Saturday, July 28, 2018

The Right to Keep Bear Arms Comes With a Responsibility As Well

Over at Bearing Arms Micah Rate has a post that in turn illuminates an article by David French at the Washington Post. French is a fellow of the National Review Institute and a senior editor there who often writes about gun rights. The article itself is entitled David French: 'Give Cowards No Quarter, In Our Culture and In Our Courts'.  Please read the article, then also read David French's article, which is linked at the bottom of the page. 

 David French discusses a topic I perhaps too seldom write about, namely the other side of the right to keep and bear arms, the responsibility one must exercise while being armed. The gun grabbers are so often and so furiously attacking our right to keep and bear arms with with attacks using either made up, or cherry picked data, that it seems all one can do to counter these arguments. But for every right, there is a corresponding responsibility.  You should not yell "fire" in a crowded theater when there is no fire, but you absolutely should do your best to make sure the patrons get out if there is indeed a fire in a crowded theater.

During my class to get my first permit, one of the things emphasized was the need of the armed citizen to not either initiate a confrontation, nor to escalate a confrontation someone else may have initiated. As my instructors kept emphasizing, in any confrontation, you know, as an armed citizen, that there is at least one gun there.  The point was to get us to thinking, both long and hard, about what we would do in any given event.  It is a trait that has stuck with me.  I often think about situations I am involved in, and how these might go side ways very fast.  It has made me much calmer than I used to be.  It has also made me avoid places and situations where I might be drawn into a confrontation or be forced to defend myself or those around me.

As I watched the tape of the McGlockton shooting, which you can find in the linked article, the first thing I noticed was that Drejka was initiating a confrontation with McGlockton's wife over the fact that they were illegally parked.  Now, Drejka is not the police, and he had no business confronting anyone about illegal parking.  He should have moved on, found another place to park, or gone somewhere else.  Logic should have told him that an illegally parked car does not rise to the level of taking someone's life, and that initiating a confrontation could result in him having to use his weapon.

Next comes McGlockton, who seeing his wife being berated by a stranger gets his testosterone up, and shoves Drejka to the ground, escalating the confrontation.  Note that Drejka had only used words, had not laid a hand on anybody,  But McGlockton actually commits assault.  The correct thing would have been to say something like "You know, you are right.  We'll move the car right away," and then do it.

Drejka, now on the ground, with his feeling bruised, draws his weapon.  At this point, McGlockton begins moving away, which is the indication that the confrontation is being de-escalated.  If Drejka felt his life was in danger, he should have kept his weapon drawn and in a ready position until he felt safe.  McGlockton showed every indication of letting the situation drop at that point.  Drejka could have filed charges, or could have simply walked away.

Shortly after receiving my permit, and while I was still at the stage of thinking everyone was looking at me.  I had an encounter.  I was at a Border's Book store browsing books, when a man came in, put on headphones, and was sampling tunes to purchase.  He was very enthusiastic about it, and I would have hated to have the noise that must have been pounding his ears pound mine.  In any case, every so often he would sing along with the recording in a very loud voice.  He voice fill the room, and was very distracting.  I could have confronted him, and would have but for the fact that I was armed, so I knew at least one of us had a gun.  I decided to leave, since I could always come back later.  That's what you do when you are an armed citizen.  That is not cowardice, that is being responsible.   

Friday, July 27, 2018

What's good for the goose is good for the gander

With some trepidation, I must agree with Russ Vaughn's post over at the American Thinker entitled A 'walk away' movement might not be strong enough. Citing the fact that the left seems to get away with defying state and federal laws with impunity in situations like so-called "sanctuary cities" Conservatives have set up sanctuary counties for gun laws in Illinois. In these counties, the sheriff will not enforce the state's gun laws:
When I consider the sad state of political and financial affairs of my natal state, I am reminded of the oft quoted lament by General Porfirio Díaz: "Poor Mexico! So far from God, so close to the United States." Only in the case of the "Land of Lincoln," we should substitute: "Poor Illinois! So far from Abe, so close to Chicago." In the true homeland of Abraham Lincoln, fully two thirds of the state's twelve million population reside in the Greater Chicago Metropolitan Area and as a result, the fiscally irresponsible and constitutionally nullifying liberal Democrats who govern that city and control the statehouse have all but bankrupted the entire state while legislating away the citizens' Second Amendment rights.
Except that rebellion is now brewing in the downstate area of this battered blue state, and it is one that steadfast frontier Republican president would most surely support. The National Rifle Association's publication, American Rifleman, reports that 26 of the state's 102 counties have now passed "a 'gun sanctuary' measure with wording designed to symbolically prevent their staff and sheriff's department from enforcing state laws that violate the Second Amendment." Southern Illinois is largely Republican, with only two counties, St. Clair (heavily black) and Jackson (Southern Illinois University) voting against Trump in 2016. Incensed by the state Legislature's ongoing attacks against legal gun ownership, a steadily growing number of these southern counties are flipping the Chicago crowd on their gun-grabbing butts with a bit of jurisdictional judo so favored by liberals in many blue "sanctuary" states and municipalities.
Kurt Schlichter said the Left wouldn't like the new rules. Well, here is an example of the new rules.  If the Left can flout those laws they do not like, why can't conservatives?  Of course, you can see the problem with this.  Let's say you are traveling along I-64 form Indiana to St. Louis, Missouri.  Several of the counties you encounter along the way are these sanctuary counties.  What does that mean if you are stopped, are carrying with a valid permit from your state?  Do they recognized out of state permits?  Does sanctuary status recognize Constitutional carry?  Clearly, the thing for the wise traveler going through Illinois will remain to keep the gun unloaded, in a locked case in the trunk, or better yet to avoid the state all together.

Still, if more and more counties begin to buck these far left legislatures, and if the Fed takes steps against states that take steps against conservatives that do the same thing, maybe the Left will get the message that simply refusing to follow laws they may not like is childish (do they even understand the notion?) and creates chaos.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Next Ice Age

I have mentioned before that this was a theory in the 1970s, before "global warming" became dominant.  The point that is different is that both "problems" required the same solution: that you and I give up living in the 20th century and live more like our ancient ancestors.  You know the ones who lived maybe 30 years, and whose lives were plagued by famine, disease, and constant warfare.  But, there has been group of people who have been warning that the next ice age is just around the corner. We are overdue.  

In a post over at The American Thinker  yesterday Fred S. Singer talks about The Next Ice Age. He is right to be concerned. All of the history of mankind, by which I mean the written history of civilization has taken place during the inter-glacial period known as the Holocene.
Natural warming of the Earth reached a peak 65 million years ago. The climate has been generally cooling ever since. Antarctic ice sheets started growing 25 million years ago. In the last 2.5 million years, the Earth entered the period of Ice Ages [the geological name is The Pleistocene] and has been experiencing periodic glaciations where much of the land was covered by miles-thick ice sheets. There have been about 17 glaciations, each lasting approx. 100,000 years, separated by short inter-glacials lasting about 10,000 years.
The last glaciation period, which ended 12,000 years ago had ice sheets extending to the Kentucky-Tennessee border. Of course, it was somewhat further North elsewhere. The point is that much of the what we think of as the "bread basket" of the U. S. would be tundra.  The Gulf of Mexico would resemble the North Sea, with parts no doubt requiring ice breakers to reach New Orleans.

But Singer says not to worry, not that worrying would stop the next ice age from coming:
It is currently believed that a glaciation gets underway when a northern snow field [at latitude of about 65 degree N] survives during the summer and then gradually grows into an ice sheet.

The survived snow field acts as a “trigger” for commencing a glaciation. Its growth into an icesheet is conditioned by the “feedback” as it reflects solar radiation and thus resists being melted by solar energy in the following summers.

It is at this point where we can beneficially interfere. The effort involves two simple steps:

Step 1. Locate any snow field that survives the summer, which can be done most readily by reviewing available satellite data.

Step 2. Spread soot onto the snow field to reduce its albedo [reflectivity] and let the sun melt it during the following summer.

Note that this proposal has low cost and little environmental risk – unlike schemes of geo-engineering to “fight” global warming.
An interesting theory. I doubt if anyone has done any experiments to determine just how much soot would be required. Presumably if would be spread by airplanes. And of course, the environmentalists will claim harm to certain vulnerable populations, who are never identified, of course. Also, presumably these snow sheets are in areas currently of tundra, the sort of areas that few people live in anyhow.

But even if Singer's plan works to keep snow from building up into miles thick ice sheets, it will still be a cooler environment. But don't worry, you will have time to buy your winter togs. The movie The Day After Tomorrow was yet more hysteria from the eternally outraged. It won't happen with that suddenness.  In the meantime, perhaps farmers may begin building green houses to give plants like sweet potatoes a head start.

After point out that there is nothing we can do to avoid this dire fate, Singer offers a hopeful note:

The present population explosion started with the growth of agriculture about 8,000 years ago. Harvest of crops continues to sustain such expansion, but may become impossible during a glaciation.

We don’t know if the human population will shrink to the “carrying capacity” of the Earth. The Neanderthalers were hunters; when they ran out of animals, they starved. But with likely supplies of unlimited energy and some human ingenuity, we may surmount this limit.
And who knows, maybe the Sahara will green up again and become the next bread basket of the world. Wouldn't that be a switch.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

U.S. Civilians Estimated to Own 400 Million Guns

According to The Firearms Blog (TFB) the civilian gun ownership in the United States has reached 393.3 million, or close to 400 million guns of all types. The data is provided by the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss based research organization.
...The latest report suggests that 120 firearms are owned per 100 people in the US. By this metric the next country to hold a substantial number of guns per 100 people is Yemen, with 53 guns per 100 people. Japan and Indonesia have the lowest number of guns per 100 people, both with an average of just just 0.3 guns per 100 people.
Interestingly, the UK and Australia don't even show up on the list.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

What is an "Inthinkable?"

Have I ever mentioned that one of my favorite movies  of all time is the comedy Blazing Saddles? Yes, the movie is vulgar, outrageous, humorous at the same time. The movie is at once a spoof of other movies, and breaks the "rules" of racial portrayal in movies that had obtained a generation before. As such, it wasn't truly ground breaking in 1974, as much as it confirmed how far the U. S. had come in such a short time. In his article at the American Thinker entitled The Inthinkables, he notes that:
Schnatter lost it all this week, including his name on a football stadium and a business school. His offense? Referring to irrevocable history about the founder of a competing franchise during a conference call, though inappropriate vernacular has never been ascribed to Schnatter himself.

Once upon a time, Schnatter could have spoken of Colonel Sanders's ingrained culture without consequence. And once upon a time, Blazing Saddles was produced. Mel Brooks often laments that his comedy masterpiece could never be made today. But in 1974, the art of thinking without being offended was not lost. Sane people were not actively searching out cause for their feelings to be bruised.
I had experience once of exactly what Mel Brooks was speaking of in the Vanity Fair article. I was talking to someone at work about movies and asked if he had ever seen Blazing Saddles He claimed he had not. I then began to describe the scene where Cleavon Little rides up and reads the gathered town his appointment as the new sheriff. When the town folk point their weapons at Little, he draws his own weapon and points it at himself, saying in a gruff voice, "Lower your weapons or the nigger gets it!" Then, one of the Johnson women says something to the effect of "I think he means it. Better do as he says." Little then takes himself hostage over to the sheriff's office. My co worker became outraged. It didn't matter that the movie was a spoof, or that Richard Pryor had cowritten the movie script, or that Cleavon Little agreed to say the lines and that Mel Brooks, a Jew, would understand discrimination. For any thinking person, if was a comedy that made fun of everyone and everything. To the perpetually outraged, the 'inthinkables," any word may be a trigger to display outsized emotional response and signal their virtue.

Words convey meaning, nuance,  feeling, concepts and thoughts.  By closing off certain words to being expressed, we close off our ability to think the things the words express.  Even the so called hurtful words have historical meaning that should not be forgotten, lest future generations find themselves repeating the sins of the past.  This is why, for instance, the tearing down of the Confederate statues is a mistake.  The Confederate statues are a reminder of a time when we treated other human beings a beasts of burden, and some men took the labor of others as their own.

We were wise enough once to know what was truly evil and what wasn't. We were also strong enough to think for ourselves. Regardless of our level of education, we knew what words meant. And even those of meanest sustenance could articulate abstract notions without fear.

Words are vessels of thought. Words are not thought themselves, but they contain and convey thought, albeit sometimes crudely. But words must never supplant thought. Destroy a word, and it becomes difficult to conceive that thought again.

What transpires today is a more grievous abomination. If words are retained at all, they are now weighed and measured according to the feelings they evoke, and not the concepts they contain. It is but one channel through which reason is being actively replaced with unfettered emotion.
An "inthinkable" is one of these who has lost the ability to think and reason,  Along with the ability to reason, such people have lost any sense of humor, of irony and wit.  They would never understand the sarcasm of Jonathon Swift's famous essay A Modest Proposal thinking it was intended to be mean and heartless rather than putting a mirror to society and the politicians of his day.

Read the whole thing and if you are not an inthinable, think about what is happening to our society, of culture, and our nation.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Popular Entertainment Pushing an Anti-Gun Agenda

John Lott, the economist who did the first county by county research into the effect of gun laws, and wrote a book about it entitled More Guns, Less Crime has posted an article today at Townhall.com entitled How Entertainment Shows Have Become Vehicles for Gun Control Propaganda. Yes, the title is a little unwieldy, but in fairness I don't think Lott wrote the title.

In this piece, Lott shows how time and time again entertainment seems to show, often contrary to reality, a bias against guns in the public's hands, while showing guns in the hands of the authorities, particularly the police, as being good.  As a gun owner and a person who has studied guns and their uses for a lot of years, I often spot the same types of propaganda as does Lott, but he and I do not watch the same shows.

For example, I often enjoy watching British detective shows on Netflix.  I don't necessarily need to see explicitly played out in front of me man's cruelty  to man to know that it is boundless.  Shows like  Midsomer Murders appeal because they do not show a lot of explicit blood and gore.  But not seeing it does not in any way lessen what I know to be true.  But while I enjoy the show, the interplay between the characters, and the seemingly silly things that get people stirred up in Midsomer County, some of the gun handling that occurs causes me to wince.  For one thing, when they do occasionally come across a pistol, they routinely bag the evidence without clearing if of ammunition, or if the eject the magazine, they do not clear the chamber.   But most people in Britain probably do not know the difference.

In the process of exploring what else Netflix has to offer, I came across a show entitled Crossing Lines.  This show was made as propaganda for the International Criminal Court.  Unfortunately if one knows a bit about these matters, it really shows a bunch of Keystone Kops gallivanting about Europe while supposedly solving crimes. In one episode, the camera clearly showed a murder weapon as a pistol of some sort, while the actor called it a revolver. Clearly the show's director and producer figured no one in the audience would know the difference, and in fairness, perhaps they did not know the difference either. And while these "investigators" are supposedly armed, their gun handling skills are very poor.

I also like to occasionally watch American shows like Criminal Minds. While this show is not quite as lame as Crossing Lines, the anti-gun bias is still subtly there. For instance, in most shows, the bad guy us caught as he is on the verge of taking another victim, which supports the theory that "the police are there to protect you," when nothing could be further from the truth.  The police are there to protect the public, not the individual, and they do not have to respond to a call for help, nor do they have to help even if they do respond.   Their actual job is to investigate the crime after the fact, find the perpetrator of the crime, and turn him over for prosecution.*  You are responsible for your own life, and the lives of your children.  You are not responsible for anyone else either.

Go read John Lotts article to see how entertainment shows push an anti-gun agenda which is contrary to reality.  While you are at it, notice how they are now pushing a gay agenda by having at least one or more gay people in every single show you watch, even though you may no encounter a gay person in your life but once of twice a year.


* In saying that, I do not wish to disparage the police.  Most would agree that their job does not include being a body guard to individual citizens.  While most officers, I believe, if the stumbled across a crime in progress would attempt to stop the bad guys, their real job is to catch the bad guys and refer them for prosecution.  Indeed, the Supreme Court ruled in Castle Rock v. Gonzales that the Town of Castle Rock, CO, nor its police department of individual police officers could be sued for failure to protect.  But the doctrine goes back many many years. 

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Defense Distributed Wins Its Lawsuit...Sometimes You Can Beat City Hall

This case is big, and why it is getting so little coverage, even in the conservative press is beyond me.  The Department of Justice (DOJ) has just settled, really surrendered to Defense Distributed, in a way that essentially ends the gun control debate.  I wouldn't call it :Yuge," but it is a precedent that may shut up the gun grabbers shouting that civilians should carry "weapons of war" on America's streets.

Tom Knighton at Bearing Arms. Citing a Wired article, Knighton quotes:
FIVE YEARS AGO, 25-year-old radical libertarian Cody Wilson stood on a remote central Texas gun range and pulled the trigger on the world’s first fully 3-D-printed gun. When, to his relief, his plastic invention fired a .380-caliber bullet into a berm of dirt without jamming or exploding in his hands, he drove back to Austin and uploaded the blueprints for the pistol to his website, Defcad.com.
He’d launched the site months earlier along with an anarchist video manifesto, declaring that gun control would never be the same in an era when anyone can download and print their own firearm with a few clicks. In the days after that first test-firing, his gun was downloaded more than 100,000 times. Wilson made the decision to go all in on the project, dropping out of law school at the University of Texas, as if to confirm his belief that technology supersedes law.
The law caught up. Less than a week later, Wilson received a letter from the US State Department demanding that he take down his printable-gun blueprints or face prosecution for violating federal export controls. Under an obscure set of US regulations known as the International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Wilson was accused of exporting weapons without a license, just as if he’d shipped his plastic gun to Mexico rather than put a digital version of it on the internet. He took Defcad.com offline, but his lawyer warned him that he still potentially faced millions of dollars in fines and years in prison simply for having made the file available to overseas downloaders for a few days. “I thought my life was over,” Wilson says.
…snip...
Two months ago, the Department of Justice quietly offered Wilson a settlement to end a lawsuit he and a group of co-plaintiffs have pursued since 2015 against the United States government. Wilson and his team of lawyers focused their legal argument on a free speech claim: They pointed out that by forbidding Wilson from posting his 3-D-printable data, the State Department was not only violating his right to bear arms but his right to freely share information. By blurring the line between a gun and a digital file, Wilson had also successfully blurred the lines between the Second Amendment and the First.
“If code is speech, the constitutional contradictions are evident,” Wilson explained to WIRED when he first launched the lawsuit in 2015. “So what if this code is a gun?”
The Department of Justice’s surprising settlement, confirmed in court documents earlier this month, essentially surrenders to that argument. It promises to change the export control rules surrounding any firearm below .50 caliber—with a few exceptions like fully automatic weapons and rare gun designs that use caseless ammunition—and move their regulation to the Commerce Department, which won’t try to police technical data about the guns posted on the public internet. In the meantime, it gives Wilson a unique license to publish data about those weapons anywhere he chooses."
In this settlement, the DOJ is admitting that semiautomatic guns up through 50 caliber are not weapons of war.  The ability to print a gun from files obtained on the internet also means that criminals no longer have to steal guns from legal owners, they can make their own.  or they can purchase them from some enterprising individual who wants to make a quick, if illegal buck.  Another argument gone from the gun grabbers play book.

So far, 3D printed guns work, but the idea of putting 10,000 rounds through one is not possible.  That kind of testing and reliability is what law enforcement, the military, and concealed carriers generally are looking for, so I don't think 3D printing of guns will harm the traditional gun manufacturers bottom line.  But no doubt the technology will improve, better materials will be found, and it is entirely possible that relatively inexpensive, yet still reliable guns will be available such that people who are now excluded from owning a defensive weapons will be able to afford one.  Of course, that isn't what the Left had in mind when they wanted true democracy.