Win Some Guns & Stuff
Gunner at No Quarters has several posts up with links to contests where you can win guns and gun related goodies.
Disturbing Decision for Self Defense in NY
HT: Publicola. Clayton Cramer discusses a recent decision by New York state's highest court concerning a man (Aiken) who killed another man (Badgett) in the doorway to his home and claimed self defense. The court held that the doorway is part public and part private, not really "the home," and thus Aiken had a duty to retreat under state law.
More background synopsis: the two men had been feuding for several years, and Badgett had stabbed Aiken a couple of years previous. In the ultimate confrontation, Badgett came "nose to nose" with Aiken and reached into his pocket. Aiken feared Badgett intended to stab him again and hit him in the head with a pipe.
Mr Cramer doesn't have comments, but I'd like you to ponder this: if Mr Aiken was a police officer, confronted by a criminal (Badgett was convicted of assault for stabbing Aiken) who had assaulted him previously, and that criminal made a move like he was going for a weapon, do you think the DA would have even brought charges? I, for one, highly doubt it.
Another GFW Calling RKBA Supporters Extremists
The gun culture and its consequences
By JOSH HORWITZ (executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence)
A HIGH SCHOOL student in Red Lake, Minn., kills his grandfather and eight other people before turning the gun on himself; a man shoots his ex-wife and a bystander outside a courthouse in Tyler, Texas; a disappointed litigant in a malpractice case kills a federal judge's husband and mother in Chicago; a rape defendant in Atlanta overpowers a police officer, seizes her gun, and shoots three people to death; and a man walks into a church service at a hotel near Milwaukee and shoots 12 people, killing eight.
Instead of reevaluating its dogmatic devotion to guns as the answer to every question, the gun lobby has its story and is sticking to it: If only the victims in these cases had been armed (or in the Tyler and Atlanta cases, more heavily armed), then violence could have been avoided or stopped by a gun-wielding citizen.
I'm not familiar with any RKBA group that is 'dogmatically devoted' to "guns as the answer to every question." Another example of the gun grabbers depicting their opponents as fanatics and members of the lunatic fringe. If you can't win on fancts, make people think your opponents are nutscases.
And I'm not sure why the Atlanta courthouse case is included here. What would have stopped that is better prisoner handling procedures (or better adherence to procedures) by the Fulton County Sheriffs Department. Some deputies did exchange fire with Nichols as he made his escape, but since none of them hit him I'm not sure what difference more firepower would have made.
The message that more guns will solve our problems has been promoted relentlessly by the NRA and other elements of a fringe culture that believes not only in the right to bear arms as the most important bulwark against violent crime and government oppression, but that every citizen should prepare for armed confrontation.
Given that most of the Founding Fathers held the same belief, I find it hard to fault this idea. "The whole body of the people...trained to arms." Does that ring a bell, Mr. Horwitz?
Writing in the Union Leader online last week, Dave Workman, senior editor of Gun Week, approvingly quoted John Snyder, public affairs director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, who said: "When push comes to shove, an ultimate protection against terrorist activity could well be an armed citizenry."
Armed citizens have stopped terrorist gunmen in Israel on more than one occasion. Why shouldn't Americans have the same ability to defend ourselves?
Gun Owners of America, the nation's second-largest gun rights group, is distributing public service announcements "[t]o generate public awareness of the dangers of not having a gun ready for protection." As Erich Pratt, a GOA spokesman, has said, "Passing a law that says everyone in a town must own a gun would be a good thing. It would be like putting a sign on every door saying, 'This home is protected by Smith & Wesson.'"
Now, I don't like laws requiring all citizens to own a gun, for the simple reason that there's a whole lot of adults out there who aren't responsible enough to own a gun. Forcing them to own one is just plain stupid. But once again we see Mr. Horwitz choosing quotes to make those he opposes look like extremists.
Vin Suprynowicz, a well-known gun enthusiast and prolific writer, says, "Americans have a strongly implied obligation under the Second Amendment to stand ready to defend our freedoms . . . by owning, maintaining and keeping in good practice with a firearm of 'militia usefulness' — that being, in this day and age, an M-16 or (preferably, in my opinion) a .308-caliber, M-14 combat rifle."
Another quote, trying to make RKBA supporters out as extremists. After all, why would any reasonable person need an M-16 or M-14?
The Founders believed that the militia-which they envisioned as the primary defense of the republic, both against foreign invasion and domestic tyranny-should consist of all adult male citizens, and that, to this end, all able bodies males should have military quality arms. This concept still holds true today, and is in fact codified in federal law, which defines the unorganized militia as being all males between the ages of 18 and 40.
Back then, that meant a musket that could accept a bayonet (and there where many citizens who chafed at this requirement, since a musket was both more expensive than a civilian rifle and less useful for hunting.) But such muskets were what the armies of the day used. Today's armies use assault rifles, such as the M-16 or the AK-47.
Even among purportedly mainstream gun rights organizations like the NRA, the response to the firearm homicides of recent weeks is essentially that we can just shoot our way out of trouble, and the NRA is backing a variety of state-level legislation designed to roll back restrictions on guns in bars, churches, schools, and just about anywhere else.
Note the wordsmithing in that first sentence: "purportedly mainstream gun rights organizations like the NRA." Horwitz just did a couple of things. First, he implied that all the other groups whose spokesmen he just quoted-the GOA, the CCRKBA, and Vin Suprynowicz-as out of the mainstream. And he mocks the NRA and its four million members as 'purportedly mainstream.' Which of course implies that the opoinion of him and his group are mainstream. Nevermind that survey's show that they're not.
With somewhere around 200 million guns in private hands in the United States, our society hardly suffers from a shortage of firearms, and it is not clear why adding millions more would make us safer. In fact, other cultures that have reached this level of individual armament have done so at their own peril.
Think of Somalia or Russia, where even locals are reluctant to travel alone and bodyguards and razor wire are considered necessities for middle and upper class households. In these societies, democracy has taken a back seat to maintaining order.
This is where Horwitz gets really stupid, using two wildly divergent examples. Somalia is anarchy with borders, and has been for years. When it had a fucntional government (a dictatorship, but functional nonetheless,) it wasn't full of armed gangs fighting for dominance. I'm not sure if Russia is a plutocracy or thugocracy, but in either case, it has extremely strict gun control, which has no effect on the criminal underworld's ability to get pretty much any weapons they want, including anti-tank weapons.
Horwitz ignores the exmples of England, Australia, and South Africa. All of those countries in recent years have enacted extremely strict gun control laws, making guns almost completely outlawed. In all three nations, violent crime has skyrocketed. In South Africa, citizens have resorted to buying swords, axes, and medeviel weapons to defend themselves. In England and Australia, citizens have been denied even those options.
He also ignores Israel and Switzerland, nations where substantial portions of the population are armed, and with fully automatic weapons at that. In the wake of a Palestinian terrorist on a school, Israel armed teachers, and encouraged volunteer parents, also armed, to assist the teachers. No Israeli school has been attacked by gunmen since. Likewise, after several of their gunmen were gunned downed by armed Israeli citizens, the Palestinian terrorists largely gave up on using gunmen to kill Israelis. In Switzerland, every adult male is a member of the militia, and has a Stg90 assault rifle in his home, along with ammunition. The government even allows these citizens, at the end of their militia service, to purchase their service rifles. I don't recall hearing much about Switzerland having a problem with violent crime.
The United States isn't near this point yet, but turning over responsibility for establishing order to armed citizens has not been the answer in those foreign countries and it will not be the answer here. The privatization of crime control — whether through hired security forces or individuals who mete out justice as they see fit - is the hallmark of a society that has been turned against itself, with devastating consequences for political liberty.
Now Horwitz is attributing to his opponent words they haven't spoken. Nobody at the NRA, GOA, or CCRKBA is advocating privitization of crime control. They simply support ending government restrictions that prevent citizens from defending themselves.
The latest spate of shootings has produced proposals to increase security for judges, offer easier access to concealed carry permits, and pass a new assault weapons ban. These ideas should be debated, but not as a substitute for hard thinking about whether a society where citizens feel they need to be armed to the teeth to go to school, work, or church is really good for our quality of life, our safety, and our freedom.
Again, putting words in other peoples mouths. No gun rights group has advocated that everyone should go around "armed to the teeth." We simply want to remove government restrictions on our ability to carry tools with which we can effectively defend ourselves from violent predators.
The entire essay is basically a typical gun grabber exercise in portraying their opponents as extremists, and then attributing to them things that they didn't say.
Iraq's Hottest Reality Show
The Iraqi government has discovered that putting captured thugs on TV is an effective way to combat the Islamofascist scuzzballs.
BAGHDAD -- Iraq's hottest new television program is a reality show. But the players are not there by choice. And they don't win big bucks, a new spouse or a dream job.
Instead, all the characters on "Terrorism in the Hands of Justice" are captured suspected insurgents. And for more than a month, they have been riveting viewers with tales of how they killed, kidnapped, raped or beheaded other Iraqis, usually for a few hundred dollars per victim.
Seated before an Iraqi flag, the dejected and cowed prisoners answer questions from an off-camera inquisitor who mocks their behavior. Some sport bruised faces and black eyes. Far from appearing to be confident heroes battling U.S. occupation, they come across as gangsters.
"I watch the show every night, and I wait for it patiently, because it is very revealing," said Abdul Kareem Abdulla, 42, a Baghdad shop owner. "For the first time, we saw those who claim to be jihadists as simple $50 murderers who would do everything in the name of Islam. Our religion is too lofty, noble and humane to have such thugs and killers. I wish they would hang them now, and in the same place where they did their crimes. They should never be given any mercy."
Broadcast on al-Iraqiya, the state-run network set up by the U.S. occupation authority in 2003, "Terrorism in the Hands of Justice" has become one of most effective arrows in the government's counterinsurgency propaganda quiver.
"It has shown the Iraqi people the reality of those insurgents, [that] they are criminals, killers, murderers, thieves," Interior Minister Falah Naqib said last week.
Sabah Kadhim, an Interior Ministry spokesman, added, "The last few weeks have been incredible in terms of tips coming in from the public."
Officials launched the program, Kadhim said, after realizing that Iraqis did not believe that insurgents were being arrested. "Talking to people in the street, they say, 'Is it really true? . . . Why don't you show it?' " he recalled. "The demand for this came from the people."
Ma Deuce's Diary-7 April 2005
This one isn't an actual combat story, but a test at Ft Eustis of a new convoy combat simulator.
Training for the worst: Simulator prepares soldiers for combat convoys
BY WARD SANDERSON
Published April 7, 2005
FORT EUSTIS -- The desert vista is calm at first. Then, beyond the brick archway through which their convoy must roll, clouds of blood red obscure the horizon.
The driver puts the Humvee in gear and the five lieutenants - their faces painted into greasy masks - roll toward the rumble and fire. Helicopters slice the sky.
In the town, women and children stare as the officers pass the familiar tatter of religious posters and turn the corners of the beige roads. Men in white shirts and white robes wield rifles from ledges, the tops of buildings, the sides of the street. They fire and the noise of war erupts from all around.
"11 o'clock!" a lieutenant yells.
"What? I can't see him!" 2nd Lt. Jason Schulz screams back.
Schulz swings his .50-caliber gun. He hammers ledges to dust and turns snipers into slumping sacks.
A bomb detonates beneath a Humvee on the road ahead. Schulz's Humvee lurches into reverse.
It was all just a game.
But the digital battle left the new officers training at the Army Transportation School at Fort Eustis pumped and saucer-eyed. It was supposed to. The school is testing Lockheed Martin's portable Vehicle Combat Convoy Trainer, one of eight the Army now leases from the company for $9.6 million. The chamber of panoramic panels and surround sound resembles the world's biggest, most expensive PlayStation accessory.
The Army plans to lease four more soon, and in 2008 - pending congressional approval - it intends to begin buying 42 simulator suites of four trailers each. An individual trailer simulates one vehicle in a convoy; the crews inside talk to each other and see one another. So far 7,500 soldiers have trained on the system. The Marine Corps already has bought four of them.
"Having been there, it really brings it back," Schulz says afterward, recalling his tour of Afghanistan as an enlisted soldier. "You really feel your blood pressure rise."
The simulators are supposed to help convoy soldiers survive. The Joint Chiefs of Staff have said the military suffers about 100 casualties a month due to roadside bomb attacks. The infantry normally would bear the brunt of the casualties. In today's Iraq, anything in camouflage is targeted.
"Soldiers were in convoy situations and getting killed because they didn't know what to do," says Warren Wright, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin.
The company is in familiar territory, having already produced tank and armored-vehicle simulators. The free-for-all reality of Iraq led the Army to ask for the hasty development of a trainer for convoy crews.
"Tank units train together. People were getting in convoys and they had never trained together," Wright says. "They'd get attacked and get out and fight, which isn't necessarily the best thing to do."
The system, which includes a Humvee mockup with actual M-16s and .50-caliber gun, was designed at emergency speed at the Army's request between March 12 and April 15 of last year.
John Sullivan, business development manager for Lockheed Martin simulations, says the speed of its completion was possible because the company used much of the software engine driving its tank trainers.
All scenarios use real places. "It's geospecific terrain," says Lt. Col. Edward McGinley, chief of officer education at the transportation school. The linked trailer Humvees "all have the same operational picture. They're in the same virtual world."
The weapons are tethered by cables that report the guns' targeting success. The computer tracks whether shots are misses or hits on enemies or innocents. The guns will soon be freed using wireless technology.
"With the wireless, you can shoot from nontraditional positions," says Nancy Mace, a spokeswoman for FATS Inc., the subcontractor that designed the weapons interface for the trainer. "You won't be restrained."
The simulator will soon feature blasting desert winds when the Humvee accelerates. As is, the system is already popular with the soldiers who give it a try.
"The only thing missing," says Schulz, "are the bumps in the road."
Interesting...and a Bit Depressing
Found this report today on state and local taxation levels in the Pacific Northwest (WA, OR, ID). Seems my home state, Washington, is the highest. Now, granted, as a soldier who does most of my shopping on a military installation, I can dodge some of it, like sales taxes, which might even things out a bit. But it makes the tax increases proposed by the legislature and the governor-select look even dumber.
Now for the true bummer: lloking a decade or so down the road, to when I retire from the Army. Mrs HL refuses to live, permanently, in any state that has an income tax. Nicely enough, EFF included a table ranking the states with no income tax. The thing that gets me is that all the states I'd be willing to live in-Alaska, Wyoming, and Nevada-all have a higher state/local tax burden that Washington. Although with the way the powers that be in Olympia have been behaving, that might change.
Home State Goings On
When the Seattle Times says Democrats in the state House are getting carried away, you know they must be getting really carried away. Not content with raising taxes on cigarettes (already at $1.42/pack,9th highest in the country) by $.20 a pack(pushing the state to 5th highest), and looking hungrily at an increased gas tax (a measure that was rejected by state voters in 2002), the state House voted last week to increase unemployment benefits that are already among the nation's most generous.
Now, as a small 'l' libertarian, I don't think the government, at any level, should be involved in providing 'unemployment compensation.' As a practical matter, I know the program is too popular to be abolished. But I think that if you must have it, it shouldn't be fun; the purpose (supposedly) is to provide a safety net, not a hammock. So would there be anything wrong with limiting the maximum payout amount, say, equal to 75% of what a minimum wage worker can earn in a 40 hour week? Now, I realize that this won't cover the rent for most Seattlites (heck, it won't cover my mortgage payments, either), but can you think of a better motivator to go get a job than being short of money?
Now, is it possible that the Dems in Olympia are trying to push all this stuff through because they know that Governor-select Gregoire might not be in office much longer? Following the discovery of 93 more uncounted ballots in King County, and the setting of a 23 May trial date by a Chelan county judge, Republicans on the King County Council have called for a federal investigation (HT: Sound Politics).
Here I have a serious conflict with my normal beliefs. The election was a state election, not a federal one. Investigation of how it was conducted, and any allegations of malfeasance, should be conducted by the state. However, I don't believe that any investigation, if conducted, would be a serious one. King County government is completely controlled by the Democrats, and they have obfuscated, denied, demonstrated mass incompetence, and possibly flat out lied over and over again. Both houses of the state legislature are controlled by Democrats. The alleged winner of the election also happens to have just vacated the office of state Attorney General, and one could resonably expect most of the attorneys who work there to be loyal to her. The feds are the only people with no dog in this fight. Therefore I think, in this case, for the federal government to act as the court of last resort, in order to ensure equal rights for all the voters of Washington.
Check out Alphecca
Jeff's posted his Weekly Check on the Bias. There's even a link to yours truly if you want to websurf in a circle.
Montana Pokes the Feds Again
The state of Montana is poking its finger in the .fedgov's eye yet again. The state legislature has passed a resolution condemning the Patriot Act. This follows a bill declaring the the intrastate manufacture and sale of machineguns is not a crime in Montana,(see this post at No Quarters for more on that) and demands for information on violations of state campaign finance laws by the federal government.
I'm currently stuck in South Carolina, and it has struck me that Montana's behavior on some levels is similar to that of South Carolina in the first century of the republic. Slighty better motive, at least in my opinion, on the part of Montana.
Interesting (to Me, Anyway) New Drink
I don't, for the most part, drink hard alcohol or mixed drinks. I'm a beer guy-and a beer snob, at that, spoiled by having a great microbrewery in the town where I went to college and then spending 3 years in Germany. I'll have a few margaritas at a Jimmy Buffett concert, some sangria in the summertime, and gluhwein in the winter, but for the most part, my drink of choice is beer.
Well, the other night, I ran out. Didn't feel like a rum and coke, so I decided to try out a can of cream soda as a mixer. Ended up mixing it with a shot of brandy. Turned out to be quite excellent. Even my wife liked it.
Give it a try if you want. Or don't. Whatever suits you.
The Best Defense is a Good Offense
KABA is a great site for keeping up with news stories relating to gun rights. At the end of each day's listing of articles, they put a quote. This was today's:
We'll take one step at a time, and the first is necessarily - given the political realities - very modest. We'll have to start working again to strengthen the law, and then again to strengthen the next law and again and again. Our ultimate goal, total control of handguns, is going to take time. The first problem is to slow down production and sales. Next is to get registration. The final problem is to make possession of all handguns and ammunition (with a few exceptions) totally illegal. — Pete Shields, founder of Handgun Control, Inc., New Yorker Magazine, June 26, 1976, pg. 53
It's been said before, but his is why the gun-grabbers have been beating us-because they have a plan, and they're executing it. Right now their progress is slow, and they're playing defense, mostly, on the national level. But at the state level, they're still playing offense and having some success at it, in various states, with their most recent success being the .50 BMG ban in Kalifornia. Similar bans are winding their way through the legislatures of several other states.
Look at what they state as their first step: "slow down production and sales." This is where they've been most successful. The most obvious tactic is by making gunbuyers jump through all sorts of hoops to buy a gun-hoops such as Illinois' FOID, or Michigan's "safety inspections," or the federal NFA laws. Or requiring that each specific model of gun be approved by the state before it can be sold, as in Kalifornia. And then there are the lawsuits, designed to bankrupt gunmakers through massive legal expenses, while in the meantime making new guns more expensive to purchase, by the same means. I'm generally against most federal legislation, but this is one case where it is warranted, because the legal system is being abused to subvert the Constitution and deny us our rights.
But even the lawsuit pre-emption law is merely playing defense, neatralizing one of the grabbers' weapons. And, unfortunately, I don't see much support among today's politicians (with the possible exception of the Montana state legislature) for disturbing the status quo. They get elected the way things are, so they're not going to change. A solid, unequivocal victory in the Supreme Court would be nice, but sadly I don't see us getting 5 of them to rock the boat to that extent either.
And I won't be able to run for office myself for at least 11 more years.
Sometime last week, I'm not sure exactly when since I didn't format posts with date stamps back then, this blog passed one year of existence. I'd like to say thanks to all the folks who read my ramblings, and especially to the folks who leave comments and the ones who link to me.
Oh yeah, yesterday was my birthday, too. I was considerably neater when eating my cake than Jr. was with his.
Fun with Google
Apparently I'm the #9 result on a Google search for "dating libertarian single nashville woman."
I'm not sure if I should be flattered or annoyed.