Friday, June 30, 2006

A Promise to Myself

When I successfully escaped from the People Republic of Massachusetts, I made a promise that I intend to keep as long as I live. That promise is simply that I will never register any of my firearms, ever again. I will endeavor to live in a place that does not require any registration or Massachusetts style gun control, but if there are ever any national or international laws passed that require me to register firearms then I will Ignore Those Laws.

I am bringing this up due to the UN small arms conference, taking place right now in New York City. In particular this statement by IANSA head Rebecca Peter, via Kim Dutoit.

“I think American citizens should not be exempt from the rules that apply to the rest of the world. At the moment there are no rules applying to the rest of the world. That’s what we’re working for. American citizens should have guns that are suitable for the legitimate purposes that they can prove. I think that eventually Americans will realize that their obsession with arming themselves in fear, in a paranoid belief that they’re going to be able to stave off the ills of the world through owning guns, through turning every house into an arsenal, eventually Americans will go away from that. I think Americans who hunt—and who prove that they can hunt—should have single-shot rifles suitable for hunting whatever they’re hunting. I mean American citizens should be like any other citizens of the world”

Well, Ms. Peters, I for one have no interest in being like any other citizen of the world. I am a citizen of the United States of America and damn proud of it. Our founding fathers fought so the new nation they were creating would be independent of the rest of the world and not under the thumb of various kings and potentates.

Our obsession with arming ourselves and our household arsenals were critical to the lend lease program that helped protect Great Britain from a Nazi invasion.

Our paranoid belief allowed us to stave off the ill of a world ruled by a German, Italian, and Japanese axis.

America is often accused of being an arrogant power. But what about the arrogance of foreign nationals arguing in our largest city on our most important holiday that our freedoms are the cause of the world’s problems.

Finally, it strikes me as the ultimate irony that while our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect our country, Peters and her brethren argue on our own soil to take away the rights that our people have fought so hard to secure.

So Ms. Peters, I will never again register my firearms and I will never abide by your prescriptions.

It will be over my dead body and millions like me before your obscene agenda ever has a chance to pass in this country.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

UN Follies

I haven’t mentioned the United Nations “Small Arms Review Conference” yet. If you need background, here is one of Alphecca’s recent posts that will bring you up to speed.

First, here are my opinions about the UN. I believe it started out with good intentions, and it might have made sense in the Cold War period. It might have prevented wars between superpowers. “Might” is the operative word, because there’s no way to prove or disprove it did any good at all.

Today the UN is a way for various nations to peck at the United States and to funnel money into dictator’s and UN official’s pockets. It has become a corrupt blight on New York City. The UN should either go away or be reformed into something good. I suppose one could argue that certain of their humanitarian-health programs, certain cultural ones, and other programs are beneficial to someone. Maybe, but these programs don’t redeem the whole.

The UN is looking at a real problem; terrorist and guerrilla forces buying machine guns, explosives, mortars and everything else. These forces have armed children to fight children. No one, except third world war lords, supports drafting children.

These despots and UN do-gooders want to regulate trade in weapons in order to disarm bandit, terrorist, and guerilla bands (some of the latter are actually fighting the despots). They claim they don’t want to interfere with legal firearm ownership. But, the devil’s in the details. They advocate licensing and registration schemes. They would outlaw “military” weapons (which could logically include M1Garands, etc). Such regulations are anathema to me and many other gun owners.

Maybe UN officials are telling the truth and the results of this conference won’t affect my personal ownership of firearms—at least not this time.

What happens when their hopes of disarming Africa’s children soldiers fail? They’ll do what every other collectivist minded “leaders” will do. They’ll promulgate another treaty with harsher restrictions that will then begin to affect me. When that one fails, they’ll pass yet another treaty ultimately making me into a slave or an outlaw.

Prohibitions don’t work. Black markets have thrived in despite the harshest repressions—Jews in the Nazi surrounded Warsaw Ghetto got guns.

You can’t ban your way into peace. Look at England, which banned handguns, and experienced higher handgun crime rates. The actual percentage of increase is debatable, but it doesn’t matter at all. What matters is that banning didn’t bring peace to England’s streets despite the promises of gun controllers. If gun control worked, England’s handgun crime rates should have plummeted.

You have to solve the problems that lead to child soldiers and street thugs in the first place. That takes years of hard work—something that despots and UN do-gooders won’t do.

Bottom line; this conference should never have been hosted on US soil and US government officials should never agree to even one punctuation mark in the final document. If our representatives to the UN can derail the conference, so much the better.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

One From the Vault

Nambu Type 14
Living on a small island with few natural resources, Japanese officials wanted to create a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. It would not be a free collection of friendly trading partners, but assembled by Japanese swords, bayonets, and guns. The Japanese Empire seemed unstoppable in the 1930s. Manchuria and much of China fell under their sway. They bombed Pearl Harbor as a preemptive strike and, as we all know, their plan backfired.

Japan had long been a closed society, suspicious of foreigners and their ideas. When Japanese leaders looked outside, they realized that technology had passed them by. They had to play catch-up and learn fast. They coupled their old Samurai ways with new technologies in a sometimes uneasy pairing.

One antique concept was Bushido, the “Way of the Warrior.” Bushido meant that a fighter’s spirit was the most important ingredient to victory. Because a warrior’s spirit was most important, the quality of his weapons was secondary.

Japanese arms of the World War II are not fine quality examples of the gunmaker’s art. Arisaka rifles were obsolete even in the 1930s, their machine guns were clumsy, and their semi-automatic pistol, the Nambu, was under powered and moderately unreliable. Despite their flaws, their weapons still worked. Coupled with Bushido, Japanese soldiers won victory after victory until they ran up against a more modern military.

The Nambu was the principal side arm of the Japanese Army for much this time although some officers were armed with a revolver and late in the war another semi-automatic was introduced. Still, when you think of Japanese side arms you think of Nambus.

Kijiro Nambu was a young weapons designer when he invented his first pistol in 1904. It was a large, ugly-duckling of a gun that most collectors have nicknamed “grandpa” Nambu. Its designer came up with a similar design now nicknamed “papa” Nambu. General Staff officers and the Emperor carried much smaller pistols, “baby” Nambus.

Nambu’s early pistols were expensive to manufacture and he needed to simplify his gun. By 1927, he finalized his designs with the Type 14, which Japan adopted as its issue weapon for non-commissioned officers. Commissioned officers had to purchase their own side arms.
My Nambu Type 14 and the standard reference work on these guns

The Type 14 looks a lot like its grandpa and papa, with significant internal differences including doing away with a grip safety. Its slab-sided grips are unlovely, but “pretty” was not part of its design. Still, Type 14s are interesting handguns to handle, take apart, and shoot.

They handle much like a Luger because of its similar grip angle. When you disassemble a Type 14, the trigger guard is the key. It slides down and off when you have the magazine catch in the right position. Once taken apart, you’ll find more springs than what seems necessary.

I’ve shot my Nambu, but not successfully. Despite having springs everywhere inside it, the firing pin spring was worn out and that led to too light primer strikes. I'll buy a new one soon. However, the few shots I got off though were very accurate.

Nambus are accurate partly due to balance and pointability. The sights just naturally fall on target. A Nambu’s sights are like few others. The front sight is a pyramid and the rear notch is an inverted pyramid. They work together quite nicely.

Nambus were not known for reliability. In fact, there was a major recall in the 1930s due to firing pin breakage. Later Nambus had a large trigger guard, but early Type 14s had a small trigger guard. That was fine on a range, but soldiers couldn’t get their trigger fingers into the guard when they were wearing gloves (Manchuria is cold in the winter). Its cartridge, 8mm Nambu, is also notoriously under powered.

My Nambu was made in November 1930 at the Koishikawa Arsenal. Koishikawa was a government operated factory, but many Type 14s were made by private companies, even The Tokyo Gas and Electric Company. My Nambu was originally equipped with a small trigger guard, but many officers paid to have the arsenal install a large trigger guard. When the arsenal did so, it numbered all the newly installed parts so that they matched the gun.

My Type 14 has all matching parts (except the magazine) and is in decent condition (after I eradicated a layer of old cosmoline and gunk). It’s a welcome addition to my World War II firearms collection.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Another Milestone and a Thank You

After watching a movie on HBO (Cinderella Man), we stumbled upstairs to web browse awhile. I checked Ten Ring's site meter and what did I see--we had reached 99,995 readers. Of course, I had to stick around for the admittedly juvenile pleasure of watching the meter roll over to 100,000. Okay, it didn't really roll over, I had to hit refresh a couple of times, but there you have it, 100,000 readers.

The 100,000th reader came in from San Diego County in California. He or she was looking for information on the NRA and came here at 10:47 pm Eastern time. If you're still on, thanks for stopping by.

When Bill and I started Ten Ring, we didn't know how long we'd blog or how many readers we'd get. Personally, I'm amazed you all keep coming back. Thank you for doing so.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hunting v. Pig Exterminators

I had a little time at lunch today to stroll around the Internet. Hell in a Handbasket linked to Blogonomicon who in turn linked to a story about feral pigs in Texas. Some parts of that huge state, which was once my home, are being overrun by wild oinkers.

Pigs will eat anything that’s even semi-edible and not leave a trace. A rancher mentioned that he was missing a number of goat kids that probably ended up inside pigs. Pigs also dig up land, destroy plants, and generally make a nuisance of themselves.

Pigs should be hunted and their numbers controlled, but I have qualms about a pig exterminator as the article describes. Jody Payne kills pigs by having his dogs chase one down and hold it until Payne plunges a knife into its heart. Ironically, the article is located in the newspaper’s Sports section. There’s no sport here. Maybe the article should be in the Business section.

Payne’s kills are probably quick, although the dog thing is not a peaceful way to live your last moment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not feeling sorry for the pig, but I do wish more people would hunt so we wouldn’t need pig exterminators—or deer exterminators, or bear exterminators.

That’s where we’re heading. Deer, feral pig, bear, coyote, etc populations are exploding. That’s a mixed blessing because there aren’t enough predators to control populations. People must step into the gap and resume our role as nature’s top predator. Because we’re not doing that, towns hire “sharpshooters” to cull deer herds. And, we see pig exterminators in Texas.

Why aren’t more people hunting if game is so plentiful?

For one thing, people don’t know how to for many reasons. Their parents didn’t hunt. People know it’s time consuming, demanding, messy, difficult, and there’s no guarantee of success. Not like a video game.

Also, having lived in Texas, I can guess another answer. Too many land owners won’t open up their land to hunting unless you pay a significant amount of your hard-earned cash for a hunting lease. In fact, the rancher in the article raises exotic animals for apparently semi-canned hunts. So, instead of inviting hunters to control the pigs, he brings in a pig exterminator.

We need access to good hunting land and in return hunters must respect that land, its owner, and the animals that live on it. Among other duties, that means don’t shoot unless you know what your target is and what’s beyond it. Instead, we end up with pig exterminators. I can’t imagine a more soulless job than shooting deer or stabbing pigs just because there’s too many of them.

You know, I wonder if feral pigs live in New Hampshire. I haven’t heard one way or the other. A nice loin roast from a plump acorn-fed pig sounds mighty tasty right now.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Gunnie Book Review

The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

I haven’t done a book review in awhile and wouldn’t you know it, I pick one that’s not really about guns. Still, Michael Pollan has written one of those must-read books that too few people read.

Pollan is a journalism professor in California. He’s not a gunnie although he doesn’t seem to be a gun hater either. As part of his research, he borrowed a gun, went out with an experienced hunter, and killed a wild pig. So I guess he’s a junior, double-secret-probationary member of our group.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma looks at the way we eat in America. Given the topic, you might think Pollan would be a scold. He’s not—except when it comes to corn. Instead, he’s interested in understanding our food by looking at three different ways of getting food and the meals they produce.

His first meal is at McDonalds and this leads him to rant about corn. He finds corn is government subsidized, that we have converted much farmland to corn monoculture, and it’s in everything from ketchup to us. A McDonalds meal consists of corn-fed beef, high fructose corn syrup, corn derived preservatives and extenders, and other products that look nothing like an ear of corn.

He interviews a corn farmer who loses money with each crop, but somehow stays in business thanks to the subsidies. Pollan buys a steer and watches it grow from a calf to a feedlot animal where it’s fed copious amounts of corn—a grass that cows never evolved to eat—and sent to the slaughter house. There he finds that we cannot enter the door due to concern for his “tender feelings.”

He turns his attention to organic farming and doesn’t find much to like in industrial-style farms no matter how eco-friendly they make their labels. In fact, supporting large supermarkets like Whole Foods leads to the same shortcuts and economy of scale decisions that Whole Foods shoppers decry. Even worse, big-organic farming can require more fossil fuels to put a product on the consumer’s plate than conventional agriculture.

Pollan is intrigued by a “grass farm” (no not that kind of grass, the kind cows eat). He meets up with a farmer in Virginia who calls himself a grass farmer because he uses pasture rotation and other lost arts to raise chickens, pigs, cattle, and eggs on grass. I’ve ate grass-fed beef before and it’s different from corn and grain fed supermarket beef. I might have to think about finding a “grass farm” up here in New Hampshire and filling up our freezer.

His book’s last section is on hunting and gathering. He decides that he has to understand how mankind gets meat in the most natural way possible. But, before doing that he tries a vegetarian diet. He concludes man is an omnivore and that cutting meat out of one’s diet divorces us from nature. We evolved as a predator not a grazer. Hear, hear.

Pollan teams up with an old-world Italian who hunts pigs for classic prosciutto and wild-boar sausages and Pollan learns how to shoot a rifle. After a misadventure or two, he finally kills a large pig. Pollan talks about his emotions and disgust when he helps field dress the pig, but also about his joy and feeling of oneness with nature. He recognizes that he probably gave that pig a better death than it would have experienced otherwise.

He writes beautifully about his hunting experiences albeit as an urbanite babe in the woods. I doubt he’ll continue to hunt, but he made me wish the summer would pass faster so hunting season would start. If you’re a hunter you must read his hunting related chapters (parts were excerpted in a New York Times article that is now in their archives).

Pollan’s writing is clear, concise, and enjoyable. A quibble is that most of the meals he makes and describes are gourmetish. If you’re a meat and potatoes person, you might be put off by his foodie descriptions. But, if you eat any kind of food (and I know you do) it’s still a must-read book.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Household Vulnerability

Here’s something to ponder. Have you ever broken into your own home? If so, were you surprised how easy it was? Learning how easy it was, aren’t you glad that you believe in self-defense and keep a gun in the house?

Bill and I spent part of the weekend fixing a door to our condo. You see, a little while ago, Bill locked himself out of the house after I had left for work. If you’ve ever wondered why he’s called Yosemite Sam, well wonder no more. He simply kicked the door in and it gave him little trouble. Granted, only a door knob lock was on and not the dead bolt, but the dead bolt wouldn’t have been that much more difficult to kick open.

Of course, the door frame was broke all to hell including the jamb with the lock faces, the molding alongside the door frame and bits and pieces. Hmmm…. Neither of us are carpenters, but we pulled off the molding, cut out the broken jamb, cut a new piece of hardwood to fit, planed it, mortised places for the lock faces, and then screwed it all together. We still have to nail up the molding and then paint, but it’s stronger now than it was a few days ago.

The lesson here is that it’s too easy to break into a house. We may call a modern house our castle, but in reality a modern house is not fortified. It has glass windows and it doesn’t have armed retainers manning the walls. You get the idea.

That leads us to two related lessons:

When not at home, lock your guns and ammunition into something that would at least slow down a burglar. I don’t want to “donate” my guns to the illegal market and a safe or a very secure cabinet is a good idea and the law in certain states.

When home, keep a gun loaded and under your control. A home invasion can happen in the length of time it takes for someone to kick a door a few times. A quiet break in can happen anytime and your first clue that an unwanted quest is present might be a confrontation. In either case, you won’t have time to get to a locked up gun and its ammunition.

Given the reality of home invasions and burglaries and the impossibility of truly burglar-proofing your house, what other good choices are there?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Guns, Gambling, and Washington State

It’s time to step out of my office, come up for air, enjoy the rare sunshine, and see what’s going on in the world. Hmm…I see we won another victory. Louisiana Governor Katherine Blanco signed a new law stopping local and state police from confiscating firearms in an emergency no matter how much they might want to. Yay for our side.

Then I found something that makes me want to crawl back into my office and pull my spreadsheets and Word docs back over my head. It’s not about guns, it’s about freedom from Nanny State. Because too many states and localities want to nanny us about guns, I guess in a way it’s about guns too.

I’ve mentioned Washington state’s law forbidding online gambling. Part of the law makes it illegal to even link to an online gambling site. Despite obvious First Amendment problems, Washington state is going to prosecute someone who blogged about online casinos and provided links and advertisements.

It seems that even the Seattle newspaper, which runs a poker column, may run afoul of the law. A columnist discusses it at length and finds that he may also be committing a crime. I found the editorial on Radley Balko of the Agitator and here’s a big hat tip.

What is it with these damn nannies? I don’t know and I don’t care if this law came about because of right-wing or left-wing moralists. The right wants us to live a moral life according to their Biblical interpretation du jour. The left wants to create a utopia where we all care and share. After all, dude, how caring and sharing is spending your money on selfish pursuits such as poker when that money could best be used to provide health care to the poor undocumented workers or a living wage to all.

The religious right does it to please God. The left does it because they want to live your life for you. I believe the left is now taking on online gambling even more than the right. Here’s a long article on a college kid who royally screwed up his life when he became an online gambling junkie. It’s in the New York Times, hardly a bastion of conservative religious morality.

I own guns, I gamble occasionally in casinos, and I play penny-ante games in an online poker site (here’s my gratuitous link that may send Washington state into a fit and I'm not sure it works because my employer's net nanny blocks it, grrr).

A few people can’t handle gambling and even fewer people abuse guns, but that gives no would-be nanny the right to live my life for me. Instead, people who abuse guns criminally should be locked away for crimes they commit with a gun. People who become addicted to gambling, alcohol, drugs, bubblegum music need help.

Here’s something Washington state and would-be nannies need to understand: If you prohibit something you drive it underground and you no longer have any control over it. If an activity is legal, a state can regulate it provided the regulations are not so onerous as to create a black market.

Look at guns. I think there’s too much regulation, but still I can buy a gun with relatively little hassle and I’m not driven to a black market. Look at alcohol. When it was prohibited, criminal bootleggers flourished and people still got their drinkies, but the state received no tax money and bootleggers could sell to children if they wanted to—sort of like illegal drugs now.

So for guns, let’s roll back some of the regulations—take your pick I have my ideas. For Internet gambling let the nannies, if they really want to, dream up a few reasonable regulations for online casinos designed to protect players. Such regulations would ensure an honest game, protect player accounts, and enforce age requirements.

Of course, I could be all wet. Maybe Washington state only wants to protect its own gambling monopoly such as the lottery. But, no that would be cynical.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Smile--We Won One

I'm attending a one-day conference today in Nashua, New Hampshire. It's almost a holiday for me because it shortens my commute by 25 to 30 miles.

I'm in the hotel's business centers checking e-mail and a news feed and guess what I see: a California judge overturned San Francisco's gun ban. I'm sure this is old news and every gun blogger has already covered it, but it is enough to put a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

The aptly named Proposition H would have meant that San Franciscans couldn't have owned handguns legally. The city had passed a similar proposition in 1982 (according to the article) and it too was shot down (pun intended). The state will not allow an individual city or county to usurp their monopoly on making gun laws.

The NRA and I believe the Second Amendment Foundation (not mentioned in the article) sued the city and now they've won. It reinforces my belief that NRA, though not perfect, is still a gunnie's best friend. Gotta run now.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Guns in Cars

Sorry for the lack of posting recently. My work cycle is feast or famine and I’m in the feast (too much to do) part. Such is life.

I posted about the erosion of freedom and got more comments than usual. People must protect their rights, but there are other times when liberties are at odds with each other.

A commenter, tkdkerry, wondered about my stance on guns in cars that are parked in company parking lots. (Employees of Weyerhauser in Oklahoma lost their jobs when the company searched private employee vehicles parked on company lots for contraband, including guns.)

What an excellent example of rights colliding with each other.

A property owner has the right to say no guns on my property just as he has a right to say no Bibles, booze, playing cards, cigarettes or whatever on his/her property. On the other hand, the owner is telling you that you don’t have the right to keep something in your property, your car, or the right to keep and bears arms, freedom of religion, etc.

The NRA is all over this one. They believe one should be able to keep guns in locked cars regardless of company policy and want government rules to enforce it. Other people and groups disagree vehemently with NRA.

So where do I stand? I agree with the NRA. A company should not be able to dictate the contents of my car, just because it’s casting a shadow on their lot.

Here’s why. My car is an extension of my home and is so recognized (with some caveats) by our courts. When I pull into a company’s lot for work, I don’t sign my car over to them. It’s still mine. I shouldn’t be subject to a “contraband search” unless there’s evidence I was planning or committing a crime. In that case, police should be called not private company guards.

Someone could say that if such a search is a condition of my employment, I should do what my employer says and that we shouldn’t use government to regulate what a company can do. If it upsets me too much, I should get a new job.

That’s all well and good if we were dealing with negotiations between equals.

Many companies are too big to negotiate equally with individuals. Instead, they issue policies that are subject to change with relatively little notice or they’re bought out by a larger company that changes the policies. You’re subject to these new rules even though you didn’t agree to them when you got the job. There are places where it would be hard to find a new job because your employer is the biggest in town or you’re in an esoteric profession.

Here’s another poinr, accepting gun bans based on private property rights will result in the end of legal armed self-defense. Any company, shopping center, strip mall could ban guns even if they’re locked in cars. You will have the choice to be (legally) defenseless or not be able to shop, work, or whatever.

Maybe I’m more sensitive to this than others because I’ve lived and still work in Massachusetts—home of the gun-fearing wussie. I can only imagine what would happen if employers and property owners were allowed an unchallenged right to ban guns on their properties. Pretty soon we would have bans in company lots, apartment complexes, and everywhere in between.

You see, Massachusetts has not banned guns, they’ve just made it so hard and costly to own one legally that most people don’t go through the hassle and own illegally or not at all. Anti-gunnies will use our deep respect for private property to do something similar throughout the nation.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Military Intelligence?

Denise has complained that I haven’t posted awhile, so here goes. She might regret poking me awake. Via Kim comes this excellent CBS news report that discusses the effectiveness of the .223 battle rifle.

It should be no surprise that I agree that the .223 is wholly ineffective as a combat round. Denise agrees as well, derisively calling it a poodle popper. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy shooting the .223, but it has no place in the kind of irregular warfare that we are waging in the Middle East and I am dubious it ever had a place in our military’s arsenal.

But that issue isn’t what has me outraged. No, it is this quote from supposed weapons expert Pierre Sprey,

"There is no such thing as a well-aimed shot in combat," said Sprey. "Combat is fought by scared 18-year-olds who haven't trained enough and are in places they've never seen before."

Well Mr. Sprey, as a commenter at Kim’s site said, tell that to Sergeant York and Audie Murphy.

Our soldiers are better trained than they have ever been. They are certainly trained better than they were during World War 2, where they were sent overseas as quickly as possible and training was rounded out at the front. But, they won that war, primarily with “well-aimed” shots. WWII soldiers were as scared as anyone in a combat situation, but they were still able to squeeze off that well aimed shot.

Also, I suspect that Mr. Sprey has never been hunting. While no where near the level of stress that one feels under combat, it is still necessary to quiet ones breathing, take careful aim and to squeeze off a well aimed shot. Many people have done this many times before their 18th birthday.

Mr. Sprey, supposedly an expert, must have little knowledge of military history as well. In World War I, our Marines picked off Germans at 1000 yards under combat conditions and earned the nickname, Teufel Hunden(Devil Dogs) from the shocked German soldiers.

In fact, our military is well renowned for its marksmanship and the Marines have a lot of pride in their motto of “Every Marine a rifleman”.

So to be blunt, if Mr. Sprey is a typical example of what we have for weapons experts in this country, maybe it is no small wonder that we are having a problem with ending the insurgency in Iraq. Mr. Sprey’s attitude is a perfect example of what is wrong with a lot of this country’s military thinking.

(UPDATE: Blogger or something messed up some paragraph returns and left pieces of html code floating around. I edited the post to remove those pieces and I hope I didn't mess something else up. Denise 3:51pm)

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Still Here

Bill and I are still here. I've been traveling for work--in Maryland this time--and got back last night. I tried to get Yosemite Sam to post (what can you do with a co-blogger who has a lot to say, but rarely says it), but he didn't do it.

Work kept me late today with meetings and stuff to write. After all, work pays the mortgage, utilities, food, and everything else. Believe me, I wish I could make a living blogging, but I don't think that's very likely.

I have two major projects I need to get out soon. Regular blogging will resume in the next day or two. Thanks for checking in.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Self-Defense and the "Castle Doctrine"

Work is not leaving me a lot of time for blogging—I came back from vacation and found even more stuff on my desk. Don’t get me wrong; I like vacations a lot more than I like work, but sometimes they lead to more work. I even got “volunteered” for a couple of things that I would‘ve dodged had I been here. Oh well.

I did stumble on one thing while working. It made me wonder why smart people are so often dumb. The Harvard Journal of Legislation has an article on the “stand your ground” law (.pdf file) in Florida, also called the “Castle Doctrine.”

Virtually all states allow self-defense in the face of an attack; however, many of them require you to retreat if at all possible. Florida’s law removes the duty to retreat although it doesn’t give anyone carte blanche to kill a person (as anti-gunnies want you to think).

According to the journal, retreat requirements were recognition of the value of life. I agree that life is precious, but when someone attacks another person, they risk death. It’s that simple and I don’t need fourteen pages of text and a multitude of footnotes to state it.

But, I’m not here to debate legal issues with a law student. I don’t know enough about law in general or Florida’s new law specifically to win. However, I do know about self-defense and those who would deny it to the rest of us.

Here’s a statement that illustrates a problem with the article's argument and betrays an anti-self-defense mentality. The author states that the new law “…allows a person outside of his home to stand his ground in the face of an attack and inside of his home or vehicle against an intruder, even if there is no threat of harm.”

First, in an attack there is, in fact, a threat of harm. That’s what a freaking attack is. Second, if you have an intruder in your home you're probably under threat. Now, I don’t advocate shooting someone if you find them in your home, if they show empty hands, and if you can tell they’re not a threat. But, in most cases an intruder is a serious threat.

There are people, who don’t understand just how dangerous certain criminals are. They believe that one can reason with them, reach an empathetic understanding, or just give them the property they want and they’ll go away. They don’t realize that there are monsters out there who’ll kill you for the thrill of it. They may also face a thug who wants more than any person should give—a rapist, for instance.

I think the law student who wrote this article is someone who’s lived a sheltered life although I bet he thinks he’s world-wise and experienced. He’s probably always been safe and has never met someone whose eyes lack all human warmth or empathy.

I’ve met such people and I thank God I survived my encounters with them. In one case, I escaped death or harm only because I had a gun to enforce my shouted “No!” It’s amazing how fast bad guys can run when they look down the barrel of a 9mm.

I’ve never had to shoot someone, but I still carry a gun often and keep one loaded at home. I only wish New Hampshire had passed its version of the Castle Doctrine (I understand Governor John Lynch vetoed it while we were on vacation). I never want to be in a position again when I have to defend myself and wonder if I will be arrested for it no matter how much I feared for my life.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Freedom Eroding

My how things change when you go on vacation. I come back to work and find that computer policy people have decided that we need a net nanny service. You know, software that blocks entry to certain websites that someone, somewhere has found offensive.

We didn’t get the net nanny program to enforce a no-Internet policy. My employer’s official policy is that you can use the Internet for personal use provided you’re not interfering with your work,surfing porn, racist sites, gambling online, engaging in illegal activities, or sending chain letters.

Given today’s litigiousness, I can understand the no-porn thing (a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen) and hate sites. One shouldn’t expect to gamble on an employer’s premises (unless you work for Harrah’s), and chain letters chew up bandwidth. I understand these rules, but the net nanny blocks other things.

Someone at the net nanny company doesn’t like guns and created a “weapons” category. Fortunately they don’t have an exhaustive list of gun blogs, but I can’t get on The Other Side of Kim, Heads Bunker, or Publicola (forgive me if the links don't work, I can't test them) .

When I click on each site, I get a popup screen telling me I’ve been a bad girl and that the site was banned because it dealt with weapons. (Out of curiosity, I clicked on NRA and I can go there.)

Their list is not exhaustive. I can get on Ten Ring and most other gunnie sites, but I’m always waiting for a blocking screen that will, according to text, tattle-tale on me to our IT services people. Whatever.

I agreed to provide my employer with my services for a certain remuneration. I didn’t make a pact that includes censorship. It’s one thing if my employer bans use of the Internet for any private reason, but to allow it and then selectively censor legal things that I might choose to read on my own time is wrong.

I also discovered another site it doesn’t like. Bill sent me a post from Say Uncle about Washington State outlawing online gambling. I can get to Say Uncle, but he linked to “” and that invoked the nanny screen because it deals with gambling. I have no idea what rgtonline is, but what about the First Amendment? What about my right as a free American to read what I want?

Americans are losing their freedoms slowly but surely. If you like to do certain things that others consider asocial, you will become an outcast or even a criminal. It’s affected me with the net nanny. I like to read about guns. So far that’s not illegal even if it offends people I work with every day.

However in Washington State, I would commit a felony if I even link to an online gambling site (at least as far as I can tell given censorship that blocks me from learning more).

I can’t buy one round of ammunition in Massachusetts if I don’t have their stupid firearms card. I could buy ammo in Maine with no questions asked other than, “Need help carrying all that out to your car?”

If I smoked, I can’t light up in a bar in too many cities and states to list.

Wake up people and start defending everyone’s liberties. You may like a smoke-free restaurant. You may think online gambling is devil’s work. You may be an anti-gunnie. You might say that your employer should be able to censor what you read. But one day, a liberty dear to you will be crushed. Who will you turn to for help?