Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

I can be reached at 45superman@gmail.com.You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45superman.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

So what's your point?

The Philadelphia Daily News has just run an article about a study that found that Pennsylvania suffers the highest per capita rate of black homicide victimization. The study was conducted by some of my favorite civilian disarmament extremists at the Violence Policy Center (which has also put out a press release about it), and co-authored by one of their head cheerleaders, Josh Sugarmann.

That being the case, it should surprise no one that the blame for this situation is placed squarely on firearms, and that the proposed solution is yet more restrictive gun laws. The Philly Daily News article quotes Sugarmann:

"The handgun is the primary [reason] behind the high rates," said Josh Sugarmann, the center director.
Got some evidence to back up that . . . interesting assertion, Josh? I can buy the idea that handguns are the primary means of the homicides, but how does that imply that they are the primary reason?

Besides, why is it significant which state has the highest rate--obviously, one state has to be worst, and it apparently turns out that Pennsylvania is that state--why does that mean handgun laws must be tightened?

Maybe it's as the Gun Guys say, and that the connection is due to the fact (according to the Gun Guys) that Pennsylvania is "the state with the loosest gun laws in the country." Hmm--interesting assertion, Gun Guys. Interesting because it is quite at odds with what your pals over at the Brady Bunch say, in their "grading" of state gun legislation. According to the Bradys, Pennsylvania rates a D+, which sounds pretty "bad" (actually, it sounds good to those of us who actually revere the Constitution and hold individual rights as sacred, but I digress). As it turns out, though, the Bradys grade the whole country pretty low, and there are a whopping 24 states with lower grades than Pennsylvania's D+ (7 D's, 8 D-'s, 3 F+'s, and 6 F's). Five states share PA's grade of D+, meaning 20 states grade higher (of those, one is Kansas, which is just barely higher, with a C- grade--and that's despite the fact that the Brady Bunch hasn't updated their website to reflect the fact that Kansas now trusts its citizens to carry concealed firearms for self-defense). Basically, PA is about in the middle of the pack with regard to strictness of gun laws (according to the Brady Bunch), if not slightly higher. Besides, California, with its A- grade (which is the highest grade given by the Bradys--I guess you would have to actually set fire to the Constitution to get an A, let alone an A+), ranked fourth in the per capita black homicide rate. The state-by-state correlation between "loose gun laws" and per capita black homicide rate thus seems more than a little tenuous.

I think the larger problem with this "study" is the question of what is its point. If the numbers showed the opposite--that a disproportionate number of white people were being shot and killed, would that make any difference? As someone who despises bigotry in all forms, who believes that racial prejudice is a social cancer, I argue that homicides among blacks are no less tragic, and no more so, than homicides among any other demographic. If there is racism in this debate, it comes from the side that insists on treating black homicides differently from white homicides.

The Philly Daily News did at least point out that there is another side of the debate. The article quotes the Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson:
Black Americans are regularly battling problems with high-school dropouts, joblessness and imprisonment, argued Johnson.

"Until we fix the unemployment, the schools, and the poverty," the violence can't be fixed, he said.
Exactly--a gratifying bit of good sense from a big city police commissioner.

Sugarmann, of course, was less impressed (and rather snide, I think).
Sugarmann said that the study was intended to raise policymakers' awareness of the dangers of handguns. He said the center is well-aware of other socioeconomic factors that contributed to the discrepancy in race-based homicide rates.
"Well-aware" of the socioeconomic factors or not, you sure didn't mention them until someone else brought them up, did you, Josh? Got any ideas as to how to address those factors? Josh--I can't hear you. Josh?

I guess he doesn't have time to help with that.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Anti-self-defense lobby has knickers in a twist

Recently, there has been a lot of noise made about a series of articles in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel about alleged criminals who have Florida concealed carry permits. The articles list several people, and breathlessly reveal the crimes they allegedly committed, in an attempt to give the impression that South Florida is overrun with convicted mass murderers who can legally carry firearms.

What most of these articles fail to point out is that in most of these cases, there is no felony conviction involved. Some have pleaded guilty or no contest to the charges filed, but according to Florida law, such an outcome to a case does not equal a conviction.

But a loophole in Florida law allows people charged with felonies to obtain licenses to carry guns three years after they complete their sentences so long as a judge "withholds adjudication."

In a sort of legal no man's land, the defendants plead guilty or no contest. They serve probation, complete community service, obtain counseling, pay fines or fulfill other requirements. When they successfully complete the terms, they have no criminal record.

The break often is given to first- or second-time offenders in instances in which the state's case is weak, and a plea deal appears to be the best option for defendants without the money to mount a strong defense, legal experts said. But it also has aided people accused of violent felonies, sometimes repeatedly.
An argument could perhaps be made that Florida's justice system needs some work, if so many people who have been arrested for felonies are not being convicted, but that argument has nothing to do with Florida's concealed carry laws. Either prosecuting attorneys are being too generous with plea bargains, judges are being too lenient, in withholding adjudication, or the cases weren't strong enough for a conviction in the first place. Whichever, a person should have to be convicted to lose any of the rights of citizenship.

The civilian disarmament lobbyists are, of course, all over this--as evidenced by this release from the Brady Bunch.
A courageous newspaper in Florida has released the cold, hard facts about states that too easily issue permits to allow people to carry loaded, hidden handguns: Many of those who get permits act recklessly or violently with a gun and still keep their permit. This should be a sobering lesson for public officials who mandate the issuance of these permits, take the discretion out of the hands of the local police and let thugs continue to carry guns.
I'm not sure what it is about these articles that makes the newspaper "courageous," but I suppose that among those who believe in abdicating responsibility for one's own protection (despite the numerous court decisions stating that police have no duty to protect any individual citizen), standards of courage are unlikely to be very high.

The Brady Bunch goes on to say that "Shall Issue" systems for concealed carry are a bad idea:
The inability of governments to monitor the behavior of all the people issued concealed carry permits is almost guaranteed. Governments are neither big enough nor efficient enough to catch mistakes - and that is why so-called ‘shall issue’ laws like Florida’s are a bad idea.
Seems that they think the solution might be to expand the government--spoken like true statists, who believe a government can never be too big. I hear China has a nice big government--so does North Korea.

I wonder how many of these people truly believe that the "criminals with legally concealed guns" would not carry if they could not get permits. It would seem to take quite a leap of faith to believe that someone who breaks laws against assault, manslaughter, etc., would balk at breaking the laws against carrying a firearm without a permit.

Anyone who is too dangerous to "be permitted" to exercise his Constitutional rights is too dangerous to be loose in a free society.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Shawnee County D.A. will tell us what our rights are

Last Wednesday, at War on Guns, I was made aware of the first defensive use of a concealed handgun under the new Kansas law permitting this (a later, more detailed article can be found here). Michael Mah (the legally armed citizen) shot a 17 year old robbery suspect (armed with a stolen gun) at a Topeka gas station. The article points out that Mr. Mah was carrying his firearm with an Oklahoma permit. Remarkably, it was just earlier that same day that Kansas began honoring Oklahoma permits. Such is our "justice" system that I have little confidence that Mr. Mah would have avoided real legal problems, up to and including prison time, if the shooting had occurred 24 hours earlier.

Actually, even with the seemingly clear-cut justification for the shooting, and the unambiguous fact that Mr. Mah was licensed to carry a concealed firearm in Kansas at the time of the shooting, perhaps there is reason to fear for Mr. Mah's legal situation, after all. The reason for this is that the District Attorney of Shawnee County is Robert Hecht, who has some rather odd ideas about the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, and who seems rather less than pleased that private citizens may now legally carry defensive firearms. When reading this piece by Mr. Hecht, alarm bells go off at the very beginning, where he seems to show some disdain for the concept of the right of citizens to carry handguns for defense.

An issue popular with many has been the “right” or legal opportunity to carry firearms concealed on their person.
It's not a "right," Mr. Hecht, it's a right--no quotation marks necessary. It may seem that I'm a bit overly sensitive about punctuation, but I can see no other purpose for the quotation marks beyond calling into question the concept of the right to bear arms.

He goes on to imply that as technology advances, perhaps our Constitutional rights should recede.
After all, in 1776, or when the Constitution was first presented to the states for ratification in 1787, firearms consisted of single shot black powder and ball muskets and hand pistols, not 14 shot, semi-automatic, .40 caliber, laser sight, sound and flash suppressant, hand guns or sound and flash suppressed .50 caliber rifles with laser sights and night visions with which a man can be dropped at 500 yards.
Setting aside the rather odd grammar in that sentence, does Hecht seem to be sensationalizing just a bit?

The next section of this edition of "Hecht's Highlights" is titled "Nothing is Absolute." That is a favorite prelude to arguments that "the right" featured in the Second Amendment isn't really a right , or that "the People" means the National Guard, etc. Not surprisingly, he argues "without any further comment on the wisdom and/or possible unintended consequences of" the concealed carry law in Kansas, that it's passage "was not without reservation."

Hecht has a bit more wisdom for us near the end:
As is well recognized by those of us involved, there are way too many guns out there and they are sophisticated, high powered, with a numerous load. My fear is that as more guns become ever more close at hand in emotional surges, “road rage”, unrealistic fears, it will be reached for.
I am in no position to evaluate Mr. Hecht's skills as an attorney, but his grammar certainly could use some work. By the way, I suppose "with a numerous load" refers to a large ammunition capacity, but that's just a guess. It's pretty clear that he thinks Kansas should never have instituted a concealed carry law--seems to me that he's in the wrong line of work--he seems to be more interested in the legislative process of writing and debating laws than he is in prosecuting violators of the ones on the books.

I suspect that even an anti-rights enthusiast of Mr. Hecht's caliber (no pun intended) would have trouble finding a way to prosecute a citizen who, with a legally carried pistol, wounded a robber, stopped a crime, and perhaps saved at least one life, but I also suspect he'll look into it thoroughly--hopefully, the taxpayers of Shawnee County will think that effort as time well spent on Mr. Hecht's part as they pay his salary.

Thanks to "PhoneCop," at 1911 Forum, for the link to Mr. Hecht's opinions about gun rights, and for some ideas on responding to Mr. Hecht's positions.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Nutter in Philly

Not long ago, I mentioned a Looney bill, introduced in the Connecticut Senate by an equally Looney Senator. Today's topic is a nutty lawsuit to be filed in Philadelphia, by Philadelphia mayoral cadidate Michael Nutter*.

He has announced plans to sue two gun shops for . . . not reading minds, I guess. What these gun shops did was sell handguns repeatedly to the same customers. Apparently, in the Nutter School of Business, repeat customers are to be avoided. Keep in mind, neither gun shop has been accused of breaking any laws--all the BATFE paperwork was correctly filled out, the purchasers provided all the required documentation, and all the required notifications were made. Still, Nutter claims that the gun shop owners and/or employees "should have known" (somehow) that the purchasers were gun traffickers, and should have refused the sales.

Nutter claims that these gun shops constitute a "public nuisance," and are therefore subject to civil legal action. It seems to me that until there is a law requiring retailers to read the minds of their customers, to determine their purity of purpose, the only public nuisance is the Nutter filing baseless junk lawsuits.

* Definitions of nutter:
1) From Wikipedia--Particularly in the UK, people with mental disorders are often nicknamed nutters. In general, the word describes a person who behaves erratically or abnormally. The word was probably made popular by Jasper Carrott in his "Nutter on the Bus" routine.

2) From Answers.com--a person who is regarded as eccentric or mad
Synonyms: wacko, whacko

Friday, January 26, 2007

A better NRA (and I don't mean a "kinder, gentler" one)

As an NRA member, currently paying on a life membership, I am grateful for what the NRA has done for gun rights in this country, but that certainly does not mean that I agree with every move the NRA makes. Their tepid (at best) support for Ron Paul in last November's election, and their enthusiastic support of an expansion of the NICS system are a couple examples of moves on their part that I find utterly incomprehensible.

Basically, as glad as I am for the NRA, I think the organization could better serve the gun community in the U.S. (and thus better serve America in general) if they did some things differently. Lacking the eloquence of L. Neil Smith, rather than try to outline what I think the NRA should do to improve its representation of gun owners, and its defense of the Second Amendment, I will instead ask that anyone who reads this to also read his excellent "Am I the NRA?" essay.

Mr. Smith's NRA would be a lean, mean, Constitution defending machine, with a stripped down bureaucracy and a take no prisoners, no compromise attitude. His NRA would not be beholden to any particular political party--actually, he says this so well, I have to quote it:

ELEVENTH, I'd want the NRA to make endorsements based on the candidate's respect for the Second Amendment, regardless of his affiliation or its estimate of his chances. It's suicidal—if only because it denies us leverage we'd otherwise possess over the Republicans—to say a third party candidate can't win, and on that self-fulfilling basis, withhold endorsement that could give him, and us, a victory. If "NRA" stands for "National Republican Association" let it be said plainly and stop what amounts to a consumer fraud. If not, then if a candidate's unwilling to be photographed for public consumption firing a machine gun, a semiautomatic rifle with a long, curved magazine, or a pistol with a fat, two-column grip, he can't be trusted whatever his affiliation, and shouldn't be endorsed.

I am the NRA (and GOA, and SAF, and CCRKBA), but I would feel better about myself if I were Mr. Smith's NRA.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Gun rights--another casualty in the "War on Terror?"

Today in one of the forums on which I spend an inordinate amount of time, a member from the Philippines asked if there might be a new law that makes on-line purchase of gun parts illegal (or at least difficult). He wants to buy a set of wooden grips for his 1911 pistol. The company (in the U.S.) from which he normally makes such purchases apparently told him that they would no longer conduct such transactions, because they have gotten to be too awkward.

I posted a reply, telling him I knew of no such law. Another forum member helpfully suggested he get in contact directly with the manufacturer of the grips he wants (they do direct sales), and ask them. The prospective buyer replied that due to the large time zone differential, he could not immediately contact the manufacturer, so the member who had recommended he do so made a call on his behalf.

The person to whom he spoke told him that the company no longer conducts international sales because the paperwork has become too onerous, and that they worry about getting "flagged" by the Department of Homeland Security.

What a nation of frightened little mice this once great country has become. Mind you, I'm not really blaming the manufacturer here--I suspect they have valid reasons for their grossly excessive caution. What I am decrying is the atmosphere of fear that our government has fostered--fear that selling something as innocuous as wooden pistol grips to someone in another country could put an American company on a "list" as violators of "homeland security." We are coming to fear our own government and its excesses in providing for our "security"--and those fears may be well founded.

If this is what we have come to, I would say that the terrorists have already succeeded in badly damaging our way of life, and our government seems to be helping them do so--or is it that the terrorists have given the government an excuse to do something it had wanted to do all along?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Bloomberg threatens lawmakers--I'm sure they're terrified

Monday, I mentioned Michael Bloomberg's gaggle of like-minded Constitution-hating mayors, and their intention to intimidate legislators into advancing the mayors' civilian disarmament agenda on a national scale. Bloomberg is clearly a man who likes power, more power than comes with the office of mere mayor of one city, so (not being a national legislator himself) he has taken to the strategy of trying to bully those who actually do write the laws that govern our nation.

His bombastic threat that he would "remember" any Congressman who votes to protect the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms came at a summit yesterday of many of the mayors from his "Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition." Speaking of "illegal guns," I can't help but notice that in the interests of political correctness, we are not to use the term "illegal aliens" (presumably out of concern for the feelings of criminals who invade our country). It seems to me that the term "illegal guns" is just as prejudicial and unfair--therefore, I believe we should abandon the use of that pejorative term, and replace it with "undocumented firearms."

Perhaps more important than the terminology used by the civilian disarmament lobby is their strategy. They push for every kind of restriction on private firearm ownership they think they can ram through, be it on the type of firearms one can buy, how many, where one can keep them, etc. Such laws serve the anti-rights agenda directly, of course, but also in that with every additional law, there are more laws to be broken, and thus more laws that are broken, and thus more "illegal guns," requiring still more laws, to rein in the "scourge of illegal guns." It's brilliant really--a self-perpetuating system of laws that create a "need" for more laws.

Bloomberg and his stooges need to go back to their cities, and if those cities have a violent crime problem, they need to work to fix the socio-economic issues that are at the root of the violence. Every second they spend hurling empty threats at Congress, to fix a mythical "gun problem," or face Bloomberg's impotent wrath, is time wasted.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

An Omen of Things to Come?

Were real life only more like the universe in the Terminator films, the anti-rights leadership in Illinois would have cause for a grand celebration. In the movies, all the machines had to do was get rid of John Connor, and the human resistance was guaranteed to collapse. Well, the patriots in Illinois have a John of our own. John Birch has been a respected member of the gun owning community in this state for many years, and the time has finally come for him to leave. The only difference between Illinois gun owners and the humans from the Terminator movies is that after John Birch moves on, our movement isn’t going to collapse.

John Birch, a resident of the Chicago suburb Oak Brook, has been a vocal advocate for restoring Second Amendment rights to the citizens of Illinois. Although his methods have been criticized, and many have recoiled from his abrasive rhetoric, I am proud to count him as a compatriot. A veteran of the 82nd Airborne Division and a federal firearms licensee, John was an oasis of reason and rational arguments in a region of the state notorious for anti-gun political showmanship and a spawning ground for draconian gun control legislation. Unfortunately, factually based advocacy is not yet a match for the media hysteria, indoctrination, and blatant lies the other side so adeptly spews forth. This was explicitly clear after the 2006 elections, in which Rod Blagojevich’s expenditure of nearly 20 million dollars on negative campaign ads earned him a second term. For another four years (or until he is indicted by federal authorities), Illinois once again must bear the disgrace of having not only the most corrupt and incompetent governor in the Union, but also the most ravenously anti-Second Amendment. John, as have undoubtedly thousands of other honest Illinois residents, simply had enough, and he intends to move to Florida.

As a law-abiding gun owner, it’s a smart move. Florida is one of the 48 states in which there is a statutory provision for citizens to carry a concealed firearm. John also won’t have to register with the state police down there and purchase an ID from the government in order to exercise his right to own, carry, or use a firearm. He won’t be subjected to a deluge of legislative attacks year after year under the guise of “making communities safer” and “keeping guns off the streets”. However, unlike in Illinois, if a journalist in Florida alleged that John could purchase a military assault weapon – he would actually be correct. Although there are three significant federal laws that must be observed (the 1934 NFA, the 1968 GCA, and the 1986 FOPA), it will be perfectly legal for John to own a fully automatic weapon (i.e. a machine gun!) once he establishes residency in Florida. In spite of all this, of course, Florida is still a safer place to live than Chicago. Given that the latter has among the strictest gun control laws in the nation, it’s understandable that civil-disarmament advocates such as Thomas Mannard, the President of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, are continually reluctant to offer an explanation for this disparity. What Mannard does contribute to the debate is a dose of arrogant gloating:

“With Mr. Birch, I think he was realizing he didn't want to go through another four years of futility.”

Having been involved in the battle to restore our rights, I can empathize. It is the epitome of frustration to see elected officials ignore feedback from their constituents and mountains of evidence, issue wildly misleading public statements, and shamelessly exploit tragedy to promote their disarmament agendas – using the same tired clich├ęs of saving the children and getting tough on crime. And there is no doubt about it, John was in the trenches. He has earned the right to be discouraged. If he wants to pass on the torch and exercise his rights freely elsewhere, I wish him well.

The Gun Guys, naturally, made no attempt to conceal their unbridled glee and even speculated as to the ramifications of John’s departure:

Concealed Carry is shuttering its doors not because they were beaten by a group fighting gun violence, but because they were beaten by the people of Illinois. The majority of citizens in Illinois are against concealed carry, just as the majority of Americans at large are against it. You were fighting the will of the public, and the will of the public won.

Concealed carry is dead in Illinois. And it’s wearing out its welcome everywhere else the NRA has pushed it through, past an unwilling populace.”

A more accurate assessment would be that a majority of citizens don’t care about concealed carry, and their apathy allows the likes of Mayor Daley, Rod Blagojevich, and their allies in the legislature to perpetuate the myth that empowering people to take responsibility for their own safety is somehow an extreme position. As I pointed out before, it is the norm in 48 states. The elitist view held by a powerful (albeit not omnipotent) bloc of politicians in Illinois that “regular” citizens are too stupid and irresponsible to be entrusted with carrying a handgun is outside the mainstream.

What might be even more alarming to Mannard and the Gun Guys is that there are tens of thousands of honest gun owners in Illinois who are already picking up where John left off. Rather than dashing around like a headless chicken in its death throes, our movement is more organized and motivated than ever before. We have stalwart allies of our own in the General Assembly, as well as some new friends. People are becoming increasingly aware that having their rights legislated away is not the solution to criminal behavior. These people are righteously outraged and are becoming involved with our movement.

Concealed carry may not be a reality yet, but the cause is still very much alive. When it does finally happen in Illinois, knowing that we prevailed in spite of the obstacles will make the inevitable triumph all the more significant.

IGOLD: A call to arms in Illinois

I hope I'll be forgiven for discussing a topic that will probably have little relevance for anyone not living in Illinois. I, alas, am among that most disenfranchised and downtrodden minority--I am an Illinoisan-American, and a gun owner. Illinois, you see, is quite different from the actual United States, where the fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution. Here, due to the enormously disproportionate influence wielded by crime-ridden Chicago over the rest of the state, the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms shall be infringed pretty much to the despots' hearts' content. Legal self-defense is little more than a fantasy, and new laws restricting every aspect of private ownership of firearms are piled on in almost every legislative session. Our governor has publicly stated that he wants it to be difficult to own a gun, and a state senator has compared gun owners to sex offenders.

Perhaps that can be changed, though. Through the very hard work of some of my friends at Illinois Carry, and with the indispensible aid of Illinois activist groups like the Illinois State Rifle Association and Guns Save Life (formerly the Champaign County Rifle Association, and generous sponsorship from Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms, Illinois gun owners are going to have a voice in Springfield.

March 14, 2007 is Illinois Gun Owners Lobby Day (IGOLD). Illinois legislators need to learn that a significant number of their constituents are tired of wondering when our lawfully acquired property will suddenly become illegal; we're outraged that our home state is one of only two in the U.S. that makes no provision for regular, law-abiding citizens to carry a defensive firearm; and that we are no longer going to sit quietly, and take it like good, polite little sheep.

To help with transportation to Springfield, the organizers have arranged for bus transportation to IGOLD and back (schedule), and here's the schedule in pdf format. I have added links to this information to the sidebar, and will keep it there until the big day.

If we are to bring the Second Amendment back to Illinois, it's going to take a vast amount of work. But at least we have a ride to the job site. Hope to see you there.

Monday, January 22, 2007

March of the Illegal Coalition of Mayors against guns (or something like that)

Today, the gun rights deprivation lobby is on the march, hoping that their ability to impose their civilian disarmament agenda on America will be greater than it has been the last few years, now that both houses of Congress are controlled by the Democratic Party. Leading the way is The Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, which seems to be Mayor Bloomberg's favorite way of avoiding the real responsibilities inherent to the job of being mayor of a large city. This group of geniuses is, according to the story, holding a national summit tomorrow in Washington D.C., and then having their winter meeting the next day. The article does not mention if the 123 mayors the group claims as members on its website includes Jared Fuhriman, the mayor of Idaho Falls, who just quit, under intense pressure from his constituents, because of the threat the group poses to Constitutional rights, or Mayor Frank Melton, of Jackson, Mississippi, who although (like Bloomberg, et al) a big supporter of disarming the general public, has pleaded guilty to carrying a gun illegally himself.

The Brady Bunch is, of course, thrilled with the idea of this gaggle of power-hungry mayors trying to impose their will over the entire country, and have issued one of their "reports" about it.

The report, Shady Dealings: Illegal Gun Trafficking from Licensed Gun Dealers, documents more than two-dozen cases of illegal gun trafficking from dealers across the country. In each case, gunrunners were prosecuted, but the dealers who supplied them suffered no legal sanctions.
What their little report fails to mention is that most of the "shady" dealings they want licensed dealers prosecuted for (allowing the purchase of multiple handguns in a single transaction, repeat purchases, multiple sales of the same model gun, and gun sales at gun shows) are entirely legal. They apparently want dealers to face prosecution for the "crime" of not reading purchasers' minds for criminal intent.

One would hope that Congress has the wisdom to send these fools packing.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

There's still a bit too much freedom in Maryland--but the state Senate is working on fixing that

The anti-Constitution crowd in Maryland hasn't yet managed to pass a statewide ban on so-called "assault weapons," but they certainly keep trying. This year, a bill that would do so has been introduced by the newly elected Senator Mike Lenett.

Brian Fosh, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee Chairman, is 100% on board with the idea:

"I’m for it. There’s no reason in the world why people need to have these guns on the streets," Frosh said.
Ah, yes--the always popular "a right you say we don't need is no right at all" argument. For that matter, Brian, there's no reason in the world people need to vote, or to petition the government, or to do anything else protected by the Constitution--I guess you can ignore the whole thing if you want.

Senator Robert Garagiola, lead sponsor of a similar bill in the past, laments the fact that many of the people of the state (you know--the people who are supposedly represented by these jackbooted clowns) are opposed to it:
"This state is a conservative state overall, and ... there are many aspects of the state where there are just stronger Second Amendment sentiments," he said.
"Stronger Second Amendment sentiments," eh? There's another, less awkward way of saying that--more patriotism. He goes on to explain why those holding these "stronger Second Amendment sentiments" are in error.
"But I think a line needs to be drawn somewhere. These don’t need to be available for the public."
So . . . not only should arbitrary limits be placed on the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, but you drones should be the ones to decide just where those limits should be placed. And that placement, apparently, comes back again to your side's favorite argument about what firearms the rest of us need (according to you).

Lenett, apparently worried that Garagiola was stealing the spotlight for most idiotic pomposity, had more to say.
"It’s the responsibility of every public representative to lead their constituents," Lenett said.
No, Mike--the responsibility of a public representative is to represent the public (hence the term "representative"--starting to make sense yet?). Another term for public representative is public servant--your job is to serve the public. If you were hoping to "lead" by imposing laws on people who do not wish such laws, then you took office in a country with the wrong kind of Constitution. Sounds as if you need to find someplace to set up a nice, cozy little dictatorship. Good luck with that, and please send us a postcard to let us know how it's going.

Finally, Lenett gives us his take on the Second Amendment (and it's every bit as fascinating as you no doubt expected it to be).
"I recognize that the Second Amendment provides some gun ownership rights, and I wouldn’t infringe on those. But I don’t believe that any self-respecting hunter needs a military-style assault weapon."
Gee, thanks for "recognizing" that, Mike, but no thanks. First, the Second Amendment, like every other part of the Bill of Rights, doesn't "provide" anything--it guarantees a fundamental, natural (or God-given, for those inclined to look at it from the angle of religious faith) right. Second, my copy of the Constitution must be defective--it doesn't say anything about "the right of the people to keep and bear some kinds of arms . . . ," or "the right of some of the people to keep and bear arms . . . ," and it says "shall not be infringed"--not "shall not be utterly ignored." Third, infringing on those is exactly what your bill is designed to do. Fourth, regardless of what you "believe" about what we "need" (the "need" argument once again), so-called "military-style assault weapons" fulfill a variety of uses for civilians, from target shooting, to home defense, to deterring would-be tyrants. Lastly, what the hell do hunters ("self-respecting" or otherwise) have to do with the Second Amendment?

I wonder if the voters of Maryland realize that the Senator they elected seems to think he has been raised to a position of sovereignty over his "subjects."

Friday, January 19, 2007

Reading comprehension problems (and/or plain old honesty problems) from the civilian disarmament crowd--what a surprise

A couple days ago, I mentioned an op-ed piece in the New York Times, written by Glenn Reynolds. Another person who took note of the piece was John Whiteside, who clearly was considerably less pleased about Reynolds' conclusions than I was.

The issue he chose to address was Reynolds' assertion that the crime rate in Kennesaw, Georgia dropped significantly soon after the gun ownership requirement ordinance was passed.

"The only problem is that it's not actually true. Courtesy of blogger Tim Lambert:

Here are the actual numbers (from Sociology & Social Research v74:1 p51)

Kennesaw Burglaries 1976-1986
76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 48 85 86
41 21 22 35 35 54 35 35 29 32 70

The Kennesaw law was passed on March 15, 1982 and pretty clearly had no effect on the burglary rate.

The problem with your riposte, John, is that Reynolds never claimed that burglaries, specifically, decreased--he asserted that crime, in general, did. You do, I trust, realize that burglary is not the only crime in our society.

Actually, one of Whiteside's readers made that very point in the comment section, but Mr. Whiteside, our intrepid pro-civilian disarmament blogger, was ready for him:
"Well, except that Reynolds talks specifically about burglaries at some length in his piece. So if you don't like that measure, ask him why he staked his argument on that claim."
Some length? Burglary was mentioned in two sentences, and one of those dealt specifically with "hot" burglaries (those in which the burglar is fully aware that the house is occupied), and the fact that those occurred more rarely in the U.S. as a whole than in countries with more restrictive laws regarding firearm ownership. Reynolds never claimed that Kennesaw's burglary rate went down in response to the firearm requirement law. In other words, he "staked his argument" on no such claim. "Whoops," yourself, Whiteside.

If you're going to argue with what someone says, then have the intellectual honesty, the moral courage, and the common decency to argue with what he actually says.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Mayor and police superintendent of New Orleans still violating rights, breaking laws

The Second Amendment Foundation has made every effort to work with Mayor Nagin and Police Superintendent Riley to right the wrongs committed against the lawful gun owners of New Orleans, but in their arrogance, Nagin and Riley continue to defy both the court and common decency. It seems that SAF's patience has finally run out.

Actually, the actions of the city defy a lot of things, including belief. First, at a time when the only law in New Orleans was the Law of the Jungle, and the people most needed the means to protect themselves, the city decided that the Constitution doesn't apply in times of particularly unpleasant weather, thus allowing them to bestow upon themselves the power to confiscate firearms from law-abiding citizens. Then, in response to the outcry raised by SAF and NRA, they denied the confiscations ever took place, despite photographs and video footage of just such horrors (and despite Riley publicly stating, "No one will be able to be armed. We are going to take all the weapons.").

Eventually, faced with the threat of being found in contempt, they "discovered" that "Oops!"--they had confiscated weapons, after all. They then promised to start returning the illegally confiscated property, but have continually used every stall tactic they can come up with to avoid doing so. They have disobeyed legal deadlines, and have shown that only the fear of direct legal action has the power to move them.

So be it--the time has come for them to reap what they have sown.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

No household left unarmed

The New York Times is one of the last places I would expect to find an op-ed piece extolling the virtues of private ownership of firearms, much less mandatory private ownership of firearms, but, wonder of wonders, that's what I found yesterday.

The piece is about communities that pass laws requiring (or at least encouraging) every household to maintain at least one firearm and ammunition. Probably the best known example of this is Kennesaw, Georgia, where such a law was passed in 1982. As the auther, Glenn Reynolds, points out, Kennesaw's passage of such a law was in response to the passage of a law in Morton Grove, Illinois banning all private handgun ownership. Most interestingly, Kennesaw experienced a significant drop in crime, while Morton Grove residents were not nearly so fortunate.

Reynolds points out that laws like this in Kennesaw, or the new one in Greenleaf, Idaho, are rarely, if ever, enforced (Greenleaf's version isn't mandatory, anyway), and probably do little to change firearm ownership numbers (towns that pass them tend to be in areas where firearm ownership is already quite high--80% in the case of Greenleaf). Greenleaf also had already enjoyed a very low crime rate, with the most violent offense in the last two years being a fist fight (hmm--80% gun ownership and almost zero violence--so much for the "guns beget gun violence" myth).

What he also points out, though, is that these laws don't need to be enforced to have a positive effect. People with bad intentions tend to know that things are likely to go badly for them in a town where the prevailing attitude is such that the law-abiding citizens are expected to have the means to use deadly force to protect themselves and their families.

Other communities would do well to heed the lessons learned by the passage of these ordinances (and the contrasting lessons we can learn from places whose strict gun laws have, at best, no effect on crime, and at worst actually invite it). As Reynolds points out, such a lesson could give a brand new meaning to the term "gun control" (or perhaps a 200 year old meaning--as the concept of the citizen militia is revived).

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Does the "most hated federal agency in America" have any redeeming features?

I've made no secret of my disdain and antipathy for the BATFE, and that I, in fact, believe that the United States would be a far better place if the entire agency simply marched out of the country, and set up shop in a society where their jack booted thuggery would fit in better. I hear Iran could always use more secret policemen.

The BATFE is, of course, justifiably (in)fmaous for it's grossly abusive treatment of Americans in general, but what I hadn't realized was how horrificly the agency treats its own employees. For example, with knowledge of credible threats to one of their best agents (and his family), they didn't even bother to warn him. Here's just a sample of their treatment of Agent Jay Dobyns:

The grievance said that after the threats came in, the ATF's Office of Operations Security prepared a risk analysis, placing the danger level at "critical." A list of safety measures was drawn up. Yet, according to Dobyns' filings, administrators disputed the danger and denied protections.

"The ATF Field Division was clearly aware of threats," Dobyns wrote in his grievance. "This apathetic attitude . . . is, at a minimum, malfeasance of their office and a dereliction of their duties."

In one instance, Dobyns claimed, the ATF failed to warn him that a prison inmate had discussed plans to kill him and torture his teenage daughter.

"I have served ATF faithfully for over 19 years," Dobyns wrote. "For this, I have been subjected to a calculated attack by members of ATF management."
Dobyns is (justifiably) suing the BATFE for their combination of incompetence and vindictiveness. Many other employees, past and present, are doing the same (Dobyns' attorney alone is representing, or has represented about 25 such people) .

If these wronged employees win (and I hope they do), it's the taxpayers, of course, who will foot the bill. That, of course, is not the only waste of tax money perpetrated by F-Troop.
Other bureau employees, some of whom have similar problems with the ATF, say Dobyns' transformation from hero to scapegoat is just one example of mismanagement that pervades the agency.
Such as . . .
Such criticisms are supported, at least in part, by the government. A 173-page inspector general's report faulted former ATF Director Carl Truscott, who resigned in August, for misconduct.

Among the conclusions: Truscott overspent on a lavish new headquarters, improperly used employees to help with his nephew's high school documentary and squandered resources on a personal protection team. Perhaps more telling than that behavior, according to the report, was Truscott's dishonesty and finger-pointing when confronted.

The inspector general's probe was prompted by an anonymous letter written by midlevel managers at the ATF, assailing their boss. In the aftermath, line agents wrote a second letter saying those supervisors were equally guilty of mismanagement.

The condemnations are hardly new. In a blistering 1995 report, Time magazine described the ATF as 'the most hated federal agency in America . . . a divided and troubled agency far more likely to abuse the rights of its own employees than those of law-abiding citizens.' The overall finding: The ATF's in-house scandals and abuses impaired its law enforcement mission.
The BATFE is a rogue agency whose primary purpose is the enforcement of unconstitutional laws. The agency is bad for tax payers, bad for even its own employees, and most of all, bad for America.

Monday, January 15, 2007

No more "lesser of evils"

I've mentioned before the depth of my admiration for Ron Paul. There is no one in Congress who has been a stronger advocate of gun rights--actually, I suspect that there are none who even match him in that regard.

Gun rights are only one issue, of course, albeit an issue of enormous importance to me. Perhaps, then, it would be better to describe Dr. Paul not as the best gun rights advocate in Congress, but as simply the best citizen's rights advocate. Dr. Paul has, for all his nine terms in Congress, fought for a return to the Constitutional principles upon which this country was founded, and which it has long since largely abandoned. The proud republic that was a beacon of freedom at its formation is now characterized by a bloated, arrogant government, constantly worsening encroachment on the freedoms and privacy of the citizenry, and spiraling deficit spending leading to a national debt of nearly 9 trillion dollars (or about $30,000 for each man, woman, and child).

As one (perhaps the only one) voice of sanity in our legislature, Dr. Paul's ability to halt this decay, or even slow it down, has been minimal. So when I read that he is considering a presidential run (registration required), I saw a glimmer of hope for this country. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, Mitt Romney--all slightly different flavors of the same kind of poison we've been spoon-fed for decades.

Ron Paul is the antidote. 2012 might be too late to change our downward course.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Akins Accelerator update

Back in December, I discussed the actions of our favorite jack booted thugs, with regard to the Akins Accelerator. Over at Hairy Hobbit's Hideaway I see there have been new developments in that story (and they're not good).

This link to the Akins website contains their own updates. There, you will find a link to the BATFE's new ruling--as opposed to the old ruling, in which the device was not considered a machine gun (since, you know, it isn't one). I've read the new ruling several times, and I still can't say I quite follow it. It seems that they've chosen to make up their own, brand spankin' new definition of what constitutes a trigger-pull--a definition that doesn't get hung up on silly, outdated concepts like logic.

There's also a link to a "compliance plan," whereby owners of an Akins Accelerator can appease the BATFE, and thus (hopefully) avoid a midnight visit from their stormtroopers. The plan involves removing the spring that operates the device, and sending it to F-Troop (thus rendering the $1000 purchase an utter waste of cash--basically, it's government mandated theft).

So much for a government "of the people, by the people, for the people."

Friday, January 12, 2007

Looney proposal in Connecticut

Connecticut state Senator (and Senate majority leader) Martin M. Looney (I'm not making that up--that's really his name) plans to introduce a bill that would attack gun rights on an impressively broad front.

The bill (I'll call it the Looney Bill) would threaten victims of crime with criminal charges, in that failure to report a stolen gun within "a reasonable amount of time" (whatever that means) would itelf be a criminal offense. Even if "reasonable" is defined, there is no word on how police or prosecutors are expected to ascertain when the rightful owner discovered the theft (and thus when to start the "reasonable" clock).

A second provision of the bill would limit law-abiding citizens to one handgun purchase per month. This kind of restriction has become quite popular with the gun rights deprivation extremists, the theory apparently being that the best way to get a handle on violent crime is to limit the rights of law-abiding, peacable citizens. Makes sense to me.

The bill also has some Looney ammunition restrictions--the requirement for a state-issued license for retailers that sell ammunition, and the requirement for a state handgun permit (as far as I can tell, Connecticut doesn't require a permit to merely purhase or possess a handgun, only to carry one in public--and the carry permit is issued at the discretion of the police, so this bill would make it possible to deny a law-abiding citizen a way to buy ammunition). One of the problems with legislation regarding "handgun ammunition" is that there is a good deal of overlap between handgun ammunition and rifle ammunition. For example, carbines can be had in calibers (like 9mm, .45 ACP, .44 Magnum, and many others) that are normally thought of as pistol calibers. Likewise, there are pistols chambered in just about any caliber you could name, including the elephant gun caliber, .600 Nitro Express!

Despite all these problems with the Looney Bill (and I've only scratched the surface), it has apparently found some support among Looney allies:

Looney was joined by other legislators including Rep. William M. Tong, D-Stamford, who said he had personal experience with threatened gun violence. His mother was robbed at the family's store in Manchester three years ago by a robber who implied he had a gun. The assailant actually had a knife, Tong said, and his mother was stabbed repeatedly but survived.

It is not just the possession of guns, but the threat of guns that affects people in Connecticut, "including my family, Tong said.
Let's see if I have this straight--his mother is menaced by a punk who claims to have a gun (but doesn't), and who stabs her with the knife that he did have, and this genius believes that the solution is to make gun and ammunition purchases more difficult for the law-abiding citizens (you know--the ones who would actually obey the proposed law). I would think that the thug's implication that he had a gun posed a much smaller danger to her than the reality of his possession of a knife, and his willingness to use it. Besides, no one really believes that any number of gun laws will make a criminal's possession of a gun so unlikely that one need not take seriously a criminal's threat that he has one--so spare me that garbage about "the threat of guns that affects people in Connecticut." Also, how would her disbelief of his claim that he had a gun have protected her from multiple stabbings? Finally, it seems to me that had the victim had a gun, she may very well have come through this frightening incident with nary a scratch, and perhaps a thug would have been taken out of circulation permanently, without even burdening the criminal justice system.

I know just where this bill ought to be filed--the Looney Bin.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The "problem" of athletes exercising their Constitutional rights

Ever since the release of a recent story from ESPN about athletes who have chosen not to be unarmed, various articles and editorials have been written about the "problem" of athletes with guns. Why it's worse for athletes to be armed than it is for the rest of us, I'm not sure, but since I'm a fat paraplegic, and thus about as far from athletic as a person who is still breathing can be, I guess they're not so upset about my firearms.

Anyway, this opinion piece expresses even more than the usual amount of disapproval of this phenomenon. In reference to the Chicago Bears' "Tank" Johnson's gun related legal problems he had this to say:

Why Tank Johnson or any athlete would ever need so much protection is beyond me. Though athletes are public figures, they don't need to be armed like Tony Montana was at the end of "Scarface" just to stay safe.
The odd thing is that in the very next paragraph, he illustrates exactly why athletes would seek ways to defend themselves:
Unfortunately, recent events have shown that athletes can be targets, regardless of their fame. In the past three months, two football players have been shot and killed: Denver Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams and University of Miami defensive lineman Bryan Pata.
The point I would like to bring attention to is that professional athletes are wealthy people. They can afford to hire bodyguards, and to live in gated communities, with extensive security. Yet still they find themselves in situations where they may have to defend themselves and/or their families.

Most of the rest of us don't enjoy the luxury of being able to afford such security. How much greater, then, is our need for recognition of our basic, universal, fundamental right to self-defense?

There isn't a "problem" of athletes having access to firearms--the problem is that many of the rest of us have to jump through so many hoops to exercise our right to defend ourselves.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Chicago's Mayor Daley still trying to disarm the entire state

Daley, not content with disarming only the citizens of his crime ridden sewer of a city, is once again pushing to inflict Chicago's draconian gun rights deprivation policies on the entire state. Predictably, the Chicago Sun-Times is goose stepping in lock-step with him.

The Sun-Times doesn't waste any time making clear where it stands on the issue of the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms--the editorial is titled "Legislature should take aim at assault weapon horrors." Now that's balanced journalism for you, isn't it? I realize that this is an editorial, and thus should not be held to the same standards of objectivity as one might expect of a news article, but certainly they could have come up with something less exploitively lurid than that.

In reading it, we are told that the statement that so-called "assault weapons" are very rarely used in violent crime is a lie. To illustrate this statement, they mention one death, in which the fatal bullet came from a semi-automatic copy of the AK-47 (actually, the editorial fails to mention that the firearm involved was a semi-automatic copy, and calls it an AK-47--which has a fully automatic fire capability, and is already fully illegal in Illinois, and tightly controlled everywhere else in the country). Apparently, one criminal thug's misuse of a type of firearm is enough to prove that no one should be permitted to own any similar firearm, the Constitution notwithstanding. Never mind that the weapon was bought in Indiana, therefore making an Illinois ban on such firearms irrelevant--such awkward facts are best ignored.

Daley's proposed restrictions include onerous state licensing for gun dealers, in addition to the already overly burdensome federal licensing requirements, a ban on private sales of firearms, so you can't sell your own gun without going through someone else--no doubt with a stiff transfer fee (and probably a tax for the state) involved, a law requiring guns to be locked up (and thus useless for self-defense) if people under the age of 18 are in the house, etc.

Even the Sun-Times had issues with one of King Richard's proposals. He wants to suspend the driver's licenses of people charged with certain gun offenses (and he seems to want to make thinking about guns a "gun crime").

We're not sure suspending or revoking a driver's license is an appropriate measure. Yes, that would hit some violators where it hurts. As Daley said, "People love their cars." They love shopping, too. Are we going to take away their credit cards? Besides, taking away driver's licenses might only lead to an increase in illegal -- and uninsured -- drivers on the roads. People who flash assault weapons are hardly going to be cowed by road regulations.
Those are good points. Another might be that if we actually want someone who gets in trouble with the law to reintegrate into society and become a productive citizen (we do want that, don't we?), it would seem that we want the person to be employable. An extended driver's license suspension would seem to have the opposite effect.

Daley's proposed laws have nothing to do with safety (except that by reducing availability of firearms to law-abiding citizens, the public is rendered helpless, and thus less safe), and everything to do with the government seizing a monopoly on force.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

(Dis)arming for the War on Terror

Recently, my attention was brought to this remarkable proposal--repealing (or at least "scaling back") the Second Amendment, as part of the "fight" against terrorism. The good folks at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) argue that "terrorist sleeper cells" might be "quietly amassing handguns and assault rifles, and planning suicide shooting rampages in our malls."

Their solution, apparently, is to make the legal purchase of firearms in the U.S. impossible, or at least vastly more difficult, in order to thwart these scary "sleeper cells." The article doesn't mention how this would help with the guns the terrorists have already "amassed." Perhaps more importantly, it remains silent about the fact that any kind of wholesale civilian disarmament program, even if it were somehow possible (it isn't), would then render the public helpless, unable to defend themselves from the very danger of terrorists with guns.

Anyone who truly believes our shopping malls face a scourge of gun toting terrorists (a scenario that I, personally, find rather unlikely) would be better served by a strategy directly opposed to civilian disarmament. Leave the terrorists with no "soft" targets. Pass a national concealed carry reciprocity bill. Rescind restrictions on fully automatic weapons (NFA, Hughes Amendment to FOPA, etc.). The ISPU article borrowed a scenario straight out of a Tom Clancy novel, but neglected to mention how the attack on the shopping mall was stopped--by shoppers with concealed firearms.

The writers of the ISPU article do make one point with which I heartily agree:

This leads to a bigger policy issue. In the post 9/11 world where supposedly "everything has changed," perhaps it is time for Americans to reconsider the value of public gun ownership.
Precisely--we should take a good, hard look at the value of being equipped to respond to deadly threats with deadly force of our own--and then go shopping (AR-15s make wonderful belated Christmas gifts).

By the way, I somehow managed to miss the fact that this has already been discussed in some detail over at Hairy Hobbit's Hideaway.

Monday, January 08, 2007

NRA wants to "improve" NICS, but there's a (much) better way

The NRA would like to improve the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System). Certainly, it needs improvement--very often it is anything but "instant," people who have every legal right to purchase firearms are often erroneously prevented from doing so (at least in a timely manner), and it could be used as the basis for a national registry of gun purchases.

H.R. 297 would address some of those issues, but certainly not all of them, especially (and most importantly) the last. Also of concern is the fact that H.R. 297 is supported (and in fact co-sponsored by) notorious civilian disarmament advocate Carolyn McCarthy, because it is actually a massive expansion of the current NICS system.

Rather than trying to "improve" NICS, let's scrap it entirely, and replace it with BIDS , which would make sure a prospective gun buyer is legally allowed to do so, but would not provide the government with nearly as much information on which it could base a gun purchase database.

We can do better than "improving" NICS.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Civilian disarmament advocates eagerly awaiting "something horrible" to happen

Mayor Greg Nickels, of Seattle, is (once again) pushing for draconian, ineffectual gun laws statewide (which, fortunately, don't appear likely, because most of the state knows better). Nickels gleefully exploits every shooting in the Seattle area--the higher profile, the better--in hopes of fueling his jihad against private ownership of firearms.

Nickels has at least one ally, in his agenda, in Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske. It's interesting that the good police chief would be so intent on keeping firearms out of criminal hands, considering the fact that his rather questionable stewardship of his service sidearm helped arm the criminal underworld

The first article I linked to very obviously shares the viewpoint of most of the people interviewed, and laments the fact that so-called "common sense gun laws" have so little chance of passage in Washington State. One of the people interviewed is Bryan Jones, director of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy at the University of Washington. He, apparently, is so distressed about Washington legislators' unwillingness to attack the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, that he thinks it will take a massacre of children to bring about "progress."

"I hate to say it but it's going to take the kind of massacre that kills lots of children. That's the only way we are going to see progress," Jones said.

"I think it's got to be worse than (Columbine). I mean, you didn't see anything in Colorado" in substantive new gun control laws after 15 people were killed at Columbine High School in 1999.
The gun rights deprivation lobby tends to shriek, and stomp their little jackbooted feet, when Constitutional advocates accuse them of dancing in the blood of victims of "gun violence," but this is not the first time they've expressed the need for more tragic, high-profile shootings to help advance their agenda. In this piece, by the VPC, for example, they lament "the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority."

That's one difference (one of many) between the civilian disarmament advocates and those of us who support Constitutional rights--we are saddened, horrified, and angered by senseless violence--they, apparently, see it as an opportunity.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Do the math--gun laws aren't the answer

I've posted before about the massive discrepancy between the hysterical, anguished bleatings of the civilian disarmament advocates, and the actual numbers that pertain to what they call "gun violence," but now that my attention has been brought to another article with some hard numbers, I thought it was worth a second look. The anti-rights crowd has been loudly pointing to the small increases in violent crime rates that have occurred over the last two years. They blame this, without providing any evidence whatsoever, on "increasingly weakened gun laws." They utterly ignore such vital factors as diversion of law enforcement resources to homeland security concerns, an increase in the relative population of young males in their prime "crime years," the high rate of recidivism among violent criminals (abetted by a criminal "justice" system that more closely resembles a catch and release program), etc.

They also ignore the fact that, compared to the dark days of the late 80's and early 90's, violent crime has dropped an astonishing 38%, concurrent with an increase of 70 million in the number of privately owned firearms. How can those numbers be reconciled with the rights deprivation lobby's breathless "more guns=more violence" mantra? They can't--which is why the Brady Bunch, the Violence Policy Center, and all the other civilian disarmament extremists try to ignore these numbers. But the numbers aren't going to go away.

The fact is, a the Centers for Disease Control could not find any connection between strict gun laws and reduced violence. The reason for their inability to find a connection is that no such connection exists.

It's difficult to imagine that the gun rights deprivation lobby is unaware of these studies, and the conclusions to be drawn from them. That raises the question, if they know more gun laws won't reduce violence, what is driving their agenda?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Somalis disinclined to be disarmed--can you blame them?

I've talked about gun "buy back" (what do they mean by "buy back," anyway--if the government buys something back, doesn't that imply that it was once previously the government's property) programs before, and I don't generally bother to hide my disdain for them. This travesty in Somalia, however, takes the idea to a new low. For one thing, the government isn't buying anything--the citizens are expected to give up their firearms--in many cases their most valuable possessions--for no compensation whatsoever. Citizens are simply told to turn in their weapons within three days--or else.

Even worse than the financial considerations, though, are the security concerns. In a region where political stability is a pipedream, rife with clan hatreds, with only a very weak central government to try to keep the peace, the only realistic way of providing safety for oneself and family is to retain a viable deadly force capability. Somalia, after all, isn't all that far from Rwanda, where, not so long ago, hundreds of thousands of people were massacred, most with machetes. Hardly an incentive to put one's guns down, is it?

The civilian disarmament advocates can't seem to get past the problem they have in telling people, "The world is a violent place--you must disarm," when any thinking person can clearly see that the correct response to violence is to retain the ability to defend oneself against it.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Armed and safe at The U

As of 2004, Utah law does not permit universities to ban possession of firearms on campus, and last fall, the Utah Supreme Court made that clear. Still, university bureaucrats being what they are, they're still fighting to keep the faculty, staff, and student body disarmed and helpless.

The reason the University of Utah wants to be able to ban guns is that . . . well, actually, I'm not sure why that's being pursued. It certainly doesn't seem to have anything to do with any (non-existent) spate of violence involving legally armed citizens in Utah schools.

So now, there is consideration of the possibility of introducing a bill that would permit universities to ban guns from at least parts of their campuses. Happily, some legislators are quite skeptical of such plans.

Yet other members of the work group aren't certain such a ban would ensure a safe campus environment.
"If I send my daughter to the U. and you take away her right to defend herself, what guarantee of safety can you give me?" asked Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, a West Valley City police officer.
Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Lehi, echoed his sentiments.
"If you take away people's right to protect themselves, then you have to assume the liability of protection," Madsen said.
Yeah, the gun ban supporters hate it what people bring that sort of thing up, because they don't really have an answer for it. They just can't seem to understand that laws are obeyed only by the law-abiding, while the folks who pose the threat (the criminals) are just pleased to have had their prospective victims disarmed.

A Utah Department of Public Safety official points out that legally armed citizens have not been a problem.
Gun rights supporters who are not part of the work group don't believe lawmakers should compromise.
"[The U.] lost at the Supreme Court level and they don't have the guts to take it to the federal court level," said Clark Aposhian, chairman of Utah's Department of Public Safety Concealed Carry Review Board. "I'm not willing to give them an inch when there is no problem. Until they show us a problem [with legally concealed weapons], we're not going to give these rights away."
Utah lawmakers did the right thing in 2004, and the Utah Supreme Court backed them on it last fall. Don't fix what ain't broken.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gun rights have nothing to do with "sporting purposes"

One of the many odious provisions of the National Firearms Act of 1934 is the classification of firearms whose barrels have a bore of greater than 1/2" as "destructive devices," thus subjecting them to the same kind of draconian regulation that is applied to machine guns. This, of course, would cover even politically correct hunting shotguns (since .410's are the only shotguns whose bores are less than 1/2"), so an exception was made for shotguns that the Secretary of the Treasury judges to be suitable for "sporting purposes." Presumably, the same kind of exemption applies to large bore big game rifles--.577 Tyrannosaur, .600 (and even .700) Nitro Express, etc.

The "sporting purposes" clause shows up elsewhere in regard to gun legislation--importation of guns of any caliber has been banned, if (again) the gun is not judged to be suitable for sport. This is how the bans on the importation of semi-automatic shotguns fed from detachable magazines (demonized as "streetsweepers"), semi-automatic rifles fed from detachable magazines (so-called "assault weapons"), and inexpensive handguns ("Saturday Night Specials") were implemented.

There are some problems with the idea of banning weapons based on their failure to be recognized as suitable for sporting purposes. First, that's a pretty subjective determination. There is a huge variety of shooting sports, and just about anything that shoots can be used for at least one of them.

More importantly, the Second Amendment has nothing to do with sports. That's why candidates for political office who claim that they support the Second Amendment, because they are avid hunters, are finding precious little support from the real advocates of gun rights. If I want a 20mm magazine fed rifle (they exist, by the way), it shouldn't make any difference whether or not the government thinks there is a recreational purpose for it.

The Second Amendment is the last line of defense against tyranny--when writing the Bill of Rights, the Founding Fathers had a bit more than sports on their minds. As far as I know, ESPN doesn't cover Major League Insurgency events, and Hank Williams Jr. doesn't prance around on Monday nights singing "Are You Ready for Some Revolution?".

Monday, January 01, 2007

Time for straight talk about the Second Amendment from the White House

Recently, I mentioned the Bush administration's apparent reversal of its former position that the Constitutionally guaranteed right to keep and bear arms is indeed an individual right, and not a "collective" one.

I am, once again, in debt to David Codrea's War on Guns blog, where he has posted an open letter to President Bush, asking for clarification on this vital issue. This is the letter he posted:

Dear Mr. President,

From Federal Register: December 15, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 241)
[Rules and Regulations]
[Page 75615-75645]
II.C.6: Security Requirements:

Additionally, nearly all courts have also held that the Second Amendment is a collective right, rather than a personal right. Therefore, despite the Second Amendment collective right to bear arms, the FAA has the authority to prohibit firearms on launch and reentry vehicles for safety and security purposes.

From Laura Montgomery
Senior Attorney
Office of the Chief Counsel
Federal Aviation Administration:

This rule, including its security requirements, underwent coordination and review within the executive branch. It was reviewed and approved by the Executive Office of the President.

From "President George W. Bush Speaks On The Record":

NRA: Also early on in your Administration, Attorney General John Ashcroft stated his view "that the text and the original intent of the Second Amendment clearly protect the right of individuals to keep and bear firearms." This was a clear reversal, was it not, of the Clinton Administration's position?

President Bush: It was a clear reversal. It was a position that needed to be reversed--—the prior Administration had taken the position that the Second Amendment only applies to state militias and doesn'’t protect an individual right to bear arms. My opponent issued a press release earlier this year supporting that exact same position. I know that'’s not what the Constitution says. The Constitution gives people a personal right to bear arms. So we did reverse the Clinton Administration'’s position, and I think that was the right thing to do.

Mr. President, is it still "the right thing to do"? Clearly, the language that the Senior Attorney, Office of the Chief Counsel for the FAA says was "reviewed and approved by the Executive Office of the President" directly contradicts your earlier stated position.

Some have suggested this is merely a bureaucratic oversight--a staffer issuing routine approval without a meticulous detail check and without your cognizance. Others fear it may signal a change in your administration's official position on the Second Amendment.

If it's the former, will you take immediate steps to revise the Final Rule and delete all references to "collective rights," as well as establish controls to prevent such oversights from happening in future rulemaking?

If it's the latter, will you issue a public explanation of your new position and the reasons behind it?

Your immediate attention and personal response to this matter will be appreciated.


David Codrea
I promise soon to start posting stuff of my own soon, and to stop following Mr. Codrea around like a puppy dog, but he keeps posting things that I find too important to not repeat. Mr. Codrea's excellent letter will be swept under the rug and ignored unless many others just like it are received. Please take a few minutes to compose your own letter or email (President@whitehouse.gov; comments@whitehouse.gov).

We need to nail this down, folks.