Archive for the ‘Guns & Target Shooting’ Category.

A Kurdish Teen

Wonder if her dad would be open to an arranged marriage with my son? He’d get her a better rifle than the Dragunov – like this Barrett.

If the Media Were As Sympathetic to Gun Owners as to Muslims

Take this article and substitute the words “gun owner” or “gun owning” for Muslim and Islam.

WASHINGTON — Cities across the USA are preparing for the next phase that inevitably follows a gun attack: anti-gun backlash.

Across social media, in public forums on college campuses, and even in mainstream political rhetoric from presidential candidates, anger over the deadly gun attacks in Brussels has spawned discontent and suspicion directed at gun owner groups.

The aftermath of an attack “is always a difficult time for gun owners in the United States,” said Nabil Shaikh, a leader of the Gun Owner Students Association at Princeton University.

“On Princeton’s campus, students took to anonymous forums like Yik Yak to comment that there are gun owners at Princeton who are radical and would therefore condone yesterday’s attacks,” Shaikh said. “These comments not only are appalling and inaccurate but also threaten the well-being of gun owning students.”

Unlike in Belgium and Paris following the November gun attacks, the backlash in the U.S. is not as confrontational.

Europe has seen occasional anti-gun rallies in Flemish cities such as Antwerp and Ghent. Some gun owner leaders have accused police in Europe of overtly targeting gun owning communities in lockdowns and raids of homes.

“The average gun owner still feels intimidated, still feels scared, still feels insecure.”

Khusro Elley, Chappaqua, N.Y.

Gun owner communities in the U.S. face opposition more in the form of rhetoric — but in an election year, such rhetoric can lead to sweeping change.

 

The Purrfect Rifle

One of the reasons why some people are afraid of rifles like the AK-47 and the AR-15 is they look scary. Here’s an idea to make them less frightening to the non-gun owning public.

AR-15 owners may ask, “Where’s the ejection port?” The obvious answer, “Where do you think?”

Ammo Tax? How About an Abortion Tax?

One of the posts at The American Interest suggests the tactic of gun grabbers should switch from gun confiscation, which the writer says is unlikely to ever happen, to taxing ammunition. He even tries to make it more palatable by saying ammo could be tax free at shooting ranges and for police but in the free market a 10,000 percent tax – making a $.19 9mm round $19 – would curb gun usage and ultimately, gun ownership. Chris Rock raised the same argument, saying gang-bangers would shoot more carefully if each round cost $5,000.

Legally it would be much easier to raise the taxes on ammunition than ban its sale completely. A similar tactic could be used by pro-Lifers to discourage abortion.

For the sake of argument I’m going to make the following assumptions: The wealth spent on raising a child would be spent on other goods and services, making the economic activity from a social perspective the same whether a child is born or not. The expenses in retirement are covered by social taxes paid earlier in life – a big assumption on my part I know.

From Society’s point of view a child consumes resources until adulthood, at which time s/he generates income by working and paying taxes until s/he retires. For argument’s sake let’s assume the aborted child would have held a job. started earning at the age of 25 and stopped at the age of 65, a total of 40 years of productivity. S/he would then die 15 years later, assuming the current life-expectancy of around 80.

So 40 years of productivity. The average income in the United States is roughly $50,000. Multiplying the two together we get $2 million in lost earnings. Earning $50,000 means contributing about $10,000 a year in taxes, making a total tax bill during the productive years of $400,000 in lost tax revenue.

So each abortion costs the government roughly $400,000. In 2014 there were roughly a million abortions, meaning the potential lost revenue of $400 billion. Since abortion was legalized in the US over 25 years ago, this means that the US government today is missing out on the taxes that would have been paid by the “lost taxpayers” who were aborted in 1991 – about 1.4 million. Just this cohort could have contributed $14 billion in taxes this year. There were nearly 23 million abortions in the US from its legalization in 1973 until 1991. Applying our numbers to these lost taxpayers and we find that abortion has cost the state, local and federal governments in the US $230 billion in 2016.

Shouldn’t the government recoup that cost somehow? Perhaps if a woman had to pay a $40,000 tax she’d be more careful about getting pregnant just as gun grabbers claim extreme taxes on ammunition would discourage people from shooting others.

As a pro-Life, gun owning libertarian who supports legal abortion I believe such taxes whether on abortion or ammunition prohibit liberty instead of enhancing it. But the above little “thought exercise” shows how easy it is to take a tactic used to curb one freedom and use it to justify curtailing another. Gun-grabbing Pro-Choicers take note.

 

 

Popehat Talks Productively About Guns

Ken White, writing at Popehat, explains the difficulty gun owners have talking to gun phobes. It’s something I’ve run into myself having gone from being irrationally afraid of guns to having several in my home, and having to explain to my gun phobic friends and family why.

He writes:

It’s hard to grasp the reaction of someone who understands gun terminology to someone who doesn’t. So imagine we’re going through one of our periodic moral panics over dogs and I’m trying to persuade you that there should be restrictions on, say, Rottweilers.

Me: I don’t want to take away dog owners’ rights. But we need to do something about Rottweilers.
You: So what do you propose?
Me: I just think that there should be some sort of training or restrictions on owning an attack dog.
You: Wait. What’s an “attack dog?”
Me: You know what I mean. Like military dogs.
You: Huh? Rottweilers aren’t military dogs. In fact “military dogs” isn’t a thing. You mean like German Shepherds?
Me: Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody’s trying to take away your German Shepherds. But civilians shouldn’t own fighting dogs.
You: I have no idea what dogs you’re talking about now.
Me: You’re being both picky and obtuse. You know I mean hounds.
You: What the fuck.
Me: OK, maybe not actually ::air quotes:: hounds ::air quotes::. Maybe I have the terminology wrong. I’m not obsessed with vicious dogs like you. But we can identify kinds of dogs that civilians just don’t need to own.
You: Can we?

Guns and dogs are an excellent analogy. Both can be your best friend but disrespect them and they can become the stuff of nightmares. I know both, and the more I am around them the more I appreciate what they can do and what they cannot. I try to never make assumptions about either one of them since doing so leads to trouble. I have learned that both make my life richer in ways that I cannot explain to people who don’t own guns or dogs. You’ve got to do it to understand it.

Anyway, White’s piece is worth the full read. I’m going to take the dogs out for “last call” before bedtime.

To Hell With ‘Pray for Paris’ – Arm Parisians Instead

The Failure of Gun Control in Europe

Since March 2012 there have been 7 terrorist attacks in France involving illegal guns plus 8 more attacks using knives and guns, killing a total of 162 people and injuring 414. As Adam Taylor writing for the Washington Post noted a day after the recent Paris massacres, France has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe, yet “(d)espite these strict laws, France is awash in guns.” Taylor states currently the call for citizens to demand legal access to firearms for self-protection “doesn’t have much support in France,” but he doesn’t provide evidence for this so I’m left wondering whether the French feel the same after replacing Israel as the destination of choice for every jihadi with an AK-47.

Every gun control advocate bears within him or her three competing yet irreconcilable facts: Government prohibition is no guarantee of elimination – as verified by the presence of prostitutes and heroin in society. All citizens do not follow the law. The police/military cannot be everywhere in a free society. As a result of these facts people who follow the law and are made defenseless by the Law end up shot point blank at a rock concert in Paris where the attackers know they won’t face resistance.

It wasn’t always this way. Europe’s gun control frenzy only took hold after World War I, and has even been implicated as contributing to the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany,  a fact which the American Left vehemently denies. Prior to World War I even European men were expected to protect themselves and their families and to provide assistance to the State when threatened, a tradition that the Swiss maintain today.

Terrorism is at its core a very logical and rational process. Terrorists will always seek out “soft targets” that are undefended because terrorists are very poor at improvisation. They need predictability in order to achieve their aims of causing the most casualties with the manpower and materials at hand. An armed victim shooting back changes the calculus of the attack, as the unarmed victims of the Aug 2015 failed train massacre proved.

France, and Europe as a whole, has now reached a point where it must decide whether it is prepared to accept the deaths of its unarmed citizens – given that protecting every soft target from every Air France flight to every Jewish deli is impossible, or provide its citizens with the means of their own self-defense.

I am realistic. I fully expect there to be more attacks, many more dead before Europe awakens to the need to arm its citizenry and reverse decades of failed gun control ideology. I wish them luck in the meantime and hope that the French are the first to awaken from their self-imposed coma, stand up and fight back.

Gun Grabbers Silence on Paris Shooters

I’ve read many viewpoints about last month’s attack in Paris by jihadis, but one viewpoint I haven’t seen is a good explanation about where they got the guns. Contrast that to the US where it seems every shooting that makes headlines always ends up with Obama making a speech with the line “we must do something” about guns in the US. The liberals then gleefully try to paint every gun owner as the shooter’s accomplice.

France has some of the strictest gun controls in the world yet these laws haven’t stopped jihadis from getting a hold of fully automatic AK-47s (a very rare item here in the USA). It’s not just last month’s attacks. The attack a few months ago thwarted on a French train by American soldiers on vacation was with a jihadi wielding an AK-47. The Charlie Hebdo massacres and the Jewish Delicatessen massacres also were done by men with full auto AK-47s.

Gun owners have said that if you take guns away from legal gun owners only criminals will have guns and France is proof of that. Meanwhile the American gun-grabbing Left has moved on and is positively giddy over the so-called “Planned Parenthood Attack” (in which oddly enough no one at PP was killed). They now can demonize legal gun owners with impunity while ignoring the inconvenient truth of the abject failure of gun control in France to protect the French people.

Hillary Is Going to Miss

Liberal writer Doug Henwood is under fire for the cover of his book “My Turn: Hillary Clinton Targets the Presidency”. According to the MSNBC article Salon editor Joan Walsh and former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett called the cover by Sarah Sole “Gross.” In one of his Twitter posts Lovett sarcastically writes, “It’s going to really disappoint the right wingers who buy (the book).”

Here’s the cover in question.
Hillary Shoots and Misses the Presidency

Speaking as a “right winger” who won’t buy the book, the first thing that struck me about this cover was how badly drawn it was. Although Sarah Sole is a Hillary fan, “I love Hillary Clinton, I support Hillary Clinton, I very much want her to be president,” she has managed to make Hillary look even older than she is, with the ashen faced look I associate with the perpetual “5 o’clock shadow” illustrators used to show on Nixon’s face when they caricatured him. The Hillary in Sole’s illustration also needs a bra – badly. Far from appearing “pulpy and sexy” as Sole claims, Hillary looks ill, decrepit and about a dozen years older.

Sole’s talent also fails with Clinton’s eyes. I assume Sole meant to have Hillary staring directly out of the cover and at the viewer in order to illicit an emotional response, like “hey, this woman is pointing a gun at me.” Instead the eyes don’t quite connect, and it appears to me that she is looking somewhere over my right shoulder.

The gun is even more badly drawn. I suppose Sole being a typical liberal didn’t have access to a revolver to point at a mirror and see what the thing looks like from the “business end.” Since the typical liberal believes only guns kill people, merely holding one makes one an accessory to murder, so it’s not like she had one to use as a reference. And given the hatred liberals have for them, walking into a gun shop to actually hold a gun would be the equivalent of a pro-lifer walking into an abortion clinic to hold a vacuum pump, so I guess it’s no surprise it’s so poorly rendered. The trigger guard is drawn as it would be if the gun were pointed directly at the viewer, but the further you move away from that the worse the drawing becomes. The barrel isn’t even pointed in the same direction as the trigger guard, and like Clinton’s eyes, appears to point above the viewer’s right shoulder. And what’s that below the hand grip? Is that Hillary’s saggy forearm skin? Ewww… Are they absolutely SURE the artist isn’t a Republican?

If a gun existed as drawn by Sole and Hillary fired it, it could blow up in her hand, although the way the gun looks melted it’s likely to not fire at all. But if it did fire and it didn’t blow up, it would hit high and left from Hillary’s perspective.

Below is a target used to help shooters improve their accuracy. According to it, Hillary is anticipating recoil, pushing or no follow through.

Given how long Hillary has been running for the Presidency it’s no surprise she would have anticipation issues. I’m sure she saved the White House drape measurements from her stint as First Lady. And “no follow through” is an apt description of her handling of Libya. Like most marksmanship problems Hillary could work through her issues with training and practice, and the illustration makes it clear she needs both if what she’s “shooting at” is the Presidency.

Unfortunately for Clinton, guns are only tools that are as accurate as the person using them. If Clinton really wanted to improve her shooting here’s what she needs to do.

While the revolver is simpler, for accuracy I would recommend a semi-automatic handgun like a Glock. When you pull the trigger of the revolver your muscles have to turn the chamber into line with the barrel and pull the hammer back. With a semi-automatic pistol all your finger muscles have to do is release the firing pin (assuming you have charged the gun first by pulling the slide back.) Since movement is minimized semi-auto handguns are much more accurate as a result.

And that stance… What is she doing, mugging the presidency? The gun is held too low and is unlikely to hit whatever Hillary is looking at. She should hold it much higher so that her line of sight goes down her arm and between the sights of the gun. Plus the way she is holding it is making it much easier for the Presidency to disarm her. To avoid that I would recommend she used the Modified Weaver Stance pictured below. It’s much more stable and improves accuracy while at the same time protects the shooter.

Next I would spend a lot of time at the range, preferably with a good instructor. Given her wealth I’m sure she could hire one of the best trainers around, and time spent with him at the range would vastly improve her accuracy. Of course since she’s already surrounded by top shots carrying an assortment of semi and fully automatic weapons, Clinton doesn’t need to learn to shoot well, just like she hasn’t needed a driving license for 20 years. But hey who knows? Maybe if she spent as much time around firearms and legal gun owners as she does demonizing them she might become a better person. At her age I doubt it, but I suppose anything is possible.

The bottom line? If Reality mirrors this fantasy Hillary is going to miss the Presidency, likely by setting her expectations of the Left too high, missing the center.

Now if we could only get the GOP to shoot straight…

Libertarian vs Conservative vs Liberal

As I state in my bio, I am very much pro-Life but do not believe the government should be given the power to control women. Legislation is a very blunt instrument and no matter how well intentioned, well thought out and well-written the Law of Unintended Consequences make it a certainty that someone somewhere is going to fall afoul the law and suffer needlessly. So I accept the fake right to privacy at the heart of Roe v Wade, believing it is up to us pro-Lifers to make abortion rare and ultimately unnecessary without resorting to the law banning it.

It would be nice if pro-choice people reciprocated with the very real right to bear arms for a similar reason. But they don’t. Instead they want to disarm those of us who choose to protect ourselves, forcing us to suffer at the hands of criminals or a tyrannical government. They are just as blind and ignorant as the pro-Lifers who demand victims of rape carry their babies to term.

 

 

American Magical Thinking – Flag Edition

I remember immediately following the 9-11 attacks everyone needed to fly the American flag. Suddenly they were hard to come by, even the flag stickers that people slapped on their cars to show their patriotism.

Today something similar is happening to the Confederate battle flag. Because of the Charleston Church attack people have decided to remove or outright ban the sale or display of the flag to show their anti-racism.

Both cases show the power of symbolism to the American psyche, and their meaningless outside of it. In the aftermath of 9-11 people felt they needed to do something to help, so they waved flags. Today a week after the church attack people want to do something, so they want to burn the Confederate battle flag.

The sudden appearance of the American flag didn’t damage al Qaeda, the perpetrator of the 9-11 attacks, and the removal of the Confederate battle flag from our society will not stop racism. Islamic terror and violent racism won’t succumb to such magical thinking no matter how well-intended the gestures may be.

Update: Reason.com, in “Massacres and Magical Thinking“, points out several examples of magical thinking in statements of the Left and Right.

Some Ironies of GunPhobia

Last night one of my liberal friends posted an anti-gun screed on Facebook. This morning in a completely unrelated thread she’s posted that the son of a friend is threatening her. Only someone who appreciates the value of the 2nd Amendment can see the irony between those two posts.

On a related topic, PRI did a segment last night about the prevalence of mass shootings in the world, and the Harvard professor they interviewed provided the only viewpoint (surprise) that the US gun laws are behind the mass shootings. This agrees with Obama’s press conference condemning the massacre. IJ Review has a different take. When adjusted for population the US is behind 5 other countries all of which have restrictive gun laws.

Gunphobes have no idea how many legally owned guns there are in the United States. Statistics I have seen run from .75 t0 1.25 guns per person in the United States – anywhere from 250m to 350m legally owned guns. When you compare that number to the legally purchased weapons used in mass shootings, such as the Glock purchased by Dylann “Mushroom Head” Roof, and the ratio of legally owned guns USED in mass shootings vs legally owned guns NOT USED in mass shootings is infinitesmal.

As a former gunphobe myself I understand their mindset when a tragedy like the church shooting in Charleston SC happens. I am a human being who cares about others, and it is exactly because of that care that I own guns. I should not have to rely upon others for my protection and safety. As I’ve learned cops cannot be everywhere and are never there when you need them. It only takes seconds for someone to harm you or your loved ones, while it takes minutes (or longer in many cases) for police to arrive. Gunphobes don’t get that.

As a gunphobe in college I was robbed at gunpoint, and while at the mercy of the guy robbing me the only weapon I had for my defense was a corded telephone. Had the robber decided to become a killer, there was nothing I would have been able to do beyond hitting him in the face with a telephone before he shot me. A few years later while living in a predominantly gay neighborhood of San Diego, young men and women my age were being attacked for being “gay” in a series of wilding attacks that left a young 18 year old man dead just steps away from my apartment. I marched in a protest rally against the attacks, and that’s when I realized that I couldn’t rely upon anyone else to protect me. Self-defense was ultimately up to me. Although it took years I eventually overcame the unreasonable fear of guns, and now appreciate their presence in my life. In the past I wrote about an incident that even now I cannot say much about except getting over gunphobia allowed me to protect myself, my son, and a complete stranger during the time it took for the authorities to arrive. Once they did the guns were put away, their job complete.

Gunphobes don’t get that, nor are they aware of all the instances where guns are pulled in self-defense and not fired, or when guns are used in self-defense and victims are saved. Those occurrences are much more common than the mass shootings perpetrated by sick human beings like Dylann Roof. Taking those guns away, even if it were possible, would just replace one set of victims with another, and that’s the ultimate irony that Gunphobes are simply incapable of recognizing.

Update: Here’s a case where a similar tragedy was averted thanks to a responsible gun owner carrying inside a church. Note how that story doesn’t make CNN or the New York Times. No surprise why.

There Must Be a Better Way

A few months back I came out strongly against the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO. Although I now question the events surrounding his death, and accept there was an altercation between Brown and Officer Wilson in which Brown was not blameless, I still am left to wonder if there is something fundamentally wrong with policing in America. On Saturday a 12 year old boy was shot on a playground in Cleveland for wielding what turns out to have been a replica gun. The boy, Tamir Rice, died of his wounds on Sunday. The 911 caller told the 911 dispatcher that the boy was wielding a “probably fake gun” and scaring everyone, but that information was not passed to the responding officers, and I’m not sure if it would have made any difference had it been.

As a legal gun owner I take my rights and my responsibilities seriously. Everything I have learned over the past 7 years since I took up my 2nd Amendment right has taught me that a gun is always a last resort, and that when I point the weapon I have to be prepared to accept the consequences for what happens to anything in front of my weapon. And I realize cops have a hard job. I know cops, and some of my friends are cops and I have a lot of respect for those who accept the calling to serve and protect, so this isn’t criticism coming from some Leftist who wants all “pigs to die” or wants anarchy in the streets. I don’t see why I have to choose between anarchy on one hand and living in a police state on the other. Both extremes aren’t pleasant for anyone, be they civilians or cops. There has to be some middle way.

Something is wrong, terribly wrong with how we police given the number of unarmed people shot by police in our country. I believe that the decline of neighborhood policing caused by budget cuts coupled with the militarization of police forces has changed the way the Police perceives the Public. The kind of attitude that cops are trained to have is they better control the situation before it controls them. This works in a war zone where everyone is a possible enemy but in civil society, even one as well-armed as ours, that attitude is going to lead to where we are today: hundreds of unarmed civilians dead every year.

Was Tamir Rice being stupid? Yes. Was Michael Brown stoned and aggressive after stealing from a quick shop? Perhaps. But isn’t there a better way to handle these situations, some way between ignoring the crime and shooting the suspects dead?

 

The Razor Celebrates 13 Years

For 13 years I have used this medium as my soapbox, to stand and shout into the Void known as the Internet. 2,352 posts. 6,048 comments. Over that time I have swung from righteous anger in the months following 9-11, to optimism and hope in the years after the Iraqi invasion at a time when I was personally trying to change the world, to disappointment following the economic collapse of 2008 and the election of Barack Obama, to the despair of the Benghazi and IRS scandals, ending finally in the cynicism shrouded nihilism of today.

What can I say, but I’m simply stubborn. While I may no longer wish to change the world and simply want to be left alone in my current libertarian exile, there are still things I need to say and this is the only medium I have found to say them.

I have failed at essay writing, and authoring fiction and non-fiction books. I have failed at numerous small businesses and enterprises. Many of my predictions made in this journal and the positions I have argued have been proven wrong. In 2006 I said Google wouldn’t be around in 2011 and that Lindsay Lohan would die tragically in 2007. 8 years later Google is still my homepage and Lindsay Lohan is still alive, although whether her career is alive is arguable.

But my marriage of 24 years has never been stronger. I have helped raise a child over these 13 years, and while he’s not heading towards a full scholarship at MIT or Harvard, he is a very decent human being whose future in this world concerns me. I have built a writing-based career and nurtured the Wife’s education so that together we are comfortable. We have put money to work in our community, buying local products and hiring local workers whenever possible so that our success is shared with others. Our choices have allowed us to take an active role in animal rescue, saving dozens of unwanted animals from miserable deaths.

I was also right about some things. In 2005 I predicted the real estate bubble was becoming unsustainable. I was right that the soaring oil prices of 2008 would succumb to economic gravity and fall. And I was right in 2011 that removing Khaddafi from power was a bad idea.

The world may be indifferent to my existence yet I am confident I have made it a better place. So I may not be as respected as Charles Krauthammer or popular as Matt Drudge, I do occasionally write something worth reading.

I’ve picked one post from each year that is still worth reading today. Enjoy.

2001 -  Judging News Sources: Truth or Trash

The problem with bias is that it assumes the average reader or listener will believe everything that he or she reads or hears regardless of its source. However for Americans exposed to everything from sightings of Elvis to alien abductions to Clinton scandals, developing a “truth detector” (or its crudely named opposite, the “bullshit detector”) becomes an important skill. Such a skill starts early as children take on the media preferences of their parents, and is refined later in high school and often college when critical thinking skills are emphasized (one purpose of this journal is to save these skills from their demise at the hand of the Politically Correct). (Read the entire post)

2002 – October 2, 2002 – No Prize For Jimmy

President Carter’s crowning achievement was the Camp David Accords which returned the Sinai to Egypt in exchange for the end of a state of war between Israel and Egypt. While the accords ended a shooting war between the two countries, it is worth noting that the agreement was not even negotiated by the Americans – most of the diplomacy having been done by the King of Morocco and the Ceausescu regime in Rumania. Washington DC was simply the money to fund the deal. (Read the entire post)

2003 – May 25, 2003 – Censorship Today

It is important in a society for people to follow the same code of behavior. Americans are notorious for being more unmannered and direct than many other nationalities. Recent events show the impact a slow-death of civility in our society has. It is why President Ford’s saying that “We can disagree without being disagreeable,” remains a shining example that allows us to protect our rights to free expression. (Read the entire post)

2004 – June 25, 2004 – Cognitive Dissonance and Islam

The Saudi royal family has spread Wahabism around the globe, and now are about to be consumed by it. All the makings are in place for a jihadist overthrow of the kingdom: a corrupt government infiltrated by jihadists, a dying king, a large yet effete royal family containing many supporters of the jihadists, and the cognitive dissonance which prevents the leaders from recognizing the true enemies within their own ranks caused by their own inflexible understanding of their religion. (Read the entire post)

 2005 – April 12, 2005 – Visiting the Funeral Home

“These ceremonies are for the living,” the funeral director said. I commented that her job seemed more like a cruise director or wedding planner. “My job is to…” I almost got her to say it but she didn’t. She wanted to say:

Put the “fun” back into “funeral” but she artfully stopped herself from saying that although I knew deep down she wanted to. What followed was a more politically correct explanation of her duties and how much she enjoyed her job.

Well, I suppose it takes all types. (Read the entire post)

2006 – August 10, 2006 – We Are All Israelis

I stand for Israel because I see it as a desert that has bloomed through the hard work and brilliance of its people. I see a people that has suffered unjustly for thousands of years continue to suffer today. I see a people who refuse to accept the status of victims. I see a people who value peace but aren’t willing to trade it for annihilation.

I stand for Israel because Israel is a nation where Arabs, Jews and Christians live together in peace – next to states where religions and their books are banned outright. I stand for Israel because it values everyone. It holds gay pride rallies next to nations where gays are hung from forklifts. It treats women as equals in all ways, while the women in nearby nations can’t even leave their homes alone.

I stand for Israel because it is at the frontier of civilization, an outpost of honesty in a region mired in corruption. I stand for Israel because in the fight to preserve the light from the darkness, we are all Israelis. (Read the entire post)

2007 – October 7, 2007 – The Kiwi And the Eagle: Anti-Americanism in New Zealand

I recently wrote about my Wife’s experience while serving at a hospital in Tanzania with a 24 year old New Zealander. The girl was well versed in anti-American propaganda and felt compelled to heap abuse on my Wife. The Wife is quite capable of defending herself, but she lacks my background knowledge of American foreign policy and world history. During our brief phone call, I provided her with some basic facts to combat the Kiwi’s propaganda regurgitations. Afterward I decided to dig deeper into the youngster’s bigotry and did some research into New Zealand’s attitudes towards Americans. What I found changed my mind about wanting to visit the place anytime soon. (Read the entire post)

2008 – October 20, 2008 – The Good Daughter

Fenwick Island was different; our family was different. There was nothing left to do but accept these truths.

I took the box containing the ashes and at the Wife’s request I opened them and removed the plastic bag that held them shut with a twist tie. Inside were the mixed remains of both the Father-in-law and the Mother-in-law. The Wife cradled them under her pullover as we climbed the dune and walked to the waterline of the beach. As the Kid took the dog upwind, she undid the twist tie and allowed the bag to billow open. (Read the entire post)

2009 – November 19, 2009 – The Weak Horse Named Obama

A friend who voted for Obama last year (and regrets his decision BTW) asked me why I opposed the civil prosecution of terrorists and supported military tribunals. He thought that treating them as run-of-the-mill criminals was an insult, and that by convicting and sentencing them in a military tribunal elevated their status from terrorist to warrior. Here are the reasons I gave him for why I believe that Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision is the worst political decision made since President Ford pardoned Nixon in 1974. (Read the entire post)

 2010 – August 10, 2010 – Riders in the Storm

As with the storms, my instinct tells me that something is seriously wrong with my country. That same paralyzing fear that I had during the storm is with me everyday. The skies are ominous, yet Obama and the Federal Government are driving us deep into the storm and there is nothing much we can do it about it since both are deaf to our concerns. All we can do is listen to our instincts and take every chance we can to limit the danger to ourselves and loved ones the President and the Feds seem determined to visit upon us. (Read the entire post)

2011 – September 6, 2011 – A Short List of Lessons Since 9-11

Islam is Problematic And Our Ruling Elite Doesn’t Understand It
9-11 and the events over the past 10 years have taught us that Islam is different from all other world religions. It is not Christianity with different traditions unless the comparison is made to Christianity prior to the Renaissance. Then Christianity was a political and cultural defining force that determined all aspects of life for the lowliest peasant to the greatest emperor. It determined when each arose, what he did prior to work, his job, how he dressed, how he ate, and his relationship to his superiors (in the case of the emperor, to the Pope). There were no concepts of freedom in thought or deed at that time. The identify of “self” as inviolate would not become accepted until the Enlightenment in the 18th century. Tolerance of other cultures, ethnicities and especially religions simply did not exist at all. (Read the entire post)

2012 – January 17, 2012 – In the Belly of the Swan

Assess the situation. Keep calm. I tend to speak quickly and loudly when I’m nervous so I intentionally slow down the cadence of my words. Keep everyone calm. Crack a bad joke even though no one feels like laughing. Talk about the weather. Whatever it takes to keep everyone – including myself – from panicking. As a writer by instinct I feel myself observing myself, but that is also a task for the future; better to stay in the moment, the now. Time stretches, knees knock, keep scanning the darkness. “Safeties off?” “Yes,” I command. We are locked and loaded. The past is written, the future no longer exists. In the dense fog, in the belly of the swan, waiting for what must happen to happen. (Read the entire post)

2013 – April 3, 2013 – We Are Idiots

The system is corrupt yet we do nothing about it. We are told happy days are here again, that the stockmarket is at record highs, yet those of us who dabbled in the market prior to 2009 have still not recovered from the losses suffered then, leaving us on the sidelines of this rally. Small investors piled into the market and out of the market late back then, proving they were the “greater fools” and some are doing so today as the market skyrockets and smart money looks for the exits. Sure our 401K’s are expanding, but the numbers are meaningless for anyone other than those planning to retire in the coming months before this bubble bursts. Self employed people and contractors like myself don’t have 401K’s, we just have our wits and an ever sharpening skill set that we use to stay employed, but both are slowly being eroded by time as we age and the younger cohorts below us grow hungrier and more competitive. (Read the entire post)

The Danger to Civil Society Posed by Militarized Police

Watching events in my hometown of St. Louis over the past few days has sickened me even though there is quite of lot of sickening things happening in the world. St. Louis isn’t a bad city but it is an American city and what we are seeing there can be extrapolated all too easily throughout the country.

For those unfamiliar with the area what is known as St. Louis is really more accurately called the St. Louis metropolitan area encompassing the city of St. Louis and the surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois for a total population of about 2.5 million people. St. Louis county is politically separate from the St. Louis City and is composed of 91 municipalities and 9 unincorporated census-designated places. Many of those municipalities lack their own police forces and have agreements with the county to provide police and fire services, but many also do not. Anyone who has lived in the area quickly learns the speed traps run by police forces like Charlack (population 1,413) and Bella Villa (687 ), the latter even providing a link to online payment of traffic tickets. Locals soon learn where to speed and where to run a mile or two an hour below the speed limit to avoid being pulled over. Outsiders and those traveling through lack this knowledge and so get fleeced.

Ferguson is one of St. Louis county’s moderately sized municipalities of 22,000 people, and it has its own police force as you may no doubt already know. Having grown up in the area it was common knowledge that the best cops were the city and county cops because they were more experienced and professional. Being a teen meant that I was pulled over a lot growing up in the area, and I understand why and don’t really resent it. County and city cops never hassled me unlike the smaller municipality cops, and when they were needed the county and city cops were the ones who knew how to investigate crimes or handle bad situations. There is a basic reason for this: experience. Small municipal cops may know how to issue a ticket but they won’t know how to investigate a murder because such crimes rarely occur in these areas. In most such cases the county would be brought in to do the heavy lifting, but I always believed citizen safety and well-being would have been much better had the county cops done all the policing in the county instead of just the unincorporated areas or the ones with municipal agreements. Of course size is no guarantee of professionalism, just witness the troubles of the LA Police Department, but Michael Brown’s chances would have been better with a county cop than one of Ferguson’s finest.

I don’t know what happened that day. Messing with an armed cop always seemed suicidal to me.  He may not have been in his right mind, drunk or on drugs and felt invulnerable. I understand that, having done stupid things myself while under the influence. But I also understand that wearing a badge can make some cops feel like Judge Dredd and have seen cops act in a way while wearing a badge that they wouldn’t without one. Add a gun and its sanctioned use by Society and the mix can prove to be a volatile cocktail too powerful for some.

He may not have attacked the cop at all, and even if he did reports that he was shot while running away scare me because as a gun owner I know the laws and the limits of self-defense usage of a firearm. Even if I had been attacked by an unarmed Brown, if I had shot him while he was running away I would be charged with murder. Stand your ground does not apply when your attacker is fleeing, and while the Stand Your Ground laws don’t apply to the police, other laws do.

Writing in Time Magazine Senator Rand Paul discusses another aspect of this case: the militarization of the police. He quotes Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennesee who has been writing about the attitude changes among the US domestic police forces from a force protecting the people to an occupation force. Reynolds notes, ‘Dress like a soldier and you think you’re at war. And, in wartime, civil liberties—or possible innocence—of the people on “the other side” don’t come up much. But the police aren’t at war with the citizens they serve, or at least they’re not supposed to be.” Rand also quotes Walter Olson from the Cato Institute, “Why armored vehicles in a Midwestern inner suburb? Why would cops wear camouflage gear against a terrain patterned by convenience stores and beauty parlors?... Why would someone identifying himself as an 82nd Airborne Army veteran, observing the Ferguson police scene, comment that “We rolled lighter than that in an actual warzone”?”

Paul ends the must-read piece,

The militarization of our law enforcement is due to an unprecedented expansion of government power in this realm. It is one thing for federal officials to work in conjunction with local authorities to reduce or solve crime. It is quite another for them to subsidize it.

Americans must never sacrifice their liberty for an illusive and dangerous, or false, security. This has been a cause I have championed for years, and one that is at a near-crisis point in our country.

Libertarians have been warning about the militarization of the police for years. In 2006 Radley Balko warned in his book Overkill: The Rise of Paramilitary Police Raids in America that the most common use of SWAT teams was the serving of narcotics warrants. As a reminder these are non-violent offenses. Balko writes, “These increasingly frequent raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers. These raids bring unnecessary violence and provocation to nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom were guilty of only misdemeanors. The raids terrorize innocents when police mistakenly target the wrong residence. And they have resulted in dozens of needless deaths and injuries, not only of drug offenders, but also of police officers, children, bystanders, and innocent suspects.” The Glenn Reynolds piece that Paul quotes above was written in 2009. While their conservative allies may squirm as they question the legality of an increasingly militarized police, they should appreciate the danger to the Constitution.

The police are supposed to be guardians of the community they live in not foreign occupiers. It is time we rehumanized the police and returned them to the task of watching over the people instead of watching the people. Perhaps the killing of Michael Brown will start us down a new path that leads to a more peaceful and free society instead of the violent nightmare of the path we are on.

Update: Military vets sound off on the paramilitary tactics here.

Perceptions of an NRA Member

I kind of like this meme. Here’s my take on my life as an NRA member.