. I didn't know what was going to happen. There's blood all over him. The only thing I could think of was to protect myself and the other people in the house."

Halling fell to the floor. Police and an ambulance then arrived: there had been several calls to the emergency services, but because of fights in Romford as the pubs closed, officers had been slow to get to the scene.

The wounded intruder refused to let paramedics treat him. He fought them off until he was handcuffed by the police. PC Joanne Allan recalls that she had "never witnessed anything like this in my life. I was terrified, as I had no idea what was happening". She even considered using her CS spray to control the struggling man, who was lunging and striking out wildly. Sergeant Paul Darham, the second police officer on the scene, agreed that "the scene of blood and a male shouting and behaving irrationally was extremely distressing and frightening".

The "irrational male" was bundled into the ambulance but died on the way to hospital. Brett Osborn had stabbed him five times. Three of those stab wounds were superficial, barely breaking the skin. But one had punctured his assailant's lung. It was this injury that killed him.

An autopsy revealed that Halling had taken a massive dose of cocaine - it may have been in the form of "crack" - that night. It was the cocaine that had caused his delusions and made him impervious to pain.

There could be little doubt that Brett Osborn had not planned to kill Halling, or even that he never intended to do so. Halling was unknown to him until he had forced his way into 19 Regarth Avenue. He stabbed him because he feared for his own life and the safety of his friends. Yet, astonishingly, the Crown Prosecution Service decided to prosecute Osborn for murder - a crime that carries a minimum sentence of life imprisonment.

"The law," explains Harry Potter, the barrister who, with Charles Bott, would defend Osborn, "does not require the intention to kill for a prosecution for murder to succeed. All that is required is an intention to cause serious bodily harm. That intention can be fleeting and momentary. But if it is there in any form at all for just a second - that is, if the blow you struck was deliberate rather than accidental - you can be guilty of murder and spend the rest of your life in prison.

"Moreover," Mr Potter continues, "while self-defence is a complete defence to a charge of murder, the Court of Appeal has ruled that if the force you use is not judged to have been reasonable - if a jury, that is, decides it was disproportionate - then you are guilty of murder. A conviction for murder automatically triggers the mandatory life sentence. There are no exceptions."


The legal situation was explained to Osborn by his defence team. Mr Bott and Mr Potter advised him that although they thought it very unlikely that any jury would reject his plea that he had stabbed Halling in self-defence, they could not, in all honesty, claim that it was a certainty. There was a small chance that a jury might decide that his use of the knife was "disproportionate". The jurors would then be bound, under the law, to convict him of murder.
And remember, they don't need a unanimous jury decision in the UK anymore.
It was explained to Osborn that he could avoid that risk only if he elected to plead guilty to manslaughter as a result of provocation. He would then probably be sentenced to a maximum of three years. His defence team did not advise him to take that option: they merely set out the alternatives in front of him.
Osborn decided that he could not face the risk of life imprisonment. "You see it in the paper," Osborn has said, "that bloke Tony Martin who shot the kid who was burgling his house. He went to prison for years. I didn't want to waste my life because [Halling] burst through the door. Why did he have to ruin my life?"

Tony Martin was convicted of murder after a jury rejected his claim that he had acted in self-defence when he shot dead a burglar who had broken into his isolated farm house. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Appeal Court decided to quash his conviction for murder and substitute one for manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibility. Martin, who was jailed in April 2000, was freed in July 2003.

Osborn chose to plead guilty to manslaughter through provocation. He did not, however, receive a three-year sentence. At his sentencing hearing on April 21 at Woolwich Crown Court, Judge Shirley Anwyl decided that he should serve five years. He is now in Belmarsh Prison.

"We couldn't believe it," Denise Osborn, Brett's mother, told The Telegraph. "Brett has never been violent. He has never been involved in any kind of violent behaviour at all before this. He has a conviction for benefit fraud, but nothing to do with any kind of violence. He was devastated at being the cause of another man's death. It is a terrible thing for him. He never meant to kill anyone. To treat him like a rapist or someone who coldly sets out to kill another human being is just so unfair and wrong."

Osborn's barristers are appealing to get his sentence reduced. They believe that the Court of Appeal's judgment in the Hastings case - Barry Hastings was convicted of manslaughter after killing an intruder and had his sentence cut from five years to three on appeal - demonstrates that the most Osborn should have received for his plea of manslaughter was three years.

Malcolm Starr, a friend and supporter of Tony Martin, said: "This case shows that it is not so much that the law needs changing but rather that some common sense should be applied. Anyone attacked in their own home should be given the benefit of the doubt whatever the circumstances.

"People have a choice whether to break into someone's home and frighten them to death. How you would react to that happening to you is something you won't know until it happens to you."

The dead man's family, however, insist that Halling was "unarmed" when he was stabbed. They are wanting Osborn's sentence increased. They also point to the fact that Osborn, while he handed the police the knife he used to stab Halling on the night of the crime, did not admit to having used it himself immediately. He did so only at a later police interview.

They also say that Osborn's claim that he stabbed Halling in the course of a struggle is not substantiated by the location of his stab wounds, which were to Halling's back, not to the front of his body. In his interview with the police, officers asked Osborn if he had "warned" Halling that he had a knife and would stab him if he did not desist. Osborn had to admit that he had not warned him.

"That is just ridiculous," says Mrs Osborn. "A man behaving like a lunatic, covered in blood, is coming towards him, and my son is supposed calmly to warn him that he might be stabbed if he attacks?"

The determination of the dead man's family to see Osborn punished may have been what persuaded the CPS to take the decision to prosecute Brett Osborn for murder. "I think the law is contemptible," says Mrs Osborn. "How can it be right to put my son in jail for defending himself and killing someone by accident? That law has to be changed. There's got to be a recognition that when you did the kind of thing Brett did, you are not a murderer and you don't deserve to rot in jail. People have got to realise that it could happen to anyone. It could be you.

"For us, the whole thing has just been a nightmare. I keep hoping I will wake up and Brett will walk in through the door of my home. But he won't. He's in prison and he won't be released for years. It is so wrong."
I'm certain Tim will point to the fact that Halling was stabbed in the back as indication that it wasn't self defense. I'm sorry, Tim, but I disagree. If I'm defending others from a blood-drenched maniac, I'm not going to give a shit whether I stab the guy in the back or in the chest. Or if I shoot him, which side the bullets go in. It's defense of self or others. It's the legitimate use of violence to stop a crime. It's justified, and this is part and parcel of what we see coming out of the UK, and what residents there see just as well - just another example of the fact that self defense there is actively discouraged, regardless of the written law. Had Mr. Halling been shot by an armed police officer in the same situation, I have absolutely no doubt that the officer would have been exonerated. Instead, Brett Osborne - convinced by his attorney to plead, just as Satpal Ram was convinced by his attorney to not to claim self defense - gets to spend five years in prison for doing the right thing.

And you know what I didn't find in all that research? A single case of successful self defense that didn't involve some sort of weapon.

But I found a lot of crimes committed by bad guys with knives, guns, and even a handgrenade.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I rest my case. What say you?

Friday, May 28, 2004

"This is highly unusual for this neighborhood."

I would certainly hope so.

In another example of "just when you thought humans couldn't sink any lower," it seems that three children in Baltimore were killed yesterday. One was beheaded, the other two nearly so. The victims were: 9-year-old Ricardo Espinoza; his 9-year-old sister, Lucero Quezada; and their 10-year-old cousin, Alexis Quezada, a boy. Two have been arrested in the murders: Adan Espinosa Canela, 17; and Policarpio Espinosa, 22, according to this AP story.

Baltimore, (home of Johns Hopkins and its Center for Gun Policy and Research) has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation. What? Is it something in the water?
I Still Want to See Him Defeated, But...

Senator John McCain, co-author of the McCain-Feingold violation of the First Amendment Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, has been promoted as Vice-Presidential material for the Kerry campaign. Apparently the Senator was on Conan O'Brien's show last night. When asked if he was considering running for VP, Senator McCain responded (and I paraphrase):
You know, I spent several years as a Prisoner of War in Vietnam, in the dark, eating scraps. Why would I want to do that again?
I don't care for John McCain, but I've got to admit that was very funny.

John Nance Garner, the 32nd V.P., serving from 1933-1941 under FDR (replaced by Henry A. Wallace), is famously quoted as saying,
The vice presidency isn't worth a pitcher of warm spit.
I'm not sure if he said that before or after being replaced by Wallace, but I'd imagine Al Gore would agree with him. Wallace might too, since he was replaced by Truman.

I doubt Truman would agree, though.

Garner also said (of FDR), "(he) is the most destructive man in all American history." Which would explain why he was replaced with Wallace. Not that I think Garner was necessarily wrong in his opinion.
Read Today's Bleat

James's screed starting about a third of the way down the page is very much worth your time.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Favorite John Wayne Movie?

The Laughing Wolf asks this question. His are Hatari and Big Jake.

If you're a gun guy, you're just about required to like John Wayne movies.

I like both of the Wolf's choices, though my nod goes to Big Jake out of the two.

I think my favorite is a tossup between True Grit, Rooster Cogburn, and The Shootist. I literally cannot choose between them. And Big Jake is certainly first runner-up.

Bet Your Ass That "Radically Overhauled" Does Not Mean "Repealed"


It seems that the Brits, in that land of gun control utopia, have decided that their gun laws just aren't quite up to snuff.
Gun legislation 'faces overhaul'

The UK's gun laws are to be radically overhauled under proposals announced by the Home Office.

It has launched a comprehensive review of legislation in a consultation paper.

A total of £2m worth of criminals' recovered assets will be spent on helping communities tackle gun crime and gun culture.
"Let's see... We've made all semi-automatic long guns illegal, we've made all handguns illegal, we require draconian measures for subjects to legally possess what little is left over, we've managed to reduce the total number of people holding firearm certificates each and every year for the last decade at least. But it hasn't reduced firearm involved crime at all? In fact, firearm involved crime has only gone up?

"What shall we do now, in the face of this apparent failure of policy?

"I know! Let's do it some more, ONLY HARDER!"

And I see they're using asset forfeiture over there as well. I wonder if the English at least need a conviction first?
However, the government has ruled out a wholesale ban on imitation firearms, saying it was too difficult to find a legal definition for replicas.

Home Office figures showed that firearm offences in England and Wales have risen from 13,874 in 1998-99 to 24,070 in 2002-03.
And what kind of levels were they at in the 1950's when this crap really got started?
The number of recorded crimes involving imitation weapons has tripled from 566 to 1,815 during that period.
Leaving, let's see... carry the one... 22,255 recorded firearm offenses that didn't involve imitation weapons, more than 92%!

And bear in mind, the problem with the Brocock guns that got them banned was that they were converted to fire live ammo - making them REAL firearms, just like a zipgun is a REAL firearm.
The consultation paper, published on Wednesday, said: "It has proved difficult to find a workable legal definition of an imitation firearm and we do not believe that the level of effort required by agencies to administer additional restrictions is offset by public safety gains."
It would seem apparent that the "level of effort required" to collect and destroy all the legally registered semi-auto rifles and shotguns in 1988, and all the legally registered handguns in 1996 was not offset by "public safety gains" now wouldn't it?
Home Office minister Caroline Flint said: "I can't envisage a wholesale ban on imitation and replica firearms".
Well, Minister, I'd say that in your job that indicates a failure of imagination not shared by many of your peers.
She added that the UK's complex firearms legislation needed to be re-examined.

"We need to prevent guns getting into the wrong hands while allowing legitimate shooters to pursue their sport without danger to public safety".
That's refreshing to hear! At least a decade too late, though, don't you think?
A further £250,000 would be given to small community organisations tackling gun crime, "which blights too many of our neighbourhoods", Ms Flint said.

There was "a huge will across the country to make our streets safer", she added.

"The active engagement of communities is vital to tackle gun crime."
Kind of a shock to find that stripping the legal gun owners didn't just clear the problem right up, eh?
Routinely armed

A report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), also published on Wednesday, calls for greater national co-ordination between police forces to prevent gun crime.

Assistant Inspector of Constabulary Tim Hollis said: "There is statistical evidence that firearms incidents are increasing, and we should not be complacent."

The report praises police officers skill and professionalism in resolving firearms incidents.
Yes, like the incident where they killed the unarmed naked man, and the one where they killed the poor guy bringing home a table leg in a plastic bag.

I'm not going to be too harsh on them. Cops are in a bad spot when it comes to defending themselves against possibly armed opponents. They are introduced into situations where they don't know what exactly is going on or who the bad guy might be. But this is not the situation for most armed citizens. When faced with a threat, it's pretty damned apparent who the bad guys are.
But Mr Hollis added: "We do not believe that the police should be routinely armed.

"Of greater importance is the level of experience, training and knowledge of police officers and recognition of the fact that the deployment of armed officers is only a partial - albeit important - part of the solution."
Meanwhile, I expect incidents in which unarmed officers are threatened or shot to rise.
Mr Hollis added: "We were encouraged to find that at the local level a number of forces had developed positive initiatives to combat gun crime."

Ms Flint said the HMIC report was "timely and helpful".

"Specialist teams such as Operation Trident have shown that expertise gets results, not just in bringing criminals to justice but in challenging gun culture and actually preventing violence in the first place," she added.
Yet firearm involved crime continues to rise, requiring a "radical overhaul" of existing gun laws, right?

The philosophy CANNOT BE WRONG! Do it again. Only harder.

Sheesh.
"You just described a legal activity???"

Fellow blogger Jason Hartney of Fish or Man has had a run-in with the cops for carrying openly in Ellensburg, Washington. Seems a teller at the bank inside the grocery store was frightened by Jason's .45 carried - openly - tucked inside his waistband. I'd link to the original post, but go to the top of the page and work your way down to the one titled Small town life, big time brainwashed. Scroll up from there. There are several related posts.

Other than being perhaps a bit confrontational to the responding officer, I find nothing wrong with Mr. Hartney's behavior.
Have You Seen These?

I ran across this news. A fellow IHMSA shooter, Lee Jackson from Kentucky got burglarized. A bunch of his guns got stolen. Here's the link to everything.

Here's a list:
Remington XP-100 7BR Pistol built by Kevin Randolph. Rear grip HS Precision stock in gloss metallic black. 15" fluted barrel. Jewell trigger. Model 700 bolt handle.
Serial Number: B7518883

BF 7US, single shot, falling block action, 10 3/4" barrel, electroless nickel finish. Burris 10x intermediate eye relief scope was on gun when stolen.
Serial Number: 12020015

BF 22 LR, single shot falling block action, 10 3/4" barrel, electroless nickel finish. ISGW front and rear sights.
Serial Number: 07000029

Freedom Arms 41 Magnum Revolver. Hooded adjustable front sight. 10 1/2" barrel.
Serial Number: JF051

Freedom Arms 22 LR Revolver. Hooded front blade sight. 10 1/2" barrel.
Serial Number: G-PP-243

Anschutz Exemplar 22 LR. 5 shot clip fed, bolt action. 10" barrel. ISGW front and rear sights. Lansing flip up hood.
Serial Number: 1327790P

Browning Buckmark 5.5" Target. Thumb rest grip.
Serial Number: 515MZ17523

Thompson Center Contender ( TC ) blue frame. TC Rynite grip, Pachmyar forend. Had a Bullberry Stainless match 15" 22 LR barrel and Tasco 6x Pro Class 30mm scope on it.
Serial Number: 429581

Marlin Model 336 30/30 caliber lever action rifle with a Burris 3-9X scope.
Serial Number: 1800792

Remington Model 700 22/250 caliber Varmint Synthetic stock, stainless fluted barrel with Tasco 6-24X Varmint Scope.
Serial Number: 56271295

Colt AR-15 Model MT-6601, heavy barrel target rifle.
Serial Number: CMH036571


Keep your eyes open, would you? This really sucks.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

OK, ONE More Tonight

It's another one of those blog memes. What's your workspace look like?

James Lileks started it. Kim du Toit showed us his (so to speak.) Well, here's mine, taken with my el cheapo Largan Chameleon Mega camera.

That's my loading bench off to the left there with my single-stage Lee Challenger press and my Dillon Square-Deal B. In the back corner is the stock for my M48 Yugoslavian Mauser. Not seen further off to the left is my reloading component cabinet where I keep my powder, primers, loaded ammo, range bag, etc. All the bullets, my scales, powder measure & other stuff are in the bench itself. The kiddie gate keeps my grandkids out of the drawers. They got into them once.

Once.

It took me awhile to sort out all the different bullets by caliber, weight, and style.

This is in what should be the breakfast area of my house. The shot is taken from the kitchen. I had all my computer and reloading stuff in a spare bedroom, but after my daughter moved home with the grandkids, no spare bedrooms anymore!

They've moved out again, but my wife is providing daycare for the kids, so one bedroom is my grandson's and the other is my granddaughter's.

And I am relegated to the breakfast area.

But it works.
This One's a Must-Read

Via Ipse Dixit comes this excellent piece. A taste:
A Movie Not Made

Let's imagine it's November, 1944. Allied troops are bogged down in Northern Europe and Italy. A film maker, disgusted by the progress of the war in Europe, American war strategy ("Europe first") and American culture in general decides to make a movie to "speak truth to power" and counteract the propaganda coming from Hollywood.

Let's call his movie Celsius 127, a scathing documentary suggesting that President Roosevelt lied about keeping America out of the European conflict and withheld vital intelligence from commanders in Hawaii in order that the Japanese attack would be all the more devastating. With that, he could do what he always wanted to do: commit American troops and America's fortune against Germany.

Celsius 127 would relentlessly focus on every shortcoming of the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Corps. It would show that American troops were ill-trained, ill-equipped and ill-supplied, slaughtered in pointless attacks, guilty of atrocities against unarmed enemy troops that surrendered.
This piece makes the point perfectly that in this war, as in every war, bad things happen. How you see it is very much up to the people who produce our media.

Cathy Siepp has a related piece up on NRO that should also be read (via Instapundit). Hers is about the upcoming A&E movie Ike: Countdown to D-Day and its co-executive producer Lionel Chetwynd. Money quote:
Now in his early 60s, Chetwynd is a longtime naturalized American citizen who was born in England and raised in Montreal. He'd remembered from Canadian regimental history that of the 4,400-odd Canadians sent to Dieppe, about 3,600 were killed. Although they knew it was basically a suicide mission, not one man failed to report for duty. Chetwynd asked one of the old soldiers in his regiment, Sgt. Gordon Betts, why.

"My generation had to figure out what we were ready to die for," Chetwynd recalled Betts telling him. "You kids don't even know what to live for."

Many years later, when Chetwynd was a successful Hollywood writer specializing in historical dramas, he told the Dieppe story during a Malibu dinner party — as a sort of tribute to the men who died there so people could sit around debating politics at Malibu dinner parties. One of the guests was a network head who asked Chetwynd to come in and pitch the story.

"So I went in," Chetwynd told me, "and someone there said, 'So these bloodthirsty generals sent these men to a certain death?'

"And I said, 'Well, they weren't bloodthirsty; they wept. But how else were we to know how Hitler could be toppled from Europe?' And she said, 'Well, who's the enemy?' I said, 'Hitler. The Nazis.' And she said, 'Oh, no, no, no. I mean, who's the real enemy?'"

"It was the first time I realized," Chetwynd continued, "that for many people evil such as Nazism can only be understood as a cipher for evil within ourselves. They've become so persuaded of the essential ugliness of our society and its military, that to tell a war story is to tell the story of evil people."
These people are not only producing our entertainment, they are producing our news.

Each evening on CNN we're seeing - if not to the same intensity - Michael Moore's Farenheit 9/11. It's in the New York Times, the AP, Reuters, ABCNBCCBSMSNBCPBS et al. People in the news media wants us to lose, and they report the news in such a way as to convince us, as they did in Vietnam, that we cannot win. That we cannot define "winning." That there is nothing good going on in Iraq. In early February there was a piece on ABC's news blog The Note that I saved for posterity. From it comes this:
Like every other institution, the Washington and political press corps operate with a good number of biases and predilections.

They include, but are not limited to, a near-universal shared sense that liberal political positions on social issues like gun control, homosexuality, abortion, and religion are the default, while more conservative positions are "conservative positions."

They include a belief that government is a mechanism to solve the nation's problems; that more taxes on corporations and the wealthy are good ways to cut the deficit and raise money for social spending and don't have a negative affect on economic growth; and that emotional examples of suffering (provided by unions or consumer groups) are good ways to illustrate economic statistic stories.

More systematically, the press believes that fluid narratives in coverage are better than static storylines; that new things are more interesting than old things; that close races are preferable to loose ones; and that incumbents are destined for dethroning, somehow.

The press, by and large, does not accept President Bush's justifications for the Iraq war -- in any of its WMD, imminent threat, or evil-doer formulations. It does not understand how educated, sensible people could possibly be wary of multilateral institutions or friendly, sophisticated European allies.

It does not accept the proposition that the Bush tax cuts helped the economy by stimulating summer spending.

It remains fixated on the unemployment rate.

It believes President Bush is "walking a fine line" with regards to the gay marriage issue, choosing between "tolerance" and his "right-wing base."

It still has a hard time understanding how, despite the drumbeat of conservative grass-top complaints about overspending and deficits, President Bush's base remains extremely and loyally devoted to him -- and it looks for every opportunity to find cracks in that base.
They're not looking to find cracks in the base, they're out there with hammers and chisels. And it's not just the Washington press corps. If you believe, as I do, that political cartoonists reflect the general attitude of the press, go read the daily political cartoons on Slate, like this one, or this one, or this one, or this one. I find this one particularly disgusting.

Trust me, there are plenty more.

Now they're hooking up jackhammers.

I've said it before, our opponent cannot win. But we can beat ourselves. And our media is hellbent, for whatever reason, to see that we do. If the media in 1943 had the same attitude it has now, we'd have lost WWII. This conflict is no less important. Are we destined, as a nation, to die with a whimper? Are we what the Russians accused us of, what the jihadis accuse us of? Weak-willed, soft, corrupt and unwilling to fight?

What the fuck happened to us?

UPDATE 5/27: Ann Coulter has a related piece up, Tit for Tet. Recommended.
Today's Entry

The Blogger Quiz:

1. Which political party do you typically agree with? Haven't found one yet.

2. Which political party do you typically vote for? Republican

3. List the last five presidents that you voted for? Reagan, G.H.W. Bush, G.W. Bush. (I first voted in 1980.)

4. Which party do you think is smarter about the economy? Libertarian

5. Which party do you think is smarter about domestic affairs? Republican, except recently.

6. Do you think we should keep our troops in Iraq or pull them out? We'd better stay. We need to pull out the media, though.

7. Who, or what country, do you think is most responsible for 9/11? Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden.

8. Do you think we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Haven't been paying attention? We have found WMD. Just not in massive quantities. The contents of that one artillery shell could have killed everybody in the Superdome. (Hey we're having a two-for-one sale at Saddam's House of WMD's! Two Sarin shells for the price of one! C'mon down! Have title to your camel? One Al Qaeda pay stub? We can finance! The first five customers get a Mustard Gas shell free!)

9. Yes or no, should the U.S. legalize marijuana? Yes. And most other illicit substances. It won't make everything wonderful, it will cause numerous different problems, it won't get Big Government out of our lives, but it's NOT THE BUSINESS OF GOVERNMENT to protect us from ourselves.

10. Do you think the Republicans stole the last Presidental election? No. They kept the Democrats from doing it. Changing the rules in the middle of the contest is WRONG.

11. Do you think Bill Clinton should have been impeached because of what he did with Monica Lewinski? Bill wasn't impeached for playing hide the salami with Lewinski, he was impeached for lying under oath. And he should have been convicted. But that would have put Gore in the Big Chair - a frightening thought in itself.

12. Do you think Hillary Clinton would make a good President? Not even of her local Rotary Club.

13. Name a current Democrat who would make a great President: Not great, but I think Zell Miller would be a good one.

14. Name a current Republican who would make a great President: I don't see one. I like Ron Paul but I often get the impression that he's too much idealist and not enough pragmatist. I'd like to see Condaleeza Rice run in 2008, though. I think she'd be a good President.

15. Do you think that women should have the right to have an abortion? First trimester, yes. After that, for reasons of medical necessity only. This is based on my belief - and that's all it is, my belief - that prior to the second trimester the fetus is not yet a person with attendant rights. Sometime between the end of the first trimester and the beginning of the third, the fetus becomes a person with all attendant rights, but a minor over whom the mother has descretion. The "bright line" for me is twelve weeks. (Don't write letters. I'm not interested in debating abortion. I have enough on my hands debating gun rights.)

16. What religion are you? None. I consider the concept of a Supreme Being, Creator of the Universe, being interested in the activities of we puny humans and able to be swayed by our prayers one of the more ludicrous I've ever been presented. If there is a God, I doubt seriously he gives a s*!t about what we do.

17. Have you read the Bible all the way through? Nope. Nor the Torah, nor the Q'uran, nor the Bhagvad Gita, nor... Well, you get the idea.

18. What's your favorite book? The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert Anson Heinlein.

19. Who is your favorite band? Probably The Eagles. I don't really have a "favorite," but I do have all of the Eagles albums.

20. Who do you think you'll vote for president in the next election? Bush, so long as no new gun control laws are signed. Particularly a renewal of the AWB.

21. What website did you see this on first? Kim du Toit's.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Blog Hiatus

Glenn was discussing blog burnout the other day. Can't say I'm really burned out, per se, but I'm so damned busy I come home too damned tired to be all that enthusiastic about posting.

I'm going to take a short break. Expect, at most, a post or so a day for a few days.

My apologies, but I need some time off.

Oh, and I added Number 2 Pencil to my blogroll. Kimberly Swygert posts on education topics, and has a blogroll of her own of education blogs. Since I tend to do a lot of "Our Collapsing Schools" posts, hers is a good blog to reference.
¡Muy Ocupado!

Sorry, all. Didn't post much over the weekend. I ran my monthly IHMSA match on Saturday, and got to meet one of my readers who was at the range for Hunter Safety class. Sunday we had a picnic to celebrate my daughter's 25th birthday. Yesterday I did a day trip to Nacozari, Mexico. We left at 5:00AM and got back at 5:45 PM.

I didn't feel much like posting last night.

I see I got a few hits from my entry into this week's Best of Me Symphony. Interestingly, my entry, Bias? What Bias? from last August is again topical, since Glenn Reynolds, Steven Den Beste, and James Rummel (among others, I'm sure) have current pieces up on media bias.

I must be prescient. I sent my entry in early last week.

Anyway, I'm ¡muy occupado! (very busy) and won't be posting again until this evening, but first, a little gun pr0n:

My next purchase:

That's the Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 25 Mountain Gun in .45 Long Colt. The specs are:

Capacity: 6 Rounds
Barrel Length: 4" Tapered
Front Sight: Black Ramp
Rear Sight: Adjustable Black
Grip: Cocobolo
Trigger: .312"
Hammer: .400"
External Safety: N/A
Frame: Large
Finish: Blue
Overall length: 9 1/2"
Material: Carbon Steel
Weight Empty: 39.5 ounces

There's an excellent review (with more pictures) here. (Via Boone Country.)

I've had a serious jones for a model 25 in .45LC for a long time. Many years ago, Lew Horton Distributing had S&W make a special run of model 25-5's with a 5" tapered barrel. Lew Horton has done many short-run custom order S&W's, like the more recent M24-3, 3" barreled Model 24 in .44 Special from 1983, but the 5" barreled Model 25 always struck me as the most beautiful revolver I'd ever seen or shot. Five inches is, IMHO the optimum barrel length for a big-bore revolver for handiness and velocity, and the .45LC is a cartridge that should be loaded with lead and not jacketed bullets. Well, I can't find a 5" model 25, but this short Performance Center run of 4" guns is a damned close second.

I had planned to order one a couple of weeks ago. We've paid off our bills and we had some surplus. I was sure I could convince the wife that we could afford the nearly $700 price tag.

Unfortunately, when I came home that very afternoon, I found a bill in the mail from the IRS. Seems that when I did our taxes in 2002 I managed to miss a 1099 we got from a local casino when my wife won $2,500. I remember her win. I certainly forgot the 1099.

The bill was $711.

Damn!

Saving my pennies now.

That piece will be mine!

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Another Important Piece

Not written by me. While I essentially take the weekend off for personal reasons, the Geek with a .45 - now happily established in Freedom House in Pennsylvania, having escaped New Jersey - has penned an important piece. In some ways it's an adjunct to Bill Whittle's, referenced immediately below.

Some excerpts:
Make no mistake. The presidential election of 2004 is not like any other presidential election, at least in my lifetime. It is a coming watershed. I do not believe it to be hyperbole to state that the future shape of Liberty and the Republic will be decided THIS YEAR.

Unfortunately, the stakes are asymmetrical, and I don't believe that this dynamic is well understood by all of our community.

While a Bush victory will not open the glorious floodgates of a much longed for Constitutional Restoration, a Kerry victory will put that out of reach for at least a generation.

Two full, consecutive generations who are strangers to undiluted Liberty establish a precedent that will be unbreakable, absent a miracle.

--

Here is what CAN happen, without violating any axioms of electoral dynamics:

We can get back to the business of being Americans.

In order to do that, we have to finally and fully exit from our Great Digression to the Left. America has harvested every gainful thing to be had from that field; the rest is all weeds and skunk cabbage.

We can defeat Kerry.

If we defeat Kerry, we deal the Leftist infestation of the Democratic Party a great blow, and perhaps even sweep the leftists off the national stage. The Democrats will then have the opportunity to go into a healing remission, hopefully to return as something recognizable as American. It might take more than defeating Kerry to do this, but it's not going to happen without a Kerry defeat.

--

We know what the end goal is. 200 years ago, some really smart guys, leveraged the rock solid political philosophy of Locke to hammer out a structure that leaves room for everyone to pursue their lives, liberty, and happiness.

It's based on libertarian principles of limited and enumerated powers granted to government, with all other rights, privileges, and immunities reserved. With the rotting corpse of slavery dripping all over everything, it's never really been properly implemented, but by God, it's worth doing, or die trying. It is the work of a lifetime, of generations; it is our Pyramid; our gift to humanity. It remains to be the best and brightest hope for everyone, and we owe it to all that is or will ever be to give it our very best shot.

There's a lot of work to do, and no particular map to follow:

-The statists must be defeated, or all is lost and stillborn
-The judiciary must be reigned in and reformed, judicial doctrines foreign to the text of the Constitution must be repudiated and replaced with the Presumption of Liberty
-The electorate must be reintroduced to American civic virtues and principles, to do that, we must recapture public education from the collectivists.
-Public spending must be brought under real control: the government must get out of the retirement planning and health insurance business.
-The hydra of the IRS must be brought to heel.
-Our foreign enemies must be soundly defeated, in the case of Jihadist Islam, and held at bay, as in the case of China.
-The UN must be neutralized, marginalized, and preferably dismantled.

The list is daunting and mighty, but if Kerry wins, there's no chance of ANY of that happening.
Give it a read. It's not as long as Strength, but it's as critical to understand the importance of the upcoming election as it is to understand the importance of our war against Wahabist Islam.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

I Step Away from the Computer for a Few Minutes...

And Bill Whittle posts his latest magnum opus: STRENGTH.

I have printed out all 30 pages so that I may sit and absorb it as it should be.

Now, Mr. Whittle, if you'd be so kind as to get Silent America published so I can get my Christmas shopping done early this year?

(Edited to add:)

Son. Of. A. Bitch.

I just sat and read the piece. About four pages into it I felt the need to read it out loud.

It demands to be read out loud.

On television. On radio. On street corners.

In auditoriums on college campuses and in high schools.

In Madison Square Garden before a capacity crowd.

In Carnegie Hall.

Before Parliament, by Tony Blair.

Before a joint session of Congress. By the author.

And it needs to be translated into the languages of the Middle East and read over loudspeakers there, instead of the call to prayer.

Bill Whittle goes to eleven.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Dept. of Our Collapsing Schools: Unintended Consequences Div.

(Via Connie)
Teachers Helped Students Cheat on Standardized Tests in California

LOS ANGELES (AP) - At least 75 California teachers helped students cheat on standardized exams since a new testing program began five years ago, according to a newspaper report citing state documents.

Incidents include teachers who gave hints by drawing on the blackboard or leaving posters on the wall, told students the right answers and changed the students' responses themselves, the Los Angeles Times reported, referring to documents obtained through a Public Records Act request.
Hmm. The LA Dogtrainer.

Well, I guess it's possible that even after holding Gray Davis's skirts and slinging mud at Arnold "The Actor" Schwarzenegger, they might still have one or two investigative reporters who actually understand the job. It is, after all, possible that they could find their own asses without a map.
The teachers were among more than 200 investigated in California for possible cheating since a statewide exam program began five years ago.

State education officials say the numbers of proven cases are small in a state with more than 200,000 teachers.
Yes, the number of proven cases. But what's the criteria under which "cheating" is established?
Some educators said temptation to cheat soared under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which can take away funding or reassign teachers in schools with consistently low test scores.
Yes, the Law of Unintended Consequences again raises its ugly head.

And, of course, it's all Bush's fault.

Except the investigations began five years ago, after a STATE exam program began. "No Child Left Behind" was signed on January 8, 2002, just over two years ago.

And anyway, Kerry says NCLB is failing because, like every other government social program, it's "underfunded."
So far the state has intervened at 56 schools with poor scores, shaking up staffs. The federal government has warned 11 California campuses that they could lose funding or face other sanctions.

"Some people feel that they need to boost test scores by hook or by crook," said Larry Ward of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, a watchdog group that has criticized many standardized tests. "The more pressure, the more some people take the unethical option."
After all, what are "ethics?" Who's to say one morality is superior to another? What matters is how the teachers feeeeeel, right? And if they're OK with it, how dare we judge? We might affect their self-esteem!
Union officials said cases of possible cheating soared after the statewide testing began. Since 1999, the California Teachers Association has defended more than 100 teachers accused of cheating, compared to one or two a year before that, chief counsel Beverly Tucker said.

In some cases, the teachers were allowed to stay; others were fired or resigned, the newspaper said.

California allows districts to determine punishments, and most districts, citing privacy, do not disclose those decisions. State officials say they can't afford to do much checking up on districts.
What do you want to bet they get reassigned to other schools in the district, or are shuffled off to other districts with a glowing recommendation?

Where they get to remain bad teachers.

UPDATE, 5/23: Tom of Center Digit posted yesterday a link to the original LA Times piece on the scandal minor blip on the radar screen. Money quotes:
One cheater whispered answers in students' ears as they took the exam. Another photocopied test booklets so students would know vocabulary words in advance. Another erased score sheets marked with the wrong answers and substituted correct ones.

--

"It's serious," (Beverly Tucker, California Teachers Assn. chief counsel for 16 years) said. "And I can understand there might be cases where dismissal is warranted because of a blatant violation…. Teachers really are supposed to model appropriate behavior for children."
(Gee, ya THINK?)
In 2001, the state flagged test results for five Bakersfield classrooms with a lot of erasures. District officials concluded that three teachers had coached students to change answers.

Marvin Jones, director of research and evaluation for the district, said the teachers' explanations included not understanding the rules, "everybody does it" and "I was trying to help the students do what I knew the students can do."

The teachers were not fired — partly because "we have unions to deal with," he said.
Deer. Bad. Need To Shoot.

Unbillable Hours has a funny-as-hell accounting of an "Informed Landowner's Meeting" he recently attended. Just a taste:
The population of deer in New Jersey is something like 200+ deer per square mile, which is particularly bad if they happen to live in your square mile. Deer, to some, are nice and pretty and such, but to me they’re nothing more than long-legged rodents with good PR. In that regard, they’re not that different from Kate Moss. However, if you’ve hit a deer while driving – say, hypothetically, of course, a 1998 Mercury Sable at 75 miles per hour – down Route 520 at 11:00 at night, you look at deer as a serious, oh-my-god-an-antler-almost-went-through-my-head problem. And you’ll be filled with hate, which, as we all know, is good.
Read The Whole Thing. It's a classic.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

AAAAAGGGHH! My EYES! My EYES!

Damn you, puppyblender!

Finally, Someone Explained it so I can Understand!

There are a lot of folks who can't understand how we came to have an oil shortage here in America. Well, there's a very simple answer....

Nobody bothered to check the oil. We just didn't know we were getting low.


The reason for that is purely geographical.

All our oil is in Alaska, Texas, California, and
Oklahoma....

All our dipsticks are in Washington, DC.
Who? Him? He's Harmless.

TheHighRoad.org contributor Jim March applied to be on ComedyCentral's upcoming program The Debate Show. Probably not a bright idea, but I appreciate his effort. His application is public, and available here. Well written.

He was accepted. He completed taping yesterday. He wasn't the only gun rights supporter "used," apparently:
This was a total SHAM!!! This is from the person that I know who went, I feel for him and Jim.

I thought the Debate Show (MTV Tv Production - I was interviewed and selected as a knowledgeable member of the gun community) would be an opportunity for me to support our side in protecting the Second Amendment. But, instead I was a set up for a comedy routine. I spent most of the day preparing. They stood me in the audience as if I were an audience member and asked me "what do you find interesting about shooting?". I answered that it is a zenish experience, timing the release of the trigger with the aiming of the firearm, that its fun and isnt an olympic sport for nothing. One of the panelists was an a**wipe commedian and proceeded to show how i proved guns were just an extension of guys penis's. He had a penis pump that he brought out and asked one of the panelists if he'd agree to give up his guns in exchange for the penis pump. He reduced our gun rights to a penis pump.

Basically i was the set up for HIS joke. I spent all f***king day prepping for this opportunity to debate about gun control and they reduced it to a joke. I walked off the set and demanded a car to take me home. that, or have the balls to put me back on. they didn't - i left...

f**kers all. hollywood can suck my barrel!.... they consider themselves so liberal, so passionate, yet they are a bunch of money hungry, dishonest sh**s!

Pass along that the "Debate Show" is a bunch of liberal sh**ts setting up honest gun owners for their own comedic purposes. Dont be shy, they weren't. They tried to humiliate a member of our community. F'her the little lying biatch.
(Emphasis mine, otherwise unedited.)

Here's what Jim had to say:
I just finally got home by train, walked in the door 20 minutes ago.

I am absolutely furious. It was far worse than what 50 Shooter posted already.

I'm working on a full report right now. First I have to start googling the clowns that were on this turd.

Another thing: this was NEVER presented to me as destined for Comedy Central. This thread is literally the first time I've heard that. Which explains one HELL of a lot.

Oh MAN have they screwed with the wrong dude here.

Grrrrrr.

--

The single biggest idiot was this...well, obviously professional actor, who supposedly had a psychology degree and was involved in "treating" people with "gun afflictions" by dealing with their underlying "sexuality issues". Ya. I knew things had gone WAY south once I realized this bizarre gadget he'd just handed me was something I'd vaguely heard of but never seen. A penis pump. Swear to God.

Anyways. This same moron was also a "hunting advocate". 'Cept he didn't like guns. So he advocated "manly hunting". With rocks. Cut to video of three morons in camo wandering through the woods annoying various furred/feathered critters with thrown rocks.

Ok, so by the end of this bizarre crap as the closing credits are rolling, he pulls out a fairly big rock and holds it in a throwing position, growling and snarling at me, and making pathetic throwing motions.

I came *this* close to pulling a knife on his dumbass. Had my hand all the way in my pocket. Paused there, thought better of it.
Read the whole HighRoad thread.

I find it FASCINATING that gun-haters consider gun owners to be dangerous borderline homicidal maniacs, but have no fear that ridiculing and provoking a gun-rights supporter in this way will result in a "postal experience" with blood painting the walls. Their blood.

Even going so far as to (jokingly) threaten to attack one with a rock, after provoking him.

No, they are perfectly safe goading us, and they know it.

But I'd vote to acquit.

The Death of Rights

Francis Porretto wrote an essay a couple of days ago that included these pertinent quotes:
One of the strongest arguments for conservatism about the law -- that is, for extreme caution in legal enactments, including the revision of laws by judicial pronouncement -- is the Law of Unintended Consequences. A legal change that makes something permitted, compulsory, or prohibited cannot guarantee that the results will be desirable.

--

Property is one of the great binding threads of a free society. All freedom is founded on the institution of private property. No other right -- not even the right to life -- is safe if property rights are not respected. Yet the thread frays ever closer to breaking completely.
I ran across this story via The England Project a couple of days ago:
Homeowners would be forced to rent out properties that have stood empty for more than six months under proposals unveiled today.

Under an amendment to the housing bill, tabled by Labour backbencher David Kidney MP, councils would be able to take over such properties, restore them to a decent standard and rent them out at an affordable rate. The council could claim its costs back and give the rest to the owner.

Some 750,000 homes are standing empty in the UK at any one time. Mr Kidney's plans would cover the 300,000 homes left unoccupied for more than six months. He claimed that the government was sympathetic to the plan.
There's a lot more, but that's the basics. So, what you see here is government considering passage of laws that violate property rights with no consideration for the Unintended Consequences.

Then today I found this piece by Tim Worstall, an expatriate Brit who happens to own one of those vacant properties back in England. Tim says:
Just had the local council inspecting my place in the UK as well. They're insisting on various upgrades, some of which are not technically feasible without a complete redesign of the interior. For which I probably won't be able to get listed buildings consent from the other side of the same council.

Two that really stand out. Interior walls must be 10 cm thick so as to be fireproof. Um, most of Bath is built with 4 inch ashlar : so they are actually proposing that internal walls should be thicker than external. Morons.

--

The one that really got me : after they serve an enforcement order it will be a criminal offense for me to provide less than 5,000 cm2 of work space in the kitchen. Seriously, a criminal offense.
I am, once again, reminded of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged:
There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system!
Steven Den Beste asked a couple of questions a few days ago, concerning the continuing creep of the EU:
Can Europe avoid this nightmare? Do there exist people there who recognize the peril and who still are willing to work to prevent it?
I responded that certainly there were people who recognized the perils, but there weren't enough of them to stop the process. This seems to me to be blindingly apparent. This latest violation of English property rights is but one more sad example of the death of rights that is spreading not only in Europe, but here as well, as our putative "servants" in government decide that they own everything - including us - and merely allow us to use it, so long as we pay our taxes and don't violate their ever-changing rules.

No wonder they want to disarm us.

UPDATE: Ian Murray of The Edge of England's Sword posts on the proposed legislation. The comments are interesting, too.
The Next Big Stupid Lie

Clayton Cramer has the scoop: Apparently Bush is responsible for keeping the Air Force grounded on 9/11 so they were unable to intercept the four airliners.

Reynolds Aluminum must be working overtime making foil for the moonbats.

(Use the Heavy Duty foil, shiny side out, three layers. It works best if you wrap your entire head and seal it at the neck with duct tape.)

Sheesh.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Last Stand of the Woodstock Nation

Interesting piece on politics and the loyal opposition "the other side" over at Roger L. Simon (hat tip Instapundit - Read Cathy Siepp's piece, too.) The title of this post comes from a line in the comments, to wit:
The 2004 election is the last stand of (the) Woodstock Nation, and its Baby Boomers are determined to fight to the death. But their shrill, grating, and mindless nature of their attacks will only prove self-destructive in the end and hastern [sic] their demise.
Read the piece, it's worth it, but that comment really caught my attention.

Last stand of the Woodstock Nation, indeed.
Gotta Watch This One!

Small Town Country Girl has an EXCELLENT piece up on the government's various Wars and the fact that they cost a LOT in taxes.

(Also via The Carnival. Read the Carnival. Much good stuff.)
No More Loyal Opposition

Dustbury has an interesting post up that touches on my Item 32 in 40 Things About Me and This Blog in his The next-to-last Democrat. Dustbury's piece was inspired by Emperor Misha, not me, but I thought the coincidence was interesting, and it's a good read.

(Found via the Carnival of the Vanities #87, hosted by Dispatches from the Culture Wars this week.)
More Torricelling of Kerry

Via Dodd of Ipse Dixit comes this NYTimes (!) piece lambasting the presumptive Democrat nominee:
ith the election season moving into full swing as Americans start thinking about their summer travel plans, it's sadly predictable that politicians will try to curry favor with voters by playing silly blame games and proposing simplistic quick fixes for rising gasoline prices, which are averaging more than $2 a gallon. A case in point is the demand made yesterday by 20 Senate Democrats that the government release as much as 60 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve over the next two months.

--

Experts estimate that at most, turning on the spigot now would knock only a few cents off a gallon.

Senator John Kerry, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, knows this, of course, and he demeans the seriousness of his own candidacy when he suggests that President Bush could single-handedly bring down fuel costs. Senator Kerry has urged the administration to stop buying oil for the reserve, as if that would make a difference.

--

Rather than pretending that there are facile switch-flipping fixes, Senator Kerry should be talking about bolstering conservation efforts and fuel economy standards, and encouraging new investment in refining capacity.
Why shouldn't Kerry recommend "switch-flipping" when he's already so good at "flip-flopping?"

When the NYTimes starts whacking the Democrat's Golden Boy, he's in serious trouble.

Here are two quotes from the piece that I found particularly interesting, given the source:
The real culprit behind rising energy costs is the roaring demand from growing economies, especially China's and the United States', though the volatile situation in the Middle East does seem to add a risk premium.

--

In the meantime, we all need to keep the shrill hyperbole about "record high" oil prices in perspective. A barrel of oil now costs more than $40, but when adjusted for inflation, that price is less alarming. During past spikes, oil has cost well over twice that amount in today's dollars. Yes, high fuel costs could ultimately endanger the economic recovery, but there is no reason to believe that they will do so at this level.
Let's see, the American economy is "growing" and producing "roaring demand,"; oil has, in the past, cost twice as much as it does now; there is no reason to believe that current high oil prices will endanger our economic recovery.

Why is this not front-page news, but instead buried in the opinion section?