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

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Friday, December 31, 2004

"If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat"

Truer words... and the title of Hugh Hewitt's previous book. Carnaby Fudge is asking for just what I described a couple of posts down - some help from the Blogosphere in righting a wrong. The Democrats have done what Hewitt (and others) predicted: recounted until they got the count they wanted then declared victory, but Carnaby lives in Washington, and wants a revote. Stefan Sharkansky's blog Sound Politics has been covering the election theft electoral process and links to a new site, which is pushing a petition to get a revote.

To be honest, I'm ambivalent about it. After all, the Democrats have worked so hard to steal er, win the election. A revote might cause a landslide against them because of the disgust engendered by their blatant theft sticking to principles. Personally, I think the people of Washington should just bend over and spread 'em accept the legitimacy of their new governor. After all, she only wants what's best for them, and plans to see that they get it - good and hard.

But if you're a resident of Washington, and you're just a little PO'd about the election, you might want to drop by Sound Politics and get really PO'd. Then make a visit to to sign the petition.

Oh, and go by and read Ravenwood's The Number of the Counting Shall Be Three. I'd missed the Python reference, but he nailed it.

Now if Only Canada Will Get a Clue

Clayton Cramer links to this report that New Zealand has finally given up (at least for now) on its plan to attempt long-gun registration (again.)
Gun registration off the agenda - Hawkins
24 December 2004

The Government has finally abandoned the idea of registering firearms.

Police Minister George Hawkins confirmed today that registration will not be in a bill he is preparing to tighten border control of illicit arms trading.
Border control?? New Zealand is an island. Doesn't he therefore mean "gun smuggling?"
The legislation will bring New Zealand into line with international protocols on the control of weapons, parts and ammunition.
"International" = "U.N."

That doesn't give me the warm fuzzies.
The registration of all the guns in the country was recommended seven years ago in a government-commissioned review of gun laws carried out by Sir Thomas Thorpe.

Neither the previous nor the present government acted on the recommendation, and Mr Hawkins said today it was off the agenda.
What this peice doesn't tell you is that New Zealand tried long-gun registration before, and it failed miserably. They've had handgun registration since 1921, according to this Guncite page (and used it in 1974 to confiscate revolvers), but when they tried to expand their registration scheme to long guns in the 1980's they finally gave up in defeat in 1983, settling for registration of the then-new "evil military-looking rifles" only. They stopped trying to register other rifles and shotguns because they recognized that it was expensive, useless, and tied up to much police time and effort.

So of course somebody had to bring it up again.
"Police told the Government it wouldn't make very much difference, and they recommended that we did not register every firearm," he said on National Radio.

"Police advice was that most of the times guns are used illegally, they are illegal guns and they don't know about them anyway."
Halleluja! A voice of reason!
The chairman of the Council of licensed Firearms Owners, John Howat, agreed with the decision.

"There's no evidence, anywhere in the world, that registration systems assist police in generally controlling firearms," he said.

"It is incredibly costly. We don't want to go down that track, it's a waste of money."
As Canada has found to the tune of over a billion dollars - but they won't admit their mistake.
The Progressive Party's justice spokesman, Matt Robson, has advocated registration in the past and he did not agree.
He's a "Progressive" - of course he did not agree. Progressives can't be bothered with little things like reality.
"Without a firearms registration authority, without the proper registration of every gun in New Zealand, we leave ourselves very vulnerable," he said.
Vulnerable to what? The inability to disarm the proles before they come to string you up for violating their rights just one time too often?
Mr Hawkins will put his bill into Parliament early next year.

He said it would give increased powers to customs officials to search for and seize illicit weapons and ammunition.
Works really good with drug smuggling too, I bet. What's the street price for cocaine in Auckand these days?

Supply and demand, Mr. Hawkins. Economics 101.
It would allow New Zealand to sign the United Nations protocol on the control of trans-national organised crime.
Be still, my beating heart.
"Illegal arms getting into the Pacific isn't something we want to see, and we're playing our part as a responsible member of the Pacific group of nations," he said.

"We're very conscious that we have a lot of ports, a lot of yachts come to them, and we have to be ever vigilant."
You've got a fair amount of just plain coastline, too. Gonna put up a wall?
There are four different classes of firearms licence in New Zealand. The A category entitles holders to own and use rifles and shotguns. Other categories enable people to own and use handguns and military-style semi-automatic firearms under strict conditions.
Just not strict enough, apparently. That's the thing about gun control laws, they never appear to be good enough. There's always that "next step."

But it looks like New Zealand is going to skip back from at least one.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Never Pick a Fight with a Man Who Buys Ink by the Barrel

Er, has a blog?

And it all apparently started with the "Fisk," the line-by-line disassembly of some piece of "journalism." It was generally done by an individual, or at best disassociated random individuals, but now it's organized, collated and cross-referenced.

Exhibit A: Newsweek's The Birth of Jesus, an anti-Christian hit piece published in the Dec. 13 issue. In years past this, I'm sure, would have drawn several hundred to several thousand letters of outrage and protest from believers (and remember, I'm not one), and the editorial staff would have sifted through them all to find two or three to publish in the "letters to the editor" section. In a month or two. I'm sure at least one would have been a real doozy, too. Oh, someone might have written something that might have gotten published in some obscure religious magazine, two months hence, but it would have attracted the attention of a very small audience at best.

But not today. As Hugh Hewitt, an evangelical himself, national radio talk-show host and writer, explained in his recent Weekly Standard piece The Year of the Blog, "That was then. The blogosphere is now." He goes on to explain how two highly credentialed and religious men, Dr. Albert Mohler and Dr. Mark D. Roberts, wrote and published on-line separate detailed critiques of the Newsweek piece. Hewitt then interviewed both men on his radio program, and invited other bloggers to weigh in. The complete list of respondents is available here. Hewitt states:
What the blogosphere allowed to happen is the organization of dissent which is focused, credentialed, complete, and--crucially--publicized. No fair reader of Meacham's piece and the commentaries on it can conclude that Meacham produced good journalism. It is simply too one-sided, too agenda-driven, and too ignorant of serious scholarship to qualify as anything other than a polemic. The exposure of Meacham's folly doesn't guarantee that Newsweek won't stumble again, but it surely must give others in his position pause. The blogosphere has experts and megaphones. As Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost concluded "the mainstream media is only able to retain their influence by convincing the populace they possess special skill and knowledge. But as the Internet continues to fill with . . . debunkers, the media continues to lose credibility, influence, and power."
Exhibit B: The Minneapolis Star Tribune and journalist Nick Coleman's direct attack on Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker of Power Line in his column Megaphones without oversight: Blog swarms, opinion storms, and brand destruction. The response to this piece was widespread and immediate, and it's all (or nearly all) collated at the aforementioned Evangelical Outpost. To quote:
The fact that such a large number of blogger wrote about the incident is rather extraordinary. But the true significance lies in the number of people who read about Coleman’s gaffe on these blogs. Together these sites have a daily hit count of over 350,000 while the Star-Tribune itself has a circulation of approximately 380,000. If we assume that ever(y) person who bought the newspaper today read Coleman’s column then we can deduce that for every three people who saw the piece slamming Power Line, two people read a defense of the bloggers. (Blog readership, however, has a great deal of overlap so that has to be factored into any conclusions that might be made about the overall site visits.)

Essentially, what we have are two “brands” going head to head for what Hewitt calls “mindspace” – the attention, respect, and trust of information consumers. At first it might appear that Coleman retains a slight advantage. He not only has more (potential) readers but he has them all in a central geographic location while the PL defenders are spread across the country.

But think about the implications from the perspective of “brand management.” Both Coleman and the PL crew live in the same city and both have their work accessible on the Internet. Yet Power Line was able to have a national effect and get their message across in a way that Coleman could only dream about.
The blogosphere is that megaphone Coleman is apparently afraid of, and he certainly got his blog swarm and opinion storm. What you see is thirty-nine uncut letters-to-the-editor. Each of those may have pertinent links to associated materials - something the dead-tree edition doesn't offer. Each offers a different bit of perspective. The difference now is that you no longer have to accept just the paper's opinion - you get, if you wish, multiple views. You get access to source materials when it comes to hard-news reporting, too.

Eric S. Raymond's post made a point that expands on Hewitt's above:
(The Mainstream Media is) most terrified of all at discovering how out of touch they are. In the past, your typical MSMer surrounded by other MSMers has believed that he is mildly “progressive", merely holding the opinions that all reasonable people hold and opposed by at most a tiny and dismissable fringe of kooks and rednecks. MSMers are more undone than anything else by the discovery that the mainstream of the American population is rejecting them in droves for Fox News, talk radio, and the blogs.
And, Eric warns,
It's a short step from this belief to Coleman’s flavor of quasi-paranoid ranting. Anybody who doesn’t think like the MSM cannot be authentic, but must instead be a paid or suborned tool of evil forces. Watch for this theme to show up more and more frequently in the next year as most of the MSM sinks ever-deeper into denial.
The old saying used to be "Never pick a fight with a man who buys ink by the barrel."

No longer is that necessarily true, and they're waking up to that fact. The gatekeepers have discovered that the whole damned wall is down. Of course they're afraid.

UPDATE 1/4: I found this interesting. Jack Kelly, writing in JWR on the topic of the decline of the news media concludes his piece:
Journalists tend not to like bloggers, because they report on errors we make. Dan Rather and former New York Times editor Howell Raines are unemployed chiefly because of the vigilance and tenacity of bloggers. (We journalists rarely turn the spotlights we use on business leaders and government officials on ourselves.)

People who work at journalism full time ought to be able to do a better job of it than people for whom it is a hobby. But that's not going to happen as long as we "professional" journalists ignore stories we don't like and try to hide our mistakes. We think of ourselves as "gatekeepers." But there is not much future in being a gatekeeper when the walls are down.
Hmm... I wonder if Mr. Kelly reads The Smallest Minority?
Negotiating in Ones Own Mind

Matthew at has an excellent piece up fisking a recent Herald op-ed over the ongoing argument about the changing English law to give homeowners more latitude to use force in defense of themselves and their property. Please read both, but here's the money quote from Matthew's piece as a teaser:
This woman is engaging in one of the psychological compensation mechanisms for being in a helpless in a threatening situation: she is negotiating, in her own mind, with the burglars. If she agrees not to defend herself, so the reasoning goes, the burglars will surely agree not to hurt her. Thus, she fools herself into believing that she is safe without actually taking any precautions to increase her safety; taking precautions would require facing up to her fear, and to the fact that her government has forbidden her to own the only effective means of self-defense available to the average person.

It is exactly the same impulse that leads primitive cultures to make deals with invisible spirits or gods: those deals, however imaginary, offer a way to deal with things that are otherwise impossible to placate. It is better to sacrifice an ox to the sun god than to feel helpless waiting for the spring to come once again. And it is better to agree not to resist the burglars than to accept the fact that her government will not allow her to defend herself.
Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Looks Like Jason has Pulled the Plug

Jason of Fish or Man has a single post up at his site now, a quote from Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and has even pulled his archives.

Hopefully someone will be able to tell us what the outcome of his arrest was.

Good luck, Jason. I wish you the best.
An Excellent Rant (Not Safe for Work!)

Via Rob at Gut Rumbles, go watch this little animation video rant about how some people are trying to destroy Christmas, and how it pisses off even us non-religious folk.

Warning, the language is quite blue, so if you're offended easily, I'd avoid it. Or at least turn the volume down.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

2004: Year of the (Gun)Blogger

Publicola has a very interesting post up regarding the big story for gun-rights supporters this year, the sunset of the "Assault Weapons Ban," and the rise of power of us "gunbloggers." It is his contention (and I fully agree) that the power of the blogosphere has had a significant effect on how pro- and anti-gun legislation is affected in Congress - specifically on how the ability to respond immediately allows us to influence our elected officials, and the NRA.

Somebody sees something on C-SPAN, blogs about it right then, it makes the rounds of the blogs and the message boards, and within twelve hours we're bombarding our representatives and the NRA switchboard.

And they listen.

Give his piece a read.
Welcome New Readers!

I see I'm receiving another Kimalanche. If this is your first visit, thank you. If you want some flavor of what this site is about, please check out the "Best Posts" over on the left column. If you're a repeat visitor, welcome back.

I'm flattered by Kim's link and praise. I really appreciate it when something I've slaved over written gets major attention, and (since I don't do this exclusively for the mental exercise) I appreciate the traffic and any comments readers leave.

As to traffic, I've only been doing this for about a year and a half. Five hundred hits a day, more or less, isn't all that bad for a very specific blog that tends to long, link-filled essays.

So, thank you Kim, and Toren, and SayUncle and everyone else. Expect to be cited when and/or if I ever write a book!

Monday, December 27, 2004


Hey, a new holiday! Like Festivus!

Well, not really. Gary Cruse of The Owners Manual runs a weekly feature called The Best of Me Symphony - a collection of older posts that their authors (or others) think ought to have a second reading. This week's Symphony is up, and I've got an entry from last September, pre-election. If I get a chance, I've got a follow-on to it to write, too.

Go give it a look. Gary channels Camille Paglia as guest host this week, the 56th iteration of the Symphony, and there is a wide variety of quite excellent stuff to peruse.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Remember Our Troops

Found this at Rivrdog's (I slightly reformatted it):

A Christmas Poem for All Americans

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree, I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!"
"Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
To the window that danced with a warm fire's light,
Then he sighed and he said, "It's really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam,
And now it's my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile."

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white and blue. . . an American flag.
"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home,
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother
who stand at the front against any and all,
to ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.
So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."

"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son"
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone.
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust.
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

Michael Marks
December 7, 2000
My best wishes to you and yours, from me and mine.
Selections from the Carnival

If you do not peruse the weekly Carnival of the Vanities, just let me say: you ought. For those two of you not aware, the Carnival of the Vanities (as opposed to, say, the Carnival of Recipies) is a weekly collection of blog posts from the recent past deemed noteworthy by their authors (and sometimes nominated by their readers.) It's published every Wednesday, and on a different blog each week. I've hosted it here myself once. I generally try to write at least a couple of posts a month that I feel qualify.

The CotV has been running now for 118 consecutive weeks, and this week it was run by Ravenwood's Universe. There were two posts I found particularly interesting, given my personal tastes as regards this blog. The first was Classical Values's Urgent warnings -- from SCIENCE! - an analysis of the idea that "guns cause crime." If that's true merely based on the prevalence of guns in criminal violence he says, doesn't that argue that "race causes crime"? Or "maleness causes crime"? And with a greater degree of association?

(And no, I'm not sucking up to Classical Values because he linked to me, though I appreciate that. He makes good points, and makes them well.)

The second post I find of interest is Revealed Truth's "Ecoloons" Doesn't Quite Cut It, a discussion of the Environmentalist movement. Ed Mick writes that the environmentalist movement is just another collectivist power-grab, and the reason the piece grabbed me is that he asked about the environmentalist movement precisely the same question I asked last week in On Guillotines and Gibbets:
Do you think it can really be mere coincidence that leftism and environmental lunacy are inevitably linked hand in hand? That such as Mikhail Gorbachev wind up running outfits like "Green Cross International?" That the dramatic diminution of property rights is at the core of almost every Green prescription for ridding us of their bogeymen?

No, not when the evidence is so abundantly clear that not only are they peddling falsehoods, but that they KNOW they are doing it. Ask yourself; given what we know about how wrong they've been, why do they persist? Crichton says its because Environmentalism is a religion - a matter of faith, not science. I think he's right with respect to some, but naively wrong with respect to most. Unless you believe Communism is a religion.
My question was the same, but from only a slightly different angle:
If it is so blindingly obvious to many of us that the ideologies behind, for example, gun control and welfare are so fundamentally flawed, why are these ideologies not dead? Not only are they not dead, in many ways, still flourishing? Why is the demonstrably erroneous ideology of the Left still advanced by people who just want to keep turning up the power, with the resultant escalation of failure?
He just added "environmentalism" to gun control and welfare as another flawed, failed ideology. His conclusion, that it's just another form of communism, is correct, but I think he glosses over the fact that it is communism (or its little brother socialism) that is the underlying religious faith. But it's a good piece.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I Love the Blogosphere

Just tooling around, I found Bill Peschel's blog where he has posted his picks for the "Best Internet Essays of 2004." Among them is Tim Hulsey's Coming Out Conservative from May, and a damned fine piece it is, too. Highly recommended. You might want to scan through some of the other pieces Bill selected as well, and perhaps send him some of your own suggestions, like perhaps the entire catalog of Eject!Eject!Eject!?
I Need to Find This Store!!

If you're not familiar with Tony Woodleif's Sand in the Gears, you ought to go spend some time in his archives. As I've mentioned before, I love the written word and Tony is another artist in this medium. Unfortunately, he doesn't tend to post much.

He did today, though, and it is a true gem.

Tony writes about needing to go pick up some cowboy guns for his boys for Christmas, the difficulties he ran into, and the answer to his predicament. A taste:
But I couldn't find guns. I wandered up and down aisles until I spotted a salesman. "Excuse me," I said, "where can I find cowboy guns?"

"Oh. We don't sell those." He looked at me as if I had just asked him for nipple clamps, or perhaps a Bible. His voice was tinged with the self-righteousness of people who announce to others that they recycle, or that their children attend Eugene V. Debs Elementary because they believe in supporting the public schools.

"So basically we're becoming France, right?" He saw neither the truth nor the humor in this observation.


There was one place left, one final hope for a man intent on arming his children, in fine American fashion, for Christmas. The hobby shop.

I was greeted by a gruff bearded man. He could smell the panic on me, like a grizzled sergeant can smell it on a soldier in his first battle. "Something I can do for you, son?"

"Yes. Please. Please, for the love of all that remains good about America, tell me that you carry toy cowboy guns. Just a couple of cowboy guns is all I'm asking for. Toys R Us doesn't have them, Wal-Mart doesn't have them . . ." My voice trailed off.

He sized me up, perhaps to see if I was one of those pansy do-gooder Public Citizen types just looking to make trouble. Fortunately I hadn't shaved, and I was wearing flannel. "C'mon," he said with a gleam in his eye, "we just got in a shipment."

They just got in a shipment.
Read the whole thing. It will leave a huge smile on your face, I promise.

Once Again, for the Record, I am NOT an Objectivist

I agree with much of Ayn Rand's reasoning and logic, she has left us a number of eminently quotable quotes, but Dipnut of Isn'tapundit once expressed the definitive reason I have not swallowed the Objectivist philosophy hook, line, and sinker:
Perhaps the biggest mistake an intellectual can make is to try to parlay his one brilliant insight into a unified theory of existence. Ayn Rand made this mistake with Objectivism. Objectivism was useful for thinking in certain limited realms, but Rand sought to apply Objectivist thinking to every aspect of the human experience, including love. The result is a sterile philosophical landscape, extending out of sight in all directions.Tellingly, Rand was unable to live according to her ideals. This is part of what makes Rand so disagreeable; the almost hysterical denial of subjectivity's inevitable, essential role in our lives. And it makes her not only disagreeable, but wrong.
I was therefore amused when I found via Prof. Reynolds this morning, Douglas Kern's A TCS Christmas Carol. Kern offers various versions of the story from the perspective of different modern-day personalities. (Terry McAuliff's was a howler.) Like Prof. Reynolds, though, I thought the Ayn Rand version was particularly scathingly accurate - and another illustration of why I am not an objectivist:
Ayn Rand: The ruggedly handsome and weirdly articulate Ebeneezer Scrooge is a successful executive held back by the corrupt morality of a society that hates success and fails to understand the value of selfishness. So Scrooge explains that value in a 272-page soliloquy. Deep down, Scrooge's enemies know that he is right, but they resent him out of a sense of their own inferiority. Several hot sex scenes and unlikely monologues later, Scrooge triumphs over all adversity -- except a really mean review by Whittaker Chambers. Meanwhile, Tiny Tim croaks. Socialized medicine is to blame.
Read the whole thing, though. Very funny.

Except the very last one, which is funny as hell.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Thought Crimes

Rivrdog has a post up concerning the brouhaha over Jason of Fish or Man's arrest, and he addresses something important:

There are many fertile subjects here: The need for clarity in the gun laws, the need for education of the gendarmes in the gun laws, the need of the police to be professionally detached, and not make "asshole arrests", but above all, there is a need to be calm and deliberative in the face of such pressure. On both sides.

None of this is the reason I wrote this post, however. Mrs. DuToit was obviously horrified as to the way her comments section was being used to promote extreme and violent ideas, so she gutted the post and deleted all the comments.

Mrs. DuToit doesn't write much about guns, but her husband, Kim DuToit, is the most prolific and widely-read gun blogger around. He is a mega-blogger. The DuToits are now worried about their position and their wide readership being interpreted to mean, to those who feel threatened about such things (read: the BATFE and all the lefty government hacks who worry about guns for a living), that she and Kim might become targets for some government action or other.

So might I, since I have stated in this blog before that I believe that the root of Gun Fearing is nothing less than the leftist fear that if they succeed in their desire for a left-wing dictatorship, there are enough guns around that will be used against them to prevent their seizing the government, or successfully revolting against the seized government after it happens. There is historical basis for this view, and there is historical evidence to show that it was this type of thinking that led the Forefathers to put the Second Amendment in place.

I have stated, as has Kim, that a time may come when all good people who support the Constitution as written and presently interpreted might have to defend said document with our guns and our lives.

This opinion puts us on a list.
He then goes on to make a list of recommendations for gun-bloggers to follow, with this caveat:

Blogging is a hobby, right? Gun blogging is just a subset of a hobby, right? No sane person pushes their hobby so hard it threatens their life and liberty.
On the surface, he's correct. But what he's saying is "Don't get caught committing a thought crime."

I found Rivrdog's post through Rob Smith of Gut Rumbles. Rob understands. He wrote:

I love my country, but I FEAR my government. Yeah, I "beard the lion" frequently on this blog, but I fully understand the risks I take when I do it. I may be hauled off to jail some fine day for something I WROTE, right here in the land of the First Amendment. We fought a Revolution over that idea, but the government our founders fought and died for can and WILL do that to you today.


I understand Rivrdog's concern, because I know that he's not a wing-nut, black-helicopter-seeing, conspiracy-minded flake. He's the kind of person I would like for a neighbor.

So, I have to ask a simple question: isn't it tragic that he even thought to write that post in this "land of the free and home of the brave?" Isn't it ALSO tragic that I read the post and felt compelled to write about it myself? Does that fact say something terrible about Rivrdog, me or the du Toit's?

Or does it say something about government?
Jason wrote in a comment at Connie's now redacted post,

I am at wits end. The loaded gun charge will likely be dropped on Thursday, it relies on what an officer claims my spouse said. Something which cannot be used in court anyway. So that leaves me with a cop claiming reckless driving and a prosecutor that will likely add a felony charge of threatening a peace officer, (from what I listened to while being held). After all this I will still need to go back to Ellensburg and clear my name from this “gun violation” they have waiting for me there. I only hope to be able to make that stand without being branded a felon.

I refuse to believe that these are the conditions we are fighting the war on terrorism to keep. If so, the war has lost my support.
All I have to say to Jason is, if you weren't aware of the level to which we have fallen, you haven't been paying attention. I thought you understood that the fight was to get back what we've lost.

When I started The Smallest Minority I was quite aware I'd probably end up on a list somewhere. I've kept the tone civil and polite (for the most part), and followed that list of recommendations Rivrdog put up (for the most part), but I've certainly committed a number of "thought crimes" by posting on those stories of government excess that I have seen, such as this one that John Ray recently found:

Gun collector visited by Waterbury police

Friday, December 10, 2004

By Ben Conery

WATERBURY -- It never dawned on William Bechard that the two old Smith & Wesson revolvers he found for sale earlier this year in the Bargain News would get him arrested.

The classified advertisement newspaper led Bechard, 52, to a man in Hartford who was selling a .32-caliber revolver and a .38-caliber revolver. Bechard, of Waterbury, is an avid gun collector and trader who owns nearly 100 rifles and handguns, nearly all of them more than 50 years old.

Bechard said he bought the two revolvers in April for about $300.

The man Bechard bought the guns from called about a week later and said Bechard needed to contact the State Police to transfer the guns' registrations. Bechard recalled Thursday night that he called the State Police to do so, but it didn't have a record of the two guns.

Guns made before the late 1890s are considered antiques and don't have to be registered. Believing the guns were antiques, Bechard said he didn't give the matter a second thought until Thursday morning. Two State Police detectives knocked on his door Thursday around 7:30 a.m., Bechard said. They were there to arrest him for illegal transfer of a handgun.

"I said, 'I'm a law-abiding citizen,'" Bechard said. "They said, 'Well, now you're not.'"


Bechard faces two counts of illegal transfer of a firearm, a felony, and up to 10 years in prison if convicted of both charges.


Bechard has a passion for old weapons. In his house, a room no more than three paces wide -- protected by two dead bolts and pepper spray rigged to trip wire -- contains an arsenal of history. He has a rifle used in the Civil War and an ivory-handled Colt.45 Peacemaker, the same model used by famed outlaw Jesse James.
Read the whole thing. Mr. Bechard has fallen victim to Ayn Rand's dark and accurate vision. The government has made so many laws that he has violated one that brought him to the attention of the Powers That Be, who respond to his cry of "I'm a law-abiding citizen!" with "Well, now you're not."

Time to cash in on the guilt.

If he's lucky, he'll be offered a plea that will keep him out of jail, but will forever strip him of his right to arms. His entire collection, painstakingly built up over decades, will be taken. He will never legally be able to handle a firearm again. But the law that is supposed to keep guns out of the hands of felons will, again, serve only to punish an otherwise law-abiding person who merely made an error.

Last Monday I posted a piece from where a contributor there related the story of taking his son to a birthday party at the local pizza and video game parlor and shocking the socks off a gun-fearing wussy. In my comments, that same contributor posted this follow-on from another poster:

That reminds when my 8 year old daughter was at a gunshow with me and we were staffing a "gun rights" booth. The discussion was HOT and heavy with a large group of people around.......I caught only a piece of the discussion that my daughter was having with the LEO.......the LEO said "What if the President gives the order for the Police to take all the guns?" 8 year old told the LEO "Don't come to my house! We'll shoot you and bury you in the backyard!"

The LEO just stopped with this look on his face.............and then he walked away.
That family is probably on a list. They've committed a thought crime.

Rob Smith says "I FEAR my government." Connie du Toit fears being the target of some government action. Rivrdog recommends not making such a target of oneself.

Thomas Paine is credited with the quotation:

When people fear the government, there is tyranny. When government fears the people, there is liberty.
It's pretty apparent where we stand now. Blindingly apparent now to Jason and to William Bechard, long apparent to Rob Smith, the du Toits, me, Rivrdog and many others.

Blogging is a hobby, yes, and gunblogging is a subset of that hobby, but most of us do it for more than just the enjoyment a hobby brings. We do it to remind our government that, while fearful, we're not cowed. We do it to remind them that we understand what our rights are and what they're supposed to be, and that we resent the distance between those two points. And we do it to remind them that we are not powerless.

One of the first posts I put up on this blog was Why DO I Own a Gun?, and I made the point plain from the start:

The last reason I own a gun is probably the most controversial. It's the one that gets gun owners branded as "nuts", "kooks", and various other derogatory terms.

I own a gun in order to keep my government in check.

That is the primary reason the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution. The men who wrote it created a whole new form of government, one untried before in history. They did this in the full knowledge that governments are run by human beings, and that some human beings lust for power. They understood that, even with all the checks and balances engineered into the Constitution, with time and patience and even with good intent, the system they set up could fail and tyranny could again rise up. They understood that if the force of arms could be restricted to only the government, that the consent of the governed would become unimportant to those in charge.

So I own a gun. Just as a reminder those in charge that they'd better mean it when they swear an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. The Declaration of Independence says it best:
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.
It would be tough to throw off such a government starting with only small arms, but it's been done. It would be impossible without them.
Bill Whittle wrote in Freedom:

In the Warsaw Ghetto, in Solzhenitsyn's Gulags, in countless other miserable terrifying pits of murder, some people woke up to the idea that resistance is NOT futile. Which is why that old saw, which in my terribly, tragically misspent liberal youth I used to sneer at as the mark of a real idiot - "they can have my gun when they pry it from my cold dead fingers" - suddenly makes a new kind of sense to me.

That is not the statement of someone who doesn't want to give up a snowmobile or a Beemer. That is a statement that draws a line in the sand for the government, or any other oppressor, to plainly see. You want to take this freedom away from me? COME AND GET IT.
That's it, precisely.

Armed citizens, committing thought crimes in public, should act as a check on those officials who seek to overstep their powers. (I'm willing to bet that Sherrif's deputy will now think twice if he's ever actually given an order to confiscate weapons wholesale.) Granted, many of our freedoms have slid down the slippery slope over the past two centuries, but bear in mind that ours is the longest-lived Republic republic still in existence, too. An armed citizenry may or may not factor in to that, but I know which side of that argument I'm on.

So, like Rob and (I'm certain) like Kim du Toit, and the Geek and many others, we'll continue to commit thought crimes and stay on those lists. We will do it in the (possibly forlorn) hope of keeping the Powers That Be attentive to the fact that they can only push so hard before another Marvin Heemeyer or Steven Bixby or someone like them has had enough, and only so much harder before what is now a tiny trickle might become a flood, because there are a number of people in this country who read this advice, and nod their heads in silent agreement:

Lesson No. 1: If a bureaucrat, or a soldier sent by a bureaucrat, comes to knock down your door and take you someplace you don't want to go because of who you are or what you think-- kill him. If you can, kill the politician who sent them. You will likely die anyway, and you will be saving someone else the same fate. For it is a universal truth that the intended victims always far outnumber the tyrant's executioners. Any nation which practices this lesson will quickly run out of executioners and tyrants, or they will run out of it.

Lesson No. 2: If a bureaucrat, or a soldier sent by a bureaucrat, comes to knock down your door and confiscate your firearms-- kill him. The disarmament of law-abiding citizens is the required precursor to genocide.

Lesson No. 3: If a bureaucrat tells you that he must know if you have a firearm so he can put your name on a list for the common good, or wants to issue you an identity card so that you may be more easily identified-- tell him to go to hell. Registration of people and firearms is the required precursor to the tyranny which permits genocide. Bureaucrats cannot send soldiers to doors that aren't on their list.

Lesson No. 4: Believe actions, not words. Tyrants are consummate liars. Just because a tyrant is "democratically elected" doesn't mean that he believes in democracy. Reference Adolf Hitler, 1932. And just because a would-be tyrant mouths words of reverence to law and justice, or takes a solemn oath to uphold a constitution, doesn't mean he believes such concepts apply to him. Reference Bill Clinton, among others. The language of the lie is just another tool of killers. A sign saying "Arbeit Macht Frei" (Work Makes You Free) posted above an execution camp gate doesn't mean that anybody gets out of there alive, and a room labeled "Showers" doesn't necessarily make you clean. Bill Clinton notwithstanding, the meaning of "is" is plain when such perverted language gets you killed. While all tyrants are liars, it is true that not all political liars are would-be tyrants-- but they bear close watching. And keep your rifle handy.
Oops! I think I just committed another thought crime. Put another tick-mark next to my name.

UPDATE, 12/22: Kim du Toit informs me that Rivrdog misconstrued the reason behind the redaction, and has a post up explaining what they did and why. Connie has one, too. Excellent, as usual. Makes sense to me. I had not read the original post prior to writing Thought Crimes, so I took Rivrdog's explanation at face value. Having met Kim & Connie, I ought to have known better, but hindsight is always 20/20.

I have just one comment on Kim's explanatory post. There are supposed to be four boxes on which liberty stands: the soap box (which includes the mailbox), the jury box (which has been essentially stripped from us since the practice of jury nullification has been destroyed), the ballot box, and the cartridge box.

The box I use here is, of course, the soap box.
There Is No Justice

Well crap.

I'm an atheist, too, Steven, but you have my best wishes at the very minimum.

There's not much else I can say.

Department of Our Collapsing Collapsed Schools

Sweet bleeding jeebus. Even I didn't think it was this bad.

Via Gary Cruse of The Owner's Manual comes this OC Register column (registration required, or use username: nombre password: letmein - bugmenot works!). Just read it.
America as it ain't
It's no exaggeration to say the ignorance of college students is staggering

By Richard Nehrbass
The Huntington Beach resident is a professor of management at Cal State Dominguez Hills.

After America won its independence from Germany in the 19th century and Fidel Castro became the first ruler of the Soviet Union, Betsy Ross wrote "The Star Spangled Banner."

Wait, that's not right. It was after the Emancipation Proclamation secured our independence from France and Tolstoy established his reputation as a singer and Stalin became the president of Italy.

No, this isn't "magic realism," or some obscure French philosopher's post-modernist view of history. It's our world, as understood by our children. Grown children, sitting in my classes at a campus of the California State University, and almost entirely the product of California's public schools. To reach my classes, they have successfully navigated 12 years of American public education, graduating in the top third of their class. They have a history of A and B grades, they have admirable SAT scores. They are the flower of their generation. And they know almost nothing about their country, their culture or the world in general.

So serious is this problem that it is now often impossible for a college teacher to hold a discussion about anything that took place more than 15 years ago. Ask about Jimmy Carter, Gandhi or the Depression - or World War II or William Wordsworthor the civil rights movement of the '60s - and it's likely no one will know what you're talking about. Most of my students can't explain the difference between the political parties, or what the United Nations is, or name a single member of the president's Cabinet. They don't read newspapers or magazines, seldom watch the news on television, and think actually reading a book is an exotic and particularly cruel form of punishment.

Exaggerated? Unbelievable? Actually, it's even worse - as I discovered when I gave a short general knowledge quiz to my students the first day of class. There was nothing difficult about the test, just the sorts of things you would imagine no one could reach adulthood without knowing. When I collected the papers, one young woman told me she was "embarrassed" at what she didn't know. We all should be.

A few examples:

The vast majority of these soon-to-be college grads were not aware of even the most basic facts concerning their nation's history. Most, for example, could not identify the decade of any of America's wars. Any! Most couldn't identify the century. A mere 16 percent were able to date the beginning of the Revolutionary War to the 1770s, and only 12 percent chose the 1860s as the time of the Civil War. Two-thirds were unable to date the War of 1812. The mind boggles.

America's enemies in these wars? Fewer than one in three knew Great Britain was their country's foe in the American Revolution. Most weren't even able to work out who the United States fought in the "Korean" or "Vietnam" wars. When asked where the words "Four score and seven years ago" came from, only 17 percent were able to identify the Gettysburg Address. And just 17 percent (presumably the same students) knew what those six words meant.

To test simple arithmetic skills, I asked what 70 percent of 240 was. This is middle school stuff. But most had no idea how to figure it out. When asked to make change for a $5 bill when a purchase came to $1.37, one-quarter of California's future bachelors of science weren't able to figure it out.

Perhaps the problem is they're too busy studying current events. Perhaps, but only 16 percent could name California's two senators, and only 29 percent knew the Senate was composed of 100 members, though one soon-to-be grad said, "Fifty, two from each state."

World history? One student out of more than 100 - one! - could identify the authors of the Communist Manifesto. Two knew what the Magna Carta was. Joseph Stalin was the leader of what country? Sixty-one percent were clueless, though some thought perhaps Italy or Germany. Only 4 percent chose Lenin as the first leader of the Soviet Union.

The humanities? Two percent knew Keats was a poet, 12 percent could identify D.H. Lawrence, and 18 percent Tolstoy and Stravinsky. Gerald Ford, though, will be delighted to learn that half of California's best and brightest lauded him as the inventor of the automobile.

There were some positive results, of course. Sixty percent knew Nixon was the president who resigned in office, 95 percent chose Sacramento as their state's capital, and 81 percent more or less knew what the Holocaust referred to. ("When jewes were killed" and "killing of ethnical group" are actual quotes from soon-to-be university grads.) And 76 percent knew what happened on Pearl Harbor Day ("There was a bombing in the shape of a mushroom which killed many people and destroyed lands.")

But enough. After all, it's the system, not the students, that is at fault. Our young people are not stupid. Indeed, many are quite brilliant. But it's time we asked why after 12-plus years in our public schools, and a backpack full of As and Bs, they know so little about the world they live in. And it's past time for our nation's schoolteachers to take responsibility for what goes on in their classrooms. As things stand, they should be as "embarrassed" at the product of their labor as some of their own graduates are.
Go read Gary's commentary. Then read Billy Beck's.

I can't add anything to that.

College students! Jeebus!

UPDATE: Rodger Schultz, in his inimitable way, has a post up on public education.
From 1980 to 2002, in real money, spending per pupil in public schools increased by $3,600, rising from $5,400 per student to $9,000. That is a two-thirds spending increase.

The result .. (you guessed the result 20 years ago didn't you, ya big smart alek)? Last year U.S. students (8th graders) finished 15th in math and ninth in science when measured against 45 countries.

Which reminds me of the 1983 report of the National Commission on Excellence in Education that stated:
If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today,we might well have viewed it as an act of war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have in fact, been committing an act of unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.
I don't think it was "unthinking." I believe Connie du Toit had it right.
The other day our Carpenter’s helper heard me say something along the lines of, "it is difficult to conclude that incompetence is the reason why our public schools have deteriorated. There comes a point where you have to suspect sabotage, or a conspiracy."

He asked me if I really meant that. I gave him the five minute explanation of John Dewey’s known affiliation with communists, his frequent essays and articles about the wonders of the Soviet education system, and his quote, "You can’t make Socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society which is coming where everyone is interdependent."

I then went on to tell him about how public schools changed at the turn of the last century. That there were others involved in turning Americans from free-thinking individualists to factory drones. I also added that many people probably went along with it because it seemed like a good idea, but there were certainly enough people behind the scenes, who knew that the goal posts had been moved. THAT is a conspiracy.

Yes. There does come that time when you are forced to don the tinfoil hat.

The incompetence excuse only works once. Incompetence this great is impossible to attribute to accident.
Or is it, really, war? And there's been no "education 9/11" to wake us up to the fact?

Monday, December 20, 2004

'Unintelligible'? I Understood Him!

I just spent the last hour watching C-SPAN's Q and A interview of Roger Ailes that I mentioned below. I also read the transcript, as I (if you haven't noticed) do a bit of transcribing myself from time to time. I found this interesting. From the transcript:
LAMB: How can you tell when you’re making somebody crazy and they’re in your presence?

AILES: Well, they usually try to persuade me that I’m either wrong or nuts, and certainly a bad person for not agreeing with them. And generally, when you start a debate and they try to do that, you know you’re making them crazy.

LAMB: But what is it? I mean, go back to what we were talking about in the beginning. What is it that gets under their skin about this network?

AILES: Look, they suspect we like America. They suspect that we think…

LAMB: Do they really hate America?

AILES: No, they don’t hate it. They just -- are constantly telling you what’s wrong. There’s never a good story about this country. We don’t -- you know, the American people don’t hear that. We don’t -- you know, we don’t promote something that isn’t true, but we will put it in context. I mean, 95 percent of our people are working. That doesn’t say we don’t have an unemployment problem, you know, in Ohio and Michigan and some of those places. It doesn’t mean that there isn’t outsourcing. It doesn’t mean -- you have to cover those, but you have to put it in a context. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You have to put it in a context of what we have. And that’s part of the news. Part of the news is all the facts. And we try to do that. That makes us a little different.
It wasn't unintelligible. I understood him clearly.

He asked, "Do you want to live in Somalia?"

Good question.

Interesting Coincidences

I am an avid reader. Sometimes a voracious one. I'd rather read than do pretty much anything else, given the choice. So I always have something to read when I go to lunch, and usually it's a book or a magazine. I almost never, however, read newspapers. At least, not the dead-tree versions. Being the gun nut Second Amendment defender that I am, I am intimately aware of what Michael Crichton termed the "Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect" (PDF):
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect.
Thus was the art of "fisking" invented.

Anyway, if I want to read the news, I get it on-line now, generally. Besides, the two local papers, the Tucson Citizen and the Arizona Daily Star are generally Left and Far-Left respectively, so I don't feel like giving them my money. But today I picked up a copy of the Star so I'd have something to read with lunch.

And I stumbled across this op-ed by Leonard Pitts, Jr. where he decries falling newspaper circulation, and relates the efforts of a Chilean newspaper to counter this fall by, well, giving the readers what they apparently want.

Mr. Pitts does not approve.

Mr. Pitts does not approve because the plebes choose to read brain candy rather than hard-hitting news such as "stories about budget deficits, congressional summits, and other boring stuff nobody cares about."

How dare they!

Leonard blames the newspaper's problems on "bean counters." He says the paper where he works (the Miami Herald), a place where costs are cut with the mad glee of an ax murderer, talented people are being shoveled out the door, and editors are required to prostrate themselves before the altar of the holy profit margin.
He has a point, actually. I've said myself that the worst thing to happen, at least to television news, was the discovery that the news department could be a profit center rather than a money-pit.

Newspapers, (and news magazines) on the other hand, have always been profit-driven. They haven't had large commercial networks behind them to cover the payroll and the light bills. Thus "yellow journalism" was driven as much by a desire to sell newspapers as for idealism. But times have changed, and for one thing, people suffer less from Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect than they used to. The internet has had much to do with that.

As you're no doubt aware, Time magazine awarded Power Line its "Blog of the Year" award. The guys at Power Line excerpted this from that story:
The story of how three amateur journalists working in a homegrown online medium challenged a network news legend and won has many, many game-changing angles to it. One of the strangest and most radical is that the key information in "The 61st Minute" came from Power Line's readers, not its ostensible writers. The Power Liners are quick, even eager, to point this out. "What this story shows more than anything is the power of the medium," Hinderaker says. "The world is full of smart people who have information about every imaginable topic, and until the Internet came along, there wasn't any practical way to put it together."

Now there is.
I believe that 60 Minute's viewership has fallen off dramatically since "the 61st Minute." I think a good chunk of the falling newspaper circulation is due to similar reasons. There may still be a large audience willing to read "brain candy" from the press, but there are a LOT of people who still want to read about "budget deficits, congressional summits, and other boring stuff" - we just want the facts. We're tired of being told what to THINK about it by people who don't understand what it is they're writing about. If we want an editorial, we'll go to the editorial page.

I was listening to Hugh Hewitt on the way home from work this afternoon, and he was playing excerpts from C-SPAN's "Q and A" interview of Roger Ailes. Roger is head-honcho of FOX News, a man with his finger on the pulse of what does and what does not attract an audience, I think. Hugh quotes Roger on his answer to the question, "What do they teach in journalism school?"
Well I think they get too political from time to time. I think they draw conclusions for students, at least many of the ones that I have talked to. They don't necessarily teach them the simple things of gather all the facts, present all the facts. I think in many cases they have agendas. You know, I was asked by a university to give them some money and I went to the university and I taught a couple of classes and I interviewed a bunch of students and I said: 'I'm not going to give you any money until you can graduate somebody who likes America. It's not a bad country you know. Soon as you get me somebody like that I'll get you some money , but based on what they're learning, you'd think we lived somewhere else.'
Hewett expands:
The anti-Americanism of many elite media is palpable, and increasingly resented by Americans of all backgrounds. Ailes knows this, and knows as well that any network that simply does not attack America on a nightly basis will be ahead of CNN.
The same holds for newspapers, and Mr. Pitts should understand that and stop blaming the moronic public on the one hand, and the parsimonious bean-counters on the other. If he wants to see the reason for falling circulation, perhaps he and his professional breathren ought to spend some time staring into a mirror.

Failing that, he can go ahead and get into the bed-and-breakfast industry, and leave the news and analysis to the rising amateurs and semi-pros of the blogosphere.
This is TOO Cool!

On Nov. 12 I ordered six copies of Bill Whittle's book Silent America (five are Christmas presents). They finally came in today. Nice!

But the icing on the cake is that Bill has included a few pages of comments praising his essays (as they do on many books - quotes from the reviewers) and he included one of mine!

I'm touched. (In the head, but don't let that bother you.)

Have you ordered your copies?
Here's What Can Happen When You Stand Up for Your Rights

Jason of Fish or Man has been arrested for exercising his right to carry. His court date is Dec. 23. He needs some help with the legal fees or a 2nd Amendment-friendly lawyer willing to work pro-bono.

Read his story.

Do it now.

UPDATE: Reader Sam comments:
Stupid question here, but doesn't he just need a copy of the state laws saying he's allowed open carry?
To which reader Markm replied:
It sounds like they are also trying to pile on bogus non-gun charges - and once he beats those, he should also sue the PD or they'll just keep on doing this shit.
Which reminded me (again) of the quotation from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged:
There is no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is to crack down on criminals. When there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking the law. Create a nation of lawbreakers and then you can cash in on the guilt. Now that’s the system!
I'm sure Jason will be charged with a myriad of offenses, and the prosecutor will offer him a deal to drop everything if he'll just plead to one charge.

That charge, of course, will be sufficient to strip him of his right to arms. Remember, if you've ever been convicted of any crime for which you might have received a sentence of more than one year, or if you've been convicted of any felony, you lose your right to arms.

Can't have the citizens getting uppity, now.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

The London Sunday Telegraph Keeps It Up

And good for them. The entry for today is more letters from supporters of the effort. The Telegraph reports that they've received 100,000 mail-in cards, and along with them, a lot of stories of the victims of crime. I won't reproduce them all, but here's a choice sampling.

Burglary has afflicted us on several occasions. Several years ago I disturbed a man in my house and grabbed an Indian club with which to protect myself. In the heat of the moment, threatened by a provocative move, I lashed out, hitting his outstretched leg and breaking his tibia. He made his escape, albeit limping, and I alerted the constabulary.

The intruder went to hospital. To my absolute amazement I was arrested for causing grievous bodily harm. Little sympathy was afforded to me as the householder because he had not actually removed any property except a quantity of banknotes, which of course I could not prove were mine.

The case was "thrown out" of court on a technicality, but the memory of how near I had been to a possible period of incarceration, merely for defending what was mine, is still with me.

Intruders may or may not be armed with a weapon, but one cannot be sure. If they show intent to attack, then they deserve what they get.

Derek Godfrey-Brown, Okehampton, Devon

That's OK, Derek, they put the fear of God Government in you. It's that "chilling effect" they're going for, you know. If an agent of government injures or kills someone, it's "the legitimate use of force." If a citizen subject harms another, it's "lawless violence." Semantics is everything.

Here's another:
We have been subjected to three burglaries at our pub: once while we were sleeping upstairs and twice while we were busy downstairs. Only one of those burglaries has ever been solved.

However, I was myself arrested after I caught some teenagers tearing down trees in my garden. They were attempting to light a bonfire behind my wooden shed, which would have gone up in flames. I did not harm them, but I was holding one by the wrist when the police arrived. Five days later, I was charged with assault. Fortunately the charge was withdrawn the day before I was due to appear in court. It was a very distressing experience. I don't know why the police pursued the case - if I told you what I thought about them, I would probably get sued for libel.

I was a detective in the Metropolitan Police for 31 years before my retirement in 1985, but things have changed an awful lot since those days.

Graham A McIntosh, Hawkwell, Essex
Mr. McIntosh was a former police officer (probably quite familiar with the procedures for detaining subjects) and he was charged with assault. Again, there's that "chilling effect" of the government telling its subjects "YOU'RE NOT QUALIFIED!" You know these stories get around, and as a result people are more than a little reticent to defend themselves out of fear of prosecution.

This is an issue I feel strongly about, instinctively, so I am eager to hear arguments against the proposition, so that my views should be rational as well as emotional.

I have not heard any. I have heard a great deal of name-calling (in other newspapers). There is a defeatist argument that such measures will cause criminals to be more violent - a counsel of despair, if ever I heard one - and fanciful speculation about householders arming themselves. There is the lofty condescension of the "liberal elite", as William Hague called them, that the law is perfectly adequate. And, of course, the astonishing ignorance of the Attorney General about the number of prosecutions of homeowners and the persecution they suffer from the Crown Prosecution Service.

More power to your campaign.

Mike Fowle, Felixstowe, Suffolk
Hmm... A "liberal elite" that professes that "the law is perfectly adequate." Remind you of anyone?

I am 84 years old. Any burglar is certain to be far more strong and agile than I. In order to have any chance to defend myself and my home, I must have the use of a weapon that can supply the power I have lost.

Ury Baruch, London W5
Took the words right out of my mouth. Sorry, Ury. The government doesn't trust you with that much power.

This woman has taken Ury's appeal to heart. Hopefully it won't get her arrested:
I am a widow in my eighties and I live alone. I am appalled and sickened by the pictures of old ladies who have been burgled, beaten up and in some cases, murdered. I do not intend to have that happen to me and so I keep a weapon in my bedroom.

Lady Summerfield, Folkestone, Kent
You can bet, however, that her weapon of choice won't be a firearm. I doubt an 80+ year-old woman could show "need" for one, since "self defense" isn't an acceptable reason. She could always pop into London for a bit. I understand you can pick up a pistol pretty cheaply there, if you know the right guy.
I Expect Much Frothing and Gnashing of Teeth

As most of my readers are probably aware, the Justice Department has just released a memorandum that states in no uncertain terms that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to arms. The report is dated August, 2004, but it was released apparently yesterday. It was authored by Steven G. Bradbury, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General; Howard C. Nielson, Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General; and C. Kevin Marshall; Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General.

The report concludes:
For the foregoing reasons, we conclude that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to keep and to bear arms. Current case law leaves open and unsettled the question of whose right is secured by the Amendment. Although we do not address the scope of the right, our examination of the original meaning of the Amendment provides extensive reasons to conclude that the Second Amendment secures an individual right, and no persuasive basis for either the collective-right or quasi-collective-right views. The text of the Amendment's operative clause, setting out a "right of the people to keep and bear Arms," is clear and is reinforced by the Constitution's structure. The Amendment's prefatory clause, properly understood, is fully consistent with this interpretation. The broader history of the Anglo-American right of individuals to have and use arms, from England's Revolution of 1688-1689 to the ratification of the Second Amendment a hundred years later, leads to the same conclusion. Finally, the first hundred years of interpretations of the Amendment, and especially the commentaries and case law in the pre-Civil War period closest to the Amendment's ratification, confirm what the text and history of the Second Amendment require.
Now all we have to do is get the Federal Appeals courts to overturn stare decisis and start making decisions based on that interpretation.

For example, in the Ninth Circuit's recent denial to re-hear its Silveira decision en-banc, the Court once again upheld its precedent from Hickman v. Block that concluded that the right to arms was collective, not individual. However, several judges on the circuit wrote dissents, some scathing. My favorite was Judge Kozinski's. In the Ninth Circuit's denial to re-hear Nordyke v. King en-banc, this vocal dissent was repeated, with judge Jay Gould stating:
I believe Hickman was wrongly decided. An “individual rights” interpretation, as was recently adopted by the Fifth Circuit in United States v. Emerson is most consistent with the text, structure, purposes and history of the Second Amendment, as well as colonial experience and pre-adoption history. It also reflects what I consider to be the scholarly consensus that has recently developed on the question of how to best interpret the Second Amendment. We should recognize that individual citizens have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms, subject - in the same manner as all other core constitutional rights - to certain limits. Thereafter, the chips will fall where they may, and decisions in due course will clarify what is and is not constitutionally permissible regulation, and the further standards for addressing it.
We're still building momentum. Perhaps the courts may still save us. The gun ban control crowd must be seething.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Evidence of Absence

While still overwhelmed with work, travelling and otherwise, I've neglected my posting here in order to trade barbs engage in discourse over at Tim Lambert's Deltoid blog. There I was made aware this evening that the National Academy of Sciences' panel on firearms and violence has released a new report. The full report, should you wish to purchase it, is available here. (I wonder who funded the report?) You can read it for free (for the time being) here. Obviously I haven't had time to read the thing yet, but I have read the press release, and I've also read the opening speech given at the press conference.

Now, I find it fascinating that both Tim Lambert and one of his syncophants have latched on to the finding that:

There is no credible evidence that “right-to-carry” laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns, either decrease or increase violent crime.
In fact, Tim's commenter put it thusly:

(T)he results published yesterday by the NAS Committee on Firearms and Violence have demolished (yet again) the claim that the adoption of a shall issue law reduces crime.
To be fair, Tim also quotes these findings:

There is almost no evidence that violence-prevention programs intended to steer children away from guns have had any effects on their behavior, knowledge, or attitudes regarding firearms. More than 80 such programs exist.

Research has found associations between gun availability and suicide with guns, but it does not show whether such associations reveal genuine patterns of cause and effect.
The second does not surprise me, and the third is what I've said for a long time.

This report was released yesterday, December 16, 2004. In the opening statement by Professor Charles F. Wellford, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Director of the Maryland Justice Analysis Center made those three points listed above and noted that they were "(t)he committee's major conclusion". Let me quote him verbatim so that we all are on the same page here:

The committee's major conclusion, however, is that the existing data and research methods cannot answer some of the most pressing policy issues in this area. Although there have been some well-designed studies on policy issues, the underlying data and the methods used are not strong enough to draw policy conclusions. For example:
The literature on "right-to-carry" laws has obtained conflicting estimates of their effects on crime, despite the fact that data and methods used in these studies differ in only minor ways. Thirty-four states have enacted these laws, which allow qualified adults to carry concealed handguns. However, we found no credible evidence that such policies either decrease or increase violent crime.
There is no credible evidence that the more than 80 gun-violence prevention programs reviewed by the committee have had any effect on children's or teens' attitudes, knowledge, or behavior regarding firearms.
And although research does show associations between gun availability and suicide with guns, that research does not show whether such associations reflect actual cause and effect.
Now this reminded me of another such study of all the then-available gun control research that was published in 1983 - twenty-one years ago. That study was performed at the behest of the Carter administration by James D. Wright, Professor of Human Relations, Dept. of Sociology for Tulane University; Peter H. Rossi, Professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) and past president of the American Sociological Association; and Kathleen Daly, Professor of Sociology at Yale University, and it was published under the title Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America. The preface to that report states:

In 1978 the Social and Demographic Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, received a grant from the National Institute of Justice to undertake a comprehensive review of the literature on weapons, crime, and violence in the United States. The purpose of the project is best described as a "sifting and winnowing" of the claims and counterclaims from both sides of the Great American Gun War - the perennial struggle in American political life over what to do, if anything, about guns, about violence, and about crime. The review and analysis of the available studies consumed the better part of three years; the results of this work are contained in this volume.

The intention of any review is to take stock of the available fund of knowledge in some topical area. Under the Gun is no different: our goal has been to glean from the volumes of previous studies those facts that, in our view, seem firmly and certainly established; those hypotheses that seem adequately supported by, or at least approximately consistent with, the best available research evidence; and those areas or topics about which, it seems, we need to know a lot more than we do. One of our major conclusions can be stated in advance: despite the large number of studies that have been done, many critically important questions have not been adequately researched, and some of them have not been examined at all.

Much of the available research in the area of weapons and crime has been done by advocates for one or another policy position.
(Big freaking surprise.) As a consequence, the manifest intent of many "studies" is to persuade rather than to inform.
And times haven't changed, at least in that regard.

Flash forward twenty-one years, and compare and contrast that with this statement from yesterday's press conference:
Should regulations restrict who may possess firearms? Should there be restrictions on the number or types of guns that can be purchased? Should safety locks be required? Answers to these questions involve issues that go beyond research on firearm violence.

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

Research linking firearms to criminal violence and suicide is limited by a lack of credible data on firearm ownership (including possession and access) and individuals' encounters with violence. The committee found that the existing data on gun ownership and use are the biggest barriers to better understanding gun violence. Without better data, many basic questions cannot be answered. Such data will not solve all problems of methodology. However, the almost complete absence of this information from the scientific literature makes it extremely difficult to understand the complex interpersonal, social, and other factors that determine whether or not a firearm will be used to commit a violent act.
We've gone 21 years since publication of Under the Gun, millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours have been invested in research on gun control and gun violence, and still most of the data is contradictory, useless, or non-existent.

So what does the National Acadamy of Science want? More money to do more studies, of course! After all, that's what research scientists are for!

I applaud their doggedness.

But here's the point I want to make. While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, what we have here is not an absence of evidence. We have decades of evidence. If there were unequivocal evidence that "gun control" was effective at reducing gun violence, shouldn't decades of research have irrefutably shown that? For example, gun ban control advocates protest shrilly in each state that contemplates "shall-issue" concealed weapon legislation, with dire predictions of "blood in the streets" and murder and mayhem over traffic accidents. They protest that such legislation will result in "more guns on the street" and a subsequent increase in homicide and accidental shootings.

Yet it never happens. And they steadfastly ignore the record of each previous state to enact such legislation, even if those states are adjacent to the one they are currently protesting in. So the National Academies of Science have concluded, "we found no credible evidence that such policies either decrease or increase violent crime." Had such evidence existed, given the amount of time and money hurled at the question, shouldn't someone have found it? Tim Lambert says about it:
The conclusion was not that the laws have no effect, but that the evidence doesn't tell us what effect, if any, the laws have.
If the evidence is studied and found to be inconclusive, how does this differ from the law having no effect? There can be only two conclusions drawn:
(1) The evidence suggests that whatever the effect is, it's lost in the statistical noise inherent in the data (i.e.: the effect is negligible).

(2) The "evidence" is so distorted that the signal-to-noise ratio overwhelms the data so that no useful information can be extracted.
My position is, obviously, option (1). Tim's is, equally obviously, option (2). But understand, the gun ban position is that gun violence will go up, and that doesn't happen unless you cherry-pick your data. The John Lott position is that gun violence will go down - and that doesn't happen unless you cherry-pick your data. When you throw in all the so-called "research" done by advocates, the noise overwhelms the signal. But if the research is done by non-advocates (there must be some), the signal is still lost in the statistical noise. The conclusion I draw is that "shall-issue" laws don't have a noticeable effect on overall violent crime - but they have a definite effect for those few who exercise the ability to carry concealed and who have used their concealed weapons defensively. Without those laws, those people would very probably have been crime victims, and today they are not.

This is a net good. As I said in a comment at Tim's:
If the worst you can say about "shall issue" is that it doesn't provably reduce crime, then I'm all for it, since it positively expands the right to arms. BUT if you cannot prove beyond doubt that "gun control" reduces crime, then I strongly recommend rolling back "gun control" laws to restore an infringed right to the people who were promised in writing that it wouldn't be infringed.
I'd like to finish this piece with another quote from the conclusion of Under the Gun:
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?
If "the number of guns" is the cause of gun crime in America, which is a shibboleth of the gun-ban crowd, then Wright, Rossi, and Daly just hit on the fundamental truth of gun control in America. They understand it. We understand it. And we believe the gun ban crowd understands it, however much they protest that they don't want to confiscate anything.