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

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cognitive Dissonance

It raises its head once again. To quote Steven Den Beste:
When someone tries to use a strategy which is dictated by their ideology, and that strategy doesn't seem to work, then they are caught in something of a cognitive bind. If they acknowledge the failure of the strategy, then they would be forced to question their ideology. If questioning the ideology is unthinkable, then the only possible conclusion is that the strategy failed because it wasn't executed sufficiently well. They respond by turning up the power, rather than by considering alternatives. (This is sometimes referred to as "escalation of failure".)
Or, as I put it:
The philosophy cannot be wrong! Do it again only harder!
We have some new stories coming out of the petri dishes of the UK Commonwealth.

Let's start with this one:
Victims and offenders get younger

By Philip Johnston
Last Updated: 7:01am BST 24/08/2007

Periodically, there is a national outcry about guns on our streets. It reached a climax 20 years ago this week when Michael Ryan shot and killed 16 people, including his mother, wounded 15 others, then killed himself.

The massacre in Hungerford led to a ban on the ownership of semi-automatic centre-fire rifles.

In 1996, the murder of 15 children and their teacher at a school in Dunblane, Scotland, led to a complete ban on handguns.

Yet since then, the number of crimes involving guns has risen.

In 1996, there were 14,000 recorded offences in which firearms were reported to have been used. In 2005/6, the last period for which figures are available, there were 21,500.

Although the numbers dying through shooting is roughly similar, 50 victims in 1996 and last year, attempted murders and woundings are up 50 per cent.

Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world - yet they did not prevent the appalling events in Croxteth.
Ergo: the strategy failed.

But the ideology cannot be wrong!
Yesterday, Gordon Brown said the Government was "working urgently" to tackle gun crime. But if previous laws have made little difference why should new ones?

The past year has seen another avalanche of legislation. The Government introduced a minimum five-year sentence for possessing an illegal firearm. They made it an offence to possess an air weapon or imitation firearm in public without legal authority or reasonable excuse.

The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 made it illegal to manufacture or sell imitation firearms that could be mistaken for real firearms. It also strengthened sentences for carrying imitation firearms, and created tougher manufacturing standards so imitations cannot be converted to fire real ammunition.

The Home Office boasted: "We're cutting off the supply of firearms into the country."
"Do it again, only HARDER!
But the guns are already here; and they are increasingly easy to get. Home Office research indicated that an imitation firearm could be bought for £20 and a shotgun for £50. A military-quality handgun will go for around £1,000. An automatic weapon sells for between £800 and £4,000.
Think about that. Gun control supporters here object to our pointing out the failure of DC's draconian gun ban (there were seven homicides in DC last week, at least five of which were by firearm), or Chicago's handgun ban to have any positive effect on the level of gun crime in those cities. They blame "lax gun control laws" in the surrounding areas for the influx of guns into those cities. However, England has all the laws that the Brady Campaign et. al think are "common sense": "may-issue" ownership licensing with full background check and character references, "safe storage" requirements with surprise inspection powers by the State, restrictions on the amount and type of ammunition permit holders can possess, a complete ban on "military style" semi-automatic rifles, a complete ban on handguns, the whole nine yards. More importantly, the UK is an island - there are no neighbors just across the state or county line with "lax gun laws" that allow an easy flow of illicit guns. You've got to smuggle them in through the ports of entry, or by boat. Yet gun prices are barely above American retail, and fully-automatic weapons can cost less than a handgun.

But does anybody learn from this? Hardly. Washington D.C. is going to the Supreme Court to prevent its bans from being overturned. The city of Philadelphia is currently experiencing a tremendous increase in homicides, so two city council members are suing the state legislature so that Philadelphia can pass its own gun control laws, and activist lawyer Michael Coard wants to sue the NRA for influencing the Pennsylvania state legislature into passing preemption laws.

There's more to that piece, and I recommend you read it, but let's move on to the next story that covers the slaying of an 11 year-old boy in Liverpool:
Former detective: It is a gangland culture

Albert Kirby, Former Detective Superintendent, Merseyside Police, on the problem of gun crime in Liverpool:

"Like other areas of Liverpool, Croxteth has become increasingly more difficult to police over the years due to the gang type culture and the reluctance of people living in the area either to come forward and give either evidence or information about those involved in the gang culture, drugs and crime groups.

"It is the same throughout the city. Once upon a time it used to be fists on the street corner. Then they started to use any sort of weapons - hammers or axes. Now the readily availability of fire arms has opened up a whole new ball game.
But licensing, registration, "safe storage" and outright bans are supposed to prevent "ready availability," aren't they? That's what the ideology says!
"Fire arms can be obtained very cheaply and after they have been used criminals can dispose of them because they are so cheap - a handgun can be bought for about £25 a time.
Yet the earlier piece said a "military quality" handgun would go for about £1,000. What are these, cheap "Saturday Night Specials"? Just so you know, at current exchange rates, £25 is $50 US.
"Fire arms are so readily available that you can go out on the street, make the necessary enquiries and come up with them. It is that easy.
Ergo: the strategy failed.
"The legislation that came in after the Dunblane shooting in 1996 has been utterly and totally ineffective. It was a waste of space. With the borders disappearing in Europe there are no checks on firearms coming in from abroad. They come from Eastern Bloc countries, recommissioned firearms, and a steady flow coming out of the world's conflict zones.
See! See! It's the fault of neighboring states with lax gun laws!

Oh, wait...
"Merseyside Police have done a tremendous amount of work to recover firearms. But bearing in mind the amount of firearms that are available it is very difficult.

"For a lot of these kids, it is a status symbol to them. In the sixties they would have the drainpipe trousers and the slicked hair, and then the mods and rockers in the 1970s with their crash hats.

"Now guns are like a status symbol: 'If you diss me I will shoot you because I have got a gun'. It is part of the culture, it is a gangland culture.

"Croxteth is a poor area. I would think there are a lot of unemployed people there. In that area drugs are just prolific.
So are guns. Cheap guns.
"This poor lad was in the wrong place at the wrong time. These people have been feuding and the poor guy has got in the way. What justification can these people have to shoot an 11-year-old boy who has not done any harm to anyone. He comes from a decent family.

"Where do we go from here? Firstly, we have to change the street culture which accepts guns. That will be a long-term issue - like tackling anti-social behaviour.
With what? Judicious application of ASBOs?
"Secondly, these incidents will continue to happen unless people are willing to come forward as witnesses.
Even though you cannot/will not protect them from retaliation, and they cannot protect themselves.
"The system in the judicial process is so good now at protecting identities. People have to learn to have faith in the system.
You're going to protect the identities of the witnesses? How? Relocate them to Australia? The people have an abiding faith in the system. They believe faithfully that it's not going to do squat to help them. They have reason to believe that.
"Thirdly, the courts are so woeful. These people hate going to prison. Scousers have an expression that they can do it standing on their head. But standing on their head gets harder as they get older.

"The courts should say that if someone is sentenced for an offence, and a firearm is used, even if it is a replica, that person are going to prison for a long time."
They may say it, but as you said, the courts are woeful, and your prisons are overcrowded already.

No wonder there's no trust.

Finally we travel far across the pond to Australia, to the little town of Roseville, a Northern suburb of Sydney in New South Wales where a new gun shop has opened:
Residents irate over gunshop permit: what do we tell our children?
What a fascinating question!
UP IN arms would accurately describe the incensed reaction of Roseville residents to news that a gunshop is to open in their midst.

Last night hundreds were expected to pack a community hall to protest against the approval granted by Ku-ring-gai Council, apparently without notification to those who may have an opinion about such an enterprise.

Andrew Peter, a gun enthusiast and coffee shop owner from Bondi Junction, made an application last month to turn an old printing shop into a sporting goods and firearms store. One of the main reasons for his decision was the estimated 1300 firearm owners who live in the area.
I'm curious as to how much territory "in the area" covers.
The shop is opposite a community hall that runs a preschool centre. It is also near a bus interchange used by schoolchildren, and some neighbouring businesses say the approval, although legal, is inappropriate.

Lisa Warrand is one of dozens of parents who fear the worst: the potential for an armed hold-up and shootout, or merely having to explain to children who walk past every day why a shop sells guns. (My emphasis.)

"Roseville has five churches and no pubs. People buy in this area because they want a more family-focused area," she said yesterday. "We teach children about how bad guns are and yet we are being put into a position where we have to explain why there is a man in the car park carrying a gun bought across the road." (My emphasis.)

Sally Cochrane runs the Zest hairdressing salon a few doors away. She concedes that the chances of a hold-up are slim but says it is a risk that should rule out the shop from the neighbourhood. "Children and guns don't mix. It's as simple as that, and if there is a robbery then it could be disastrous. I accept that this man has a right to open his shop and to sell guns, but not here."

Rob Hudspith disagrees. He owns the bicycle shop nearby and says the biggest mistake was that no one was given details of the application by the council.

"If they didn't have a legal obligation, then they had a moral one," Mr Hudspith said. "Personally, I don't have any problems, but there is an inherent fear of firearms, and who can blame people for being worried?" (My emphasis.)

A council spokesman said the approval was assessed under State Government planning laws. The business would have to comply with strict laws covering handling, storage and safety.

The Liberal MP for Davidson, Jonathan O'Dea, backs the residents, denying it is nimbyism.

The Shooters Party accuses Mr O'Dea of stirring up trouble by instigating a survey of residents. Mr Peter says he is willing to compromise with extra security to ensure residents feel safe. "Sure, I understand their feelings and I'm happy to talk to them about their concerns, but they don't have anything to worry about." (My emphasis.)
There's the ideology, ladies and gentlemen: "GUNS ARE BAD, mmmkay?" Its root is the belief that all violence is bad; the inability to differentiate between "violent and predatory" and "violent but protective" that leads to the totemic belief that the tools of violence are the cause of violence. The outcome of that flawed ideology is licensing, registration, restriction, bans, confiscation... and rising violent crime.

But cognitive dissonance prevents people from questioning the ideology. The result is escalation of failure, and a complete inability to implement any kind of successful strategy. As Say Uncle put it, "Gun control is what you do instead of something."

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