Speaking of reforming the BATFE, David Hardy has a page up about Waco.
The events at the Branch Davidian compound are an enduring black mark
against a government all too willing to kill over a matter as trivial
as a missing $200 tax stamp... and to kill again, in full view of the
media, to cover up their actions.
Dafydd is doing the non-libertarian thing and suggesting that the Patriot Act be made permanent:
This should be a no-brainer: nobody has shown any violation of civil liberties from use of this act; the Patriot Act should simply be made permanent, all of it.
Yet evidently, simplicity is not a virtue to these complex and nuanced
senators. And shame on the three Republicans for aping the Left's habit
of attacking the president instead of arguing their case before the
One of the major provisions of the Patriot Act is lack of notification.
Those who are investigated under its provisions are not notified while
the investigation continues, and those who are served with subpeonas as
part of the investigation aren't allowed to talk about it. These
provisions make it very, very difficult to show abuses of civil
liberties, and impossible to claim that none have occurred simply because none have been reported.
While investigations of foreign intelligence assets need to remain
highly secretive by their nature, and investigations of terrorists
certainly fall under that same category, there must
be effective oversight -- oversight that is not provided by a secret
court rubberstamping national security letters on the basis of secret
evidence. We need to do better than that.
Dafydd, the Big Lizard, has what he calls a conservative solution for the death penalty (in response to an article from Patterico). It involves executing people faster and more easily
than presently allowed, with a small helping of caning for more minor
crimes. Sounds good to me; justice should be swift, relentless,
and accurate. (It's the third part that's important; if the death
penalty is to be applied swiftly and relentlessly to certain cases, it
must also be applied accurately).
The way I see it, anyone convicted of premeditated
murder or terrorism (that's real terrorism, not the FBI's "let's apply
the Patriot Act to everything" terrorism), beyond a reasonable doubt,
should be executed within a year of their conviction. Give them
the full-time services of a PI for that whole year, along with
appropriate support from a crime lab, if they think they can prove
their innocence; but once a jury has said that they are guilty, waiting
is not appropriate. It only dilutes the linkage between cause and
Mistakes will be made. Mistakes are inevitable. Sometimes,
new testing methods emerge Nevertheless, the immediate aftermath
of a crime is when the memories of witnesses are clearest and the
politics of the death penalty have had the least chance to
But in the tail end of his post, Dafydd mentions that he also has a
libertarian solution. I'd like to know what it is (hence this
post); but I have my own libertarian solution, and it goes like this.
Everyone who wants to carries a handgun. No permits, no licenses, open or concealed as desired.
It is very hard to have a case of mistaken identity when the person
involved is trying to kill you. And it is very hard to try to
kill someone you know is armed, especially when you know that those
around them are also armed, and you are likely to be shot trying to
leave the scene even if you succeed. And people will be very,
very polite in public, because failure to control your emotions to the
point of attacking someone else has serious, sudden, and dramatic
UPDATE: Turns out Dafydd's libertarian solution is the infamous Texan
defense: "Your honor, I plead not guilty to murder; the man needed
killin'." He'd set it up as an affirmative defense; use it, and
you have to go to trial, and prove that to a jury. He notes that
it would need some safeguards against racists and the like; I agree,
and provided there were some safeguards against the obvious problems, I
like the idea.
David Hardy reports
that an audit of the BATFE's handling of its duties may be in the
works. Assuming it is conducted honestly, it will likely produce
a great deal of evidence which can be used to drive reforms.
This is what shall-issue concealed carry means. Not that mall
shootings happen and can't be stopped; they'll happen regardless of the
concealed-carry laws. What I'm referring to is what almost happened; the murdered was almost stopped four hours before the police could "negotiate" with him.
You may remember a somewhat recent (in the last year, I think) shooting
in Texas. A concealed-carry permit holder was on the scene,
armed, and exchanged gunfire with the criminal, saving several lives at
the cost of his own.
You don't hear about this aspect of these events in the media much, but
it is happening with increasing frequency. Do the math: there are
21 million people in Texas, and 223584 permits,
so about 1% of the population is licensed to carry. That means,
if you are in a place with at least 100 people nearby, and you are in
Texas, and you're not in a location where concealed firearms are
forbidden, then someone around you is probably carrying.
To be honest, probably more than one -- not everyone carries legally,
and there are legal ways to carry a firearm with you in your car
without obtaining a license.
These people have indicated their willingness to do violence in order
to protect themselves, and quite possibly to protect those around
them. They don't smell funny and they don't look any
different. But every single one represents the opportunity to
stop a murderer in his tracks, cutting their rampage short.
But they'll smile and say hello and play with your kids safely.
They aren't dangerous, because they are guardians, not predators.
They are safe because their firearms handling skills are meticulous,
due to experience, practice, and training. After all, it's
something they do for fun. The real thing isn't fun, but similar
The more people who take up the responsibility of bearing arms, the better off everyone will be, because there will always be more murderous psychotics... but the supply of guardians is all too limited.
It seems, according to Dave Kopel of the Volokh Conspiracy, that the Kuwaiti royal family does not sit easily upon their throne; they are insisting that the resistance (that is, the pro-Kuwaiti resistance who fought against Saddam Hussein after he invaded) give up their arms -- and they are enforcing this with house-to-house searches and stiff penalties.
This suggests an interesting question to me:
Suppose a foreign nation... let's say Canada... decides to invade the
United States. They send in their army, armed with a variety of
deadly weapons; everything from machine guns to tanks. Suppose,
in the typical Red Dawn scenario, our own military is busy somewhere
else and it is left to the militia to repel the invasion. Suppose
further that the militia successfully routs the Canadian army before
our own military can become a serious factor, and order is restored.
What happens to the captured Canadian firearms? They are not
legal in the United States -- being unregistered NFA weapons (machine
guns). While it wouldn't be too difficult to round up all the
tanks, it would be completely impossible to collect all the machine
guns, grenades, and so forth. Inevitably, some of those weapons would end up in civilian hands.
How would the United States government respond to this situation?
Just an interesting thought experiment.
UPDATE: Thanks for the link, Alphecca.
I'd like to take a moment to clarify the conumdrum, in order to
hopefully avoid further commenter confusion. The problem I
presented is this: the defeated Canadian army leaves behind thousands
of captured military weapons (machine guns, primarily) in civilian
hands. Under current law, it is legal to own a registered machine gun with the appropriate permission slips, but it is impossible to register new
machine guns. The widespread scope of the invasion ensures that
the government cannot simply recover all the weapons through a limited,
aggressive policy against a few individuals.
If the weapons are to be recovered, it would be house-to-house
searches. If they are left out there, suddenly there are
thousands of people who probably do not even realize they are in
possession of an "illegal" machine gun through no fault of their
own. Should they be charged? What if they aren't discovered
By way of the Geek with a .45, the FEC has determined
after an extensive deliberation that bloggers are entitled to the same
press exemptions granted to the old media. That's good, because
it means that bloggers won't be directly regulated with respect to
their opinions. It's bad because it admits the possibility that
they could be regulated in the future. Laws which violate the
bill of rights are best responded to with a Supreme Court ruling rather
than a regulatory finesse.
Not that the Supreme Court has not fallen on its face on this law in the past; I'm just sayin'.
Alphecca notes a story
where a police officer shot a young man with a bb gun, thinking that
the gun was real and pointed at him, and asks whether there should be
liability for the manufacturer (in making their product look very
similar to a real firearm).
First, it's undisputed that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms
Act does not protect anything that isn't a firearm, and BB guns clearly
do not qualify. Alphecca notes that he considers them weapons
regardless; I agree that some certainly qualify as weapons but I feel
they are more closely categorized as something else. While a bb
gun can cause serious injury, if a BB happens to hit a vulnerable spot,
wounds from one are rarely life-threatening.
Regardless of whether or not a bb gun is a weapon, however, there
should be no liability for the manufacturer. BB guns
closely resembling real firearms have legitimate uses (training, for
example). If criminals use their resemblance to real firearms for
intimidation, they have only themselves to blame when the police or an
armed citizen don't bother to extend the benefit of the doubt.
And if an innocent kid wants to act like a criminal, using his BB gun,
he needs to find better role models... or accept the potentially fatal
consequences of his decision not to.
Indeed, the police officer in the case Alphecca describes might well
have a case against the deceased for negligent actions leading to
emotional distress, lost work, and required counseling. After
all, when you threaten a police officer with what he perceives
(reasonably) to be a firearm, the result is entirely predictable.
I'm not that litigious, of course, but the case could be made -- and
probably would be made, were it ever to be economically feasible to do
But under no circumstances should the manufacturer be liable.
Moreover, a smart manufacturer would be wise to avoid creating a
similarity between their BB guns -- which are capable of causing
serious injury -- and similar devices which are entirely toys, such as
cap guns, which (at least when I was a kid) offered bright orange
plastic barrel plugs so that it was obvious the "gun" was not
real. BB guns may not be weapons, in my opinion, but they are
definitely potentially dangerous, and should be recognized as such.
Capitol Hill sources have told GOA there is a provision in this bill
(Section 215) which would allow the FBI to get a secret court order to
seize ANY business records it believes would be relevant to an
anti-terrorism investigation... without having to make the case that
the gun records they're confiscating have any connection to a suspected
215 is the same provision that allows for seizure of library records
(what you're reading about) and similar privacy threats. While
passing the Patriot Act in the wake of 9-11 could possibly be excused
as an emergency situation, it has now been over 4 years since that
event. How many terrorists -- real terrorists, not prostitutes or
drug users -- have been captured and convicted because of evidence
obtained through section 215?
The answer seems clear: not enough to justify abrogating our Constitutional rights.
From a recent anti-gun newsletter (it's always good to keep an eye on them):
A terrorist armed with a .50-caliber sniper rifle and a scope could
away at a nuclear power plant without security
personnel knowing what hit them or where the attack was coming from. By the
time security officials could adequately respond to the sniper attack, it
could be too
The only way to prevent this nightmare and other
terror" scenarios is for lawmakers to take action now and
restrict these deadly weapons for use by the military and law enforcement
not news that security is hard. But asking us to believe that
terrorists won't be able to get their hands on any small arm they want,
regardless of a ban within the United States? That's insane.
November 19th is National Ammo Day.
Go out and buy ammunition; stock up, in fact. Why? So
you'll have some if you ever need it -- and so If you're interested in
participating in a market experiment, do so at a WalMart, at 3:30pm CST, and pick up a copy of the DVD Red Dawn at the same time you are picking up your ammunition.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has told the Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF) that it will not appeal a New York decision that
forcefully rejected its request to track a cell phone user without
first showing probable cause of a crime. It also appears that DOJ
will not appeal a similar opinion recently issued in Texas.
Recently, the government lost a case where it had requested the ability to monitor a cell phone, including location data, without a warrant.
Normally, that would be cause for cheering; after all, the decision
would stand and be counted as a victory. Not here, though.
Without guidance from appellate courts, the government can simply
choose judges inclined to grant such requests, in secret, and never
face significant opposition to the practice: the government doesn't
have to tell anyone and the person being monitored isn't told either.
Abuse of National Security Letters under the Patriot Act...
If this journalist's story is true,
it's repulsive, and it's a clear sign that the government has gone too
far. It is not appropriate for the FBI to maintain dossiers on
people who are not under suspicion of a crime.
I'm not really the drinking sort, but I'm not about to stand by idly while the prohibitionist movement
edges closer and closer to a comeback. They have learned to cloak
their desire for prohibition with their concern for "the children" and
to pretend their measures are aimed at reducing drunk driving -- when,
in reality, they just want to make life difficult for anyone who
chooses to drink alcohol, and propagandize children in order to shape
their attitudes towards alcohol as adults.
Pointing to the rising number of shootings in Boston, Mayor Thomas M.
Menino is calling for a "handgun summit" in New England and raised the
possibility of random police searches of cars crossing into the state to intercept illegal weapons.
It looks like we may not see the kind of lengthy and detailed briefing from the amicus curae in Parker v DC that we saw in Seegars.
appearing that this case presents potential problems of duplicative
briefing, it is ORDERED, on the court's own motion, that amici curiae
show cause, within 30 days of the date of this order, why they should
not be limited to one joint brief, not to
exceed 7,000 words, on the side of the party they support. See D.C. Cir. Rules 29(d), 32(a)(4).
The amici may suggest an alternative briefing format to reduce the
number of pages submitted to the court. In so doing, amici should keep
in mind that the court looks with extreme disfavor on repetitious
submissions and will, where appropriate, require a joint brief of
aligned entities with total words not to exceed the standard allotment
for a single brief. The amici are directed to provide detailed
justifications for any request to file separate briefs or to exceed in
the aggregate the standard word allotment. Requests to exceed the
standard word allotment must specify the word allotment necessary for
is not a final decision, the various parties intending to file amicus
briefs are being asked to limit both the length of their argument and
to combine their responses. That should make the arguments more
managable; remember that Seegars saw multiple filings exceeding 50
pages from people not even parties to the case.
While it's somewhat disappointing -- I like reading legal briefs on
this issue, and there will be less red meat for me to report on -- it's
should help distill the arguments into their shortest and clearest
form. And that should help the case move more quickly.
?I wasn?t going to just write a check, and I didn?t want
to go to New Orleans where all the celebrities were going (to
grandstand). I wanted to go where no one was, and that?s why we went to
?We took six million dollars of equipment and
most of the guys from my company (Malone Properties). But when we got
there, they (federal officials) told us that because we wanted to work
for free, we had to go home. That we needed a government ID number or a
contract to haul out debris.
?I said to them, ?bullsh??, we
took 30 pieces of equipment and traveled nine hours and we?re going to
clean up some lots before we leave. So I told them ?I?m getting on my
truck, now try to get me off.? I had my security guys there and they
tried to stop us but they couldn?t - and we cleared 115 houses.
In a free market, prices are dictated by the supply of a particular
product compared with the demand for that product. The demand for
gasoline is high -- everyone needs it to get to work, heat their homes,
produce electricity, ship their products to the market, and so
on. Some of that demand can be adjusted in the short term
(consumers can choose to cut down on non-essential driving, put up with
the heat, etc); some can be adjusted in the long term (buying more
fuel-efficient cars). The supply is also variable, sometimes
We should not be surprised to see rapid price spikes when there are
supply problems. The individual gas stations need to make enough
money on their current inventory (ie, the gasoline in their underground
tanks) to be able to replace it when they run out; that means they need
to be ahead of the price curve, selling today's oil at tomorrow's
prices. If they don't do this, they will go out of
business. This doesn't mean they are making huge profits.
The recent spike in prices at the pump in the US can be laid partially
at the feet of Katrina, which impacted much of our refining capacity,
combined with the fact that we were already running pretty much at the
limit of our refining capacity to begin with. That combination
means that we had to make up the shortfall somewhere -- by finding
refined gasoline elsewhere and shipping it to the markets. Doing
that costs more than the usual procedure (otherwise, the usual
procedure would not be the usual procedure). So, when the cost of
delivering a gallon of gasoline to the local gas station goes up, the
supplier has to raise prices; the alternative is to go out of business.
We also should not be surprised to see large oil companies making big
profits. Consider; there are about 300 million people in America
alone, and each adult probably spends at least $100 on gasoline for
their car per month -- sometimes less, sometimes more. That's
completely ignoring business use and non-vehicle use, and it adds up to
$360 billion per year for the US alone. That's a huge
industry. Large absolute profits are meaningless; you have to
compare that industry with other industries to see how the profit
margins match up before you can even start to complain.
Let's not forget that gasoline taxes often make up a huge portion of
the price of gasoline. That money is going to your local
government, not your local oil company.
Here's a quote from the Tattler's post:
We are being led to believe that a 24 cent per gallon increase in 24
hours was a good thing. That somehow magically that prevented the
country from running out of gas. Say what? Did the extra 24 cents per
gallon prevent anyone from doing anything other than pay more at the
It prevented gas stations and their suppliers from going out of
business. There are sources of gasoline that they can get to the
marketplace so long as people are willing to buy; but those sources
cost more than the usual sources, so those additional costs have to be
covered. The oil companies could have chosen to keep prices at
the same level, and simply not supplied oil to the market at all while
the price was higher than some arbitrary point. Would that have
helped the situation at all?
This is not a Republican or Democrat thing. This is a consumer thing.
As comsumers we need to get mad enough to care about what is going on.
We need to start to hit back a little. We need to let the big oil
companies we won't put up with this anymore. No one is saying don't
make a profit. No one wants to say how much you can make. But not at
the cost of gouging it's customers. That's why we have anti-price
gouging laws. Try raising the price of plywood by 1000% during a
hurricane and see what happens. Why is this being allowed with gas?
this is a free market. Sellers set their prices and buyers choose
to buy -- or not. It's not something we want the government
involved in "allowing". As for raising the price of plywood
during a hurricane -- no problem! There's a limited supply of
plywood. Suppose you raise the cost by a factor of 10; that means
you can then pay your suppliers that same additional factor to get more plywood. If the roads are shut down or blocked by debris, it's going to cost more to deliver that plywood. Maybe even ten times more, especially if you intend to pay someone to drive into a hurricane.
But really, there's a simple truth here. If gasoline prices are
too high for your taste, and you don't like the idea of oil companies
making profits... you don't have to buy gas. Really. It's a
voluntary transaction. That you are willing to exchange two or
three dollars for a gallon of fuel is a sign that the price is
reasonable under the circumstances. If you think it's
unreasonable... don't pay it. That's the sign of a healthy market at work.
Sometimes, it's hard to give the proper response ("That's none of your
business!") to a doctor who wants to abuse his position of authority to
inquire about guns in your home. Doctors do have a lot of status
as an authority figure, and pediatricians in particular tap into the
parental instinct to protect their children. In order to make it
easier to make your point, without getting into an argument that might
distress your kids and offend your doctor, KeepAndBearArms.com brings us the Firearms Safety Counseling Representation form. Good work, guys. Hat tip to The War on Guns for pointing it out.UPDATE: Fixed the link to War on Guns. No idea how that got messed up; sorry.
The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass,
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To My Church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and
said, "No, Lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.
I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough,
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.
But, I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills got just too steep,
And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear,
And sometimes, God forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here,
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.
If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod,
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well,
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."
The above was posted at my place of employment, and google found me a copy here.
Though I am no follower of christ, every man's life is a trial, even if
we only judge ourselves. Those who risk their lives in defense of
others deserve to be celebrated as heros. To fight in defense of
your community is the ultimate duty of citizenship.
I honor both those veteran's with us still, and those who are no longer
with us. I do not honor them today alone, but on every day.
Looks like San Francisco's handgun ban passed on Tuesday's ballot. About 42% opposed the ban (according to NRA News).
This is not as bad as it sounds; California has a firearms preemption
law, and the ban will most likely be struck down as violating it.
The Second Amendment Foundation and the NRA have filed lawsuits; Of Arms and the Law has more.
"Hmmm...so, Dad, what
you're saying is, the inline muzzle-loading boom is an example of how
government regulations distorted markets, produced unintended
consequences, and codified an inferior, un-competitive technology that
would have vanished long ago without the regulations that sustain it?"
The Washington Post has the scoop
on the scope of the government's expanding use of "National Security
Letters", a warrantless demand for business records (up to, and
including, library records):
The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a
year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over
historic norms. The letters -- one of which can be used to sweep up the
records of many people -- are extending the bureau's reach as never
before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of
Issued by FBI field supervisors, national
security letters do not need the imprimatur of a prosecutor, grand jury
or judge. They receive no review after the fact by the Justice
Department or Congress. The executive branch maintains only statistics,
which are incomplete and confined to classified reports. The Bush
administration defeated legislation and a lawsuit to require a public
accounting, and has offered no example in which the use of a national
security letter helped disrupt a terrorist plot.
use of national security letters coincides with an unannounced decision
to deposit all the information they yield into government data banks --
and to share those private records widely, in the federal government
and beyond. In late 2003, the Bush administration reversed a
long-standing policy requiring agents to destroy their files on
innocent American citizens, companies and residents when investigations
closed. Late last month, President Bush signed Executive Order 13388,
expanding access to those files for "state, local and tribal"
governments and for "appropriate private sector entities," which are
Hat tip to Reason
for the story. There is no question that we are facing a
substantial threat from the decentralized counterpart of a foreign
intelligence agency. However, without oversight, abuses are