Nicholas D. Kristof appears unclear on the Constitutional concept

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s a committed gun control guy, I might have mistaken Nicholas Kristof’s NYTs column today for a perfectly realized, Iowahawk-esque gun control parody.  He opens, of course, with the “How did Jared Loughner get a gun” question.  He does not answer that question by pointing to the fact that local law enforcement, led by that colorful liberal Sheriff Dubnik, had let Loughner run wild for years.  That would have been a good answer.  Instead, he goes directly for the gun kill (pardon my metaphoric language):

To protect the public, we regulate cars and toys, medicines and mutual funds. So, simply as a public health matter, shouldn’t we take steps to reduce the toll from our domestic arms industry?

To prove his bona fides to ask this insanely (and inanely) silly question, Kristof waffles on for a couple of paragraphs about his youth with a gun in his hand.  He also acknowledges that guns are less of a risk than swimming pools (and, one might add, bathtubs and cars), but that doesn’t stop him.  Having cleared the decks, he takes the momentous leap to compares America’s gun situation to Yemen’s:

(The only country I’ve seen that is more armed than America is Yemen. Near the town of Sadah, I dropped by a gun market where I was offered grenade launchers, machine guns, antitank mines, and even an anti-aircraft weapon. Yep, an N.R.A. dream! No pesky regulators. Just terrorism and a minor civil war.)

How to solve this crisis:  Treat guns like toys.  Kristof doesn’t mean, of course, that every kid should find one in his Christmas stocking.  He means that the government should regulate guns like crazy:

• Limit gun purchases to one per month per person, to reduce gun trafficking. And just as the government has cracked down on retailers who sell cigarettes to minors, get tough on gun dealers who sell to traffickers.

• Push for more gun safes, and make serial numbers harder to erase.

• Improve background checks and follow Canada in requiring a 28-day waiting period to buy a handgun. And ban oversize magazines, such as the 33-bullet magazine allegedly used in Tucson. If the shooter had had to reload after firing 10 bullets, he might have been tackled earlier. And invest in new technologies such as “smart guns,” which can be fired only when near a separate wristband or after a fingerprint scan.

Not content with roping Canada into the discussion, Kristof also cites to Australia’s gun control efforts to make his case.

In Kristof’s column, however, one word is conspicuously absent:  Constitution.  Perhaps Kristof figures that, if he just ignores it, no one will notice that he doesn’t deal with an explicit Constitutional limitation on government power.  He’s probably right, too, insofar as his column is read almost entirely by people who share his sentiments about guns.  Heck, 20 years ago, I would have agreed with him.  If asked, at that time I would have said that the Second Amendment is so narrowly written that it requires people to train with a militia as a prerequisite for them to have guns.  If they’re not going to train (a la the Swiss model), the government gets to take their guns away.  It didn’t occur to me that a militia is a citizen military regardless of training or, more importantly, that the whole point of the Second Amendment is to protect the people from their government, not to allow the government to decide which of its citizens gets guns or to take those guns back at will.

As far as I know, there is nothing in the Bill of Rights that mentions toys.  Or maybe I just missed the Second and a Half Amendment, the one saying that “A well-adjusted, exhausted, entertained child population being necessary to the happiness and security of a free State, the right of America’s children to play with any damn toy they so desire shall not be infringed.”  Nah.  I don’t think I missed it.  It doesn’t exist.  That’s why citizens are fairly sanguine about federal safety rules when it comes to toys — toys aren’t an explicitly protected product under the Constitution, one that cannot be the subject of government meddling and restrictions.

The Founding Fathers, however, did see fit to exempt guns from government control — not just federal control, but any government control.  One could make a very good argument that even the gun laws we currently have (registration, waiting periods, etc.) violate the Constitution.

It’s true that the Founding Fathers did not envision the gun world we have today, one that makes guns easy to manufacture or that produces an astonishing variety of guns, some of them with more lethal efficiency than others.  Their inability to predict the future, though, does not give Progressives the right simply to ignore them.  The Constitution is the contract between government and people.  This marvelous contract has within it mechanisms for amending it if it no longer serves the people.

Simply ignoring the Constitution is not one of the contractual options.  If Kristof is interested in having guns regulated in precisely the same way toys are, perhaps he should spearhead a Constitutional amendment that repeals the Second Amendment.  Should he do so, I don’t wish him success, and I don’t see him having much luck, but that’s still what he should do.  To write an entire column comparing a Constitutionally protected instrument to a toy is just fatuous and stupid.

UPDATE:  Thanks, pst314, for bringing my attention to my horrible Kristol/Kristof mixups.  I’ve corrected them all, but I’m really embarrassed.  Sometimes my brain and my fingers live lives independent of each other, but that’s no excuse for making such a heinous error.

Cold water on hysteria

The media does hysteria well.  It’s about the only thing it does well.

It hysterically accused Palin and Beck and Limbaugh and the Tea Partiers of being complicit in mass murder despite a few readily known and very salient facts:  (1) the absence of a single quotation that can be attributed to any of those people or groups that can reasonably be interpreted as an incitement to violence; (2) the fact that Loughner’s political tendencies, if any existed in that damaged mind, hewed Left; (3) the fact that Loughner had been stalking Giffords since 2007, long before Palin, Beck and the Tea Partiers were twinkles in conservatives’ eyes; and (4) Loughner’s manifest stark, raving insanity.

When the American people rightly rejected this particular brand of hysteria, the media launched a new, two-pronged attack.  The first was to try, once again, for gun control.  I was once a gun control advocate (that was back in my Democrat days).  I soured on it when I figured out a few facts:  (1) Totalitarian governments always disarm their citizens.  The Nazis disarmed the Germans, the Soviets disarmed the Russians, Castro disarmed the Cubans, etc.  (2) Outside of totalitarian states, where the only ones allowed to commit violence belong to the government, gun bans result in higher crime.  The NRA was right:  in a moderately free society (because it’s not truly free if only the government is armed) when guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns.  (3) As Katrina graphically demonstrated, with the best will in the world, police are usually there after the crime, not during the crime.

Let’s hope the Second Amendment survives this next round of attacks — but to those who refused to vote for McCain, let it be on your head if Obama somehow gets lucky and is able to replace a conservative Supreme Court justice with a liberal one.  I hope it won’t happen, but it can.

The other attack hysterics are mounting is the one that seeks to wrap our elected representatives in bullet proof bubbles.  As to that, John Stossel offers the following bracing, cold common sense (emphasis mine):

This week’s endless media coverage of the Arizona shooting implies that members of Congress are more important than “ordinary” citizens.  They are not.  All lives are equally valuable.

In other words, “Hey, if s/he gets a body guard and security system, I want one too.  And indeed, if I’m unlucky enough to live in South Central or some other crime hot spot, I deserve it more than s/he does.”

The liberal is either at your throat or at your feet….

My post caption is mangled version of an English expression popular in the years leading up to and during WWI:  “The Hun is either at your throat or at your feet.”  It was a reference to the fact that Germany was a deeply hierarchical, undemocratic nation, with only the haziest notions of equality. England wasn’t that democratic either back around 1910, but it was still light years ahead of Germany.

What these “advanced” English realized was that the German nature, because it was so hierarchical, could never just relax into equality.  People were either above, in which case they required deference (even if grudgingly given), or below, in which case they were to be treated with the utmost contempt.  This contempt, of course, was not successfully purged from the German character, despite the rigors of WWI.  It came to full flower with the Nazis, who turned their contempt into genocide and slavery for those in the below position, whether Jews, gypsies, gays, the mentally ill, slavs, or whatever other group the German psychology needed to pigeonhole.

It occurred to me that, although the dynamic arises from a different psychology, liberals have precisely the same habit of classifying people and then, depending on the classification,treating them with abject respect or blood-chilling contempt (a contempt, fortunately, that is still limited to words).  With liberals, though, the categories aren’t above and below.  Instead, they are I dislike you or I dislike and fear you.

What sparked this thought was two news stories.  The first was an update on a story out of San Francisco, one about which I already blogged.  Briefly, a war is brewing over a gun store in the upper Mission District, a neighborhood that is part working class, part yuppie.  The gun store has been there for a long time but the former owner let the license lapse while he considered reconfiguring the store.  Now that the new owner is trying to reinstate the license, neighbors and San Francisco citizens are objecting vociferously.

In my earlier post, I posited (based on nothing more than intuition), that the same people protesting the gun store are probably completely in favor of the Ground Zero Mosque.  That is, they almost certainly support a mosque connected to a man who espouses sharia (wife beating, wife stoning, gay hanging, hand cutting, infidel killing sharia), while vocally opposing a store that is consistent with one of the oldest and most clearly stated constitutional rights in America.

The second story was the report from Hartford, Connecticut, an overwhelmingly Democratic city, announcing that the next City Council meeting would open with a Muslim invocation.  My bet is that Hartford’s Muslim population is small (I can’t find numbers on it), so this invocation is intended to be symbolic and is, no doubt, a way for the government to show its support for the Ground Zero Mosque.

Think about it, which required putting myself in the liberal brain for a minute, I can appreciate that liberals hate guns, which they see as symbols of violence and, worse, as equalizers.  However, I am incapable of imagining that these same liberals actually like sharia law.  After all, as I noted above, many of sharia’s principles are deeply inconsistent with liberals’ self-identification as the party of love, peace and harmony.

The difference, I believe, is fear.  Even though liberals fear guns, they know that gun owners are fundamentally law abiding people.  Equally well, they know that a significant percentage of committed Muslims are sharia-abiding people, who are not averse to using extreme violence against opponents.

You can, of course, always find the lone wacko in any group.  However, I challenge you to find a situation in which Jews or Christians or Hindus or Sikhs or Buddhists or any other clearly defined religious group) has recently risen up en masse to attack Americans for perceived insults against their faith.  Muslims, however, have done that.  Not all Muslims, of course, but enough Muslims.  Anywhere in the world, it is Muslims who grab the gun, sword and bomb when they perceive an insult.  The Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Atheists, and any other group I can think of refrain from the gun, the sword and the bomb when insulted.

This willingness to respond to criticism with violence is pretty much a Muslim thing.  Not all Muslims, of course, but enough.  And certainly enough to make us fearful of the group as a whole.  After all, it’s usually not until after the bomb explodes that we can separate the Muslims who embrace violence from the ones who didn’t — and, worse, most of the ones who don’t embrace it, rather than speaking out, are passive to the point of acquiescence.

But liberals, rather than being driven by principles, which would have them looking down their noses at Muslims until the day comes when world Muslim leaders explicitly disavow terrorism, tend to be driven by fear.  If you’re a liberal and you both dislike and fear someone, you’re at their feet, as with the liberal response to Islam’s ceaseless attacks on America’s sensibilities and constitutional liberties.  Of course, if you merely dislike them, then you’re at their throats, at least rhetorically.

Right now, liberals don’t like Jews, Christians, Israel and conservatives, and their rhetorical contempt is unbounded.  And right now, while they probably don’t like Muslims very much, they do fear them, and their abject groveling is equally unbounded.

I’ll going on a limb here and say that liberals have exactly the same relationship with blacks as they do with Muslims.  Liberals don’t want to live in black neighborhoods or attend black schools (and, as their hostility to vouchers shows, they don’t want blacks attending their schools).  But blacks have shown themselves to be a volatile population, more than willing to out-rhetoric the liberals, and to stand around with bully clubs, so liberals grovel there too.

Whether the liberals are groveling before Muslims or militant blacks, it’s not a very healthy situation, either for the groveler or the grovelee.  The situation, indeed, is precisely analogous to a parent who spoils a child:  The child, rather than feeling loved, feels resentful and, worse, the child’s pathologies rage uncontrolled.

And that’s what happens when liberals are either at your throat or at your feet.

Zoning, religion, guns and the Bill of Rights

In the debate over the Ground Zero Mosque, the Left’s trump card has been the language in the First Amendment stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”  All of us correctly understand this to mean that government cannot create a state faith, nor can it dictate the religious tenets of an existing faith.  A subset of this, of course, is that government cannot, through indirect laws, make the practice of a given faith so difficult that it is tantamount to a religious proscription.

Shrill voices on the Left are now asserting, however, that the First Amendment must be understood to mean that an ostensibly religious building site cannot be touched by any other laws whatsoever, including zoning laws (which invariably include something about the character of the neighborhood) nor can it be the subject to that other First Amendment right, free speech.

The Left is much less excited about having Constitutional rights trump zoning laws when the subject is guns.  If one operates in a logical world, this is a peculiar Constitutional lapse.

Guns are virtually equal to religion in the Constitutional hierarchy, coming in at Second on the Amendment list:  “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Let me repeat that:  “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  This is very strong language, and arguably much broader in original intent than the First Amendment’s language regarding religion.  The First Amendment merely instructs Congress not to make a law establishing a religion, which we interpret to mean, as well, not to mess with existing faiths.  The Second Amendment, though, rebuffs any attempts whatsoever, whether by Congress or unnamed others (a reasonable inference given the passive voice construction), to mess with the right to bear arms.  It is, as phrased, a sacrosanct right.

Notwithstanding this explicit language, federal and local governments have for decades made laws messing with the right to bear arms.  One of the most significant laws is the way in which we mandate that the government gets to control every legal arms transaction.  Sales have to be in licensed stores, with massive amounts of paperwork, all going into government databases.  I’m not going to argue whether this is an infringement or not, although one could reasonable claim that these are indirect laws making the purchase of guns so difficult as to be tantamount to an arms proscription.  I’ll just note that it happens — and that Leftists are in the vanguard of making it so.

Those on the Left are also perfectly happy dictating the locations for gun shops, with San Francisco offering a perfect illustration.  In that once fair City, a totally legal gun shop, one that’s been in business for 50 years as the same location, is trying to re-open in the Bernal Heights district after a short hiatus.  Even as the local merchants pay lip service to the right to bear arms, they are up in arms (pun intended) that the means for facilitating this Constitutional right could appear in their neighborhood (emphasis mine):

Officially, the organizations are not opposed to people owning guns, Alliance member Jaime Ross told me. They’d just “rather have something the neighborhood could enjoy – a laundry or wine and cheese shop.”


[L]local Ingleside police Capt. Louis Cassanego says that as far as he knows, “there’s never been a problem.” The captain is for the permit “so long as certain precautions are taken,” including all legal requirements and then some. But e-mails he’s seeing are running 10-1 against the store’s permit application.

I’m willing to bet, although there is no way that I can prove it, that the same people writing those emails against the store’s permit application are strident in their denunciation of those who contend that the Ground Zero Mosque is inappropriate for the Ground Zero site.  Certainly my assumption would be consistent with the political ideological that animates support for the mosque and disdain for gun rights.

(A nice coda to this story, and one that gives it a lovely San Francisco twist, is the fact that one of the groups most strongly supportive of the store’s reopening is called the “Pink Pistols,” a gay gun rights organization.  An unofficial spokesman for that group explains that, since California has enacted a law prohibiting the sale of ammunition through the mail (yet another indirect law infringing on the right), it’s greener for City residents to be able to walk, bike or bus to the store, than to have to drive to a far away location.)

Random fascinating stuff out there, plus a few opinions of my own about the California Academy of Sciences *UPDATED*

Although it’s been open for more than a year now, I went for the first time today to the newly rebuilt California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.  My visit there was an interesting contrast to my first visit, some years ago, to the newly rebuilt De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Although I can’t find it now (I think it was on my old Word Press blog), my review of the De Young Museum was that, on the outside, it looks like a series of stacked chicken coops but that, on the inside, it is an exceptionally lovely museum, with beautiful flow and lighting.  And since I go to see the art and not the exterior, it’s basically a very satisfying experience to visit the place.  It makes the art accessible, which is all one can ask for.

I have the exact opposite view of the newly rebuilt Academy of Sciences.  On the outside, the designers managed to create a facade that is both classical and streamlined in a very modern way.  It nestles contently on the eastern side of the Park’s main concourse, and is a chic, appealing visual treat.  Inside, however, it is utterly chaotic.  Various exhibits all seem to struggle to occupy the same space.  There is no flow whatsoever, which is disastrous for a building that is meant to cater, not only to crowds, but to crowds composed, in significant part, of highly kinetic little children.

The underground aquarium, for example, is a maze of short tunnels, each of which has exhibits placed randomly in the center of the walkway, as well as along the sides.  Tossed about by the milling crowds, it is impossible to discern where one is or what one is seeing.  Although I grasped, intermittently, that there was some overarching geographic organization (e.g, fresh water, salt water, tide pools, etc.), everything was so noisy and chaotic, I couldn’t make sense of the exhibits.  The old Academy may have had a pokey rectangular layout, but it sure was easy to move through, to see things, and to understand.

Nor has the Academy improved the food problem that always vexed it.  For as long as I can remember, the old Academy offered vile food at a shabby underground food court dominated by a stuffed grizzly.  The new Academy now has three food venues:  a fancy hot dog stand, a buffet style restaurant, and a very pricey restaurant.  Oh, did I say that only the last named was very pricey?  Forgive me.  They all are.  If you want anything more than a $3.00 pork bun, feeding a family of three in the Academy will run you close to $50.  The prices are justified by the fact that everything is organic this and organic that, but the fact is that the all-organic ham and cheese sandwich tastes remarkably like an ordinary ham and cheese sandwich, only $4.00 more than I usually pay.  Of course, the food prices are consistent with the admission prices.  It cost me almost $50.00 to take my two kids there, which is a pretty hefty price tag for an experience that left me with an eyeball popping headache.

The new Academy also disappointed me for a very personal reason:  they’ve done away entirely with the old gem and mineral collection.  Although not of the scale or caliber of the amazing gem and mineral collection at the New York Museum of Natural History, this was a lovely, little gathering of precious, semi-precious and simply interesting stones.  For me, it was always one of the highlights of a visit to the Academy, and I sorely missed it today.

Speaking of all-powerful centralized government, if you haven’t thought long and hard about the implications of Obama’s appointing a “Food Czar,” you should.

What I also disliked about the Academy (and what I also dislike about the newly, and nicely, refurbished San Francisco Zoo), is the hectoring tone all these places take.  In the old days, the message was, “Aren’t these natural wonders great?”  Nowadays, the relentless message is “These natural wonders are great, but you’re destroying them by your very existence.”  I don’t take kindly to spending massive amounts of money only to be insulted.

The only part of the Academy that I thought was wonderful, although it too had design problems, was the rain forest dome, which was almost, standing alone, worth the price of admission.   It’s a clear plastic dome that has a spiral walkway that takes one up through three levels teaming with trees, plants, birds, butterflies, moths, frogs and lizards.  It’s truly beautiful and really well done.  The only down side is that the only way to get out is to stand in line at the very top, waiting for an elevator.  The lines are long and chaotic.  Additionally, since the elevator is at the very top of a rain forest dome, it’s incredibly hot, steamy and, as with the rest of this echo-y, clamorous place, incredibly noisy.

I will say that what made the trip there a much greater pleasure than it would otherwise have been was the fact that I met up with my brother-in-law and niece there.  My two were delighted in the company of their cousin, and I always feel lucky when I get to spend time with my brother-in-law, no matter where that time is spent.  What a nice man he is.

Whining is finished now.  This is where I put in all the links for the things I read today, many of which readers brought to my notice (thank you!), but that I really didn’t get a chance to think about.

I think I am the last conservative blogger in America to link to it, but link to it I will.  You must read Angelo Codevilla’s America’s Ruling Class — and the Perils of Revolution, which pretty accurately spells out the state of American politics.  You won’t be less worried or frustrated when you’re done reading it, but you will be enlightened.

Did I mention whining a couple of paragraphs above?  That’s actually something important to think about.  Although I do it all the time, I’m aware that whining is not an attractive quality.  A couple of PR and public policy experts have figured out that Israel has been whining lately.  The whines are completely righteous and justified, but they fall into a vacuum of ignorance.  Listeners are not sympathetic.  It turns out that the effective way for Israel to deal with her plight is to do exactly what the Palestinians and their fellow travelers have been doing for so long:  she needs to demonize the opposition.  And what’s so great about this tactic is that, rather than making things up, as her enemies do, all that Israel has to do is broadcast the opposition’s actual words and deeds.  When people see what Israel is up against, as opposed to just hearing how Israel suffers, they become remarkably more sympathetic to Israel’s situation and dire security needs.

By the way, those same Palestinians who have managed to convince just about everyone in the world that the Israelis are worse than Hitler, have managed to hide from the world’s view the fact that, with Israel as their enemy, they are living high on the hog, enjoying standards far in excess of those Arab Muslims in lands that don’t have the good fortune to have Israel as their next door neighbor and enemy.

I loooove Andrew Breitbart.  Seriously.  I’m just crazy about the guy.  I think he is one of the most brilliant political thinkers in America right now.  He’s figured out what the PR folks are talking about:  show the opposition’s ugly side, using real footage of them being really ugly.  And to that end, immediately after the NAACP made waves complaining about unprovable and almost certainly non-existent Tea Party racism, he came out with actual footage of vile racism courtesy of — the NAACP.  Genius.  Sheer genius.  Here’s just one example of the ugly, discriminatory race obsession that characterizes the NAACP and its fellow travelers:

UPDATEAndrew Breitbart jumped the gun.  The snippet he got was taken out of context and, when put back into context, shows Sherrod explaining that, having once been a racist, she’s learned the error of her ways.  It also appears that the NAACP audience, which should have been the real focus of this video, as the video was a counter-attack to the NAACP’s decision to lambaste the Tea Party on racism grounds, murmurs approvingly when Sherrod reveals her new, enlightened views of race.

If you need it, here’s a little more on the Democrats’ entire ugly obsession with race, one that turns on its head Martin Luther King’s vision of an America in which people are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  Oh, and here’s one more thing about that race obsession, and how Obama’s administration uses it to consolidate power, while sowing civil dissent.

When I wrote my post about burqas as a weapon, not just a type of clothing, I dragged in discussions of mosques and minarets too.  I entirely forget to mention in that article the mosque that is plotted for Ground Zero.  Pat Condell did not forget:

Even the New York Times periodically recognizes that federalizing school funding with no regard whatsoever for the situation at the ground is unfair, disruptive and damaging.  What staggers me is that these same NYT types are incapable of recognizing an overarching principle, which is that reactive government closer to home is always more understanding than directive central government far away.

Whether you’re in the military or not, don’t believe this administration when it claims to love the military and cries crocodile tears over its sufferings.

It took me almost half a lifetime to figure out that the NRA has always been right:  “If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”  I needed to see crime rates soaring in London, in Chicago, and in Washington, D.C., as well as the chaos in post-Katrina New Orleans neighborhoods that did not have gun owners to finally understand this simple principle.  More and more, statistics are revealing the obvious:  a law-abiding, armed citizenry is safer than a law-abiding unarmed citizenry.  Contrary to liberal fears that arms will automatically turn us into Liberia or some equally horrific anarchic society, it’s clear that what effects such a change is leaving arms only to the criminals.

If you’re good with a gun

This sounds rather fun:

If you are skilled with a pistol, rifle or any other firearm, you could win $100,000 in prizes on season 2 of History Channel’s hit competition show TOP SHOT. Producers are looking for anyone with mind-blowing shooting skills and a big personality to take on exciting physical challenges with multiple guns and mystery projectile weapons.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a professionally trained shooter or a self-taught, average Joe (or Jane!). As long as you’re in good physical shape, have mastered a firearm and can adapt to new weapons and demanding physical situations, you could be America’s next “Top Shot.”


To apply, email with your name, city/state, phone number, a recent photo of yourself and a brief explanation of why you should be on the show. Deadline to apply is August 12, 2010. For more information, visit and click on “CASTING” or call 818-478-4570 for more information TODAY!

* Applicants must be at least 21 years of age, a resident or citizen of the United States and reasonably proficient with shooting and marksmanship

Hat tip:  Lorie Byrd

Although I enjoyed my single outing with a weapon, I don’t think I’m ready for prime time yet.

The dangers of gun control

So many of my past political beliefs embarrass me.  One of the ones that I find most humiliating is the way in which I so totally bought into the whole notion of gun control.  My thinking was so simplistic:  Guns kill people, therefore guns are bad and should be outlawed.  I never could wrap my mind around the fact that, with the gun genii long out of the box — and not going back in again, ever — the NRA had it exactly right:  If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

In a way, my prior gun control beliefs are a perfect example of the entire loony thinking that characterizes the Left.  In what sane place does one build an entire policy an a manifest impossibility — namely, making all the guns in the world vanish?  The only place in which that happens is in the brilliant Kurt Vonnegut short story “Report on the Barnhouse Effect,” written when Vonnegut was still smart (it was his very first published story).

In the real world, all guns do not vanish.  To govern wisely, and to protect your citizenry, you have to craft a policy based upon that real world fact.  Taking guns away from law abiding citizens and leaving them as protected as fish in a barrel is not a good policy.  And yet I, and millions of other loopy-lo liberals, totally and completely embraced this complete retreat from reality.

I’m fixating on this subject today because, in the wake of the dreadful Cumbria shooting in northern England, John Lott examines the fallacies of gun control.  He points out that the worst mass shootings always happen where only outlaws have guns.  In that regard, it’s worth remembering that even the Fort Hood massacre happened in a gun free zone at that camp. It’s high time that we educate Americans to think about the real world and real facts, and not about the magical world, in which all guns can be made to vanish through mind control.

The illogical behavior and beliefs of the American Statist

“Logic! Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?” — C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Neither Data nor Mr. Spock, two relentlessly logical creations, could ever be liberals or Democrats or Progressives, or whatever the Hell else they’re calling themselves nowadays.  (For convenience, I’ll just lump them all together under the “Statist” title).  As I realized over the 20 plus years of my political journey from knee-jerk Statist to thinking Individualist, the single greatest difference between the two ideologies is that the former lives in a logic-free world.

Sure, as Statists will always shrilly point out, more Individualists than Statists subscribe to traditional religion — and the belief in God definitely requires a leap of faith — but that’s just about the only leap of faith in their lives.  Their political positions are almost always driven by a solid understanding, not only of human nature, but also of the realities of cause and effect.  Liberals, on the other hand, even as they pride themselves on the logic of their abandoning God (never mind that they cannot satisfactorily prove God’s nonexistence), apply magical thinking to just about everything else.

Here, in no particular order, is a laundry list of illogical policies espoused by Statists (with the understanding that modern statism is driven by identity politics and self-loathing):

Statists believe that America’s out-of-control illegal immigration has nothing to do with the fact that, when illegal immigrants sneak across the border, we provide them with education, health care, welfare, food stamps, and the promise that they will be allowed to remain in the country regardless of their unlawful status.  These same Statists, blind to the laws of cause and effect, are always shocked when temporary crackdowns result in a corollary (and, equally temporary) diminution in the number of illegal aliens.

Statists are wedded to the idea that government creates wealth.  To this end, they are bound and determined to use taxes to consolidate as much money as possible in government hands so that the government can go about its magical wealth creation business.  The fact that those countries that have all or most of their wealth concentrated in government hands have collapsed economically (Eastern Europe, Cuba) or are in the process of collapsing (Western Europe) doesn’t impinge on this belief.  As even my 10 year old and 12 year old understand, the government’s ability to print money is not the same as an ability to create wealth.  The best way for a government to create wealth is to ensure a level playing field with honestly enforced rules — and then to get out of the way.

Statists believe that no-strings-attached welfare has nothing to do with the creation of a welfare culture.  My father, the ex-Communist, figured this one out:  “If you’re going to pay women to have babies (meaning constantly increasing welfare benefits), they’re going to have babies.”  In 1994, a Republican Congress forced Clinton to change “welfare as we know it.”  To the Statists’ chagrin, all their dire predictions about weening Americans off the government teat proved false.  Poor people are not stupid people.  If they’re getting paid to do nothing, they’ll do nothing.  If that money vanishes, they’ll work.  By the way, I’m not arguing here against charity for those who cannot care for themselves.  I’m only railing against a political system that encourages whole classes of people to abandon employment.  This subject is relevant now, in 2010, because there is no doubt but that, Rahm-like, Democrats are using the current economic situation as a backdoor to increase welfare benefits to pre-1994 standards.

During the run-up to the ObamaCare vote, Statists adamantly contended that, even if employers would find it far cheaper to pay fines than to provide insurance coverage for their employees, they would still provide coverage.  Likewise, they refused to acknowledge that, if insurers could no longer refuse coverage for preexisting conditions, and if individual fines were cheaper than insurance, savvy consumers would jettison insurance and wait until they were actively ill before knocking on the insurer’s door.  In both cases, the Statists’ illogical beliefs about human nature and economics were proven absolutely and conclusively wrong.  (Info and examples are here, here and here.)

For decades, Statists have contended that if we can just get guns out of citizens’ hands crime will go away.  To the Statists, the problem isn’t one of culture and policing, it’s that the guns themselves cause crime.  What’s fascinating is that they continue in this belief despite manifest evidence that it is untrue.  The NRA was right all along:  If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.

Statists firmly believe that Individualists (a group that includes Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, and other “bitter” Americans), are an angry mob, primed and ready to explode against all non-white, non-straight, non-Christians.  They do so despite hard evidence that angry mobs, as opposed to scattered angry individuals, reside solely on the Left, anti-American side of the political spectrum.

Statist gays, who feel obligated to be Leftists because of identity politics, throw their wholehearted support behind Palestinians, whom they see as the beleaguered victims of evil Israeli imperialism.  They hold to this view despite the fact that Palestinians kills gays, and Palestinian gays regularly try to immigrate to the safe haven of Israel.  In the same way, Statist gays, hewing to their solid Leftist credentials, side with Iran against America, despite the fact that Iran is able to boast about the absence of homosexuals only because it routinely kills them.

Statist blacks, who feel obligated to be Leftists  because of identity politics, are deeply hostile to the police.  While there is absolutely no doubt that, in the past, police routinely harassed, arrested, and killed black people just for being black, we’re not living in the past anymore.  In modern America, the person most likely to kill a black person is another black person.  Blacks need police more than I do, sitting in my comfortable safe, suburbia — yet it’s here, in white suburbia, that our police force, which is largely decorative, is appreciated and admired.

American Statists believe that, if you placate a bully, he will see the error of his ways and become nice.  It didn’t work for Chamberlain in 1938, and I’m pretty damned sure it won’t work for us, whether the bully is Iran, Venezuela, China, Russia or any other totalitarian government intent upon expanding its power beyond its own borders.  I’m not advocating unbridled aggression our part.  That would mean we’re no better than the bullies arrayed against us.  I’m more of a Teddy Roosevelt, in that I’ll allow us to speak softly, as long as we carry a big stick.  Self-defense is not aggression — and sometimes you have to fight to defend a principle, a person, or a nation.

Statist women are silent, absolutely silent, about the condition of women across most of the Muslim world.  I think I’ll rename them “sadist” women, not “statist” women.

Statists tout as a quality Supreme Court justice Elena Kagan, who violated American law to bar the military from her campus because of Clinton’s don’t ask/don’t tell policy, but who cheerfully accepted millions of dollars and a chair from the same Saudis who murder homosexuals and treat women like 32nd class citizens.  There’s logic for you.

I opened this post with a quotation from C.S. Lewis regarding the absence of logic in education.  We can see the profoundly dangerous effect that lack of logic has on real world policies.  I’ll end with Tweedledee and Tweedledum opining on logic in a way that only a Statist could appreciate and understand:

“I know what you’re thinking about,” said Tweedledum: “but it isn’t so, nohow.”

“Contrariwise,” continued Tweedledee, “if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

Illegal immigrants, gay rights, gun safety, and other stuff *UPDATED*

This is a portmanteau post, filled with interesting things I read today, some of which come in neatly matched sets.

Opening today’s San Francisco Moronicle, the first thing I saw was that an illegal teen’s arrest is causing a stir in San Francisco’s halls of power.  You see, San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and its official policy is to refuse to allow police to notify the federal government when arrestees prove to be illegal immigrants.  As has happened before, one of those nice legal illegal immigrants is, in fact, a cold-blooded murderer.  This particular 15 year old is accused of having held the two victims in place so that his compadres c0uld execute them.  The hoo-ha is happening because someone in City government, disgusted by the legal travesty that encourages people like this to make themselves free of our cities and our country, reported the kid to the INS, which is now on the case.  The liberals in the City ask “How dare a San Francisco employee help enforce federal immigration law?” My question, of course, is a little different:  “Why doesn’t the fed withdraw every single penny of funding from sanctuary cities?”  After all, I was raised to believe that he who pays the piper calls the tune.

As you’re thinking about the above travesty of law and justice (and the two dead kids executed in San Francisco), take a few minutes to read this American Thinker article about California’s self-immolation, a Democratic autodestruct sequence driven, in part, by the state’s embrace of illegal immigrants.  Illegal immigrants place a huge economic burden on California’s already over-taxed individuals and businesses.

The next Moronicle article that drew my eye was about the ongoing Prop. 8 trial taking place in San Francisco.  As you recall, Prop. 8 reflected the will of California voters, who wanted to affirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.  Prop. 8’s opponents are trying to prove that voters had impure thoughts when they cast their ballots, making the entire proposition an illegal exercise of unconstitutional prejudice.  Prop. 8 backers are arguing that you can support traditional marriage (as President Obama has claimed to do), without harboring bad thoughts about the GLBT community.

As you think about the ramifications of that lawsuit, I’d like to introduce you to Chai R. Feldblum, who is President Obama’s nominee to the EEOC.  She has a law professor at Georgetown, who really thinks that people’s brains should be purged of evil thoughts, especially evil religious thoughts:

Chai Feldblum, the Georgetown University law professor nominated by President Obama to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, has written that society should “not tolerate” any “private beliefs,” including religious beliefs, that may negatively affect homosexual “equality.”


“Just as we do not tolerate private racial beliefs that adversely affect African-Americans in the commercial arena, even if such beliefs are based on religious views, we should similarly not tolerate private beliefs about sexual orientation and gender identity that adversely affect LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] people,” the Georgetown law professor argued.

Feldblum’s admittedly “radical” view is based on what she sees as a “zero-sum game” between religious freedom and the homosexual agenda, where “a gain for one side necessarily entails a corresponding loss for the other side.”

“For those who believe that a homosexual or bisexual orientation is not morally neutral, and that an individual who acts on his or her homosexual orientation is acting in a sinful or harmful manner (to himself or herself and to others), it is problematic when the government passes a law that gives such individuals equal access to all societal institutions,” Feldblum wrote.

“Conversely, for those who believe that any sexual orientation, including a homosexual or bisexual orientation, is morally neutral, and that an individual who acts on his or her homosexual or bisexual orientation acts in an honest and good manner, it is problematic when the government fails to pass laws providing equality to such individuals.”

Feldblum argues that in order for “gay rights” to triumph in this “zero-sum game,” the constitutional rights of all Americans should be placed on a “spectrum” so they can be balanced against legitimate government duties.

All beliefs should be equal, regardless of their source, Feldblum says. “A belief derived from a religious faith should be accorded no more weight—and no less weight—than a belief derived from a non-religious source.” According to Feldman, the source of a person’s belief – be it God, spiritual energy, or the five senses – “has no relevance.”


Feldblum does recognize that elements of the homosexual agenda may infringe on Americans’ religious liberties. However, Feldblum argues that society should “come down on the side” of homosexual equality at the expense of religious liberty. Because the conflict between the two is “irreconcilable,” religious liberty — which she also calls “belief liberty” — must be placed second to the “identity liberty” of homosexuals.

“And, in making the decision in this zero sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people,” she wrote.

I don’t think Harry Truman would have understood or appreciated Feldblum’s effort to quash religious freedom in the U.S.  He was someone who was able to separate his acts from his prejudices in all the right ways.  As I like to tell my children, he was a racist who integrated the American military; and an anti-Semite who helped create the State of Israel.

I believe all people should be treated equally under the law.  I do not believe, though, that this means that religions should be wiped out, or that Americans should be subject to the thought-police so that their impure ideology is brought in line with the identity politics of the left.  I believe most Americans are capable of being Harry Truman:  that is, they can recognize that their own personal prejudices against a lifestyle, a skin color or a religion, cannot be elevated to legal doctrine.  One of my problems with Islamists is that they’re no Harry Trumans.  They want to do away with the rule of law and, instead, substitute their 6th Century desert theocratic code.

Moving on, at this weekend’s soccer games, the other moms and I were speaking about a gal who is quite possibly the worst teacher in middle school.  She’s a lousy teacher, which is bad enough, but one can layer over that the fact that she is vindictive, mean-spirited and lazy.  Everyone I know has vociferously complained about her to the school administration.  And yet there is is.  She’s too young to have tenure, so I asked, rhetorically, why don’t they just fire her?  One mom’s answer told everything we need to know:  “The union makes it impossible to fire people.”

At least one union leader, at least, is trying to make it so that the American Federation of Teachers is less of a tyrannical dictatorship holding children as hostage, and more of an institution aimed at helping to educate children.  I don’t think Randi Weingarten is going to turn unions around, nor will she much change my opinion of unions.  Historically, I think unions were necessary and important.  In certain low-wage, low-skill, low-education fields (meat packing springs to mind), I still think they’re potentially useful.  Overall, though, I have a deep dislike for unions that goes back to my dad’s years as a member of the various teachers’ unions controlling California public schools.  The unions did minimal work helping to raise my Dad’s wage (he earned $21,000 annually in 1987, the year he retired), but were excellent at (1) kick-backs to administrators, who got great wages; (2) beginning what became the profound devaluation in the quality of California’s education; and (3) making sure that bad, insane and malevolent teachers were impossible fire.

Other unionized businesses are just as bad.  Hospital worker unions make a certain amount of sense.  The 24 hour a day nature of a hospital makes it easy to abuse nurses and other care givers.  However, when I was a young college student who got a summer job in the virology lab (an interesting time, since AIDS was first appearing on the radar as a series of bizarre diseases in gay men), I took over for a secretary who was leaving on maternity leave.  Although a secretary, she was unionized too, which explained why, despite disposing of old sandwiches in her file cabinet, and being incapable of getting her researcher bosses to the medical publishers (a primary part of her job description), she could not be fired.  This was not for want of trying.  It was simply that the unions had made it impossible to fire people like her.  They’d also made it impossible to fire people like the nurse I had many years later who, the first night after I’d had major abdominal surgery, refused to give me any painkillers and isolated me from any other caregivers.  Apparently I had said something that offended her.  Sadly, this was not her first time playing this kind of sadistic game.  But there she was, thanks to the unions.

On a more cheerful note, guns don’t kill people, guns rescue people from sinking cars.

And lastly, Steve Schippert highly recommends today’s Daily Briefing at Threats Watch, so I do too.

UPDATE:  Please visit A Conservative Lesbian for a thoughtful take on the nexus between religious belief and gay rights.  No knee jerk liberalism here; instead, a good analysis about religious freedom and minority rights.

Britain outlaws a homeowner’s self-defense against intruders

One of the most basic principles of Anglo-Saxon common law is a homeowner’s right to defend himself against intruders.  Oh, wait!  That’s not quite true anymore.  In England, which practically gave its name to the notion that “a man’s home is his castle,” homeowner self-defense is against the law (emphasis mine):

Myleene Klass, the broadcaster and model, brandished a knife at youths who broke into her garden – but has been warned by police that she may have acted illegally.

Miss Klass, a model for Marks & Spencer and a former singer with the pop group Hear’Say, was in her kitchen in the early hours of Friday when she saw two teenagers behaving suspiciously in her garden.

The youths approached the kitchen window, before attempting to break into her garden shed, prompting Miss Klass to wave a kitchen knife to scare them away.

Miss Klass, 31, who was alone in her house in Potters Bar, Herts, with her two-year-old daughter, Ava, called the police. When they arrived at her house they informed her that she should not have used a knife to scare off the youths because carrying an “offensive weapon” – even in her own home – was illegal.

Mind you, the above rule is separate from the fact that the UK’s strict anti-gun laws have cut off completely one way in which homeowners can defend themselves against intruders.  The inevitable, is that burglars feel free to break and enter occupied houses, since they needn’t worry about staring down the wrong end of a gun barrel.  (Crime, too, has sky-rocketed.)  What’s different about the rule announced in the above article, is that it isn’t just about removing the homeowner’s most effective instrument of defense; instead, it’s about destroying entirely even the thought of self-defense.

I think Miss Klass is to be highly commended for doing whatever she could to defend herself and her daughter against these intruders.  After all, if she ever cracks open a paper in England, or turns on the news, she knows that Yob violence is out of control.  Britain has successfully turned itself into Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange-vision of a nation equally divided between compliant victims, on the one hand, and brutal psychopaths, on the other.

Thank goodness that, at least in Oklahoma, people are still allowed to defend themselves against home intruders.  Otherwise, one very brave and frightened woman, instead of having successfully and with great physical and moral courage defended herself, could be as dead as the average British homeowner:

(You can hear the whole 33 minute long 911 call here.)

A chilling reminder why we need to preserve our Second Amendment rights

Perhaps because they often tend to live in tightly packed urban environments, when it comes to the gun debate, liberals always forget that the cops cannot be relied upon to be there at the moment a crime is happening.  In a city it’s entirely possible that there are lots of police patrolling a small geographic area who can then respond immediately to a 911 call.  In areas that see cops stretched thin by geography (a sprawling county) or crisis (Katrina), citizens are on their own.  This video of a woman in an isolated area facing off a rabid intruder is a perfect reminder of the fact that arms protect citizens:

It’s obvious by the end of the video that the woman is absolutely shattered by the experience, but I came away impressed by her clear-thinking courage.  I also appreciated the 911 dispatcher’s compassion and good advice.

Hat tip:  Hot Air

Exercising my Second Amendment rights

Twenty years ago, if you had offered me the opportunity to fire a gun, I would have recoiled in absolute horror and read you the riot act.  I can still recite my standard factoids from memory, although I’m too lazy now to string them together into a coherent narrative:

Guns are dangerous.  They kill people.  America is the most violent country in the world and it has the most guns.  Look at England and Sweden.  They have far fewer murders per capita than America does (although I have to add here, in 2009, that when I was making this argument England did not have gun laws as stringent as it does now, and it even then had a very violent knife culture).  Most gun crimes occur in a moment of passion because there is a gun in the home and someone grabs it.  Children can’t stay away from guns and will invariably kill each other or themselves if they stumble across one.  And the Second Amendment is all about militias, and individuals who have guns aren’t forming formal militias, they just want guns to kill people and innocent animals.

I think I got everything there from the old standard riff.

As with everything else in the last decade, my views about guns have changed substantially.  I understand now that, even if all of the above facts are true, the bigger issues surrounding the right to bear arms transcend — and offset — those concerns.  The biggest principle is that the right to bear arms is the hallmark of a free society.  It is no coincidence that, as my pro-gun brother-in-law always said, one of the first things the Nazis did when they came into power was legislate against private gun ownership.  Even though they understood that a rag tag band of citizens is probably of little immediate effect against a well-trained, well-supplied standing army, they also understood that armed, enraged citizens can engage in guerilla warfare that is sufficient to hold off even a formal military — especially if the military is comprised of troops who share the values of the armed citizenry.

I also know now that, even if the government isn’t my enemy, it may not be at my side when the chips are down.  This won’t be from a lack of will, but from a lack of ability.  Hurricane Katrina vividly illustrated that, with the best will in the world, when all systems break down, law enforcement cannot be at your side and you are on your own.  In New Orleans, those communities that could boast that they were protected by Smith & Wesson were left alone by marauding bands of looters.  The same will hold true if, God forbid, there is another major terrorist attack against the United States, paralyzing government, and its ability to protect us both from terrorists and from fellow-citizens taking advantage of the anarchy that can occur in the wake of a major terrorist attack.

I’ve also figured out over the years that similarly situated societies that have outlawed guns have much higher gun crime than those that haven’t.  Look at Texas and California for a nice side-by-side comparison of gun policies.  The former is much more gun friendly, but traditionally has had a lower per capita crime rate than California. And we all know that, when cities such as London or Washington, D.C., enacted complete gun bans, violent crime sky-rocketed.  These comparisons seem to lend complete credence to the saying that, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”

It’s an interesting question, though, whether banning guns really is a direct cause of the subsequent increase in crime.  Another one of my brothers-in-law, who is pro-gun, does not believe that there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between crime and outlawing guns. He points out that, in Los Angeles, most of the gun crime involves gangs.  In those cases, both sides are armed.  The combatents are young men who are not at all deterred by the fact that the house or car they are targeting contains equally well-armed combatents.  In the tribal cultures they’ve created in the ghettoes, warfare is normative, and the other side’s weapons are not a deterrent.  This means that, for these young men, it is irrelevant whether a homeowner has arms.  They’ll break in anyway.  And they’ll shoot regardless.  Gun control or not, these guys shoot to kill.

Thinking about it, I believe my brother-in-law has a poi nt. Gun control laws alone are probably not the direct cause of an increase in crime.  But how about this:  Is it possible that the same democratic societies that voluntarily enact gun control laws (as opposed to totalitarian dictatorships that disarm their citizenry for power purposes) are societies that have already broken down at other levels?  When you look at cities or that have outlawed or severely limited access to guns, they are also cities or states that have embraced welfare, that are hostile to self-reliance and traditional Judeo-Christian morality, that are “soft on crime,” that oppose capital punishment, that have high rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and that generally have fallen into moral disrepair.  Outlawing guns is part of a package deal of social decay — and social decay invariably brings with it rising crime rates.  In other words, gun rights are the canary in the coal mine, giving one a fairly good reading of a society’s level of freedom and morality, without actually having a direct causative effect on either one of those things.

All of which brings me back to the start of this post.  I mentioned that, in the old days, I would have reacted in horror to an offer to fire a gun.  On Thursday, however, when yet another brother-in-law (I seem to have a lot of them) offered to take me to a firing range to try out his revolver (357 Magnum) and his rifle (I have no idea what kind), I jumped at the chance.  Yesterday morning, therefore, saw me at the Angeles Shooting Range, just outside of L.A.

I have to admit to being quite intimidated.  I’ve never been next to a gun in my life (except for museum pieces, and those were behind glass), and suddenly I find myself surrounded by dozens and dozens of people armed to the teeth.  Even with hearing protecting, my ears were ringing.  I was instantly impressed, though, by how well-organized the shooting range was, and how respectful the customers were of the rules — which makes sense, since the rules were so obviously for everyone’s benefit.

My bro-in-law first had me fire the revolver.  I did exactly what he said:  After carefully loading the gun, I got into a balanced stance, held the gun in both hands. extended my arms, and looked down the sites to aim the gun.  My hands were shaking, but I took a deep breath, held it for a second, and fired.  I was surprised by the kick.  When I’m working on the bag at the dojo, and I punch it, the push-back I get from the bag is pretty much equivalent to the energy of the punch.  With the gun, though, a teeny movement of my finger caused the gun to rear up in my hands.  It was disconcerting, because it seemed to defy physics.  (And yes, I know that every time I get into a car, I defy physics, but that’s such an integral part of life I no longer think about it.)  Most magical of all, though, was the fact that a hole appeared in the piece of paper that was hanging some thirty or so feet away.  I ended up firing about 21 shots, and all of them hit the paper.  Here’s the result of my first ever attempt to fire a gun:


(My brother-in-law, by the way, hit the bulls eye on his target.)

After using up all the revolver ammo we bought, my brother-in-law and I headed over to the rifle range.  This was much more difficult for me.  The weapon felt awkward (which the revolver didn’t), I kept being worried that I’d manage to break my jaw with the recoil, and I couldn’t see the target very well.  Or rather, I could see the target but, because I couldn’t see whether I hit the target, I wasn’t able to correct my form from one shot to the next.  Here are the results of my first outing with a rifle:


It’s a bad photo, so it doesn’t show that I hit the paper in the white area several times,but it still gives a pretty good idea of the difficulties I had with the rifle.  Still, I don’t regret firing it, and would certainly do so again.

As my long-time readers know, I’ve been talking since Hurricane Katrina about learning how to shoot.  Somehow, though, I couldn’t seem to get myself going, no doubt due to some lingering liberal procrastination, coupled with the fear of going alone to do something entirely different.  Now, though, thanks to my bro-in-law’s help, I’ve taken that first step, and will try again, with pleasure.  I enjoyed the experience a great deal.  Ialso came away with a much greater respect for the gun, both as a weapon, and as a source of sportsmanlike pleasure.

On guns and self-protection

One of the things that baffled me as a child was the way in which the Jews passively walked into the gas chambers.  My parents explained to me that Jews were not warriors.  Outside of Israel, Jews still aren’t warriors.  Jeffrey Goldberg thinks that’s stupid:

You can’t fight a rifle or a shotgun with a stick, or a whistle, or good intentions. Only armed guards are at all capable of stopping an attack. American Jews — and this is broad generalization here — are queasy around weapons. This queasiness is rooted in our urban and suburban existence. But one of the lessons of the Holocaust to me — I said this in my book, Prisoners, to some criticism — is that it is more difficult to kill an armed Jew than an unarmed Jew.

That last point can be generalized:  “it is more difficult to kill an armed person than an unarmed person.”  The fact is that, armed or not, most people aren’t killers.  The other fact is that most killers are armed.  In other words, whether or not more people carry weapons, it’s only the killers who will kill — but at least we’ll be able to defend ourselves.

Obama’s tenure on an organization that worked to subvert the 2nd Amendment

Here’s one for the embittered crowd:  While we’ve all heard about the Annenberg Challenge, I think few, if any, of us have heard about Obama’s eight years as director of the Joyce Foundation.  You’d think he would have been playing up a directorship, considering that it would prove executive experience.  Of course, perhaps it’s because the executive experience was directed at a political hot potato:  using Foundation money to bulk up the number of anti-Second Amendment law review articles in an effort to convince judges that scholarly trends were hostile to guns.  David T. Hardy has the story (footnotes omitted):

During Obama’s tenure, the Joyce Foundation board planned and implemented a program targeting the Supreme Court. The work began five years into Obama’s directorship, when the Foundation had experience in turning its millions into anti-gun “grassroots” organizations, but none at converting cash into legal scholarship.

The plan’s objective was bold: the judicial obliteration of the Second Amendment.

Joyce’s directors found a vulnerable point. When judges cannot rely upon past decisions, they sometimes turn to law review articles. Law reviews are impartial, and famed for meticulous cite-checking. They are also produced on a shoestring. Authors of articles receive no compensation; editors are law students who work for a tiny stipend.

In 1999, midway through Obama’s tenure, the Joyce board voted to grant the Chicago-Kent Law Review $84,000, a staggering sum by law review standards. The Review promptly published an issue in which all articles attacked the individual right view of the Second Amendment.

In a breach of law review custom, Chicago-Kent let an “outsider” serve as editor; he was Carl Bogus, a faculty member of a different law school. Bogus had a unique distinction: he had been a director of Handgun Control Inc. (today’s Brady Campaign), and was on the advisory board of the Joyce-funded Violence Policy Center.

Bogus solicited only articles hostile to the individual right view of the Second Amendment, offering authors $5,000 each. But word leaked out, and Prof. Randy Barnett of Boston University volunteered to write in defense of the individual right to arms. Bogus refused to allow him to write for the review, later explaining that “sometimes a more balanced debate is best served by an unbalanced symposium.” Prof. James Lindgren, a former Chicago-Kent faculty member, remembers that when Barnett sought an explanation he “was given conflicting reasons, but the opposition of the Joyce Foundation was one that surfaced at some time.” Joyce had bought a veto power over the review’s content.

Joyce Foundation apparently believed it held this power over the entire university. Glenn Reynolds later recalled that when he and two other professors were scheduled to discuss the Second Amendment on campus, Joyce’s staffers “objected strenuously” to their being allowed to speak, protesting that Joyce Foundation was being cheated by an “‘agenda of balance’ that was inconsistent with the Symposium’s purpose.” Joyce next bought up an issue of Fordham Law Review.

The plan worked, too, with those paid-for law review articles being used in Court’s as evidence against the Second Amendment’s plain meaning.

And don’t forget Obama’s role in all this:  this was his executive experience, because he was the director.  While Palin’s executive experience was lowering taxes, getting pipe lines built, negotiating with oil companies and getting rid of corrupt politicians, Obama’s was using the power of money to corrupt and subvert the marketplace of ideas.  Indeed, given Obama’s tenure on the Harvard Law Review, one has to wonder whether it was he who figured out the power of law reviews when it comes to shaping judicial opinion.

You should definitely read the whole article, which also details other creative subversive approaches the Joyce Foundation came up with, and then forward it to anyone you know who supports the Second Amendment.

Hat tip:  Confederate Yankee

Second Amendment picture of the day

This is not a picture in America, but the top two pictures in this story illustrate perfectly why it matters that a nation’s citizens — the vast majority of whom are law abiding — can bear arms.

It is also interesting to note that, while the Beeb instantly tried to paint the Israelis as killers, this more “low brow” British paper, which has some of the highest circulation numbers in England, showed Israeli heroics and a wounded Israeli child, both of which I believe are images vastly more sympathetic to a nation beleaguered by terror.

Bang, bang! *UPDATED*

Just in time for July 4th, the Supreme Court confirmed that the Second Amendment says what it means and means what it says.

I personally am not now, nor have I ever been, a gun owner.  I keep meaning to go the local firing range and take lessons (operating on the principle that, since I’m surprisingly good at darts, I might be good at target shooting too), but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.  Nevertheless, my personal laziness and history aside, I know a Constitutional right when I see one, and I’m always delighted to see those vindicated.

The opinion (including the dissent) is 157 pages long (which surprises me, since the Amendment’s language is one sentence long), so I haven’t plowed through the whole thing — and, barring the unlikely event that I find myself actually litigating a gun rights case — I probably never will. Still, I’m starting to read it now, and if I stick with it and anything particularly wonderful (from the opinion) or awful (from the dissent) leaps out at me, I’ll let you know.

The one thing that does immediately leap out is that Kennedy has fully and completely filled O’Connor’s shoes as the swing vote.  The case went the way it did only because he chose to side with the four strict constructionists on the court, rather than the four activists.

The decision is another reminder that an Obama presidency, which will give him the chance to appoint at least one, and possibly more, Supreme Court justices is an extremely dangerous thing.  I know that many people who are lukewarm about or dislike McCain are assuming that, even if Obama gets his hands on the court, he’ll be able to touch only the old liberals, such as Stevens or Ginsberg.  This thinking is a mistake.  Bad things happen and there is always the possibility (God forbid), that one of the strict constructionist seats may suddenly open up.  Do you really want to take the chance that something bad happens and Obama gets to fill the vacancy?

UPDATE: Another thing leaping out:  Scalia is a wonderful writer — lucid and simple.  He complete avoids the turgid, serpentine, incredibly boring prose that routinely characterizes opinions by O’Connor (Ret.), Ginsberg, and Stevens.  This opinion is actually written in English a lay person can understand.

Interestingly, thinking about it, the worst writers are always the activists:  Ginsberg, Stevens, O’Connor, etc.  I suspect that, since their arguments are so often not bounded by actual American law, they have to throw up huge, wordy, impenetrable smoke-screens to hide that fact.  The strict constructionists, who are writing within a sound framework, have no need to hide or dissemble.

UPDATE II:  On the subject of (God forbid), bad things happening to good judges, the moonbats are already talking judicial assassination.

The Democratic trend *UPDATED*

That the North Bay region (SF, Marin, etc.) will send a Democrat to the California Senate in November goes without saying. What’s interesting is that North Bay Democrats selected the most extremely Progressive (read: far Left) of the three people vying for that seat (Carole Migden, Joe Nation and Mark Leno). I live in an insane asylum.

UPDATE: By the way, it is Mark Leno who authored legislation in the California Assembly aimed at drastically curtailing legal access to guns in California. That same legislation is now pending before the California Senate in the following forms:

AB 2235 would prohibit the sale of handguns other than “owner-authorized (or “smart”) handguns”– that is, handguns with a permanent, programmable biometric feature that renders the firearm useless unless activated by the authorized user. No proven, viable handgun of this type has ever been developed. Introduced by Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier (D-11), AB2235 would require the Attorney General to report to the Governor and Legislature on the availability of owner-authorized handguns; once the Attorney General finds that these guns are available, only “owner-authorized” handguns could be approved for sale in California.

AB 2062 would make it a crime to privately transfer more than 50 rounds of ammunition per month, even between family and friends, unless you are registered as a “handgun ammunition vendor” in the Department of Justice’s database. Ammunition retailers would have to be licensed and store ammunition in such a manner that it would be inaccessible to purchasers. The bill would also require vendors to keep a record of the transaction including the ammunition buyer’s name, driver’s license, the quantity, caliber, type of ammunition purchased, and right thumbprint, which would be submitted to the Department of Justice. All ammunition sales in the state of California would be subject to a $3 per transaction tax. Lastly, mail order ammunition sales would be prohibited. Any violator of AB2062 would be subject to civil fines. AB2062 was amended to remove the requirement that law-abiding gun owners obtain a permit to purchase handgun ammunition.

If you’re a Californian who believes in the Second Amendment, you might want to speak up. As my representative is Carole Migden, I don’t know that my voice has much chance of being heard, but you may live in a more responsive district.

They see guns the way I see wine

I don’t drink.  I don’t like the stuff, and have never forced myself to learn to enjoy it.  However, I often find myself in a situation that requires me to buy wine, whether for a potluck or because it’s the perfect hostess gift.  Over the years, I’ve developed a surprisingly effective technique, since I’m often told after the fact, with real sincerity, that the wines I pick are quite nice.  Here’s what you do:

  1. Decide on your price and look only at wines in that price range.
  2. Decide on your color, red, white or rose.
  3. Pick a pretty label.
  4. When you find a label you think is attractive on a bottle in your price and color, you’re done.  You’ve found your wine and you can buy it with a clear conscience.

As you can see, I’ve removed wine buying entirely from the realm of actual wine quality, and placed it into the world of visual aesthetics.

I thought of that when I heard from the Confederate Yankee that the Hillary Clinton campaign, in attacking Obama on gun control issues, sent out a mailer with a very artistic photograph of a very bizarre gun:

Over the weekend, The Clinton campaign came under fire for a mailing that attacked Barack Obama’s horrific record on guns. The ad was inaccurate—it didn’t go nearly far enough in describing the number and kind of firearms Obama would like to see banned—but as Hillary’s record is every bit as suspect regarding the ubiquitous and yet poorly misunderstood semi-automatic action, I can understand why should wouldn’t want to undercut her own less-than-credible position.

Almost immediately after that story aired, however, Clinton came under fire for the choice of gun used in the add, a rare Mauser 66 with double-set triggers. Rifles with double-set triggers are rare in the United States, but are a feature more common in Europe. The problem was further compounded by the fact that the image was flipped to show the gun as a left-handed model, and the Mauser 66 was never released as a left-handed gun. The picture therefore portrays a gun that has never been made.

This being a political season, many are looking for the real meaning behind that peculiar image choice.  CY wonders, obliquely, whether there wasn’t some sabotage involved by someone inside the campaign.  You can see him thinking, “They can’t really be that stupid about guns, can they?”

Au contraire, my friend.  I’m here to tell you that, on the Leftie side of politics, they know about guns the way I know about wine:  They chose an image that looked good — and, since the campaign is having problems raising money, they also probably chose a free image.  In other words, they relied on price and aesthetics in choosing a gun photo, using an approach that exactly parallels the way in which I choose wine.  Sometimes, a cigar is just a smoke, and a badly chosen photo is just pig-ignorance.

California gun owners: Beware

Here is a message from the NRA:

Anti-gun hysteria has reached a fever pitch in the Golden State. The California Assembly is considering a bill (Assembly Bill 2062) this session that, if passed, will have dire consequences for California’s law-abiding gun owners.

AB2062 is scheduled to be heard on Wednesday, May 7 in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.Sponsored by State Assembly Member Kevin De Leon (D-45), AB2062 would require that law-abiding gun owners obtain a permit to buy handgun ammunition and would impose severe restrictions on the private transfers of handgun ammunition. Applicants for a “permit-to-purchase” would be required to submit to a background check, pay a $35 fee, and wait as long as 30 days to receive the permit.

Under AB2062, it would be unlawful to privately transfer more than 50 rounds of ammunition per month, even between family and friends, unless you are registered as a “handgun ammunition vendor” in the Department of Justice’s database. Ammunition retailers would have to be licensed and store ammunition in such a manner that it would be inaccessible to purchasers. The bill would also require vendors to keep a record of the transaction including the ammunition buyer’s name, driver’s license, the quantity, caliber, type of ammunition purchased, and right thumbprint, which would be submitted to the Department of Justice. Vendors would be required to contact the purchase permit database to verify the validity of a permit before completing a sale. All ammunition sales in the State of California would be subject to a $3 per transaction tax. Lastly, mail order ammunition sales would be prohibited. Any violator of AB2062 would be subject to civil fines.

Here’s what you can do to help protect our Second Amendment freedoms:

  • Participate in NRA’s Virtual “Lobby-Day” on Tuesday, May 6 and tell the Assembly to stop supporting ill-conceived anti-gun proposals like AB2062.
  • On Tuesday, May 6, call, fax, and email the Assembly between 9:00 AM until 4:00 PM and voice your opposition to more gun control proposals. Respectfully, tell your Assembly Member to oppose any assault on our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. To identify your Assembly Member and to get contact information, please click here. A roster of the entire Assembly can be found here.
  • Firearms owners able to travel to the State Capitol will be visiting the legislative offices at the same time your calls, faxes, and emails will be arriving. Please be polite while you address your concerns! The combination of your calls, faxes, and emails, together with those personal visits, will show legislators that California’s firearms owners strongly oppose AB2062 and similar anti-freedom proposals.
  • Forward this message to every gun owner you know and include all gun clubs, stores, ranges and Second Amendment groups. Please cross-post this on the internet on websites and firearm-related forums.

I have to admit that I never would have dreamed, a decade ago, that I would be serving as a conduit for the NRA. I’ve never handled a gun myself, and find them somewhat frightening. I know that guns in criminals’ hands are a huge problem. I also know that good people die in gun accidents all the time.

What I also know, though, is that the Constitution is not ambiguous about guns: The Founders saw government as the greatest threat to people and they wrote the Second Amendment with the idea that armed citizens could come together to protect themselves against a dangerous government — something I bet German Jews, Chinese intellectuals and Sudanese villagers all wish they could have done.

I know too that the NRA’s slogan — “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns” — something that I always thought was superficial and glib, is absolutely true, as experiments in London and Washington, D.C. have both shown. Lastly, I know that, just as good people die in gun accidents, they also die in car accidents, yet no one would think to outlaw cars.

But to get back to the NRA’s action message. We know that, if the Legislature passes that law, it will instantly be challenged in Court. It will probably fail, although there is a possibility that it won’t. It will certainly cost the California taxpayers a great deal of money as California defends the indefensible. Isn’t it easier just to protest the proposed law now, before we go down that risky and expensive path?

Any business this crooked would usually be closed down

If a store routinely cheats its customers, its customers begin to go elsewhere. If the district attorney gets wind of the cheating, a criminal prosecution can result. It’s only in the wonderful world of TV news, however, that lying and cheating seem to have very limited repercussions. People like you and me have already gone elsewhere, and the true believers are happy to buy a false product.

This little rumination is brought to you courtesy of a brand new media malfeasance story, in which ABC uses blatant lies about guns to claim that the love affair the Bush administration has with dangerous weapons is responsible for Mexico’s drug cartels (and, by extension, America’s drug problems). The Confederate Yankee has the details of the endless cascade of lies that permeate the story.

NRA wins against San Francisco

The State Supreme Court got this one right, and neatly sidestepped any discussion of the 2nd Amendment in doing so:

The state Supreme Court dealt a final blow Wednesday to San Francisco’s voter-approved ban on handguns, rejecting the city’s appeal of a lower-court ruling that sharply limited the ability of localities to regulate firearms.

The court’s unanimous order was a victory for the National Rifle Association, which sued on behalf of gun owners, advocates and dealers a day after the measure passed with 58 percent of the vote in November 2005. The initiative has never taken effect.

The ordinance, Proposition H, would have forbidden San Francisco residents to possess handguns, exempting only law enforcement officers and others who needed guns for professional purposes. It would have also prohibited the manufacture, sale or distribution of any type of firearms or ammunition in San Francisco.

Lower courts ruled that the measure interfered with a statewide system of gun regulation, which bars certain types of weapons and allows others. The rulings did not address the scope of the constitutional right to bear arms under the Second Amendment, the focus of a pending U.S. Supreme Court case involving a handgun ban in Washington, D.C.


The city’s lawyers said the use of guns in San Francisco homicides is rising, accounting for 61 percent of all killings in 2001 and 83 percent in 2005, and is particularly high in poor and minority neighborhoods. Gun violence costs San Francisco at least $31.2 million a year for hospital care, police and fire response and jail expenses, the city said.

But the courts said the ordinance was beyond the powers of local government.

Upholding a judge’s June 2006 ruling, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said state law left room for some municipal gun control – such as bans on the sale or possession of firearms on public fairgrounds – but “when it comes to regulating firearms, local governments are well advised to tread lightly.”

California court uses technicality to support Constitutional rights

It shouldn’t be news, but it is: a Court of Appeal in California held that San Francisco cannot unilaterally make itself a little gun free oasis by the Bay:

San Francisco’s ban on handguns, blocked by a legal challenge since voters approved it in November 2005, suffered a possibly fatal blow Wednesday when a state appeals court ruled that local governments have no authority under California law to prevent people from owning pistols.

The First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco agreed with a June 2006 ruling by Superior Court Judge James Warren, who said state laws regulating gun sales, permits and safety leave no room for a city or county to forbid handgun possession.

State courts have upheld some local restrictions, including prohibitions on the sale or possession of guns on public fairgrounds, Presiding Justice Ignazio Ruvolo noted in the 3-0 ruling. But in general, “when it comes to regulating firearms, local governments are well advised to tread lightly,” he wrote.

San Francisco’s ban was challenged by the National Rifle Association, whose lobbyist Chris Cox called Wednesday’s ruling “a big win for the law-abiding citizens and NRA members of San Francisco.”

Alexis Thompson, spokeswoman for City Attorney Dennis Herrera, said the ruling was disappointing, “particularly in light of the continuing plague of handgun violence here in San Francisco.”

The city could ask the state Supreme Court to review the case. History would not be on the city’s side, however, as the state’s high court refused to review a 1982 ruling by the same appeals court striking down an earlier San Francisco ordinance that prohibited handgun possession in the city limits.

Drafters of the 2005 measure, Proposition H, sought to comply with the 1982 ruling by limiting the handgun ban to San Francisco residents. The ordinance allowed only law enforcement officers and others who needed guns for professional purposes to possess handguns.

It also prohibited the manufacture, sale and distribution of any type of firearms and ammunition in San Francisco.

Prop. H was approved by 58 percent of the voters but was challenged by the NRA a day after the election in a suit on behalf of gun owners, advocates and dealers. The proposition has never taken effect.

Read the rest of this article here.

Rendering them inoperative

San Francisco tried to do away with guns entirely, but was forced to back off of that one because of a little thing called the Second Amendment.  It’s now trying a new tactic, which is to say that you can have guns, you just can’t have them in a way that would render them useful in an emergency.  To make matters worse, even the people supporting these rules admit that they’ll only hamper legal gun owners, while leaving the illegal gun owners with a significant advantage:

San Francisco residents will be required to keep their guns in lock boxes or have trigger locks on their firearms under a law signed Wednesday by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The law also makes it illegal to possess or sell firearms on city and county property and requires firearm dealers to submit an inventory to the police chief every six months.

The measure’s co-sponsors concede that it will have little effect on the proliferation of illegal firearms. The prohibition of guns on county property does not apply to Housing Authority sites, and the ban on selling guns on county property does not apply to the annual gun show at the Cow Palace. The firearm inventory list applies to the one gun store and five licensed firearm dealers in the city.

Officials did not say how they plan to enforce the lock box and trigger lock requirements, but District Attorney Kamala Harris said that once people are aware of the new law, “they’re going to follow it.”

Did you catch the last paragraph about enforcement?  There are only two ways to enforce it:  The first is house to house searches of gun owners, which sounds mighty unconstitutional to me.  The second is to go after gun owners after they’ve used their guns.  If the gun owners used their guns illegally in the first place, it will simply layer on another charge to the indictment.  However, what you can easily foresee is a situation in which a legal gun owner legally defends himself against a robber, only to be prosecuted afterwards for having his gun readily available.

In any event, I suspect that the law is redundant.  Gun owners who worry about having their guns misused while on their own property will already store them in lock boxes (as hunter friends of mine do) or have trigger locks (the favored approach, I suspect, of people who worry both about gun safety and protection against break-ins).  Legal gun owners who don’t worry about these matters, for whatever reason, will convince themselves that they can ignore the law.  And the criminals, of course, will continue to pack their weapons and use them with abandon.

A new spin on the old Constitution

This is what the Second Amendment says:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

This is what the District of Columbia did:

It passed a law in 1976 holding that all guns in the home must be “unloaded, disassembled, or bound by a trigger lock or similar device.”

Here’s the inevitable effect of the D.C. law:

Between 1976 and 1991, while the U.S. murder rate increased at an unseemly 9%, the D.C. murder rate, which had been declining before 1976, increased by a staggering 200%.

Clearly, while bad things can happen if there are guns around the house (children inadvertently killing themselves or friends, impulse suicides, impulse murders), worse things can happen when there are no guns around the house. (And no, I do not personally own a gun.)

On March 7, 2006, the Federal District Court issued a 75 page long opinion holding that the Washington, D.C. law violates the Second Amendment (that bit about not infringing the People’s right to keep and bear arms).

And here’s how the New York Times characterized the court’s ruling:

Interpreting the Second Amendment broadly, a federal appeals court in Washington yesterday struck down a gun control law in the District of Columbia that bars residents from keeping handguns in their homes. (Emphasis mine.)

Now, much as it always pained me to admit when I was a card-carrying, gun-control liberal, there’s no “broad” reading necessary to conclude that a law making gun ownership entirely ineffectual does, in fact “infringe” upon “the right of the People to keep and bear arms.” The only way to get around this language is to change the language, not to try to nitpick it and narrow it to death.

And before those of you start making the old argument that guns are only allowed for a “militia,” and that the National Guard is our militia, hold your breath. The only way to harmonize “militia” and “People” in the Second Amendment is to envision a situation in which people have the ability, because they are armed, instantly to form citizen’s brigade separate from the United States Military. Nor is this careless drafting. (As if the Founders were ever careless about these things.) That the Founders viewed these citizens’ militias as entirely separate from forces under Government aegis (including the National Guard) they would not have drafted the Fifth Amendment as they did:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger. . . .

“Land and naval forces” (i.e, the standing military) cannot be the same as “militia” because the language then becomes redundant — and it is a standing principle of statutory construction that you would language to avoid redundancies.

In other words, if you don’t like the Second Amendment, take steps to change it. You know what I mean: those extremely difficult steps that most Americans won’t stand for when it comes to gun control, such as convening a new Constitutional Convention or engaging in the painful process of having both houses and all those state legislatures pass the proposed amendment by a supermajority. What you don’t do is pervert the Amendment’s language beyond recognition, and than classify as “broad” a reading that actually interprets the language as written.

Cause, effect, cause, effect, cause, effect

Everybody enjoys a good laugh when they read some version of what Robert Godwin calls “the perennially clueless New York Times, which often publishes variations on the theme of “Crime Down Despite Increase in Prison Population.” That is, we enjoy the fact that the NYTs, and other liberal publications, seem blind to the fact that crime might be done, not in spite of, but because of, the fact that more bad guys are in prison. I just got a glimpse of another one of those liberal disconnects, where a liberal makes a statement oblivious to the fact that his premise might be, just might be flawed.

I was reading Jack’s News Snipet ‘Blog, which headed me over to a news story about increased gun crime in England, and cries that Labour is responsible — or rather, not in control, and therefore irresponsible. The crime numbers are impressive:

Labour has been accused of losing control of gun crime as new figures show a sharp rise in armed robberies.

Guns were used in 4,120 robberies last year – a 10% jump – including a 9% rise to 1,439 in the number of street robberies where guns were used.

There was also a rapid and unexplained increase in the number of times householders were confronted in their own homes by armed criminals. Residential firearms robberies show a 46% leap, a record 645 cases in England and Wales – up 204 on the previous year and four times the level recorded in 2000-01.

It’s the last paragraph in this story that has the money quote, the kind of statement that should have someone in government scratching his or her head and saying, “Wait, maybe there’s a connection.” Here:

Home Office minister Tony McNulty said: “Firearm offences have fallen significantly, by 14% in the year up to September 2006, which amounts to 1,642 fewer incidents.

“While there is a small rise in residential firearm robberies, these account for a tiny proportion of recorded offences overall, although we recognise any firearm incident is traumatic for victims.” He added: “We have some of the toughest firearm legislation in Europe.” (Emphasis mine.)

I’m not saying there’s a connection, but there might be. Especially since studies do show that violent home break-ins in London increased immediately after the City outlawed guns entirely. (You can read Mark Steyn’s analysis of that situation here.) The same thing happened in Washington, D.C., so you have an “n” of at least 2 from which to draw your conclusions. | digg it

Things I learned this weekend

I have a deadline that’s going to keep me hopping for a couple of hours, but I’ll share with you two things I learned this weekend. First, I learned that, in my very blue neighborhood, there are surprisingly large numbers of gun owners, wannabee gun owners, and hunters. Who knew?

Second, I learned from an extremely reputable source that domestic terrorist task forces think Iraq made their job harder at home by becoming, essentially, a terrorist summer camp. Conversation shifted, so I was not able to to ask this person whether the training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan the war had themselves been significant sources, but we just weren’t watching then; or whether the Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, etc., would be problems even now, after 9/11, without Iraq in the equation. I also didn’t ask him whether the lack of an attack on Ameican soil meant that, while terrorists are training in Iraq, they’re also easier to kill and/or locate in Iraq. | digg it

The NRA would be proud

Here’s the story:

A knife-wielding grocery store employee attacked eight co-workers Friday, seriously injuring five before a witness pulled a gun and stopped him, police said.

The 21-year-old suspect, whose name was withheld pending charges, was arrested and then taken to a hospital after complaining of chest pains, Memphis Police Sgt. Vince Higgins said. The attack apparently stemmed from a work dispute, police said.

Five victims, one in critical condition, were admitted to the Regional Medical Center, the main trauma hospital for the Memphis area. Three others were less badly hurt and treated at another hospital.

The attacker, chasing one victim into the store’s parking lot, was subdued by Chris Cope, manager of a financial services office in the same small shopping center, Higgins said.

Cope said he grabbed a 9mm semiautomatic pistol from his pickup truck when he saw the attacker chasing the victim “like something in a serial killer movie.”

“When he turned around and saw my pistol, he threw the knife away, put his hands up and got on the ground,” Cope told The Associated Press. “He saw my gun and that was pretty much it.”

What’s unusual is how much prominence the story gives to the fact that a gun stopped the attack. Usually, that fact is buried in a story, if it’s even mentioned at all. That is, I’ve known past stories that say “Witnesses stopped the attacker,” and then I’ve found out months or years later, that the witnesses had guns.

True to my Bay Area roots, I used to be staunchly gun control. I’m moving further and further away from that view, though, as I see the disaster that complete gun control is causing in places such as Washington, D.C., and London. On the flip side, Katrina demonstrated that, when people have guns, they can protect themselves when government can’t. Indeed, since Katrina, I’ve been meaning to take some classes and get a gun. What stops me is (a) laziness and (b) a genuine fear of having a gun in the house with two inquisitive, energetic children, one of whom is very certain that he’s GI Joe.

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