Not content with playing nanny to those who want it...
... the government is now requiring firearms dealers to include a child safety device ("trigger lock") with all handgun purchases. This will have little practical effect as many manufacturers and dealers were doing so voluntarily, but it was passed into law as part of the compromise required to get the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act through the Senate. My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, it is a compromise; on the other, it was a worthwhile one, with small cost to our side and badly needed protection to manufacturers. We must be vigilant, however, and ensure that we do not lose the benefits of the compromise later on.
government concluded its "Cyber Storm" wargame Friday, its biggest-ever
exercise to test how it would respond to devastating attacks over the
Internet from anti-globalization activists, underground hackers and
confirmed parts of the worldwide simulation challenged government
officials and industry executives to respond to deliberate
misinformation campaigns and activist calls by Internet bloggers,
online diarists whose "Web logs" include political rantings and musings
about current events.
Deliberate misinformation campaigns and activist calls?
I do not like this exercise. It sounds too much like an excuse for propaganda. Free speech is not a threat from which a government should defend us.
Publicola lays down the argument for repealing the law prohibiting convicted felons from possessing firearms. I don't disagree with any of his arguments, and in fact I agree with his philosophy. The problem is that I see his goals as being politically impossible to achieve in the near future. Our only real hope is a Supreme Court ruling on the 2nd, and even that would likely leave felon-in-possession bans intact.
I want to roll back what we can roll back and focus on continuing to win the debate until what can be rolled back is in line with what we want to be rolled back.
But he's right about the core premise. I'm not concerned about a murderer who can buy guns, I'm concerned about a murderer who isn't in a jail cell or a grave.
ATF tends to focus or has a significant focus on trivial, immaterial
violations which are unrelated to public safety," Gardiner said. "And
they impose unreasonable standards of perfection which are simply not
The core problem with the BATFE is that they imagine themselves to be a public-safety agency, when in fact they are a tax-and-regulatory agency... one whose authority to "regulate" is on shaky (to say the least) Constitutional grounds to begin with. They find it very difficult to target criminals, since criminals generally don't buy guns at stores. Instead they focus on paperwork crimes that are easy to prosecute because the people targeted are legitimately trying to follow the law.
One of the big differences between the BATFE and other tax-and-regulate agencies is that the laws the BATFE is charged with enforcing bear some heavy penalties. It's like going after people who pay their taxes late with rocket launchers and ignoring people who don't pay at all.
So I went to see V for Vendetta a while ago. It was interesting and worthwhile. Those of you who have seen the previews can understand that the movie is fairly edgy. For those who didn't, the "hero" is a morally-ambiguous freedom fighter / terrorist who fights a government more than a little reminiscent of the Bush Administration in the Left's continuing national nightmare.
If you watch the movie closely, the protagonist almost never goes after innocent people, only government enforcers engaged extracurricular brutality or the officials who ordered or personally committed atrocities. Although it saves him from truly deserving the terrorist label, there is nonetheless a distinct note of antiheroism that suggests neither side has clean hands.
Aside from the politics, the movie is very well put together. Some reviewers have compared the combat sequences to those in The Matrix; I wasn't that impressed, although they were definitely well done and had a similar feel. It is not, however, an action movie. Perhaps the best comparison is to The Count of Monte Cristo; it is a revenge movie that happens to have political overtones.
... but permission is the remaining 10%, at least for minors in Colorado who wish to possess handguns. But a judge has convicted the teenager in this case with unauthorized possession of a handgun, despite the minor's parents testifying that he had permission to handle the firearms. This is one of those cases where a judge so clearly favors one particular outcome that he ignores the law.
Hopefully it will be reversed on appeal.
The alternative is for anyone learning to handle a firearm while still a minor, even under adult supervision, to face potential legal peril.
... from David Codrea. Seems a deal has been worked out. The alleged "menacing" charges never materialized and the remaining charges are misdemeanors, consisting of four counts of failing to register guns. Frankly, I don't think guns should need to be registered. This should be a reminder to us all that the law looks upon gun owners like a big, mean dog that might not be rabid yet. If you piss someone off enough to convince them to lie to the police, for whatever reason, they can turn your life upside down.
David Hardy has a proposal on legislation governing the use of reasonable force. Basically, he wants to allow for introduction of evidence not available to the defendent at the time of their actions, such as the past criminal history of the alleged victim in a breaking-and-entering case. I don't think it's quite right. First, decisions should be evaluated based on what you knew at the time -- If you allow introduction of evidence outside of that time, it goes both ways, and the trial becomes a question not of whether the defendent acted reasonably in the situation as he understood it to be, but whether the alleged victim was actually guilty of a justifying offense (ie, in the course of a felony B&E, etc). That's not fair to either party.
For a good example of where this sort of thing breaks down, consider a typical gang shooting. Career criminal A is on his favorite streetcorner, guarding a stash of drugs, and shoots career criminal B, who is trying to steal the drugs. Both A and B have a string of priors as long as you care to imagine. It would be unfairly prejudicial to allow either individual to introduce the other's criminal history.
I agree there is a certain benefit to the proposal when a career criminal is breaking into the home of an honest citizen, but I don't think that situation usually results in dramatically poor outcomes -- aside from the legal costs of defending charges from an overly-aggressive prosecutor.
Yep.. our stalwart friends at the Convenience Store Agency have saved the world from a real ninja. They subdued him in daring hand-to-hand combat on a college campus, where the ninja had disguised himself as a student and was in the process of planning to nefariously out-party the pirate gangs at a local event.
I know I appreciate the BATFE's attempts to keep the world safe from ninjas.
The use of SWAT teams on relatively normal police work has been growing dramatically in the US for at least two decades. This is undeniably a bad thing. Normal police officers work to control crime, focusing on obtaining evidence and working through the judicial branch -- with all appropriate presumption of innocence and legal recourse. However, if the government sends a SWAT team after you, it's a good bet you will end up dead before you see the inside of a courtroom. That renders your legal protections somewhat irrelevant.
"These elite units are highly culturally appealing to
certain sections of the police community. They like it, they enjoy it,"
"The chance to strap on a vest, grab a semi-automatic
weapon and go out on a mission is for some people an exciting reason to
join - even if policing as a profession can - and should - be boring
for much of the time.
"The problem is that when you talk about the war on this
and the war on that, and police officers see themselves as soldiers,
then the civilian becomes the enemy."
To put it bluntly, SWAT teams are the tool of a police state.
Parker v DC: Word counts, briefs, and appellants...
PER CURIAM ORDER filed  discharging order to show cause, directing that Ernest McGill be substituted as amicus curiae in lieu of Powtomack Institute; establishing briefing format: brief for appellants, 14,000 wds; joint appendix; brief for amici (St TX, 7,000 wds; briefs for non-Governmental amici in support of appellants, 7,000 wds); brief for appellees, 14,000 wds; briefs for amici (joint brief for Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Violence Policy Center, 7,000 wds; brief for Ernest McGill, 7,000 wds); reply brief for appellants, 7,000 wds. Any additional government amici supporting appellants will be expected to join in brief of St TX. Parties will be notified by separate order of briefing schedule, date of oral argument and composition of merits panel. Before Judges Randolph, Tatel, Brown . [Entry Date: 3/17/06] (mam)
Quoted above is the latest PACER update on Parker v DC. It's nothing major. Basically, the court is changing the filing status of the Powtomack Institute from corporate to individual (so Ernest, who apparantly IS the Powtomack Institute, can file a brief without hiring a lawyer). In addition, the court is setting length limits on the briefing format, preperatory to scheduling the briefing itself.
In brief, our side gets 14K words to argue our case, and our amici get 7K and 7K words (one brief for government and one for non-government). Then the opposition gets 14K words in response, followed by 7K words for the gun-control crowd and another 7K for Ernest (aka the Powtomack Insitute). Finally, we get 7K words in a reply brief.
The actual schedule will come later, as will notification of the dates for oral argument and the composition of the merits panel. The latter means we may not get the same set of judges we've had so far for the merits of the case. That's not necessarily a good thing, since the present panel is probably (reading tea leaves here) inclined favorably towards our arguments.
But without knowing what the actual panel will be, there's no point in speculating. Suffice it to say we might get the same panel, we might get a different one, and we'll think about it when we know who's on it.
There's been some movement in the Parker case, and likely some of the others that I've been followed. I'm trying to dig up enough time and energy to read through what's happened and post on it. Hopefully sometime later this week. I'm still swamped with non-blogging stuff.
Software development is a profession that has no mercy for the weak.