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.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Another international gun ban movement?

Way back last November, I wrote about the U.N.'s rather . . . peculiar position that there is no human right to self-defense (see Dave Kopel's excellent analysis). By taking this position, I suppose they hoped to bolster their case in the advancement of their civilian disarmament agenda.

Now, it's another international group that hopes to bestow on governments a monopoly on the use of force. This time, it's the Inter-Parliamentary Union in conjunction with the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue.

"The statistics are damning. There are currently an estimated 640 million small arms and light weapons in circulation, from handguns and assault rifles to shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles," Johnsson and Martin Griffiths of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue said in a joint statement.

"Most of this arsenal, or about 60 percent, is in the hands of civilians. Recent dramatic events have proved the urgent need for action," they added, noting that parliamentarians had a key role in gun control through drawing up national laws, improving implementation and enforcement, and leading public debate.
Hey, that's kinda cool--supposedly, there are 240 million privately owned firearms in the U.S., out of approximately 384 million (by the IPU's numbers) among all the world's civilians--meaning we own five out of every eight. I guess we would be the wrong folks to mess with.
Johnsson said that no U.S. lawmakers were able to attend the meeting this week in Bali.
Yeah, Anders--don't bother saving any seats for U.S. legislators at the next one, either (and any who do come--do us a favor, and keep them, would you?).

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Now it's the 'terror gap loophole' that we need to close down

Through Cryptic Subterranean (via War on Guns), we learn of Senator Lautenberg's (D-NJ) latest salvo: S. 1237, "A bill to increase public safety by permitting the Attorney General to deny the transfer of firearms or the issuance of firearms and explosives licenses to known or suspected dangerous terrorists." Yep, you read that correctly. The Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms would now be subject to denial--not when found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law, nor even indicted by a grand jury, or even charged by a prosecutor with a single crime--but when you are "suspected" of being a terrorist.

The bill, having been introduced only last Thursday, is still too new for its text to be available online, but Lautenberg has put out a gloat page press release about it.

"It took years, but the Administration finally realized that letting terrorists buy guns is dangerous. This 'terror gap' in our gun laws has been open too long and I am going to shut it down," said Sen. Lautenberg.
"Terror gap," eh (later on, he expands on that concept, and refers to the "terror gap loophole")? So that's how bands of terrorists are getting dozens of AR-15s and massacring mall goers by the hundreds, and buying .50 caliber rifles and shooting down jumbo jets--wait--you mean that stuff hasn't happened yet? Well, I'm sure they've been planning to get around to that any day now.

Here are the few available specifics about the bill (from Lautenberg's press release).
Sen. Lautenberg's measure - the "Denying Firearms and Explosives to Dangerous Terrorists Act of 2007" - specifically:

• Provides the Attorney General with discretionary authority to deny the transfer of a firearm or the issuance of a firearm or explosives license or permit when a background check reveals that the purchaser is a known or suspected terrorist and the Attorney General reasonably believes that the person may use a firearm or explosives in connection with terrorism;

• Includes due process safeguards that afford an affected person an opportunity to challenge a denial by the Attorney General; and

• Protects the sensitive information upon which terrorist watch list listings are based.
So--the Attorney General would have discretionary authority to deny a fundamental human right. That certainly is a lot of power--vastly more than I would trust Anthony Gonzales with, let alone an AG appointed by President Hillary. By the way, I like the way that the point about "due process safeguards" for appeal is followed by the point about protecting "the sensitive information." Does this mean that the "suspected terrorist" will not be permitted to see the grounds on which the suspicions about him are based? That would make an appeal rather tricky, I imagine.

Care to speculate about how easy it is to get on the "suspected terrorist" list? As Cryptic Subterranean points out (from the link at the beginning of this post):
Perhaps in years to come anyone who doesn't agree with the laws coming out of Washington could be branded a suspected terrorist and thus denied the right to purchase firearms. Not so long ago a Democrat lawmaker was trying to brand groups like the Minutemen as domestic terrorists.
I can certainly envision a President Hillary decreeing that Gun Owners of America, and Jews for the Preservation of Firearm Ownership are "terrorist groups."

This bill, if it passes, might be the "long ball" against private firearm ownership that Lautenberg has been looking for his entire career. Let's strike him out, instead.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Are police officers' lives worth more than other people's? Some New York legislators think so

In the wake of recent murders of police officers in the state of New York, there is a legislative effort to allow the imposition of the death penalty in such cases.

Whatever one's thoughts are regarding capital punishment, my real problem with this kind of legislation is that it, in effect, says that the value of one's life is dependent to some degree on one's profession. By imposing a harsher penalty for the killing of a police officer than for the killing of others, it says that a construction worker's life, or a taxi driver's, or a bartender's (etc.) is worth less than the life of a police officer.

Assemblyman Tim Gordon, I-Bethlehem, is willing to co-sponsor Destito's bill.

"I don't support the death penalty, but it's a special circumstance when people are shooting at police officers," said Gordon, adding that his position has been influenced by the murder of Albany Police Lt. John Finn, who was shot and killed in 2003 by a parolee in Albany.
But why is it a "special circumstance"--or perhaps more accurately, why is the murder of someone else not a special circumstance? Are we to think of police as what David Codrea might call the "Only Ones" worthy of "blood for blood" justice?
"He knew he was shooting at a cop," Gordon said. "When they're knowingly shooting at police officers, it's just too much."
But it's not "too much" to shoot at people who don't work in law enforcement (or at people who do work in law enforcement, but the shooter is unaware of the fact)? Will a cop killer avoid death row if he can convince the jury that he thought his victim was a mere citizen, rather than a police officer?

I find such notions highly repugnant, and utterly contrary to the philosophical foundations on which this nation was built.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Kansans gain some freedom

Just a quick update to this discussion--a note to celebrate the fact that yesterday, the Kansas House voted, by the commanding margin of 98-28, to override Governor Sebelius' veto of House Bill 2528. Today, the much less sure Senate victory became reality, by a vote of 30-10.

Congratulations, Kansas.

It's official--the NRA is working with gun hating Representative Carolyn "I don't know what a barrel shroud is, but let's ban them anyway" McCarthy

I have mentioned before (mostly here) my concern that the NRA would actively support H.R. 297, the NICS "Improvement" Act, introduced by Carolyn McCarthy (you remember her wisdom, don't you?). H.R. 297, which "improves" nothing but the government's ability to more fully monitor the populace, is gaining traction in the wake of the Virginia Tech killings (ten of its fourteen co-sponsors have signed on since the massacre--seven of those yesterday and the day before), after revelations that Cho had not been barred from purchasing firearms, despite having been deemed a danger to himself and others due to mental illness.

This thinking, of course, ignores the fact that anyone who is so dangerously mentally ill that he must be barred from purchasing firearms should also be considered a risk to steal a gun, purchase one illegally, or simply carry out his carnage by some other method. In short, he should not be running free in society, at least without a custodian.

McCarthy has introduced such legislation before (every Congressional session, since at least 2002), but thankfully, it has never gone far. This year, the story is different, with civilian disarmament advocates in Congress conveniently provided with a fresh massacre to exploit in furtherance of their agenda. Still, even an internationally high-profile mass murder like the one committed by Cho will not necessarily lead to the successful passage of federal legislation imposing more draconian restrictions on firearms, as demonstrated by all the restrictive gun laws that were proposed after Columbine, and went nowhere.

The bigger danger this year, as I have mentioned in previous blog entries, stems from the threat of the NRA supporting this dangerous legislation. In the past, although the NRA did little or nothing to actively fight McCarthy's Big Brother data grab, they did not actively support it, either. As I had feared would happen, that has now changed.

In his interview with NEWSWEEK, LaPierre brushed aside suggestions that measures such as the McCarthy bill constituted a new form of “gun control” as the Gun Owners of America have charged.
Authorizing federal government access to "confidential" medical information anytime someone tries to buy a gun is not "gun control"? What, pray tell, is it, then?
He said the NRA, which has long been a powerful opponent of gun control, has always supported denying gun rights to those who are mentally “defective”—one of the categories of individuals who are banned from owning firearms under the 1968 Gun Control Act. (Others include felons, fugitives, and drug users.) “We’ve been there for decades on this,” said LaPierre. “We just don’t think it’s really gun control to try to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally defective.”
I wonder who Wayne figures is going to be the arbiter of who is "mentally defective"--has he not noticed that the enemies of private gun ownership argue that anyone who wants a gun is mentally defective? Is he unaware that tens of thousands of courageous military service members are returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with a need for mental health help? After carrying guns for the defense of their country, are they to be denied by that same country the right to buy one for the defense of themselves?

The GOA is absolutely correct in rejecting and criticizing the NRA's Faustian bargain. With GOA fighting both the "official" advocates of restrictive gun legislation and the NRA, they're going to need help. If you haven't already.

More about Pike's (and Brown's) status as "sanctuary counties" from Illinois gun law oppression

I know I'm talking a lot about this (first here, then here, then a brief word here), but I'm starting to think this might be the beginning of something big.

The Free Republic carries this article about the resolution. According to the article, the meeting in which the resolution was adopted was the most heavily attended in county history, with too many people to fit in the courtroom in which the meeting was held. One Pike County resident in attendance, Pike-Adams Sportsmen's Alliance President Richard Metcalf, spoke eloquently of the meaning and purpose of the action the county took.

That drew an emotional response from one resident:

"This proposed legislation would greatly harm the citizens of this county, and we believe the members of our County Board are bound by the oaths of office to speak for us on this issue.

"The issue here is not politics, the issue is freedom. Freedom began in this nation more than 200 years ago, when small groups of people like us, in towns even smaller than ours, gathered together to tell the King who tried to rule them from a huge city an ocean away, 'Enough is enough!' Freedom will only survive today if we have the courage to do the same."

In closing, he offered: "In this room tonight we are not conservatives; we are not liberals. In this room tonight we are not Democrats; we are not Republicans. In this room tonight we are Americans."

The standing ovation he received was apparently enough to convince the Commission to overwhelmingly pass the measure.
I still have not located the full text of the resolution, but what I have seen is strongly worded stuff:
Now, Therefore, It Be And Is Hereby Resolved, that the people of Pike County, Illinois, do oppose the enactment of any legislation that would infringe upon the Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms, and deem such laws to be Unconstitutional and beyond lawful Legislative Authority.
It remains to be seen just how far the county is willing to take this--will they stop enforcing any gun laws (since all are unconstitutional)?

I suspect we will be hearing more. In the meantime, it is clear that the citizens of Pike County are well served, by elected officials who are keenly aware of their Constitutional duties. Let us hope that this is contagious.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Illinois jumping on the mental health police bandwagon?

I know I'm getting a bit Illinois-centric again--sorry--I'll try to talk about something else soon. Anyway, in the wake of the Virginia Tech mass murder, the currently popular "solution" seems to be the addition of mental health information into the pre-purchase background check database.

Illinois apparently does not want to be left out, and so Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wants to determine to what extent Illinois can get away with violating people's rights to privacy. A bit of background for people who are fortunate enough not to live in Illinois--this state requires all gun owners to have a Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, issued by the state police, in order to purchase or possess firearms and/or ammunition. Madigan apparently would like to be able to deny FOID applications on mental health grounds.

I should point out that the FOID program in Illinois is so understaffed and under-budgeted that application processing times are running behind schedule by months. If a gun owner's FOID renewal happens too slowly, and his old FOID expires while he is still waiting for his new one, he instantly becomes a felon, for possession of firearms without a current and valid FOID. This is before additional mental health checks are added to the process.

I especially like this part:

Madigan aide Cara Smith noted the state FOID law has a mental-health provision that goes beyond inpatient treatment. She said the law prohibits gun ownership by someone with a mental condition who "poses a clear and present danger" to himself or others. She said the review may suggest ways to better identify those individuals.
So we have people in outpatient treatment who pose "a clear and present danger"? Are we to believe that the only way such a clear and present danger can manifest itself is with a legally purchased firearm? Should not such a person have a custodian?

The article ends with this:
"We'll have to find a way to make sure that that information (is) made available to the appropriate individuals - obviously law enforcement - but not disseminated otherwise," she said.
"Obviously law enforcement"--they're the "Only Ones".

Just found out . . .

I've talked Tuesday and yesterday about the Pike County (and Brown County, too, apparently) resolution of support for the Second Amendment (or more accurately, the resolution of opposition to the attacks on the Second Amendment). As it turns out, I have a quick note to add about one of the Pike County Board members who opposed the resolution.

From the Quincy Herald Whig article:

"I've carried a weapon 30 years of my life, ... but I'm not sure there's a time and place to address this issue on a county level," said board member Mike Lord, who voted against the resolution.
What I have now learned is that Mr. Lord was once the chief of police in Pittsfield, IL. Imagine that! An "Only One", as Mr. Codrea would refer to him, objecting to a county standing up to the state over gun rights.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Pike County resolution of support for Second Amendment

I mentioned yesterday that Pike County, Illinois would consider a resolution last night opposing legislation that infringes on the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms. Great news--the Quincy Herald Whig tells us that it passed, and even better, Brown County has adopted a similar resolution.

Gun control laws not welcome in Pike County

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — The Pike County Board adopted a resolution Tuesday opposing any legislation that infringes on the right to keep and bear arms.

"What we are trying to do here is protect rights we already have," board member Robert Kenady said.

A standing-room-only crowd of mostly gun enthusiasts applauded several speakers and the 7-2 vote on the resolution, which will be forwarded to state legislators and all other counties in Illinois. Neighboring Brown County already has adopted a similar resolution.

"We have to stand up," said board member Mark Mountain, who proposed the resolution. "We have to voice our opinion. As an individual, it doesn't mean much. As a county, it means more. As three or four counties, it means a lot."

"You gentleman have just made history here," said Pike-Adams Sportsmen's Alliance President Richard Metcalf.

Resolution supporters claim that pending state legislation would ban many common firearms used for hunting and threaten rights guaranteed under the Constitution, the enjoyment of safe forms of firearms recreation and its economic benefits to the county.

"This is about freedom," Metcalf said. "This is not a political issue. I'm not here as a conservative, a liberal. You're not here as a Republican, a Democrat. We're here as Americans."

Others questioned whether the issue of gun control reached beyond what the county should address.

"I've carried a weapon 30 years of my life, ... but I'm not sure there's a time and place to address this issue on a county level," said board member Mike Lord, who voted against the resolution.

Board Chairman Scott Syrcle said the county level "is where it starts." He said county officials are "elected to voice our opinion to legislators for change or to keep things from happening." He usually votes only in the case of a tie, but wanted his vote in favor of the resolution on the record.

"You're going to ban a lot of guns if this thing happens," county resident Lee Ator said. "Definitely, the people of Pike County are interested in this. Everybody's here because they're opposed to gun legislation."

Board member Don Peebles said the county should be focusing on other issues instead of the "hot-button, politically divisive" issue of gun control.

"I've spent a lot of time in the last month reading House bills, Senate bills and shell bills. Some of them I agree with. Some I disagree with. I would have a difficult time with an across-the-board resolution," said Peebles, who voted against the resolution.

"I've hunted all my life. I enjoy firearms, ... but there are things that need to be controlled."
Are the days of Chicago über alles running out?

Kansas HB 2528 veto override update

I mentioned Monday that the attempt to override Kansas Governor Katherine Sebelius' veto of Kansas HB 2528, which would stop municipalities from imposing arbitrary new restrictions of their own on the licensed concealed carry of firearms, could come as early as today.

Now, it seems that the Virginia Tech murders could make that more difficult. This would seem rather counterintuitive, since the obvious lesson to be drawn from Virginia Tech is that the abolishment of victim disarmament zones is in the best interests of public safety. I suppose that the other lesson to be drawn is that logic has no place in the arguments for tighter regulation of an armed citizenry. Senator Anthony Hensley is mentioned by name in the article as one of the senators who initially voted for the bill, but is now undecided about voting for the veto override--since the override vote can only afford to lose two Senators, it's important to keep encouraging him to do the right thing, and vote for self-defense.

Keep up to date at KSCCW.com, specifically, check this thread.

BATFE recommends destroying history

Readers may already have noticed by now that I am no fan of the ATF. Today's topic would hardly be the worst of the ATF's crimes--it does not appear that they will kill or imprison anyone in this episode, or even destroy anyone's livelihood, but it is still appalling.

A library in Nahant, Massachusetts has an unusual artifact--a Maxim machine gun captured by Sergeant Alvin York in World War I. The story of the heroic charge, led by Sergeant York, to capture this machine gun (and others) was immortalized in the 1941 Gary Cooper movie "Sergeant York." The story of how it ended up in Nahant is, of course, rather less well known. The short version (free registration required) is that a Nahant resident, Corporal Maryland Lewis, was part of Sergeant York's unit, and he simply shipped the gun home to Nahant (a common practice back then--how things change). Nahant has no historical museum, and so except for a brief stint at an American Legion hall, this piece of history has languished, almost forgotten, in the library's attic--until library director Daniel deStefano stumbled over it three years ago.

With the library much more in need of funds than a machine gun, the obvious solution was to sell it, capitalizing on the historical significance of the gun, which might push its value to well over $100,000 (and perhaps double that). That's where the ATF comes in.

John Welsh, a library trustee, said a bureaucratic tangle soon emerged and hasn’t been resolved. “It’s a machine gun and it’s not registered, so apparently we can’t sell it until we find a legal way to own it,” he said. “We’ve had estimates that it could be worth up to $200,000, presuming we can show its relationship to Sgt. York.”

Both Welsh and deStefano said at least two agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) have listened to the story but offered no recommendations, other than to suggest the machine gun be destroyed.

“Imagine destroying the German machine gun that was captured by Sgt. York just because it’s not registered,” said Welsh, adding that the library trustees’ decision to seek legislative help was equally unproductive. “We didn’t get anywhere. It seems nobody wants to touch the problem and be credited as the politician who put another machine gun back into society. But it’s not like we’re going to sell it to some street gang. Besides, there’s no ammunition.”
But certainly the BATFE is not so blind to history, so intoxicated by its bureaucratic power to bully lesser mortals, that there is not a way to work something out.
Negotiations with the ATF have put deStefano in a funk. He described a four-way conference call during which an obviously young ATF agent admitted not knowing the story of Sgt. York or much about WWI.
Yeah--I suppose jackbooted thuggery is a whole lot more fun than learning about a bunch of boring old history.

According to another article, library officials have tried to get Senators Kennedy and Kerry involved (how is that for an interesting choice of senate saviors?). Shockingly, they have not shown any interest in getting involved.

That's where things stand now, with the BATFE recommending the destruction of an artifact of one of the greatest feats of arms in U.S. history, and with its fate apparently in the hands of two of the most anti-gun Senators in Congress.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

New hope for Harold Fish

Long ago, I wrote about the outrageous injustice against Harold Fish, a retired school teacher who, while hiking, shot and killed a man (a man, by the way, with a history of aggressive behavior) who threatened to kill him, and would not stop charging him. Incredibly, Fish was convicted of murder.

To compound the injustice, while Mr. Fish's case was pending, Stand Your Ground legislation was passed in Arizona, thus lifting the burden of proof of self-defense from the accused, and placing it with the prosecution, where it belongs (unless we have given up on the idea of innocence pending proof of guilt). However, a superior court judge refused to apply the new law retroactively to Mr. Fish's case.

It seemed that Mr. Fish (now in prison, having begun his ten-year sentence in August 2006) would finally get a reprieve when the Arizona legislature passed SB 1302, which would make the Stand Your Ground Law retroactive. Opponents of this measure justified their opposition in various ways:

The Arizona Prosecuting Attorney Advisory Council said making the change retroactive could affect numerous cases and that the impact of the bill was greater than the goal of the current legislation.

Rep. Steve Gallardo, a Phoenix Democrat who voted against the bill, said it would lead to costly retrials and re-victimize victims by forcing them to testify again in court. "It will open old wounds," he said.
Well, there you have it--apparently, justice is sometimes simply too expensive, and not convenient enough, to bother with.

Tragically, Governor Napolitano must have thought so, too--because she vetoed SB 1302.

Fast forward to this month, and a new, more narrowly crafted bill. SB 1166, as amended (the main text of the bill deals with jury duty--it is an amendment that affects the self-defense law), would do much the same thing as SB 1302, but would only extend back to cases that were pending in April 2006 (Harold Fish's might be the only one). SB 1166 narrowly failed on the first vote last week, but was reconsidered, and narrowly passed yesterday.

Now, it needs to go back to the Senate, for a vote on concurrence with the self-defense amendment.

If that passes, perhaps Governor Napolitano will be willing to deal with the inconvenience of justice.

The Pike County (Illinois) Rebellion?

OK--just kidding, but apparently Pike County is fed up with the way the Illinois Politburo legislature insists on violating the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. That being the case, they want to go on record as being opposed to it. Members of the Pike-Adams Sportsmen's Alliance received the following email:


The County Board of Pike County, Illinois, has called a public
meeting to consider a resolution which would state that the
people of Pike County, Illinois, consider any legislation passed
by the Illinois State Legislature that would infringe upon the
Right of the People to Keep and Bear Arms to be unconstitutional
and beyond lawful Legislative Authority.

Such a resolution, if enacted by a County Government, would be
unprecedented in the history of the United States.

The resolution has strong support among members of the Pike
County Board. The resolution states that it is being enacted
because, "The Pike County Board being elected by the People of
Pike County is duly sworn by Oath of Office to uphold the United
States Constitution and the Constitution of the State of

The members of the Pike County Board ask all interested citizens
to attend this Public Meeting and demonstrate their support for
the enactment of this resolution.

The meeting is scheduled for Tuesday evening, April 24th, at
7:00pm, in the 1st Floor courtroom of the Pike County Courthouse
in Pittsfield, Illinois.

All members of PASA, whether Pike County residents or not, are
urged to attend this historic event, and express their support
for the courageous action of the members of the Pike County

I hope to see you there. With everybody you can bring.

P.R. Metcalf
Pike-Adams Sportsmen's Alliance
That meeting, as you can see, is scheduled for 7:00 PM tonight, which isn't a lot of notice, but anyone who can make it there to show their support would be well advised to do so.

I realize that this measure would be largely symbolic, with no real power to steer Illinois law back in line with the ideals on which this nation was founded, but it's still a good thing to see. Events like this will help to put our lawmakers on notice that the people of Illinois are fed up with civilian disarmament. Pike County is providing just the kind of leadership this state needs.

Power to The People--We Shall Overcome.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Time to act, Kansas residents

According to this bulletin, the veto override vote for Kansas HB 2528 (which would prevent municipalities from imposing their own additional, arbitrary restrictions on where concealed carry licensees could exercise their self-defense rights) could come as early as this week (Thursday, specifically).

Contact information for the five senators that I think will be the key can be found in this blog post.

Light up those phones, folks--faxes might be even better.

"In order to have rights, you must give up rights"

Last Friday, being the national day of mourning for the Virginia Tech massacre, the Illinois Politburo legislature observed a moment of silence. As it happens, Illinois would be a vastly better place if its legislators adopted silence as standard policy, rather than something to be observed only momentarily.

The Illinois Senate wasted little time in proving that Friday (mp3 file of the Senate session--a transcript is not yet available, but I transcribed the parts I found most relevant). When the silence was broken, it was broken with a nearly immediate attack on America's "gun culture". This is what Senator Rickey Hendon had to say (starting about 3 min, 45 sec into the mp3 file linked to above):

. . . address the fact that guns were involved in this tragedy,
Can we find a Captain Obvious cape for Rickey?
and some day--perhaps, Mr. President, today--we will earnestly address the issue of weapons in America, and this nation's fascination with guns.
The solution, apparently, is to pass a law against being fascinated with guns--fellow Illinois gun rights blog We Are the Militia has a well written piece about thought crimes.
If we strengthen gun laws,
Translation: weaken gun rights.
will it stop every incident? No, it won't,
I told you he has earned that Captain Obvious cape.
but we should give these babies a chance to live, a chance to have a future.
A chance to defend themselves, perhaps? Of course not--don't be a reactionary relic of the "gun culture."
We must address eventually, my friends, the issue of guns, violent videos, and our fascination with weapons. Let's earnestly address the issue of the availability of guns in America.
A bit later, Senator Todd Sieben, although he didn't blame guns for turning Cho into a mass murderer (he has been one of the rare friends to gun owners in this state's Senate), did take exception to the fact that people were speaking of "only" 32 victims, and not counting Cho among that number. I'm sorry, Senator, but I cannot consider Cho a "victim"--I do not consider it possible to be a victim of one's own monstrous evil. I certainly count his family among the victims--the hell through which they are going must be worse even than that faced by the families of those murdered by Cho--but Cho himself is no victim.

The scariest part, to those who revere liberty, came at the end (about 10 min, 50 sec into the sound file), when Senate President Emil Jones Jr. spoke.
In a civil society, I hear often talk about the Constitution, and rights in the Constitution,
That's good, Senator--I hope you're listening.
but the rights and pursuit of happiness and joy
Well, no reference to the pursuit of happiness was made in the Constitution, as far as I can tell--that was in the Declaration of Independence, and the "pursuit of joy" is something I have never heard mentioned in conjunction with the Founding Fathers.
must be balanced against the other rights, and sometimes in a civil society, in order to have rights, you must give up rights.
"In order to have rights, you must give up rights," eh--Orwell's Big Brother would be proud--doublespeak lives! Tell me, Senator (although I think I can guess), which rights do you have in mind for us to give up? More importantly, perhaps, is: who made you arbiter of what Constitutional rights we must give up? Has the office of state senator (even state senate president) been endowed with vastly greater power than I had realized--the power to override the Constitution itself? On a side note, how, specifically, would giving up rights help us have rights (the ones you think are the ones we should prefer, apparently)--especially when the right you apparently want us to give up is the very one that gives us the power to defend the rest?
Until we come to the realization that this incident can happen again, in order to have these rights, and pursuit of happiness, we must give up some rights.
There's that "pursuit of happiness" again. I can't help but notice that even if there were a Constitutionally guaranteed right to the pursuit of happiness, that falls rather short of the right to succeed in capturing that happiness.

If disarming American citizens is necessary for your happiness, I would argue that the Constitution guarantees us the right to keep you unhappy--and we're not planning to give up that right. Molon labe, Senator.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

So make it easier to buy spray paint . . .

Since California's draconian firearms laws have not been useful in keeping guns out of the hands of those who would use them for evil, California legislators want to try the same thing with ammunition. Makes sense to me--if something isn't working, do more of it. Assembly Bill 362 imposes numerous restrictions on ammunition purchases (including a complete ban of mail order purchases). The author of the bill, Assemblyman Kevin de León has even managed to think of a way to exploit the killings at Virginia Tech.

The freshman legislator said his bill is particularly timely, given the rampage at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead.
He seems to have conveniently avoided addressing the fact that since Cho was able to buy firearms, similarly stringent requirements for ammunition purchases would have changed nothing.

This article (registration required) is not the first I've seen in which the following claim has been made:
"Believe it or not, you can actually walk into a store today and buy a box of cartridges much easier than a can of spray paint," de León told the Assembly Public Safety Committee last week.
This claim has always puzzled me, since I have never known of any restrictions on buying spray paint, and since federal law requires ammunition purchasers to be at least 18 (21 for handgun ammunition). I have since found out that California, in an attempt to thwart gang graffiti, does indeed impose some restrictions on spray paint purchases:
California 594.1. Sale, Purchase or Possession of Aerosol Paint Container; Posting of Notice by Retailers

(a) (1) It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation, except a parent or legal guardian, to sell or give or in any way furnish to another person, who is in fact under the age of 18 years, any aerosol container of paint that is capable of defacing property without first obtaining bona fide evidence of majority and identity.

(b) It shall be unlawful for any person under the age of 18 years to purchase an aerosol container of paint that is capable of defacing property.

(c) Every retailer selling or offering for sale in this state aerosol containers of paint capable of defacing property shall post in a conspicuous place a sign in letters at least three-eighths of an inch high stating: "Any person who maliciously defaces real or personal property with paint is guilty of vandalism which is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both."

(d) It is unlawful for any person to carry on his or her person and in plain view to the public an aerosol container of paint while in any posted public facility, park, playground, swimming pool, beach, or recreational area, other than a highway, street, alley, or way, unless he or she has first received valid authorization from the governmental entity which has jurisdiction over the public area. As used in this subdivision, "posted" means a sign placed in a reasonable location or locations stating it is a misdemeanor to possess a spray can of paint in that public facility, park, playground, swimming pool, beach, or recreational area without valid authorization.

(e) (1) It is unlawful for any person under the age of 18 years to possess an aerosol container of paint for the purpose of defacing property while on any public highway, street, alley, or way, or other public place, regardless of whether that person is or is not in any automobile, vehicle, or other conveyance.
I still don't see how the above makes it easier--let alone "much easier"--to buy ammunition than to buy spray paint--you need to prove you are 18 or older to buy paint, and you need to prove you are 18 or older to buy ammunition (21, to buy handgun ammunition). If there's a difference, it would seem that paint is the easier purchase.

However, if there truly is a problem of ammunition purchases being easier than spray paint purchases, I have a solution--deep six the spray paint laws.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Letters to Mr. Daly

Tuesday, I encouraged readers to email New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly about this charming column celebrating the grief of families torn apart by the evil of Cho Seung-Hui. Peter was kind enough to forward his excellent email to me, and I thought it would be worth repeating. I would be happy to publish here any other emails that readers send to Mr. Daly.

Dear Mr. Daly,

Your exploitation of these deaths in order to make a point is reprehensible. The normal English locution is 'dancing on someone's grave', but as yet no actual funerals have taken place (as of your posting date @ 9:22AM), so I'm not exactly sure how to characterize it.

The only criticism of the Founders that can be made is that they reversed the order of the first two Amendments. Without people with guns ready and willing to defend your right to publish such schadenfreude-laden trash, you would have neither a job nor a forum to publish it.

You're an adult, right? One of the duties of an adult is to accept responsibility, including that of defending those less strong amongst us. Sometimes that means making a phone call or writing to the Editor, sometimes that means using a firearm to eliminate a Clear and Present danger. It's not pretty, and not necessarily something to be extolled, but as long as we as a species are the way we are, violence will be at times required.

In case you've actually read down this far, I'd like to remind you that the Founders used the term "the People" in Amendments 1, 2, 4, 9, and 10. It means the same in all five places, meaning that your position on 'gun control' is essentially unconstitutional. That's perfectly alright with me, by the way: should we ever be together during an attack, I will use my guns to defend your right to be a jackass just as I would any other citizen. After all, having the Right of 'free speech and expression' is pretty meaningless if you're dead.

Without the Second Amendment, there would be no First. Without an armed populace, a populace willing to use those firearms in defense of all our Rights, your livelihood and your right to exploit the deaths of these students wouldn't exist, certainly not in the way the Founders intended. Before the Holocaust, before the Nuremburg Laws, the German people were disarmed, complete with Mr. Hitler crowing about what a civilized nation he was leading as a result of his "gun control" laws. And we know what happened to 'free speech and expression' in the Europe of 1939-45.

On to the less pleasant part of my letter:

Instead of my usual practice, I'm saving a copy of this letter. If you decide to publish this (which I highly doubt, but one must try to cover all the bases) you must publish all of it. "Editing for space and content" will be regarded as a hostile act meant to defame/slander me and my position, and I will take the appropriate action. I still have relatives in NYC, and I can certainly afford the $35 filing fee to sue you. Someone can be at Court St within a day.

Your right to free speech is sacrosanct, your position as a columnist is a privilege, one that you abused. I applaud your success in getting someone to pay you to express your opinion; I've been doing the same thing for nigh unto fifty years for free. Trampling through the still-wet bloodstains to get to your soapbox was a disgusting abuse of that privilege, of that there can be no doubt.

I anticipate your response (although I'm not holding my breath), and remain,

Sincerely Yours,


By the way, Hairy Hobbit posted his email in the comments section of my original blog post. Here it is:
Michelle Daly

Your quest for Sicherheit über alles is what has led to this. You push and prod and promote safety in the form of disarmament of the people who obey the law. You have made it easy for criminals to walk into a school and kill at will. You are so far beyond logic and rational thought that this is a pointless letter and a waste of time.

Real Americans know that criminals will never obey the law, just ask the people of the countries you look up to, the socialist hell holes of Europe. Criminals will get guns. Criminals don't obey the law. Criminals seek targets like this.

Why haven't you blood-dancers who celebrate over such horrific events as a means to further your power hungry agenda haven't mentioned the most deadly mass murder at a school. The late 20s Michigan event where a school was blown up with explosives. Why is that? Is it because you HATE freedom and self reliance? Is it because you seek totalitarian rule here? Just admit that you are a mentally ill frothing at the mouth control freak who has no sense of personal responsibility and want to be cared for by big brother. Just say you wish for light chains and only the occasional beating. We'll understand that you need help. We'll even pay for your plane ticket to the socialist country of your choice where you can seek government health care, housing, support, and every other just treatment they provide their slaves.

If you can't do that, then please for the families just STFU until their loved ones that the policies you support have helped to kill be put to rest before you do your blood dance and waggle your finger in their faces.

Love the "Michelle," HH.

I would also be quite interested in any replies anyone gets (not that I'm counting on those).

By the way, here's mine (although I'm a little embarrassed to show it, after the other two):
Mr. Daly,

You are to be commended for your ability to write the most offensive, the most vitriolic, venomous piece of hate speech, gleefully celebrating the unspeakable anguish of dozens of families, that I have seen in a very long time. I refer, of course, to your Tuesday column, "Yes, Virginia, guns kill innocents." You must be extremely proud of yourself.

You should also take pride in your skill at distorting the truth. How very clever of you to scold Virginia for passing a law that would thwart more of Mayor Bloomberg's "sting" operations, when that law only outlawed an activity that is already illegal under federal law, but which the BATFE seems strangely reluctant to prosecute when Bloomberg's puppets commit it. You are aware, I assume, that if the gun dealers are actually guilty of a "straw sale," then Bloomberg's minions, by definition, must have committed a straw purchase. There cannot be one without the other.

The "never mind that a Virginia gun license is not half as hard to get as a driving license," line was also a quite . . . creative statement, as well.

Enjoy your blood dance, Mr. Daly.

Kurt Hofmann, Obscure blogger

H.R. 297 to get a boost?

I have written before (in February, and again in March) about H.R. 297, the NICS "Improvement" Act, authored by Carolyn McCarthy (the clever legislator from New York who wants to ban barrel shrouds, which she defines as "the shoulder thing that goes up . . . "), and have made no secret of my distaste for such legislation. We don't need NICS "improved" (NICS Expansion Act would be a much more accurate title), we need it dismantled (do I hear any BIDS, anyone?).

In the wake of the atrocity on the campus of Virginia Tech, much attention is being given to the fact that Cho Seung-Hui's mental health history was not made available to the FBI's NICS database. Some will undoubtedly use Cho's act of unspeakable evil to advance the argument for the requirement for more mental health data to be part of the firearm purchase requirements ("shall not be infringed," indeed). It would, in fact, seem that some are already doing just that.

One might suspect that the group that bills itself as "the oldest and largest civil rights group," and whose specific focus is Second Amendment rights, would fight such a bill tooth and nail. One would be wrong. The NRA actively supported the same legislation (H.R. 1415), introduced in the previous Congress. Nor does their position seem to have changed. In fact, just two days ago, an unidentified spokesman who sounds quite a lot like an NRA representative, claims that the gun rights lobby would "have no problem with" the inclusion of mental health data in the pre-purchase background check.

The gun lobby—typically opposed to any attempt to tighten federal gun controls—doesn't disagree. The National Rifle Association has decided to make no public comment about any aspect of the Virginia Tech tragedy, according to a spokesman. But a source close to the gun lobby (who asked not to be identified because of the organization’s sensitivities about making any political points related to the tragedy), pointed out that pro-gun lobbyists and groups like the NRA have long supported adding all relevant mental-health records to background check databases. "We have no problem as long as one is adjudicated mentally incompetent [in denying gun purchases] and we have no problem with mental health records being part of the NICS," the source said. "The problem is not with the gun community. The problem is with the medical community" that has traditionally opposed making such records available on privacy grounds.
War on Guns has more on that. I should probably also point out that H.R. 297's first co-sponsor is Representative John Dingell, who once served on the NRA's board of directors.

Actually, I just at this moment found this article in the Washington Post.
With the Virginia Tech shootings resurrecting calls for tighter gun controls, the National Rifle Association has begun negotiations with senior Democrats over legislation to bolster the national background-check system and potentially block gun purchases by the mentally ill.
Perhaps the NRA would like to explain to the tens of thousands of returning veterans with mental health issues why this is a good bill. With "friends" like these . . .

H.R. 297 has 7 co-sponsors, 3 of whom signed on this past week.

Second Amendment Carninval XI

I would again like to thank Stan over at Free Constitution for the honor of Armed and Safe's inclusion in Second Amendment Carnival XI. As always, I am humbled to find myself among such company.

A couple days ago, Stan announced that other commitments may force him to give blogging up. This would indeed be a blow to freedom loving, patriotic Americans.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Fred Thompson on the VA Tech killings

I really don't have anything to add to this

Signs of Intelligence?

One of the things that's got to be going through a lot of peoples' minds now is how one man with two handguns, that he had to reload time and time again, could go from classroom to classroom on the Virginia Tech campus without being stopped. Much of the answer can be found in policies put in place by the university itself. . . .
Definitely worth following the link and reading.

Another look at H.R. 1859

A couple days ago, I mentioned Carolyn McCarthy's H.R. 1859, "To reinstate the prohibition on the possession or transfer of large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and to strengthen that prohibition," (by the way, for anyone who has not yet seen that McCarthy is utterly clueless about her own H.R. 1022, and what features of a firearm it would ban, check out this War on Guns blog entry). At the time, I was more focused on the incredible, exploitive insensitivity of introducing that legislation within hours of the killings she intends to capitalize on. Now, let's take a more thorough look at why it's simply bad legislation.

The justification (to use the term charitably) given for such a ban is that large magazines enable greater carnage, because the shooter will not have to pause as often for reloads. To help this argument out, its proponents can point to the fact that Cho had several 33 round magazines in his possession. Still, this is a specious argument. In truth, magazine capacity is unlikely to be much of a factor unless the intended targets are shooting back (which, to Larry Hincker's great joy, was made impossible by VA Tech's rules). With a human monster's intended victims cowering in fear (the natural reaction of the unarmed to an armed, ruthless killer), he has plenty of time for reloads.

For those who believe that the necessity to reload more frequently would be enough to prevent the firing of a vast number of rounds in a short time, watch this:

If one wishes to argue that this proves that semi-automatics are just "too powerful" for civilians, and that we should be limited to revolvers, check out the last 10 or 12 seconds of this video (although the entire video is only about 35 seconds long, and well worth watching in its entirety):
In that last segment, Miculek fired 6 rounds, reloaded, and fired 6 more rounds, in under three seconds.

Granted, both Travis Tomasie, with the semi-automatic, and Jerry Miculek, with the revolver, are world class shooters, whose skill is (thankfully) extremely unlikely to be matched by the murderous thugs in our midst--still, the fact remains that a psychopath bent on killing a shocking number of unarmed people in a crowd is not going to be stopped by having to reload every 10 rounds.

Finally, passage of a ban of "large capacity" magazines will have extremely little effect on their availability for a very long time--the vast number of them already in circulation will see to that. Proponents of H.R. 1859 very publicly and loudly gnash their teeth over the expiration of the "ban" of so-called "assault weapons" in 2004, without acknowleging that neither the firearms named in that legislation, or the magazines, were ever banned--they could be owned, bought, and sold, as long as they were manufactured/imported before the law went into effect in 1994. By the time the AWB expired in 2004, there were still plenty such magazines available for sale. Anyone who claims otherwise is either speaking from ignorance or is lying.

H.R. 1859 is not about saving lives, it is about tightening the government's monopoly on the use of force.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Don't pass gun law . . . or I'll destroy my guns

Is that what passes for gun rights activism in Quebec? That's the only conclusion I can draw, when this is what the president of the Quebec Shooting Federation says about a proposal to require owners of semi-automatic firearms to store them at gun clubs or ranges:

Quebec Shooting Federation president Raymond Contre calls it a dangerous proposal, saying stockpiling weapons will only mean criminals will know where to find them.

"I will personally destroy my firearms and return the pieces to the local police office because storing them in the way … proposed by the government, is completely unresponsible," Contre told CBC News Wednesday.
Wow--that ought to stop them, Raymond. Few of us are made of the same stuff as Leonidas I, or even Charlton Heston, but I would hope most of us could come up with something closer to "Molon labe," or "from my cold, dead fingers" than that.

Maybe if we tell Bloomberg, Feinstein, McCarthy, etc., that we'll destroy all of our guns if they pass any more laws, they'll leave us alone.

On second thought, maybe we ought to wait and see how that works out for Raymond and the other gun owners in Quebec.

More Daley (nearly daily) madness from Chicago

Gun rights activists were rightly outraged when Christian Trejbal's editorial in the Roanoke Times linked to an online database containing the names and addresses of every concealed carry licensee in Virginia. Under the guise of "open government," Trejbal and his newspaper grossly violated the privacy, and compromised the safety, of well over 100,000 law abiding Virginians.

Well, Chicago's Mayor Daley would like to outdo him. When forced to acknowledge that his pet proposals to outlaw so-called "assault weapons," and to implement a gun rationing "one gun a month" scheme would have done nothing to prevent the Virginia Tech killings (which were done without "assault weapons," and in a state that has just the "one gun a month" law he is pushing), Daley thought of another idea.

Now he wants to mandate that every time a firearm sale is made, the buyer's identity must be made available on the Internet. The massive breach of privacy aside, he apparently didn't bother explaining how that would have helped prevent Monday's killings.

Too bad--that would have been an interesting explanation, I'm sure.

Is McCain a Second Amendment absolutist now?

"I strongly support the Second Amendment and I believe the Second Amendment ought to be preserved — which means no gun control," McCain said.
Don't get me wrong--I'm not complaining--I'd say that's the way I'd like the Second Amendment viewed universally, but I am a bit puzzled. Is the John McCain who said that yesterday the same John McCain who once voted to close the mythical "gun show loophole"? Is this apparent epiphany in favor of gun rights genuine, or is it more akin to Romney's "lifelong hunter" claim, despite his never having held a hunting license (perhaps he meant "lifetime poacher)?

On Wednesday, though, McCain seemed eager to don the mantle of Second Amendment rights defender.
But he opposed weakening gun rights and, when asked whether ammunition clips sold to the public should be limited in size, said, "I don't think that's necessary at all."
He even seems to have stumbled onto the fact that violating the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, in a futile attempt to keep those arms out of the hands of the occasional psychopath, would be anathema to freedom. In short, he seems to have realized that it's the killer who needs to be reined in, not one of the infinite number of implements he could use for evil.
"I do not believe we should tamper with the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States," he said. A woman shouted that George Washington's troops used muskets, not automatic weapons.

"I hope that we can find better ways of identifying people such as this sick young man so that we can prevent them from not only taking action with guns but with knives or with anything else that will harm their fellow citizens," McCain said.
At this point, I really don't know how firmly (and unchangeably) Senator McCain holds his seemingly strengthened views of the Second Amendment, but I guess I won't complain to see a prominent candidate at least saying the right things.

Give us a reason to believe you mean it this time, Senator.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Carolyn McCarthy not wasting any time

I thought I was beyond surprise at the obscene depths to which U.S. Representative Carolyn McCarthy would be willing to sink in her relentless attacks on the Constitutional rights of American citizens, but I was wrong. Unwilling to wait even a single day to exploit the heinous killings on the campus of Virginia Tech for the furtherance of her civilian disarmament agenda, she introduced a new freedom-destroying bill within hours of Cho Seung-Hui's heinous act.

H.R. 1859, "To reinstate the prohibition on the possession or transfer of large capacity ammunition feeding devices, and to strengthen that prohibition," is so new that the text is not yet available for viewing by the public, but the title says enough to make it clear that this is what McCarthy thinks of as the "next best thing," to passing H.R. 1022 (H.R. 1022, thankfully, would seem to have little chance).

I wonder what "strengtheng that prohibition" refers to--limiting the capacity to nine, instead of ten? Maybe lower still? Maybe no "grandfather clause," meaning that owners of full capacity magazines would have to surrender their property, or face imprisonment or death at the hands of the BATFE?

The fact that she would introduce such a bill is, of course, not at all surprising. It's the timing that makes this especially contemptible--it's almost as if she had been waiting for just such an "opportunity." As the VPC once lamented,

. . . and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens,
. . . public support for so-called "gun control" will not be enough for the rights deprivation lobby to achieve its goals. Now, McCarthy, the VPC, the Brady Bunch, and the rest have their "something truly horrible," and they don't intend to waste it.

I guess that dancing in the blood of a killer's victims is more fun when the blood is still warm.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Let the (blood) dance begin

It's nothing new for civilian disarmament advocates to exploit, with barely concealed glee, the grievous outrage of a senseless massacre like the one committed yesterday by Cho Seung-Hui. Still, Michael Daly's column today in the New York Daily News might be the most offensive, the most gloatingly vitriolic, the most unabashedly venomous that I've ever seen.

Still love those guns, Virginia?

Ready to admit that it's madness for any psycho to be able to saunter into a gun shop and acquire firepower capable of killing 32 innocents?

Feel different now that the blood is the blood of so many of your most promising young people?
That's just the beginning, but it continues in that vein throughout. Very helpful, Mike--I'm sure the families of the slain appreciate your concern.

I don't have the stomach to give this disgusting celebration of the grief of others the treatment it deserves, but I hope some folks let Mr. Daly know what they think of his column.


Another shooting on a VA campus, and a different outcome

Like most who write about gun rights and so-called "gun control," much of my attention at the moment is on yesterday's horrific slaughter on the campus of Virginia Tech. Like most, I am at an utter loss to understand what unspeakable evil would drive a person to commit such a heinous act. Like most, I have questions--questions to which I am unlikely to find particularly satisfying answers.

Perhaps it would be instructive to look at another shooting incident on the campus of a Virginia institution of higher learning. This shooting occurred a little over five years ago, on the campus of the Appalachian School of Law. Though tragic, the scale of the tragedy of this shooting was vastly smaller than that of yesterday's--six people shot, rather than approximately fifty, three of whom died, rather than thirty-three.

What would account for this difference? Does it have something to do with the expiration of the ban on so-called "assault weapons" (the law school shooting took place while the ban was still in effect, unlike the VA Tech shootings)? No--keep in mind that the so-called "Assault Weapons Ban" is a misnomer not only because the term "assault weapon" has no useful meaning, but because it didn't ban the purchase, possession, or use of the "banned" items, if they were manufactured or imported before the law went into effect. Besides, although details are sketchy still about yesterday's slaughter, the firearms used by the murderer--two handguns--would not appear to be the types of firearms normally considered "assault weapons" (although that definition is conveniently hard to pin down).

No, the main difference is that two quick-thinking (and quick-acting) students ran to their cars and retrieved their own firearms, and used them to force the killer to surrender. The difference was the accessibility (if not ideally immediate accessibility) of lifesaving firepower, to those with the will to use it to thwart evil.

The article I linked to is more about the reluctance of the mainstream media to mention the role guns play in averting or lessening tragedy (a worthy topic, but peripheral to the one at hand) than it is about the specifics of such cases, but nevertheless describes several school shootings in which the death toll was reduced by the presence of firearms in the hands of those who wish to protect innocent life, rather than destroy it.

I do not claim to have many answers in this time of painful questions, but I am willing to make a prediction: nothing like this will happen at University of Utah.

Monday, April 16, 2007

An observation about the VA Tech shooting

I share the grief and rage over the senseless massacre on the campus of VA Tech, and my thoughts are with the wounded, and the families of those killed. Like Mr. Codrea, I can't help but note that the death toll may have been vastly lower, had the killer not had such a soft target.

This article is about the legislative death, in January of 2006, of a bill that would have deprived the killer of his helpless victims.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker was happy to hear the bill was defeated. "I'm sure the university community is appreciative of the General Assembly's actions because this will help parents, students, faculty and visitors feel safe on our campus."
Is Mr. Hincker still happy, I wonder, about the legislature having provided the illusion of safety?

Kansas Governor Sebelius a slow learner

Apparently, Kansas Governor Sebelius did not pick up on the lesson implicit in the sound defeat of her veto of concealed carry legislation last year, and has now vetoed a bill that would prevent individual municipalities from imposing additional arbitrary restrictions on our favorite right that shall not be infringed (such a law shouldn't be necessary, of course, but it clearly is).

The bill should have no difficulty getting the 87 veto override votes it needs in the House--it got 106 votes when it initially passed in the House. The Senate is a bigger question. HB 2528 needs 27 Senators to vote for the veto override--only two fewer than voted for its initial passage. For Kansans who wish to organize a mail and phone blitz to their Senators, urging them to vote for the veto override, might I suggest concentrating on the Democrats who initially voted "Yea" (but as Democrats, might be vulnerable to partisan pressure to support the Democratic governor)?

There are five of them (remember, HB 2528 needs at least three of them to stick to their principles). They are:
Senator Mark Gilstrap,
Senator David Haley,
Senator Anthony Hensley,
Senator Laura Kelly, and
Senator Chris Steineger.

It would behoove rights advocates in Kansas to let these Senators know that rights trump party loyalties.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

My own little .50 caliber protest

I've mentioned before (and also here) that the Illinois Politburo legislature is hell-bent on passing Senate Bill 1471, under the theory that public safety demands limiting law-abiding citizens (as this law, like all others, would have no effect on criminals, who would simply ignore it) to bullets of .499 caliber, rather than .50 caliber (it's that last 1/1000th of an inch that causes the problems, apparently). The Brady Bunch, predictably, is enthusiastically on board with the idea.

My friends at IllinoisCarry are fighting this abomination with everything we can muster, but the other side is powerful and well-funded (I've mentioned the Joyce Foundation before). Frankly, I don't know how this is going to end up.

I have decided, though, to give them a little taste of unintended consequences. I have decided that their efforts to rid Illinois of .50 caliber firearms are going to lead directly to at least one more coming to Illinois. As much as I like the rifles chambered in .50 BMG, I can't really carry one around in a wheelchair, or easily fire one (and I certainly can't pay for one)--and that's before you consider ammunition costs and the difficulty of finding a range that will permit them--so I have something else in mind.

Enter the .50 Beowulf, and the Bohica Tool pistol upper receiver chambered for it (scroll down on the page in the link). I have pretty much made up my mind that, although I can't easily afford this, either, I am going to have my own AR pistol in .50 Beowulf.

To anyone who wishes that I not have this firearm, I would like to offer a free lesson in ancient Greek.

Molon labe

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Some must-read guest editorials at War on Guns

I've said several times before that anyone who reads this blog, but doesn't read War on Guns, has some pretty odd priorities--I appreciate the implicit compliment, but I haven't earned it (not that I know if I actually have any such readers). One relatively new reason to be a regular reader of WoG is the superb guest commentary written by Mike Vanderboegh. His writing does a number on my blogging ego, but perhaps that's a good thing.

He writes about the unintended consequences of so-called "gun control." He writes about the irrational phobias of civilian disarmament advocates. He writes about those who would use religion to justify government mandated defenselessness. And today, he warns us of how enemies of freedom could render our guns useless.

These are not short essays, but if you're like me, you'll be left wanting more. If Mr. Vanderboegh ever gets a book deal, I'll be clamoring for a copy.

Keystone Cop Confusion in Connecticut

Although I just wrote Thursday about the proposed law in Connecticut that could turn victims of crime into criminals (felons, no less), and at risk of once again exposing my ignorance (as if that has ever stopped me), this article compels me to revisit the issue. While Connecticut legislators push for demands for accountability on the part of gun owners, the police of the state's capital city are apparently incapable of coming close to meeting the standards that would be imposed on private gun owners.

The Hartford Police Department has widespread problems keeping track of equipment, and the situation reached a critical point last December when it couldn't account for all its firearms during a city audit.

The department's procedures for keeping track of firearms and controlling access to them were so lax, the city's chief internal auditor said, that the officer in charge of the department's arsenal could not account for all its nearly 900 handguns, shotguns, assault rifles and other firearms.
And we are to believe that reporting gun thefts to these paragons of law enforcement is necessary for the safety of the state?
Several of the people in charge of equipment and supplies, the report said, were unable to find weapons inventory reports; didn't know how many people had keys to areas where weapons and other assault equipment are stored; and allowed some officers to check out weapons such as sniper rifles without signing for them.
"Didn't know how many people had keys to areas where weapons" were stored? Keep in mind, Senate Bill 903, in addition to requiring prompt reporting of the loss or theft of firearms, also bestows on police investigating the case the power to charge the gun owner for storing the firearms in a manner they deem "reckless and irresponsible" (without any written definition of what constitutes "reckless and irresponsible" storage). I would be willing to wager that not knowing how many people have keys to one's gun safe would be enough to get one charged with "reckless and irresponsible" storage--any takers on that bet? And, "allowed some officers to check out weapons such as sniper rifles without signing for them"? Did the officers just have some unofficial sniping to do?
In fact, the report said, there was no written record of how many sniper rifles the department had, and most of its handguns are outdated.
Hmm--I wonder how many sniper rifles the Hartford Connecticut PD needs. As for "outdated" handguns, call me a traditionalist, but I think one would be hard pressed to find a better fighting handgun than John Moses Browning's masterpiece, adopted by the Army in 1911.

It sounds as if the Connecticut legislators are worried about the wrong guns, and the wrong gun owners. "Only Ones" material, perhaps, David?

Friday, April 13, 2007

This guy is going to be dispensing the "news"?

Last week, I wrote about the shrieking objections raised by the Southern Methodist University student newspaper's editorial staff, about the passage in Texas of Stand Your Ground legislation. Today we look at a piece written by another college student (a senior, and a journalism major)--this one at Western Kentucky University, indignantly stomping his little hooves over the fact that one of his fellow students (a police officer), attended class armed.

I was in a sociology class not long ago and noticed that an off-duty Bowling Green police officer was in the room. He was in his full uniform, including his utility belt, gun in holster.

Just thinking about it now, I am still in shock. A gun in a classroom! This is by far the dumbest thing I have seen as a Western student. There is no excuse for this.
Actually, Brandon, I don't know if anyone is interested in making an "excuse" for it--what is there to excuse?
I was discussing this with some of my classmates and I am convinced that there is no logical reasoning for this officer to have his gun.
If not his gun, whose would you propose he have?

Brandon acknowledges the very real possibility that the officer had no choice but to attend class fully dressed for work, but that's not good enough for him.
First of all, lets say he doesn't get out of class until 30 minutes before he is supposed to be at work. I don't care. If he can't find a place to lock his gun up until he is on duty, then he should reschedule his classes so that he gives himself more time.
And . . .
This officer was obviously off duty at the time and did not have to be fully equipped. If he cannot arrange his work and school schedules in a more conducive way, then he should drop a class.
So the officer should arrange his class schedule around your little neuroses, Brandon?
From what I understand, it's the law, not Western's policy, that says it's OK for an off-duty officer to carry his weapon if he chooses to do so. I understand the law, and I still disagree.

Our university buildings are supposed to be firearm-free. That rule should not change just because a person has a badge on their chest, unless they are there on official police business.
It may seem that I have been a bit rough on Brandon, so I'm happy to point out that we do seem to have one point of agreement--I think he is entirely correct that police officers should not get a free pass on rules/laws that the rest of us are required to obey. Therefore, campus rules should not artificially create a special "Only Ones" caste, and should instead get out of the citizen disarmament business entirely. How many shootings have there been at University of Utah?
If I see this again I will have to address it with the department head. I pay my tuition to come to school here, and at the very least I should have the guarantee of a safe and relaxed study environment.
I wonder what Brandon expects the department head to do about it--violate state law?
Simply put, under no circumstances should I ever see a gun in a classroom. Leave it behind. I do not care what you do with it, but do not bring it into a room full of people who are concentrated on achieving higher learning.
What, again, are you studying with such intensity that you must be spared even the sight of a holstered firearm, in order to avoid disturbing your concentration?
There is no way that a gun will ever comfort me while I am trying to learn about Karl Marx's views on society.

Looks as if the next generation of what Mr. Codrea refers to as "Authorized Journalists" is just about ready.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Stealing victims' rights

I've talked before about a proposal to criminalize crime victims in Connecticut--it would seem that this insanity is now gaining ground. The bill would make it a crime to fail to report the loss or theft of a firearm. That's right--if a burglar steals the .22 you keep around to shoot the occasional groundhog raiding your garden, and if you fail to report it, you are now a criminal (and in fact, on second and subsequent offenses, you become a felon--I can just imagine that conversation in prison: "What are you in for?" . . . )

A similar bill was passed in the Connecticut Senate last year, but failed in the House. This year, proponents of forcing crime victims to report their victimization are more hopeful, because new "compromise" language in the bill has won over some legislators who had previously had doubts.

[Representative William] Tong has high hopes this year's bill will survive because it has the support of the Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican, state Rep. Arthur O'Neill of Southbury.

Tong said at "the eleventh hour" Tuesday, after a lengthy public hearing on the legislation, O'Neill proposed compromise language that he said would ensure his vote.

"To get him to flip on it is very, very significant," Tong said.
Yeah, I suppose the British thought that winning Benedict Arnold over to their side was a pretty nifty accomplishment, too.
After yesterday's 36-3 committee vote, O'Neill acknowledged he has had an "A-plus" legislative rating with the National Rifle Association for years.
Maybe I should set up a poll--after this "conversion," will O'Neill's grade from the NRA still be an "A-plus," fall to an "A," or plummet all the way to "A-minus"?

The "improvement" embodied in the "compromise" language would seem to be rather subtle, to say the least.
He said one compromise was specifying that gun owners file a report within 72 hours of "having discovered or reasonably should have discovered" a missing firearm. Last year's bill would have required a report within 72 hours when an owner "knew or should have known" a gun was missing.

O'Neill and others said that language could have been used by over-aggressive prosecutors to build cases against vacationing gun owners or hunters with cabins who may not learn for some time of a break-in.

"It's not an unfounded concern," said Tong, who is an attorney. "I know in layman's terms it's tough to parse the differences, but there's a meaningful difference."
From "knew or should have known," to "having discovered or reasonably should have discovered"--I know I feel much better. Tell me (if, as a mere layman, I can be made to understand)--who is to determine when a gun owner "reasonably should have discovered" his gun was missing? I can't help but notice that Representative Tong didn't bother to even try to begin to explain to us laymen how to "parse the differences" (I had originally planned to title this blog post "We're the Only Ones parsing the differences enough," but I didn't know if that would be close enough to Mr. Codrea's use of "Only Ones" to use without seeking his permission first). For more about the "compromise," click here.

The bill (Connecticut Senate Bill 903) goes beyond mandating reporting of stolen firearms--it mandates "safe storage" of firearms (without defining what constitutes "safe"), meaning that even if the rightful owner does report the theft of his gun(s), he can face prosecution for not doing enough to prevent the theft.
The legislation approved yesterday also requires firearms to be stored safely and not in a manner considered "reckless and irresponsible" by investigating police.
Since, as mentioned earlier, we are not told what kind of storage would be considered "reckless and irresponsible," this would seem to give zealous police and prosecutors rather a lot of leeway in making the decision whether or not to prosecute crime victims.

This bill, and any like it, transfers some of the responsibility for a crime from the perpetrator to the victim--that is not justice.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

" . . . a little too punitive to the law-abiding citizens"

I have previously made passing reference to this abomination currently festering in the Pennsylvania legislature. Pennsylvania House Bill 760 would require, among other things, registration of every gun (aside from antiques, and guns belonging to the "Only Ones"), at a cost of $10 per gun, per year, fingerprinting, background checks, mandatory "safe-storage" (the language on that would seem to render Pennsylvania's concealed carry licenses meaningless, because all guns would have to be unloaded and locked up, except for "recreational purposes"--unless defending one's life is now to be considered a game), etc.

To be honest, I'm not especially worried that this bill will pass--Pennsylvania seems still to be blessed with enough honorable officials like Sheriff Jozwiak and State Rep. Cox to stop it. The reason that such officials are in office, of course, is that the state's population is concerned enough about liberty to put them there. According to this article, the objections from the citizens who would suffer under this proposed tyranny have been heard loud and clear.

"People from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh support it, but people from the rural western part of the state say I'm a Nazi and that I should go back to my country," said state Rep. Angel Cruz, who represents Philadelphia County's 180th District.
Well, Angel, if the jackboots fit . . .
Cruz said he proposed the measure as a means to install a tracking system to determine where criminals responsible for gun violence are obtaining their weapons.

"I'm not in favor of taking away people's right to bear arms," he insisted. "They would just have to register them -- like they register a vehicle every year. I want to make it safe for all people across the state."
Good thinking, Angel! I think people should have to register their means of exercising their First Amendment rights, as well--we all know that hate speech is a toxic, corrosive influence on our society--let's require registration for every computer, every pen and pencil, and every can of spray paint (I'm sure you can think of more) in the state.

In fact, the outrage from Pennsylvanians who still value liberty has been so intense that two of the bill's sponsors have withdrawn their support. One of them kindly provided me the title for today's topic.
Wheatley believes the bill "goes a little too far."

"I have some concerns because this is more punitive than it needs to be," Wheatley said. "There are too many senseless deaths. We all struggle with gun violence in the city streets and in rural areas, and there is a black market in which someone legally buys a gun and then gives it to a criminal, but this is a little too punitive to the law-abiding citizens."
"Goes a little too far," eh? I'm glad Jake now seems not to be pushing this monstrosity on the people he claims to "represent," but I have some questions and concerns about " . . . a little too punitive to the law-abiding citizens." What degree of punitiveness to law-abiding citizens would be acceptable? How can it possibly be argued that inflicting any degree of punishment on the law-abiding is acceptable?

It seems to me that supporters of this legislation are traitors to the Constitution, and should be tried for treason. I don't wish to be "too punitive" to the law-abiding legislators (those who do not support it), so I don't propose putting them on trial. I'm open to suggestions on what to do about those who initially supported it, but have since withdrawn their support.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A couple of my blogging brothers in Illinois

Today is going to be a bit of a departure from what I generally post about. Today I'd like to point out a couple fellow Illinois gun bloggers who some of you might not have found yet. Illinois is probably not often thought of as a hotbed of gun rights activism, but I think these guys constitute proof that the will to fight for liberty is not yet dead here.

First, we have We Are the Militia, written by one of my compatriots at Illinois Carry. I found Redress of Grievances especially compelling.

The other, Flederma.us Gazette, is also written by one of my brothers in arms at Illinois Carry. Its focus is not exclusively on gun rights, but in advocating Constitutional rights in general, the Second Amendment is certainly given a prominent place.

By the way, as the writer of a rather insignificant blog, it might seem a bit pompous of me to presume to plug for these other blogs--I certainly don't mean it that way, and I'm sure they don't really need my "help"--I just want to spread the word about pro-rights activists (especially in Illinois). Please stop by and see what these gentlemen have to say.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Virginia State Police protecting privacy

I wrote before about Christian Trejbal's ill-considered editorial in the Roanoke Times, which was linked to a digital database of the entire list of concealed carry licensees in Virginia. Predictably (to everyone except Trejbal and the rest of the editorial staff at the Roanoke Times, apparently), this action was not well received (to the extent that some murderous lunatic sent mailing labels to his house--it's a miracle that they didn't explode).

Within a day, the Roanoke Times finally got a clue about what a mistake they had made by invading the privacy of 135,000 law-abiding Virginians, and removed the database. When Trejbal published his editorial, he claimed that the "point" he was making was about open government, and was not intended as a criticism of firearm ownership and lawful use.

This is not about being for or against guns.
Two sentences later, he turned around and "question[ed] the wisdom" of owning guns.
There are plenty of reasons to question the wisdom of widespread gun ownership, too.
The full measure of his opinion of concealed carry licensees is finally revealed when he seems to advocate that they should be subjected to the same intense scrutiny as sex offenders.
A state that eagerly puts sex offender data online complete with an interactive map could easily do the same with gun permits, but it does not.
The irony is that Trejbal's "celebration of open government" seems to have spurred the government to move to protect the very privacy he celebrated violating.

Last Friday, the Virginia State Police, under the guidance of Attorney General Bob McDonnel, closed the records to the public (the full text of the AG's opinion can be read here). I am especially amused to see that the article about the closure of the records, in the same paper that Trejbal published his editorial, begins by referring to Trejbal's "botched attempt to highlight an open record."
An editorial writer's botched attempt to highlight an open record -- the list of Virginians licensed to carry a concealed handgun -- resulted Friday in the record being closed.
It would seem that ol' Christian is having trouble finding support at even his own newspaper--here is a very good editorial, also in the Roanoke Times, making the case for more respect for the privacy of licensees.

Next year, more permanent privacy protections may be put in place by the Virginia legislature.
McDonnell's opinion settles the issue only for the short term; the General Assembly is expected to take up the issue next year following a study by the state's Freedom of Information Advisory Council.

"I think this opinion will serve as a foundation for future discussion," Nutter said.

Although he said it was too early to talk about specific legislation, Nutter said he could envision a solution in which citizens could still look up information on individual gun owners at their local courthouse, while the statewide list compiled by the state could be off-limits to everyone except law enforcement.
Still pleased with yourself, Christian?