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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 30, 2005

RIP, Airboss.

I received a sad email this morning from Connie du Toit. Steve Harod, otherwise known as Airboss, has died of a heart attack. I only met Steve and his wife Elaine once, when I visited Kim & Connie for the Sept. 11 memorial at their home, but Steve was an interesting and intelligent guy. He often sent links around to us gunbloggers that he found interesting, and I suggested to him once that he ought to have his own blog. His response:
Most of you know each other, all of you know me.
I don't have a blog, couldn't write one if I had it.
I do have guns/ammunition and a willingness to stand with you all.
Can't write, can shoot
Stephen E. Herod
AKA"Airboss"
That's Steve.

Jim at Smoke on the Water has an excellent eulogy up. He knew Stephen much better than I. Go read.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Another Carnival of Cordite!.

And I remembered to send in a submission this time!

Go, go. I'll be here when you get back.

Serenity!.

For any of you gun-nuts out there who haven't seen the cruelly short-lived Fox sci-fi series Firefly - let me recommend that you spend the necessary thirty-five bucks and pick up the entire thing on DVD. WELL worth the time & money. I don't know why Fox had a bug up its bum, but it did everything it could, apparently, to make sure Firefly didn't get an audience.

Well, it sure as hell developed one after cancellation. I bought the DVD set on the strength of recommendations from posters at AR15.com, and it's great! Great writing, great acting, great guns and great shootouts.

So now there's a feature film coming out in September that I will be lining up for, and if you have Apple's Quicktime installed, you can watch a helluva trailer for the film.

I just hope they bring it back to TV. I can't wait.

Troll Gigging.

I get so few trolls here that I think other bloggers are taking pity on me and are now offering me theirs. Gunscribe from From The Heartland wrote a post on the recently concluded Operation Falcon back on tax Buy a Gun Day that I found interesting enough to leave a comment on. The whole post is good, but this is the money quote:
The most suprising statistic is that with all of the drugs that were found and arrests that were made, especially among the gang bangers and homicide warrants, there was only 243 firearms seized. This is in no way making light of the hard work that these dedicated men and women performed, they did their jobs with the utmost professionalism. It would seem however that based on the terrible information that the Brady Bunch and the Million Commie Mommies have been promulgating for years that there should have been more guns recovered.

Sarah where were the guns
We have been led to believe for years that guns need to be controlled, registered and/or banned to keep them from the hands of the criminal elite. Well last week an untold number of America'a dedicated Law Enforcement elite from all over the country engaged the enemy and only two percent of the criminals had guns. Even that number may be misleading in that more than one or even multiple firearms may have been seized from one location.

It would seem that the mythical "Gunshow Loop hole" is not what it is cracked up to be.
The comment I left:
Don't you see? This just proves that "nobody needs a concealed weapon" because only 2% of criminals have guns!

Trust me, the "million commie mommies," the VPC, et al. can find some way to twist the facts to fit.
Gunscribe replied, but there was a troll! (Anonymous, of course.)
Despite your assertion that only "Commies" would question the wisdom of unregulated firearms, I have to question some of your claims here.

The fact that one manhunt resulted in a relatively small amount of firearms does not mean that only 2% of criminals have guns, nor that gun control is unnecessary. The data here is far too limited to make a conclusion like that. It also doesn't take into account any firearms the apprehended may have had elsewhere or in the past.

Since there ARE gun control regulations in place, currently, if you DO choose to consider the results of Operation Falcon indicitive of gun issues as a whole, it isn't much of a reach to say that maybe gun control is working.

The "gun show loop hole," for instance; of course it isn't what it's cracked up to be- it doesn't exist anymore. There's been gun control legislation passed to eliminate it. Maybe that helps to explain the low number of guns found during Operation Falcon.

Between 1993 and 2001, the average annual number of "violent victimizations" involving firearms was 847,000. You can check this with the U.S. Department of Justice- it's from their statistics. I'm curious who it is providing information that makes the DoJ's look "terrible."

I thought that it might be useful for understanding this issue if I presented an alternate view on the subject.... Though, really, I expect this post to be deleted fairly quickly.
Northeastern Liberal Elitist
With Gunscribe's permission, let me reply to "Northeastern Liberal Elitist."

No one said "only commies would question the wisdom of unregulated firearms." Mere socialists, pacifists, and other Leftists do, too!

Actually, I love the "all-or-nothing" strawman, where the opposition to most gun control laws is therefore unequivocal opposition to all gun control laws. Really, NELE, you ought to try harder.
The fact that one manhunt resulted in a relatively small amount of firearms does not mean that only 2% of criminals have guns, nor that gun control is unnecessary. The data here is far too limited to make a conclusion like that. It also doesn't take into account any firearms the apprehended may have had elsewhere or in the past.
The point - which you so obviously missed - is that the gun control groups take whatever data they can get and twist it however necessary to support their pre-determined conclusions. (Guns'r bad, mmmkay?) Didn't you feel the breeze as that point parted your hair? No?
Since there ARE gun control regulations in place, currently, if you DO choose to consider the results of Operation Falcon indicitive of gun issues as a whole, it isn't much of a reach to say that maybe gun control is working.
(Case in point...) Oh, really? Someone should inform the National Academies of Science. They just did a detailed study of all the gun control research done to date. Their conclusion:
The committee was broadly charged with providing an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing social science data and research on firearms. Although there is a large body of empirical research on firearms and violence, there is little agreement on even the basic facts regarding important policy issues related to firearms. The committee's report deals with what current research can and cannot tell us about the role of firearms in violence. The report does not address specific firearms policies, such as the issue of gun control. Rather, its recommendations address how to improve the empirical foundation for future discussions about firearms policy.

Over the past few decades, there have been many studies of the relationship between violence and access to firearms; family and community factors that influence lethal behavior; the extent and value of defensive firearm use; the operation of legal and illegal gun markets; and the effectiveness of efforts to reduce the harms from or to increase the benefits associated with gun use. Our task was to evaluate these studies and the data on which they are based.

--

The committee looked at many interventions to reduce violence and suicide. Here, I must emphasize that even if it were shown that firearms clearly cause lethal violence, it would still be difficult to develop successful programs to reduce this violence. That's because interventions would have to address other factors in addition to gun use. The intent of the people involved, the nature of their interactions and relationships, their access to firearms, and the level of law enforcement are critical in explaining when and why firearm violence occurs. Without attention to this complexity, it's hard to understand the role that firearms play in violence.

Firearms are bought and sold in formal markets such as gun shops, and informal ones such as gun shows. Market-based interventions aimed at limiting access to guns for certain groups, such as convicted felons or juveniles, include restrictions on who can purchase guns and limits on the number of firearms that can be purchased in a given period. Arguments for and against these approaches are largely based on speculation -- not on scientific evidence. Data on gun markets are only now beginning to emerge. We believe that greater attention should be paid to research design and data needs regarding gun pipelines. More studies also should be done on potential links between firearms policies and suicide rates.
In other words, "The data didn't tell us anything." Especially it didn't tell the committee that "maybe gun control is working." Which is interesting, since a similar study done some twenty years previously at the behest of the Carter administration produced essentially the exact same result. That report, published in 1983 as Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America, came to this conclusion:
Should regulations restrict who may possess firearms? Should there be restrictions on the number or types of guns that can be purchased? Should safety locks be required? Answers to these questions involve issues that go beyond research on firearm violence.

These policy questions cannot be informed by current studies. Available data are too weak to support strong conclusions. Therefore, we believe that one of the most pressing needs is to pursue the data and research that are needed to fill knowledge gaps and, in turn, inform debate in this important policy area. Our committee identified key approaches to strengthen the research base on firearms and violence. We also believe that the federal government should support a rigorous research program in this area.

Research linking firearms to criminal violence and suicide is limited by a lack of credible data on firearm ownership (including possession and access) and individuals' encounters with violence. The committee found that the existing data on gun ownership and use are the biggest barriers to better understanding gun violence. Without better data, many basic questions cannot be answered. Such data will not solve all problems of methodology. However, the almost complete absence of this information from the scientific literature makes it extremely difficult to understand the complex interpersonal, social, and other factors that determine whether or not a firearm will be used to commit a violent act.
Twenty-two years of gun control legislation and research later, and they still can't find any evidence that "gun control works." Even the New York Times mentioned in a piece last week about the most recent effort at gun control, the federal "Assault Weapon Ban":
...a study for the National Institute of Justice said that it could not "clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence."
Decades of gun control laws, decades of research, no positive proof that the laws have affected gun crime. None. Don't you think that if "gun control is working" we'd have conclusive evidence of it by now?
The "gun show loop hole," for instance; of course it isn't what it's cracked up to be- it doesn't exist anymore. There's been gun control legislation passed to eliminate it. Maybe that helps to explain the low number of guns found during Operation Falcon.
Oh, PLEASE!

The "gun show loophole" is no such thing, and your ignorance is showing. The "gun show loophole" is known as "private party sales" and they go on all over the country, not just at gun shows. And where has legislation been passed? Nowhere major, to my knowledge. Private sales are still legal in most of the country, as they've always been. "It doesn't exist anymore?" Since when? Give me a date. Quote me the law(s).
Between 1993 and 2001, the average annual number of "violent victimizations" involving firearms was 847,000. You can check this with the U.S. Department of Justice- it's from their statistics. I'm curious who it is providing information that makes the DoJ's look "terrible."
And from where did this non sequitur come? For one thing, who said anything about DoJ looking "terrible." I didn't see reference one to them. Gunscribe attributed the "terrible" information to the Brady Bunch, et al. What you neglect in your little factoid is the data that illustrates that in each of the years from 1994 to 2001, the number of annual "violent victimizations" has been declining - and without any evidence that any "gun control" law has been responsible for the decline. Here's the Bureau of Justice Statistics chart

A decline from 5120 violent crimes per 100,000 population in 1994 to 2230 per 100,000 in 2003. That's a decline of more than 56%. Gun-involved violent crime has fallen right along with it:

The average might be 847,000 per annum, but the range is from 1,060,800 in 1994 to 366,840 in 2003. That's a 65% reduction.

And remember, the study done by the National Academies of Science could not link gun control laws to this decline. The only gun control law that passed since 1994 was the "Assault Weapon Ban," and the National Institute of Justice study couldn't even link that law to the reduction in "assault weapon" useage in crime.

But you know what has passed since 1994?

"Shall-issue" concealed-carry legislation. Four states in 1994. Seven more in 1995. Three more in 1996. Here's the map, just for your own edification:

But the studies haven't shown "right to carry" to decrease violent crime either.

No, all the dire predictions of "blood in the streets!" never came true. The worst thing you can say about CCW is that it might not have contributed to the drop in violent crime nationwide.

Imagine that.

"Alternate views" are welcome, so long as they are informed and not ignorant. Or if they're ignorant, as long as the presenter is willing to be educated. And speaking for both Gunscribe and myself, we don't delete the comments of our opposition. We use them.

It's much more educational that way.

Another Example of How the Law Doesn't Disarm Assailants.

From the BBC. Apparently the "yob culture" of violent youth gangs is really taking off (or it's just the "flavor of the month" for the British mainstream media.)
Shopkeeper killed by teenage gang

A shopkeeper was murdered in a "horrific and frenzied" attack in a shopping precinct by more than 20 armed teenagers, police say.

Mi Gao Huang Chen, 41, was battered to death in front of his girlfriend with a spade, tree branch and metal pipes in Scholes, Wigan, on Saturday night.

Police have arrested 17 teenagers on suspicion of assault and violent disorder, including a girl of 14.

Mr Huang Chen, known locally as Michael, ran the Superb Hut takeaway.

Residents say a gang of teenagers have plagued their community with anti-social behaviour.
I love that expression: "Anti-social behavior." It sounds like they're just being rude. More of that British stiff-upper-lip understatement, when what it really means is homicidal.
Mr Huang Chen, who was from China, lived at Towcester Close in the Ancoats area of Manchester.

Police say the attack on him lasted up to 15 minutes. He suffered massive head injuries and died in Hope Hospital, Salford, on Thursday.

Det Ch Insp Steve Crimmins, leading the investigation, said: "It is quite frightening really, it was a frenzied attack. It was horrific and sickening.

"There have been ongoing problems in the area. There was a heightened police presence prior to the incident.
Police don't say, or at least aren't quoted in this piece, as to why if "there was a heightened police presence prior to the incident" their response time was apparently in excess of the fifteen minutes the assault took.
"There's been general nuisance that you associate with large groups of youths, in essence rowdiness and criminal damage.

"For some reason it has escalated out of all proportion and a man has lost his life."
Might I suggest that one reason it "has escalated out of all proportion" is because the "large groups of youths" don't fear either the police or their victims? I wonder if any of the assailants recorded video of the assault on their cell-phones?

More than TWENTY attackers, all minors. An assault that lasted fifteen minutes. And no one could intervene without risk of getting killed or severely injured themselves.

A question: What would have happened if a large adult man had waded into that melee with, say, an axe-handle and prevented Mr. Chen's death by inflicting some serious injuries on Mr. Chen's assailants? Would the charge be attempted murder or merely assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm?

When will people wake up to the fact that the world can be a dangerous place, and the government is not responsible for your protection?

UPDATE, 4/30: Apparently this piece caught the attention of a UK message board. (Welcome, y'all!) But this comment absolutely floored me:
This is yet another example of how people think of tackling things the wrong way. If Mr Chen or some other random passer-by had been carrying a gun, you would have 17 dead teenagers rather than one dead shopkeeper. Yes, they were in the wrong but that's no reason to kill them.
At least one of the posters felt the same:
X, that is perhaps one of the most naive posts to ever come from your keyboard. No offense mate, but you've seen too many movies.
"X" seems to miss the point that, had a defender been armed with a firearm chances are good that NO ONE would have been killed. The twenty-plus attackers would have been quelled.


I'm not much for Hollywood's interpretation of defensive gun use, but "No, Ace. Just you." comes immediately to mind. And better one or two of them dead (and the rest running) than the shop keeper, IMHO.

I noticed also that, as of this posting, no one has addressed my question concerning a defender armed with an axe-handle. I wonder why that is? Is contemplation of that question uncomfortable?

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Just How Good Are Those British Crime Statistics?.

(h/t to Lurch at Gun Culture)

From the Sunday Telegraph:
When the crime is to speak out
By Daniel Foggo
(Filed: 24/04/2005)


Picture this: you are a retired senior policeman who has information that gun crimes are going unreported because some of your former colleagues are not registering them. You report what you know to a Sunday newspaper, and the next day two detectives knock on your door.

At first you might be impressed by their prompt reaction. But then you discover that your visitors are from the "professional standards" unit (the subdivision of every force that polices its own officers) and have no interest in the truth of your claim. What they want to know is which serving policemen have spoken to you.

They are not concerned that shootings are spiralling out of control while being deliberately unrecorded in order not to spoil the crime figures: no, they want to discipline the officers for speaking out of turn.

This is what happened to former Detective Superintendent Peter Coles last Monday. The day before he had been quoted in this newspaper saying that gun crime in Nottinghamshire, where he was once head of the CID, was under-reported. Criminals turning up in hospital with gunshot wounds were often reluctant to involve the police, which led officers to treat the incidents as "no crimes", Mr Coles said.

One of the few things that will make police forces stir these days, as Mr Coles discovered, is the slightest hint that their officers are talking to outsiders about embarrassing matters. Going "off-message" is now as much frowned upon by the police as it is by their New Labour paymasters.

Take the crime statistics. Under Labour, they are used to convey an expedient message of the rosiest hue. It would not help senior officers' careers if they were to speak out about the glaring gaps in the Government's compiling methods. So the prevailing face of most forces is one of sanguine denial.

Nottinghamshire police's particular problem is that when their primary dissenter broke ranks last month it turned out to be their own Chief Constable, Steve Green. He admitted to me that his force was reeling under the murder rate and was going to have to "farm out" inquiries to other forces.

His reaction when we published the story was stupefying and gives great insight into the fear that going "off-message" engenders even in chief constables. His press office, who had helped arrange the interview with me and agreed the areas that Mr Green would discuss, announced that the Chief Constable had been "blackmailed" into giving the interview. This was utterly untrue and inherently preposterous. Yet in making the claim, the police tried to deflect attention away from the significance of what Mr Green had actually admitted - that his force could not cope with the slaughter on its streets - by suggesting that the more important issue was that he had been compelled against his will into saying what he did.

I have since been informed that Nottinghamshire police's professional standards team has been trying to access my phone records and those of a colleague to find out which officers may have spoken out. This kind of behaviour is not unusual. Police forces now consider whistleblowing as a form of corruption that should be rooted out. The officers concerned may be revealing matters that are in the public interest, but this is not a consideration.

Three days after the knock on Mr Coles's door, Nottinghamshire police revealed their latest crime figures, which showed a more than 10 per cent drop over the year. Naysayers, such as Mr Coles, who claim that the statistics are inaccurate, are not appreciated at such a time. As he is retired, the force cannot touch him but they can, and will, pursue anyone who might have given him information.

Getting to the truth behind the statistics and spin of crime figures is becoming increasingly difficult. Rare chinks of clarity, such as Mr Green's interview, are quickly covered over. A fortnight after talking to The Telegraph Mr Green admitted that his interview "was not my finest hour".

I beg to differ. It was probably his most conspicuous act of public service.
But crime is going down in England and Wales! Really!

I'm Tempted to Build One for My Grandaughter.

But my wife said "NO!"

Gunner at No Quarters has an AR-15 you have to see to believe.

A Columnist Who Gets It.

Jeffry Gardner, Albuquerque Tribune
Save us from us

Self-indulgent nation needs to steer away from moral relativism

During the 1992 presidential debates, there was a moment of absurdity that so defied the laws of absurdity that even today when I recall it, I just shake my head.

It was during the town hall "debate" in Richmond, Va., between the first President Bush and contenders Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

A grown man - a baby boomer - took the microphone from the moderator, Carol Simpson of ABC News, and said, in a fashion: You're the president, so you're like our father, and we're your children.

See? My head's shaking already. Where did that come from? Would a grown man have told a president something like that 100 years ago - or 50?

We've got our wires crossed, and our ability to accept responsibility for our lives - once so ingrained in our American nature that President Kennedy felt comfortable telling us to "ask not what your country can do for you" - has been short-circuited. We've slouched en masse into an almost-childlike outlook: You're the president, so you're like our father.

The fact that an adult - on national television, no less - would say this and later be interviewed as though he'd spoken some profound truth struck me then, as now, as more than a little absurd. It was alarming.

That attitude certainly hasn't abated over the past 12 years. In fact, that helpless, innocent-child routine has crept into nearly all aspects of our culture. It's played a significant role, I believe, in moving us toward what newly elected Pope Benedict XVI called a "dictatorship of relativism."

Relativism, Benedict explained, is a world view "which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one's own ego and one's own desires."

Anyone who has ever set foot in a toy store with a 6-year-old understands where I'm heading with this. At 6, it's only natural to view the world as a place created to meet your wants. As adults, though, we're expected to grow up.

In the process, we're not only asked to accept self-restraint, but we're also supposed to recognize that boundaries - moral absolutes, if you will - work for the betterment of our society. With maturity comes discipline, charity and sanity.

An ideological fissure is racing like splintering ice on a frozen lake, dividing progressives and conservatives today. Conservatives say progressives have lifted the "if it feels good, do it" mantra into an ideology worth defending at the polls and in the courts - and damn the social consequences.

There's an AIDS epidemic, but we'll fight to keep the bathhouses open. We support the First Amendment, but we'll shred the Boy Scouts' right to free association. We oppose the war but support the troops, and on and on.

These dissonant ideas are held together by moral relativism, a dangerous ideology that should come with a label: Warning! Total self-indulgence may be harmful to your society.
Amen.

(Hat tip to Jerry Scharf at Common Sense and Wonder)

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Why You Won't See Advertising On The Smallest Minority.

I got an interesting invitation from Henry Copeland, the guy who runs the Blogads business. I was suggested to him by a much bigger blogger (and I appreciate the thought, I really do) but I had to decline. This is what I told Henry:
Thanks for the offer, but I must decline. It's not that I wouldn't like to make some cash, but the nature of my blog. I republish copyrighted content; newspaper and magazine articles (often in their entirety), cartoons, photos, etc. and do commentary on them. I consider this "fair use" under Title 17, U.S. Code Section 107, but only so long as I am not using this material to make a profit. I even have a legal statement to that effect at the bottom of the page. Therefore I don't have advertising, nor even a tipjar (and it's one more reason I'm on Blogger - it's free.) If someone wants to come after me for copyright violation, not having any income generated by the site makes their job more difficult.
A couple of posts below is a good example. I've excerpted entire news stories from a couple of British web sites. To me, this is "fair use," but if I was running a money-making enterprise here, I would be using someone else's intellectual property to make a profit.

I'm not making a dime. In fact, I spend a little on an upgraded Haloscan comment account and an upgraded Photobucket account for what graphics I run. This thing costs me, but I do it because I want to, not because I want to make a business out of it.

Some people argue that you can run ads to support your bandwidth charges and donate any overages to charity to maintain a "non-profit" status, but by not having any income at all, I think I run a reduced risk of having any corporate lawyers thinking they could successfully sue me for copyright infringement.

I could be deluding myself, but it doesn't matter. No ads will be run by me here. Ever.

Meme Participation, By Request.

Mostly Cajun asked me to participate in this blogmeme, so I will indulge him. There aren't too many of us industrial power guys blogging that I'm aware of, and I like the guy. Besides, he writes very well.

The deal is as follows:
Following there is a list of different occupations. You must select at least five of them. You may add more if you like to your list before you pass it on (after you select five of the items as it was passed to you).

Of the five you selected, you are to finish each phrase with what you would do as a member of that profession. Then pass it on to three other suckers bloggers.

Here’s the list:

  • If I could be a scientist…
  • If I could be a farmer…
  • If I could be a musician…
  • If I could be a doctor…
  • If I could be a painter…
  • If I could be a gardener…
  • If I could be a missionary…
  • If I could be a chef…
  • If I could be an architect…
  • If I could be a linguist…
  • If I could be a psychologist…
  • If I could be a librarian…
  • If I could be an athlete…
  • If I could be a lawyer…
  • If I could be an innkeeper…
  • If I could be a professor…
  • If I could be a writer…
  • If I could be a backup dancer…
  • If I could be a llama-rider…
  • If I could be a bonnie pirate…
  • If I could be a midget stripper…
  • If I could be a proctologist…
  • If I could be a TV-Chat show host…
  • If I could be an actor…
  • If I could be a judge…
OK, here we go.

If I could be a scientist, I'd like to study the TOE, the "Theory of Everything." This is an effort to find one grand, unified theory of physics that melds Einsteinian relativity theory to Quantum Mechanics to, well, everything. I'm not that bright, though, and I know it. Somewhere along about my Junior year in college it became blindingly apparent to me that I was qualified for no more than a Master's degree in Physics, and that would qualify me to be a junior test-tube washer in a laboratory somewhere. Which is why I'm an engineer.

If I could be a musician, I'd like to be a vocal artist. Unfortunately I've got a face perfectly suited for radio, and a voice perfectly suited for the print media. But I've always appreciated people with real vocal talent. It would be nice to be a virtuoso on the guitar like Eric Clapton, too, but given my druthers, I'd like to actually enjoy singing in the shower.

If I could be a chef, I'd specialize in baked goods. I love breads and pastries. I do, from time to time, make my own french bread from scratch, and I am pining away for the day that Beyond Bread opens a franchise on the Northwest side of Tucson. Just, damn!

If I could be an athlete, I'd be a professional shooter, of course! My preference would be speed shooting, I think, like the Bianchi Cup and IPSC guys - Rob Leatham, Brian Enos, Doug Koenig, and the rest.

If I could be a professor, I'd like to teach American History with a strong emphasis on philosophy. I'd also like to teach an electives course in the politics and philosophy of gun control. Hell, as much time as I've spent studying the topic, I ought to get an honorary Ph.D. from some school.

OK, for my invites I'd like to hear from Sarah at Carnaby Fudge, Ravenwood of Ravenwood's Universe, and Mike of Feces Flinging Monkey.

UPDATE, 5/1: Sarah has responded.

It's a Cheap Shot, I Know...

...but I have to comment on this. I realize that it could happen anywhere, not just in England. Washington D.C., suburban Houston, wherever, but this is the kind of thing that just pisses me off when arguing with people who want to make victim disarmament mandatory rather than voluntary. When I read this story the thing that immediately popped into my mind was the quote by Tim Lambert of Deltoid where he defended gun control laws by saying:
If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed.
Which commenter Sarah of Carnaby Fudge rephrased:
If the law disarms citizens, then it can make self defence impossible where it would have been possible if the citizen was armed.
In this case, that couldn't be more true.
'He held a knife to Joseph's throat and then stabbed me'

By Simon Freeman, Times Online

Young paralysed mother gives her account, by blinking and mouthing words to police, of a vicious stab attack in Surrey

The man who attacked Abigail Witchalls chased the young mother along a leafy Surrey lane, held a knife to her toddler son's throat and then stabbed her in the neck, according to a harrowing account she has given to detectives.

The attacker, a man in his 20s or early 30s, then rolled her son's buggy over her body before fleeing from the quiet lane in the wealthy village of Little Bookham.

Mrs Witchalls's harrowing story was painstakingly recorded over six hours last night by two female officers using a silent vocabulary of blinks and mouthed words from her bed at St George’s Hospital, Tooting, South London.

Detectives today praised the courage and determination of Mrs Witchalls, who is paralysed and was preganant at the time of the attack. They said that they had been amazed by the detail she has so far been able to give. It is not know(sic) whether her unborn child has survived.

At a press conference at Surrey Police headquarters in Guildford today, Detective Superintendent Adrian Harper said: "She is an incredibly brave and determined young woman."

Detective Superintendent Adrian Harper, leading the investigation, said Mrs Witchalls, 26, was determined to help catch her attacker.

He described how she had been walking along the lane with her son at 3.45pm on Wednesday when she was passed by a blue, four-door estate car. A man in the driving seat made eye contact with her and, he said, she began to fear for her safety.

"She first saw the man at about 3.45pm on the public footpath along Water Lane in Little Bookham. The man was in an old-style blue estate car.

"It drove towards her on the path and passed her and they looked at each other. At that, Abigail started to feel uneasy and put Joseph in his buggy and began to walk home along the path with a sense of purpose.

"When she was three-quarters of the way along the track she turned and saw the car had pulled up. The man had got out and was coming toward her. She heard him say 'You've dropped your purse'.

"She tried to open the gate at the end of the lane but in her panic was unable to do so. She turned around and saw the man had hold of Joseph and was holding a knife to his throat. He then grabbed her and pulled her down to the ground and as he did so he stabbed her in the back of the neck with a knife.

"He then pushed the buggy with Joseph still in it on top of her and ran off."

Mrs Witchalls described the man as being aged between 20 and 35, with short dark scruffy hair. He had a long thin face, with prominent cheekbones, and wore a silver hoop earring in each ear. He had a deep voice with a southern or Cockney accent and black bags under his eyes. He appeared to be under the influence of drink or drugs.

Mr Harper said: "Abigail has been through an even more horrendous experience than we imagined. It's hard to imagine a more compelling picture of vulnerability and innocence. He's clearly a very dangerous man who must be caught as soon as possible.

"We are conducting an enormous operation and have gathered a huge amount of information. We now need the help of the public. This was a crime so horrific that I would hope that helping identify the offender would come before any loyalty from friends, relatives or even criminal associates.

"This is a most unusual process with a very intelligent and strong young woman. What Abigail has told us is very significant to this inquiry. We are able to work with confirmed information which has crime directly from her.

"It has changed the focus of the inquiry and enabled us to rule out the man with the blue Peugeot we had previously arrested and bailed. We believe he was in the vicinity but that he was not involved in the attack."

He added that the interview had been an emotional experience for Mrs Witchalls, her family and the officers involved.

He added: "Suffice to say that the entire family and my officers found the interview very challenging and emotional. Joseph wasn't harmed. He did have a knife held to his throat. He is starting to act out some of the things that happened to him on that day.

"This description is a strong description I think there will be a few people out there who will know the individual involved.

"These lanes are remote locations. It isn't an area that you would have come to by chance and this may well be a local person with local knowledge."

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Riley again praised Mrs Witchalls for her bravery and reinforced the appeal for information.

He said: "Her condition does appear to be continuing to improve. She has sustained an horrific injury but she is no longer in a critical condition.

"We believed that after yesterday's interview she would need a day's rest. She has in fact demanded that we return to the hospital today to continue the interview process.

"She is an extremely intelligent young lady with a determination we should all be proud of. The prognosis is still unclear and the hospital is conduction further tests at this time."

Mrs Witchalls, who was ten weeks pregnant when she was attacked, was enjoying a walk along a bridle path adjacent to £1 million homes when her assailant struck.

She has serious swelling around her spinal cord and doctors are unable to say whether she will be permanently paralysed. It is not known whether her unborn child survived the attack.
The law did not disarm Mrs. Witchalls' attacker. I don't know whether Mrs. Witchalls would have wanted a weapon had it been allowed, but she didn't have a choice. I doubt whoever did this is a first-time offender. They've arrested a man and have already released him on bail, but the chance of him having encountered a resisting victim in the past who might have put him off of violent crime is essentially nil. The law preventing English subjects from carrying any "offensive" weapon only works on the law-abiding.

Here's one more:
FATHER DIES OF INJURIES

A father of three has died after trying to save a schoolgirl from being attacked by a gang of teenagers, it has emerged.

Thomas Noble was allegedly struck on the head and fell to the ground during the incident, close to his home in Sunderland.

The 53-year-old taxi driver had been fighting for his life since the assault in the Roker area of the city on Friday night but died in hospital on Sunday.

He had rushed from the family home to help after hearing the girl scream as she was surrounded by a gang of youths outside an off-licence.

During the incident Mr Noble was allegedly hit from behind with a weapon, causing him to fall and smash his head on the pavement.

His ex-wife, Pat Scott, told The Journal newspaper: "We've been told he was trying to stop a young girl being assaulted. It was a gang of youths, and he was trying to protect a female."

A Northumbria Police spokesman said a post-mortem examination revealed that Mr Noble had died of head injuries.

A boy of 16 has been remanded in custody by Sunderland magistrates, accused of manslaughter.
Mr. Noble had no weapon, against a gang of teenagers. So armed with nothing other than his bare hands and foul language apparently (since waving even a toy pistol will get you six months in the slammer for "possessing an imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence"), he got killed for his good Samaritan effort.

Yup, "If the law disarms attackers, then it can make self defence possible where it would have been impossible if the attacker was armed."

But it doesn't disarm attackers. It disarms the defenders.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

National Cultures and GUN Cultures.

John at The England Project wrote a post back in January on Who Broke (Our) Gun Culture and How Might We Get it Back? Kim du Toit commented on it at the time, and John had a follow-up post in which he relates that fellow English blogger Lurch at the aptly named Gun Culture strongly disagreed with John's premise that only an increased interest in the shooting sports could revive England's gun culture. Lurch stated:
I believe that sporting shooting is doomed in the UK and no amount of good behaviour will change this. The recognition that self defence is the most basic human right that there is and that a firearm is the best tool for this is the only thing which can possibly save private firearm ownership. Not just in the UK but across the globe.
John has a much more recent post up that somewhat illustrates Lurch's position.

I wrote on the topic a while back in my post Fear: The Philosophy and Politics Thereof, but I've got more to say, now. John's premise, in his own words is:
I do not yet believe in the liberalisation of gun laws to the extent that all and sundry should be able to have them for self defence.

--

...this is not because I do not believe in the principle of self defence or that guns (often hand guns) are not the best tool for the job. On the contrary, I believe in the use of lethal force where necessary to protect ones own life, family, friends, strangers and, if necessary, property. My inability to “go the whole way” on this issue is based on what I believe is the un-preparedness of our society for a more liberalised approach to firearm ownership.

--

What I do not believe in is that all have the right to firearm ownership unless it can be proven that they are not suitable and I am not just talking about criminals or those with recent or serious criminal records. Actually, that’s not quite true (and this is the point where I would get a little evasive and shady if we were to be chatting about this down the pub) I think that people do have the innate right to have guns for self defence but I do not believe that, in general, the population is prepared for it.
He goes on to say:
...the thing that is central to my current position of practical prejudice is that gun culture is not about guns; it is about peoples attitude to guns, and more importantly, their respect of firearms in general and their ability to treat and use guns in a responsible manner. The gun culture that permitted wide ranging license free gun ownership in this country without significant and disastrous consequence was one of understanding. People understood firearms. They grew up in households that had always had them. They were taught from an early age how to treat them and use them. They were fully aware of what they could do and were fully prepared to take on the responsibilities of what firearms ownership entailed.

This culture was a learnt one. It required a continuity of ownership and the sharing of knowledge over each generation. There were no public training videos, no TV ads, no school indoctrination on the responsibilities of firearms ownership and yet the culture was there. It was there because children learnt it from their parents and/or from other adults. The culture was maintained and passed on and persisted and it allowed for common gun ownership without disastrous affects. In general, everyone (except criminals) benefited from it.

Then the state broke it. By degrees.

Gun culture was strangled to the point where continuity was lost and it is because of that loss that my full support for the liberalisation of gun ownership in the general populace is not forthcoming. I blame the state.
I've studied and written a lot about England's experience with guns and gun control because, for one thing, England is "Mother Country" to America, and for another, it acts as a very useful petri dish to examine the actual results of truly draconian gun control in an otherwise nominally democratic society quite similar (but not identical) to our own.

First, let me say that I'm in complete agreement with John that "the state" is responsible for the destruction of the good gun culture in England; the one of responsible gun ownership, land stewardship, sportsmanship, self-defense and self-reliance, but this might not have been possible had the English and the Americans shared more in our general culture than we do. I've quoted before both Sir William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and St. George Tucker's American Blackstone on the topic of arms and the law. Sir William wrote:
THE fifth and last auxiliary right of the subject, that I shall at present mention, is that of having arms for their defence, suitable to their condition and degree, and such as are allowed by law. Which is also declared by the same statute and is indeed a public allowance, under due restrictions, of the natural right of resistance and self-preservation, when the sanctions of society and laws are found insufficient to restrain the violence of oppression.
This was written about 1765. (Emphasis is mine) St. George Tucker, a mere 40 years later wrote:
This may be considered as the true palladium of liberty. . . . The right of self defence is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction. In England, the people have been disarmed, generally, under the specious pretext of preserving the game: a never failing lure to bring over the landed aristocracy to support any measure, under that mask, though calculated for very different purposes. True it is, their bill of rights seems at first view to counteract this policy: but the right of bearing arms is confined to protestants, and the words suitable to their condition and degree, have been interpreted to authorise the prohibition of keeping a gun or other engine for the destruction of game, to any farmer, or inferior tradesman, or other person not qualified to kill game. So that not one man in five hundred can keep a gun in his house without being subject to a penalty.
(Again, the emphasis is mine.) There was some short-term reversal of the English tendency to want the general population disarmed. In 1900 the Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil said he would "laud the day when there is a rifle in every cottage in England."

That didn't catch on, obviously. As I reviewed in England Slides Further Towards Bondage, the good English gun culture was essentially destroyed over the course of the 20th Century:
(In) 1903 England passed its first gun control law. A minor one, simply requiring an easily acquired permit to purchase a handgun, and restricting the age of purchasers, but it was the first toe over the slippery slope. In 1919, in fear of anarchists and communists, England passed its first sweeping gun law - as a crime control measure - even though crime involving firearms was rare as hen's teeth. You could only have a handgun or a rifle if you showed "good reason" to have one. (Sound familiar?) So much for "a rifle in every cottage" being a laudable goal. The descent had begun in earnest.

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

--

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

--

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also in 1996, carrying any kind of knife was made illegal - unless you could prove you had a good reason for having it. The presumption of innocence was gone.
Since then there have been increased penalties for imitation guns, toy guns, and air guns. I fully expect there to be a law passed prohibiting extension of the index finger with one's thumb held at a 90º angle to it in the classic gun-like shape, or the pointing of a Chicken McNugget in a threatening manner.

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

Yeah?

Ask the English.

How long before we follow them?
But there's considerably more to this than just gun control. As the cliché goes, it isn't about guns, it's about control. Let's look at some of what's going on in England today, since they are acting as a liberal/pacifist petri dish. First we have this story from The Guardian:
In one video clip, labelled Bitch Slap, a youth approaches a woman at a bus stop and punches her in the face. In another, Knockout Punch, a group of boys wearing uniforms are shown leading another boy across an unidentified school playground before flooring him with a single blow to the head.

In a third, Bank Job, a teenager is seen assaulting a hole-in-the-wall customer while another youth grabs the money he has just withdrawn from the cash machine.

Welcome to the disturbing world of the "happy slappers" - a youth craze in which groups of teenagers armed with camera phones slap or mug unsuspecting children or passersby while capturing the attacks on 3g technology.

According to police and anti-bullying organisations, the fad, which began as a craze on the UK garage music scene before catching on in school playgrounds across the capital last autumn, is now a nationwide phenomenon.

And as the craze has spread from London to the home counties to the north of England, so the attacks have become more menacing, with increasing numbers of violent assaults and adult victims.

In London, British Transport police have investigated 200 happy slapping incidents in the past six months, with eight people charged with attacks at south London stations and bus stops in January alone.
Here's another:
COPS are hunting a man in connection with a vicious "happy slap" attack on a night bus.

Andrew Greenwood, 28, was set upon by thugs in an unprovoked assault on the top of a N176 double decker driving through Camberwell. Cops believe the man featured in this e-fit stood by and filmed the February 19 violence on his camera phone so the sniggering yobs could play it back later.

The sickening footage is then likely to have been circulated among other mobiles or on the internet, in a violent craze dubbed "happy slapping".

Mr Greenwood, who works for Victim Support, was beaten and kicked so badly he needed hospital treatment for a fractured eye socket.

The e-fit suspect is black, in his late teens, with a stocky build and a broad nose.

He had what was described as a "street slang" accent, was wearing a bold red cap with a distinctive box shaped peak, and was holding a silver flip phone.

The other five gang members were black and dressed in sportswear.

Police want to hear from anyone who saw the attack or who wants to report other "happy slap" incidents.
This isn't a big departure from the kind of behavior I posted about back on the 9th of this month. And why are they doing this? Because they're not afraid. They're not afraid of the police, and they're damned sure not afraid of their victims. And why aren't they afraid of their victims? Because they know that their victims are disarmed, and powerless to oppose them even if they're willing. (Though fewer and fewer appear to be willing.) They know the rules won't be enforced on them, but they will be enforced on the otherwise responsible adults who they drive over the edge. Examples: Bill Clifford, Martin James, Maureen Jennings, Linda Walker, and most recently, Richard Bottley. "Yobs" can get away with pretty much anything with very little fear of punishment. For example, from this story:
A POLICE officer has been appointed to work in St Albans secondary schools in a bid to combat youth crime.

The Youth Crime Reduction Officer has been visiting schools to gather intelligence, and develop ways of beating crime, truancy and drugs.

PC Paul Allen is working in schools across the district with pupils who risk ending up on the wrong side of the law.

He is also involved in developing acceptable behaviour contracts and anti–social behaviour orders for youths.
All well and good, right? Um, no:
He also intervened when a pupil caused £500 worth of damage to a piano at his school.

The pupil was excluded from school for three days, leaving a mark on his school record, after speaking to the police officer about the consequences of his actions.

PC Allen said: “A common perception among pupils is that damage or bullying is not a criminal offence.

“Often by just explaining the consequences and the fact that their actions are criminal is enough to curb their behaviour.” The police officer claims many youngsters do not realise when they are breaking the law and believes that early intervention is essential.
By my handy-dandy currency converter, £500 is approximately $950. And the kid's punishment was three days suspension?? What does he have to do to get five days vacation? Deck a teacher? Oh, yeah. He learned a lesson there!

If you want more evidence, read this story about how a teacher secretly filmed unruly, violent, and uncontrollable students in several different schools in England. And then think about that 5 year-old kid in St. Petersburg that the cops handcuffed. (At least they didn't need their new AR-15s). As the teacher put it,
Teachers end up walking on eggshells, and when you do that, you cannot discipline a child.
The same is true for parents and for other citizens, so kids run wild without fear of discipline. I'm afraid we're slowly following England there, too.

As I mentioned before, I recently picked up Abigale Kohn's book, Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures. The preface of Kohn's book starts off:
From the 1970's on, the American print media has carried out an all-out war against gun owners. They are labled "gun nuts," "gun fanatics," "the lunatic fringe," "sickos," and "terrorists." Gun owners are laughable, contemptible, "a handful of middle-aged fat guys with popguns." Editorial after editorial calls for stronger gun control, ranging from licensing and registration of all guns to outright bans on handguns. The New York Times publishes "The Scourge of Guns" and "Addicted to Guns," straightforwardly indicting guns and gun owners for America's high rate of civil violence. Not to be outdone, the Washington Post publishes editorials entitled "Good Parents, Bad Kids: And Far Too Many Handguns" and "Illegal Guns and the District," arguing that "turning off the supply of handguns from around the nation" is the only effective way to reduce gun violence in the nation's capital and across the United States.

On the other side of the country, a columnist in a major West Coast newspaper pens a piece about the Second Amendment Sisters, a pro-gun women's organization formed largely in response to the Million Mom March, which favored gun control. Entitled "Pistol-Packin' Polyester," the columnist describes the Second Amendment Sisters as "bored, under-educated, bitter, terrified, badly-dressed, pasty, hate-spewin' suburban white women from lost Midwestern towns with names like Frankenmuth all carrying firearms and somehow thinking they're aiding the species." Only slightly less inflammatory, another West Coast contributor argues that America's gun culture is responsible for the "tyranny of danger" and "omnipresent threat of death" in contemporary American society.
She goes on at length. But one of the things Abigale Kohn discovered when she studied America's "gun culture" - the good one - was this:
One of the reasons that some shooters are so opposed to allowing more stringent government regulation of gun ownership is that they believe that being able to own guns is synonymous with being recognized as a full-status person in the eyes of the state.
Which is correct. However, she continues:
In fact, historians have long recognized that the vast majority of individuals living in colonial America did not have legal sanction to own guns: the ability to "keep and bear arms" was a right afforded only to white, propertied, adult men.
Which is somewhat true, though I advise that she interview Clayton Cramer on the facts of just how many people other than property-owning white males actually did have guns in the colonial period. Anyway, continuing:
In relation to the broader question of what constitutes a good arbiter of personhood and political status in any given society (historically and contemporarily), shooters argue that legal access to guns is a particularly powerful statement of how the state recognizes the power and status of the individual.

--

These symbolic associations resonate even today. Shooters implicitly believe that the symbolic associations between guns and personhood so deeply entrenched in the American cultural and political cosmology are still meaningful and important.
Yes, we do. But that belief has been stripped from the English, by and large. She says elsewhere in the book:
Over the years, Americans have used their discussion of rights to articulate their vision of citizenship - of what being an American actually means in terms of legal rights and political status. But the question of the right of individuals to own guns is particularly contentious. Critics of the concept of gun rights have often asserted that such a concept illustrates the ultimate in selfishness: the triumph of the individual gun owner's desire for guns over the basic community safety and security.
And I'd argue that is the position that England has taken that has lead it to become the gun-control poster-child of the industrialized nations.
And in fact, many shooters do see their guns rights as a basic right conferred on them as American citizens. Some even believe such gun rights may add to problems of public safety.

But most shooters see gun rights as a means to confer safety to individuals and social groups; gun rights enable individuals to protect themselves and their family, their community, and even their nation. The issue is not so much that gun control supporters believe in public safety and shooters do not. The difference is in how public safety should be achieved. Shooters believe gun rights allow them to promote collective as well as individual safety. In their minds, a lack of individual gun rights means that only government agents and criminals would remain armed, and citizens would be vulnerable to both.
And I certainly concur with the sentiment. A large majority of the posts I put up here echo that. But it goes beyond mere ownership of guns. It goes well beyond John's characterization that "(gun culture) is about peoples attitude to guns, and more importantly, their respect of firearms in general and their ability to treat and use guns in a responsible manner. " What is involved is personal philosophy, and what that philosophy means to the overall culture.

Kohn notes several traits common to America's gun culture: responsibility, toughness, individualism, independence, clear moral codes, patriotism, and dedication to tradition. None of these are desireable in a collectivist, relativist society. It seems obvious that if such a society is to be achieved, it is the gun culture that must first be destroyed. If one studies English history, the beginning of the destruction of their gun culture dates back to the rise of Communism in Europe, and the fear of the ruling class that the ruled would rise up in arms in a revolution. And if one asks John, or Lurch or anybody over at Samizdata, they'll tell you that the relativist/collectivist Left has pretty much taken over the English government, and apparently with the willing cooperation of most of the population. It seems that anyone in England exhibiting any of these traits is liable to be hammered down by society, or by the government. And it seems apparent that we here are trying to follow that path, except that our gun culture is experiencing a resurgence.

Our gun culture is, in my opinion, essential to the overall "American culture" that has made this nation the powerhouse that it is. Responsibility, toughness, individualism, independence, clear moral codes, patriotism, and dedication to tradition are all bulwarks of that culture, and are all embodied by the people who make up "the gun culture" of responsble gun owners. The question in my mind is, "can we maintain it?" Or will we too eventually be overwhelmed by the voices of the Left who tell us that what we believe is selfish, short-sighted, bigoted, cruel, racist, unfeeling, etc., etc., etc.?

I concur with Lurch that, short of a miracle, England's shooting sports are doomed and that further, there is almost no chance that England will restore its historic right to self defense. The last gasp of that was the recent attempt by the UK Telegraph to get a law passed acknowledging a right to defend oneself in ones own home. That effort failed. I was not surprised. England has slid too far down the slippery slope. I think that if we are to avoid the same fate, we must say "this far, no further," and work to recover what we have lost.

Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them.

Several people have noted that the New York Times published a piece over the weekend pointing out that the predicted horrific influx of evil black rifles after the Assault Weapons Ban-that-wasn't expired, didn't occur. Some excerpts of note:
Despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, the expiration of the decade-long assault weapons ban last September has not set off a sustained surge in the weapons' sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime in the past seven months, according to several metropolitan police departments.

--

"The whole time that the American public thought there was an assault weapons ban, there never really was one," said Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, a gun-control group.
Yet the "ban" was supported by the VPC, in their own words, because:
It will be a new topic in what has become to the press and public an "old" debate.

Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an "unsolvable" problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons.

Efforts to stop restrictions on assault weapons will only further alienate the police from the gun lobby.

Until recently, police organizations viewed the gun lobby in general, and the NRA in particular, as a reliable friend. This stemmed in part from the role the NRA played in training officers and its reputation regarding gun safety and hunter training. Yet, throughout the 1980s, the NRA has found itself increasingly on the opposite side of police on the gun control issue. Its opposition to legislation banning armor-piercing ammunition, plastic handguns, and machine guns, and its drafting of and support for the McClure/Volkmer handgun decontrol bill, burned many of the bridges the NRA had built throughout the past hundred years. As the result of this, the Law Enforcement Steering Committee was formed. The Committee now favors such restriction measures as waiting periods with background check for handgun purchase and a ban on machine guns and plastic firearms. If police continue to call for assault weapons restrictions, and the NRA continues to fight such measures, the result can only be a further tarnishing of the NRA's image in the eyes of the public, the police, and NRA members. The organization will no longer be viewed as the defender of the sportsman, but as the defender of the drug dealer.

Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.

Although the majority of Americans favor stricter handgun controls, and a consistent 40 percent of Americans favor banning the private sale and possession of handguns, many Americans do believe that handguns are effective weapons for home self-defense and the majority of Americans mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. Yet, many who support the individual's right to own a handgun have second thoughts when the issue comes down to assault weapons. Assault weapons are often viewed the same way as machine guns and "plastic" firearms—a weapon that poses such a grave risk that it's worth compromising a perceived constitutional right.
In other words, the VPC supported the "Assault Weapons Ban" that wasn't a ban because it was: A) perceived as a great way to frighten people into supporting legislation by lying to them about what that legislation actually did; B) It looked like a great "wedge issue" to separate the NRA from the police on the beat who generally support the right to arms even though their politically connected Chiefs don't; and C) As Charles Krauthammer noted, it was a great symbolic "first step" towards eventual confiscation and widening of gun bans. (Oh, and note the "plastic" firearm bit - be afraid of a gun that doesn't exist!)

Sorry guys (NOT!). You lost on all counts.

Continuing the NYT piece:
What's more, law enforcement officials say that military-style weapons, which were never used in many gun crimes but did enjoy some vogue in the years before the ban took effect, seem to have gone out of style in criminal circles.

"Back in the early 90's, criminals wanted those Rambo-type weapons they could brandish," said Jim Pasco, executive director of the Fraternal Order of Police. "Today they are much happier with a 9-millimeter handgun they can stick in their belt."
Now the thing I find interesting is that the story notes:
When the ban took effect in 1994, it exempted more than 1.5 million assault weapons already in private hands. Over the next 10 years, at least 1.17 million more assault weapons were produced - legitimately - by manufacturers that availed themselves of loopholes in the law, according to an analysis of firearms production data by the Violence Policy Center.
(I own one of those 1.17 million weapons.)
Assault weapons account for a small fraction of gun crimes: about 2 percent, according to most studies, and no more than 8 percent. But they have been used in many high-profile shooting sprees. The snipers in the 2002 Washington-area shootings, for instance, used semiautomatic assault rifles that were copycat versions of banned carbines.

Gun crime has plummeted since the early 1990's. But a study for the National Institute of Justice said that it could not "clearly credit the ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence."

Research for the study in several cities did show a significant decline in the criminal use of assault weapons during the ban.
I'm not sure what a "significant decline" represents when "assault weapons" represented only 2-8% of the weapons used in gun crimes, but these documented facts make this story an interesting counterpoint:
Expiration Of Ban Pushes Police To Get Assault Rifles

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The expiration of the nation's ban on the sale of assault rifles and the appearance of more heavily armed criminals have pushed more than 100 St. Petersburg police officers to order assault rifles of their own for official duty.

The first group of officers completed the required 16 hours of instruction for using Colt AR-15s in January. The semiautomatic weapons fire bullets that travel up to 2,700 feet per second and are powerful enough to penetrate body armor.
They must be issuing heavy-weight ammo, because the standard 55 grain load for the .223 hums along at closer to 3,000 fps. And as I've noted before, the lowly .30-30 deer rifle is "powerful enough to penetrate body armor." ANY centerfire rifle round is.
"St. Petersburg -- it's not so sleepy any more," said Tom Jacwin, a 22-year veteran who is getting used to his new weapon. "The bad guys are smarter and better armed."
Not according to the New York Times, and they're the "Paper of Record"!
Police Chief Chuck Harmon approved use of the AR-15s last June with guidelines that took months to develop. Officers who want the weapons must buy them for $1,100.
Those must be some tricked-out AR's. Like the ones the NYPD has with the Aimpoint red-dot sights - mounted backwards.
The rifles may be used only in "a high-risk situation, such as to overcome suspects with superior firepower, in response to an active shooter situation, when confronted by barricaded subjects, during stakeout and perimeter operations, for felony vehicle stops."

The weapons must be stored in a hard case in the trunk of a patrol car except when being used. They can't be modified for automatic fire, and officers must qualify with them in the shooting range each year.

Critics say that the speed and 300-yard range of the bullets pose a threat to bystanders. Advocates say the assault rifles are vastly better than the standard Glock handguns assigned to officers and are more accurate than the pump-action shotguns that the department makes available.
"More heavily armed criminals," eh? In St. Pete? Are they saying the expiration of the AWB has caused Florida's criminal culture to up-gun? What makes St. Pete different from the rest of the country?

I'm not buying it.

Given that gun crime has been declining since 1990, and "assault weapon" (mis)useage declined "significantly" during the period of the ban, why would another police force allow its officers to equip with "bullet hoses" that are
designed to provide a specific military combat function. That military function is laying down a high volume of fire over a wide killing zone, also known as "hosing down" an area.
And,
They were designed and developed to meet a specific military goal, which was killing and wounding as many people as possible at relatively short range as quickly as possible, without the need for carefully aimed fire. In short, they are ideal weapons for war, mass killers, drug gangs, and other violent criminals.
Why would a police officer need that kind of firepower?

Unless, of course, the Violence Policy Center was lying to us about what "assault weapons" are really good for?

Nah. Couldn't be. Lying as a means to achieve an unpopular end? Who'd believe that?

I Won the Nigerian English Lottery!.

Only I never entered any lottery. Here's the email I received this morning:
Euro Millions Sweepstakes
12 Bridge Street,
Staines Middlesex TW18 4TP
United Kingdom.
Ref: LSUK/2031/8161/04
Batch: R3/A312-59

WINNING NOTIFICATION

It is my sincere pleasure to announce to you the result of our draw # 05/16
of the Euro Millions Lottery, online Sweepstakes International Program
held on the Friday,22nd,April 2005 in London, UK.
Your e-mail address attached to ticket number: 56475600545 188 with
Serial number 5368/02 drew the lucky numbers: 3-10-13-24-47-5-9 , which
subsequently won you the lottery in the 2nd category.
You have therefore been approved to claim a total sum of ? 84,084.40
( £57,143.55) in cash, credited to file EML/9023118308/03.
Please note that your lucky winning number falls within our Western
booklet representative office in london as indicated in your play
coupon.
In view of this, your ? 84,084.40 would be released to
you by the claims department. Our claims agent will immediately
commence the process to facilitate the release of your funds as soon as
you contact him.
All participants for the online version were selected randomly from the
World Wide Web through a computer draw system and extracted from over
100,000 unions,associations,and corporate bodies that are listed
online.This promotion takes place weekly.
For security reasons, you are advised to keep your winning information
confidential till your claims are processed and your money remitted to
you in whatever manner you deem it fit to claim your prize. This is
part of our precautionary measure to avoid double claiming and
unwarranted
abuse of this program by some unscrupulous elements.
Please be warned. To file for your claim, please contact our fiduciary
agent:
Mr. Richard Matlock
The EML Foundation,
claims department
Email:claims_department@euromillionsweeps.com
Fax: +44-207-681-1612
To avoid unnecessary delays and complications, please quote your
reference/batch numbers in any correspondence with our designated agent
or us.
Congratulations once more from all members and staff of this program.
Thank you for being part of our promotional lottery program.
Sincerely,
MRS.KIMBERLY DUKE
Online Co-ordinator for Euro Millions Lottery Sweepstakes International
Program.
Riiiight.

And I wonder how much my "winnings" will cost me to collect?

Think they'd accept a deed to the Brooklyn Bridge in exchange? I'm tempted to play with them, but honestly I don't have the time or the temperament for it.

Monday, April 25, 2005

It Looks Like Misleading America was Just a Small Step Up for Ken Jenne.

(h/t to American Drumslinger for the lead)

Very shortly after I started this blog I became incensed at a CNN piece that was apparently orchestrated by Broward County, Florida Sheriff Ken Jenne. It was done either with the willing and knowing cooperation of CNN correspondent John Zarella and his editors, or it was done taking advantage of the cluelessness of Zarella, et al.. This piece was the source of several posts, all about the Lying News Media. (Just to be up front, I don't think anybody's that ignorant. Zarella and/or his editors were willing accomplices, in my opinion.) The central post on this was a transcript of a piece the NRA produced shortly after CBS aired their "FEAR ASSAULT WEAPONS!" story, which I titled The Lying "News" Media, Part II. I still get pissed thinking about it.

Regardless of CNN's complicity, I concluded right then that Sheriff Jenne was a lying sack unworthy of his office.

It looks like some other people are beginning to agree with me. It seems that the good Sheriff has done some illegal side work for the County. The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel has named him "Kevlar Ken".

It all started out with allegations of, well, let me quote:
Jenne, as we all know, is at the heart of one of the largest law enforcement scandals in Florida history. His underlings, while using a crime-reporting system called PowerTrac, falsified hundreds of affidavits and made up countless confessions. Why? To make it look as if the sheriff's office was clearing a whole lot more cases than it really was. The State Attorney's Office has been investigating for more than a year and has charged two deputies in the case so far.

The sheriff, who benefited politically from the rampant fraud, has been saying the PowerTrac mess was all a big shock to him. He's also claiming full responsibility for the scandal. Yet even after the arrests and the announcement that four high-ranking officers are stepping down, he remains in office.

Where's the responsibility in that?

But that isn't sleazy enough for Jenne, a long-time politician who had no police training before Gov. Lawton Chiles appointed him top cop in 1998. The man has the gall to use the scandal to grossly enrich one of his cronies, lobbyist Tom Panza. Last fall, the sheriff hired Panza at $250 an hour to cover up -- er, I mean, investigate -- the BSO scandal. Panza, whose Fort Lauderdale law firm has been paid $300,000 for its work so far, told the Sun-Sentinel that he hadn't found "one scintilla of evidence" that Jenne had done anything wrong.
Oh HO! A "long-time politician who had no police training" before being appointed Sheriff? I didn't know that! Read the whole piece, it's quite damning. Then there's this piece:
Two deputies are accused falsifying police reports to make it look as if they solved more crimes than they really did.

But records released Monday show the problem is more widespread, and that Sheriff Ken Jenne himself may have known about it all along.

"I should have been more inquisitive and I initially underestimated the scope and complexity of this problem," Jenne said.

Jenne admitted to reporters last month that his agency's remarkable record of solving crime is bogus.

But the records released today show Jenne knew there was a widespread problem five years ago.

John Degroot, a former confidant of Jenne, told prosecutors that a consultant for BSO's controversial "Power Track" program recommended in 1999 that the sheriff look closely at the way his deputies were clearing cases.

Prosecutors asked Degroot if he thought, "the root cause of this entire problem goes all the way to the top of the agency?"

Degroot replied, "Having known the sheriff for 31 years, he ain't stupid."
Well, there's stupid, and then there's "They'll never catch me!" stupid. And there's apparently more than just two deputies involved, and it was standard operating procedure. Here's the killer quote from that last piece:
For years, the Sheriff's Office reported crime clearance rates that were two and three times the national average.
But what's gotten Jenne in real hot water isn't the record falsification, it's his apparent violation of laws prohibiting department personnel from working in side jobs that involve government contracts. Investigation into that has revealed that Jenne apparently made about $60k as an officer of a company that has done subcontract work for the Sheriff's Dept.
Jenne filed financial disclosure forms last year showing he made almost $60,000 in 2003 from two firms, Havloc LLC and Knodishall LLC. He partnered in Havloc with undersheriff Tom Carney and Lt. Col. Thomas Brennan. Carney and Brennan are in the process of leaving the Sheriff's Office.

Jenne said the firms had a single client, T&M Protection Resources of New York, a security firm that, in the words of its Web site, caters to "prestigious corporate, financial, institutional and private high net-worth clients."

Jenne, citing a confidentiality agreement, has declined to say what they did for T&M or if the work had a South Florida angle.

He has declined to answer further questions, a curious stance for someone who has trumpeted openness during his seven years as sheriff.

But the questions keep piling up. The latest involve whether Jenne, Carney and Brennan violated Sheriff's Office policy.

According to section 3.16.1 D 4 of the 2002 policy and procedures manual, the last full manual published, employees are prohibited from working in "businesses that involve ... (d) private guard services ... (g) bodyguards or similar duties ... (h) private enterprises which may bring BSO into dispute with the public or cause the potential for a conflict of interest."

From its Web site, we know T&M is involved in (d) and (g). Without knowing the nature of the work and possible South Florida links, it's hard to know if Jenne, Carney and Brennan violated (h).

Nothing like setting a good example for the troops.
It goes even deeper:
(T)wo probes have focused not only on Jenne's consulting business but also are determining whether he and BSO detectives passed information to T&M executives from the Hollywood police's investigation into the 2002 shooting of Seminole tribal lawyer Jim Shore.

T&M paid almost $60,000 to Jenne's firm in 2003 to assess the Seminole Tribe's police department before the opening of its Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood last year, The Herald has learned.

As T&M's security contract with the tribe was about to expire, the firm expressed concern that its police department was ill-equipped to deal with crimes that might arise from a Las Vegas-type casino operation.

T&M turned to BSO to help craft an assessment of the tribe's police department. T&M met with Jenne's top commanders, working as consultants for Havloc, and asked them to prepare a report on the capabilities of the tribe's police department. The commanders wrote a report on how to revamp the force, according to sources.

But Carney and Brennan, through BSO's (spokesperson, Cheryl) Stopnick, said Wednesday that they never did any consulting work for T&M and never received any income from Havloc.

The Herald also reported on Wednesday that a Coral Springs security company hired Jenne's company, paying it $4,000 last year to develop training courses for the Royal Barbados Police Force.

Innovative Surveillance Technology Inc., a vendor that has sold about $230,000 in equipment and training services to BSO during the past five years, was Havloc's second client. That contradicted Jenne's earlier statements that his consulting company only had one client, T&M.

Jenne's business relationship with Innovative raises further conflict-of-interest questions for him because he recommend his consulting firm to the vendor. State ethics laws bar him from doing that. No elected official can do private business with a company that sells products or services to his government agency.

Gov. Jeb Bush has directed the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate Jenne.

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

Oh, and he adamantly opposed Florida's recently passed, waiting to be signed, "Protection of Persons and Property" bill, saying that it could lead to accidental shootings and puts too much discretion in the hands of individuals,' according to The Miami Herald, which also opposed the bill.

Why am I not surprised?