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An update on the AP request for Montana concealed carry data

The AP is refusing to comment, but it seems the language of the request has been "obtained":
"We'd like all public information included on each permit holder, including, but not limited to: last name, first name, middle, street address, city, employer, age or DOB, driver's license number, date of application," Gouras wrote in his request.
This is a significant amount of data about private citizens who did nothing more than request permission to exercise their right to self-defense. Historically, when newspapers have obtained entire databases of people with concealed carry licenses in this manner, they have published the data outright with minimum redacting for privacy.

2013-07-30 03:24:45.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Registration, then confiscation

If you want to own a firearm in Illinois, you need to get an FOID card first. It's supposedly easy to get with a basic background check in most of the state (Chicago and suburbs being the big exception, I expect) but you need the state issued ID in order to own a firearm at all. That's mighty convenient for law enforcement when they decide that you aren't allowed to own those firearms any longer:
A new Cook County Sheriff's team is crisscrossing the suburbs to seize guns from thousands of people whose Firearm Owners' Identification Cards have been revoked. More than 3,000 people in Cook County have failed to surrender their revoked FOID cards to the state. Sheriff Tom Dart said he thinks many of them continue to possess firearms.
Mind you, "revoked" probably means they committed a crime (or had a restraining order taken out against them) that makes them ineligible to own the firearms under state law, federal law, or both. But it still points out that if the government decides you shouldn't have firearms, having a list of gun owners makes taking those firearms back a lot easier. Whether the reason for taking them back is individualized and legitimate... or not.

Hat tip to saysuncle, who really shouldn't have said "expired" when his source said "revoked".

2013-07-30 03:22:34.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Another reason not to have a firearms registry

A list of guns along with who owns them and (in this case) where the firearm is stored (to comply with Australian safe storage requirements) makes a very tempting target for criminals.
Sgt Good said that he had become concerned for the safety of gun owners when the single-file database, containing gun owner addresses, was moved from a high-security storage system to an unsecure intranet accessed by 16,000 police and civilian staff for at least 18 months to December 2010... Sgt Good would not speculate on any direct link between gun theft and the unlawful release of gun owner details, however, anecdotal evidence shows that thefts had occurred shortly after police had carried out an audit at a gun storage location.
In the US, we've had similar incidents of burglary following newpaper publication of New York's gun registry. In the Australian case, access was limited to a police intranet in an application with absolutely no audit trail. Government rarely has any real respect for the privacy of your information. Trusting government with information about your guns is an idea at least as bad as trusting government with information about your health care.

2013-07-30 03:05:09.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

North Carolina gets restaurant carry (HB 937)

Details at NC Gun Blog. It's not perfect, but it is a step forward. Funny how gun rights at the state level keeps advancing despite Obama pushing for gun control federally, isn't it?

2013-07-30 02:57:16.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Did Pelosi save the NSA surveillance funding?

Just another in a long list of reasons Pelosi should be voted out of office:

The obituary of Rep. Justin Amash's amendment to claw back the sweeping powers of the National Security Agency has largely been written as a victory for the White House and NSA chief Keith Alexander, who lobbied the Hill aggressively in the days and hours ahead of Wednesday's shockingly close vote. But Hill sources say most of the credit for the amendment's defeat goes to someone else: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

But ahead of the razor-thin 205-217 vote, which would have severely limited the NSA's ability to collect data on Americans' telephone records if passed, Pelosi privately and aggressively lobbied wayward Democrats to torpedo the amendment, a Democratic committee aid with knowledge of the deliberations tells The Cable.

If she was doing this out of a sense of principle, however misguided, I could understand it. If she was truly convinced that the surveillance measures were necessary to prevent more terrorists attacks, I would disagree, but I could understand. But Pelosi is saying one thing in public and privately telling people the opposite. That deserves no respect, especially in someone whose job is to represent her constituents, not to rule over them.

2013-07-30 01:53:48.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

The list of terrorist organizations we are at war with is... classified?

This is not compatible with a government of, by, and for the people. Secret wars are contrary to the Constitution -- Congress has the power to declare war.
"Because elements that might be considered 'associated forces' can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list," said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory. "We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks."
Especially when you consider that aiding an organization at war with the United States is treason and punishable by death -- in court, after a trial, if you are lucky, by drone at midnight if you're not. Even, say, donating to an Islamic charity that has close relationships with terrorists can put you in legal jeopardy. If there's no list to check, how you can possibly avoid violating the law inadvertently?

Hat tip to Random Nuclear Strikes.

2013-07-30 01:38:08.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

1984: 30 years late, but almost here

As if the NSA wasn't enough, Google is going full Big Brother. (Warning: really annoying autoplay ads with loud, unmuteable audio at link)
News that Google Inc. may be developing a television set-top box with a motion sensor and video camera has rekindled the debate over technology that can record so-called ambient action.
Google isn't the only one. The new Microsoft Xbox will have a mandatory video camera and motion sensor with facial recognition and voice activation that automatically logs you in by recognizing your face when you give it a voice cue.

Think about that for a moment. In order to listen for the voice cue, the microphone in the device is online and active at all times. It would be trivial to program these devices to listen for other key words and reports those secretly.

These devices are the telescreens from Orwell's 1984, as close to literally as makes no difference:
"The telescreen recieved and transmitted simultaneously. Any sound Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it; moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard. There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever the wanted to. You had to live- did live, from habit that became instinct- in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.
Hey, Google! 1984 scenarios are evil, even if your friend Obama gets to be Big Brother! Don't be evil!

2013-07-30 01:18:14.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Non-partisan, you say?

Then why only invite Democrats?
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' favorite pro-Obamacare nonprofit held a Democrats-only congressional briefing earlier this year, according to emails obtained by nonprofit watchdog Judicial Watch.
Of course, this would matter less if it was a different group. But this group is the same one that the Secretary of Health and Human Services was pressuring companies she regulates to make donations to.

2013-07-30 00:57:07.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

NSA can't search it's own email

The NSA is responding to FOIA requests for public, non-classified information (emails exchanged between their employees and a TV show filming a documentary) by claiming they cannot search their own email database. While it's not implausible that no one thought of doing this, it's telling that the NSA has spent so much time figuring out how to read everyone else's email and absolutely none figuring out how to read their own.

2013-07-29 03:29:02.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

New back end enabled

There are likely to be bugs and layout issues (layout is now completely CSS based, and I haven't done much kludging for older browers). I know load speed has gotten worse, especially on the index pages; that will be fixed soon if at all possible. If you're seeing something wrong, feel free to send email about it.

UPDATE: Index page loads should be dramatically faster now, unless you have the bad luck to load right after the web server restarts.

UPDATE: If you're reading through a feed reader, the feeds have new URLs, though the old Atom feed link should work for a while. The new Atom link is here. If you read through RSS and refuse to use Atom, email me. I don't presently plan to provide an RSS feed, as most readers seem to support Atom, but I could be convinced by a few requests.

2013-07-28 07:45:41.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

We don't treat constitutional rights this way

Since when do we ask the police to pre-approve our right to defend ourselves?
But how do you determine who the good guys are? You can start by asking the cops, which New York and California do before granting any concealed-carry permits. In California, local police must confirm that applicants are not only felony-free but also of "good moral character." New York requires applicants to provide character witnesses and a mental health history -- and to have a "special need for self-protection."
What if they don't approve of our "moral character" -- perhaps because they don't like black people?
Categories

2013-07-27 21:43:39.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

The IRS is the NSA

See if you can guess which of the below activities belong to the IRS, or the NSA:
  1. Charting and analyzing social media such as Facebook.
  2. Targeting audits by matching tax filings to social media or electronic payments.
  3. Tracking individual Internet addresses and emailing patterns.
  4. Sorting data in 32,000 categories of metadata and 1 million unique "attributes."
  5. Machine learning across "neural" networks.
  6. Statistical and agent-based modeling.
  7. Relationship analysis based on Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers.

Sorry, trick question.  The answer to all of them is: both.

Categories

2013-07-27 21:26:50.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

But they don't scan the content, right?

Back in 2008, from when journalists weren't afraid of being targeted by this technology and were confident the Obama administration would stop it:
Barack Obama will be in charge of the biggest domestic and international spying operation in history. Its prime engine is the National Security Agency (NSA)... A brief glimpse of its ever-expanding capacity was provided on October 26 by The Baltimore Sun's national security correspondent, David Wood: "The NSA's colossal Cray supercomputer, code-named the 'Black Widow,' scans millions of domestic and international phone calls and e-mails every hour. . . . The Black Widow, performing hundreds of trillions of calculations per second, searches through and reassembles key words and patterns, across many languages."
So, how does it scan and reassemble key words and patterns without access to the content of the calls and emails?
Categories

2013-07-27 21:03:53.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Guns and Freedom

Tab clearing from 2008:
There are 59 nations for which data about per capita gun ownership are available. This Article examines the relationship between gun density and several measures of freedom and prosperity: the Freedom House ratings of political rights and civil liberty, the Transparency International Perceived Corruption Index, the World Bank Purchasing Power Parity ratings, and the Heritage Foundation Index of Economic Freedom. The data suggest that the relationships between gun ownership rates and these other measures are complex. The data show that (although exceptions can be found) the nations with the highest rates of gun ownership tend to have greater political and civil freedom, greater economic freedom and prosperity, and much less corruption than other nations. The relationship only exists for high-ownership countries. Countries with medium rates of gun density generally scored no better or worse than countries with the lowest levels of per capita gun ownership.
Sounds interesting.  I'll have to get around to reading it... eventually.
Categories

2013-07-27 20:49:57.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Heller v DC: Amici supporting DC (for ease of reference)

Categories

2013-07-27 20:46:37.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Heller v DC: Amici supporting Heller (for later ease of reference)

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2013-07-27 20:46:17.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Banning normal-capacity magazines

From April: PJ Media looks at the arguments over banning standard capacity magazines.  Nothing new, but a good introduction for someone who isn't familiar with the issue.
Categories

2013-07-27 20:36:13.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Benghazi survivors forced to sign nondisclosure agreements

"According to trusted sources that have contacted my office, many if not all of the survivors of the Benghazi attacks along with others at the Department of Defense, the CIA have been asked or directed to sign additional non-disclosure agreements about their involvement in the Benghazi attacks. Some of these new NDAs, as they call them, I have been told were signed as recently as this summer."
These are not the actions of an administration that wants to find out the truth.
Categories

2013-07-27 20:32:38.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Attacking small business

Another flashback from 2008: legislation supposed to address the housing crisis contains reporting requirements for financial institutions on all clients doing more than $10,000 in annual aggregate business.  In other words, unless your business is really just a hobby, your bank has to report you to the government.  Do you think that just maybe this might have reduced small business growth since then?  Having the IRS descend upon you asking questions about your deposits when your still struggling to become profitable has got to be discouraging.


Categories

2013-07-27 20:15:09.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Blaming mass shootings on angry white men

Sure, it seems like a lot of mass shootings are committed by angry white men... except for the mass shootings committed by Christopher Dorner (black ex-police officer) and Seung-Hui Cho (the asian Virginia Tech shooter), of course.  But never mind when the facts get in the way of racism and sexism.

The author is plainly missing the point:
This is the wrong question. Mass murderers are an extreme symptom of a common, everyday problem. Yes, the risk of being terrorized by a lone, mass murderer is slim. But everyday people live with fear and terror in their homes. There is, sadly, nothing unique about men with guns in this country killing people every day. In the case of mass murders, the extreme symptom of this disaster, the question is, "Why did another angry, young, white man act this way and kill these people?"
The vast majority of mass killers become mass killers not because they are white, or male, or angry.  They become mass killers because they are crazy.  Not just a feel-good way to "otherize" the shooter; no, I mean, literally crazy, often with detectable physical symptoms.

To be sure, that's not true of every day violent crime, but as far as mass shootings in otherwise low-crime areas it's pretty consistent. 

So why is it such big news when it happens? It's big news because it's unusual, and it's unusual because in most of America you pretty much have to be crazy to commit murder.  There are places in America where the crime rates are much higher than the average, where murder is not just the realm of the criminally insane, and when a mass shooting happens there, it's not considered news.
Categories

2013-07-27 20:06:21.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Excuse me while i get my gun

A good article on DC's gun laws, and the consequences of so-called "safe storage" gun control laws, from 2008.
Categories

2013-07-27 19:58:57.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Gun sales surge; racism...

Tab clearing from 2008, and a little bit of an interesting historical timeline.
Not every gun enthusiast is so worried. Mark Greene, a hunter and member of Gun Owners for Obama who led a grass-roots campaign for the Democrat in Tarrant County, Texas, said he regarded fears of a looming ban on assault weapons as unfounded.  "People are being pretty reactionary," Greene said. "There's a small contingent of folks in and out of the gun-owning community concerned that Obama's election is such a revolutionary change that it could portend mayhem. I think it's hysteria."
So, a volunteer for Obama in 2008 and a (claimed) gun owner says the idea that a ban on assault weapons is hysteria.  Ok, fair enough; in 2008 Obama was trying to reassure the bitter clingers that couldn't take their guns if he wanted to, because he didn't have the votes in Congress.  This wasn't exactly reassuring, because it was obvious to anyone who did a little historical research into Obama that if he did have the votes, he would love to take our guns.

Fast forward to 2012, when Obama is up for election again.  Oh look, it's Mark Greene:
Mark Greene, hunter and former member of Gun Owners for Obama, disagrees. He said he still owns guns -- and still supports Obama.  "And I still have very little in common with the fear-mongers and bunker-mentality gun nuts who will tell any lie they think they can get away with to try and bring down this president they hate so vehemently and irrationally," he said.
Well, now he's a former member of Gun Owners for Obama, probably because Obama disbanded that astroturf organization after his first campaign.  But he still thinks gun owners are irrational fear-mongers for opposing Obama on gun control grounds.

So who was rightYou be the judgeWhat do you think of Obama's intentions on gunsWas Mark Greene being honest with you about whether Obama would push for a ban on assault weapons?
Categories

2013-07-27 19:44:49.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Big Sister thinks she can read your mind

Tab clearing an older article again.

MALINTENT, the brainchild of the cutting-edge Human Factors division in Homeland Security's directorate for Science and Technology, searches your body for non-verbal cues that predict whether you mean harm to your fellow passengers.

It has a series of sensors and imagers that read your body temperature, heart rate and respiration for unconscious tells invisible to the naked eye ? signals terrorists and criminals may display in advance of an attack.

Sounds pretty high tech, right?
If you're rushed or stressed, you may send out signals of anxiety, but FAST isn't fooled. It's already good enough to tell the difference between a harried traveler and a terrorist. Even if you sweat heavily by nature, FAST won't mistake you for a baddie.
Oh really?
While FAST's batting average is classified, Undersecretary for Science and Technology Adm. Jay Cohen declared the experiment a "home run."
But they can't tell us the false positive rate, or the false negative rate.
But DHS says this is not Big Brother. Once you are through the FAST portal, your scrutiny is over and records aren't kept. "Your data is dumped," said Burns. "The information is not maintained ? it doesn't track who you are."
They always say that.  They always lie.
DHS is now planning an even wider array of screening technology, including an eye scanner next year and pheromone-reading technology by 2010.
Pheromones?  Really?  I think that would be a perfect complement to the pervscan devices that they have now.  If she looks hot under the ultrasound, check if her pheromones say she's amenable to a romantic approach.  Maybe even squirt her with something designed to encourage cooperative behavior, just to make the lines move faster, right?
And because FAST is a mobile screening laboratory, it could be set up at entrances to stadiums, malls and in airports, making it ever more difficult for terrorists to live and work among us.
Oh joy!  We can be scanned and probed everywhere we go!
Burns noted his team's goal is to "restore a sense of freedom." Once MALINTENT is rolled out in airports, it could give us a future where we can once again wander onto planes with super-sized cosmetics and all the bottles of water we can carry -- and most importantly without that sense of foreboding that has haunted Americans since Sept. 11.
"Restore a sense of freedom?"  Does the man have any awareness of what he is saying?
Allison Barrie, a security and terrorism consultant with the Commission for National Security in the 21st Century, is FOX News' security columnist.
I think there might just be a tiny bit of bias on this topic, don't you?
Categories

2013-07-27 19:25:56.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

The importance of Stand Your Ground laws

This man intervened to save two women and a child from a brutal beating at risk of his own life and the life of his fiancee (who was in the car with him at the time). 
I went to my car and stood at the driver's side door. Need turned back to me and started coming at me with his arms waving and shouting "just shoot me." I ordered him to stay back, but he kept coming. Then, when he was about four or five feet from me, he put his hand into his pants pocket, and that is when I fired my first shot into his left thigh. It didn't stop him from coming at me. He grabbed my shirt, ripped off the top button and grabbed my right arm. That's when I shot him the second time point-blank into his thigh. I was told later that the bullets had severed his femoral artery and he had bled to death at York Hospital. I was truly sorry he died, but knew I had made the right decisions.
If he was in a state where he had a duty to retreat, he could well have been convicted.
Categories

2013-07-27 19:12:54.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments

Police need a warrant for cellphone tracking

I've had this article in my backlog since 2008, and normally I would just toss out something that old.  But given recent events I figured it was worth posting:
The government cannot force your cellphone provider to turn over stored records about your location without proving to a judge there is probable cause you have violated the law, a federal district court ruled Wednesday.
So, the police need a warrant to collect this information on one person but the NSA doesn't need a warrant to collect it from everyone?  What has changed about this since 2008?

And if you want a little bit of prescience, check this out about how police use metadata:
"Law enforcement uses the fact that the suspect?s phone contacted the cell tower nearest his home to infer he is home, nearest the narcotic?s kingpin?s house to infer that they are together, nearest the drop off point  to argue that he was present when the contraband was delivered," the groups wrote. "One can also imagine that the government can ask for all the numbers that made calls through the tower nearest a political rally to infer that those callers attended the rally."
These issues have been around for a long time.  It's just that when a "progressive" president was in power, they became less important to the press until he had been safely reelected and they realized that the Department of Justice was targeting them, too.
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2013-07-27 19:05:08.0 by TriggerFinger. 0 comments
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