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

Saturday, January 31, 2004

There's a REASON This Doesn't Happen in Texas
Crazed thug terrorizes neighbourhood

NEIGHBOURS living on one of Tilehurst's vandal-plagued estates endured an early hours terror ordeal when a thug ran amok during a crazed wrecking spree.

And householders in Combe Road claim they were forced to watch help-lessly as the yob caused thousands of pounds worth of damage because it took police 20 minutes to arrive.

Reading police dispute that and say officers were there in 11 minutes.
This is pretty much immaterial, because there were lots of citizens proles around watching the guy, and no matter when the cops showed up, he had time to do this:
But both sides are agreed the man, thought to be in his early 20s, smashed nine car windows while hurling threats and abuse at terrified onlookers early last Saturday.

Nilesh Kale, who lives in Combe Road, said: "At about 12.30am I heard a lot of people shouting in the street.

"I ran downstairs and saw that the passenger side window of my car had been smashed to pieces.

"This guy was threatening to knife some people who were looking out of their windows.

"I am really concerned about the safety of my family and we are always worried about what happens."

He added: "The police were okay but if they had been here just minutes earlier they would have caught him red-handed.

"There really needs to be some more police presence in the area."

Neighbour Stan Kwiatek said: "I was in my porch having a cigarette when I heard a noise like glass breaking.

"Then I heard shouting coming from down the road and when I looked out I saw this guy on top of a car kicking the windscreen in.

"He then came along to my car and when he spotted me he told me he would come back and burn my house down and he threatened to cut me up.

"He then went and tried to kick someone's door in before he came back across to me again.

"He was probably there for about 10 minutes or more, but the police were so slow in coming, I reckon they took about 20 minutes to arrive."

The man is still being hunted, but Thames Valley Police spokeswoman Nikki Maylin said officers responded to the call in 11 minutes.

She said: "We did arrive within our target set for immediate response."
And I'm sure the residents of Tilehurst are so comforted to hear it. One citizen - ONE - armed with shotgun would have served to A) stop the man and hold him for the cops, B) chase the crazy bastard off before he did more damage, or C) drop him in the street and end the situation. If someone threatened to knife me or burn my house down, I'd choose option C.

Note that none of the above options were available to any of the good citizens of vandal-plagued Tilehurst.

No, they have to wait 11 to 20 minutes for the police to arrive. It's within their target set for immediate response.

Friday, January 30, 2004

More Political Cartoons!

Mike Ramirez of the LA Times nails it, as usual:

Chuck Asay of the Colorado Springs Gazette does too:

And again:

And one more:

Ed Stein of the Rocky Mountain News gets it, too:

Chip Bok of the Akron Beacon Journal understands this connection, though:

Finally, Henry Payne of the Detroit News illustrates that Detroit hasn't heard about El Cajon's new revenue source:

The Power to Tax is the Power to Destroy

I'm sure this has been covered by other gun-bloggers. Pardon my tardiness. But this is another reason I will never register nor license my right to possess firearms. (I'm less than sanguine about concealed-carry licensing, but I'm willing to comply with it. For now.)

It seems that New York governor Pataki has decided that, in order to raise revenue, New York ought to change its handgun licensing system.
While Gov. George Pataki's 12th annual budget address last week to the state legislature may not have harbored many surprises, gun owners from across the state were caught off guard by what they view as another attempt by Pataki to take their handguns away.

Pataki has presented a number of legislative initiatives since taking office that have not endeared him to the sportsmen and women in New York.

If Pataki follows through with this latest threat, his 2004-2005 budget bill will include a request for a new law which would require all gun owners -- even those with lifetime licenses -- to renew their licenses every five years. This new provision by itself would fall short of the objective -- if indeed his objective is to strip them of their guns -- but the $100 license fee and the $25 fee required for every handgun they own could amount to a hefty bill for some of the more enthusiastic collectors.

And it gets worse. Pataki proposes to remove the cap on processing fees that can currently be charged by local authorities. That could, and probably would, get ugly.

Gun owners in Westchester County feel they already are under fire. The county legislature there has already taken a series of measures during the last few years which have not been friendly to gun owners. Gun owners are now fearful that if they are given the opportunity, Westchester County authorities would price them right out of the market.

Lawmakers would be able to claim that they have not blocked anyone's right to buy a handgun. Instead, they would simply make it economically prohibitive to own them. Activists feel it would not be very long before many jurisdictions in the state, under the guise of trying to "solve a crime problem" -- whether real or imagined -- would start charging exorbitant fees for processing handgun licenses.
This is the same tactic employed in England. Introduce a simple "commonsense" unburdensom regulation that no "right-thinking" person would oppose. Then, slowly, make it more and more expensive to exercise the right to arms. After all, gun owners are a minority. They don't have that much political pull. (If it weren't for that meddling NRA!).

Hey, Pataki? Why not just confiscate gun owner's cars? That'd get you lots of income.

UPDATE: I was right. The Feces Flinging Monkey was all over this yesterday, with good advice and links for New Yorkers.
Another Friday Five

You have just won one million dollars:

1. Who do you call first?
My wife.

2. What is the first thing you buy for yourself? I pay off all my debts. Edited to add: Then I'll buy a DSA FAL.

3. What is the first thing you buy for someone else? A Mitsubishi Eclipse Spyder for my wife.

4. Do you give any away? If yes, to whom? Yes. Immediate family.

5. Do you invest any? If so, how? Half of whatever is left over after taxes goes into mutual funds.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

This is Good,

A humor piece in the Houston Chronicle for explaining Houston to Bostoners, and Bostoners to Houston has this cute little quip:
The New Englander's Guide to Houston

By now you have probably accepted the fact that your parka will merely be taking up space until the moment you step outside at Logan or T.F. Green airports next week. And you may have gotten used to the fact that Houstonians are annoyingly, and sincerely, friendly. They can afford to be, since they don't have the strict gun-control laws that we have back in Massachusetts.
Ain't that the truth!

More Asset Forfeiture

It seems El Cajon, CA has jumped on the bandwagon, and is now seizing vehicles from men arrested for picking up prostitutes. Read on:
El Cajon begins seizing vehicles for solicitation of prostitution

When it comes to prostitution, El Cajon means business.

A new law empowers the city to assume ownership of vehicles police seize from men soliciting prostitutes, and officers tested it for the first time Tuesday night.

"The welcome mat has been withdrawn in El Cajon," Mayor Mark Lewis said. "Before, all they had to do was pay a fine and they'd get released. Now, they have to explain what happened to the family station wagon."
Really? What if the car is borrowed? Continuing:
City officials countywide are watching the development in El Cajon and could follow suit should the law prove effective in a city where prostitution-related arrests nearly tripled last year from 2002.

Police departments in the region routinely impound cars used in crimes, but only a few are allowed to assume ownership of the vehicles.
That's sure to change.
On Tuesday night, police staked out a busy corner on Main Street east of downtown as three female officers posing as prostitutes and wired for sound lured a seemingly endless stream of potential customers.

One man, who did not agree to buy sex, told the undercover officer he'd heard of the new law, apparently had second thoughts and drove off before making a deal, police said.

Officers cited 12 people and seized 12 vehicles during the Tuesday night sting, Sgt. Steve Shakowski said.

Those cited – solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor – were shocked to learn about the new consequences.

"I think it's a little overboard," said one of the accused, lugging a bag of thinset mortar for tile and a sack of hardware that police allowed him to retrieve from the bed of his $20,000 pickup just before it was towed to an impound yard.

Police estimated the value of the vehicles seized at $91,000.
Hey, one night, twelve vehicles, $91,000 blue-book value. The city can probably sell them for 50% of the value to brokers, and they clear an easy $45k.

So the hard part will be finding a balance where they reduce prostitution without severely affecting this new revenue stream.

How, exactly, does this differ from making "solicitation of prostitution" a misdemeanor punishable by a $20k fine? And would you not consider this an excessive amount?
"We've had some discussions of a similar ordinance," said San Diego police Sgt. Mark Sullivan, a member of the countywide Prostitution Task Force.

Oceanside police also are considering taking ownership of cars of persons arrested for soliciting prostitution. Capt. David Heering said yesterday that an Oceanside police proposal is sitting on the city attorney's desk waiting for clearance.


El Cajon's law differs from others in the state in that the accused can request a hearing before a judge to determine whether the vehicle was confiscated legally. The owners – whether they were the person arrested for the crime, or not – have two days to request an administrative hearing, the results of which may be appealed to the Superior Court and beyond.

The added oversight is intended to prevent misuse of the law and to minimize the number of cases that end up in court, City Attorney Morgan Folley said.
Of course. Can't have the proles clogging the courts. And check out that time period! Two whole days! Gee, how generous.
The ACLU unsuccessfully challenged Oakland's version of the law in 1998. In 1996, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, upheld a similar law in Michigan.

The majority opinion, cited "a long and unbroken line of cases" since 1827 holding that "an owner's interest in property may be forfeited" even though the owner did not know it would be put to illegal use.
Oh, right. Let's just stretch the precedents as far as they can possibly go. It's for a good cause. It'll never be abused. We're from the government and we're here to help you!
Quote of the Day
If you have ever seen a four-year-old trying to lord it over a two-year-old, then you know what the basic problem of human nature is and why government keeps growing larger and ever more intrusive. — Thomas Sowell
Oh, This is GOOD

From the comments of Curmudgeonly and Skeptical comes this jewel:
Back in December of 1999, one of my Left Wing co-workers was telling me about her Y2K preparations, which came to several thousand dollars. "Oh, we've just about got everything, now. Our seed corn arrived last week and we have it sealed in air-tight containers..." (presumeably we were doomed to return to pre-industrial revolution agraria)

When she asked me what I stocked for Y2K, I just smiled and said, "5,000 rounds of .223 NATO". I smiled and asked, "Now, where did you say you live?"

I don't think that she knew I was joking.
Why Don't I Ever Find Something Like This?

Via Say Uncle, it seems another Florida cop managed to leave his assault rifle laying on the side of the road.

Check out the links at the bottom of the story, too. So much for "no guns in schools."

I feel so much safer now.

(Note, though, that in the first incident the first graders who had been through the Eddie Eagle NRA safety training did what they were supposed to do. Bet you won't see that reported over at JoinTogether.)
Movie Review: Monster

My wife and I went out last night to see Monster, the movie about Aileen Wuornos, the prostitute turned serial killer who was put to death on Florida's death row in 2002, 12 years after she received six death penalties. Charlize Theron plays the part of Wuornos, and she's received a lot of Oscar buzz for it. To play the part, Theron, like DeNiro in Raging Bull put on a lot of weight for the role. She wore contact lenses and a dental appliance, and received a considerable amount of "make-down" in order to turn her from this:

into this:

This is Wuornos:

The Oscar buzz is well deserved. Theron is astounding as she takes us on a guided tour through the final steps of Wuronos's self-destruction.

It's a tremendously powerful performance.

The supporting cast is excellent as well.

It's a very well made film.

It's also about as enjoyable as a two-hour plane crash.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Elect the Great in 2008?

How about 2012? Via Instapundit comes this piece by the great James Lileks. Money quote:
It's not the e-mail. It's not the blog. It's not the Web sites. It's the computers, and the people behind them, connected like never before. They won't control the buzz this year. But in 2008? Count on it.
We might be a wee bit early, but things change so fast in internet time.

Here's the original table of candidates one more time:

The 2008 (Party Name TBD) Ticket!
Position Nominee(s)
President Glenn Reynolds
Vice President Rachel Lucas, Donald Sensing
Sec. of Agriculture Adam H., Julie Neidlinger, Bobby A-G
Sec. of Interior Say Uncle, Kevin Aylward
Sec. of Commerce Jane Galt, Brink Lindsey
Attorney General Eugene Volokh
Sec. of Defense WAR! Donald Sensing, Kim du Toit, Emperor Misha I
Sec. of Labor Mitch Berg
Sec. of Education Connie du Toit, Joanne Jacobs, Thomas Sowell
Sec. of State Steven Den Beste, Bill Whittle, Venomous Kate
Homeland Security Kim du Toit, Emperor Misha I, Charles Johnson
Sec. Energy Laurence Simon
Sec. of Transportation James Lileks, Gary Leff, Patrick Crozier
Sec. of the Treasury Mindles H. Dreck, Daniel W. Drezner
Sec. of Health & Human Svcs. James Lileks, Sydney Smith
Sec. of HUD Aaron the Liberal Slayer
Sec. of Veteran's Affairs C. Dodd Harris IV
Sec. of EPA (Probably not needed)
Director of OMB Andrew Sullivan
Chief of Staff Bill Whittle,
Press Secretary Bill Quick, Scott Ott, Bill Hobbs, Ken Layne, Virginia Postrel
Director of the Office of Drug Policy (Probably not needed)
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Prather

Ambassadorial and Other Positions
Position Nominee(s)
Amb. to (screw with) the UN Sic Semper Tyrannosaurus
Amb. to France Frank J., Sean Hackbarth
Amb. to Iran (after the revolution) Pejman Yousefzadeh
Amb. to England Andrew Ian Dodge
Amb. to Saudi Arabia Charles Johnson
Amb. to Israel Laurence Simon
Amb. to Germany (or Belgium - he's not picky) Sean Hackbarth
Amb. to Cuba (after Castro kicks) Steve H.
Amb. to ThailandKathy Kinsley
Head of CIA/NSA Fred Pruit, Steven Den Beste
National Technology Advisor Eric Raymond
Head of NASA (disassembly of) Jay Manifold, Rand Simberg
Solicitor General Pejman Yousefzadeh
Sec. of Defeated Former Enemies' Security Jay Manifold
Campaign Chairman/Chief Fundraiser Andrew Sullivan
Undersecretary of WAR! Austin Bay, LT Smash
Chairman, Joint Chiefs LT Smash
Whore Eager for Any Appointment Matt Margolis, Michele Catalano, Tim the Michigander
Director of the BATF Kim du Toit

Nominations are still open, people.

The Blogger Party primaries should be fascinating.

I Knew Most Brits were Gun-Fearing Wussies, but THIS is RIDICULOUS

According to the British paper The Daily Mirror:
Let the Fisking begin! MOST terrifying weapon? It's a damned 9mm!
THE first fully automatic handgun to surface in the UK - capable of firing 1,100 rounds a minute - has been seized in a police raid.

It is a Glock 18, banned from sale in the US and described as a "monster of a weapon" that fires bullets with the intensity of a high- pressure water hose.
Ooookay. It's a 9mm handgun (last seen in the 2nd installment of The Matrix trilogy, I believe). And it's somehow more dangerous than Eastern-bloc AK-47's that have hit the streets in England?
The ultra-light, Austrian-made gun was discovered in a swoop on the home of a suspected Yardie gangster. Scotland Yard has issued a nationwide alert as they try to find the owner and establish how the weapon got into Britain.
Um, it was smuggled? It's a handgun. You know; small, concealable. It probably came across on a ferry or through the Chunnel in a box.

It's not like it's hard to do.
A Met firearms expert said: "It's extremely worrying that such a weapon is here. I can't stress enough just how dangerous this gun is.
Why? You've got thousands of other guns, up to and including real assault rifles running around. I'd be far more worried about them.
"If it was fired on the streets of London by someone unused to its immense firing capability, there could be a massacre.
With a 33-round magazine you're looking at throwing three more rounds downrange than an AK could, and they'd be 9mm rounds, far less dangerous than 7.62x39. You know, the gun that was used to kill Charlene Ellis, 18, and Letisha Shakespeare, 17, on New Year's day 2003 in London. I think you overestimate its capability.
"Why even a criminal would want to own such a gun is beyond me. It would probably bethe ultimate in gun status-symbols." The Yard has warned front-line officers about the discovery, which followed a a raid on a residential address in Norwood, South East London.
WE HAVE A WINNER! Ever since they outlawed handguns, they've become criminal status-symbols - worn as "fashion accessories" by all the best-dressed thugs.
A force internal report said: "This is the first weapon of its kind to be seized in the UK. It is not issued to any agencies in the UK and is believed to have been imported from the US."
Right. Got to be our fault, we're gun-worshipping monsters.
The report said the Glock can fire "armour-piercing ammunition". It has a compensation device to keep it straight during firing.
*SIGH* Sweet jebus. Armor-piercing ammo? What can't fire "armor-piercing" ammo? But I suppose whoever smuggled the Glock 18 in also snuck a containerload of Black Rhino ammo, too? How much hysteria can one column generate?
SAS officers use the gun in combat with a 19-round magazine. Israeli security forces and Germany's GSG-9 anti-terror unit also carry it.
What?!?!? You mean there's a legitimate use for this engine of destruction?!?!?
British armed police use the semi-automatic Glock 17, also a favourite with criminals.
Pretty damned popular with police, citizens, and criminals here too. Very reliable, if you're into tactical tupperware.
America banned its import in 1986. US arms expert Walt Rauch said: "Shooting the G18 full-auto is just like turning on a high-pressure hose,"
A high pressure hose that puts out for 1.0 second with a 19-round magazine. Now, reading this, do you assume that the U.S. banned this specific weapon? Or are you aware that in 1986 a law was passed making it illegal to import or manufacture domestically any full-auto weapon for civilian sales? (Employees of the .gov are exempted from this prohibition. They get all the neat toys.)
Det Insp Martin Ward said: "This is something of a monster of a weapon. We are appealing for anyone to come forward in the strictest confidence with information."
The gun should have a serial number. If it does, you will know when it was manufactured, and where it was sold. If it was originally manufactured as a full-auto Glock 18, and it was sold in the U.S., there will be a paper-trail. If it was sold into Europe, there ought to be one.

What's the problem? And why are your panties in such a bunch?

Edited to add: You want to see what I think is scary?

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

So....This Means they Shave?

Or does it mean against... Uh, nevermind.

(Stolen shamelessly from Isn'tapundit)

Sorry. Too funny to pass up.

"Only Democrats and Dictators are Afraid of Elections"

So said James Hudnall a while back. To that you can now add Danish Liberals, apparently. According to this uncharacteristically short Steven Den Beste piece:
In her new book, Danish Liberal EU spokesperson Charlotte Antonsen questions the use of referenda as a useful way to build up European democracy.

The book - "Towards the European Constitution" warns that the EU could fall apart if the Danish practise of consulting the people in referenda over important EU treaties is copied by other member states.

"Referenda have a very conservative effect on development. If the other countries copy us, the EU will fall apart", she writes.

Mrs Antonsen, a member of the Danish Parliament for the ruling Liberal party, argues that representative democracy is just as democratic as referenda.

"Referenda are in fact pure gambling. There is no guarantee of a positive outcome, unfortunately".
Yeah, that's about it. If they can't guarantee the outcome then the proles shouldn't be allowed to vote.

I've said a couple of times that the majority of the populace is too stupid to vote. I don't think too many people disagree with that. BUT that's the way the system has developed - and quite honestly, it works in spite of itself, because when given the chance the people say "NO!" more often than they say "Yes." And this is what Ms. Antonsen objects to:

"Referenda have a very conservative effect on development."

And this is a bad thing.... why?

Because it isn't progressive, that liberal watchword that means "whatever we want to try this week." In Liberal v. Conservative: Both are Necessary, my opponent "John Doe" wrote:
"Liberals have a fundamental faith in the ability of humans to better themselves and act appropriately when the situation calls for it."
But as Ms. Antonsen illustrates, no, they don't. If they did, they wouldn't fear referenda and elections where they can't guarantee the outcome.

It sounds like Ms. Antonsen and "John Doe" are two peas in a pod.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Something I've Thought About as Well

Work in Progress has a post up that expounds on thoughts I've had as well (Link here.) Snippets:
If I do not want to accept the government in place, I do not have any meaningful options for remaining where I am and avoiding it. If I fail to pay my property taxes, or violate federal, state, or local laws, I shall be imprisoned as surely as if I were a serf on any manor. We do not make a meaningful choice to accept our government in America or anywhere else.
It used to be that if you no longer could accept the situation you were living in, you could pack up your stuff, take a risk, and go where you would be less fettered. That time, I think, is over - and it raises interesting questions insofar as what happens now that there is no longer a safety valve for the disaffected? There are no more mountain men. There is no new frontier. We can't hop a freighter to the Antares Maelstrom. Mos Eisley exists only on film. Everything and everywhere is regulated.
It is true that we are generally more free now in America than anyone else in the world ever was, though we are at the same time probably the most regulated people that ever was. It stems at least partially, I think, from having a far more complex society due to technology. Both aspects, I mean.

But one question I've never been able to shake. Is our modern freedom of speech really around because we believe in it, or because it generally doesn't matter what anyone says any more. I cannot shake the notion that people used to be persecuted for what they said because it used to be thought that what they said mattered. Now no one cares what idiocy anyone espouses, but it seems like that's largely because no one takes it seriously.
An excellent point - especially for us doing our (admittedly tiny) part here on the electronic soapbox.

Does what we say matter? Are we ignored because nobody takes it seriously?

Quote of the Day

An anonymous quickie:
Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.
Busy as Hell, No Posting 'Till Later

In the mean time, Alphecca has his weekly Gun Bias check up. The pro-gun side is way behind.

Sunday was Publicola's blogoversary. Drop in and congratulate him.

If you have some spare time on your hands (I wish) the Feces Flinging Monkey links to this penguin-whacking game. My best (on Sunday) 325.1 meters. (Damn! The link's down.)

The Geek with a .45 comments on my post,"Five Month Investigation, 10 Tracer Rounds, Two Felony Convictions." He expands eloquently on the pont of my rant.

AlphaPatriot has good stuff. Start at the top and work down.

And, of course, there's the list of "Best Posts" over there on the left to keep you busy. Remember, this is BlogSnot, so if clicking the link doesn't take you right to the correct post, scroll up until you see the "Best Posts" list and click the link again. Second time ought to do it.

Thanks for visiting. I'll try to have some new content up tonight.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Another Reason, I Absolutely, Positively, Will NOT Comply with Licensing or "Safe Storage" Laws

Because they lead to crap like this (from Australia, of course - "Million" Mom chant: "England can do it! Australia can do it! We can too!" - No you can't, ladies. No you can't.)
Sorry dad bites bullet

AN apologetic father has urged gun owners to make sure their weapons are properly secured -- after his 10-year-old son took a bullet to school.

After a court hearing yesterday, Robert George Wilton, 38, said his son and other children took bullets to school during the deer-hunting season after teachers asked what they were doing at home. But on the school bus a student grabbed the bullet from the youngster's bag -- and an older student took it to the bus driver.
(Again, SO?)

The bus driver's report led to a visit by Constable Stephen Timmons to the Wilton home at Wilberville on Arthurs Lake in the Central Highlands.

And Robert Wilton ended up being convicted in the Hobart Magistrates Court of storage safety breaches.
And that's the plan for here.

In the name of "gun SAFETY".
The court heard Constable Timmons had asked to see where Wilton stored his rifles and ammunition and was shown a safe in the main bedroom.

Wilton took a key from a key ring hanging from a rack to open the safe which contained four rifles, including one belonging to a friend, the friend's silencer and ammunition.
(At least the Aussies get silencers without a rectal scan from the government.)

The prosecution based its case on the safe key being accessible from the key rack and the fact that the safe was in a visible place.
Want to cut down on the number of legally-owned firearms in the country? Keep changing the regulations - no changes in the law per se, just keep making it harder and more expensive to comply with the specifics of the regulation - and make sure you get some high-profile prosecutions of some poor schmucks who violate the regulation-of-the-week.

Worked real well in England.
Wilton was found guilty at yesterday's hearing of failing to take all precautions to ensure the safekeeping of firearms and possessing a silencer. (Whoops! Apparently he didn't have the right paperwork after all. And, you'll note, the government gets to decide what "all precautions" means, not you.)

He pleaded guilty to failing to comply with firearms storage requirements and ammunition storage requirements for category A weapons.

Convicting Wilton, magistrate Sam Mollard said in his opinion it was a "basic obvious precaution to store a gun safe in a place where it can't be seen".
Like, say, at the bottom of a lake? Inside a block of cast concrete? Seen by whom, Mr. Mollard?
Mr Mollard said the same could be said for the safe's key.
Wilton denied the safe could be seen from outside the house and said it could only be seen inside if the bedroom door was open.

He also said he kept the safe with his car keys and carried them with him all the time except when he hung them on the rack while at home.

Constable Timmons told the court that after speaking to Wilton's son he was unable to say how the boy obtained the bullet found on the bus.

Mr Mollard said the offences were of "somewhat lesser seriousness than is typically the case" and fined Wilton $300 and ordered he pay levies and costs of $190.
And here's the kicker:
Outside court, Wilton said the offences had cost him not only the fine but also $3000 worth of rifles, which were confiscated and would be destroyed.

The keen deer hunter said that was the hardest part of the case.

"Looks like it's put me out of the deer season," he said.
(Looks like they've disarmed you, but then defending yourself or your family with a firearm is already pretty much a no-no in Australia, isn't it?)
He urged fellow gun owners to ensure they obtained gun safes and made sure they were not clearly visible and that the gun licence holder was the only person who knew where the key to the safe was.
Yes, be good little proles. Obey the (current) regulations, and wait for them change the rules again and try to trip you up. It's for your own good, really. You're not qualified.
Wilton will now have to provide a reason why his firearm licence should not be revoked and, if he wants to buy another rifle, police will have to inspect his storage facilities first.
Yes, he's a good little prole, except for that nasty insistence on owning firearms - which should be restricted only to employees of the government. But they're fixing that - one subject at a time.

Let's review: Little Johnny took a round of ammo to school for show-and-tell. On the way home he was accosted by a bully who took said round from little Johnny's knapsack and then it was carried up and shown to the bus driver. The bus driver, shocked and horrified to learn that something as evil as a round of live ammo was on his bus, then filed a report.

The police are contacted, and the cop in charge of investigating the "safe storage" of guns and ammunition makes a call to little Johnny's house. Without a search warrant - 'cause they're not necessary in Australia for this, having a gun license subjects you to warrantless search - the cop in question inspects the premises for compliance with the "safe storage" laws. Now, while he can't say for sure just where little Johnny got the round in question, he does notice that Dad's gun safe can actually be seen, and that Dad doesn't keep the key in his jockey shorts or, preferably, STORED 12" UP HIS RECTUM.

As a result of this, Dad gets fined $490 (Australian), and loses $3,000 worth of personal property which the state is going to destroy.

And all Dad has to say is "Looks like it's put me out of deer season."

Sweet bleeding Jebus.

I WILL NOT license. I WILL NOT register. Ever. Period.

Well, isn't THIS Interesting?

Seems Muhammed and Malvo originally planned to use a Remington 700 bolt-action rifle, rather than the Bushmaster for their shooting-spree.
Prosecutor: Sniper Plot Hatched Here

SEATTLE -- Beltway snipers John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo set up a sniper nest in a Tacoma field more than a month before they began their killing spree, Virginia prosecutors have concluded.

Prosecutors said the pair were preparing or training to kill randomly with a rifle set up on a bipod when they were interrupted by a truck that cut through the field early on Aug. 17, 2002. They abandoned the weapon and fled into the bushes.

"I think it's fair to say that we believe they were set up to shoot someone. We can't say who or why," said James Willett, deputy prosecuting attorney in Prince William County, Va. "Based on their subsequent actions, the random shootings of 10 people, it is a reasonable assumption that they were preparing and training there for what eventually happened here."

The Seattle Times reported Friday that investigators have traced the Remington Model 700, a rifle commonly used by police sharpshooters, found in the field to a Tacoma man, Earl Lee Dancy Jr., who has admitted he illegally purchased it for Muhammad and then reported it stolen at Muhammad's request after it was found.
A straw-purchase! Wait 'till you hear where he bought it.
Dancy is under investigation by federal agents for making that purchase. Muhammad, 43, could not legally possess a gun because he was the subject of a domestic-violence protective order. Dancy and Muhammad were friends and Muhammad and Malvo had stayed with him off and on.

Dancy also was the owner of a .45-caliber handgun used to kill Keenya Cook in Tacoma in February 2002. Malvo, 18, has told police and psychiatrists that Muhammad sent him to commit that killing as a test.

A federal law-enforcement source told The Times that the U.S. Attorney's Office in Seattle is contemplating charging Dancy with making false statements on a federal firearms form. The crime is a felony that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison.
Yet they claim that the Brady Background Check has "stopped" 200k, 300k, 700k or more "prohibited persons" from buying guns. And how many prosecutions have there been for "making a false statement" on the 4473 form?

Don't you think they'd at least run down the known violent felons they reject?
Dancy, contacted at his home in Tacoma, told the newspaper he was under a "gag order" and could not talk about the case.
Um, "gag orders" come from the bench. I'd understand it if he said "my lawyer told me not to say anything to the press," but a "gag order"? That's interesting.
In his testimony during Muhammad's trial in Virginia last November, Dancy said Muhammad came to him in November 2001, said he needed a rifle and gave him $800 in cash. Dancy bought the gun at Bull's Eye Shooter Supply in Tacoma.
Yep! It's obviously the fault of that evil gun dealer!
Over the next several months, Dancy testified, he, Muhammad and Malvo went several times to an outdoor Tacoma shooting range to fire it.

"Did the defendant ever make any remarks to you about Mr. Malvo at the shooting range?" Prosecutor Paul Ebert asked.

"Yeah," Dancy replied. "He showed me a target and we looked at the grouping and he said, 'That's a sniper,"' obviously impressed with Malvo's skill.

When found in the Tacoma field, the gun was loaded with a .308-caliber bullet in the chamber and equipped with a telescopic sight and bipod, used to steady the weapon for more accurate shooting.
Yup, not the lowly .223 varmint round, but the .308 Winchester, a real deer cartridge. People were horrified by what the .223 did, but with the .308 I doubt there would have been a single survivor. Especially if Malvo had used soft-point hunting ammo.

Had they used this rifle, would we now be hearing cries to ban "sniper guns"?
The discovery of the rifle may partially answer one question for investigators, according to the Virginia prosecutors: why Malvo shoplifted a Bushmaster assault rifle, the weapon used in the Beltway shootings, from Bull's Eye. According to Bull's Eye employees, the Bushmaster was first noticed missing sometime in August or September 2002 -- probably after the Remington was abandoned in the field.

The two guns are significantly different from each other.
The Remington, the weapon found in the field, is a 44-inch-long rifle that can be fired only after the shooter manually operates its bolt action, which ejects a spent casing and reloads the next round for firing. Its magazine carries five bullets. It can shoot accurately at distances of 500 yards or more.

The Bushmaster is roughly 35 inches long and fires a .223-caliber bullet. It is an assault-style weapon that can fire as fast as the shooter can pull the trigger and can be fed with a 30-round magazine.
(They had to get that in.) While accurate at up to 250 yards or so, it is not commonly considered a sniper rifle.
The rapidity of fire is immaterial here. Malvo fired one shot at each person during each attack.

People Like This Don't Care About the Brady Background Check

Or One-gun-a-month, or licensing and registration, or "safe-storage" or any of the "sensible gun laws" that are supposed to make us "safer."
Raid leads to suspected drug dealer's arrest - again

A big-time local drug dealer is behind bars again after narcotics investigators raided his Villa Avenue home and found crack cocaine worth thousands of dollars, police said.

Vineland police said they will ask the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to prosecute the suspect, Richard Ellis, on the federal level where penalties are more severe and defendants must serve 85 percent of their prison sentences. Ellis, 41, was being held on $250,000 bail at Cumberland County
(New Jersey) Jail following his arrest Tuesday night by the police department's Narcotics Unit.

"We want this individual put away for a long time," Detective Stephen Cervini said. "He is a career criminal and a major drug dealer in the city. A search warrant was obtained because we developed information that the suspect was dealing drugs again from his home."

Detectives said they seized more than 8 ounces of crack cocaine valued at $8,000 to $10,000 along with a small quantity of marijuana. Assisted by a Millville police K-9 team, police said, they found 4 ounces of crack stashed in the gasoline cap of a car registered to Ellis' girlfriend in the back yard and another 4 ounces hidden under a nearby pile of leaves. More drugs were found in Ellis' bedroom, police said.

The girlfriend, Janelle Johnson, 25, was released on a $5,000 bail bond on charges of possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

The raid occurred while Ellis was out on a $5,000 bail bond following his arrest last March, for which he is awaiting trial on charges of possession of a handgun, a 9 mm assault weapon, two pounds of marijuana and 10 ounces of cocaine. At that time, detectives seized $7,000 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the Villa Avenue house.

Ellis has a long history with the criminal justice system.

In March 1998, he was sentenced to five years in state prison for possession and distribution of drugs in Cumberland County and received a concurrent three-year term for a similar offense in Atlantic County. He was released from prison in May 2001.

In April 2002, he was charged with violating parole and served another six months behind bars, according to N.J. Department of Corrections records.
Multiple repeat offender, repeatedly let out of jail, still gets his hands on all the drugs and guns that he wants. (Which goes to show the War on (some) Drugs™ works just as well as gun control does.)

Gun control will not disarm people like him, it merely disarms people like us, who are victims of the people this guy has as clients. I'm sure that (before he was arrested - again) he'd have made you a really good deal on a rock of crack and a gun.

No background check, no waiting period.

And no sales tax.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Political Beliefs Test

This won't give you a two-dimensional graphic output, but reader Donald Hagen submitted his SATIRICAL POLITICAL BELIEFS ASSESSMENT TEST for my review. Sample question:
What is your favorite quotation?

CONSERVATIVE: "The entire graduated income tax system structure was created by Karl Marx." - Ronald Reagan

LIBERAL: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

LIBERTARIAN: "In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to another." - Voltaire.

COMMUNIST: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."- Karl Marx
Give it a look.

John Stossel, Iconoclast

John Stossel, ABC News's token libertarian/conservative, will be on 20/20 tonight talking about the Ten Biggest Lies, Myths, and Outright Stupidities that Americans believe.

On the ABC website, Stossel says that Myth #3 is Guns are Bad
America is notorious for its culture of gun violence. Guns sometimes do cause terrible harm, and many kids are killed every year in gun accidents. But public service announcements and news stories make it seem as if the accidents kill thousands of kids every year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, fewer than 100 kids 15 and under are killed in gun accidents every year. Of course that's horrible, and I understand why demonstrators say we need more gun control.

But guess what? The Centers for Disease Control recently completed a review of studies of various types of gun control: background checks, waiting periods, bans on certain guns and ammunition. It could not document that these rules have reduced violent crime.

The government wants to say things like the Brady Gun Control Law are making a difference, but they aren't. Some maximum security felons I spoke to in New Jersey scoffed at measures like the Brady law. They said they'll have no trouble getting guns if they want them.

A Justice Department study confirmed what the prisoners said. But get this: the felons say that the thing they fear the most is not the police, not time in prison, but, you, another American who might be armed.

It's a reason many states are passing gun un-control. They're allowing citizens to carry guns with them; it's called concealed carry or right to carry. Some women say they're comforted by these laws.

Many people are horrified at the idea of concealed carry laws, and predict mayhem if all states adopt these laws.

But surprise, 36 states already have concealed carry laws, and not one reported an upsurge in gun crime.
Stossel has a new book out, Give Me a Break, from which ABC's web site has an excerpt from the opening chapter. But here's the money quote:
In retrospect, I see that it probably helped me that I had taken no journalism courses.
I'll say.
Another Friday Five

At this moment, what is your favorite...

Don't have one. I don't even know what's popular at the moment.

2. Still rather have a good pizza than anything.

3. show? Farscape.......dammit.

4. ...scent? Eau du Pizza, of course.

5. ...quote? Now that's a toughie. There are so many that it really isn't possible to choose a favorite, but here's one you don't hear very often, from the Babylon 5 television series:

Once the avalanche has started,
the pebbles no longer have a vote.

Greeting New Visitors!

To all you visiting for the first time from wherever you linked, welcome! Spend some time, look around, and please, leave a comment!

It figures I'd get avalanched about the time I was too busy to post.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Spoke too Soon

Here's one for you to pass around to those friends disinterested in the right to arms - and especially those opposed to it.

Remember Hale DeMar? The Wilmette, IL resident who shot the home invader and then was charged for having a handgun (illegal in Wilmette) and for letting his FOID expire in 1988? Seems he wrote a letter to the editor of the Chicago Sun-Times. It's all good, but here's the money quote:
If my actions have spared only one family from the distress and trauma that this habitual criminal has caused hundreds of others, then I have served my civic duty and taken one evil creature off of our streets, something that our impotent criminal justice system had failed to do, despite some thirty odd arrests, plea bargains and suspended sentences.
Damned straight.

Now, back to work.
Blogging will be Reduced

Ok, the economy is on an upswing, at least here in Tucson.

Think "one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest."

Ask me for anything but time.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The Right Idea, but Not How THEY Mean It

Seems Chicago has a problem with guns coming from out of state. They sentenced a drug dealer and gun smuggler to 15 years yesterday. Seems that this guy had friends who would do straw purchases out of state, and then he would sell them in Chicago. The wily ATF figured it out after several traces led back to one gunshop in Mississippi.

Sounds like the tracing system worked just fine to me.

Sounds like the dealer did his job, too. The people he sold to weren't prohibited, and passed the Brady background check.

Now, get this: According to the report, a $165 "assault rifle" (I'd guess an SKS) sells for $2,000 in Chicago.

That's called supply and demand. Lesson #1 in economics - where there is demand, there will be a supply. Example: England. Banned all handguns, confiscated every registered one, and handgun crime has never been higher.

The proposed solution to this gun-smuggling problem? "(G)un control advocates say the interstate trafficking will continue to be a huge problem until states have uniform gun laws."

I'd go along with that. Get rid of the Illinois FOID card, let law-abiding Chicagoans have handguns again, and pass shall-issue concealed-carry. That would help. Bet the murder rate in Chicago would drop.
Someone at the LA Times Must be Off Their Meds

They've published another pro-gun op-ed! (Username: Newslinks; Password: Newslinks.)

Quick excerpt:
Please bear with me. I am an Alaskan, and Alaskans, for better or worse, are given to looking down on the rest of the nation. We mean no offense; it is just in our nature, and because of our place on this Earth, which leads us to be confused from time to time when we visit the Lower 48.

I am puzzled now by the strange way people here are dealing with mountain lions — which is to say, letting them kill you.


Why would anyone go into mountain lion country without the means to protect themselves from attack? I notice the police are armed. The wardens and rangers are armed. Indeed, anyone with any clue where they are would be armed.
Hell, that's easy: It's against the law in California. Normal Californians aren't qualified. It requires a government paycheck in order for a resident of California to be trusted with a gun.

Five Month Investigation, 10 Tracer Rounds, Two Felony Convictions

This story is the kind of thing that really jerks my chain - not that the .gov investigated the family, not that they raided their home, but the fact that they stuck the family with felony convictions for possession of ten tracer rounds.
A Family Deposed by Force

The Sherburnes were living as survivalists and selling military surplus when the feds moved in. They were lawbreakers, victims -- or both

When Trudy Sherburne returned to her desert home near Victorville after a short trip on Easter weekend in 1998, she thought her house was on fire. Government vehicles with flashing lights surrounded the place.

She quickly realized her mistake. The house was being raided.

Sheriff's deputies, bomb squad specialists and military investigators were rummaging through each room, under the assumption that Trudy Sherburne and her husband, Christopher, were right-wing extremists with ties to Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. They believed they might find a cache of weapons and explosives hidden among the inventory of the Sherburnes' military surplus business.
And I'm sure the government will be happy to provide the evidence they collected prior to the raid that justified the search warrant. (Sound of crickets chirping)
At the end of the five-month investigation, the Sherburnes - a deeply religious couple with six children
Well, they were obviously nuts, then
- each pleaded no contest to one felony count of possessing 10 tracer bullets, which illuminate the trajectory and are legal in several states but not California.
And they had TEN OF THEM! HORRORS!
Prosecutors never proved a link between the couple and McVeigh.
Yet they got a search warrant.
But by that time, their home was demolished and their business in ruins.
This seems to be standard operating procedure. Even if you don't find anything, the agents of the government wreck your property and destroy your livelihood for the crime of being different, or of doing something they believe ought to be wrong, or that they think is illegal, even if you've dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" in their idiotic, convoluted, and contradictory regulations. Remember George Norris and his rare orchids?
Trudy Sherburne went to jail for five months. Her husband started a prison term that lasted five years because he refused to accept parole conditions that barred him from seeing his wife.
WTF? THIS is the problem I have here: absolute rejection of the rights of the individual. FIVE YEARS for TEN TRACER ROUNDS? Telling a man that HE CAN'T SEE HIS WIFE?

Remember the purpose of this blog? Rights of the individual? Does something smell really wrong here?
The ordeal has turned the Sherburnes into folk heroes among some religious fundamentalists and gun rights activists.
Heroes? No. Victims of the arrogance of government? Quite possibly.
They see the couple as innocent victims of overzealous law enforcement, itching to nab home-grown terrorists in the wake of the Oklahoma bombing. Gun Owners of America, a gun-rights lobbying group based in Virginia, raised thousands of dollars for the couple's legal defense, and conservative radio commentator Jane Chastain, among others, has taken up the Sherburnes' cause.
First I've heard about it.
The tactics used by officials only fed the outrage. Investigators, who portrayed the couple as dangerous outlaws and weapons suppliers for militia groups, even searched the home of the Sherburnes' pastor and the Christian school their children attended.

"We weren't trying to overthrow the government or take out the president," Trudy Sherburne said. "We had no ill intent."

Were the Sherburnes anti-government extremists or simply an eccentric family living a survivalist existence in Southern California's desert frontier? And if the couple were so dangerous, why did prosecutors succeed in getting a conviction on only one count each?
My question precisely.
The answers may be revealed this year when a San Bernardino County Superior Court judge considers a lawsuit Trudy Sherburne filed against the county. The suit seeks $2 million in damages, arguing that multiple raids of the family home were unreasonable and based on weak evidence. The suit also accuses sheriff's deputies of ruining the couple's military surplus business by leaving the inventory - shoes, pants, ready-to-eat meals - in piles on the ground, where it was exposed to the elements and thieves.
Apparently agents of the BATFE were there, or they've been cross-training.
The county has filed its own lawsuit, asking a judge to fine the Sherburnes $250,000 for using their home to stockpile the military surplus inventory in violation of county zoning codes. The county has also billed the family $25,000 for the cost of demolishing the house in 2001 for building code violations. No court date has been set for either lawsuit, and the Sherburnes have yet to pay the county bill.
And unless they win the $2 million, they can tell the county to stuff it.

I want you to consider something: Chances are that each and every one of you reading this are in violation of some city, county, or state regulation regarding the storage of some chemical or other - gasoline, insecticide, paint, whatever. And you can be fined for the violation or violations, and some of those fines are ridiculous. The only thing that saves you is the fact that the government inspectors don't have free reign of your home - 4th Amendment, what's left of it.

Point is, we've been regulated into a corner. If the goverment wants to come after you, they will find something that sticks, if they want it to stick.
Marjorie Mikels, an Upland attorney and friend of Trudy Sherburne, said the couple had "nothing there that was of any import - certainly nothing worth destroying their lives and their home."

David Hardy, a Tucson attorney who wrote about the Sherburnes' case on a Gun Owners of America website, agreed.

"I think they [investigators] assumed the worst out of the available evidence, and when it wasn't the worst, they didn't back off an inch," he said.
Which seems to be standard operating procedure - justify the investment of X-number of agents over the course of a five-month investigation, or your chances of advancement in your agency are zilch.
But county officials insist the searches were legitimate and resulted in the destruction of dozens of dangerous weapons.
Really? Then why weren't the Sherburnes' convicted of possession of these dangerous weapons?
The investigators say their suspicions about the Sherburnes were confirmed when they found five videotapes titled "Militia of Montana First Aid Series" and a handwritten diagram showing a tunnel system beneath the home. Following the diagram, they discovered the remains of a 5,000-gallon cistern that Christopher Sherburne had expanded and fortified.
Well, whoop-de-fucking do! They're survivalists. Other than being a bit weird (and if they're Christians, apparently not too trustful of being taken care of by God,) what's wrong with this?
Inside the underground rooms, investigators found a stockpile of ammunition, five 55-gallon water drums, a portable bathroom and six industrial-size batteries, according to court records. The entrance to one of the rooms was hidden behind a false wall in the house.
Well, obviously they're dangerous.
Search warrants show that, in addition to the tracer bullets, investigators discovered four used missile tube launchers, (not dangerous) an inert 2.75-inch rocket warhead, (not dangerous) an inert 81-mm mortar round,(not dangerous) homemade explosives, (that they weren't convicted of, so I wonder exactly what they were - maybe gasoline in a 5-gallon can?) various types of ammunition and illegal signal flares.
(That they weren't charged with.) Now, fellow gun-nuts, how many of you have one or more of these dangerous items in your home? (Illegal signal flares? Oh, I've got it, gas in a can, signal flares, "improvised incendiary device.")
Bomb experts destroyed some of the military devices in the nearby desert.
Right. All that inert ordnance.
"All that stuff was there," said sheriff's Det. Bryce Mibeck, who investigated the case. "That is the nature of a plea bargain: You drop some charges to get convictions on other charges."
Uh, Detective, you got them on ten tracer rounds. Sounds really weak to me. If you were that unsure of your ability to convict...
At the very least, the evidence showed that the Sherburnes are not a typical suburban family.
WE HAVE A WINNER! Today, that's a crime.

A felony, no less.
Trudy Sherburne, 57, has a master's degree in early childhood education and has home-schooled her three youngest boys. Christopher Sherburne, 59, is an army veteran with a bachelor of science in engineering. On the weekend the family home was raided, he was in Florida, repairing a boat he said he hoped would carry medicine, Bibles and supplies to war-ravaged Sudan as part of a Christian relief effort.

The family home was built by Christopher Sherburne's father in the 1940s. It was situated between Hesperia and Victorville, where the only neighbors were dried shrubs and Joshua trees. A diesel generator provided the electricity.

For nearly 15 years, the home was headquarters for the Sherburnes' business, Genuine G.I. Surplus. The 2.5-acre property was strewn with metal shelving, empty ammunition boxes and crates with military markings. The couple bought most items in bulk at military auctions and sold them at flea markets and gun shows.

Robert Roy Templeton, president of Crossroads of the West Gun Shows, said he watched the Sherburnes and their children sell clothes, toy parachutes and other gadgets at his gun show for nearly nine years. "I never did see any indication that he had any weapons at all," Templeton said.

But sheriff's Det. Harry Hatch, an arson and bomb expert, confiscated a used missile launcher from the Sherburnes at one show, according to court records. Hatch warned them that it was illegal to have the device.
Apparently only in California. And probably Jersey.
The Sherburnes' problems began April 10, 1998, when sheriff's Deputy John Lawrence accompanied a code enforcement officer to the Sherburne property to look into a tip about building code violations. There, Lawrence saw metal tubes with military markings and metal cases emblazoned with the words "high explosives," according to court records.

Based on Hatch's earlier encounter with the Sherburnes, deputies got a search warrant, saying they believed "the crates, boxes and tubes contain military ordnance, which has been stolen from the military or purchased illicitly."

Over the next five months, deputies executed four more search warrants on the Sherburne property, plus 15 additional warrants seeking weapons in the homes of friends, family and customers in three states.
I. Am. Dumbfounded. Does this strike you as a fishing expedition?
The Sherburnes' pastor, Allen Stanfield, who once ran the Lucerne Valley Christian School, took responsibility for the Sherburne home after the couple were arrested and became temporary guardian of the couple's three sons.

Investigators suspected the pastor might have taken some undiscovered weapons from the home. Stanfield said deputies searched his home, his tenant's home and the one-room school while children were in class. No weapons were found.

The Sherburnes have offered differing explanations about why a stash of weapons was found in their home.

At first, they insisted that every military item on their property came from the purchases they made at military auctions. Later, they said they bought the empty rocket tubes and the ammunition from individuals but didn't recall when or where.

Despite the earlier warning from Hatch, Trudy Sherburne said she didn't think the empty rocket tubes and inert warheads were illegal because she saw such items routinely bought and sold at flea markets, gun shows and swap meets.
(They are.)

The suggestion of a link between the Sherburnes and the Oklahoma bombing first appeared in a search warrant dated April 13, 1998.

In it, sheriff's Det. Scott Peterson described Christopher Sherburne as "a right-wing extremist, [who] was peripherally involved with the suspects in the Oklahoma City bombing, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols."

Peterson, who retired in 2000, could not be reached for comment.

In an interview, Det. Mibeck declined to discuss what led investigators to believe the Sherburnes were linked to the bombing, but said FBI agents interviewed Christopher Sherburne immediately after the 1995 atrocity.

The Sherburnes insist they were never interviewed by FBI agents regarding the Oklahoma bombing. Gary Johnson, an FBI spokesman in Oklahoma City, said a search of the bureau's database found no information to connect the Sherburnes to McVeigh.

If deputies were fearful of the Sherburnes, the couple were just as fearful of the world around them.

Trudy Sherburne said they stocked the underground shelter with supplies and weapons in case of a nuclear war, riot or other crisis.

"In the middle of the desert, you need a hideaway room," she said.

Christopher Sherburne had wired the property's perimeters with motion detectors to alert him to any trespassers. But the couple deny they were building bombs or explosive devices.

"I can see that things looked suspicious," Trudy Sherburne said of the underground shelter and motion detectors.

The militia videotapes that investigators found in the Sherburne home are sold on the Internet and provide instruction on such things as how to dress wounds and fractures. The Sherburnes said they had attended a few meetings of a militia group in the nearby community of Phelan but eventually broke away because the group didn't focus enough on Christianity.

By the time the investigation was over, the Sherburnes faced a 24-count indictment on charges of possession of a destructive device and other crimes, which could mean total sentences of up to 100 years in prison for each if convicted. Instead, they took a deal offered by prosecutors and pleaded no contest to possession of a destructive device - 10 tracer bullets.
And this is my problem with the various Departments of Justice (sorry, anonymous visitor) - They're not interested in justice, they're interested in convictions. And they'll charge you with every single count they can come up with under the assumption that one will probably stick, and you, as the citizen, can't take the risk.

Anybody see a problem with that? If you're aware of this, (rather than being trusting of the "justice" of your government) you don't have a lot of options if agents of the government knock on your door. You're screwed, if they want you to be screwed, whether you did anything wrong or not.
Gun Owners of America, which had taken up the Sherburnes' cause, was soon joined by other conservative groups, including the founders of a fundamentalist Christian website and a group pushing for tough penalties on corrupt judges.

After five months in jail, Trudy Sherburne was released and reunited with her children, who had stayed with Stanfield. She resumed selling military surplus.

Christopher Sherburne was eligible for parole after 16 months in prison. Parole conditions rarely prohibit convicted spouses from seeing each other, but in the case of the Sherburnes, "he would have access to the same kind of weapons that got him in trouble in the first place," said Terry Thornton, a spokeswoman for the California Board of Corrections.
Right. Empty rocket launchers (single use LAW tubes), an inert mortar warhead, an inert 2.75 inch rocket, and tracer rounds! Can't have that!
Christopher Sherburne wouldn't agree to stay away from his wife, so he spent a total of five years in prison. Trudy said she would have given up the military sales to free him had she been told that that was the reason they were kept apart.

Meanwhile, county code enforcement officials declared the family home a public nuisance, saying the structure was substandard, had poor ventilation and heating, and was infested with rodents and insects.
A sixty year old home. In the middle of the desert. Imagine that.
The home was demolished under a county order in August 2001.
Same court that issued the search warrants? Just curious.
County officials defend the tactics of investigators, saying all of the searches in the Sherburne case were legal.
I'm sure they do. But as too many people are learning, "legal" doesn't equal "right." And the earth will stop turning when government officials admit that they might have been just a wee bit overzealous.
Regarding whatever personal property was destroyed or damaged during the investigations, deputies blame thieves and vandals who may have pilfered from the home after the couple were imprisoned.
Whereby the deputies admit that they cannot protect the private property of others.
The Sherburnes now live in a mobile home in the high desert community of Apple Valley. They make a living selling shovels, flashlights, toys and other items at flea markets and swap meets.

The Sherburnes and county officials have tried several times, without success, to settle the Sherburne lawsuit and the county's suit for $250,000. The Sherburnes say they are not looking for a generous settlement but simply want to hold officials accountable.

"We believe in this country," said Trudy Sherburne. "We just feel the authorities need to abide by the same laws that the citizens must abide by."
That is the ideal, isn't it? But accountability has apparently gone, as evidenced by this and incidents like the killing of Clayton Helriggle, and many, many more.

As Robert Heinlein put it:
Any government will work if authority and responsibility are equal and coordinate. This does not insure "good" government; it simply insures that it will work. But such governments are rare -- most people want to run things but want no part of the blame. This used to be called the "backseat-driver syndrome."
Here's the GOF page about the Sherburn's story, written by David Hardy; shorter, but with some pertinent information.
Quote of the Week

Via Instapundit, Australian reporter Caroline Overington in today's The Age
Any student of history knows that this is true. America saved the Western world from communism. America saved Australia and, for that matter, France from a system that would stop you from reading this newspaper.

Americans support the war in Iraq and, by extension, Bush because they see it as part of a bigger picture. Like everybody, they now know that Saddam was not the threat they thought he was (at least, not to them) but they still think it was a good idea to deal with him, before he became one.

The price of freedom is high. You might think you would not sacrifice your life for it, but maybe you don't have to. After all, 20-year-old Americans are doing it for you, every day.
Read the whole thing.

I Suppose it's the Gun's Fault

Another hunting "accident" claims the life of a 14 year-old boy. Daddy shot him, thinking he was a hog.
Teen Accidentally Killed By Father While Hunting

A 14-year-old boy Jacksonville boy was shot and killed by his father Saturday morning in what the Baker County sheriff called a tragic hunting accident.

Dennis Plucknett was on a weekend trip in a hunting camp near the Georgia state line with his two sons, 14-year-old Alex and 17-year-old Jonathan.

Investigators said that about 9:30 a.m., Plucknett asked his older son to see if he could see an animal moving in the woods. He couldn't, so he handed the .308 rifle to his dad. Thinking it was a hog, Plucknet fired one shot, hitting his younger son in the back of the head.
One more time, the ten simple rules of handling a gun:

1. ALWAYS CHECK THE GUN to see if it is loaded. Even if you just saw someone else check the gun, even if you know it is unloaded, ALWAYS visually inspect the gun before handling it further. This means opening it up to check any places where a live round might be hiding. Do this WHENEVER you acquire the gun--someone reaches under the counter in a gun store to show you a weapon--check it. You hand someone an unloaded gun to hold while you shift some ammo cases. When they hand it back--check it. It should be a routine matter of habit, anytime you pick up a gun or someone hands you one.

COROLLARY: Never accept into your possession a gun that you do not know how to check! Ask someone to show you how to check the gun first.

2. ALWAYS treat the gun as if it were loaded anyway. The following rules thus apply to any gun, loaded or not.

3. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. If you are at a range, keep it pointed downrange. When reloading, be aware of where the weapon is pointing. It should be pointing at the target, or into the ground. If your weapon is holstered, your holster should direct the muzzle downward at a relatively acute angle, not poking out from under your arm to endanger everyone standing behind you. If you are hunting, keep your rifles pointing skyward if slung, or into the ground if carried, not aimed at your friend-in-front-of-you's butt. Don't lean on a rifle. Don't cowboy-twirl your single-action revolvers. Don't be a moron.

When cleaning or repairing a gun this might not be possible--it's difficult, for instance, to keep the gun safely pointed while looking down the barrel. When you clean, either the action of the gun is open, or the gun is disassembled. Be cautious, and use common sense.

4. Unless your gun is ON THE TARGET, keep your FINGER OFF THE TRIGGER. Simple: on target equals on trigger, off target equals off trigger. Easy to say, but the trigger is a natural place to rest a finger when holding a gun. Don't do it! Keep your trigger finger straight, resting against the side of the trigger guard. The only time the finger comes to the trigger is when the gun has been brought to bear on the target you intend to shoot.

Once you know this rule, you can watch nearly any gun-handling TV show or movie to see how commonly it is violated. If you are a TV cop approaching a possibly lethal situation, your gun should be at ready, pointed in a safe direction, finger OFF the trigger. Carrying the gun, examining the gun, drawing the gun from a holster--whatever. Finger off the trigger until the gun is on the target.

5. The oft-repeated, NEVER point your gun at anything you are not prepared to shoot. This doesn't mean that if you have pointed a gun at something that you are obliged to pull the trigger. It DOES mean that anything you point your gun at could possibly take a bullet, whether you intend it to or not. It also means you NEVER brandish your gun or threaten anyone with it unless you are in an immediate life or death situation and you are prepared to use it. It means that it doesn't matter if the gun is loaded or not--handle it as if it were.

This rule, again, is ridiculously ignored in movies. People are always gesturing to each other with their guns. Watch the arc that the muzzle covers when they do this. People who cross your body while waving their guns around are not your friends.

6. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it. This means NEVER point or fire at anything that (1) you cannot clearly and unambiguously identify as a target, and (2) that would pose a danger to anyone were your bullet to stray, richochet, or overpenetrate. It means always knowing where your bullet has the potential to go. Be sure of your target.

7. Store and transport your guns safely. There is no strong concensus as to what constitutes safe storage and transportation, so it's up to your discretion. Some people keep all their guns in a fireproof basement gun vault with their ammunition stored separately, other people keep their handgun loaded and on their person at all times. Investigate the options, and exercise your common sense. You should know that if a child ever acquires a firearm due to your negligence, you could be federally liable. Be aware that your vehicle typically stands a much greater chance of being burglarized than your home. Factory ammunition doesn't constitute a fire hazard, but be careful where you store it. Investigate the options, make a formal determination about how your weapons will be safely stored and transported, and then stick to it.

A couple common rules of thumb are: never be separated from a loaded weapon--if the gun is away from your person, in your car, at home alone, etc, it should be unloaded. And never depend on hiding a weapon to keep it from a child.

8. Shoot with eye and ear protection. Simple, eh? Obviously in some cases (self-defense, hunting) you may not be able to, but you'll be better off when you do.

9. The common-sense rule of threat avoidance: never do anything when you are armed that you wouldn't do if you weren't--i.e. intervening in a robbery, going outside your house to investigate noises, going to tell your drunken neighbor to shut up, etc. Think about leaving the gun behind. If you wouldn't do it without a gun--DON'T DO IT. Call the police, swallow your pride, take the loss--whatever. Don't carry a gun into a potential conflict where you feel you might need it. Avoid the situation. Simple advice, but sometimes difficult to follow. Don't be macho, be smart. Editorial addendum: I don't quite hold with this rule. If you believe it's your duty as a citizen to, for example, intervene in a robbery, then having a gun would be advantageous. But that's a choice you should make for yourself. If I hear a suspicious noise, then not taking a gun with me when investigating seems counterproductive if I think my home may be being burglarized. Sometimes threat avoidance is wrong, and it isn't "being macho" to say that.

10. The tenth and final rule--never hand a gun to anyone that doesn't understand and abide by these rules. Once they are holding the gun, it is their, not your, responsibility to handle it safely, but you have your conscience to live with.

(These rules stolen unashamedly from here.)

Ten simple rules, but some assholes never get it, and because of that, somebody dies.

(Edited to add: My apologies. This story was sent to me by reader Tricia. Thank you Tricia.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

ANOTHER Hillary Joke

Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and Al Gore were in an airplane crash.

They're up in heaven, and God's sitting on the great white throne.

God addresses Al first.

"Al, what do you believe in?"

Al replies, "Well, I believe I won that election, but that it was your will that I did not serve. And I've come to understand that now."

God thinks for a second and says "Okay, very good. Come and sit at my left."

God then addresses Bill. "Bill, what do you believe in?"

Bill replies, "I believe in forgiveness. I've sinned, but I've never held a grudge against my fellow man, and I hope no grudges are held against me."

God thinks for a second and says "You are forgiven, my son. Come and sit at my right."

God then addresses Hillary. "Hillary, what do you believe in?"

"I believe you're in my chair," she says.
You Go Girl! (Is that sexist?)

Beth Donovan (She Who Will Be Obeyed, wife of John of Argghhhh!) has an OUTSTANDING post up of her story of when she bitch-slapped (sexist?) an idiot Englishman. Too rich.
Hi There! or (Is My Tinfoil Hat on Straight?)

I see that I've received another visit from the Department of Justice servers:

You know, something is wrong when a visit like this causes concern, or as someone else said recently, "When was the last time you built a bonfire on a beach, openly drank a beer and the presence of a policeman was absolutely no cause for concern? Hmmm?"

Anyway, welcome! And feel free to browse around. Hope you find it informative and fascinating!

UPDATE, 1/20/04: Once again the Geek with a .45 comes up with an outstanding post on this topic. I get a lot of traffic from .mil, .gov, and .us too, not just usdoj.
Oh, and He Came in THIRD!

This morning Drudge covers Dr. Dean's, um..., ah..., excessive reaction to his loss in the Iowa Caucus.

My favorite political cartoonist Mike Ramirez of the LA Times commented on the candidate's anger last week though:

New Hampshire is next.

Should be interesting.

UPDATE: How appropriate! Michele of A Small Victory comments on Dean's decline, and uses lyrics of popular songs - one of which is a favorite of mine, Billy Joel's Angry Young Man:

There's a place in the world for the angry young man
With his working class ties and his radical plans
He refuses to bend, he refuses to crawl,
He's always at home with his back to the wall.
And he's proud of his scars and the battles he's lost,
And he struggles and bleeds as he hangs on the cross-
And he likes to be known as the angry young man.


Monday, January 19, 2004

I. Will. Be. Damned.

Via Instapundit (as if you don't read him, but you do read me):


I NEVER thought I'd give Bill Clinton a standing ovation. But last week in Qatar I did just that.

Our former president gave the most perfectly pitched, precisely targeted speech I've ever heard to a hall filled with Muslim intellectuals and officials. And they listened.
Read the whole thing.

I wondered why we'd heard so very little out of him recently.

He's apparently not toeing the "QUAGMIRE!" line.
Failure of the Feminists

Apparently, this week is feminism week. (Last week was homosexualism week.) Who knew?

Last Thursday the local lefty rag the Tucson Weekly hit the stands (it's free, and worth every penny). I read it occasionally to keep an eye on the loony loyal opposition and see what the moonbats have to say, and I found this op-ed by local pundit Connie Tuttle quite amusing. So, over the weekend I sat down and wrote a rebuttal column and submitted it to the editor.

I just got my first rejection letter *sob*. I have gotten three letters-to-the-editor published there before, but this one required a more thorough job.

Right after I fired off my missive, I found this piece on the Curmudgeon's Corner, The Feminine Mistake, and thought "Great minds...." I then ran across another feminism post by some big-name blogger, but I've lost the link.

Anyway, here's my (regrettably rejected) response to Ms. Tuttle's philippic:
There are None so Blind…

Connie Tuttle’s January 15 op-ed “Cosmetic Changes” is wrong in so many ways and right in so few. Connie decries: “The so-called accomplishments of the women's movement are largely illusory and mostly cosmetic,” and holds as evidence the entertainment industry, women’s magazines, and increasing numbers of girls who believe they are too fat. This, she declares, means that society has not improved in any substantial way. No, she complains, the desires of the true-feminist visionaries were supplanted by the desires of the mere power-seekers who wanted “their share of the pie, rather than a new recipe for the pie.” (Was that a sexist reference to baking? I can’t tell any more.)

She goes on to describe her true-feminist utopia: “What these women wanted was a wholesale reshaping of society: a demilitarized society rather than one where teenage girls could be killed alongside their brothers; a society where people were placed before profits; where no child went hungry or without medical care, and where men and women shared their lives free of the generations-old notions of dominance and submission. What these women wanted was a re-telling of history, a new language and a cultural transformation that went far beyond admittance to previously all-male institutions.”

Really? All that? (And why does this description cause me to picture an unsmiling society, all dressed in matching drab gray but perfectly pressed tunics, all working in vast collectives with large, brightly-colored propaganda posters on all the walls? “UNITY!” “EQUALITY!” “JOY!”)

She continues, quoting former Pentagon adviser Daniel Ellsberg: "Perhaps women and their cultural values will save this country from itself,” and then states “…whatever he meant, the fact is women have not saved the country from itself (which is a preposterous idea).”

Why? I thought the true-feminist ideal was exactly that - to save the country, nay - the world, from itself. To reshape the society wholesale, demilitarize it, place “people before profit,” etc, etc, etc. Yet this is a preposterous idea? It seems we have a logical disconnect here.

Connie goes on to complain about how the failure of true-feminism has resulted in the horrible present administration, and anguishes over a female soldier willing to leave her toddler son behind, go to Iraq and serve her imperfect nation in the mistaken belief that she’s doing the right thing to protect her family and her country. No, Connie states, until both our daughters AND our sons are no longer willing to take up arms will we have made progress towards the true-feminist utopia.

“Blindly.” She did say “blindly take up arms.” But I think it is Connie who is blind, and her piece illustrates it. I grew up during the period Connie writes about. I was eleven years old in 1973 when Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs competed in a tennis match. I remember the rampant bigotry of that period when women stood up and demanded to be treated equally. I remember cheering when Billie Jean won, because in my pre-pubescent idealism it was obvious to me that there was nothing a man could do that a woman couldn’t. America was built on the idea of equality, but it was apparent even to a child that women were second class citizens, and that was wrong.

But I’ve grown up now, and things aren’t as simple as I used to think they were. Women and men, regardless of any idealism, are not interchangeable. I’m a step-grandfather now. I have two grandchildren, eleven months apart, one girl and one boy, and they could not be more different. My granddaughter is most emphatically a girl - interested in pretty clothes, make-up, art. My grandson is most emphatically a boy, interested in smashing things, going fast and getting filthy. They have both been raised primarily by my wife, who quit work to provide day-care while their mother tries to earn a living. My wife, no Stepford Martha Stewart, has not forced my granddaughter into the “feminine” mold, and she has done her best to rein in the excesses of my grandson. Mostly, though, she has done an exemplary job of teaching both children that they can do or be anything they want so long as they are willing to work to achieve it.

And I’ve awoken to the fact that men and women aren’t equal, we’re complimentary. Yin and Yang, as Connie said. Ignoring that and trying instead to force us all into some idealist equality mold could lead to nothing good.

Connie’s true-feminist ideal didn’t fail because of the false-feminists. It didn’t fail because greedy corporations co-opted the movement, patted the little ladies on the head and exploited them too. It failed because the true-feminist ideal ignores human nature, and her vision of utopia, like all utopias, was therefore doomed from the start.

Women have made progress as measured by the yardstick of choice. They can now choose to be and choose to do nearly anything they wish, including being fighter pilots or soldiers. (Yet there’s strong resistance to the idea of their choosing to be mothers and homemakers. Odd, that.)

Connie asks: “What kind of success can the women's movement claim that justifies young mothers adopting the slogans and sentiments of war?” It can claim the success of reason. It can claim the success of involvement. Because it means that women have a real voice and a physical presence in business, in politics, and as in Connie’s case, in media. In LIFE. They have choice that was once denied to them, and that choice includes the right to look at the realities, weigh the options, and reject Connie’s true-feminist ideology with eyes wide open.

That’s not mere cosmetic change, that’s progress - for those able and willing to see.
UPDATE, 1/20/04: See? I told you it was Feminist Week. Meryl Yourish responds to a Daniel Pipes piece on feminism and muslim headwear for women.

It's good to be on the leading edge of a wave...

UPDATE, 1/22/03: Another related link, this one from contributor Carey Roberts, entitled: When Family Dissolution Becomes the Law of the Land. Money quote
Fem-socialists, hell-bent on achieving a genderless society, are now scheming to repeat the same disastrous experiment in Western society. Naturally, they are hoping that you not hear the story of family destruction in Soviet Russia.
My comment about identically-dressed drones working in collectives was right on the mark, it seems. (Via Ipse Dixit.)