I kind of like this meme. Here’s my take on my life as an NRA member.
Ockham’s Razor – Since October 2001 – by Scott Kirwin
Archive for the ‘Guns & Target Shooting’ Category.
I kind of like this meme. Here’s my take on my life as an NRA member.
Reason.com has a pretty good (but brief) take on the open vs conceal carry debate. Personally I tend towards the conceal side simply because people who aren’t familiar with guns tend to freak out whenever one is in sight. At the same time, however, there have been times when I’ve needed to open carry a long-gun or sidearm, but these times have been few and far between and never involved populated places like schools, malls or shopping centers.
Yet another psychopathic murderous rampage becomes a Rorschach Test for the Left or a chance to score cheap political points depending on your point of view as a 22 year old hyphenated American male goes on a rampage. This time a Washington Post film critic is under fire from white males in Hollywood for blaming white male culture in Hollywood for Elliot Rodger’s rampage. A victim’s father has already criticized the NRA, and even an aunt of Rodger living in France told the Daily Telegraph, “He was always a disturbed child. I don’t know how he was allowed to get a gun. Something has to be done about gun laws in America.” No word from aunty on how the 2nd Amendment is to blame for the three men he stabbed to death.
In therapy since the age of 8, Elliot Rodger was a broken human being. In that respect he is no different from any other run-of-the-mill psychopaths who’ve killed their way into the newspaper headlines. But instead of blaming guns, or “white male culture” in Hollywood, or video games, how about blaming Elliot Rodger?
If we can’t do that, then perhaps we should consider other responsible parties. Face it we all know broken human beings of one sort or another. Chances are none of them have done anything even remotely threatening to another human being, and those that have we have a responsibility as a friend and loved one to make sure they receive the care they need. But our responsibility doesn’t stop there. We also have a responsibility to Society at large to protect innocents.
If Elliot Rodger was as screwed up as reports suggest, and given the creepy photography of his dad’s that alone is enough to cause issues, there is no reason why that man should have been allowed to walk free. Decades ago he would have been locked up for his – and Society’s – own good. Clearly no one, including his parents, his therapists and even his aunty in France, was surprised by his outburst. So why wasn’t he institutionalized?
Instead of blaming violent video games or guns, isn’t it time we refocus on the psychopath and the family that supported him? As a parent I sympathize with all the parents shattered by this man’s actions, but I also recognize my own responsibility to both my son and the Society I am part of to make sure the former doesn’t grow into a psychopath that wantonly murders. Roger’s family failed in both responsibilities, and while aunty blames others I hold her at least partly to blame for Roger’s actions.
And we as a society need to rethink our involuntary commitment laws. As a libertarian I am extremely hesitant to give the government this power, but would welcome it in the hands of family members and medical professionals. Current laws make it almost impossible for either to put someone into protective custody, and I’ve experienced this difficulty first hand as my family tried to commit a relative against her will. She’s dead now and luckily she didn’t take anyone out with her, but there’s a very good chance she would be alive today had we had the ability to keep her off the streets.
It seems that we’re passed the days of John Wayne Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer types who surprised their neighbors with their depravity. Instead we have people we clearly recognize as threats to themselves and others, but current laws make it all but impossible to confine them to mental hospitals where they can get the care they need while protecting society from their demons. If we want to learn any lessons from Elliot Rodger’s killing spree, we can start with that.
Update: Police were evidently aware of Roger’s disturbing Youtube videos when they conducted a welfare check on him.
I decided to clean out my draft folder as part of my end-of-year housecleaning, a practice I picked up while living in Japan where housewives work hard to start the New Year with a clean house in contrast to the western practice of waiting until the end of Winter. Writing for this journal doesn’t follow any particular routine. Sometimes the words flow; other times each one comes out snarling and biting. Often I’ll start a post without knowing where it’s going, only finding in retrospect what my subconscious had planned. What follows are posts where I thought I knew where they were headed only to find myself stranded in a desert without a map or cell phone coverage. Here are the results.
The Clash of Western and Islamic Values – Part 2 – April 2013
The first part of this series is here.
The First Amendment of the US Constitution states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” This has come to be interpreted as the separation of Church and State put forth by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 in which Jefferson wrote, “I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”
Secular Christians can trace this doctrine back even further, to Jesus Christ’s answer to the Pharisees seeking to entrap him. “Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Show me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.” Matthew 22:15-22. This doctrine was later expanded upon by St. Augustine writing four centuries later noting the differences between an “earthly city” and the “City of God.” Martin Luther took St. Augustine’s ideas even further in his Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms which postulated that God worked his will through secular institutions as well as through divine acts. Luther also promoted secularism in his book “On Secular Authority,” writing that a government could not force spiritual beliefs on someone because such beliefs would be held insincerely and would therefore be invalid in God’s eyes. Luther’s ideas would then be picked up by John Calvin and other Protestant reformers, and later James Madison and Thomas Jefferson in the United States.
Even with a relatively clear and consistent philosophical lineage the United States has struggled with the concept of separation of Church and State almost since its inception. For the first hundred years of the Republic the First Amendment was viewed as applying specifically to the federal government; states were free establish official religions. Massachusetts supported Congregationalism until 1833. States continued supporting religion by enacting Blue Laws, abiding by religious holidays and providing other public concessions to religious groups. The Supreme Court finally began to weigh in on the issue, ruling in Reynolds v. United States (1878) that state laws prohibiting bigamy trumped religious laws (Mormonism in this case) that allowed it. It banned school prayer in public schools in its rulings in Engel v. Vitale (1962) and Abington School District v. Schempp (1963). Since then the Supreme Court has delineated a distinct line between religion and secular society. Nevertheless that line continues to be defined by lawsuits challenging the legality of public religious displays and the wearing of religious head coverings on the job.
Islam is quite different…
Classic Parables Revisited: Teach A Man To Fish: April 2013
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” – Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie
Sir, why where did you get that fish? Do you have a fishing license? Sir. Turn around. TURN AROUND! HANDS ON YOUR HEAD! NOW ON YOUR KNEES! ON YOUR F***ING KNEES SIR!... You have the right to remain silent…
Give a man a fish, unless he’s a vegan in which case you might want to consider a protein substitute such as soy or seitan. I’m not sure about the rest of the parable though since both require extensive farming and production skills.
Give a man a fish? Sure go right ahead and pull a helpless animal out from its environment and murder it. How would you like it if a being plucked you out of your house, suffocated you and laid you on a plate, you speciesist!
Give a man a fish, but only after obtaining the necessary permits from the Interior Department and your state’s Dept. of Fish and Wildlife. Since you will not be consuming this fish, you will therefore have to acquire permits for safe food handling and storage. Was the fish immediately refrigerated upon its catch? Can you guarantee that everyone who touched the fish did so with clean gloved hands? Has the fish itself been tested for toxins, particularly mercury which tends to accumulate in the food chain? As a food distributor you will also be subject to additional local, state and federal laws controlling the safe distribution of foodstuffs. Have your facilities been inspected by these relevant authorities and have the forms been filled out? Can you prove with 100% accuracy and certainty that all documentation of your seafood distribution service is on file with the appropriate state, local and federal authorities?
Give a man a fish just make sure both you and the man claim it on your taxes, otherwise he could be subject to penalties including fines and jail time for failure to report income.
Give a man a fish? How about a woman or those of undetermined gender? Would you have them starve – or do you relish your traditional role in a male-dominated hierarchy as provider?
Why I’m a Gun Owner and Member of the NRA - May 2013
I grew up in suburban St. Louis in a household that never owned guns. My father served in the Philippines in World War 2 and brought back a Japanese sword as a souvenir, which he sold for a pittance in 1972 because he was afraid I’d find it and hurt myself with it. During my teens it was probably a good thing that I didn’t have access to a gun because I suffered from depression after surviving several deaths in my family including that of my father. I was different, nerdy and bookish in a world before nerds became billionaires and elevated their social status. Dungeons and Dragons? I played it for nights on end. Science Fiction? Some of the best books I’ve ever read.
I attended college in San Diego. I worked part time at a video store in La Jolla, and was robbed at gunpoint for $500 and two videotapes while making $4.25/hour. I was so scared I couldn’t leave my apartment for three days and ended up quitting my job. I lived in a gay neighborhood in San Diego although not gay myself. As a social outcast I had like many found acquaintances with other social misfits and out-of-the-closet gays have always been a welcoming group for those who accept them for who they are. One summer a group of youths were attacking gay men with baseball bats, and killed an 18 year old boy a block away from my apartment. It was the first time in my life I ever considered owning a gun because just how is a single person going to fight off a gang of toughs? And they weren’t asking questions to verify their target was a homosexual, like “Can you name the bar where Liza Minelli’s character sings in Cabaret?” Or “Who is the Divine Miss M?” (Answers: Kit-Kat Klub, Bette Midler) I ended up attending a candle-light vigil in his memory soon after, and marched in a parade against gay bashing although the attacks continued. I left San Diego and the country soon afterward.
In Tanzania we lived in an extremely isolated research camp on Lake Tanganyika accessible only by a 6 hour trip by speedboat. The greatest threat we faced there was leopards. The Wife found a large male a few times on the trails, and I walked into a female with cubs on a path alone one day. She growled, and I froze before slowly edging backwards out of sight and running like hell back to camp. There were no guns where we were, even though we lived among wild chimpanzees and other African animals that place humans on the menu, with hippos being the greatest threat we faced while traveling the lake. About two years after our stay the camp was raided and researchers were held hostage by Congolese pirates, and since then researchers have had armed guards on site.
After returning to Delaware a friend of mine got me interested in target shooting, but I didn’t shoot or own a gun for years. During that time I came out of my bank and passed a black woman wearing a full burqa going into the neighboring bank. I learned later that she robbed it. I was also once behind a man at a local WaWa who had numerous Nazi and white power tattoos on his neck and face. My gut instincts were going wild; the guy was clearly such bad news and I half expected him to rob the store. He didn’t, was polite to the black cashier and left. I couldn’t get out of the store fast enough. A few days later three black women were attacked while on their way home from church in downstate Delaware. The suspect in custody was the tattooed Nazi at the Wawa.
I took up target shooting because of the challenge. That friend of mine told me with practice everyone can achieve 90% mastery of a firearm, but every point of that last 10% requires much more. It’s just you and the target, with the variable being you. The gun can be sighted and turned into a constant. Ditto the ammunition which is so precisely made that any two rounds in a box will fire with the same velocity. It is all about breathing, self-control, awareness – all very familiar to anyone who has studied Zen. When in the zone, there is nothing else but you and the target. The gun becomes just a means for you to place the hole you see in your mind on the paper target down range. A bystander would think it’s nuts to speak about Zen and mindfulness with guns, but you have to experience both to believe it for yourself and see that it’s really not as crazy as it seems. I just wish I was better at both. I indulged myself with a membership at an indoor range, and the Kid and I would go once or twice a week to try different guns.
I didn’t purchase my first firearm until just before we moved to rural North Carolina in 2009. It was a Marlin .22 bolt-action rifle with scope, a good beginning gun according to the salesman at the gun range. It proved to be a very good gun, easy to learn on and very easy to get acquainted with the responsibilities that come with gun ownership. Renting a gun at the range was easy compared to ownership. Owning a gun meant that I had to clean it, zero-in the sights, and most importantly keep it safely. That meant storing it unloaded at all times with a locked cable running through the action with the key on my person but not on my key ring to keep it hidden.
The .22 led to to a pump action shotgun, a New England Arms 20 gauge that introduced us to skeet shooting. Shooting a moving target is much more of a challenge than a stationary one, and the Kid excelled at it shooting much better than me. Later we traded that shotgun in for a 12 gauge over/under when he joined the shooting team at his high school.
The third gun was a S&W M&P 15-22. This gun looks like an M-16 to the uneducated eye and use a 25 round magazine. Technically this is an assault rifle, although it’s difficult for me to consider as such. It is best used for target practice at close range (50-100 yards) with iron sights.
I then purchased a Ruger Mini-14, my first large caliber (.223 or 5.56mm) rifle that could be considered a true assault rifle. It is a serious gun that I originally bought to set off exploding targets but then proved useful in the bit of drama that I can’t go into detail about. It was this event that brought home the seriousness of guns for self-protection. The time between the 911 call and the arrival of the police was too long and during that time we were in extreme danger. At the time I couldn’t determine whether the person I was helping was a threat or not, so I had to keep him outside where I could watch him as well as look out for the threat he had escaped from. I looked into the foggy darkness surrounding our home and I wanted the ability to if necessary throw up a curtain of lead. For that reason I purchased the Saiga 12 with extended magazine. The Saiga 12 is a Russia semi-automatic shotgun modeled on the AK-47. With a large cap magazine, it could done exactly what I needed that night where my targets would have been shapes moving through the dark fog. I purchased it soon after the incident and added a drum barrel that holds 20 rounds, a mix of slugs and 00 buck shot.
Another need the drama pointed out was a secondary weapon, a handgun. I am not a big fan of handguns because they are much more prone to accidents than a rifle. But the incident showed a need for something small that I could resort to if I became separated from my rifle. To that end I have become a serious fan of Glocks which are guaranteed not to fail when you need them the most.
What is almost impossible for anyone who is not familiar with guns to understand is that all guns are not equal. Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you can protect yourself or your family. For example, the Marlin is a great gun for shooting paper targets but at close range its scope is a hindrance to aiming as is the small capacity magazine. The .22 round is five one hundredths of an inch larger than a pellet fired from a pellet gun, and although it has more force behind it than its air-powered cousin, it lacks stopping power. On adrenaline or meth chances are a bad guy is not going to feel the round unless it penetrates his skull or chest. Even the M&P15-22, an assault rifle in .22 caliber is best employed against a squirrel invasion. Against a group of armed attackers it would be pretty much useless…
Power Outage: June 2013
My son alerted me to the coming storm with a cell phone call. “Are you off the road?” I asked, and he replied that the rain and wind were so bad he had pulled off into a parking lot. I told him to stay put until the worst had passed and hung up. I was driving home and saw the heavy black clouds above the Blue Ridge mountains. There’s dark blue storm clouds and then there’s black, and I knew whatever was heading my way was bad. This was confirmed by two alert on the cell phone, warning of severe storms and a tornado watch. At least the Kid was safe, as was the Wife, so I raced home to beat the storm.
It came quicker than expected sweeping through and knocking out power as it did so. Almost as soon as it began it was over. There was little rain that came with the storm, and looking out my office window I didn’t see much, so I stepped outside. Damage was worse than I thought. The ground was littered with small branches and leaves. The gas grill had been blown from one side of the deck to another. Several small trees had snapped behind the house, opening up a gap into the forest behind it. I took the car down the drive and found that several trees had fallen blocking my exit to the road. I drove back to the shed, grabbed a chain saw and as the rain and wind picked up I began cutting up the toppled and snapped Virginia Pines and Pin Oaks. Lightning crackled in the clouds above me, but there’s something about feeling trapped on your own property that stills the fear it would normally cause. In its place was dread, though. These straight line winds are bad in this part of America, earning them their own name: derecho. If things were this bad in my area, I expected them to be worse elsewhere. And I was right. At its height over 120,000 people were without power in central North Carolina.
Power outages are no fun no matter where you are, but they are worse in rural areas simply because when the power goes out, so does access to clean water since most of us rely upon electrically powered well pumps. Suddenly all those little life tasks one takes for granted like brushing one’s teeth or showering after working up a sweat in the garden become problematic. After four years here I had stored a few cases of drinking water in the basement, so I brought them up, instinctively and futilely clicking the light switch as I headed down into the dark basement. I used the dim light from my phone to guide me through the labyrinth that the basement had become in darkness, and retrieved the water, small plastic 500 ml bottles that aren’t the easiest thing to use for anything other than drinking.
The first night showering was not a problem for anyone but me, so I drove the ATV down to the pond with a bar of soap and towel. The pond is fed by runoff and has all kinds of critters in it including large carp and the occasional copperhead and snapping turtle, all things that a man considers especially carefully when stripping down and jumping into the shallows. My feet sank deeply into the muck but the water was warm and the fading sky ablaze with sunset. I had taken similar baths when I was much younger for a complete year in Africa, and there was a certain satisfaction from bathing naked in one’s own pond on one’s own property shielded on all sides by one’s own woods and hills.
The night was spent fitfully even though the storm had brought cooler temperatures. The Kid was hanging outside with a buddy, fishing in the pond in the middle of the night, listening to music on the car stereo, and other things, each of which sent the outside dogs into a panic. Animals are especially sensitive to rhythms and the power outage had thrown everyone’s off. The teens messing around outside sent the dogs into frenzies at various points in the night. Even after the kids had settled down the dogs were hyper alert, barking at anything and everything. This kept me in a constant state of low-level awareness as I lay half-awake in bed, waiting for the air conditioner to kick in, the ceiling fan to whirl, and the phone to beep – all sings of a return to normality.
But those signs hadn’t come yet in the morning, and the world doesn’t stop for those who haven’t slept well or been able to shower with clean water. Another problem reared itself: toilet flushing. It didn’t take too many flushes to release all the residual pressure from the water pipes, presenting us with another challenge. I took the ATV down to the pond with several buckets and an empty trashcan, filled the latter and brought it back up to the house. I then dispensed full buckets of pond water to the bathrooms to be used for flushing. Hand washing was another matter, and the small water bottles weren’t particularly up to the task but sufficed.
Then there was work. I ended up going to the Wife’s office but was refused usage of the secure wi-fi and the public was down, as was power to half of the town. Reports rolled in of people losing entire freezers full of deer, beef, chicken and other meats. The local Wal-Mart lost it’s entire frozen and refrigerated food sections, a loss of tens of thousands of dollars. “It’s such a waste,” the Wife said about the lost food, but what choice did anyone have? At least her office had electricity, so I rigged up my cell phone as a wi-fi hotspot, boosting my Verizon bill by $20 but allowing me to connect to my laptop to the servers it needs in order for me to work.
After 24 hours things were starting to look pretty grim. No power had been restored anywhere in the nearby counties as work focused in the cities and suburbs of Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Rural communities sent their linemen and trucks to help return service to those areas while their own homes and families remained in the dark. The power company said most service would be restored after 4 days but warned that some might be without power for longer. The hotels in the area, at least the ones with power, began filling up, but on a holiday weekend at the busiest time for weddings there weren’t many spare rooms to begin with. Instead we sent the Kid off to spend the night at a friend’s, and the Wife and I hunkered down for another sleepless night in the dark on our property.
The next morning…
One of my friends asked me the following question: “Can I shoot down a drone flying over my property?”
This is a very good question and one that will become pertinent as we begin to live with domestic drones. American property rights are unique. Here in the United States property owners own the land within their boundaries and everything below ground all the way to the center of the earth. This differs from European laws whereby property owners are limited to the surface only. Everything below that limit is owned by the government. This matters in the United States because thousands of Americans are getting rich today off royalties from the drilling for natural gas and oil below the surface of their properties. There is therefore a financial incentive for homeowners to exploit these resources for their own benefit. Not so in Europe where property owners do not receive royalties from the exploitation of resources below their properties, but who are left with the cleanup and damage caused by the exploitation on the surface. This may explain some of the reason for the tremendous rise of oil and natural gas production in the United States in contrast to Europe which enjoys similar deep gas deposits but has been slow to exploit these resources.
But when it comes to the air, American law is more in sync with European law. Americans own only as much air above their land as they can “personally use,” and these rights have been circumscribed to a great degree by those owning properties near airports or below air traffic lanes. In general the Americans can expect to own a varying portion of the air above their property up to 500ft, where the air becomes regulated as airspace by the FAA. This portion may vary from a few yards above the trees to 500ft depending on the circumstances and the opinions of courts.
As with any new technology the Law lags technological development. Currently the legal focus is on the use of drones by law enforcement agencies, so the laws are more advanced codifying their use. The ACLU provides a state-by-state list of current legislation when it comes to law enforcement drones. We are likely to see court challenges to existing law over government use of drones in the apprehension of criminals, and my belief is that these laws will catch up to the technology fairly quickly. But the laws listed by the ACLU do not address drone usage by private citizens or corporations.
Years ago my next door neighbor’s middle-aged son used to sit outside in a chair and ogle my wife while she worked in the garden and played with our son. Complaints to the neighbor and the son went ignored, and it was one of the reasons we built a 6ft privacy fence around our property. Today my neighbor’s son could spend a few hundred bucks and buy a drone with a live video feed. He could then ogle my wife from above his father’s property, and there would be little I could do about it.
I wouldn’t be able to shoot it down with a firearm because at the time I lived on a quarter acre in the Delaware suburbs, and would have been arrested for discharging a firearm unlawfully. If it hovered over my property I could take it down using a high powered laser, or an air rifle but only if the drone fell into that zone of “personal use.” We lived under a flight path to Philadelphia International Airport, so the FAA would have regulated anything above a couple hundred feet so if he flew the drone too high I could have called the FAA about him. But if he hovered the drone on his father’s property a few feet higher than my privacy fence, I don’t think there would have been anything I legally could have done (aside from getting him arrested for something else. It turns out after the neighbor moved his son had been growing pot in a closet.) If I had used a laser to damage the drone’s electronics while over the neighbor’s property I could be liable for damage to the drone.
Today I live in a rural area where my nearest neighbor is a quarter mile away and values his privacy as much as I value mine. Since I shoot skeet and target shoot on my property I would have significant leeway for taking down a non-law enforcement drone a hundred feet or so above my property, but anything above that would be problematic. Much would depend on the nature of the drone. For example the power company has easement rights to my property, so I would not be able to take down one of their drones (nor would I want to: the power company is my best friend out here in the sticks, with the cable and satellite companies close runner ups.) If I found an unidentified drone hovering less than a hundred feet above my chickens, I might consider shooting it down with a shotgun (never a long rifle or handgun. Shotgun pellets lose their velocity and become harmless in a few hundred yards; a rifle or pistol round can be lethal due to its ballistic spin for a mile or more. Gun owners should NEVER SHOOT A RIFLE OR HANDGUN INTO THE AIR. EVER.) Alternatively I might fire up my own RC airplane which is must faster and larger than most domestic drones and ram it into the drone. This would allow me the pleasure of examining it without much damage.
The likelihood of such an interest in my bantam hens here in the Blue Ridge Mountains is quite minuscule. Where private party domestic drones will likely be used is in California, by paparazzi desperate to cover a movie star’s wedding or to get candid saleable shots. Photographers already hire helicopters to spy on celebrities, so drones will make such intrusions cheaper and more common. I fully expect California to lead the way when it comes to laws limiting the use of these private party drones.
In the meantime talk of shooting down drones over one’s property sounds appealing, but for the most part its a solution searching for a problem. And even if you wake up one morning and find a drone hovering outside your window instead of grabbing a gun it might be more advisable to grab your cellphone and call a lawyer.
Writer Barry Snell explains why gun rights supporters do not trust gun control advocates.
I’ve come to realize after the Sandy Hook shooting that the reason we can’t have a rational gun debate is because the anti-gun side pre-supposes that their pro-gun opponents must first accept that guns are bad in order to have a discussion about guns in the first place. Before we even start the conversation, we’re the bad guys and we have to admit it. Without accepting that guns are bad and supplicating themselves to the anti-gunner, the pro-gunner can’t get a word in edgewise, and is quickly reduced to being called a murderer, or a low, immoral and horrible human being.
He then lays out the reasons why gun control advocates will never convince us to give up our rights.
Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they keep saying they “respect the Second Amendment” and go on about how they respect the hunting traditions of America. We don’t trust you because you have to be a complete idiot to think the Second Amendment is about hunting. I wish people weren’t so stupid that I have to say this: The Second Amendment is about checking government tyranny. Period. End of story.
And goes on to list all the other reasons gun rights advocates and gun grabbers share nothing in common, making compromise impossible.
I’ve considered being willing to give up my Constitutional right to gun ownership if the Left would give up their imaginary “right” to abortion, but shredding the Constitution just makes tyranny more likely, and there is no guarantee that the Left would honor their side of the bargain after the 2nd Amendment was destroyed. So I’ll have my guns, and they’ll have the blood of innocents on their hands. At least I won’t have any trouble sleeping at night.
So the LA Times reports a Pew Study finds gun crime has plunged even while American perceptions of it assumes it has risen. Setting aside the obvious issue of what is driving Americans to one conclusion while the facts lead to another, the study raises some other, less obvious issues.
If guns are to blame for violent gun crimes, one would have to assume by the study that the number of guns in American hands have fallen. Yet the opposite appears to be the case, with the highest per capita gun ownership in the US, with roughly one gun for every American man, woman, and child. Over the past four years guns have flown off the shelves, and it is likely there are more guns in private hands today than there were four years ago, although the exact number is difficult to know since such records are not kept. But gun manufacturers are working overtime to fill order backlogs, and the most popular weapons such as AR-15 “assault rifles” are hard to come by. Gun prices have risen as demand has outstripped supply, yet fewer of these weapons are being put to criminal use.
Because as gun rights supporters have been saying for years, guns don’t kill people, people do. If the opposite was the case American streets should be awash in blood, but they aren’t as writer Barry Snell notes. As as the Pew Study shows, American streets are safer today than they were a generation ago.
So while the Pew Study punctures the liberal myth that guns cause violence, it also pokes a hole in the conservative myth that the breakdown of the traditional family is the root of violent crime. During the same period of the study, the number of out-of-wedlock births has risen. Non-traditional marriages such as those between homosexuals have become more accepted. There are record numbers of people cohabitating. If the breakdown of the family was supposed to lead to a more violent society, it hasn’t.
More likely it’s demographics. Crime spiked in the 1960-80 period as the Baby Boomer generation reached their teens and twenties, the peak time for criminality. As people age they become less impulsive and their criminal behavior is either held in check or condoned in jobs like Federal Reserve Chairman or Goldman Sachs executive. Of course the demographic news isn’t entirely good. While the Baby Boomer generation is less criminal, it is older and requires the smaller cohorts of younger generations to support it in its old age. So younger people might have less chance of being mugged in New York City than their grandparents did, but they’ll be mugged by the taxman. This could explain why suicide rates are spiking among middle aged Americans – proving that guns don’t kill people, aging hippies do.
I’m just saying…
The barking drifts into my dream where it’s incorporated into the plot, but as it lasts I know something in real life is wrong and I force myself to awaken. I come out of my sleep grudgingly, and check the time: 3:30am. The barking is louder now, almost frenzied, and I can tell the dogs are excited. I am no Doctor Doolittle, but spend time with your animals and pay enough attention to them and you’ll understand how they communicate. Whatever it is that has them riled up is new, but has them scared. I dress and grab a high-power flashlight and open the gun safe. Bears are known in these parts and one was sighted on the property next to mine, so I grab the .223. I have no intention of shooting a bear if I come upon one, but I choose the tool necessary in case I need to protect myself or the dogs.
The night is clear and moonless, and all the constellations in the sky are the ones I’ll be seeing next season at a more opportune viewing time. I click the flashlight and scan. “Blue” the pack coward, the one I rescued and intended to become the guard of the pack, is at the edge of the clearing leading into the woods barking wildly. She runs back towards me, obviously relieved to see me, then runs forward in a vain attempt to prove she’s fierce. She’s not but I love her anyway. I call to the dogs, and shine the light forward. The beagle appears, her eyes catching the light and glowing somewhat demonically. A demonic beagle. Not exactly the hellhound of ancient mythology, and I’d appreciate the irony if my heart wasn’t throbbing in my ears and I wasn’t scared to the point where each step became like trudging through sand. Hearing my arrival the frenzy of the pack reaches a crescendo. Now the dogs want to show their bravery and I’m worried that they are going to do something stupid and get hurt. A dog is no match for a bear’s claw which can gut it from nose to tail with a single swipe. I push through the underbrush, thorns catching my jeans and cutting my arms as I hold the flashlight in one hand and the rifle in the other. I begin to regret my choice of weapon. A .223 round has too much velocity and will pass through an animal and put me at risk of hitting one of my own dogs. Perhaps the .12 gauge with buckshot would have been the wiser choice. But what do I know about guns; I grew up in the suburbs and even at the age of 12 my mother forbade buying a toy gun from the local Ben Franklin that shot pea sized rubber balls a whole 5 yards for fear I’d hurt myself with it. I’m learning as I go along.
Self doubt mixes with fear as the barking grows louder, but at least the adrenaline dulls the pain from the thorny vines. I push forward and catch in the light the stray shepherd I feed but who will not let us touch. He’s perhaps the toughest dog of the pack, and by far the wiliest given that he freely roams the surrounding area. But he defers to the dog I believe is his sister, a shepherd chow mix I rescued at the nearby bridge, and the pack alpha, a lab/border collie mix who used to be too scared to go into our backyard to pee in the suburbs at night without the Wife or me being with her. They are dancing and barking around the base of a tree, leaping up in a vain attempt to catch what shelters in its limbs above them. I raise the light expecting to see a huge brown mass of fur.
And find a snarling mouth full of sharp teeth in a long grey snout followed by a loud cat-like hiss.
A possum. The dogs treed a possum. All this over a possum? Possums may not look particularly dangerous when they are squished on the side of the road, but when they are up close to your face, those sharp teeth and claws are pretty scary, so scary in fact that hillbillies in these parts are known to get drunk and catch them by hand for fun. I thought this was a myth until a mid-level told the Wife about finding her husband covered in scratches one night with a can of beer in one hand and a possum by the tail in the other, grinning proudly. Different strokes for different folks I suppose.
Well my pack isn’t exactly the smartest and they are still learning the woods, and honestly I’m too relieved and tired to care. I don’t have to shoot anything, and no one, including the possum, is going to get hurt this morning. I call to the dogs and convince them one by one to leave the tree, and follow me back into the house. Eventually there’s just the shepherd, and he’s got better things to do than mess with a possum, so he’s the last to follow me back to the house where he stops at the edge of the driveway.
It’s now 4:00am, and the dogs are still excited, running around inside the house and barking as if they had won a great battle. And perhaps they had in their own little doggie minds; I was too tired to convince them otherwise. I locked the gun back up, undressed and returned to bed, assured that something even as small as a possum would not escape notice by my pack. It’s not the best alarm system in the world, and heaven knows it’s not cheap given the cost of dog food and vet bills, but it works.
Sometimes I think the Wife likes to pretend she’s Kato and I’m Inspector Closeau, ambushing me when I least expect it, but instead of unleashing a barrage of karate chops and kicks, she assaults me with her liberal “logic.” “Why on earth do you need a 30 round magazine?” I fumbled with my answer and failed to convince her, or more accurately, failed to provide a solid counterargument.
This article at American Thinker provides such a counterargument and explains why I need a 30 round magazine.
Police instructor Masaad Ayoob’s The Truth About Self Protection adds an incident in which a female police officer saw a crazed gunman murder a woman, who then shot her as well before she could do anything. “She lay helpless as she watched a neighbor empty a .22 rifle into the killer; the neighbor then had to club the madman down with the empty rifle, again and again, before he succumbed.”
My brush with Pure Evil that sent me scurrying to buy the 30 round magazines in the first place came in a scenario with 4 armed attackers. A 10 round magazine would have allowed me 3 rounds for half the group, 2 rounds for the other half. On a cold, foggy night scared out of my wits I am simply not that good at math. A 30 round magazine, on the other hand, would have provided me with 8 rounds for three attackers and 6 rounds for the remaining one, giving me much better odds. That night I wanted a curtain of lead to separate those I was protecting from the bad guys, and such a curtain only comes from large capacity magazines.
UPDATE: And here’s why I need an assault rifle.
Now it’s undeniable, Senator Dianne Feinstein to the contrary notwithstanding, that semi-automatic weapons such as the AR-15 are extremely well-adapted for home defense—especially against a crime that is becoming more and more popular among criminals, the home invasion. Over the past two decades, gun ownership has increased dramatically at the same time that crime rates have decreased. Combine this with the fact that most gun crimes are committed with stolen or illegally obtained weapons, and the formula to decrease crime is clear: Increase the number of responsible gun owners and prosecute to the greatest extent possible under the law those who commit gun-related crimes or possess weapons illegally.
This is an old story, but one of the most chilling of it’s type that I’ve ever read.
Bailey said the gunmen started counting bullets. “The other guy asked how many (bullets) he had. He said he had enough,” said Bailey.
That’s when one student grabbed a gun out of a backpack and shot at the invader who was watching the men. The gunman ran out of the apartment.
The student then ran to the room where the second gunman, identified by police as 23-year-old Calvin Lavant, was holding the women.
“Apparently the guy was getting ready to rape his girlfriend. So he told the girls to get down and he started shooting. The guy jumped out of the window,” said Bailey.
I remembered this “counting bullets” incident while reading Thomas Sowell’s piece: Guns Save Lives.
Surveys of American gun owners have found that 4 to 6 percent reported using a gun in self-defense within the previous five years. That is not a very high percentage but, in a country with 300 million people, that works out to hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns per year.
Yet we almost never hear about these hundreds of thousands of defensive uses of guns from the media, which will report the killing of a dozen people endlessly around the clock.
It’s easy to show the faces of innocent people gunned down during violent crimes. It’s much more difficult to show the pictures of those saved, those alive today who wouldn’t be without a gun to protect themselves such as those students who survived being raped and murdered 4 years ago all because one of them carried a gun.
It’s also impossible to show the faces of those alive today because a gun deterred a crime. As Sowell notes in his piece, the mere flash of a gun is enough to turn the tables on a criminal, possibly saving not only the gun owner’s life but the criminal’s as well.
Gun control advocates should consider their position carefully. If they are successful, are they willing to bear the weight of those killed who couldn’t protect themselves on their consciences? Are they willing to tell the grieving parents of these students that it’s all for the best that their children died because they were not allowed the fundamental human right of self-protection?
Powerline analyzes a pro-gun control study and finds it undermines its own argument that stricter gun laws decrease gun homicides.
But there is more: note that Fleegler’s study covers all 50 states, but leaves out the District of Columbia. Why do you suppose he chose to do that? Because the District has 1) some of the nation’s most draconian gun laws, and 2) the highest murder rate in the country, higher even than Louisiana’s. In 2011, the District had a firearms homicide rate of 12.46 per 100,000. Now let’s redo Fleegler’s math, with the District counted as one of the ten strictest jurisdictions. We now have an average rate of 4.0 gun homicides per 100,000 in the ten most anti-gun jurisdictions, and a gun homicide rate of 3.5 per 100,000 in the ten jurisdictions with the fewest gun regulations, even if we include the outlier, Louisiana.
Based on those numbers, you could argue that strict gun laws cause more gun violence. I wouldn’t necessarily go that far; I think it is fairer to say that Fleegler’s study doesn’t prove anything at all, but suggests, at least, that draconian gun laws are ineffective when it comes to homicide–which, after all, is what those laws are primarily intended to prevent.
When outliers like DC and Louisiana are removed, there remains a statistically significant bump in suicides caused by firearms. But even that raises questions:
Most people–most liberals, certainly–would say that a person has a right to commit suicide if he is determined to do so. If guns are the suicide weapon of choice, and it is easy to see why they are for most people, why should the state try to make its citizens use other, more difficult or painful means?
Like abortion, guns are a fact of life in America. No one forces you to have a child in this country just as no one forces you to own a gun. Anti-choice gun zealots aren’t going to be swayed by Powerline’s counterargument, but for those of us who are pro-choice gun owners, it provides more support for our position (not that the #2 amendment in our Constitution should need support, but hey, these are troubling times.)
In the “I’m so glad I live in the South” file today… The state of Colorado passed a law banning CCW on college campuses. Instead women are being advised to pee or vomit on their attackers.
Evidently state rep Joe Salazar believes that women can vomit at will but can’t shoot straight. “And you don’t know if you feel like you’re gonna be raped, or if you feel like someone’s been following you around or if you feel like you’re in trouble when you may actually not be, that you pop out that gun and you pop—pop around at somebody.”
Of course this isn’t the first time a state politician got in trouble on the topic of rape. Missouri congressman Todd Aiken famously quipped that “legitimate rape” rarely caused pregnancy. Colorado rep Joe Salazar just proves that Rape is a bipartisan issue.
CO Rep. Joe Salazar (D) and MO Rep. Todd Aiken
Sorry guys, but if I had a daughter she’d be carrying a Glock 17. I’ve seen the aftermath of college rape and it’s not funny or a lighthearted affair. The mere flash of a gun would deter all but the most suicidal rapists. Thanks to Salazar and his fellow Democrats women in Colorado won’t have that choice.
Congratulations Joe, the rapists of Colorado thank you.
Update: I’m starting to wonder if the Democrats in Colorado are smoking something funny because they’re acting stupid. Sen. Evie Hudak (D) told a rape survivor that a gun wouldn’t have done her any good. Guess she should have tried puking or peeing on herself.
After introducing a plan to ban 150 different types of guns and high capacity magazines, Sen Diane Feinstein tweeted, “The bill will NOT affect hunting or sporting firearms. Instead, the bill protects hunters and sportsmen.” Congressman Rick Nolan (D-MN) , speaking on Face the Nation, defended the legislation, saying he didn’t need an assault rifle to shoot a duck. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) also supports the legislation saying hunters don’t require assault rifles to kill game.
I’m always somewhat bemused when gun control advocates talk about hunting, as if the 2nd amendment is the right to eat meat, while the word “hunt” or “hunting” does not appear anywhere in the Bill of Rights. In fact by that logic one doesn’t need any type of gun to hunt; a bow and arrow or a flint-tipped spear can take down a deer just as effectively. The 2nd Amendment has absolutely nothing to do with hunting; it is much more powerful than that.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Never has a single sentence caused so much controversy. The late SCOTUS Chief Justice Warren Burger once criticized the amendment on the MacNeil-Lehrer news hour, claiming it was poorly written and a disaster for the country. Like many liberals he believed the amendment applied to organized state militias such as the National Guard. The original Bill of Rights lays out the rights granted to the People of the United States by the Creator, it does not give rights to government, whether state, local or federal. As for the definition of militia, Buckhorn provides reference to Title 10 United States Code section 311:
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard. (b) The classes of the militia are – (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.
So if you are a male American between the ages of 17 and 45, guess what? You’re part of the militia, and while Title 10 USC Sec 311 defines the National Guard and Naval Militia as “organized,” the 2nd Amendment does not begin “A well organized Militia.” Besides the “unorganized militia” is just a class of militia according to Title 10 USC Sec 311 so we don’t have a situation where one group of people bears arms and another does not. And better yet, like all the Bill of Rights the “right of the people” derives not from government or any sovereign, but from God – just as the rights to assembly, free speech and freedom of religion do. That undermines the idea put forward by gun control advocates that the term “well regulated” grants power to the government to control arms. The word “regulated” today isn’t the same as it was in 1789, and replacing the Framer’s word with modern usage would make the amendment nonsensical. How could a right granted by God be controlled by a government of man? A better modern word would be “trained” or “provisioned”, but it’s unfair to blame the Founders for failing to anticipate the evolution of English after they have succeeded in creating a document that has withstood the test of time so well.
Reams of paper have been produced supporting or disparaging this or that about the 2nd Amendment, and brighter men than me have argued both for and against it, but my view is that the Founders of the Republic had a nation like Switzerland in mind. While gun control advocates are keen on comparing the US to the UK, Canada and Australia, nations that ban guns in most cases, they tend to ignore Switzerland. Switzerland does not have a professional army and instead relies upon civilians to participate and train in a militia. The Swiss are issued an assault rifle, currently the SIG SG 550, a fully automatic weapons that even US gun nuts can’t easily get their hands on*. The Swiss also have a very weak central government, something I believe the Founders preferred but became an idea that got lost after the North won the Civil War.
So the purpose of the militia isn’t to hunt, it’s not target-shooting, or even self-protection: it’s to level the playing field between the People and a tyrannical regime. This is something I hadn’t even realized myself until recently. In the past I’ve argued in support of gun ownership on the basis that self defense is a human right. I even have a bumper sticker on my car to that effect. But the 2nd Amendment is much more sublime. The amendment does not specify what kind of threat requires an armed population. It doesn’t say it’s necessary to protect against a foreign power, Indians, or the forces of mad King George V. It simply states that a militia is necessary for the security of a free state, and freedom is thread that is consistent throughout the documents of the period from the Declaration of Independence through the Articles of Confederation and finally, the Bill of Rights. That free state is so important that is requires a well trained and provisioned militia to secure it.
Could that threat be the tyranny of our own government? Why do you think the Founders placed it so high up in the Bill of Rights? They weren’t fools. They knew that tyrants often take power through democratic means. They recognized that power corrupts and over time any government can be corrupted from within, presenting a danger just as great as invasion from without. The 2nd Amendment therefore provides Americans with a “reset button,” allowing its citizens to resort to force of arms to remove any tyrannical government that comes to power. Such a government would possess the means of the state – billions of dollars, tanks, warplanes, and other tools of war to subjugate the citizenry, but as the American Revolution proved, and as shown by every counter-insurgency the US has participated in from the Philippine Rebellion of the 1920’s to Vietnam of the 1960’s and Afghanistan of today, superior men, arms and material do not in themselves guarantee victory.
The reality of this statement means that Americans would be fighting Americans. It wouldn’t be the first time; the greatest calamity ever to befall our nation was the Civil War, killing 620,000, the equivalent of 5.2 million Americans today, and setting the development of our nation back decades. The idea of Americans killing Americans repulses me in a way that is hard to describe. The extremes of Right and Left both celebrate the idea for the advancement of their own particular causes, and yet the very thought just makes me want to puke.
The best thing about having a “reset button” such as the 2nd Amendment is that it makes such scenarios unlikely. As my good Watcher’s colleague Joshupundit pointed out in a personal communication, extremists like Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam demand gun control because it makes it easier for them to impose their will on the majority of Americans once Americans are disarmed. “He (Farrakhan) likes the idea of gun control because the [Nation of Islam] has it’s own channels to obtain firearms if they need them.” Ditto the American Communist Party. The masses will be disarmed but the extremists, whether inside the government or at society’s fringes, won’t be and their path to power will be unobstructed.
This reset button comes at a price. Every year Americans die by guns who would otherwise not, and it would be a grievous insult to comfort a parent who has lost a child to gunfire by saying that his or her life is the price we pay to guarantee freedom. But if we are to consider those lost by gun violence today, we also must consider those who would die under dictatorship. The 2nd Amendment minimizes the losses and insures our government’s, and by extension our society’s stability by making any serious attempt at destroying our democracy impossible due to the hundreds of millions of guns in the hands of 80 million Americans who bear them responsibly and vigilantly.
Most people who aren’t familiar with guns don’t understand the difference between automatic and semi-automatic weapons; at least I didn’t until I started educating myself about guns and owning them. An automatic weapon is one that continuously fires until the magazine is empty after the trigger is pulled once. A semi-automatic fires one bullet each time the trigger is pulled. Assault rifles can be semi-auto or full auto, but those under consideration for banning are semi-auto because full auto versions are highly restricted.
Automatic weapons are for all intents and purposes banned from private ownership in the US. While it is possible to get a license for one, the guns are expensive and highly regulated. Most of those I have seen in action are rented at gun ranges by guys with more testosterone than sense. Want to blow $30 in 5 seconds? You can by firing an AK-47 at full auto. In the process you’ll pretty much hit everything BUT the target you are aiming for which is why I don’t see a need for a fully auto weapon. A gun on full auto will pull up and controlling it becomes like wrestling a python, but some guys like to show off at the ranges by making noise. It makes a lot of money for the ranges and ammo manufacturers, but honestly I prefer the maxim “One shot one kill,” myself. As a result I don’t believe a ban on them tilts the playing field towards tyranny the way a ban on assault rifles would.
The gun control debate has taken a sinister turn with the publication by a Gannett owned newspaper of the names and addresses of people within the New York City area possessing a permit to own a handgun. The newspaper states the information was compiled using public records, but why? Why has the Gannett owned newspaper done this?
A journalist might answer that the public has a right to know, and I would ask him to point out that right in the Constitution. The right to bear arms is clearly laid out there, but I don’t recall seeing any right for the public to know anything. Yes the information is in the public domain, but just as the name of the editor of the Journal News, and her
The assumption is that lawfully owned weapons present a danger to public safety, and the purpose is to publicly shame the owners in the same way they publicize the sex offender registry. If the assumption were true, gun crime would concentrate highest in counties where gun ownership is most prevalent, yet urban areas such as Camden NJ, Washington DC, and Chicago have some of the strictest gun control laws on the books making legal gun ownership all but impossible yet have the highest rates of gun violence. Meanwhile counties in North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee have some of the highest per capita gun ownership rates in the country yet enjoy low incidences of gun crime.
Kneejack reactions always have unintended consequences, and the publishing of this list is no different. By listing owners of handguns one can safely assume that anyone not on this list is not armed. Criminals now know who to target and who to avoid. Criminality is like water or electricity: it always follows the path of least resistance, or what is perceived by the criminal to be the path of least resistance. It is the reason why burglars avoid homes with dogs, and why they prefer homes without burglar alarms. So by attempting to publicly shame legal gun owners the newspaper has instead helped criminals pick easier targets. Nice job guys.
When I saw this report I immediately recalled Rule 12 of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals: Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. The power behind this story chose to attack individual gun owners by name in the New York City area because they hurt, whereas the NRA as an institution does not. Some might scoff and think this is an example of “typical” gun owner paranoia, and that may have been true before we started jailing filmmakers. Answer this: Why else publish the names and addresses of private citizens, never convicted of any crimes, who legally own a handgun?
But gun owners aren’t idiots. They too can employ Alinsky’s tactics. The paper’s editor and vice president’s unusual name makes her an especially easy find on the internet. Add in some cheap information from one of the public records sites and it’s scary what one can learn about a private individual. I didn’t even try to find out personal details and still learned too much. I cannot post that info here because a) she obviously has no clue to what she has done by publishing the story and b) my conscience will not allow me to for the same reason that I will not publish information that could be used by jihadis. I have been on the receiving end of threats before, and it’s not fun but it taught me the wisdom of the old aphorism ”people in glass houses should not throw stones.” The editor/vp obviously hasn’t learned that lesson yet.
I also wonder how the newspaper and its editor would react if, say, Drudge Report published a listing of the names and addresses of all doctors known to perform abortions in a particular area. Such information is pretty much public record, and abortion is legal in the USA just as handgun ownership is.
The Sandy Hook Massacre has allowed anti-choice forces to escalate the war against constitutional gun ownership in the United States. For those of us who live to be free and view the Constitution as sacred as the Koran or Bible, we must learn the tactics used against us and employ them ourselves. As our President famously said in Philadelphia in 2008, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” And those are words to live by.
Update: Blogger Christopher Fountain does what I in good conscience couldn’t.