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

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Bleg.

A commenter asks:
Would some of you folks mind commenting in this thread -

http://gatesofvienna.blogspot.co...nseless- in.html

There is a Finnish guy that is mighty proud of his homemade surveillance system.

I'm digging around this site on how the state isn't obligated to protect individuals and Clayton Cramer's gun defence blog for fodder.

But I'm thinking you folks might come up with better arguments than me posting several links to other info.
It's an interesting piece and an interesting comment thread. Have at 'em.

My Letter to Roberta de Boer.

Mentioned a couple of posts down, the Toledo Blade posted an op-ed on the local Pink Pistols group founder. It was a pretty good piece from a self-admited "gun bigot." I sent her an email:
Ms. de Boer:

Thank you for the interesting op-ed. I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

"Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them." - Teresa Neilson Hayden

I'd especially like to thank you for admitting that you are a "gun bigot." While I think a lot of people are precisely as the Pink Pistols described them, I also think very few see themselves that way. Especially very few people in the journalism industry or academia. Your piece also reminded me of PBS and Slate correspondent Emily Yoffe. In 2004 for her "Human Guinea Pig" series Ms. Yoffe learned to shoot. If you're curious, her Slate article on her experience, subtitled "How I learned to love guns" is still available here:

http://www.slate.com/id/2109816/

There's also an NPR audio interview with Ms. Yoffe linked at that story.

Your piece also reminded me of cultural anthropologist Abigail Kohn. Ms. Kohn recently published her book Shooters: Myths and Realities of America's Gun Cultures. Ms. Kohn has also been published in Reason magazine. In her May, 2001 piece "Their Aim is True" she wrote this:
We began by studying the right-wing militia movement of the early 1990s. Our first foray into the subject would have been comical if it hadn't been so naive. Our initial attempt to meet local militia members took us to a shooting range in the Bay Area, where we assumed local militia meetings would be held. We went on a Tuesday night, fully expecting the range to be seething with radical political activity. Why else would people congregate at a shooting range, if not to meet other like-minded, potentially dangerous right-wing gun nuts? It never occurred to us that they might be there for the simple enjoyment of target shooting.
I could not help but wonder if you were thinking similar thoughts when you went with Mr. Spradlin to the range.

I'm sorry the other party at the range was not more interested in Mr. Spradlin's efforts, but different strokes, as they say. In the part of the blogosphere oriented towards gun rights there is quite a bit of support for the Pink Pistols organization from us straights as well as gays. Just as an example, the blog "TFS Magnum" (http://wheelgun.blogspot.com) is run by a gay woman who lives on a sailboat in Florida. It was through a post at her site that I found your op-ed. The blog "Hell in a Handbasket" (http://www.hellinahandbasket.net/) is run by an Ohio gentleman who teaches self-protection classes to violent crime victims and who works with the Pink Pistol organization in, I believe, Columbus. His name is James Rummel. Unfortunately he recently changed Internet Service Providers so his large archive of early posts is gone down the memory hole.

In closing, I'd like to thank you for illustrating, even if in a small way, that there are more and better "gun cultures" out there than the one normally portrayed in the media. The vast majority of gun owners will never shoot anyone - in cold blood, in anger, or by accident. But as you were kind enough to mention, we do not take kindly to those who would "subject innocent people to defenselessness."

And perhaps, with some more exposure, you might join Ms. Kohn and Ms. Yoffe as a fellow enthusiast with a little different perspective on the topic of gun control.

Thank you for your attention.
It will be interesting if she responds.

A Matter of Perspective.

TSM is on a lot of blogrolls for a variety of reasons. Blog for Arizona began its life as Dean for Arizona back when "The Screamer" was running for President, so that gives you some idea as to the content thereof. However, the proprietor and I had some interesting and civil exchanges, and since I'm a fellow Arizonan, he felt it appropriate to link here.

That link draws the occasional hit, and every now and then I go visit his site to see what he's up to. Today I got an interesting lesson in perspective. Everyone knows the expression about "looking at the world through rose-colored glasses." This one was looking at the world through a funhouse mirror.

Take a read of I Pull for Pullen. A teaser:
The GOP is going to continue to getting more and more extreme, even as the public abandons them. Some hypothesized that the GOP will become more centrist in reaction to their recent reverses. But rather than react rationally, I think they will continue to believe that if only they can reach a state of perfect orthodoxy, untrammeled by any touch of reality, they can win elections again.
Doesn't that sound weirdly, twistedly familiar? Some analytical commentary on this would be... I hesitate to say "enlightening." Perhaps "entertaining" would be more appropriate? My thesarus is suffering from a nervous breakdown.

Paging Dr. Sanity! Paging Dr. Sanity!

Gun Bigots.

Zendo Deb points to an interesting op-ed in the Toledo Blade about the Pink Pistols. In Gay Rights, Gun Rights Cross Here, the author notes:
Personally, I'm what the Pink Pistols call a "gun bigot," someone who's not crazy about firearms, knows nothing about them, "may never have even fired one, certainly doesn't have any, [and] would gladly subject innocent people to defenselessness."
At least she admits it. This echoes what Joe Huffman spoke about at some length at the first annual Gun Blogger's Rendezvous in Reno last October. His firing from Pacific Northwest National Laboratories was, as his lawsuit claims, due to gun bigots.

All of which reminds me, once again, of one of my favorite gunnie quotes:
Basically, I figure guns are like gays: They seem a lot more sinister and threatening until you get to know a few; and once you have one in the house, you can get downright defensive about them. - Teresa Neilson Hayden

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

I Wonder If I've Frightened Him Off...

A commenter to last week's piece OK, I WILL Comment on this "Study" was shocked, shocked by the piece and by the other commenters:
It is unbelievable that there are people like you lot who can defend guns as 'harmless fun' or seriously state that 'guns make you safer'. If you weren't so dangerous the absurdity of it all would be hilarious.

I love how the topic quickly moves from your gun fantasies to your racial genocide fantasies in one swift paragraph.

I particularly like the idiocy of these comments.

"if you're not a young black male living in an inner city, your likelihood of dying by homicide (regardless of weapon) is about equal to that of someone living in Europe."

"if you remove the crimes committed by blacks and latinos, the U.S. violent crime rate is almost identical to that of Canada."

Like duh!! What a surprise eh? So if I remove the most deprived higher crime areas and people from the US figures and then compare it with the average in Europe (that includes all their deprived higher crime areas and population) it is 'roughly similar. Is there no amount of distortion of statistics you lot will go to to justify your idiocy? Let alone your thinly disguised prejudice against black people. Deny black people opportunities so the majority end up in poverty stricken neighbourhoods with little or no prospects and then when they act all dysfunctional, use this to justify your superiority and racial fantasies. I despair for humanity when there are dumb f***s like you walking the planet.

Boy am I glad I don't live next door to you guys.
I left a little response of my own in the comments, but, since he so kindly left a real email address I dropped him a note:
Mr. Harding:

Thank you for the heartfelt comments you left at my blog, The Smallest Minority.

Obviously you and I differ vastly in worldview (since you called me a racist dumbf**k, among other things.) Just as obviously, you read very little of my site. Then again, you are apparently a knee-jerk Leftist, so I suppose I can't expect any better from you.

However, should you care to debate the topic of gun control, I'd be more than happy to have you join me at The Smallest Minority. I find that I learn so much more when discussing the topic with those who disagree with me. Perhaps you'd like to educate me?
Surprisingly, Mr. Harding replied today:
Kevin,

Sorry if my comments were a little forthright and I thank you for responding in a friendly way. I apologise for calling you names, I think I was referring to commenters not yourself, I cannot remember exactly, but I was reacting to some pretty unbelievably frightening comments on your blog.

This stuff about black people and crime. How else could it be described other than racism?

Surely you only have to compare gun death rates between the US and UK to see that limiting guns is the safer option. Guns are so dangerous, they should not be the playthings of people.
I was, of course, moved to answer:
Neil:

Thank you for responding. No apology necessary, though you were referring to me. I have a rather thick skin at this point, and ignorance does not offend me. Ignorance is a lack of knowledge or understanding, not an incapacity for it. Thus, ignorance can be overcome through learning.

No offense intended, but you seem to frighten easily. This is also a indication of ignorance, as humans tend to fear what they do not understand. Let's take, for example, your comment "This stuff about black people and crime. How else could it be described other than racism?" Well, it can be taken as a description of reality, for one thing. Please, before you click 'delete,' allow me to explain.

What you objected to was this comment: "Never mind the fact that if you're not a young black male living in an inner city, your likelihood of dying by homicide (regardless of weapon) is about equal to that of someone living in Europe."

To you that was a racist statement. Your comment: "Like duh!! What a surprise eh? So if I remove the most deprived higher crime areas and people from the US figures and then compare it with the average in Europe (that includes all their deprived higher crime areas and population) it is 'roughly similar. Is there no amount of distortion of statistics you lot will go to to justify your idiocy? Let alone your thinly disguised prejudice against black people."

Here's what I've written about this question at another blog:
Is the incredibly disproportionate level of violent crime in the young urban black male community due to the fact they're black? Don't be ridiculous. Black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean don't exhibit the same behavior. (Which is why I don't use the appellation "African-American.") Throughout history it has been the poor who have been the primary criminal predators and who have provided the primary pool of victims, regardless of skin tone. If you're well off, you don't have to steal, for example. Nor do you feel it necessary to "drown your sorrows" in intoxicants in order to escape the crappy life you live for a few minutes or hours or days.

There's obviously more to it than just general poverty, though, because the level is so high. I would point to the exceedingly high percentage of fatherless children (due, I believe, to some really idiotic welfare policies), a welfare system that punishes attempts to escape it (I'm sorry, but you make $20 a month too much for us to subsidize your day-care! You'll have to bear the entire $400/month burden of that yourself!), and a drug policy that makes trafficking in drugs so tremendously lucrative that - in that environment - it appears to be the best (and often only) way out.

Our national history of oppressing blacks, combined with a well-meaning but incredibly flawed social policy, plus a drug policy well-intentioned but completely disconnected from reality have all combined to create the level of violence that the numbers show.

Who is to blame? My finger points at us, because the people we voted into office chose to do what felt good, rather than taking a hard, objective look at what the policies they voted for would actually result in. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis put it very well: "Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government's purposes are beneficent."

Edited to add: If you want further evidence of this, look what our government policies have done for the American Indian populations.
Is that a racist statement? I'm unfamiliar with the European statistics on this, but do blacks represent thirteen (13) percent of the population there? Do they make up 47% of homicide victims overall? Or is there another minority that does? Is there any significant group that inflicts homicide on itself at a rate six times the national average?

Doesn't this make you wonder if there is something we could do that would directly affect the specific problem of young black men killing each other at epidemic levels? Because "gun control" most definitely does not.

I have compared the death rates between the US and the UK, Neil - something that you, obviously, have not. Ever since we've been keeping records, the UK has had about 1/8th the rate of homicides that the U.S. has had, regardless of the gun laws in place at the time. Guns were rarely used to commit homicide even when their possession was wholly unregulated. The UK began its path towards gun-control nirvana starting in 1920. It had no effect on that ratio. In 1953 Parliament passed the Prevention of Crime Act, which made it illegal to carry an "offensive weapon" without being able to demonstrate a need for it. Offensive weapons included knives, pointed objects, and tear gas along with firearms. Ownership of a handgun for self-defense was no longer considered a reasonable need. After all, you were prohibited by law from carrying it. Curiously, violent crime in England began to climb beginning in the late 50's, until at the present time you are far more likely to be assaulted in England than in the U.S. - you just don't kill each other as often, as has been the tradition since the turn of the last century.

One bit of interesting news: The ratio of homicide rates between the U.S. and England is now down to about 3.6:1. Throw in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the disparity is even smaller.

Now, as to your last statement: "Guns are so dangerous, they should not be the playthings of people." This is the place where our worldviews are most widely divergent. Yes, guns are dangerous. So dangerous that they cannot be trusted in the hands of only the government and violent criminals - because we've seen what both of those groups do with such power. "Playthings of people"? Well, I do enjoy recreational shooting, as do a small (but growing) contingent of your countrymen, but "playthings"? I think not.

If some of my commenters frightened you, I'm concerned what these effect these quotes will have:

To be civilized is to restrain the ability to commit mayhem.
To be incapable of committing mayhem is not the mark of the civilized,
merely the domesticated. – Trefor Thomas

To believe one is incompetent to bear arms is, therefore, to live in corroding and almost always needless fear of the self - in fact, to affirm oneself a moral coward. A state further from the dignity of a free man would be rather hard to imagine. - Eric S. Raymond, Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun

In a state of psychological weakness, weapons become a burden for the capitulating side. To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being. Nothing is left, then, but concessions, attempts to gain time and betrayal. - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

"Playthings of people"? No, indeed. Serious tools. But recreation with serious tools is something we do all the time here.

I would be pleased to continue this conversation, if you are so inclined. But if you feel the need to hide under your bed, I certainly understand.
I wonder if I'll get a response?

What Should Have Been the SOTU Address.

Michelle Malkin posted the whole piece, and I will as well. This is the statement of 23 year-old Army Second Leutenant Mark J. Daily, recently killed by a roadside bomb in Mosul. This needs to be archived, and it needs to be spread as widely as possible so it and he can never be forgotten.

Shame is a concept that the Left has done everything in its power to eliminate. If President Bush had read this before the joint session of Congress, perhaps some of that body might have rediscovered it.
Sunday, October 29, 2006

WHY I JOINED
Current mood: optimistic

Why I Joined:

This question has been asked of me so many times in so many different contexts that I thought it would be best if I wrote my reasons for joining the Army on my page for all to see. First, the more accurate question is why I volunteered to go to Iraq. After all, I joined the Army a week after we declared war on Saddam's government with the intention of going to Iraq. Now, after years of training and preparation, I am finally here.

Much has changed in the last three years. The criminal Ba'ath regime has been replaced by an insurgency fueled by Iraq's neighbors who hope to partition Iraq for their own ends. This is coupled with the ever present transnational militant Islamist movement which has seized upon Iraq as the greatest way to kill Americans, along with anyone else they happen to be standing near. What was once a paralyzed state of fear is now the staging ground for one of the largest transformations of power and ideology the Middle East has experienced since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Thanks to Iran, Syria, and other enlightened local actors, this transformation will be plagued by interregional hatred and genocide. And I am now in the center of this.

Is this why I joined?

Yes. Much has been said about America's intentions in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and seeking to establish a new state based upon political representation and individual rights. Many have framed the paradigm through which they view the conflict around one-word explanations such as "oil" or "terrorism," favoring the one which best serves their political persuasion. I did the same thing, and anyone who knew me before I joined knows that I am quite aware and at times sympathetic to the arguments against the war in Iraq. If you think the only way a person could bring themselves to volunteer for this war is through sheer desperation or blind obedience then consider me the exception (though there are countless like me).

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!) or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish contently in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade.

And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are.

So that is why I joined. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the President to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere.

I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined.

In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago and were up until now held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural, democratic one is dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck"

Mark Daily
Thank you, Lyle, for pointing that piece out. As sad as the death of Lt. Daily is, I'm proud to know that this country still turns out people like him.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I Want a Life Preserver of My Own

It's been an ongoing theme here: The system's broken, the occupants are happily breaking it, and everything's going to come crashing down.

On the one hand, as commenter Fred Everett said at a post at Protein Wisdom:
(E)very generation, feels like the "wheels are coming off" in some sense.
On the other hand, as Billy Beck retorted:
Yup. But you know what?

Every now and then, they're right about it.
I take some comfort in the fact that H.L. Mencken, Will Rogers and Mark Twain spoke and joked about how everything was going to hell in a handbasket back in the 20's and 30's. I don't feel so sanguine when I realize that seventy-plus years later all we've seen is further decay.

We're at war with a loosely associated group of fanatics, many of whom are willing to die in order to kill us and tear down our civilization, and our reaction? Half the population seems to believe that if we leave them alone, they'll leave us alone. Never mind that Iran and North Korea want (or may have) nukes. Never mind that nearly every day in Iraq or Afghanistan, some jihadi happily sends his soul to Allah just so he can kill some infidels, and he'd love to do it in the heart of the "Great Satan."

Some of us understand the stakes. Most of them seem to be on the pointy end of the stick. Back here in Disneyland, though, the remainder are called "chickenhawks" - or worse.

The November elections have been taken by our political masters as a consensus vote on the war in Iraq, although Joe Lieberman won his race based on his support for that war. Nobody seemed to be paying attention to the fact that the Republicans lost. They gave it away by pissing off the people who voted them into power in the first place. Most of the Democrat victories were by default. But now the Dems control both houses of Congress, and are hell-bent (words chosen carefully) on pushing their agenda.

From my perspective, that agenda is perfectly illustrated by that Far Side cartoon above. We're all merrily running for the sea. Those not so inclined are being swept along anyway.

I'm tired of it. I'm tired of standing up and trying to get people to look. I'm tired of "Global Warming" - the next boogeyman the people who believe that only an all-powerful State can save us from certain destruction (though many will unfortunately have to be sacrificed, of course - eggs and omlettes, you understand) are pushing as the excuse to control our lives. I'm tired of the War on Terror - to some extent a boogeyman itself - being used to build the mechanisms that can (and will eventually) be used to the same end. I'm tired of the War on (some) Drugs™ being used to disembowel the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. I'm tired of politicians butchering the First Amendment. I'm tired of the Courts eviscerating the Second. I'm tired of our institutions of "higher learning" turning out ignorant but politically correct useful idiots in an endless cycle that ever more resembles the swirling of a toilet bowl.

In short, I'm tired of watching Western Civilization commit seppuku with a dull, rusty spoon. No ceremony. No hope of restored honor. No hope.

Half of me wants to help pull it all down just to get it over with. The other half wants the world to go on so that my grandchildren can have a good life of their own. I understand that most of the people on this planet live in poverty, and that we here in the United States have built a society where very, very few live in anything even resembling the squalor that the majority of humanity considers "normal." I refuse to feel guilty for this. I refuse to calulate my "carbon footprint." I refuse to recycle anything but aluminum cans (the only thing that makes economic sense to recycle.) I don't want my grandchildren to have to live like the majority of the planet just to make it "fair."

Call me selfish. I don't give a shit. I don't want a life preserver, I want a life BOAT.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

OK, So, I Switched.

This is the first post at TSM using the new Blogger.

So how do I get rid of the fv*king "Nav Bar" at the top of the page? On the old blogger there was an option to delete it. Not on the new one! You can choose what color it is, but there's no "delete" option.

It's not a bug, it's a feature!

P.S. - Where the hell are my archives?!?!?


UPDATE: OK, that's fixed, I guess, but I can see I need to do a whole lot of clean-up and maintenance stuff. Dammit.

My M1 Carbine Magazines are In!.

Yes, they're GI, too. In very, very nice shape. Only one is really coated in cosmoline. I have received the following:
2 - International Silver (IS)
3 - Seymour Smith (SS)
2- Union Hardware (U)
1 - Winchester (BW)
1 - National Postal Meter (MN)
1 - IBM (OIB)
The IBM is the one most heavily coated in cosmoline.

I hope like hell that when the CMP releases the carbines for sale they have some IBM ones available. My dad spent 33 years working for Big Blue. It'd be kinda cool to have a real "business machine" made by them.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Crazy Love and Crazy Laws.

Recently this blog has been getting a lot of hits from Google on searches for "Linda Riss," "Burt Pugach" and every possible combination and variation on those two names. I've covered the story of Ms. Riss before. In fact, her story was one of the first pieces ever posted here.

Linda Riss was an attractive young woman who became involved with a married man, a lawyer by the name of Burton Pugach. When she finally figured out that he was never going to leave his wife, she tried to break off the relationship, but old Burt wasn't having it. He stalked her and threatened her. She went to the NYPD trying to get protection, but got nowhere. Burt was a lawyer, after all.

So, Linda tried to go on with her life. She got engaged. She got a call from Burt, who said (in effect), "This is your last chance. If I can't have you, no one can have you, and when I'm done with you, no one will want you." The next day an assailant threw lye in her face, blinding her and scarring her for life.

Burton Pugach went to jail. Linda Riss sued the City of New York for failing to protect her. She lost. Burt served twelve years on a 15-t0-30 sentence, and when he got out of prison he was interviewed on television.

He proposed to Linda Riss over the airwaves.

She married him.

And then he cheated on her as he had cheated on his previous wife. Then he stalked his lover as he had stalked Linda.

And Linda Pugach testified for him as a character witness.

So why is this site getting so many hits on "Linda Riss" and "Burt Pugach"? Because at this year's Sundance Film Festival there's a documentary called Crazy Love about the Riss/Pugach story.

While I doubt seriously that Crazy Love will much note, or even mention Linda's lawsuit against NYC or its outcome, I have one thing to say:

I bet it's going to be a better documentary than Zoo.

One other thing:

Too bad no one ever introduced Burton Pugach to equestrianism.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Which "Gun Culture"?.

In relation to that piece from last Wednesday, I give you a post from Fodder at Ride Fast & Shoot Straight that illustrates the difference between the two "gun cultures."

Yes, two. Although many people like Mayor Ann Thomas of Haverhill in the UK believe there is only one:
Mayor Ann Thomas said she was "absolutely shocked" at the spate of robberies in Haverhill, but felt it was part of a national increase in gun culture rather than a particular problem in the town itself.
Even England still has two gun cultures:
PUT down those golf clubs and go for your gun: shooting is fast becoming the social networking sport of choice.

A survey of 2,000 companies and 14,000 directors shows that shooting is soaring in popularity. A decade ago, toting a shotgun did not even feature among the most popular recreations listed by company directors. But the survey ranks shooting as the seventh most popular recreation, almost level with gardening.
Anyway, give Fodder's post a look. It's perfect visual accompaniment for clueless gun-phobes.

(Sorry about the lack of posting. Very busy, other distractions, etc. More stuff coming. Just maybe not today.)

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Anybody Know a Good Source for .30 Carbine Mags?

The only one I've found for good-condition GI-issue is J&G Sales out of Phoenix, but $24.95 a pop is pretty pricey. From what I've seen, "some surface rust" at some other sites might well mean "looks like a lace curtain." As I mentioned before, I fully intend to get a CMP M1 Carbine when they start selling them in March, and I'd like to have ten or twelve magazines to go along with it. According to reports, the CMP has rifles, but no magazines to speak of.

OK, I WILL Comment on this "Study".

Ben from Carnaby Fudge sent me a copy of the Social Science & Medicine report entitled "State-level homicide victimization rates in the US in relation to survey measures of household firearm ownership, 2001-2003" authored by Matthew Miller, David Hemenway, and Deborah Azrael of the Harvard School of Public Health. I've perused it. It is your typical statistician's wet-dream with phrases like "multivariate analysis" and "negative binomial regression models." I am not a statistician. I admit up front that I don't follow most of the discussion in the nine-page report, so this is my layman's understanding of the report's findings and my commentary on it.

Studies like this tend to do a combination of things. One, they state the blindingly obvious, e.g.:
Consistent with previous work, we found that homicide rates were higher in areas with higher rates of urbanization and resource deprivation; like others we also find that homicide rates are higher in the South.
Two, they draw conclusions, but don't admit to actually drawing those conclusions:
Our study does not establish a causal relationship between guns and homicide. It is possible that a non-causal relationship explains our findings or that the association we observe might have arisen because individuals in states with historically high homicide rates acquired more guns (than did individuals in low-homicide states), as a defensive response to actual high homicide rates in their communities (i.e. "reverse causation").
Have to cover all the bases, you know. But this won't be mentioned in any reports in the press. Third, they tend to not mention anything that doesn't reinforce the message being pushed: "More Guns = More Gun Crime." In this case, homicide.

I've already had a go-around with Dr. Hemenway, but let me see if I can put this report in a little context. The study covers homicide from 2001-2003. Here's a DOJ chart showing nationwide homicide rates from 1900-2002:

Click on the image for a link to the source data. Note that after 1994, homicide dropped precipitously. The data shows that in 2002 - the middle of the study period - the national homicide rate was 6.1/100,000 population. That is roughly the same rate we had in 1966, 1947, 1940, and 1913. The fact of the matter is homicide rates vary widely with time. However, the number of guns in circulation over time does one thing and one thing only: It increases.

But the argument put forth by this paper is that it is the level of household firearm ownership that is the critical correlation factor, and according to this report "approximately one in three US household contained firearms". But if household ownership was the critical factor in homicide rates, then why the tremendous swings from 1900 to the present? And why has the homicide rate in the U.S. declined from 1994 until just last year? Surely Dr. Hemenway et al. don't expect us to believe that the number of households containing firearms nationwide has decreased each and every year in the past decade? The report states:
Case-control studies suggest that the presence of a gun in the home is a risk factor for homicide in the home, that the risk is higher for women than for men, and that when any family member purchases a handgun all members of the household are at increased risk of homicide victimization.
During the past decade we've added a minimum of 30 million new firearms in public hands - at least 10 million of which were handguns. Since 1993 we've gone from 21 states with "shall-issue" or unrestricted concealed-carry legislation to 39. We've had an influx of "assault weapons" and "pocket rockets" - supposed engines of death and destruction far more lethal than the weapons available in the 60's.

Yet homicides declined. Non-fatal firearm related crime declined.

But we're supposed to believe that if you or someone in your household buys a gun, it is somehow the overriding risk factor in the probability of your becoming a victim of homicide. The report doesn't say that, but that is most certainly how it is being reported:
Study: More Guns Equal More Murders in U.S.

Higher rates of gun ownership correlate with higher homicide rates

Homicide Rates Higher in States with More Guns at Home
Never mind the fact that if you're not a young black male living in an inner city, your likelihood of dying by homicide (regardless of weapon) is about equal to that of someone living in Europe.

Nope. A gun in the home is the thing to be feared!

Do you understand why this kind of thing pisses me off?

Edited to add: And do I even have to point out that the "study" makes no distinction between criminal murders and justifiable homicides? As the Albuquerque Tribune recently noted, last year 10% of reported homicides there were of a defensive nature. Three were shootings of home intruders - with guns kept in the home one would assume.

UPDATE: Hey, I got quoted (secondhand) by Instapundit! Thanks, Uncle.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Usual Suspects.and More Anti-gun "Research"

Reader Steve Price out of Canada sent me a link to a press release about a new study performed by three researchers at Harvard's School of Public Health. Among the three was our old friend David Hemenway. Steve asked me to fisk the report, but I emailed him back that Jeff at Alphecca had already done a pretty good job of that.

Now I see that Instapundit has commented:
I'm pretty sure that these guys would call anyone who accepted grants from the NRA bought-and-paid-for. But the Joyce Foundation is every bit as biased as the NRA, and has a history of paying for scholarship that would be treated as a scandal if it were engaged in by pro-gun folks.

I find much of the public health literature on guns to be highly biased and deeply untrustworthy. It starts with an agenda, rather obviously, and then constructs "research" to confirm it. In this it resembles far too much of the politicized social science we see today, which explains in part why people are far less persuaded by social science claims than they used to be.
He also links to a Jacob Sullum October 2003 Reason piece for a quote. He could just as well have referenced my three-part exchange with Dr. John D Kelly, IV from last week. Among other things, I cited the same National Academies of Science report, and its conclusion. (Then again, I'm not an accredited journalist like Sullum, but...)

Of course, nothing will affect true-believers like Dr. Kelly, but given the fact that gun owners and gun-rights supporters appear to have found their political voice, I'm relatively secure in believing that the damage such "studies" can do any more has been sharply reduced. Bias is now exposed, and having a doctorate no longer equates to the wearing of a mantle of disinterested impartiality. We know better, now.

Stare Decisis,.or: "Go Away, Boy, You're Bothering Me"

Via Alphecca, Hollis Wayne Fincher has been convicted of possession of an unregistered short-barreled shotgun and two unregistered machine-guns. (Read the comments!)

This is not unexpected. In fact, I'd have been shocked had he not been. Unfortunately, Arkansas is in the 8th Circuit, not the 5th. The 5th Circuit is the one that found (unlike most of the others) that the Second Amendment does protect an individual right to arms - though one of "uncertain scope." Instead, the 8th Circuit has U.S. v. Nelsen as precedent - a 1988 case that used U.S. v Cruikshank as precedent. Here's the pertinent quote from Cruikshank:
The right there specified is that of 'bearing arms for a lawful purpose.' This is not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The second amendment declares that it shall not be infringed; but this, as has been seen, means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress. This is one of the amendments that has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the national government, leaving the people to look for their protection against any violation by their fellow-citizens of the rights it recognizes..."(My emphasis)
Cruikshank is the 1875 Supreme Court case declaring that the Second Amendment only protects the (pre-existing) right to arms from federal infringement. If the majority of the residents of your state wanted to disarm you (because, in this case, you happened to be black), well that was no business of the Feds!

U.S. v. Nelsen
cites Cruikshank for the proposition that "The right there specified is that of 'bearing arms for a lawful purpose.' This is not a right granted by the Constitution." Note that Nelson omits Cruikshank's additional language, changing the meaning entirely. Then Nelson was used as precedent in 1992's U.S. v Hale, a very similar case where (if I recall correctly) the accused walked up to a police station, advised the officers present that he possessed several unregistered fully-automatic weapons and challenged them to arrest him so that he could attempt to fix - through the justice legal system - the travesty that has been building since U.S. v. Cruikshank. The BATF eventually got a warrant and went in to find that, indeed, Mr. Hale had several unregistered fully-automatic weapons. He went to trial.

He lost.

He appealed

He lost.

He appealed to the Supreme Court.

They denied certiorari.

Now Wayne Fincher has lost. And, I believe, he will continue to lose because of stare decisis,
Latin: "to stand by that which is decided." The principal that the precedent decisions are to be followed by the courts.

To abide or adhere to decided cases. It is a general maxim that when a point has been settled by decision, it forms a precedent which is not afterwards to be departed from.
It is interesting to note that in the Hale decision there was a separate concurrence by Judge Beam, to wit:
I concur in the result reached in Judge John R. Gibson's opinion in this matter. I agree completely with the portions dealing with Hale's hearsay and confrontation contentions. I also agree that Hale's possession of the particular weapons at issue in this case is not protected by the Second Amendment. I disagree, however, that Cases v. United States, 131 F.2d (1st Cir.1942); United States v. Warin, 530 F.2d (6th Cir.1976); United States v. Oakes, 564 F.2d 384 (10th Cir.1977) and United States v. Nelson, 859 F.2d 1318 (8th Cir.1988) properly interpret the Constitution or the Supreme Court's holding in United States v. Miller, 307 U.S., 59 S.Ct. 816, 83 L.Ed. 1206 (1939) insofar as they say that Congress has the power to prohibit an individual from possessing any type of firearm, even when kept for lawful purposes. Judge Gibson's opinion seems to adopt that premise and with that holding, I disagree. (Emphasis mine.)
Yet footnote 3 of the decision rebukes Judge Beam:
The concurrence flies in the face of stare decisis in arguing that this court did not properly interpret the Second Amendment or Miller in Nelsen, which is consistent with our earlier decisions in Cody and Decker. The concurrence would also flout uniform precedent from other circuits, particularly since Nelsen cites and relies on Oakes and Warin, and Cody on Cases. (Emphasis mine.)
In other words, it doesn't matter. We've changed the law, and we'll keep changing the law as it suits us. Cruikshank declares that Congress can't infringe on the right to arms, but by the time we reach Hale in 1992, through stare decisis alone, Congress has that power. Because the courts say it does.

Which reminds me again of my favorite dissent ever written: Judge Alex Kozinski's dissent to the 9th Circuit's denial of an en banc rehearing of Silveira v Lockyer:
Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that "speech, or . . . the press" also means the Internet...and that "persons, houses, papers, and effects" also means public telephone booths....When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases - or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we're none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it's using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.
And Judge Kleinfeld's dissent in that same decision was almost as good:
I respectfully dissent from our order denying rehearing en banc. In so doing, I am expressing agreement with my colleague Judge Gould's special concurrence in Nordyke v. King, and with the Fifth Circuit's opinion in United States v. Emerson, both taking the position that the Second Amendment secures an individual, and not collective, right to keep and bear arms.

The panel opinion holds that the Second Amendment "imposes no limitation on California's [or any other state's] ability to enact legislation regulating or prohibiting the possession or use of firearms" and "does not confer an individual right to own or possess arms." The panel opinion erases the Second Amendment from our Constitution as effectively as it can, by holding that no individual even has standing to challenge any law restricting firearm possession or use. This means that an individual cannot even get a case into court to raise the question. The panel's theory is that "the Second Amendment affords only a collective right," an odd deviation from the individualist philosophy of our Founders. The panel strikes a novel blow in favor of states' rights, opining that "the amendment was not adopted to afford rights to individuals with respect to private gun ownership or possession," but was instead "adopted to ensure that effective state militias would be maintained, thus preserving the people's right to bear arms." It is not clear from the opinion whom the states would sue or what such a suit would claim were they to try to enforce this right. The panel's protection of what it calls the "people's right to bear arms" protects that "right" in the same fictional sense as the "people's" rights are protected in a "people's democratic republic."

Our circuit law regarding the Second Amendment squarely conflicts with that of the Fifth Circuit. It is inconsistent with decisions of the Supreme Court that have construed the Second Amendment and phrases within it. Our circuit has effectively repealed the Second Amendment without the democratic protection of the amendment process, which Article V requires.
Those quotes are just excerpts. Read the whole thing. Both Kozinski and Kleinfeld understand that stare decisis only goes so far, and that the courts of this nation have eviscerated the Second Amendment.

And there is every indication that they will continue to do so. Opinions in favor of the original meaning of the Second Amendment will continue to be dissents, and the courts will not save us.

One final excerpt from Kozinski's dissent in Lockyer:
My excellent colleagues have forgotten (the) bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime routinely do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.
Hah!.I'm Not Alone!

Someone else appreciates the miracle that is the Charmin Ultra Double Roll!

(Scroll down, you'll see the post.)

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I'd Exhaust Myself Trying to Fisk This One.

Besides, the commenters have already done a pretty good job anyway.

Check your blood pressure meds and go visit the tattooed, pierced Buddhist who reports on what it's like to take a CCW class in Kentucky.

Oh, and if you want a drinking game, take a shot at each example of "tolerance" he exhibits.

You'll be on the floor in no time.

Personal Sovereignty and "Killing Their Asses".

Yesterday I quoted Tam:
I have no real love for the peccadilloes and strange beliefs of the Right. From politicians with a tenuous grasp of the Constitution to preachers sticking their noses where they don't belong, I get a twinge of annoyance at least once a day. It remains largely an annoyance, however, as so much of what they hold dear has very little impact on me in my daily life: I don't gamble, have no desire to marry another woman, and don't have any children for them to teach that the Earth is flat or that Harry Potter is the tool of the devil. Besides, they generally want to let me keep my guns, so if they get too annoying in the future I figure I can always shoot them.
Today, SayUncle:
What makes me a gun nut?

Not the number of guns I own. For someone who yammers on so much about guns, I probably own considerably less than the average reader here. I own the following: Ruger 10/22, a Walther P22, Kel-Tec 380, an AR in 9mm, Glock 30, an AR in 5.56. I think that's it. Six firearms. I have a lot on my to buy list but they always get pushed back due to other priorities or whatever. And here lately, I've actually sold a couple of firearms. One, because I didn't care for it and one because I was offered too much to turn it down.

It's not that I like how they work mechanically or tinkering. I do that with other stuff and I'm not nuts about that. I like to do woodworking but I am not a woodworking nut. And I don’t blog about woodworking.

It's not hunting. I don't hunt.

It's not the zen of target shooting. I zen playing cards, golf, and other activities as well.

So, what is it? I thought about it long and hard. And it's this simple truth:

If you fuck with me bad enough, I'll kill your ass.
What both of these quotes illustrate is the concept of personal sovereignty. What is it? Here's a good definition:
Personal sovereignty is an issue which affects each of us as individuals and as a society, whether we realize it or not. Understanding it can help us to interpret what is going on within us and around us. Increasing it can radically transform our existence.

The word "sovereign" means to be in supreme authority over someone or something, and to be extremely effective and powerful. Therefore, it is usually applied to gods, royalty and governments. We speak of kings and queens as sovereigns (even when they are figureheads), and of the sovereign rights of nations and States.

Personal sovereignty, then, would imply the intrinsic authority and power of an individual to determine his or her own direction and destiny. If that sounds suspiciously like free will, it's because personal sovereignty and free will are the same thing.
It is, in fact, the polar opposite of statism. It is the thing that statists fear above all - a population that won't do as it's told by its betters.
When sovereign individuals in the State of Nature come together to form political community they create a higher law, a governing authority. Again, in political community the rule of law, the state's monopoly on violence and the state's internal sovereignty all mean the same thing. The right to be armed outside of the law is the right to individual sovereignty. Individual sovereigns by definition do not consent to be governed, do not give "just powers" to government, do not "quit everyone his Executive Power of the Law of Nature". They exist in the State of Nature before there is law and government. They still want this government to have the "just powers" to secure the rights they proclaim.
The author of that piece obviously doesn't grasp the essential difference between America's founding and that of every other nation on earth - a founding best illustrated by Thomas Jefferson's comment about Shay's Rebellion:
A little rebellion now and then is a good thing. ... God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.
The part that our statist friend just doesn't get is what Tam, SayUncle, I and most other gun owners grasp intuitively:

Fuck with me bad enough...

Or, as Jefferson originally expressed it, far more eloquently:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
What holds true at the wholesale level does as well at the retail.

Statists grasp the inherent logic that statism cannot coexist with a population that has not surrendered its personal sovereignty - a population with the ability and willingness to reject government's "monopoly on violence" is the keystone of individual rights and personal liberty, as I tried to illustrate in Those Without Swords Can Still Die Upon Them. Statism requires a population that is dependent - upon the state or upon their neighbors. People like those recently illustrated at Kim du Toit's in No Helping Hand
Recently, four young families moved up here to Washington state after making small fortunes in the California real estate boom. These people are all friends of a friend so I run into them frequently. They are all liberal, but not of the raving moonbat type. None of them are anti-gun, but neither are they much interested in fireams.

--

Recently I was at a party with these four families present. I was encouraging them to make their own emergency kits and store food. Also, I described my efforts in this area. Once again someone made the “when things get bad we’re coming to your house” statement. This time it was not a joke.

They seemed to believe that I would feed and protect them in dangerous times; almost as if it was my responsibility to do so.
These are people who believe that someone else is responsible for their safety and security. If the state can't (or won't), it's up to their neighbors who have prepared.

This is the essential core of people who support statism: What's mine is mine, and what's yours is also mine.

Unless you have a a weapon and the willingness to inhibit them from fucking with you bad enough....

Original JSKit/Echo comment thread.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Quote of the Day.

From Tam this morning:
I have no real love for the peccadilloes and strange beliefs of the Right. From politicians with a tenuous grasp of the Constitution to preachers sticking their noses where they don't belong, I get a twinge of annoyance at least once a day. It remains largely an annoyance, however, as so much of what they hold dear has very little impact on me in my daily life: I don't gamble, have no desire to marry another woman, and don't have any children for them to teach that the Earth is flat or that Harry Potter is the tool of the devil. Besides, they generally want to let me keep my guns, so if they get too annoying in the future I figure I can always shoot them.
What she has to say about "the nut-fudge looniness of the left" is just as outstandingly snarky. And accurate. Bikini shots aside, it is this kind of writing that makes hers the first blog I click on in the morning.

I don't think I'm ever going to get the image of church ladies in semtex underoos out of my mind's eye.

No, Dear, a National Increase in Gun Crime.

There's a difference that UK politicians (most politicians, in fact) just can't seem to get through their heads.
Mayor defends town after three gun raids

A MAYOR is urging people to continue visiting her town and denied it had turned into the "Wild West" after three armed robberies in less than three weeks.

Mayor Ann Thomas said she was "absolutely shocked" at the spate of robberies in Haverhill, but felt it was part of a national increase in gun culture rather than a particular problem in the town itself.
What people like this refuse to understand is that there are two gun cultures. Three, if your society has done what the UK has managed. The first gun culture is the culture of responsible use. Normally this culture includes self-defense, but in the UK they've managed to pretty much quash that until almost none of the few remaining licensed gun owners will make a peep in public about defending themselves with a firearm. That gun culture has been eviscerated.

The second gun culture is the predatory one. What politicians refuse to understand is that "gun control" can only destroy the good "gun culture." The second culture is about power, not responsibility, and "gun control" for them basically means "easier pickings."

Ann Thomas is one of those people who sees an increase in sport shooting as something ominous - because it means an "increase in gun culture." She is one who cannot separate "violent and predatory" from "violent but protective."

So of course she holds elective office.

In an interesting associated note, the Albuquerque Tribune reports in an op-ed that a bit over 10% of the 63 homicides recorded in Albuquerque last year were self-defense. One assumes that they were all shootings, but at least three of the five incidents definitely were. One wonders that if 10% of the homicides were self-defense, how many other incidents of self-defense with a firearm occurred in which no one was shot? And one wonders what Mayor Thomas would think.

(h/t to Front Sight, Press for the informative and interesting links.

Why Wasn't I Taught This Book in School?.

I just started reading F.A. Hayek's The Road To Serfdom. It's the book I'm taking to read at lunch, and I just finished Chapter 1 today. This book was originally published in 1944, yet what Hayek had to say then is absolutely relevant to today's political climate. Apparently the general voting public has learned nothing about government or economics since this was written, and I think I know why.

I've said it here on numerous occasions: our public education system has been systematically dumbed-down, deliberately, with the willing cooperation of both political parties, because people who want power know it is easier to accumulate and wield if the masses are ignorant and apathetic. Books like The Road to Serfdom are verboten if that is your end.

Here's a selection of quotes on education and government from my archives:
All who have meditated on the art of governing mankind have been convinced that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth. - Aristotle

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. - H.G. Wells

Reason and Ignorance, the opposites of each other, influence the great bulk of mankind. If either of these can be rendered sufficiently extensive in a country, the machinery of Government goes easily on. Reason obeys itself; and Ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it.- Thomas Paine

We have the greatest opportunity the world has ever seen, as long as we remain honest - which will be as long as we can keep the attention of our people alive. If they once become inattentive to public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors would all become wolves. - Thomas Jefferson

I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power. - Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820.

It is universally admitted that a well-instructed people alone can be permanently a free people. - James Madison

No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders. - Samuel Adams

I would much rather know that a reporter hates low taxes on moralistic egalitarian grounds then have a reporter who pretends everyone "knows" low taxes are an objective, scientifically proven evil. - Jonah Goldberg, NRO

Because the present-day Republicans and Democrats are both big-government activists, they have a foundational philosophy that is the same: America is a problem to be fixed, and Americans are a people to be managed. - Rev. Donald Sensing

Ignorance and arrogance are a lethal combination. Nowhere do we see that more clearly among writers and performers who pontificate as historians when they know nothing about history. - Victor Davis Hanson

And what is a good citizen? Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual. Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point. A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps. - H.L. Mencken

Government, in its very essence, is opposed to all increase in knowledge. Its tendency is always towards permanence and against change...[T]he progress of humanity, far from being the result of government, has been made entirely without its aid and in the face if its constant and bitter opposition. - H.L. Mencken

It is only from a special point of view that "education" is a failure. As to its own purposes, it is an unqualified success. One of its purposes is to serve as a massive tax-supported jobs program for legions of not especially able or talented people. As social programs go, it's a good one. The pay isn't high, but the risk is low, the standards are lenient, entry is easy, and job security is pretty good...in fact, the system is perfect, except for one little detail. We must find a way to get the children out of it. - Richard Mitchell, the Underground Grammarian

If a consensus of the majority is all it takes to determine what is right, then having and controlling information becomes extraordinarily important. - Masamune Shirow

History doesn't always repeat itself. Sometimes it just screams, "Why don't you listen to me?" and lets fly with a big stick. - John W. Campbell Jr.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Good News from Blighty for a Change.

I've seen this a couple of places. The TimesOnline is reporting an increase in recreational shooting in England. They're touting it as the new golf, useful for business networking, and (apparently) only for the well-heeled, but note the "and women" line:
Shooting hits spot as networking tool

Richard Woods and John Elliott

Executives and women go for their guns

PUT down those golf clubs and go for your gun: shooting is fast becoming the social networking sport of choice.

A survey of 2,000 companies and 14,000 directors shows that shooting is soaring in popularity. A decade ago, toting a shotgun did not even feature among the most popular recreations listed by company directors. But the survey ranks shooting as the seventh most popular recreation, almost level with gardening.
Oooh! Gardening! Be still my beating heart.
"Though golf remains the directors' favourite recreation, shooting has come from nowhere and continues its rise, despite the current politically correct climate," said Allister Heath, editor of The Business magazine, which conducted the survey.
You say that as though you expect the current "politically correct climate" will change along with global warming.
Nor is shooting's popularity solely down to City bankers blasting off on corporate days out. The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) saw its membership rise to 128,000 last year, up from 110,00 in 1996; the number of affiliated syndicates has jumped to 940 from just 370 in 1996.

A recent survey by economic consultants Pacec estimated that 480,000 people now participate in shooting and the sport generates 70,000 jobs. Many of the newcomers are women.

"We have constantly been increasing our membership, it's across the board," said Christopher Graffius of BASC. "It is far more accessible than it was."

It's true, though, that landed gentry and business big hitters still lead the way. The Duke of Northumberland is rated in this month's edition of The Field as "a top contender for Britain's very best all-round game-shot". Michael Spencer, chief executive of the money broker Icap, is also an enthusiast.

Rupert Lowe, the chairman of Southampton FC, is ranked as one of the finest shots in the country. And Marco Pierre White, the celebrity chef, is such an avid "gun", as shooters are known, that he takes out his 12-bore up to four times a week during the season.
Now there's a change. People proud of a "gun culture" across the pond.
But shooting also ranges more widely, partly because farmers have diversified in search of new sources of income.

"Often renting land to a syndicate can be very profitable for them," said Graffius, "so there are more opportunities for syndicates to shoot than in the past."
Economics 101. Until the .gov decides to tax that use exhorbitantly for being "anti-social" or some such.
Others suggest that people have discovered shooting is an easier way to network than golf. "When I play golf, most people go in one direction and I go somewhere else," said Dylan Williams, founder of the Royal Berkshire Shooting School. "The ability to talk to people is negated.

"Whereas here (at the shooting school) you can invite who you want and give them a great day out where they will achieve a great degree of success very quickly.

"People in business say they would shoot even if they weren't very good at it, because of the people they meet."
Or, as one of the guys at my work on a trap & skeet team says, "because it's fun even when you're bad at it."
Baron Phillips, a City PR man and keen gun himself, agrees. "It's become the new networking tool, whether it's old blue bloods or new money.

"In golf, if you're no good it's painfully obvious. In shooting, if you keep missing birds nobody minds, so long as you enjoy the day out in the countryside. There have been stories of groups from American investment banks being sent packing after the first drive of a shoot because they are spending all their time on their mobile or BlackBerry."
Possibly because the Americans over there have become Anglicized?
Others believe the attractions of shooting go beyond the boardroom. Jonathan Young, editor of The Field, said: "It may be down to people moving out to the countryside. Wives join the tennis club and socially they are fixed. Then the boys turn round and say, what are we going to do? And the answer in many areas is shooting."

However, more women are also discovering they like the thrill of firearms. Among them is Caroline Stevens, a divorced mother of two from Hampshire, who took up the sport recently.

"I got hooked when I was on holiday in Ireland and was invited on a woodcock shoot," she said. "It was being up on the open moors, dogs running in the woods, the tension — the whole atmosphere just captured the imagination."

Stevens paid £60 for a one-hour lesson at a clay shooting school — and discovered a lot of other women were also taking up shooting. "They were divorced women and other women with time on their hands, wanting to do something in a mixed atmosphere."
Long, long overdue.
Stevens has since obtained a gun licence and bought a Beretta 12-bore. "I love it," she said.

Campaigners for animal rights are concerned some shoots are so commercial that they have turned into massacres, rather than sport that produces food for the pot. Some 35m birds are reared each year just to be shot.
The animal rights weenies can eat my Birkenstocks. If I owned Birkenstocks.
Snap shots:

People participating in shoots: 480,000

Gamekeepers, beaters, loaders and others directly employed in shooting: 31,000

Jobs supported by shooting: 70,000

Spending on goods and services: £2 billion

A day's shooting for one: £250 upwards

A day's grouse shooting for eight on a top estate: £10,000

A shooting estate in Scotland: £3m upwards

Cost of a gun: a few hundred up to £25,000
They left out the cost and aggravation you have to go through to get a license. And they need to get those prices down!

This reminds me of an earlier report indicating that gun ownership was on the rise in at least one county, only in that case it was rifles, not shotguns. The key excerpt of that piece:
The large increase has alarmed anti-gun charity International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), which called for tighter checks on those seeking permission to possess large numbers of guns.
I hope they choke on this news.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I'm Finished with THIS Particular Windmill...


Dr. Kelly (see The Other Side, and Tilting at Windmills) has responded once again with a short paragraph:
Kevin, you are a bright individual and I respect your opinions. I would add the following:1) I need only one. Sometimes two scalpels only. More is wasteful and allows the sharp object to manifest in the wrong hands or cause injury. 2)Guns kill, while baseball bats and clubs injure and are easier to treat. 3) we are not going to solve societal ills overnite but can we agree that kids should not have access to deadly weapons so that they can ‘act out’ their conflicts in mortal ways. There remains too many guns on the streets and I am open to any solutions.
Again, I'm short (for me) on the reply:
Dr. Kelly:

Thanks for the replies, but no, I don't think you really respect my opinions. I've provided three detailed replies to you, and all you respond with is platitudes. I appreciate that you want to save lives, but - as I noted before - you seem convinced that "gun control" is not only an answer, but the only answer. I've illustrated (with examples!) that "gun control" is a failure in that regard, and you brush it off. This is the semantic equivalent of putting one's fingers in one's ears and saying "la-la-la-I can't hear you!"

This is not respecting an opinion. It's ignoring it outright.

Certainly we're not going to solve societal ills overnight, but if you want to solve the problem of Philadelphia's youth killing each other, solving societal ills is what you're going to have to do no matter how long it takes. I have no problems with kids having access to deadly weapons, so long as they belong to the right "gun culture." I and pretty much everyone I grew up with "had access," and we didn't kill or even wound each other. I'd say the same is true for the vast majority of Pennsylvania's youth. It's only in Philadelphia and other "inner city" areas that the wrong "gun culture" exists. The problem isn't the guns, Doctor, it's the culture those kids live in. The problem you refuse to acknowledge is that there is no way "gun control" can keep guns out of their hands. "Gun control" is the be-all and end-all of your "solution," yet we know from experience that it's not achievable. But thinking that it is achievable sure is easier than attempting to solve those societal ills, isn't it?

You're not open to "any solution," you're only open to solutions that "reduce the number of guns." Well you might be able to do that, but what happens when it doesn't reduce the number of killings? Try again, only harder?


I've actually studied the history and efficacy of gun control, Dr. Kelly, since 1994. That's something I imagine you've been too busy to do. I pointed you to one study commissioned by the Clinton administration and just recently released by the National Academies of Science. The conclusion of that body, after examining all of the studies available up to the present was that gun control hasn't measureably affected gun crime or suicide by gun. This repeats a study done more than twenty years previously, commissioned by the Carter administration in 1978 and published in 1983 as Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime and Violence in America. Let me quote from the conclusion to that volume:
The progressive's indictment of American firearms policy is well known and is one that both the senior authors of this study once shared. This indictment includes the following particulars: (1) Guns are involved in an astonishing number of crimes in this country. (2) In other countries with stricter firearms laws and fewer guns in private hands, gun crime is rare. (3) Most of the firearms involved in crime are cheap Saturday Night Specials, for which no legitimate use or need exists. (4) Many families acquire such a gun because they feel the need to protect themselves; eventually they end up shooting one another. (5) If there were fewer guns around, there would obviously be less crime. (6) Most of the public also believes this and has favored stricter gun control laws for as long as anyone has asked the question. (7) Only the gun lobby prevents us from embarking on the road to a safer and more civilized society.

The more deeply we have explored the empirical implications of this indictment, the less plausible it has become. We wonder, first, given the number of firearms presently available in the United States, whether the time to "do something" about them has not long since passed. If we take the highest plausible value for the total number of gun incidents in any given year - 1,000,000 - and the lowest plausible value for the total number of firearms now in private hands - 100,000,000 - we see rather quickly that the guns now owned exceed the annual incident count by a factor of at least 100. This means that the existing stock is adequate to supply all conceivable criminal purposes for at least the entire next century, even if the worldwide manufacture of new guns were halted today and if each presently owned firearm were used criminally once and only once. Short of an outright house-to-house search and seizure mission, just how are we going to achieve some significant reduction in the number of firearms available? (Pp. 319-320)
In 1978, when this study was performed, the authors estimated that 120 million firearms were in private hands in America. That number has almost tripled today.

Yet you still cling to "gun control" as the answer to a problem that has existed since before the turn of the century.

Thank you for your time, Doctor, but I'm done with you now. You won't listen, and you refuse to think.
I forgot to add: "And thank you for serving as a perfect example of type."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Protest Bloomberg?. I'd LOVE To!

Unfortunately, I live a couple of thousand miles away and have a job. I'm not like Democrat and Socialist (but I repeat myself) protesters who, for sub-minimum wage, can be herded on to busses to the protest, can be handed professionally-printed signs and can stand around and act like they know what the hell they're protesting.

Sailorcurt advises that there will be a protest in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 23. Read his post. Read his links. And if you can be there, please do.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Excellent Advice.

LawDog has a post up full of excellent advice for those of us who choose "violent but protective" against "violent and predatory" in Meditations on the Aftermath:
First off -- and I cannot stress this enough -- anyone who carries, or owns, a gun or a knife needs to know a lawyer.

First thing tomorrow -- or as early as possible -- find yourself a lawyer who is familiar with self-defense cases and the weapons laws of your state.

Now, folks. Not at 0-dark-thirty with a critter bleeding out on your carpet and red-and-blue lightbars screaming down the road.
Um, yeah. I think I ought to do that.

Read the whole thing. There is much more crunchy goodness.

And I have got to update the blogroll.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Tilting at Windmills


In the continuing saga of Dr. John D. Kelly IV, associate professor and vice chair of orthopedic surgery at Temple University School of Medicine, he has responded by email to my reply to his previous comment, found below as the update to my fisking of his Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed "Too Many Guns." Dr. Kelly is typically brief:
Kevin, just as slavery was abolished, Americans need to address the killings. How else do you propose to stop the flood of weapons to children? It is easier to carry than to get served for the youth in North Philly. How many guns do you need before you feel secure? Life is sacred and there remains too many guns. One of our docs visited a gun shop and stated he could have purchased 3-4 guns in less than an hour. Guns (and people) kill, JK
I, typically, am not:
Dr. Kelly:

First, I'd like to thank you for your willingness to continue this discussion. I don't know if you realize just how rare this is.

Again, however, I'd like you to read your last email to me carefully. "Just as slavery was abolished, Americans need to address the killings." As I noted, we went to war over slavery. "How else do you propose to stop the flood of weapons to children?" Again, you're inverting cause and effect. Are you at all aware that from 1994 until 2005 homicide and aggravated assault both declined? In 1993 the national homicide rate was 10.1 per hundred thousand population. In 2000 the rate was 6.1. In 2004 it was 5.5. Nonfatal firearm related violent crime dropped as well, from 600 per 100,000 in 1994 to 140 per 100,000 in 2004. Granted, these aren't stellar numbers, but they represent the lowest level of violent crime in this nation since the early 1960's, and during this decade at least two million new long arms and one million new handguns entered the civilian market each and every year. You may claim that the 1994 "Assault Weapon Ban" had something to do with this decline, but the National Academies of Science would disagree with you.

What I find most interesting is the order in which you put the two thoughts: "Americans need to address the killings," "how else do you propose to stop the flood of weapons to children?" Well, which problem do you want to address first? "Addressing the killing," or stopping the "flood of weapons to children?" Because the two don't seem to be directly linked. From 1994 to 2004 killing declined dramatically, even among "children," without our doing anything about gun control.

You say "It is easier to carry than to get served for the youth in North Philly." I'm sorry, I don't understand what that means, exactly, but I assume you're referring to the availability of firearms in the black market. I noted to you previously that in the UK they have banned handguns outright. All the registered, legally owned ones were turned in to the government, yet their handgun-involved crime - including homicide - has gone UP, dramatically. England, Wales, and Scotland exist on an island. They share a common gun law, yet they cannot stop the "flood" of weapons to criminals even though they've done everything that gun control groups here have told us would make us safer.

So what are you suggesting we do? Repeat the same behavior while expecting different results? Or, instead, should we attempt to solve the more difficult problem of why North Philly youths kill each other at a rate more than six times that of the general public, and at a rate higher than in any other large American city? Why did Philadelphia have 27 homicides per 100,000 population in 2005, while Phoenix, Arizona had 17, and San Antonio, Texas had 11? How is this caused by guns, and if guns are at fault, why the differential?

Committed with, yes. Caused by, no. This is not a distinction without a difference, because what you are advocating - disarmament of the criminally violent - cannot be accomplished. Not only is it politically difficult to initiate, it's simply logistically impossible to achieve. Much as with drug prohibition, you cannot keep guns away from the people willing to use them illegally. If nothing else, England proves this. Instead, you must work to affect demand, because the supply required to feed the criminal market is tiny, and the business is lucrative.

"How many guns do you need before you feel secure?" How many fire extinguishers do you have in your home, and do they make you feel secure against a home fire? I own firearms for a number of reasons, defense is just one of them. How many guns would you allow me to have? How many scalpels do you need to perform your job, and how many should I allow you?

"Life is sacred and there remains too many guns." This is known in logic as a non sequitur - one is not related to the other. What does the "number of guns" have to do with the proposition that life is sacred? And how many guns is "enough?" Who decides? What are the criteria?

Life is indeed sacred, and I intend to protect mine and the lives of my family from those who do not consider them sacred as best I can. Say, for example, as a young man here in Tucson did Tuesday night, or Margaret Johnson did in Harlem last September, or the Algiers Point "militia" did in New Orleans after Katrina just to name a few. Believe it or not, by the absolute lowest estimates over 100,000 defensive gun uses occur each year. What you are asking for is to disarm people like this without disarming the people they need to defend themselves against. It is my intent to ensure that these people are not left helpless because people like you don't understand the actual problem and believe that "gun control" is not only a solution to it, but the solution to it.

"One of our docs visited a gun shop and stated he could have purchased 3-4 guns in less than an hour."

I'm sure he could have. How much would it have cost him? He'd have had to fill out 3 or 4 BATF form 4473s and undergone a background check, too. If the guns he bought were handguns, the dealer would have also had to provide the BATF with a multiple-handgun purchase form letting them know that he had done so. What's your point? We have a number of existing gun laws, some good, some not, yet we're told that they're never enough.

"Guns (and people) kill." No, people kill with guns. People also kill with sharp objects, blunt objects, and their bare hands. Guns do not load themselves, aim themselves, or fire themselves. But guns are the only weapons that make a small woman dangerous to a large man, that make the elderly or infirm dangerous to violent youths, or make the individual dangerous to the mob.

I don't expect you to have read this entire missive. I think you're too enamored with the beautiful but flawed idea of "if there were just no guns" to actually listen, but I appreciate the opportunity to at least present my side.
I'm curious to see if he'll reply again. He surprised me once.