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

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Here's a Voice I Thought I'd Never Hear

I guess Bill Cosby's having an effect after all. Well, Cosby, Shelby Steele, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell and a few others are apparently finally beginning to have an effect. In a Fox Sports column, Kansas City Star sportswriter Jason Whitlock says what he thinks, replayed here in full for archival purposes:
Taylor's death a grim reminder for us all

There's a reason I call them the Black KKK. The pain, the fear and the destruction are all the same.

Someone who loved Sean Taylor is crying right now. The life they knew has been destroyed, an 18-month-old baby lost her father, and, if you're a black man living in America, you've been reminded once again that your life is in constant jeopardy of violent death.

The Black KKK claimed another victim, a high-profile professional football player with a checkered past this time.

No, we don't know for certain the circumstances surrounding Taylor's death. I could very well be proven wrong for engaging in this sort of aggressive speculation. But it's no different than if you saw a fat man fall to the ground clutching his chest. You'd assume a heart attack, and you'd know, no matter the cause, the man needed to lose weight.

Well, when shots are fired and a black man hits the pavement, there's every statistical reason to believe another black man pulled the trigger. That's not some negative, unfair stereotype. It's a reality we've been living with, tolerating and rationalizing for far too long.

When the traditional, white KKK lynched, terrorized and intimidated black folks at a slower rate than its modern-day dark-skinned replacement, at least we had the good sense to be outraged and in no mood to contemplate rationalizations or be fooled by distractions.

Our new millennium strategy is to pray the Black KKK goes away or ignores us. How's that working?

About as well as the attempt to shift attention away from this uniquely African-American crisis by focusing on an "injustice" the white media allegedly perpetrated against Sean Taylor.

Within hours of his death, there was a story circulating that members of the black press were complaining that news outlets were disrespecting Taylor's victimhood by reporting on his troubled past

No disrespect to Taylor, but he controlled the way he would be remembered by the way he lived. His immature, undisciplined behavior with his employer, his run-ins with law enforcement, which included allegedly threatening a man with a loaded gun, and the fact a vehicle he owned was once sprayed with bullets are all pertinent details when you've been murdered.

Marcellus Wiley, a former NFL player, made the radio circuit Wednesday, singing the tune that athletes are targets. That was his explanation for the murders of Taylor and Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams and the armed robberies of NBA players Antoine Walker and Eddy Curry.

Really?

Let's cut through the bull(manure) and deal with reality. Black men are targets of black men. Period. Go check the coroner's office and talk with a police detective. These bullets aren't checking W-2s.

Rather than whine about white folks' insensitivity or reserve a special place of sorrow for rich athletes, we'd be better served mustering the kind of outrage and courage it took in the 1950s and 1960s to stop the white KKK from hanging black men from trees.

But we don't want to deal with ourselves. We take great joy in prescribing medicine to cure the hate in other people's hearts. Meanwhile, our self-hatred, on full display for the world to see, remains untreated, undiagnosed and unrepentant.

Our self-hatred has been set to music and reinforced by a pervasive culture that promotes a crab-in-barrel mentality.

You're damn straight I blame hip hop for playing a role in the genocide of American black men. When your leading causes of death and dysfunction are murder, ignorance and incarceration, there's no reason to give a free pass to a culture that celebrates murder, ignorance and incarceration.

Of course there are other catalysts, but until we recapture the minds of black youth, convince them that it's not OK to "super man dat ho" and end any and every dispute by "cocking on your bitch," nothing will change.

Does a Soulja Boy want an education?

HBO did a fascinating documentary on Little Rock Central High School, the Arkansas school that required the National Guard so that nine black kids could attend in the 1950s. Fifty years later, the school is one of the nation's best in terms of funding and educational opportunities. It's 60 percent black and located in a poor black community.

Watch the documentary and ask yourself why nine poor kids in the '50s risked their lives to get a good education and a thousand poor black kids today ignore the opportunity that is served to them on a platter.

Blame drugs, blame Ronald Reagan, blame George Bush, blame it on the rain or whatever. There's only one group of people who can change the rotten, anti-education, pro-violence culture our kids have adopted. We have to do it.

According to reports, Sean Taylor had difficulty breaking free from the unsavory characters he associated with during his youth.

The "keepin' it real" mantra of hip hop is in direct defiance to evolution. There's always someone ready to tell you you're selling out if you move away from the immature and dangerous activities you used to do, you're selling out if you speak proper English, embrace education, dress like a grown man, do anything mainstream.

The Black KKK is enforcing the same crippling standards as its parent organization. It wants to keep black men in their place — uneducated, outside the mainstream and six feet deep.

In all likelihood, the Black Klan and its mentality buried Sean Taylor, and any black man or boy reading this could be next.
Mr. Whitlock is most definitely not another Laura Washington. You'll notice he doesn't blame the gun, or call for more gun control. He doesn't blame the people who didn't kill Sean Taylor. He points at CULTURE, "the rotten, anti-education, pro-violence culture our kids have adopted" as the underlying cause of "when shots are fired and a black man hits the pavement, there's every statistical reason to believe another black man pulled the trigger." Mr. Whitlock sees the same data Ms. Washington and Rev. Michael Pfleger do:
African Americans have plenty of motivation. According to a recent report by the U.S. Justice Department, nearly half the people murdered in the United States in 2005 were black. Most lived in cities and were felled by guns. While blacks make up about 13 percent of the nation’s population, they comprised 49 percent of all murder victims.

The Rev. Michael Pfleger knows the numbers.
But they reach different conclusions:
In June, Pfleger and (Jesse) Jackson were arrested for criminal trespassing during a protest outside a gun shop in a Chicago suburb. Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina's, an African-American Catholic Church on Chicago's South Side, has been crusading for stricter regulation of gun shops and manufacturers. Pfleger is in agony over the 34 school-age children in Chicago who were killed by gun violence in the first six months of 2007.

St. Sabina's 2,200-member congregation is 70 percent female. Pfleger, who happens to be white, is recruiting the pastors at neighboring churches to get into the fight. "The church should be leading the path," he says. "Women are much more vocal. I believe partly because of their sensitivity to the murder of children. Historically, women are much more progressive. That's why churches are so vital, because women make up the main membership."

Amen, Father.

Get those ladies organized, and watch out!
Pfleger and Washington blame the guns. Whitlock blames the culture. I asked Laura Washington a question a while back:
I venture to guess that the 2,200 members of St. Sabina's are 70% female because there's a distinct lack of older black males, in part because of the epidemic levels of violence have been ongoing for so long. But let me point out that the 34 school-age children who died in Chicago were not killed "by gun violence," they were killed by young black men firing guns. Young men who live in those very communities. The sons and grandsons, the nephews and neighbors of those congregations.

Pardon my asking, Ms. Washington, but don't you think all those churches and those women could be far more effective at reducing the truly horrific carnage if they addressed their efforts directly at the young men in question, rather than at the suburban and rural white men who are not?
Unsurprisingly, she didn't respond. I think perhaps Mr. Whitlock might agree with me.

UPDATE: Read the commentary here. Perhaps Iraq is not the only place where attitudes are changing.

UPDATE: Jesse Jackson, of course, blamed guns:
"The loss of life from a senseless act of gun violence is a tragedy," says Rev. Jackson. "Sean Taylor was a father, brother, teammate, friend to many and a loving son. He will be greatly missed."

--

"Professional athletes have never known this level of endangerment," Rev. Jackson said. "This is the struggle of this generation. We will be praying for new laws that will protect lives and the well-being of all."
(*sigh*)
"Leave Brittney, I Mean Afghanistan, ALOOOONE!!".

That's the first thing I thought of when I heard this report that Bin Laden has taken full responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and is asking the European powers to stop their assistance in Afghanistan.

I shortly expect a YouTube video of Bin Laden, crying, in heavy, running mascara and with his head under a piece of canvas whining "You want to attack Afghanistan, you come through ME!"

I noticed he apparently didn't say a thing about Iraq.
Quote of the Day.
I own a couple of guns, but I'm not going to tell you what they are, or where they are.
- Fred Thompson, CNN YouTube Debate, 11/28/07
That's the right answer.

And Congressman Hunter? It's not about hunting, and it's not about "family tradition."

NOBODY else owned a gun? Not even RON PAUL?!?!? I thought it was a prerequisite for being a libertarian?

(h/t: SayUncle)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ridicule is the Best Revenge.

I thought Iowahawk's "My Name is Rather, and I'm a Dick" satires were classics, but I believe he's topped himself with "BoxBux Sux as Stix Hix Nix Xmas Flix." Classic excerpt:
Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who gave glowing, 5-star reviews to each of the films, said he was not surprised by their poor financial performance.

"It's sad, but hopefully these wonderful films will do much better in the overseas market," said Ebert. "No matter how much down inside they know how Christmas is wrong, and Santa is wrong, it's hard for Americans to see their elves portrayed in a balanced, realistic way, as tragically haunted sadistic pederasts. By contrast European filmgoers are much more sophisticated and educated, so they eat that shit right up."
Go, read!

P.S.: "There's got to be a pony in there somewhere." Oh. Damn!
Quote(s) of the Day.
The dogma of multiculturalism holds that all cultures are equal, except Western culture, which (unlike every other society on the planet) has a history of oppression and war is therefore worse. All religions are equal, except Christianity, which informed the beliefs of the capitalist bloodsuckers who founded America and is therefore worse. All races are equal, except Caucasians, who long ago went into business with black slave traders in Africa, and therefore they are worse. The genders, too, are equal, except for those paternalistic males, who with their testosterone and aggression have made this planet a polluted living hell, and therefore they are worse.

Once you understand this, the Multicultural Pyramid of Oppression, you can begin to understand how to turn to your advantage certain circumstances that are beyond your control: such as where you were born, the type of genitalia you were born with, into what race you were born, and the religion of your parents. You see, the fewer things you have in common with The Oppressors, the more you can cast yourself as The Victim. And as The Victim, you are virtuous, so there are certain things you can get away with that others can’t: like actually oppressing people. - Evan Coyne Maloney, at Brain Terminal
AND:
(T)here’s a process with certain steps. Tolerance is required. Then acceptance, which must lead to endorsement, lest people feel marginalized – often by the very people they cant stand, mind you. Endorsement is followed by recognition of the new standard as equal to the old, because all ideas are valid (although some ideas are more valid than others, a judgment that’s determined by the newness of the idea versus the reactionary elements who subscribed to the old idea.) (T)hen the new standard must be subsidized, because it is discriminatory not to extend the usual state advantages; then it must be recognized as having superior aspects, in order to empower the marginalized people who believe it. Eventually these advantages will be used as evidence to suggest it’s superior to the old idea in some way that appeals to the intellectual fashion of the day. The process usually takes about 25 years. - James Lileks from The Bleat
Discuss.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Spock has a Beard!.

I stumbled upon an alternate universe!

There's a blog named The Largest Minority! Unsurprisingly, the authors are liberal Leftist "Progressives." Ah, the hell with it. Let's call a spade a spade - they're Leftists.

Just remember - It is far easier for we as civilized men to behave like barbarians than it is for them as barbarians to behave like civilized men! ;-)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Quote of the Day.
If this feels slow, just remember that it has taken 31 years to get to this point.
More like seventy-eight years, but other than that, right on the money.

From Heller Timeline at Gun Law News.
I Wonder, Do I Frighten Them?.

The Smallest Minority was born of a debate between me and a gentleman living in London. Since that time I've had several discussions with other bloggers, a guest poster, and by email with a correspondent more than once.

But just recently I have had two debates just not happen. The first was Robyn Ringler, a gun control activist blogging at a newspaper site. Robyn had an open comments policy. Then she didn't. Then she stopped blogging in September. I never got a response on my invitation. Not even a "go to hell."

Later in September Say Uncle found an anti-gun piece and linked to it. I, of course, left a comment or two, and those comments drew a response from another reader. That reader is (or was) also a blogger, and we agreed (or so I thought) to have a debate. His next post, however, was apparently his last. I'm afraid that he was possibly arrested by the TSA and received rendition to a redacted country for interrogation! I can't come up with another reasonable explanation for his disappearance. Surely I did not frighten him away!

Tonight I have made another invitation to discuss the topic of gun control with a lawyer-type blogger in Philadelphia. I won't go further at this time, as I don't want to inundate her with gun-rights traffic, but I'm hopeful that this one will take the bait agree to discuss the topic. If she is a lawyer, it should be a most illuminating discussion.

Hope springs eternal...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Test Report: RCBS Chargemaster 1500 Scale & Dispenser


As I noted previously, I purchased an RCBS Chargemaster 1500 back in May. I have since used it to load some .45LC and tonight some .308. I was asked a couple of times to report on how well it worked. As I noted in the previous post, I bought it because my standard powder measure, an old, pretty worn RCBS manual type wouldn't throw Unique powder +/- 0.1 grain consistently, and fuhgeddabouddit if you were trying to throw an extruded powder like IMR4350. Unique is my go-to powder for .45ACP and was for .45 Colt (I've been using 2400 for the Colt recently and may have settled on that powder for that caliber.) I also use Varget in my .223 loads, and now that I've bought a .308 I will be using Varget there, too.

A few days before heading off to the Second Annual Gunblogger's rendezvous I loaded up some .45LC with 2400 using the Chargemaster. Tonight, I loaded 50 .308 rounds. (Sooner or later I've got to load a bunch of .223!)

Conclusion: It's not quite as fast as I am, but a far cry better than throwing the charges by hand and trickling them up.

The procedure for finishing a rifle cartridge is as follows, once the press and scale are set up and you're ready to rock:

1) Press the "Dispense" button.

2) Pick up a piece of brass and the powder funnel

3) Mate the powder funnel and brass

4) Wait a couple of seconds for the powder measure to finish weighing out the first charge

5) BEEP! (Annoying tone.)

6) Pick up the powder pan, pour the charge into the case, replace the pan on the scale.

7) REMEMBER TO PUSH "DISPENSE"

8) Put down the funnel

9) Pick up a bullet

10) Place the bullet in the neck of the case

11) Put the cartridge in the press and pull the handle

12) Remove the loaded cartridge and put it in the ammo box

13) Pick up a new case and the funnel

14) Mate the case and funnel

15) Wait for the measure to finish.... (Lather, rinse, repeat...)

Out of 50 charges, the scale was ready before I was probably five times. The longest time I had to wait for it (when I remembered to hit "Dispense" as soon as the pan was back on the scale) was probably ten seconds. The scale was dispensing 43.5 grains of Varget.

When I did 100 .45LC using 2400 I had to remove the case from the press, dump the powder charge into the case, and put it back in the press (Dillon RL-450). I have a powder-through-expander die, but no funnel to fit it. (Yet.) Again, the Chargemaster never made me wait more than ten seconds or so.

It doesn't seem to matter much how large the charge is, it's those last few tenths that take the longest to measure out.

I can unequivocally state that the Chargemaster 1500 is FAR faster than throwing low charges by hand and then trickling up to the desired weight. It is FAR more accurate with 2400 than the Dillon measure that came with my RL-450. In fact, the shape of the powder is immaterial to the function of the Chargemaster - it's going by weight alone, not volume.

If, however, the volumetric measure you have does a good job metering the powder you prefer, the Chargemaster is most definitely SLOWER. I won't, for example, be using it to measure out my 7.0 grain Unique charges for .45ACP - the measure on my Square Deal-B works just fine for that.

Quote of the Day


What you need to know, first and last, is that so-called PTSD is not an illness. It is a normal condition for people who have been through what you have been through. The instinct to kill and war is native to humanity. It is very deeply rooted in me, as it is in you. We have rules and customs to restrain it, so that sometimes we may have peace. What you are experiencing is not an illness, but the awareness of what human nature is like deep down. It is the awareness of what life is like without the walls that protect civilization.

Those who have never been outside those walls don't know: they can't see. The walls form their horizon. You know what lays beyond them, and can't forget it. What we're going to talk about today is how to come home, back inside those walls: how to learn to trust them again. - On PTSD, or More Properly, On Coming Home by Grim at Blackfive.net
Read the whole thing.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Quote of the Day.
From time to time I hear people who think that the EU will eventually lead to more liberal gun laws here in the UK. They reason that because many of our neighbours have less strict gun control that EU law will eventually standardise to the French or German model. They are of course quite wrong. The EU is not in the business of providing freedom, it is in the business of control. - Lurch at Gun Culture
(RTWT) Thus it is with all governments, which is why government is best kept small and watched closely.

But starry-eyed idealists always seem to believe that human nature is not what it is, thus Supreme Court Justice Louis Bradeis's warning:
Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.
Or as P.J. O'Rourke put it:
Neither conservatives nor humorists believe man is good. But left-wingers do.
Happy Thanksgiving.

And a link. Marko the Munchkin Wrangler expresses his beliefs. Hear, hear! Excerpt:
I believe that you cannot have a right to anything that necessitates a financial obligation on the part of someone else. You have a right to life, liberty, and honestly acquired property, not to any sort of monetary or material thing. The former merely requires your fellow citizens to leave you alone; the latter requires them to work for you free of charge.
Why is it that immigrants so often have a better handle on what being an American means than so many of our neighbors who were born here?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I Was Wrong.

I hope I'm going to be happy about it.

Apparently the Supreme Court has granted certiorari on D.C. v Heller. (h/t Say Uncle)

The elections this year should be especially interesting.

Expect to hear a lot about "legislating from the bench" and "activist judges," too.

I wonder if there's any way to find out who voted to grant cert?

UPDATE: And expect to get LOTS of letters begging for money from the NRA, GOA, SAF, JPFO, EIEIO....

As I understand it, Alan Gura - lead attorney and the guy who instigated all of this - isn't taking contributions.

So just how much does it cost to write and file an amicus brief?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Read and Compare.

I ran across something tonight I hadn't read in quite a while, and I'd like to share it with you. For quite some time Steven Den Beste was one of the finest voices of reason in the blogosphere before, for medical reasons, he pretty much departed the field and took to blogging about anime. But the piece I want you to read isn't by Steven, it's an email from one of his readers, a young man living in Spain at the time.

But first, I want you to read something else. Something by a young man living in Minnesota. I want you to read A Profound Divide. It'll take you a few minutes, but please bear with it. Read it. Cogitate on it for a bit.

Then read An American in Spain.

Afterward, you might want to read the piece that inspired Den Beste's correspondent, Steven's Non-European Country, too.

And read all the links that aren't broken from age. They're worth your time, too.
It Must be Nice When Your World is so Simple...

...that you can define the opposing side with a single all-encompassing term.

Even jokingly.
Quote of the Day III.
I find he makes a lot more sense if you think of it as him switching between narratives, not being internally inconsistent. On the one hand, we've got the story of the Evil Empire of big government that will be (should be) brought low by the plucky heroes with hearts of gold, and then on the other hand, we've got the story of the benevolent rulers who used their infinite wealth and power to bring peace and prosperity to all.

In essence, he's proposing we fire Emperor Palpatine and replace him with King Arthur. - LabRat in the comment thread of this post.
Quote of the Day II.
The Democratic Party is not so much a political party anymore as much as it is a public relations firm whose primary target audience is a remedial civics class. - Tom Elia in A Telling Question Puts Things into Perspective at The New Editor
Not Fair, Dammit! NOT FAIR!.

Scully of Skywritings has decided to stop blogging. That's not my complaint. A lot of bloggers do that. Many of them return. Many don't. But she deleted her blog!

Sturgeon's law says that 99% of everything is crap. In the blogosphere, I think Sturgeon was off by about one order of magnitude, at least. Technorati tracks over 112 million blogs. That means there's maybe a hundred-thousand or so really quality ones out there, and it's a needle-in-a-haystack search to find them. A fair chunk of those are on the right sidebar of this blog, and one exquisitely well-written one has now vanished into the ether.

Damn, damn, damn, DAMN!

Scully, you will be missed. I hope it wasn't your job that made you do that.
Quote of the Day.
Americans should be thankful they have one of the last functioning nation-states. Europeans, because they've been so inept at exercising it, no longer believe in national sovereignty, whereas it would never occur to Americans not to. This profoundly different attitude to the nation-state underpins, in turn, Euro-American attitudes to transnational institutions such as the United Nations.

But on this Thanksgiving the rest of the world ought to give thanks to American national sovereignty, too. When something terrible and destructive happens – a tsunami hits Indonesia, an earthquake devastates Pakistan – the United States can project itself anywhere on the planet within hours and start saving lives, setting up hospitals and restoring the water supply.

Aside from Britain and France, the Europeans cannot project power in any meaningful way anywhere. When they sign on to an enterprise they claim to believe in – shoring up Afghanistan's fledgling post-Taliban democracy – most of them send token forces under constrained rules of engagement that prevent them doing anything more than manning the photocopier back at the base. - Mark Steyn World should give thanks for America

RTWT - it's worth every minute of your time.

Mark Steyn may argue that he's "a misfit unassimilated foreigner," but he's wrong. He was born an American. It just took him a few years to come home.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I LOVE AMERICA!!.

I swear, you could only do this here. From AR15.com, a report that a retired airline pilot has built himself a full-scale Spitfire replica. With pictures! Here's the description:
One of my best friends decided he wanted a Spitfire - so he built one!!
This is an actual 100% full scale Spitfire built from plans.
The internal fuselage is constructed of a 2.5" chrome moly tube "birdcage".
The exterior fuselage is bulkhead formers bolted to the birdcage and then covered with aluminum.
The wing is one piece and constructed entirely out of wood - Spruce.
The wooden main spar is massive, almost 18" square at the center section and weighs about 600lbs just by itself.
The vertical/horizontal stabilizers as well as the elevators and rudder are also constructed of wood.
The canopy is an actual salvaged Spitfire canopy.
The lower forward engine cowl is constructed of carbon fiber while the top engine cowl is aluminum.
The engine is an aircraft 1400HP Allison V12 (originally from a P39).
The propeller is an overhauled DC3 prop.
Took him and a friend many years to build but it is a work of art
That it is!

Click on the links for the pictures.

Photo 1, photo 2, photo 3, photo 4, photo 5, photo 6, photo 7

The best thing about it? It's based here in Arizona!
OK, It's Not Plastic...

...nor is it stainless steel. As I noted below, I just recently purchased a Remington 700 rifle with a stainless-steel barrel and action. A not-cheap Remington 700. And the trigger guard/floorplate assembly looked and felt like plastic.

Cheap plastic.

Well, it's not. Its some injection-molded pot metal, and it's pretty ugly. That had to go, so I searched around until I found Williams Firearms, and their Remington 700 Short Action bottom metal. It arrived yesterday. Here's a comparison - click for the full size images.

Original:


Replacement:

Here are closeups of the trigger guards:

Original:


Replacement:

And a couple of profile views:

Original:


Replacement:

I think it was worth it.

Now off to have all the metal refinished in matte black.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Boy, It's a Good Thing Britain's Banned Guns for Self Defense!

Somebody might have gotten hurt! Oh, wait...
Father killed for challenging gang of youths

A young girl watched helplessly as a gang of drunken youths kicked and punched her “courageous” father to death after he tried to remonstrate with them for making his family’s life a “misery”, a court has heard.

Amy Newlove, 12, saw the teenagers knock her father, Garry, 47, a sales manager, to the ground in the street outside their home after he went out to confront them over damage to his wife’s car.

They closed around him and broke into laughter as each started to kick him “as hard as they could”, especially in the head, as though “they were kicking a football”, the court heard.

One connected so violently with his victim’s head that his trainer flew off and became lodged beneath Mr Newlove’s prone body.

Amy’s sister, Zoe, 18, grabbed one of the alleged killers but was unable to restrain him, the court was told.

He and the rest of the gang then walked away, leaving the two sisters to tend their unconscious, dying father and to try to comfort their distraught mother, Helen.

The court heard how Mr Newlove’s street had been “plagued” by gangs of youths indulging in anti social behaviour fuelled by cheap alcohol.

Five teenagers, two of them brothers, now deny murder.

Only one of the alleged killers, Adam Swellings, 19, from Crewe, can be named.

He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter.

Two of Swellings’ co-defendants are aged 17, the others 16 and 15.

The 15-year-old, wearing smart black trousers, a shirt and a tie, took his seat in the second row of the dock, just behind his fellow accused.

Michael Chambers, QC, prosecuting, told a jury at Chester Crown Court that on the night of August 10 this year all five defendants acted as “an abusive and violent gang”.

Mr Newlove’s quiet residential street in Warrington, Cheshire, had been “plagued” for some time “by gangs of youths indulging in anti-social behaviour fuelled by cheap alcohol”.

They caused disturbances and vandalized parked cars, particularly on weekend nights.

In the past Mr Newlove had gone out to try to reason with them.

On August 10 he “had the courage” to face them again.

Tragically for him, they were “in no mood to be challenged” and he was no matched for their combined assault.

Mr Chambers described the defendants as “an established gang”.

He said on the night Mr Newlove was attacked the defendants had gathered with other youths and had been “drinking heavily”.

A few minutes before the “unprovoked and unjustified” attack the father-of-three had been watching television in his lounge.

Upstairs in her bedroom, Amy heard the sound of a street digger being smashed up and looked out to see a youth landing a kick on her mother’s Renault Scenic.

The teenager alerted her parents to the commotion, and a few moments later Mr Newlove, barefoot and wearing spectacles, rushed out to confront the gang.

Amy followed him. So, too, did her elder sister and Zoe’s boyfriend, Thomas Sherrington.

None of them was able to save Mr Newlove from his assailants, and Amy watched the entire scene unfold, the court was told.

Mr Chambers told the jury: “She saw one of the lads kick or knee her father in the back and he fell to the floor.

"She then saw all the lads, about six of them, kicking her father while he was on the floor.

"They were all kicking her father as hard as they could, all over his body, especially in his head. It was like they were kicking a football.

"Her father was curled up and the group of lads were all laughing as they were kicking him”.

Once the gang had moved away Mr Newlove was taken by ambulance to Warrington General Hospital where a CT scan revealed large-scale bleeding around his brain.

Surgeons were powerless to act and he died 36 hours later without regaining consciousness.

It later emerged that the critical blow was likely to have been a kick to the upper neck.
Well, assuming they get a conviction, I'm sure they'll all receive nice long three year sentences for the murder. And this isn't a single, isolated incident, either:
Public should stand up to yobs, says top officer

A police officer is insisting the public should stand up to yobs, even though two men have been killed in the past week for challenging unruly youths.

Detective Chief Inspector Cliff Lyons said people are "entitled to challenge bad behaviour" as we live in a "free and democratic society", despite official Home Office advice that victims of crime should never take the law into their own hands.

On Sunday, father-of-three Garry Newlove, 47, died after allegedly being attacked two days earlier by a gang who were throwing stones at a mechanical digger.

Evren Anil, a 23-year-old science graduate, was killed when he challenged two teenagers who allegedly threw a half-eaten chocolate bar into his sister's car.

Both incidents have added to fears that the risks of confronting drunken or aggressive youths is now too great.

Commentators have claimed that law-abiding citizens are no longer willing to defend themselves or their property in case the police charge them with attacking the criminal. Last week Patrick Walsh, a homeowner, was arrested on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm after a burglar fell 30ft from a window at his flat, although police have now told him no further action will be taken.
(My emphasis.) NO! You don't say! I thought it was just "gullible gunners" who believed this!
Yet the terrorist attack on Glasgow Airport has shown that the public still admires those who put their own safety at risk.

John Smeaton, a baggage handler, became a hero when he confronted two terror suspects, and was warmly received by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week.

Mr Lyons, leading the investigation into Mr Anil's alleged murder by litter-throwing yobs, said: "I would say Mr Anil was quite entitled to challenge their behaviour.

"People are entitled to challenge bad behaviour. We live in a free and democratic society.

"My advice is to assess where you are, the circumstances of the incident and whether the incident may result in a threat to you or others - which is exactly what Mr Anil did."

The Home Office warned the public against taking any action against criminals that could result in them being injured or facing assault charges themselves.

A spokesman said: "The public should not intervene directly in any situations of criminal activity - they may put themselves in danger or exacerbate the situation.

"Ultimately, they may be acting on the wrong side of the law." The Association of Chief Police Officers said members of the public should call the police to report criminal behaviour.

David Green, director of the think tank Civitas, believes the public must be allowed to challenge criminals.

He said: "You can't maintain any sort of decent society unless all the people take responsibility for discouraging wrong-doing." He added it was down to the police to ensure that members of the public are not at risk of being prosecuted for taking a stand against yobs.

"The police should back the victim and not ask whether they used reasonable force.

"And the police also need to be much clearer. In some cases they are giving people bravery awards for tackling criminals, and in others they charge them with assault or kidnap."
Nothing like a mixed message to chill the willingness to act.

Here are some of the 96 comments recorded when the paper asked Would you risk being a 'have a go hero'?
Facing up to yobs is always difficult. How can you asses the situation properly when you can't see if they are carrying weapons or know if they are on drugs or not?
It depends on circumstances. If I saw a couple of yobs breaking a bench or throwing stones at something for example, I would most likely walk on. If, however, there was another human being or animal being attacked or intimidated, I would of course step in. The first thing to do is call the police and then step in; because if you call the police first they will be on their way when you start getting your head kicked in, which is a comfort I suppose! But unfortunately they take so long, so maybe it isn't a comfort!
Carrying weapons! They wouldn't do that, it's illegal! And now the government wants to make it illegaler! At least this respondent recognizes that when you need help right now, the police are only (tens of) minutes away!
Yes I would on the understanding I had a gun. It would not matter a jot if i was charged and then put in prison because I am 75 years of age and therefore for the few years I have left on this planet being kept warm, well fed, free access to dentistry and plenty of books to read will do me very nicely thank you.
Another example of the Greatest Generation remembering what it was like to still be free.
Keith Manton says it all. In my younger days the fear of the death penalty kept the murder figures down. The fear of corporal punishment at school, or at home, kept the majority in check. These were the boundaries most of us recognised. Because a minority went on to murder and some took little notice of the cane, the 'do-gooders' removed the boundaries assuming that always being 'kind' would be reciprocated by everyone. However, they do not advocate closing the prisons even though a majority of inmates reoffend on release. Who says present day prisons work? Feral mobs of today do not know where the boundaries are but they know their 'rights' and that there is a chance their victim will be prosecuted in their place if there is a fracas. It's a topsy-turvy world and not as nice as that created by Gilbert and Sullivan. So, no, I would not intervene unless it were a family member. The law is not always on my side.
I wonder if that guy has ever read Heinlein? He damned near quoted him.
The question and the reason for the question evidence that Britain is now the sickest most evil and stupid post Christian society on earth. If anyone hurt an immediate family member and I had the means to render that person or persons unconscious or dead I would. But it is preferable to emigrate and live in a civilized society. No I would not intervene for anyone else as the sickko Communist Marxist filth running the police and the courts are on the side of evil now. Unless the British get rid of the present parties they will die in a welter of laws and regulations made for an alien culture. In the meantime 4000 a week emigrate to less violent and less evil nations of the earth.
Well, that helps explain Britain's current mass exodus.
Yes - we should all stand up to the yobs. There are more of us than they are of them. I (a 60+ female)have twice recently challenged anti-social behaviour - with success on both occasions. What are the police doing? Nothing. They don't even support those decent police officers who do carry out their duties with diligence. They don't want police who have moral courage, they just want "touchy-feely pink and fluffy" who are only interested in political correctness. Ask the police how they treat officers with an exemplary record who, in a threatening situation, defend themselves. They drop them in the sh*t. Scumbags rule. The law abiding have their lives made hell. Time for the morally courageous majority to take action. If the police and the low-life politicians won't take a firm grip, we will have to do it ourselves.
Another elder with her head on straight.
No, I would not 'have a go' unless I, a member of my family, or someone I knew well were facing direct attack.

Even then under the Criminal (Human) Rights Act and the inverted Cultural Marxist values and norms of the Crown (read NuLab) Prosecution Service I will be the one arrested for violating my assailant.

The only sensible response to attack is to flee if possible, or if not, to kill at least one attacker. As Churchill put it, "you can always take one with you".
Hmmm... Must be one more "gullible gunner."
I like to say yes - but I am sorry to say I would walk away.
Either you become a victim (in which case the Police are unlikely to act unless the press show an interest), or you are successful (and then the Police take the easy option and you become the criminal and get charged with assault).
In the last century the Police made a fundamental contract with us the public, if we gave up our arms they would protect our property and persons. They have broken the contract!
And another...
'have a go hero'
Am I the only one who spots the cynicism (or even sarcasm) in this terminology? As in: "Yes, you pathetic 'have a go hero' law-abiding citizen who thinks he/she can stand up against the mighty thugs and criminals! And let me remind you, even if you can, we 'da police' or 'da government' will make you pay for it!"
Case closed.
I detect some bitter cynicism there.
As us country boys used to say (doubtless as male chauvinist bravado), if you happen put down some thieving miscreant, don't even think of calling the police. Rather check the JCB for diesel. Problem is, you can't risk moving home and leaving an incriminating souvenir. So doesn’t emigrating sound the far better, safer option?
Another vote to abandon the sinking ship.
DCI Cliff Lyons is a police officer for whom I have a great deal of respect but it must be remembered that what he said was merely his opinion - not Government policy.
The line between getting a George Medal and five years' imprisonment, when one 'has a go' is very thin, indeed.
Until the time comes when it is quite baldly stated by the Government that any violence used against a mob confronting the ordinary man in the street will be accepted as reasonable, with no question of prosecution, so the violence and the murders will continue.
But speaking as a former police officer who knew that the only way to deal with yobs was to go into them, hard, I can say this, without fear of contradiction. If you go in alone, do not expect any help whatsoever from today's police officers. The yobs are too much trouble. So are you, of course, but you're an easy target. It's you who'll be arrested to help fill a quota - after all, you're not going to cause the arresting officer any trouble, are you?
There it is, straight from the horse's, err, mouth.

Read the whole thread.

"England can do it! Australia can do it! We can too!" - "Million mom" chant.

Like hell.
Couldn't Happen to a More Deserving Guy.

Ex-Sheriff Ken Jenne of Broward County Florida has been sentenced to a year and a day in prison:
Fla. Sheriff Gets Prison for Corruption

By CURT ANDERSON

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The former head of the largest sheriff's office in Florida was sentenced to a year and a day in prison Friday after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges.

Ex-Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne, 60, had pleaded guilty in September to tax evasion and mail fraud conspiracy charges involving a series of questionable transactions, including getting money and favors from Broward Sheriff's Office vendors and payments made on his behalf for a Mercedes-Benz convertible.

Jenne was taken into custody immediately and will likely serve his term at a minimum-security prison camp, possibly in the Miami area, said his attorney, David Bogenschutz.

With good behavior, Jenne could be eligible for release in as little as nine months, his attorney said.

Federal prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas to impose a two-year sentence, the maximum possible under sentencing guidelines, saying Jenne had done immense damage to the office.
Two years? Is this all they could stick him with? From everything I've read Jenne was the most blatantly corrupt political hack since Torricelli.
"The people of Broward County shouldn't have to choose between leaders who are effective and those who are law-abiding. They are entitled to both," Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Axelrod said.

But Jenne, a former state senator and long one of Broward County's leading Democratic politicians, sought a lenient sentence involving no prison time. He has already agreed to pay the IRS about $46,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties and has spent most of his life doing good works for Broward County, Bogenschutz said.
At least we don't have to play "What political party does this criminal belong to?" Though they did wait until the sixth paragraph.
"Like no other public official in this county's history, Ken Jenne has left an imprint that will be felt and enjoyed by generations to come," Bogenschutz said in court papers.

Jenne was praised during Friday's hearing by a who's who of public figures, including former state Attorney General Bob Butterworth, former Senate president Jim Scott and many others who asked for leniency.
Every damned one of them should be investigated, too.
In arguing for no prison term, Jenne said he didn't take taxpayer money, just got help from friends and associates. He noted that pleading guilty had already severely damaged his reputation and career.
I hope it's ruined you.
But Dimitrouleas said Jenne's crimes, committed by the county's chief law enforcement officer, deserve at least some prison time.
SOME?!? They ought to throw his ass UNDER the jail.
"It's a sad day for Broward County," Dimitrouleas said. "It doesn't promote respect for the law if the public views someone as getting a slap on the wrist."

Although Dimitrouleas insisted on jail time, he also gave Jenne a break because inmates must serve every day of a one-year prison term. By making it a year and a day, the judge made Jenne eligible for release in as little as nine months for good behavior, Bogenschutz said.

"Judge Dimitrouleas did a very kind thing," Bogenschutz said.
Dammit, they ought to make him serve it ALL.

My first introduction to Ken Jenne came in 2003 when he either duped CNN or they collaborated in making several pieces about the "Assault Weapons Ban." In my opinion, CNN was a willing player. Since they I've payed attention to what was going on in his department.

About damned time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quote of the YEAR!.

From IraqPundit:
I know those who are wedded to the idea of a failed Iraq are calling me a deluded idiot and worse. But things are improving slowly. My relatives in Baghdad say there's no comparison; things are much better than they were six months ago. They can visit friends in different areas and walk about the neighbourhood in the evening.

Frankly, I don't understand why so many mock us for wanting a future for Iraq. Is your hatred for George Bush so great that you prefer to see millions of civilians suffer just to prove him wrong?

It really comes down to this: you are determined to see Iraq become a permanent hellhole because you hate Bush. And we are determined to see Iraq become a success, because we want to live.
And read the comments.
Speaking of P-38's...

Via Theo Spark (NSFW!) comes this interesting story of a crash-landed P-38 that was recently uncovered - literally.

Must be Globular Warmering.

Somehow I don't think this one's going to get the "Glacier Girl" treatment:


(Click for full size)

Damned shame. According to the story, "about 32 complete or partial airframes are believed to still exist."

And how many Mustangs are still flying?

"The Government Must Have a Monopoly on Force"

"The Government Must Have a Monopoly on Force".

A few days ago AlanDP made a slideshow everyone needs to watch, and posted it at Blogonomicon. My apologies for being so late in linking it.

Ladd Everitt? You can kiss my gun-owning ass. Apparently you never read the Declaration of Independence.

Alan? Outstanding job.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This is Where Gun Control Comes From.

At least it is here in the U.S.

Expanding on Clayton Cramer's seminal paper The Racist Roots of Gun Control, Michael Menkus of GeorgiaCarry.org has authored a paper on the state of Georgia's gun control history, entitled DISARM THE NEGROES: The Racist Roots of Gun Control (a PDF file.) Illustrated with images of period newspapers, deeply researched and footnoted, it's worth your time.

Some time back I was trading comments with a European on someone else's site. He was aghast at the "lax laws" here, and protested that "guns are extremely dangerous!" or words to that effect. I believe my response was "Yes they are. That's why we shouldn't entrust them only to criminals and governments. But I repeat myself."

In Europe gun control developed out of a fear of anarchists and communists, and it didn't begin until about the turn of the 20th Century. Here, however, gun control grew out of a fear of the people our nation oppressed - people who quite often outnumbered their oppressors, and the legacy of that oppression has twisted and distorted our legal system for over 140 years.

The Supreme Court now has an opportunity to untwist a bit of that. I hope they take it.

But I don't think they will.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Peek into the Petri Dish...

...where the formerly Great Britain used to be.

After the school shooting in Finland, the BBC came out with a multi-part piece on guns, gun violence, and gun control in England and Europe. Interestingly enough, they started with a timeline of British gun control laws that began with this rather startling admission:
The contrast between UK legislation on gun ownership - among the strictest in the world, and that in the United States - among the most relaxed, might appear stark.

But in fact both countries' firearms laws can be traced back to the same source.

The right to bear arms was guaranteed in the 1689 Bill of Rights, in which the new King William of Orange enshrined a series of rights for his subjects - Catholics were famously excluded.

This was enshrined in common law during the early years of the US, and later informed the second amendment of the US constitution, which explains why the right to bear arms remains so strong a factor in America.
Why didn't it remain strong in the UK?
Meanwhile back in Britain - where hostile natives and rogue bears - were less of an issue, few people took up the right to carry arms.
If you don't exercise a right, it atrophies.

Compare the BBC's timeline with one I did in 2001 that got picked up by Enter Stage Right, entitled A Sterling Example. Mine, I think, gives the reader a bit more perspective.

The BBC series continues with an exploration of Who supplies the guns on our streets? In this piece the writer utters that-which-shall-not-be-admitted-aloud:
Britain has some of the toughest gun laws in the world, and has done a great deal to choke off the supply - but as long as there is a demand for guns there will always be someone willing to find a way to provide them, at a price.
Economics 101 from Father Guido Sarducci's Five-Minute University: "Supply and-a Demand - that's it!"

But hope springs eternal!
MEPs are currently discussing amendments to a European directive which police hope could make a big difference in the fight against gun crime.

The new, updated rules, which replies Directive 477 will introduce a number of extra controls on the sale of guns.

Gisela Kallenbach, the German Green MEP responsible for pushing through the directive, said: "You can never 100% stop people illegally obtaining guns no matter what legislation you have, but with the legislation you can at least make it as difficult as possible."
But it won't make it effectively difficult. All you can do is affect the price.
The directive will mean individuals wanting to buy blank-firing and imitation guns will have to prove their identity to the retailer or manufacturer, who will be under a duty to register that sale in the same way as the sale of a new or used car.

Buyers would have to provide a passport or identification card.

"If you can manage it with cars then why not with guns?" said Ms Kallenbach.
Because guns are small, easily concealable, easily stolen, increasingly valuable the harder you squeeze the market, and the distribution channels are already established?

Later in the piece:
Revenue & Customs are at the forefront of efforts to stop guns getting into the country.

A spokesman said there was no doubt guns were smuggled in on ferries, but they had achieved several notable intelligence-led successes.

In July two men were jailed for a total of 24 years for trying to smuggle in two Czech assault rifles, which had been broken down into components.

The guns, along with 460 rounds of ammunition, were found during the search of a car at Dover docks.

The Customs spokesman said: "We can't stop every single passenger and we work on where the risks are. The figures suggest the number of guns being smuggled is at a fairly low level compared with drugs."
But drugs are consumables. Guns are durable goods. And you know you can't stop drugs from coming in.

A third piece discusses How guns get into the hands of crooks. Another rather startling admission is printed therein:
In the spring of 2005 Manchester gangster Desmond "Dessy" Noonan was interviewed for a television documentary and bragged about having "more guns than the police".

A few days later he was shot dead on a street in south Manchester.

Noonan's brother Dominic was arrested in May of that year in possession of a blank-firing gun that had been imported from Germany and then converted into a deadly weapon. He was later jailed.

But the gun was one of a batch of hundreds imported from Germany by a gang who had employed an engineer to convert them.

The sales manager at Cuno Melcher's factory near Cologne still sounds mystified by the logic of the gang who tricked her into selling them hundreds of guns, which they would later convert into lethal weapons.

"It would have been easier to buy real weapons, from Eastern Europe, which you can get for 50 euros. Why did they buy gas weapons and convert them?" asked Julia Nicolai.
(My emphasis.)

Supply and-a Demand.

I read the rest of the piece. Personally, I think they're vastly overestimating the value of those converted guns. Why do I say that? Well in the piece entitled Who carries guns and why? the BBC reports:
In the 1980s and 1990s the number of armed robberies fell away as more and more criminals moved into the drugs trade.

Despite the 1997 ban on handguns - introduced after the Dunblane massacre - the crooks increasingly favoured pistols and revolvers, which were easier to hide and more "fashionable".
And:
What does seem to have changed in the past decade is the average age of both offenders and victims, which has come down considerably.

The average age of the victims in those 10 murders in the spring of 1997 was 29 and the youngest was aged 19.

Ten years on, if you look at the gun deaths that took place in June and July 2007 the average age of the five victims had fallen to 25 and that falls to 20 if 47-year-old boxer James Oyebola is excluded.

Detective Chief Superintendent Helen Ball, who heads up Operation Trident, recently told BBC Radio Five Live: "We have noticed for a couple of years now that the ages of people involved in gun crime is reducing and it's something that we have been deeply concerned about and until we are able to tackle that trend I am not sure that we will be able to be confident in solving this problem."

She said the proportion of victims who were teenagers had risen from 19% to 31% in the last four years.
So some very young offenders are scraping up that kind of cash for guns? Possible, but I think the reality is that guns are in actuality much cheaper than the BBC is reporting - which goes right back to Supply and-a Demand. The better the supply, the lower the price. As recently as August The Telegraph was reporting that handguns were going for as little as £50. Who's right? Which hypothesis more closely matches the evidence?

Another fascinating tidbit. At the bottom of that piece was this bit of rather old but interesting data:

Note the date - 2000-2002. That makes the ratio between the UK and the US right at 2.25 to one. A far cry from where it was in the 1950's, no?

By most rational measures, the UK doesn't really have much of a firearm problem. They do, however, have a violent crime problem. And they have a firearm paranoia problem, as evidenced by this story illustrating the inability to differentiate between "violent and predatory" and "violent but protective":
March without your guns, says mayor

A MAYOR sparked a row by asking soldiers to lay down their guns before marching in this Sunday's Remembrance Day parade.

Chepstow town councillor Hilary Beach says the 1 Rifles Army regiment, based at nearby Beachley Barracks, should not carry their weapons during the ceremony because of the rising tide of gun crime across the country.

Veterans' groups criticised her comments as "ridiculous".
As well they should. But she's the Mayor, and thought it was a good idea.

And here's the inevitable result of that mindset when carried into the halls of power:
Jail term cut for 'feral' killers

Two Cheshire teenagers who terrorised a vulnerable man before beating him to death and throwing his body in a river, have had their life sentences cut.

Craig Dodd, aged 17, will now serve a minimum of three-and-a-half years in prison and Ryan Palin, 15, three years.

The pair were dubbed as "feral" when they were jailed for life for the manslaughter of Raymond Atherton, 40, in Warrington.

They beat and urinated on Mr Atherton before dumping him in the River Mersey.

Despite the severity of their crime, Lord Justice Rix overturned the life terms and replaced them with sentences of detention for public protection, giving each a minimum tariff to serve before parole can be considered.

Lord Justice Rix decided the sentencing judge at Warrington Crown Court had not been right to impose life sentences for the killing.

He said: "We think it was an error of principle to say that a discretionary sentence of detention for life should be imposed."
But here's the kicker:
The court heard Palin, of Grasmere Avenue, Orford, and Dodd, of Lisguard Close, Runcorn spent months systematically abusing the victim, who had severe learning difficulties, in a process they nicknamed 'terroring'.

They regularly broke into his council flat on St Katherine's Way, Howley, where they wrote graffiti on the walls, burnt his hair and daubed his face with paint.

On the night of his death in May 2006, the boys were seen by neighbours beating him with planks of wood until he bled.
(My emphasis.) I guess his neighbors should have honked their horns and jumped up and down.

This is what disarmament has done to the formerly Great Britain. This is the result of a society unable to differentiate between "violent and predatory" and "violent but protective." This is what happens when the State denies its citizens the right to defend themselves, and abrogates its duty to protect them. This is what happens when a society journeys down the path of compelled helplessness.

And what was the mantra of the (not nearly a) Million Mom March?
England can do it. Australia can do it. So Can WE!
Not on my watch. Not ever.
Why the Left Believes the Media is "Right-Wing".

From TalkLeft:
I am a Centrist. I believe the Democratic Party is a centrist Party. I wish the Democratic Party would fight for its centrist ideals. Like ending the the war in Iraq. Like not going to war in Iran. Like bringing balance to our tax system by reversing the extreme and radical Bush tax cuts. Like doing something about global warming. Like protecting equal rights for all Americans. Like protecting the right to choose. Like offering health care to all Americans. And so on. These Democratic principles stand in the center of American public opinion, held by a strong majority of Americans.

The Republican Party is an extreme party whose views are completely out of the mainstream of American thought. The views espoused by the GOP must be marginalized and beaten at every turn.
They're "middle of the road," we're "extremists."

And they really believe that.

The divide widens and deepens.
A Timely Question.

Sitemeter showed an interesting hit this morning:

And "This One's for All the Marbles" was the #2 hit.

Interesting.

Monday, November 12, 2007

This One's for All the Marbles.

Now we get to see what our Supreme Court is really made of.

As early as tomorrow, Tuesday, November 13, SCOTUS may announce its decision whether to hear D.C. v. Heller this term. No matter what, this case will define, I think, the Roberts Court. If they decide to hear the case, it will be the first time the Supreme Court has heard a case specifically on the Second Amendment since 1939. If they deny certiorari they will continue a tradition of dodging the question of just what that amendment protects that has lasted sixty-eight years.

The topic is the legal definition of these twenty-seven words:
A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
Do these twenty-seven words mean that government is prohibited from infringing on the individual right of citizens to possess and carry firearms, or do they mean only that the government has the power to form and arm militias? Or do they mean something else entirely?

The law firm of Gura & Possessky filed their brief in response to the City of Washington, D.C.'s petition for a writ of certiorari in the D.C. v. Heller (formerly Parker v. D.C.) case on October 4. Unlike most petitions by successful plaintiffs, it was a brief in favor of the Supreme Court hearing Washinton D.C.'s appeal.

It's a thing of beauty, and hit every single point, with emphasis.

The petition states in its opening paragraphs:
The case is further suitable for review because the question it presents is quite narrow. Contrary to Petitioners' tendentious formulation of the question presented in their petition, the question presented by this case is whether the Second Amendment secures an individual right to keep basic functional firearms, including ordinary handguns, within the home. In resolving that narrow, specific question, this Court need not decide the full extent of Second Amendment rights nor even determine the appropriate level of constitutional scrutiny for regulations that implicate the Second Amendment.
Shorn of the legalese, this means "you only have to decide on whether the Second Amendment protects an individual right or not. Nothing else." This is the fundamental question upon which all other questions of "gun control" rests, and is best illustrated by the 1996 decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that stripped all residents of that circuit (including your humble author) of their right to arms. That decision was Hickman v. Block, and here is (as I have characterized it before) the court's exhaustively researched, deeply-considered, well thought-out reasoning behind their "collective rights" conclusion:
We follow our sister circuits in holding that the Second Amendment is a right held by the states, and does not protect the possession of a weapon by a private citizen. We conclude that Hickman can show no legal injury, and therefore lacks standing to bring this action.
The Second Amendment is only twenty-seven words. With forty-eight, the Ninth Circuit rendered that amendment meaningless. That court later expanded on that holding in Nordyke v. King and Silveira v. Lockyer, concluding in that last case:
After conducting our analysis of the meaning of the words employed in the amendment’s two clauses, and the effect of their relationship to each other, we concluded that the language and structure of the amendment strongly support the collective rights view. The preamble establishes that the amendment’s purpose was to ensure the maintenance of effective state militias, and the amendment’s operative clause establishes that this objective was to be attained by preserving the right of the people to “bear arms” — to carry weapons in conjunction with their service in the militia. To resolve any remaining uncertainty, we carefully examined the historical circumstances surrounding the adoption of the amendment.

Our review of the debates during the Constitutional Convention, the state ratifying conventions, and the First Congress, as well as the other historical materials we have discussed, confirmed what the text strongly suggested: that the amendment was adopted in order to protect the people from the threat of federal tyranny by preserving the right of the states to arm their militias. The proponents of the Second Amendment believed that only if the states retained that power could the existence of effective state militias — in which the people could exercise their right to “bear arms” — be ensured. The historical record makes it equally plain that the amendment was not adopted in order to afford rights to individuals with respect to private gun ownership or possession. Accordingly, we are persuaded that we were correct in Hickman that the collective rights view, rather than the individual rights models, reflects the proper interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Thus, we hold that the Second Amendment imposes no limitation on California’s ability to enact legislation regulating or prohibiting the possession or use of firearms, including dangerous weapons such as assault weapons. Plaintiffs lack standing to assert a Second Amendment claim, and their challenge to the Assault Weapons Control Act fails.
Ninth Circuit Judge Andrew J. Kleinfeld characterized that decision in his dissent when the case was denied an en banc rehearing:
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.
Judge Alex Kozinski in his dissent to that same decision put it more bluntly:
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; its using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.

The able judges of the panel majority are usually very sympathetic to individual rights, but they have succumbed to the temptation to pick and choose. Had they brought the same generous approach to the Second Amendment that they routinely bring to the First, Fourth and selected portions of the Fifth, they would have had no trouble finding an individual right to bear arms.
Kleinfeld continues in his dissent:
Much of the panel decision purports to be an attempt to figure out what the word “militia” means in the Second Amendment. But the panel’s failure to cite the contemporaneous implementing statute defining the term demonstrates the tendentiousness of its analysis. The statute defining the militia, which in substance provides that the “militia” consists of all adult male citizens without regard to whether they are in any state or federal military service, has been subsequently altered to expand its coverage, but the federal militia statute remains in effect. Besides overlooking the statute, the panel somehow failed to notice that the United States Supreme Court, in United States v. Miller, held that the term “militia” in the Second Amendment meant, and means, “all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.” We are an inferior court, bound by this holding of the Supreme Court.

The panel opinion swims against a rising tide of legal scholarship to the contrary, relying heavily on a single law review article that claims “keep and bear” means the same thing as “bear,” which itself means only to carry arms as part of a military unit.

About twenty percent of the American population, those who live in the Ninth Circuit, have lost one of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights. And, the methodology used to take away the right threatens the rest of the Constitution. The most extraordinary step taken by the panel opinion is to read the frequently used Constitutional phrase, "the people," as conferring rights only upon collectives, not individuals. There is no logical boundary to this misreading, so it threatens all the rights the Constitution guarantees to "the people," including those having nothing to do with guns. I cannot imagine the judges on the panel similarly repealing the Fourth Amendment’s protection of the right of "the people" to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures, or the right of "the people" to freedom of assembly, but times and personnel change, so that this right and all the other rights of "the people" are jeopardized by planting this weed in our Constitutional garden.
After several pages indicating point-by-point where the majority deluded themselves, Judge Kleinfeld concludes his dissent:
Congress and the states may enact reasonable restrictions to manage the ways in which the populace exercises its right to keep and bear arms, just as reasonable restrictions are imposed on our rights to free speech, free assembly, freedom from search and seizure, and all our other constitutional rights. What the Second Amendment prohibits is not reasonable regulation consistent with its purposes, but disarmament of the people. Where the Constitution establishes a right of the people, no organ of the government, including the courts, can legitimately take that right away from the people. All of our rights, every one of them, may become impediments to the efficient functioning of our government and our society from time to time, but fortunately they are locked in by the Constitution against permanent loss because of temporary impediments. The courts should enforce our individual rights guaranteed by our Constitution, not erase them.
What is at stake here, essentially, is the tattered remnants of the Constitution. Does it still mean anything at all, or is it really just a piece of paper our officials, elected and unelected, can wipe their collective posteriors with? Will the Supreme Court do its duty to defend the Constitution, or abrogate that duty in such a way as to remove any doubt?

The First Amendment declaration "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech...." was violated by the McCain-Feingold Incumbent Protection Campaign Finance Reform Act - and while some of the language was struck down by the Supreme Court, not all of it was. Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, and its restrictions on the issuance of and wording of warrants have been shredded by the unending "War on (some) Drugs™" along with the Fifth Amendment's prohibition against deprivation of property without due process. The Fifth has been further pulped by decisions rendering the "public use" clause moot. And the Tenth Amendment?

Let's not go there.

Oh, and Silveira v. Lockyer? The Supreme Court denied cert. in 2003 and let that weed grow and flower in our Constitutional garden.

The Court's composition has changed. It only takes four Justices to grant cert. Those four could very easily be Roberts, Alito, Scalia, and Thomas. This leaves five other justices, just one of which needs to understand his or her guardianship of the Constitution, to be unwilling to discard like a crumpled gum wrapper a fundamental enumerated right, to make it plain that the Constitution is not a relic, that it is not a "living document" to be redefined to mean anything judges sitting on a bench decide it means, whenever they so please.

So we will see.

This one is for all the marbles.

UPDATE: No announcement today, according to SCOTUSblog. The next case announcement will probably be Nov. 26.

So we just wait....