Thursday, June 23, 2016

Heller to Orlando

The Heller case that led to the Supremes validating the 2nd Amendment as an individual right was also by a gay man. Tyranny, or the increasing threat of it, makes for 'strange bedfellows.'  
"What happened in Orlando was not just an attack on America, it was an attack on L.G.B.T. people. While America at large debates what laws could have prevented this, what role Islam plays, and which political party is to blame, we need to get practical: If you don’t defend yourself, no one else will."

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Argentina Buried in Snow?

Snow in Russia in June, hmmm ....

Such a surprise this isn't more widely reported.

Why Banning Guns that Look Dangerous Won't Help

To be very generous to the assault weapon ban argument, let’s assume that all of these 328 murders were done with assault weapons. That would imply that such weapons were involved in less than three percent of all homicides in the United States, at most.
Such deaths are as terrible as any murder, but it is also true that knives, blunt objects, and hands/feet were confirmed to have been used in 1,567, 435, and 660 murders respectively. You are much more likely to be stabbed, strangled, or beaten to death with bare hands than killed by someone with a rifle, and the chances of being killed with an “assault-type rifle” are necessarily lesser still.

Meddlesome Government Creates Problems It Cannot Solve

Interesting article, sadly the author labors under the delusion that governments can and will do these sorts of things:
We must stop glorifying intelligence and treating our society as a playground for the smart minority. We should instead begin shaping our economy, our schools, even our culture with an eye to the abilities and needs of the majority, and to the full range of human capacity.

Part of the war on the poor is how expensive our government has made it to employ folks - less productive people can't overcome their lack of productivity enough to be profitable to hire.  So many things legislated to help the poor and the "working class" are working against both.

"What are you in here for?"

Another weapon of oppression is the criminalization of a torrential number of what were once civil violations. A typical example: It is now a federal crime to walk a dog on federal lands with a leash that’s longer than 6 feet. Instead of a fine (putting aside why there’s a need for such a prohibition in the first place), violators can be sentenced to up to six months in prison. While the Founders couldn’t have known the specifics of how a future government would seek to sink its claws into the people, they wouldn’t have been at all surprised that it would do so unless stopped.
No one knows for sure how many federal laws there are these days that can trip up–and imprison–the unwary citizen. In the early 1980s the Department of Justice came up with an estimate of 3,000 crimes. Today experts believe that number is over 5,000.
Worse, there are some 300,000 criminal offenses listed in the 80,000-page Code of Federal Regulations.

Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Reading this article it is impossible not to notice that you can make stats say almost whatever you like.  The worst is including gun violence and gun suicide in the same stat.

Dan Gross, head of the Brady Campaign used the number of daily gun murders as proof that “gun violence rates are not” going down. But the rate of gun murder is at its lowest point since at least 1981: 3.6 per 100,000 people in 2010.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Does the Truth Matter?

Publications from the Washington Post to Newsweek to the Huffington Post published screeds against the AR-15 and “assault weapons,” and politicians, pundits, and celebrities alike rushed to signal their liberal virtue by attacking the rifle and calling for banning automatic weapons.
“I believe weapons of war have no place on our streets,” said Hillary Clinton. “Ban automatic weapons,” tweeted “Family Guy” creator Seth McFarlane. The AR-15 “is the weapon of mass destruction that has killed … innocent party-goers in Orlando” reads an image published on Facebook by the Huffington Post.
There are just a few glaring problems with this narrative — there’s no such thing as an “assault weapon”, automatic weapons are already illegal, and Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen didn’t use an AR-15 in his attack.

Truth is usually the first casualty in politics.

Indeed, it is this stunning ignorance of firearms that seems in part responsible for liberals’ hatred of the AR-15. Mr. MacFarlane’s call for an automatic weapons ban is just a little late. Automatic firearms — firearms in which one trigger pull releases multiple rounds — have been regulated heavily in American since the National Firearms Act of 1934, and in 1986 the Federal government banned completely the sale or transfer of new machine guns to civilians.
Fine, the gun control advocate might say. Automatic weapons might already be illegal, but surely there’s no reason for civilians to have military grade assault weapons. That gun control advocate would be wrong again.
“Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term, developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of ‘assault rifles.’” wrote Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson in the Stanford Law and Policy Review. And of course by that time “assault rifles,” or machine guns, were already illegal.

Gun Control Like DUI Laws?

My friend commented:

"Yeah, we can't keep perfect records, so should we not even try? We keep people with repeated DUI offenses from driving; is keeping people with history of abuse from buying guns an ammo?"

I'm not sure where he's going with this because once a person is convicted of a felony the laws prohibit gun ownership, even if the felony was non-violent as I understand it.  I think this is also the case with domestic violence charges.

DUI issues are quite unlike gun issues.  A single DUI offense is relatively a small thing - you pay a bunch of money to a lawyer, maybe you get convicted maybe you plead out to reckless driving maybe the whole thing is dropped because the cop filling out the paperwork at 2AM mis-spells something on the affidavit, or because the jury doesn't like the officer that testified about the breath alcohol test.  

But even folks with a conviction or more than one drive, either unlawfully and hoping not to be caught, or with a "go to work permit" or some other version of a conditional license.  It is certainly not the case that our system stops folks with DUI offenses from driving - that's why we see 2nd and 3rd offenders.  Just last month here in Maine there was a case of a mother with prior offenses who had a wreck while under the influence with her kids in the car.  In that case, as with most DUI events, no one was hurt.

I wonder what the ratio is for:
-number of times a person operates a vehicle when intoxicated
-number of times an injury happens as a result

-number of times on average a person drives drunk prior to being caught
-of those "caught", how many are convicted?  When I was a police officer, it seemed like quite a few were able to dodge the DUI conviction one way or the other.  The system was anything but ironclad, probably for good reasons (presumption of innocence).  

In other words, DUI laws would seem a poor model for how to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, murderers and crazies.

One of the big problems with keeping guns away from criminals, murderers and crazies is that the population we're talking about is largely young men.  And with mass murderers, they often have little in the way of warning signals - almost never a prior arrest or felony.  This seems to be true of both the domestic whack job killers and the religious killing in the name of god type.

Last point - most criminals don't get their guns lawfully - they get stolen guns, they steal a gun, they get a "friend" to buy the gun for them and such.

You want to stop gun violence?  Stop the drug war.

Not Perfect - Do Nothing?

My friend asked, about background checks and other efforts to keep guns out of the hands of killers, "It seems that your argument (or one that I hear) is that since it impossible to have a perfect system of reducing gun violence that we shouldn't have any."

His question brings back a the memories of when the background check law was federalized.  At the time, anyone with a brain could tell it wouldn't stop criminals from getting guns, nor crazies.  But it would cost government money, increase the inconvenience and cost to gun buyers who bought from gun stores (and others with an FFL).  Like most gun legislation, it amounted to a symbolic gesture.  "We have to do something!"  So elected nincompoops did something, something pointless.  Most research indicates the background checks had little if any effect on who was able to get guns.  

Of course, background checks are not the only part of the system that this country has for reducing gun violence.  We put folks in jail who commit crimes with guns.  We preclude those convicted of domestic violence from lawfully possessing guns, even in their military work.  

Violent crimes overall decreased with the rate of incarceration - if you go from half a million to 2 million in jail, some good things result.  Lots of bad things happen, too.

If background checks were required for gun sales by private gun owners, including those being gifted to friends/family, it might tighten up the process some.  However, this would be essentially another symbolic gesture, unless it also included a registration of all currently owned guns.

Then the crux of the matter is - how much do you trust the jack asses that get elected to make laws in this country?  They trample and manipulate the constitution, nearly at will - it's clearly not the bulwark against government excess that it was hoped to have been (and that I wish it had been).  We're one emotional event away from some jerk trying to take away our guns as was done in Australia. 

I don't want any part of national gun registration.  Given my gut level fear of (continuing and seemingly inevitable) government excess, you won't be surprised to find that I also don't believe this national registration and universal background check process would stop much of what we all hate - humans killing other humans.  Gun control has never worked as intended, with the possible exception of Japan (Japanese idolized the sword, not the gun).  Japan has a suicide culture more than a violence culture.  Guns will make their way into Japan, too, with immigrants who want to act out their personal angst as service to their oh so great god.  

I don't advocate "doing nothing", nor do I advocate "just get the government to do something so I can pretend things are better."  I'm for what might work.  I'm for ending the drug war.  All that killing on the now obviously false pretense that drug prohibition will save our kids from drugs?  40 years of failure in every possible metric.  I'm for ending "gun free zones" that work like a lighthouse for mass murderers in search of a place to do their thing.  I'm for a simple acknowledgement that governments kill far more people than private gun owners, and there's little reason to believe in the safety governments pretend to offer.  When the US government can demonstrate competence in any major endeavor, I'll be impressed.

Friday, June 17, 2016

About that Social Security

Social Security has been running a deficit since 2010, and in 2034, its “trust fund”—more or less just a tally of previous surpluses—will run out. Left and right could not disagree more about how to handle the situation.
Democrats, up to and including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, would like to expand the program, necessitating tax hikes above and beyond what would be needed merely to sustain it. And conservative intellectuals, whose thinking is captured in a new report from the American Enterprise Institute, would like to gut the program and replace it with a flat benefit that does nothing more than ensure seniors don’t live in poverty. That’s something the current program doesn’t achieve, so low-income seniors would see bigger checks—but on balance, this would slash benefits so dramatically that the program would eventually run a surplus, allowing tax cuts.

One would think that social security would be enough to never trust government to do anything important if such a thing could be done any other way.  We'd been tinkering with what problems government can solve for a 100 years - I can see the answer clearly.  Almost none.

Rational Effort to Redefine Gun Control Debate

What is a military style assault rifle and why do civilians have access to them?

Is it insane that folks like you and I can buy “assault rifles”?

Summary – in terms of rate of fire, rifles went from powder and ball, to cartridge loaded, to multi shot capacity to machine gun.  This transition was complete over 100 year ago.  Fully automatic weapons have been strictly regulated for over 75 years and not many civilians can get them.  Semi automatic magazine fed rifles have been used by civilians for sporting purposes since at least the 1930s. What folks have come to call "assault rifles" are just semi automatic magazine fed rifles that look different than more traditional semi automatic magazine fed rifles.

Firearms utilized and popularized by the military have been used by civilians for sporting purposes ever since guns became guns.  Magazine fed, semi automatic rifles - like the AR-15 and semi automatic versions of the AK-47 - have been in civilian hands since the 1930s ( that is an approximate date, there’s an example in the LL Bean store).  When folks of middling analytical ability like T. Friedman say “It’s insane” that regular folks can buy semi automatic rifles that look like military versions of the same rifle, what I hear is “yes, I’m still just half informed like I always was.”  Magazine fed semi-automatic rifles are not new, nor are semi-automatic magazine fed shotguns, which in many cases would be more dangerous than rifles (shotguns require less marksmanship).

What is new is how much fame folks can get for using firearms to kill a bunch of people, and as the Tsarnaev’s showed, you can do the same with bombs and almost get away with it.  Perhaps it is new that so many people instinctively feel that passing gun control laws will create safety – Charlie Hebdo?  Norway?

Also new is the freakishly na├»ve idea that “gun free” zones create safety.  Over 90% of all firearms attacks on lots of people have happened in gun free zones.  Gun free zones are the most dangerous places you can find if you fear murdering crazies killing large groups of folks. If we make semi automatic magazine fed rifles unlawful for all but the government, such a ban is likely to work as well as the current ban on explosives.  If you believe a gun ban would work better than a drug ban, gun free zones, an alcohol ban or an explosives ban - how can you believe that?

What is also new is first person shooter video games.  I have read that every mass murderer of late was a consumer of those games, though I would guess the religious variety of killer is the exception. 

In short, when people tell me that we’d be safer if I couldn’t have my semi automatic magazine fed rifle or shotgun, I wonder if they are living in a dream world or they are just disingenuous.  

Part 2

No one is suggesting banning cars, even though cars kill far more people than do guns.  Why is that?To those who drive, a car has utility, therefore they judge the risk of 45,000 deaths annually is worth the reward.  Those who would take away this gun or that one are judging the gun does not have utility, therefore the risk is not justified. 

Half of all gun deaths and half of all automobile deaths are judged to be alcohol related.  We wisely gave up on alcohol prohibition a long time ago (would that we would do the same for drugs – ending the drug war would massively reduce gun violence).  So why now do we pretend that guns are to blame vice alcohol and/or cars?  Why do we ignore the evidence that prohibitions create more problems than they solve?

If you are in the camp that judges that guns have too much risk for their utility, I hope you might understand why I don’t accept the validity of your judgement.

But if you want to pretend that gun prohibition would make us safer, let’s also prohibit cars and motorcycles that can go faster than 25 mph, alcohol, cigarettes, sugar, snowstorms, ice on sidewalks and screwdrivers and hammers, too.  "If it would save even one life, we have to do it" should be our mantra.  Natural gas explosions kill about ten people a year, so we should eliminate that method of home heating.  Swimming pools are about 900 times more likely to be the cause of a child’s death than a gun in the home, obviously it is time to get rid of pools, too.

I'm a lot of things but I'm neither uneducated nor a hater, I don't sleep with a gun in my hand while wearing an aluminum hat to stop the CIA from reading my mind.  I've been a police officer or a military member for 26 years of my life.  I love my kids and my dear wife and I want them to live in the safest possible world.  I will not pretend that government promises of safety offer anyone safety.  I will not accede to your willingness to pretend otherwise.  If you want me to take you seriously about your desire for a safer world, your argument should start with the recognition that the single step we can take that would slash gun violence would be to end drug prohibition.

Context Changes Most Everything

Definitely interesting to read this with the context of the Orland massacre and other current events.

If you’re going to do the exegesis, Right Reverend Shutt, I might recommend knowing that we don’t call verses “lines.” Also, maybe notice that the listing of sins indicts literally every single human on the planet. So if you’re thinking that Christianity calls for the execution of gays, you have to think, on the basis of the same passage, it calls for the execution of everyone. And if you’re thinking that, and you know anything at all about Christianity, maybe ponder whether everything you’ve written is embarrassingly wrong.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Stupidity of the Elites

"This is totally legal."
Not so much.  People like this shouldn't feel like their "common sense gun control" is a compelling argument to the rest of us.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

"The Sky Is Falling. Really."

“The sharp rise in sea levels from North Carolina to Massachusetts could mean serious flooding and storm damage for major cities such as New York, Philadelphia and Boston, as well as threats to wetlands habitats.”
The Weather Channel followed up on the claim, declaring last week that “the Statue of Liberty is facing a disturbing future because of rising seas and a warming planet.” This latest argument is based on a new United Nations report, which means that this cautionary statement has all the objective science of a children’s book about a wolf and a young girl with fair hair.
Naturally, the media either ignore or marginalize anything that disputes the global warming narrative. But contrary findings and opinions exist. In this case, climate change website Watts Up With That took a look at the “hot spots” identified in the 2012 study and determined that the researchers were guilty of practicing “bad science” and “cherry picking the time window” that backed the conclusion they wanted to reach.
“Since December 2009,” wrote guest essayist Giordano Bruno, “the sea levels have declined in both Washington, D.C., and The Battery, N.Y.” The decreases were 3.3 millimeters a year in Washington, 10.7 millimeters a year in New York.

There's a lot of crazy out there, the religion of AGW leads the way. Why are people so easy to scare with bad (really, bad interpretation of immature) science?