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Utter stupidity.

What kind of idiot holds a hostage drill without informing the people involved that it's a drill?  It seems that schools are gun-free zones so that the administrators can conduct "drills" like this without fear of a student or professor defending himself.

It's a pity no one fought back.  If someone had, the right lesson might have been learned.

Gun-free zone or not, had I been there, someone would have been hurt.  Possibly me, possibly the "attacker", probably both.  You don't need a gun to defend yourself... but it sure does help.
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2008-02-28 13:03:42.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Concealed carry is a responsibility...

... and The Mad Rocket Scientist explains just how large that responsibility is.
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2008-02-28 12:44:08.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Stossel on guns

He's right, but no one seems to be listening.
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2008-02-28 12:43:53.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

To flip or not to flop; that is the question...

... and it seems that both Democratic candidates have decided that they would rather flip than flop.  Specifically, on trade.  They figure that they can flip between supporting free (illegal) immigration and opposing free (legal) trade so fast that no one will notice that the positions are contradictory. 

How is it better for Americans to import cheap labor illegally (and pay the resulting social costs) than to allow the Mexican economy to develop manufacturing capabilities of its own to manufacture cheap goods using their own cheap labor and export the resulting products to the US, possibly improving the Mexican economy in the process?

It's better to have free trade, of course.  Both Democratic candidates know this.  They have both allegedly ensured the Canadian ambassador that they support NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).  But they had to give those assurances because their campaign rhetoric is increasingly protectionist as they pander to American voters anxious about their jobs going to China.  Never mind that China has nothing to do with NAFTA.

Disparaging our existing treaties with other nations is shameful enough.  Lying to voters about it is blatantly dishonest.  That's no surprise from a Clinton campaign -- and nevermind that NAFTA happened under the other Clinton's presidency, so Hillary should be supporting and defending it! -- but Obama's airy rhetoric about "hope and change" should preclude the politics-as-usual pandering and lying.

Sigh.

I can only hope that these flips lead inevitably to election-day flops.

UPDATE: Names named.  Obama's image as an honest outsider tarnished.
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2008-02-28 12:41:37.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Barack Obama's Rights Exclusion Zones...

One popular "gun control" measure lately is the idea of banning gun sales near schools.  It's popular because it doesn't seem like a big sacrifice at first glance, it has the virtue of "saving the children" from the perceived menace of school shootings, and probably most important, it's new enough that the facts haven't had time to reach the public awareness and overpower the propaganda.  Most people are still evaluating the idea based on superficial first impressions.

One person who is trying to move the discussion into serious policy analysis instead is Les Jones, who has been posting "Rights Exclusion Zone maps" for various cities, indicating the areas within those cities that are within the mandated "forbidden zone".  (King County) (Texas, Indiana, Tennesee)
The area in green are the parts of King County within which no firearms dealers would be allowed to operate, based solely on exclusions for middle and high schools, as proposed by Obama. This excludes elementary schools, higher education, and parks. Most of the east side (right side) of this map are parks of various compositions. Map from MapPoint. Data from Washington State.
For most cities, there are no gaps. 

Rather than being a "small sacrifice" this proposal would effectively ban gun dealers from operating within city limits anywhere.  If the law has a grandfather clause allowing existing businesses to continue operating, it would have very little practical effect -- only as the grandfathered businesses failed would new businesses be required to locate outside the city limits.  (It would, however, provide a significant barrier to entry for new gun stores -- effectively creating a market incentive to raise gun prices within cities).

If it does not contain a grandfather clause... well, there would be lots of chaos as any gun store within one of the exclusion zones would have to relocate in a hurry.  And the chaos would be ongoing, presumably, as new schools are built and force gun stores to relocate away from them.

There are reasonable arguments for not locating outdoor gun ranges in heavily populated areas, as there is always the chance of someone being stupid and letting their bullets escape the range.  But gun stores, without attached ranges, pose no threat to anyone. 

Like many other gun-control measures, this is a feel-good law that could have a tremendous cost attached to it and absolutely no benefits.  Unless you consider imposing huge and otherwise unjustified economic burdens on firearm dealers (who are already hugely burdened with regulations) to be a benefit in and of itself.  Which would be pure bigotry... not that that's news either.
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2008-02-27 11:54:06.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

By a tangled spiderweb...

... I found myself reading an analysis of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Wagner's The Ring that is actually surprisingly good and even somewhat applicable to current events.  UPDATE: And by some odd coincidence, here's another.
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2008-02-26 14:42:43.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Heller v DC: Oral argument time

Of Arms and the Law has an update on oral argument times in Heller.  It's mostly bad news; they deny a request to give the Texas Solicitor General ten minutes of Heller's argument time, and grant the US Solicitor's request for 15 minutes of argument.  The Solicitor's time is likely to be spent arguing for intermediate rather than strict scrutiny as the standard of review, meaning the pro-gun view gets 30 minutes, and the anti-gun view gets 45.

There is one way to spin this positively, though.  If the Supreme Court is generally in agreement that there is a 2nd Amendment right for individuals, they may find argument on standard of review more interesting than argument on whether or not the right exists.  That's still bad for our side, since the US Solicitor will argue for lower scrutiny than we would prefer, but does suggest, if weakly, that the court is leaning towards upholding an individual right. 

Even that is not necessarily good news.  We have four basic outcomes:
  1. Individual right, strict scrutiny, DC law struck down
  2. Individual right, intermediate scrutiny, DC law struck down
  3. Individual right, intermediate scrutiny, DC law upheld
  4. No individual right, DC law upheld
With outcome #1, we win big.  With outcome #2, we get a win in this case and we get to slog through the trenches in other courts fighting over details.  This is probably the most likely outcome.  With outcome #3, we get an individual right that is basically worthless.  With outcome #4, we lose big.

But it's actually outcome #3 that scares me. 

With a total loss, we effectively have the Supreme Court ignoring the plain language of the Constitution -- this will galvanize massive opposition among Americans who believe the 2nd Amendment means what it says but usually ignore the gun control issue.  

But with a standard of "intermediate scrutiny" that nonetheless upholds the DC ban, we effectively lose the 2nd Amendment argument in a pile of legalese.  Anti-gun politicians can claim that federal gun bans and registration requirements are constitutional according to the Supreme Court, and push for them.  They'll encounter less legislative resistance and, with the precedent set, no resistance at all from the courts. 

All that said, I don't see any way to read this as an indicator on what standard of review the court would prefer, just that they are interested in hearing arguments about it.

UPDATE: Michael Bane has some thoughts, too.
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2008-02-26 05:17:00.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Democrats: Making voting for McCain easier every day...

As we recently reported, on February 7 this year, ten days after endorsing another handgun ban supporter--Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.)--for president, Kennedy renewed his efforts to ban handguns by introducing S. 2605, a bill that seeks to ban the manufacture, importation, and transfer (sale, etc.) of any semi-automatic pistol that does not possess "a microscopic array of characters that identify the make, model, and serial number of the pistol . . . etched into the breech face and firing pin of the pistol," and stamp both sets of characters into the cartridge case of a round of ammunition, when the round is fired. On the same day, Representative Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) introduced an identical bill, H.R. 5266, called the "National Crime Gun Identification Act."
It looks like this year's gun control push will be for "microstamping", and -- assuming the NRA's summary is accurate, which I have no reason to doubt -- Kennedy's legislation will be a slow-motion ban of all non-microstamped firearms.  It won't be a door-to-door confiscation, but rather, once the current owner of the firearm dies, it becomes illegal to transfer to anyone else.  Surrender to the government would be the only legal option at that point.

For the gun control advocate it's an elegant solution to the problem of the 200 million guns already in existance.  You make them all illegal gradually, without ever giving Americans a door-to-door moment of truth, and destroy all existing value in the firearms, and you try to get the manufacturers on your side by effectively eliminating the market in used firearms for years.

At the same time, you don't solve any crimes -- because criminals don't buy firearms through legal channels, preferring to buy them from other criminals illegally, or steal them from honest citizens.
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2008-02-25 10:41:29.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

In case you missed it...

The Glenn and Helen show interviewed Robert Levy on the Heller v DC case a while back.  I'm posting it here mainly for completeness.  
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2008-02-24 01:45:44.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Who watches the watchers?

Zendo Deb brings us another sad story of abuse.  This time there's video.  Surprised a cop would be stupid enough to abuse someone while being recorded?  Don't be -- the abuse itself wasn't recorded.  After the woman comments that she is glad the interaction is being videotaped, the officer turns off the videotape.  When it is turned back on, she's lying on the floor in a pool of her own blood, having "tripped and fell".  Her "fall" resulted in two black eyes, facial lacerations, broken teeth, and a broken nose.

She suggests:
Everything police do all the time they are on duty or doing anything remotely official has to be video recorded. If for any reason, that video tape is NOT available when a citizen is injured, that is prima facie evidence that they are guilty of whatever the citizen accuses them of. I don't care if the recorder blew up, caught fire, or the K-9 unit ate their homework video recorder.
I've thought of that myself.  I'm all in favor.
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2008-02-23 07:46:50.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

An open letter to a potential new gun owner...

To the new gun owner: Welcome to the growing number of Americans who are taking responsibility for their own safety.  You may find this hard to believe at first, but gun ownership for self-defense is not as hard as it might seem.  The media has invested a great deal of effort in showing you the risks of gun ownership, but rational examination of the evidence reveals a different story.  Please, allow me to respond to your specific concerns:
How many families, with children, own a gun?  According to the National Center For Health Statistics, 34% of homes with children, house a gun.
To keep some perspective, let us not forget that this means millions of households with children and guns -- millions of households that are managing to do so safely and without incident.
Caucasian families represent the highest percentage of firearm ownership, than any other ethnicity. In fact, it is more than double the percentage of any other race. I was shocked to read this. No matter what purpose the firearms serve, the fact is, that they are still present in many homes in the US.
I am shocked that the racial makeup of firearms owners was considered worthy of comment; what possible use could this information be?
The stories of children being injured or perishing because of gun accidents are ever increasing. This is what scares me most. Statistics show that 2.6 million children, who live in a home that contains a firearm, have access to them. Gun control is obviously an issue that needs to be better executed.
In America, we recognize that the preservation of liberty requires citizens to act responsibly, without the government imposing itself.  The measures required to "better execute" gun safety by government mandate rather than personal responsibility would require eviscerating the 2nd, 4th and 5th amendments to the Constitution, all of which are valued as important and vital civil rights.  Instead, we ask individuals to educate themselves and their children on how to voluntarily store and use firearms safely.

This policy has resulted in the risk of a child dying from an  firearm accident being substantially lower than the risk of a child drowning in a swimming pool. 

I would have responded with more detailed statistics, but the CDC's cause-of-death website appears to be down.  If it comes back up later, you can use the instructions here to get decent information.
Furthermore, the AACAP, claims that guns kept in the home are 22 times more likely to kill a family member or friend, than kill someone in self defense. That is a staggering statistic!
Statistics that are "staggering" are also often misleading, especially when they are raised in the context of gun control.  Various organizations and individuals responsible for pushing the anti-gun agenda have produced and popularized many "statistics" that are significantly flawed.  I recognize the "22 times more likely to kill a family member or friend" as a restatement of discredited research done by Arthur Kellerman.  Here are just a few of the flaws in Kellerman's research:
  • The best estimates indicated that over 90% of firearm uses in self-defense occur without firing the weapon, much less killing anyone. 
  • The original research did not track "family member or friend" deaths; it tracked deaths that were "known associates".  People who fall into that category include abusive ex-husbands, abusive ex-boyfriends, and the drug dealer down the street who you called the police on last week.
  • The original research counted suicides using the firearm.
There were far more flaws in the original study than I have mentioned here.  I tracked down the AACAP's paper on firearms in the home which does in fact cite Arthur Kellerman for that statistic.  It may also be worth noting that Kellerman's original study claimed killing an acquaintance was 43 times more likely.  Although Kellerman has reduced his claims in response to criticism, the methods he uses remain fundamentally flawed.
What is your opinion on the subject? Do you think that we are foolishly letting our fear drive our decision regarding purchasing a gun? Would you keep a firearm in your  home? Do you think the possible safety a gun can offer, is worth the risk of hurting/killing a child?
There are risks associated with everything.  Your risk of your child dying in a car accident on the way to school is probably greater than the risk of your child dying from in a firearm accident.  You can make sure of that by storing your firearm responsibly (so that it is not accessible to younger children) and making sure that older children are trained and raised to understand and respect the firearm, rather than fear it.  ("Forbidden fruit" is very attractive to children, so the firearm must not be forbidden completely; instead it should be respected, stored securely, and its use supervised). 

Firearms are very effective defensive tools, and while I cannot speak to whether your specific situation warrants fear, I can say that it is better for parents to be able and willing to protect their children than for parents to abdicate that responsibility to police.  The risk of a child dying from a firearm accident in a responsible gun owner's home is much, much smaller than it is usually portrayed in the media.  Be aware of that, take responsibility for your safety and your children's safety, and you should have no reason to regret your decision.
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2008-02-22 14:30:32.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

"We can't have acquittals, we've got to have convictions!"

Patterico links to some very, very disturbing allegations concerning the military tribunals at Guananimo Bay.  While I support the general idea that battlefield captures should be treated as POWs (for those following the Geneva convention rules) and that combatants who operate outside those rules have pretty much voluntarily chosen to forfeit the protections accorded to civilians and uniformed soldiers by civilized society, it's nonetheless important to make sure that those we are putting into that category deserve to be there.

So, while I'm not going to argue that there must be a certain number of acquittals, and it's entirely possible that there aren't any innocent people imprisoned at Guatanimo, it is absolutely vital that we have a fair and honest process for answering that question accurately on an individual basis.  There's room for debate on the question of whether to include classified evidence, or evidence obtained from waterboarded prisoners, or the like.  These are process questions that may be tough to answer fairly, but it is still possible to have a fair and honest result.

It's not possible to have a fair and honest result if there is a political demand for convictions regardless of the facts.

I'm not sure what the appropriate recourse here is, but this issue definitely needs to be investigated and resolved.
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2008-02-22 11:01:17.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Nebraskans....

Sebastian is reporting on an effort in your state to ban "inherently dangerous firearms".   As he says, you only get one chance to stop things like this, it's very hard to repeal a law once passed.
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2008-02-22 09:47:53.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Power. Politics. Tyrrany. And Legos.

The appropriate response to this story is simple: Buy your own legos, bring them in, and use them to enhance your own structures or to trade for other pieces.  When the teachers confiscate your legos, explain to the other children that their structures and legos are just as vulnerable to arbitrary rules by the unelected tyranny, and institute a Constitution defining a representive lego government of limited powers.  Exciting opportunities to discuss eminent domain, taxation without representation, the right to petition the teachers for redress of grievances, and of course the effect of capital investment on a marketplace, versus the artificially-limited zero-sum game.

Pity almost all teachers are socialists.

But then, I suppose as socialists, arguing with children from a position of absolute power is the only way to win arguments.
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2008-02-21 11:18:22.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

When will the left fight for one of Bush's nominations?

When the nomination is for the head of the BATFE, and the nominee appears willing to defend his agent's misconduct and persecution of gun owners and dealers.  Of course, they can't do it with logical arguments; they have to resort to lies...
US ATTORNEY Michael Sullivan has taken an even-handed approach toward reducing the use of illegal firearms while still respecting the constitutional right to bear arms. But that's not good enough for some Republican US senators who have fallen under the sway of the gun lobby and are blocking his confirmation as head of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
... and name calling...
So, some cow chip-kickin' senator from Louisiana doesn't want Mike Sullivan, the US attorney in Boston, to become head of the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms because Sullivan wants to make it harder for people to get guns.  Um, isn't that what the head of the ATF is supposed to do?
For the record, the BATFE as an agency is supposed to collect taxes.  That's why it was originally formed under the Treasury.  It took almost 40 years for the agency to move from its origin, under the Treasury as a tax-collection agency, to its current position under Homeland Security as a "save-us-from-homegrown-terrorists" scare-monger.

That's right; the anti-gun Democrats are defending a Bush nominee, while the pro-gun Republicans are opposing him.  Has any constituency been so thoroughly betrayed by a President they put in office before?  Between his promise to sign the Assault Weapons Ban renewal (if it reached his desk; it didn't), his brief in Heller, his mishandling of the Armed Pilots issue, and his handling of the BATFE both in general and with this nomination, gun owners could be forgiven for asking whether their efforts in 2000 and 2004 were worth it.

Hat tip to David Codrea for the stories.
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2008-02-21 10:20:05.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Because sometimes, they really are out to get you

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2008-02-21 00:27:22.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Left on Cue...

.. as soon as McCain has the Republican nomination sewn up, the New York Times moves from praise to criticism... this time invoking the Keating Five scandal and suggesting a juicy sex-for-political-favors trade with a lobbiest 30 years younger than the Senator.

These claims don't come as surprises to me.  I knew the basic outlines of the Keating 5 scandal, and how McCain was pressed by circumstances into becoming the loudly visible reformer in order to protect his own reputation, at the cost of the First Amendment.  I didn't know about the allegations concerning this one particular attractive female lobbiest, but I don't really need to; I wasn't at any particular risk of liking the guy anyway and there's nothing in the way of actual evidence in the story.  He can defend himself, as far as I'm concerned.

Nor am I surprised that the media would wait until now to begin their efforts to torpedo McCain.

I didn't support McCain for the nomination... and this is a big part of the reason why.  He has skeletons that the media can conveniently overlook until they can use them to block his run for the White House, thus putting Obama or Clinton in instead.  A Republican without that baggage would have been better.  A Republican without the baggage who actually had the support of the base would have been better still.

This is like playing chess and letting the other side pick which piece you move.
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2008-02-20 23:22:44.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

An interesting comment from the Montana Secretary of State...

Nicki at The Liberty Zone posts an interesting letter to the editor that was published in the Washington Times.  I am more than a little surprised at the content of the letter coming from an apparantly official source.  She didn't have a link, but I found what looks like the same content from a Reason post.  My first concern is authenticity; the website hosting this claim is not exactly professionally-done, and it claims that the state of Montana couldn't afford to file an amicus brief in the Heller case for cost reasons; I have a hard time believing that a state government can't find the money to file an amicus brief in a single Supreme Court case. 

So, I'd like to see some confirmation before taking this very seriously, but they raise an... interesting... question.

And that's all I'm going to say about that until I find out whether it's real.
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2008-02-20 11:31:11.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

The content of his character, not the color of his parents' skin

Radley Balko points to this article which questions how Obama's parents met, based on the low probability of interracial marriages at the time, and suggests they might have met through Communist activism.  He blames the appearance of the article on "the right".

As a right-leaning libertarian I'd like to thoroughly and completely disavow the article and the line of thinking that it outlines.  There is more than enough content in Obama's character to criticize, even if his speeches do sometimes seem like a long list of religious dogma and empty platitudes.  Oh, gee, there I go criticizing his character...

We don't need accusations of crypto-communist parents or a secret Russian plot to call Obama's gun-control policies (as outlined when running for the Illinois state senate) unAmerican.  Obama can be unAmerican all by himself, he doesn't seem to need any help.

Actually, I'm not even sure this particular accusation is coming from "the right".  I don't recognize the author, which is perhaps just a failing on my part, but the most prominent people desperate to make something stick to Obama right now are on the Left, and the Clintons have already engaged in crypto-race-baiting.  Stooping to crypto-communist accusations would only raise eyebrows because of how easily those same accusations could be applied to the Clintons themselves, and chutzpah has never exactly been lacking in that pair. 
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2008-02-20 09:59:23.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

An article on the history of the Heller v DC case...

It's kind of thin on details, but does have some good human-interest information.  Worth the read if you're curious how it all got started.
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2008-02-20 08:24:15.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

What if they aren't the same thing?

An article questioning whether Obama has been sufficiently vetted to survive the general election included the following thought-provoking comment:
Well, yes, and I sort of get why this is, as I am not immune myself to the wish for a clean slate and a candidate who will represent the US to the world as we really are, as we believe ourselves to be.
What if "we", meaning the US, are not the same as what the author believes "us" to be?  I submit that this is quite probably not a hypothetical question.  The author probably believes that Americans are really metrosexual liberals who hate Bush.  (Well, given the President's popularity ratings at the moment, he might not be far wrong on the latter point).  But, nonetheless, should Obama be elected and decide to represent "us" to the world as "we" really are by apologizing to Osama for bombing his cave and to Saddam for unilaterally leading an international coalition to depose him, well, that's not who I really am.
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2008-02-20 08:24:06.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Heller v Parker...

In case you haven't already heard, the DC handgun ban challenge that I have been following here for some time as Parker v DC has been renamed, upon the Supreme Court appeal, to Heller v DC.  Rather than rename the category and break all the links, I'm adding a new Heller category that will only have information relevant to the Supreme Court case.
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2008-02-20 00:15:35.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Correlation, not causation...

... but it can sure make you wonder.
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2008-02-19 20:04:08.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Clinton wants a gun summit?

A gun summit?  I know what that means.  That means Hillary will tell us what she wants and then accuse us of not being "bipartisan" for not going along with it.  It's par for the course when only one side is asked again and again to compromise for yet more meaningless measures.

Oh, and the best part?

?I think we can do that, but it?s going to require us all to maybe give a little and understand the point of view of the other people,? she said. ?That?s something I would do as President to really bring people together.?

?We know we need better background checks and we know we?ve got to have mental health information in there,? she said.

Didn't we just pass that legislation?  Didn't you just vote for it, Senator Clinton?  (I don't actually know how she voted on the legislation I'm thinking of, or even if she did, but it did pass the Senate)  Is it too much to ask that you read the legislation you are voting on?  I guess so.. but that's also only to be expected from gun control advocates.  For some reason, they love to keep pushing the same measures again... and again... and again... even if they passed the first time. 

Don't ask me why; I just report the news... at least, in this post.

I guess Hillary thinks she can pander to both sides and get credit for it somehow.  I doubt she'll fool anyone.
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2008-02-19 16:35:41.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Clinton goes for the hunter vote..

Clinton was asked to discuss gun control which prompted Clinton to talk about her days holding a rifle in the cold, shallow waters in backwoods Arkansas.
I'd be prepared to believe that Hillary Clinton has gone hunting before.  I'm not saying I'd take her unsupported word for it, but it's not impossible.  I'm not prepared to believe that her little hunting anecdote is anything more than a thinly-veiled attempt to pander to the Democratic pro-gun vote just barely long enough to maybe get an edge over Obama, whose position on guns is worse.

UPDATE: I should point out that Clinton is depending on Texas Democratic voters to even keep her in the race for the Democratic nomination, so of course she's trying to pander to gun owners.  In Texas, even most Democrats are gun owners.  However, John Lott noticed something I didn't about Hillary's story.  You don't usually go duck hunting with a rifle.  Unless Hillary was a child sharpshooter, she doesn't know the difference between a rifle and a shotgun.  Or else she was lying through her teeth.  I can't say I'm surprised.

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2008-02-19 10:35:51.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments
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