Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rioting in France

As you know, there is more rioting in France. Two years ago Paris' northern suburbs erupted and youths of indeterminate religion and origin (wink-wink) burned cars and generally made royal nuisances of themselves.

This time around, they are using shotguns and the police believe the "youths" are trying to get more guns. About 100 cops have been injured and about a third of them from gunfire. So far the police response has been restrained.

This is a truly serious situation for France. I can't pretend to be an authority on France, but Yosemite Sam and I have traveled there several times. I took more than one French history course in graduate school. I can read and speak French (not as good as when we traveled there--use it or lose it). So, take my following observations with those grains of salt.

France has a seething problem with its immigrants (no shit Sherlock). Unlike some European countries, France has a clear road to citizenship. For one thing, you learn the language, which is no problem for immigrants from Francophone North African countries. But, the French expect you to adopt Frenchiness, for lack of a better term. That's what so many of the North Africans cannot do.

Most, if not all, unassimilated youths are Muslim and won't adopt French concepts of liberty, equality, and fraternity. They don't want to give up their cultural notions of women, gays, Jews, and their ethnic identity. They have a hard time getting and keeping work. This is not
necessarily true of their parents who came to France to work or set up shops. They wanted to assimilate, but their children want to keep the outward trappings of their cultural and religious identity.

In turn, this has led a sizable minority of the French people to turn against the immigrants. While we were there, we heard certain Parisian suburbs described as homes of the black beasts. We saw graffiti carved deeply into a park bench in Lyon, "Interdit aux arabes" (forbid all the Arabs).

This situation is only going to get worse in France. The youths don't want to assimilate and many French people don't want them to assimilate. Two years ago, they burned cars. Now they're shooting at police. The question is, when will the French military (if they still have one) shoot back?

The situation in not pretty and the French are perfectly capable of channeling their inner Robespierre. If they do, it will be another one for the history books.

On this issue, I have a confession to make that will shock many of you. I actually like France and the French. Yosemite Sam and I have been all over the country. I met and talked with some very good people--the ones in Normandy in particular. It saddens me that they haven't been able to solve their immigrant youth problem and I see no good solution.

It will be awhile before we return and I hope there's something worth visiting when we do.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Torchwood--A Gunnie TV Show Review

Lately, Yosemite Sam and I have been watching a BBC import, Torchwood, set in Cardiff, Wales. We’ve been able to see every episode thanks to our cable company’s On Demand feature. It’s entertaining and surprisingly gunnie friendly.

First, it’s a spin-off of Doctor Who. If you don’t know about the Doctor, I can’t explain it here. Suffice to say it’s still on the air and still popular. Yosemite Sam grew up with it and is more of a fan than I am, but I really like Torchwood.

Its lead character, Captain Jack Harkness, was in a few episodes of the recently reincarnated Doctor Who. He was a con man who ended up more heroic than not and comes from Earth’s 51st Century. Through various permutations, he can’t be killed, but is stranded on Earth beginning in the late 19th Century. By the time of the TV series, he’s head of Torchwood Institute Three which investigates alien incursions and related.

That’s enough background, let’s get to the gunnie stuff.

One character, Gwen Cooper, is a police officer who observes Torchwood a little too closely and becomes a member herself. Torchwood members are expected to defend themselves with guns. Gwen doesn’t know how to shoot, because she wasn’t an armed constable. Harkness teaches her in an entertaining session. She fears the gun at first, but finds out she can shoot well and loves it. A surprisingly pro-gun message given the BBC’s track record on gun control.

Captain Jack carries a World War II era Webley Mark IV in an old leather holster with a flap. Unlike the Doctor who refuses to use a weapon, Captain Jack has no problem shooting someone who needs it. In one episode, he shoots a very evil woman several times at close range. BBC didn’t spare the stage blood and squibs.

A British show that allows self-defense is interesting. Of course, Torchwood members are not average citizens, but they’re not the police either. The Torchwood Institute is beyond government and beyond police.

It’s not all gun-friendliness though. In one episode a very scared teenager wounds Gwen with a shotgun thinking she’s one of his deadly neighbors. However, he used a pump-action shotgun illegal in Britain, so it begs the question of how did the character get it (it’s unpossible to get something that’s illegal isn’t it?).

The show is not for everyone. It’s darker and more adult than Doctor Who. For instance, Jack thinks the whole idea of sexuality is a quaint but primitive concept unknown in the 51st Century. There’re intimations that he’ll have sex with any sentient being that walks on two legs. Still, it’s entertaining and nice to see a Webley on TV.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Superme Court Says "Let's Hear It"

Take a deep breath, 'cause here we go. The Supreme Court will finally hear a Second Amendment case, the Heller/Parker case. You all know what it's about and probably already read that the court granted cert.

There's a lot at stake with this one. I predict though that the Court will support an individual right to own firearms and I think that it won't we all that close (maybe 6-3 for instance). The reason it won't be close: the Court will add language like "...subject to reasonable regulation for public safety..." or some such wording. Anti-gun justices will see how useful such language will be.

Then, it will be off to the races to write laws that allow individual ownership while still infringing on our rights to keep and bear arms.

Of course, my predictions have been off the mark before (last time I chose lottery numbers, for instance), so take it with a grain of salt.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

National Ammo Day/Week 2007

Monday is the official “National Ammo Day.” I support it even though it’s not blessed by whatever committee declares a day a Day. Blogger Kim du Toit started it and selected his birthday as the first Ammo Day.

The idea is to buy ammo on that day or during that week. There’s no reporting on what people buy, no public celebration, no “official” declaration of Ammo Day, and no real support in tradition. With all of these apparent negatives, why do I support it?

One good reason is there should have been such a day officially declared many years ago. The Federal government is responsible for having a well-regulated militia. The militia is the whole body of the people who can defend the nation. It’s basically what’s found in Federal law.

The government also used to encourage shooting through its Office of Civilian Marksmanship. They supplied guns, ammo, built ranges and supervised riflery matches. Its successor, The Civilian Marksmanship Program, is a quasi-private group that’s still a great source of M1Garands, M1Carbines, runs some matchers, and sells ammo, but is a shadow of what could have been. The government would rather scrap its guns than sell them.

The whole idea behind civilian marksmanship was to ensure Americans could shoot. That way, in time of national emergency, civilians could be called up and would need less training to be able to meet defense needs.

Today, shooting is seen as a dangerous skill and as something that the “right” people never do (unless it’s skeet with $40,000 shotguns). The government certainly didn’t help alleviate this attitude.

Instead, they banned cosmetic features on certain types of guns, put up import restrictions, and more. They should have been sponsoring more school outreach, more gun sales to the public, more urban ranges, and other programs. After all, we all know that the way to break down hoplophobia is to take someone shooting.

So I support National Ammo Day because it’s something our government should do in the first place. There are other reasons. It’s a way to get more ammo in private hands and that’s never bad. It’s a way to reward retailers who carry ammo. Most importantly, it helps us improve our own marksmanship whether it’s bullseye pistol shooting or action shooting, plinking or long-range competition, or whatever type of shooting you prefer.

Go out this coming week and help your local ammo dealer.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Hunting in the New York Times

The New York Times had a surprisingly (for them) fair and balanced article on hunting. It was in the travel section and it covered the impact of hunting on a small Maine town. Jackman, Maine is a village of about 700 souls. Many of its businesses cater to and rely on hunters. The article profiled them and generally didn't call them a bunch of rubes and hicks (there was an element of condescension, but low-key). It's worth a read.

Even more interesting are the comments. As of this writing there are 104 comments, so it struck a nerve. Of course, there's the usual "killing is eeevvvvillll" stuff and the counter-and irrefutable argument that we all kill to eat (even vegans). A few commenters went all anti-gun. Some are quite entertaining in their own hysterical way.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

More Fear of Inanimate Objects

From SayUncle we get the latest PSH alert. A gun cleaning kit and empty box of shells was found in a classroom in Baylor's School of Medicine. School officials evacuated the school and closed it until today. Even worse, it was used. They searched the school for a gun and eventually someone came forward and explained that he had accidently left it in the room after he had done some target shooting off campus. At no time, did he bring a gun on campus.

Guys, this school is located in Houston, Texas. I lived there for a few years and it's not the Texas I remember. This type of crap is happening all over and not just in New York, New Jersey, Masschusetts, Illinois, or California. Hoplophobia is getting worse among its sufferers. Be sure to read the comments to the newspaper's article.

(Sorry for the lack of posting, but work has become a big stinky cauldron into which I pour my time and energy and don't see much progress.)