Tuesday, January 30, 2007
But liberalism left me some time ago. For one thing, it moved to nannyism. It thinks the state should decide if I can own a gun, smoke a cigarette, play cards for money on a computer, and other things too numerous to list. It also moved into what I will call “magical thinking.” I tend to be logical and straightforward in my thinking and liberals lost me with this crap.
To be fair, most if not all of us engage in a little magical thinking. We cross our fingers hoping to improve our changes at something. Still, most of know that crossing our fingers doesn’t change the odds one whit.
Too many on the left believe that their “magical thinking” is actually worth something. All of us have seen bumper stickers that say “Visualize Peace.” Many ardent environmentalists also visualize Gaia as a real Earth Goddess (see the kid’s cartoon show Captain Planet as one example).
Not only is the Earth personified, but so are guns. Alphecca points us to an “Idiot Thinker of the Day.” His name is David Gerard and he penned a rambling editorial full of magical thinking.
Gerard’s editorial was in response to Jonah Goldberg’s opinion on embryonic research. Evidently Goldberg stated that science is neutral. That drove Gerard to posit that things are not neutral; guns for example, “…the more complicated tools and machines get, like guns, the more personal they get. Guns don’t like living beings. Their goal is to eliminate living beings.”
I’ve said that I bought a gun because “it spoke to me,” but that means I liked it for itself and that I wanted to add it to my collection and to shoot it. I know that the gun doesn’t speak to me, but I’m not sure if Gerard really understands that guns have no ability to not like human beings or that they can’t have a goal. Guns don’t think.
Somehow Gerard blames President Bush for not stopping the potential genocide in Darfur. I have news for Gerard. The only ways to really stop a slaughter that the government of that area abets, if not causes, is to arm the people being killed or to go to war—with guns.
Guns are used for good and evil. They don’t cause either one. No amount of magical thinking will change that fact.
Friday, January 26, 2007
He and his 65-year old wife are experienced hikers and were on a well-defined trail when the lion grabbed the man’s head and tried to drag him into the woods. I guess it was dinner time for Mr. Lion when Hamm walked by (and yes I’m aware it’s a bad pun).
Hamm’s wife grabbed a log and tried to beat off the lion. Hamm told her to grab his pen and try to stab the cat’s eyes. She tried and when that didn’t work, she grabbed her log and resumed beating the animal. The lion finally decided enough was enough and fled.
Mrs. Hamm helped her husband to the trailhead and got help. He underwent surgery for scalp and facial lacerations. Park rangers hunted down and shot two lions; the story does not say if they ascertained which if either of the two cats was “guilty.” The quotation marks are there because the lion was only doing what comes naturally and is incapable of real quilt.
Here’s the main thing, we have two people in the woods without proper gear. They didn’t have guns and indeed were banned from having them (California Administrative Code Title 14, Section 4313). I don’t blame the Hamms. They were using the park the way the government wanted them to—passive observors instead of people who could actively defend themselves with something other than logs and pens.
Humans are tool-making mammals and those tools set us apart from animals with larger teeth and claws. When Mrs. Hamm grabbed a log and a pen, she used tools to defend her spouse. She created a club and a stabbing implement. Humans have made much more effective tools than sticks and pointy objects. We call them firearms and too many people in society and government don’t want us to have them.
I understand (although I don’t agree) why governments ban firearms and other weapons in parks. They’re afraid that some fool with more testosterone than brains will shoot an animal just to do it. Unfortunately, it’s a valid fear. A few gun owners give the rest of us a bad name. But, governments treat someone who wouldn’t shoot an animal needlessly just like they treat the idiot that would. The result is leaving presumably good people like the Hamms at the mercy of animals and two-legged predators.
Police the parks, arrest the idiots who abuse guns, but let the rest of us carry the tool that prevents us from being prey.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
You probably remember Bellesiles’ book and the scandal around it. He argued that guns were not a factor in American life until the government flooded the market with surplus guns primarily after the Civil War, but also after the Mexican-American War. Academic historians and gun-banners loved the idea.
Gun-banners and too many academic historians accepted Bellesiles’ argument without question. Here was "proof" that showed guns were not important when the Second Amendment was written. It seemed to prove that without guns America had low crime (particularly white-on-white), that available guns were used for nefarious purposes such as keeping slaves in thrall, and that hunting was a rare pursuit of the well-to-do.
All seemed well for awhile until some historians, law professors, experts in old probate records, and Clayton Cramer began asking serious questions. More and more, they turned up evidence of misused sources that didn’t say what Bellesiles said they did. Some “sources” never existed at all.
Bellesiles eventually lost his tenured professorship even while proclaiming his innocence. Most former supporters now look at his book as fiction.
Cramer’s book is not just a point by point refutation although a few chapters show exactly how Bellesiles misused eye-witness accounts of travelers in America. Cramer has combed historical sources for any mention of guns, hunting, crime, and everything dealing with guns in America. He has produced a solid, convincing work.
When you read the book you get a sense of déjà vu, that there really is nothing new under the sun. You read about hunting seasons and restrictions that were promulgated in 1699. If you think concealed firearms are a new debate, they aren’t. Bans on carrying concealed weapons were passed between 1813 and the 1840s in response to brawling and too many murders. Concerns about lawlessness are nothing new.
There are a few places where Cramer guesses how to interpret historical information, but he identifies those instances and lets the reader decide. For instance, revolutionary war quartermasters were concerned about the supply of arms. Bellesiles might argue that such documents indicated guns were not available. Cramer uses at least some of the same sources and points out that quartermasters were concerned not so much with guns, but with bayonets. Just what you might expect with militia members armed with their own hunting rifles.
Similarly, having an army armed with rifles conflicted with military thinking of the time. Generals wanted to mass troops on a battlefield and have them fire volleys at similary massed enemy troops. Rifles took too much time to reload for effective volley fire, so muskets were the flavor of the day. Muskets however are smoothbore firearms using a ball that is a touch too small for the bore. They are not accurate and thus useless for hunting or home defense.
I would have liked to have seen more social history in Armed America. It would have been interesting to read how Americans expressed themselves about guns, crime committed with guns, and how anti-concealed carry laws got passed when the Second Amendment was more respected than it appears to be today. For that matter, I would also like to know how people of the day discussed that amendment, but that could be another book.
As a woman, I am always interested in how women used guns. Cramer points to probate records that indicate a fair number of female gun owners, but it is rarely shown if women used guns for defense, hunting, or entertainment particularly if they didn’t live on the frontier.
There’s a wealth of information in Armed America. I don’t know if many anti-gun people will read it and that’s a shame.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
The sad thing about it is that there are too few pro-gun rights people who have a chance of winning. Top tier candidates include Ron Paul and Sam Brownback. Both are certainly gun friendly, but I’d eat this keyboard with fries on the side if either wins.
The next ranking in the list (“Very Good”) includes Bill Richardson. He has other baggage, not least of which is having been a member of the Clinton administration, but he is not bad on guns. Granted, he may be playing to a New Mexico audience and could govern differently on a national stage. Still, he’s the only Democrat on Kopel’s list that rates above “Almost perfect anti-Second Amendment record.”
I don’t know if I could support Richardson for other reasons, but I think that we gunnies need to have pro-gun people in both parties. We can’t afford to have all of our eggs in one basket. Look at three of the Republicans on Kopel’s list: Mitt Romney who never met a Massachusetts gun law he would eradicate; John McCain sponsored a bill that would make gun shows a thing of the past; and Rudy Giuliani former mayor of New York City, ‘nuff said.
Of course, those who most oppose gun rights are Democrats: John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and others.
I’ve never sat out an election before, but it is getting mighty tempting when I try to guess who will be my choices for President in 2008.
Can’t we ever run someone better than “None of the Above?”
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Commenters mentioned Lucifer’s Hammer by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle inspiring me to read it. I read science fiction occasionally, but this book is not typical science fiction in the sense of advanced technology and/or BEMS. It's speculative fiction.
It was quite good. Written in 1977, it’s set in California, and is about TEOTAWAKI . I want to avoid spoilers, but doubt I will so read on at your own risk. An amateur astronomer, Tim Hamner, finds an hitherto unknown comet entering our solar system. He and another amateur who found it about the same time announce it and the comet is named Hamner-Brown. Hamner is interviewed on the Johnny Carson show and Carson mistakenly calls it the Hammer comet. The name sticks.
Professional astronomers tell people the comet won’t hit the Earth, but as the comet comes nearer to Earth, their odds keep changing for the worse. People become worried and camping gear, freeze-dried food, guns, ammunition, and other items disappear from store shelves. People are using credit cards like there is no tomorrow and stores are accepting them in the hope that there will be a tomorrow.
A major character decides to get ready days before the comet’s final approach. He buys large beef roasts and cleverly turns them into beef jerky. He also buys many bottles of liquor believing that they would become trade goods should the comet strike. Having trade goods is an interesting concept and something to consider if one is preparing for anything more than a three or four day disaster.
Parts of the comet strike the Earth (the strike is called Hammerfall). Everything changes. Tsunamis wipe out coastal cities, low areas are flooded, emergency services are wiped away, people die in the millions. Man’s civilization is at risk.
Once nature’s fury is abated, survivors have to, well, survive. Those with a little foresight realize that crops will fail due to darkness and cold caused by steam, dust, and ash temporarily blocking the sun. People who carefully prepared become victims of roving bands of thieves. Even the man who made the beef jerky loses his stash.
One group of survivors live in a valley protected by high ridges. They band together and try to save civilization while surviving beyond the coming winter. They do something that raised at least one of my eyebrows. The people in the valley, now called Stronghold, collectivize food, ammunition, weapons and other necessary items.
People who laid aside such stuff have to give it up or be thrown out of the valley and be at the mercy of roving bands of criminals and even cannibals. Those bands, now a small army, are coming closer to Stronghold and its inhabitants must beat them back.
This theme fits into something I’ve thought about for awhile; the balance of societal and individual needs. We are all individuals, but we all have to be part of society. That’s a hard balance to achieve sometimes.
If TEOTAWAKI occurs, it may be necessary for a small community to collectivize certain things. It doesn’t make sense for one person to own fifteen rifles while potential defenders are armed with rocks. On the other hand, there would have to be guarantees that all would share equally and not have elite members of the nascent society keep the best for themselves.
For a good look at how life might be after a world-shattering disaster, Lucifer’s Hammer is an excellently thought out and researched book. It’s a compelling story that will cause many people to wonder how they could survive such an experience or if they would even want to given the conditions that would exist after a Hammerfall.
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
What is it about some pro-gun people? On one hand, I’ve met friendly people, but on the other hand, I’ve met the meanest, cantankerous old farts you never hope to meet. I met one of the latter last Saturday.
Bill and I went to the Manchester Gun Show. There was the usual mix of guns, knives, books, and other merchandise. Bruce of mAssBackwards was there and he found a new friend.
I’m at that point in my collecting life where I own most of the guns on my list. I go to a gun show to find a “Holy Grail” gun, but mainly I’m there to buy ammo, accessories, and decent reference books.
Bill and I first roamed the show without buying anything. We don’t like to carry stuff with us, but will mentally mark tables and come back to buy. As part of our initial tour, I bellied up to a table of gun books and saw several that I wanted. I got no response from the dealer, maybe I had turned invisible. No biggie, I wasn’t going to buy then anyway.
The second time I slid up to the book table, I pulled out the first book I wanted. It had a sticker price of $54.95. The table owner was talking to another dealer. I took my wallet out of my purse; he’s still talking to another dealer. The visiting dealer says something like, “Looks like you got a customer.” The table owner continues his point with the second dealer for about two more minutes.
The book dealer finally turns to me. Do I get a pleasant “can I help you” or even a gruff “whatcha want?” No I get a scowl and raised eyebrows. I said, “Would you take $50.00 for this book?” I usually offer a little less than the sticker price at a gun show, just in case the dealer welcomes dickering. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. But they always let you know.
I expected to hear either “yes” or “all books are priced as marked.” Either would be welcome and would help me decide how many books I would buy. Instead, I hear “NO” blatted out much like a goat’s bleat. I swear it was loud and at least three syllables long. He then folded his arms and scowled.
I don’t know what I expected, perhaps only affirmation as a customer if nothing else. I slid the book back into the box and left with the $150.00 in cash I might have spent at his table. Maybe I’m being too sensitive, maybe he was having a bad day (although he seemed pleasant with the other dealer). Maybe he had noticed me at the table earlier and felt I wasn’t going to buy. Maybe, he thought a woman was not a serious customer. Maybe one or all of the above.
As I said at the beginning, I’ve met pleasant people and unpleasant people at gun shows or stores. The same’s true in any walk of life. Still, it soured me on the whole show and we left with only one box of ammo. I went home and bought the same book online that he didn’t sell me in person and ironically the order came out to $55.00 even with postage.
Bill thought that the guy’s in business primarily to chew the fat with cronies he sees at every show. Maybe that explains a few things, but he still represents the curmudgeonly side of gunnie-dom; at least to me.
Monday, January 15, 2007
While all this is happening, assistant DA Dave Douglas, played by Tim Allen, is prosecuting an animal rights activist, who is accused of torching a facility, owned by the evil pharmaceutical company. The twist is that the animal rights activist is also Dave Douglas’ daughter’s science teacher. She fully supports her teacher to the point of wearing t-shirts and going to protests.
Well, at this point, I could see where all this was going. Tim Allen would learn the error of his ways and would become an enthusiastic animal rights supporter. To reach this end, the Methuselah dog escaped from the lab, ended up at Tim Allen’s house, bit him and transformed Tim Allen into a dog. As a dog, Tim Allen learned that dogs and other animals are as intelligent as human beings and that the lab was indeed evil, because they experiment on animals. The movie ends with the tables turned on the evil pharmaceutical company and the animal rights advocates hailed as heroes.
What we have here is naked agenda disguised as a children’s movie. Seriously, what did the pharmaceutical movie do that is so wrong? They found a dog that has this amazing characteristic and they tried to learn how it all worked. Isn’t this what science is supposed to be about? How many people who work in Hollywood take life saving drugs that were developed because of animal testing? Do they think this testing should stop, even if it means the end of research into new medicines?
I would blow this all off if this was just an isolated instance, but this has become all too common. The recent movie Happy Feet had a basic message that humans should just stop eating fish, because our consumption of fish is destroying the environment.
It’s because of this in your face propaganda that I mostly eschew modern movies. As a counterpoint, here is the synopsis of the 1959 version of the Shaggy Dog, courtesy of IMDB:
“Through an ancient spell, a boy (played by Tommy Kirk) changes into a sheepdog and back again. It seems to happen at inopportune times and the spell can only be broken by an act of bravery....”
But by 2006, ancient spell becomes amazing, long-lived dog, evil pharmaceutical company is invented from whole cloth, and act of bravery is jettisoned. I think that tells you everything you need to know about the difference between 1959 and today.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
While a gun can’t be illegal, it can be owned by someone who has been stripped of gun rights, or someone who uses it to commit a crime. In that case it’s called a “crime gun” and there’s another anthropomorphic term.
I hate it when people anthropomorphize an inanimate object like a gun. You see it all the time. Reporters write that a gun killed a victim or that a gun went off accidentally yet the gun didn’t go off or kill anyone by itself. Reporters use the grammatical construction to avoid naming an actor. They don’t want to say a teenage thug shot a store clerk or that a cop shot himself in a leg with his or her own gun.
The mayors declare that they’re against “illegal guns,” but they have no idea how to reduce violence by people who commit crimes while using guns. They’re reduced to supporting gun registration and microstamping. Their own words show how they humanize guns while not dealing with the problem of the thugs who use them.
Here’s what Mayor William “Bill” Bell of Durham, NC has to say, “All citizens need to know what a terrible impact that guns in general, and illegal guns specifically, have and how they are contributing to the violence in our communities.” (Note: the webpage will cycle with different quotes from different mayors). Guns themselves have no impact unless someone wields them.
So what should concerned mayors be doing to reduce violence?
First, they should stop calling it “gun violence.” Violence includes stomping, hitting, knifing, clubbing and everything else. The use of a gun may make an attack more deadly, but the main point is that there’s an attack in the first place.
Second, recognize that the problem lies with a small segment of the population. Very few gun owners will ever commit a crime with a gun. Criminals must be identified and it will hurt to admit that most of them are inner city young male blacks and Hispanics. Inner city problems must be solved and political correctness will only may that solution harder to find.
Third, end the “War on Drugs.” After thirty years let’s recognize that people will demand drugs, others will supply it, and they will protect their turfs with violence. Having this prohibition in place makes it harder to solve inner city violence. Drug prohibition has helped turn inner cities into war zones and given their inhabitants well-paying “jobs” in the black market. Without these jobs they would be forced to find work in the real world.
Fourth, gun owners can throw the mayors a bone: and I say this in the spirit of collegiality. We gunnies need to secure our guns when we aren’t carrying or otherwise using them. That’s not to say we can’t use them for self-defense, but all guns should be locked up securely when you’re away from home. Safes or cabinets can be defeated, but we should make it as hard as possible for damn thieves.
Fifth, the mayors need to recognize that there are legitimate purposes for guns. People can enjoy hunting, target shooting, plinking, collecting, and other activities. A gun is an excellent self-defense tool. They should recognize that owning a black rifle is just as valid as owning a skeet gun. It’s how the gun is used, not the gun itself that matters.
But, I’ll see this agenda come to pass when pigs fly.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Bruce wants to buy a scary rifle that could cause anti-gunnies to lose bladder control in a most embarassing way. So let's help him out. Visit his site and buy a bumper sticker.
Boston Mayor, Tom Menino, is part of this little band of unmerry men. He’s used his position to attack New Hampshire as being a gun supplier for Boston’s criminals. More significantly, Bloomberg has sent private investigators to gun shops in other states hoping to trick them into selling to a straw purchaser.
A straw purchase is when a person who cannot legally own guns has someone who can pass a NICS check buy a gun for him. Bloomberg’s little team of private investigators would team a man and a woman to enter a gun store and the man would do all the talking, inspecting, and then motion the woman over to actually buy a gun.
A straw purchase is against the law, but it is not against the law for a more knowledgeable person to inspect a gun for a newbie friend or spouse and help select a gun for their first purchase. Telling the difference between an honest person and a straw purchaser is an art not a science.
Some gun stores refused to make the sale, others didn’t. Bloomberg’s crew sued the gunmakers who made the sale and a few settled rather than spend a fortune on legal fees. Others are fighting Bloomberg. And where’s the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in all this? They’re not happy with Bloomberg who may have messed up an investigation or two and Bloomberg’s investigators may have broken the law with their little stunts.
There is a lot to protest where Bloomberg is concerned, so if you can attend please do so.
Thursday, January 04, 2007
Say Uncle has a link to an article by L. Neil Smith about the NRA and its policies. He is critical of what he perceives to be the compromises that the NRA has taken in its defense of the 2nd Amendment. He thinks the NRA should adopt a no compromise strategy and that the compromises of the past have severely harmed the cause of freedom.
I understand the appeal of adopting a no compromise strategy. It seems that we freedom advocates are suffering the death of a thousand cuts. We seem to be endlessly compromising while the forces of gun bigotry chisel away our freedoms until we are left with empty words and promises and then have to beg for rights that are supposed to be guaranteed.
It is certainly well past time to start pushing back.
I think the NRA recognizes this and that is part of its preemptive strike against any possible Democratic Party inspired gun control laws.
But, I also recognize that there are times when we have no choice but to compromise. In the 60’s and 70’s, gun control was in the air and it was going to pass. If the NRA had adopted a no compromise strategy, gun control still would have passed. The NRA would have been sidelined and the laws would have been much more restrictive.
Whether you are an incrementalist or someone who brooks no compromise, I think it is a mistake to quit the NRA in a huff over their policies. At the annual meeting in 2005, only a small perecentage of the total membership was present. If more no compromise members were active and voted in NRA elections, the organization would move more towards that attitude.
The NRA is the largest and most influential gun rights organization in the United States. But their membership is a fraction of that of the AARP. Congress doesn’t dare push any laws that might alienate the AARP or their members. They are deathly afraid of a voting block that huge. If every active gun owner was a member of the NRA, Congress would take notice and I think that we would have a much better chance of rolling back these noisome gun control laws.
Most anti-gun types have never heard of JPFO or GOA, but they know and hate the NRA. The NRA with its multi-million dollar headquarters in suburban Virginia projects power and the Washington establishment may hate them, but they do respect that power.
L. Neil Smith also has 12 points that he thinks the NRA should adopt in order to best defend the 2nd Amendment.
I think point 4 is particularly important.
“FOURTH, in the same context, I'd want the NRA to disconnect all future discussion of the Second Amendment from the totally unrelated topic of crime. My rights have nothing whatever to do with anything anybody else does, right or wrong. If the crime rate were only 1/10 that of today, my rights would be unaffected. Likewise, if the rate were TEN TIMES what it is, it would have nothing whatever to do with my individual right to own and carry weapons.”
I think gun rights advocates have made a big mistake in trying to tie crime to the Right to Bear Arms. We often argue that after passage of a concealed carry law that crime goes down or doesn’t change. I feel that this line of reasoning is a trap. What will happen if crime goes up if we get rid of a bit of gun control? Then the anti-gun zealots can yell, ah ha, you argued that guns lower crime, now we have a situation where crime is going up because of the repeal of a gun control law.
Let’s not argue from the gun banners paradigm. We have a Human Right to defend ourselves and to own and bear arms to best protect our persons and property. It could easily be argued that crime could be reduced if we had more restrictions on speech and the press. This should not be tolerated and our disarmament should not be tolerated, regardless of the crime rate.
As they say, RTWT.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
These pictures were taken in Berkley and are a collection of gas guzzling vehicles that have bumper stickers like "No Blood for Oil" and my favorite, a personalized license plate that reads AWD4MAO.
I don't know what Mao would have thought of AWD, but I do know that Mao would have pulled the punk ass driver out of this car and shoved his ass on a bicycle. If he was feeling charitable.
If he was in a bad mood, then his ass would have been off to a labor camp or if he was really pissed, a bullet to the base of the neck.
What cracks me up about these pictures is that these white-bread, wanna be revolutionaries would be the first against the wall if there ever was a Communist revolution. During the Cultural Revolution in China, Mao sent these kinds of people(mostly academics and white collar types) to the fields to work as peasants. Pol Pot just had them shot, as well as anyone who wore glasses and even looked vaguely intellectual.
Sometimes I wonder if maybe what this country needs is a decade or so of the kind of real tyranny that people experienced in Vietnam or Cambodia.
Hey, at the very least, it would rid us of these Bourgeois Marxists.
The coyote reportedly acted aggressively toward a woman and her dog. She called the police. The police watched the coyote and then decided to shoot it as it wandered into an even more settled area. Here’s what an onlooker (a man) had to say, “He was just out celebrating, the poor thing.”
That's just not right. I suppose a coyote can enjoy life, but I don’t see him celebrating with a day at the beach. Do we have to treat every wild animal as if it were a cartoon star in “Bambi,” “The Ice Age,” or “Over the Hedge?”
Further, I don’t know because I wasn’t there, if the coyote was aggressive or not. If it was aggressive it needed killing, but I wonder how aggressive Mr. Coyote was if the woman with the dog could call the police. If it was truly aggressive and the woman didn’t live in Massachusetts, she could’ve handled the problem with her own gun.
I know my last sentence will cause someone to raise an eyebrow, but the professionalization of self-defense bothers me. We appointed a special cadre of civilians special powers to enforce and uphold the law. They should do that, but we didn’t abrogate to them all of our rights to defend ourselves from four or two-legged predators. That's really what it si coming to in Massachusetts; don't defend yourself, wait for the police no matter how much it hurts even unto death.
Scott Allen Miller is a talk radio host who blogged about urban coyotes and the dead coyote recently. He points out that they are invading our turf, at least in Massachusetts. In other words, nature is coming to us even if we have become too urbanized and too PETA-ized to deal with it. And to paraphrase Martha Stewart, that’s not a good thing.