Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rational Solutions

I read an interesting article recently in Concealed Carry magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6, August/September 2014 entitled What Have We Learned About School Shooters by Michael Martin. Sorry, I don't have a link. I read the (horrors) paper version. In the article, Mr. Martin took apart several of the so called solutions offered by the anti gun crowd to school shootings in particular, and mass public shootings in general, by analysing actual statistics from each.

One such solution is to limit legal magazine capacity to variously 5,or 10 rounds.  Martin decided to test whether limits on magazines would have any affect on the outcome. He used live fire tests, shooting at a conservative rate of fire of 2 rounds per second, with magazine changes as required, and came up with the amount of rounds fired in one minute for magazines containing 5, 10, and 30 rounds. He then compared the actual rounds fired for a given shooting incident, and the time the event lasted, and found that all were well below the rates of fire achievable with even a 5 round magazine. His conclusion was that limiting magazine capacity has no effect on the number of people killed or injured in a school shooting.

Martins work confirmed in my mind that the goal of limiting magazine capacity was for reasons other than to solve the school shooting problem.  As soon as news of another school shooting appeared on the wires, hysterical people, most of whom wouldn't know which end of a gun to point at the target, began crying that if only the shooter had less rounds, the damage would have been limited.  The numbers touted by the antis seem to be grabbed out of thin air and have always struck me as more of a marker. If they can limit magazine capacity at all, they can then squeeze the number down later. The point is to get the precedent into law.

He then look at time the killers had without armed intervention to see if that affected the outcome.  He notes that in the case of the Aurora theater shootings, the first 911 call was made within 90 seconds, and the police  arrived in record time, but the killer still had 9 minutes during which to shoot victims unimpeded by anyone with gun to stop him.  Ft. Hood represents a similar situation.  Although a military base, with many guns on base, those guns are locked in an armory, and the base is essentially a gun free zone.  The Ft. Hood killer had 10 minutes to kill anyone he could find, before station security forces were able to respond, and bring him down.

So what is the rational solution, if limiting magazine capacity is not it?  Martin thinks, as do I, that eliminating the legally required "gun free zones" is at least a major part of the answer.  He notes that the Aurora theater killer passed up a number of movie theaters closer to his home that were showing the same movie that night. Instead he chose the Aurora theater.  What is so special about that theater?  Well, the one difference was that the Aurora theater had a no guns sign on the door, and the others did not.

The law is fundamentally based on a belief system.  People generally obey that law either because that believe that doing so protects everyone, or they believe that the potential penalties present too great a risks to their life or liberty should they get caught (I sadly suspect that more people fall into the later category than into the former.)  Moreover, having effective enforcement of a law ensures compliance by all but the most hardened criminals.  So, if you want to declare that schools must be gun free, then you have to treat them like a court house, with armed security roaming the hallways, and manning magnetometers at each entrance.  And while that level of security would pretty much kill the "atmosphere for learning" so touted by educators, nothing less ensures the facility is truly gun free.  Short of that, the law becomes a paper tiger that only the law abiding take notice of.  Yet, the law abiding person can walk through  the school carrying a loaded BAR and no body would get shot.

Mr. Bloomberg's latest attempt to eliminate guns is variously "Every town for Gun Safety" and "Moms demand action on guns."  The Demanding Moms go about the country harassing business large and small demanding that guns not be allowed on their property.  They have managed to elicit luke warm responses from Starbucks and Target which amount to a plea that guns be left out of their stores.  The latest target is Kroger, which chain seems to be holding the line.  Good on them.  These Demanding Moms claim a "right" not to be around anyone who happens to be carrying a gun, whether they know it or not.  They are so sure of that "right," they even have put up "no guns" signs even when the business turned them down, because they no better what the business owners interests are than the business owner does.  What many business owners have concluded is that their best defense against liability claims is to follow state laws.  Otherwise, the only way to enforce a no guns sign is to have armed guards manning magnetometers at the entrance.  Somehow, I don't feel very much like eating in a prison, do you?

Interestingly, I agree with the Demanding Moms in this:  that they, their children, and everybody else should be able to walk everywhere they want in complete safety.  But that vision is of a perfect world, not the world we have.  The world we have is messy, and not everyone plays by the rules.  Shocking, I know.  But, how I choose to deal with reality should be of no concern to anyone else.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Targeting Target Stores

A hat tip to David Codrea at the War on Guns for pointing me to this article at the website entitled Target's Gun Ban has Unexpected Results as Assailants Attack Store's Unarmed Customers.  I take no joy from this, and feel no sense of schadenfreude.

 I guess the first thing to note is that Target didn't really issue a ban. Instead, it issued a request that folks leave their guns at home when shopping at Target stores. Is that a ban? In one sense it might as well be, if concealed carriers choose to honor the request. For myself, if a friend of mine asked me not to carry in his home, because I valued that person's friendship, I would certainly honor that request, though I would also have to question whether that friend valued my friendship as much as I valued his. But I don't have "friendships" with giant corporations.

If you are watching only the MSM news, and you are of a criminal mindset, you didn't get that nuanced message that Target issued. Instead, what you heard was that Target stores are now a target rich environment of unarmed victims with money to spend and merchandise free for the taking. Everything that is happening at stores in the Atlanta area was fully predictable.  I think the word "Unexpected" in the title of this piece is therefore a little naive.

That the Demanding Moms would hail the statement made by Target as a victory for their cause was absolutely predictable.  That the mostly anti gun media would trumpet it as a victory for "common sense" gun control was equally predictable.  Target's message was essentially that Target stores want to sell stuff, and stay out of the fray over guns.  Instead, what they got was customers being robbed at gun point by armed predators.

The lesson in this, for those who may be looking for lessons, is that nobody can give in to, or attempt to appease anyone who is shrieking at them.  And the Demanding Moms are definitely a small, AstroTurf, group of shrieking harridans, funded by Micheal Bloomberg.  They do not represent any one's actual customers, but instead represent Michael Bloomberg.  The ploy of shrieking at the current target is to get him to do what they want, and not to think about it.  If he thought about it, he would probably have come to the conclusion that the status quo ante was the best policy. But by raising a ruckus, they hope to stampede him into doing something that is  not necessarily in his best interest.  Contrary to what you may have heard or read, the State legislatures in every State that passed "Shall Issue" laws debated the topic ad nauseum and passed them because these laws are the most fair, and protective to everyone involved. And having a policy that defers to State law is probably best for most businesses.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The NSA Spying Program, and What it Means to Americans

Jacob Sullum has a good article today on the NSA's spying program under Section 702 of the Patriot act. You can find it at at The mass online dragnet warrantless surveillance hits the target, along with many other people. Sullam ends his article thusly:
According to the Obama administration, all this is old news and no big deal. "These reports simply discuss the kind of incidental interception of communications that we have always said takes place under Section 702," Robert Litt, general counsel to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, told The New York Times on Sunday. "The most that you could conclude from these news reports is that each valid foreign intelligence target talks to an average of nine people."

If the mass collection of sensitive information about law-abiding people is to be expected, as my Reason colleague Scott Shackford observes, it is not really accurate to say it happens "inadvertently" or "not wittingly," as Clapper put it in congressional testimony last year. When such a wholesale invasion of privacy is the inevitable and predictable result of certain intelligence methods, choosing to use those methods means you are doing it on purpose.

The program may, or may not be effective at stopping terrorism.  I personally suspect it is not.  Finding the true terrorists in a sea of ordinary Americans is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.  But, in any case, the debate about the NSA spying on Americans comes down to deciding whether as a nation we value liberty, or a smothering all protective government.  For there can be no true safety.  Our government can smother us with "love," but it can not guarantee our safety.  Put in such stark reality, I'll take the liberty to defend myself, thank you.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July

It's the 4th of July, and if you are a fan of the 1911 pistol, as I am, has a great piece on the history and the continuing popularity of a pistol design that is now 103 years old. You can find the story at The 1911 Pistol by Mark Kakkuri.  In saying I am a fan of the 1911, I am not disparaging Glocks, Barettas, or any of the other polymer framed pistols.  I have fired Glock 9mms, the Springfield XD 45, and of  course, the Kahr PM 9.  All of these are fine, reliable, and accurate pistols that go bang every time you pull the trigger.  They will take a beating, as the old Timex commercials used to say, and keep on ticking.  But for all the reasons mentioned in this article, the 1911 is the gun I shoot best, and most of the time its the one I carry.  And modern 1911s have become just as reliable and accurate as the wonder nines. Still, the 1911 is a tool, and like other tools, is designed for a specific purpose, and compromises were made in its design that render it unsuitable in most other situations. I carry my 1911, but pray I will never encounter a need for it.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Target Stores Want to be Left Alone

While reading today, I discovered that the Target chain of stores had declared itself off limits to guns. Mrs. PolyKahr likes to shop at Target, and occasionally drags me into the store as well. So, I grumbled, "another place where I have to take my gun out of the holster, secure it in the car, before going into the store. Great."

But not so fast. It seems that Target took a neutral stance. Dave Workman has the actual statement made by Target stores interim CEO, John Mulligan at the Examiner site Did Target Really Accede to Moms Demand Social Prejudice?.  In essence, Target said to follow the law, but we would appreciate if you left your long guns when you come into the store.  It is hard to argue with that.

The old saying that you can "catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" is still true today. Sure, you can be shrill, confrontational, and insistent that YOUR rights be respected. Or, you can go through this world with a smile on your face, having patience and understanding for you fellow man, and respecting the rights of others as much as you expect them to respect yours. Frankly, my first reaction to the Demanding Moms is that the group is shrill, and suffers from selfishness and carries an ego driven message which can tolerate no other point of view. Even if I were not a gun rights advocate, I would be repelled by their antics, and I am sure many store and restaurant owners are equally repelled.

My advice, for what it may be worth, is to take the opposite approach from that of the Demanding Moms.  If you are as old as I am, you have seen, and experienced the loss of freedoms in the country.  I can remember a time when everything you think and do was not a matter for public debate at the national level.  We do not live today in the United States I was born into.  Realizing this can make you angry, and righteous anger can make you take counterproductive actions.  The gun rights community can do what it wants, of course, and it will, but think hard before baring your teeth.  You will probably make more allies that way.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

If you thought Demanding Moms were "teched," you may have been right

If you have ever thought that such leftists quests as "gun control" and "climate change" were...well...sort of neurotic,if not down right crazy (a technical term), you may have been on to something. Jeffrey T. Brown has an article today over at the American Thinker that makes that very case entitled Zero Tolerance, Evil Objects, and the Psychosis of the Left. And, if polls are to be believed, at least half of the population is like this, though I discount that fact. On guns, for instance, 55% want less strict gun control according to a Gallup poll, as reported by Katie Pavlich here. Still, 55% of the population that has figured out that guns do not just leap out of holsters and start shooting people on their own is a deplorably low percentage. That these people are immune to facts and logic, and can not largely be convinced by such is unfortunate. In any case, go read the article.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Washington Times is just Noticing the Demanding Moms

A recent piece appearing in the Washington Times breathlessly tells readers that the gun grabbers have a new tack, to wit: Gun control groups turn to private sector to push crackdowns. I say "Hallelujah!" At last they understand what they are supposed to be doing, having supposedly given up on their favorite methods, namely getting government to make it illegal, or finding a judge who agrees with them to "reinterpret" the Constitution into saying what they want. They have tried suing gun manufacturers for the acts of third parties.  They have in some cases gotten legislatures to make concealed carry so onerous as to be impossible in practice.  Ultimately, these fail because when shown the truth, most people do not agree with them.  But if they can get a Starbucks or a Staples to post their stores as gun free zones, more power to them. A private business owner is the ONLY legitimate person to decide what patrons that business will serve.  We can equally point out to the management that as legal gun owners and carriers, we will not shop where we are not wanted, but will instead send our business to their competition.  it is up to them to decide.

For many years, North Carolina had a law on the books that a concealed carrier of a handgun could not carry into restaurants that served alcohol, despite a law that also said that a concealed carrier could not consume alcohol while carrying.  Interestingly, one could carry into restaurants that did not serve alcohol, yet such restaurants were not posted against carrying.  I am sure many concealed carriers went into such restaurants, many of which are fast food type places that attract parents with children in tow, but there were never any incidents due to concealed carriers.  They come in, like anybody else, order, eat, and leave.  The same with Staples, or Wal Mart, or indeed almost any other business enterprise.  There have been armed robberies of such restaurants, but these are usually committed by people who have a record of ruthlessly breaking the law, and thus can not legally possess guns anyway.  If a person is willing to obtain a firearm illegally, and intends to commit a crime (also illegal, in case anyone was wondering) do you really think he is going to be deterred by a gun free zone sign on the door?

Now that North Carolina has stricken the provision about restaurants that serve alcohol from the books, a group called 'Moms Demand Gun Bans er... Action' is suddenly trying to get businesses to post their businesses as gun free zones.  Fine.  Let them try.  But be warned that most businessmen and women will weigh the advantages and disadvantages to such demands, and will likely decide that going with State law is a good defense against potential lawsuits, not to mention that concealed carriers tend to be good customers.  Oh, and note to the Moms:  if a business doesn't give into your demands, please don't decide to post a "No Guns" sign on their door anyway.  That would be considered vandalism, a crime in itself.