According to this article, Jamaica has a crime problem that's clearly out of control. But I don't believe it, because Jamaica bans firearms.
Go read the whole thing. It's powerful. This man's honor and courage shine through, and his nation should be ashamed that they have failed to live up to his example.
Have you ever wondered what space travel would be like if government wasn't involved? Surely, it wouldn't happen at all. Or if it did, it would be extremely dangerous. And if it wasn't, surely it would be at least as expensive as NASA's explorations. And if it was cheaper, well, it might blow up or pollute or something!
Surely private space flight would be rare, too, something only large corporations could contemplate. I bet they would just concentrate on launching satellite and similar commercial and profitable efforts, since there's obviously no real market for space tourism at the prices they would have to charge, and obviously nothing in the budget for science exploration like the government can do...
In the real world, commercial space travel without government involvement is... Cheap. Fast. Safe. Easy.
How cheap? How about $20 million for the complete development of a reusable spacecraft?
How fast? Two launches within a week using the same craft.
How safe? Three launches so far, with an experimental craft, and no one has been hurt, nor any crashes occurred.
How easy? People do it as a hobby.
Meet SpaceShipOne, winner of the Ansari X-Prize, and pioneers of the next private frontier. They deserve a great big round of applause.
Statistics and the Assault Weapons Ban
One of the arguments being provided as support for the Assault Weapons Ban is the change in the number of firearms traces that were traces of assault weapons. This is an oft-cited number because it appears in one of the official government studies about the effectiveness of the ban, and it's one of the very few numbers in that report that suggests any benefit at all. However, anyone reading the study with a basic knowledge of statistics will understand that the number is actually meaningless.
This particular study result is usually cited as a "2/3rds reduction in assault weapons used in crime", and sometimes as a "65% drop". In actual fact, it's a drop from 3% of firearms traces to 1% of firearms traces. The studies cite the change rather than the absolute percentage because the absolute percentage is so low. That's understandable, since it sounds more impressive and is technically accurate. To understand what is misleading about that number, you have to dig even deeper.
For people who don't have the training in statistics to understand this, here's a very short course in statistics to show you what's going on. Most of this information can be applied to just about any public-policy poll or study, since the analysis of such issues depends on the application of statistical analysis. Without such knowledge, it's easy for the author of a study to mislead by implication about his results.
Statistics is a science that depends on extrapolating the qualities of a small sample selected from the overall population to predict or explain the behavior of an entire population. This technique is used because, in public policy questions, it's a lot cheaper to measure the sample than the entire population. In order for this extrapolation to be valid, the sample must be taken from the population at random.
This point cannot be overemphasized. A sample which is biased in a way related to the measurements being made will not produce valid results, and there is no simple way to detect the bias by examining only the sample. You may think that getting a random sample is easy, but in fact, it's an extraordinarily difficult thing to do.
Consider a simple telephone survey -- suppose you want to employ someone to call people on the phone, selected at random from a phone book using a computer algorithm. Every day at 9am, this person starts making phone calls to people on the list, and giving surveys to the people who answer. Every day at 5pm, he goes home. Even though you started with a computer-generated random sample drawn from a fairly-complete list of people, you've just eliminated from your survey:
So how does this effect the result? Simple: firearms traces are not a random sample. Police departments do not trace every firearm used in a crime, because they don't have every firearm used in a crime. They also trace some firearms that were not used in a crime (for example, recovering stolen property). Different police departments have different policies on when to trace a firearm, meaning that some firearms used in crime will not be traced, and firearm types which police departments find "interesting" will be traced more often, and some states have local databases which they can check before submitting a trace request to the BATFE.
So on the basis of sample bias alone, the number of "assault weapons" traced by the BATFE is useless. It tells us nothing about the general population of assault weapons. Here's what the study's authors have to say about trace data:
Therefore, tracing data are a biased sample of guns recovered by police. Prior studies suggest that assault weapons are more likely to be submitted for tracing than are other confiscated firearms.
Correlation vs Causation
One of the most common mistakes made with statistics in the hands of a layman is mistaking correlation, which many statistical tools designed to analyze, and causation. The difference is vital. Correlation means simply that two factors -- for example, drug use and petty crime -- tend to occur together. Causation means that one factor causes the other, or in our example, that drug use causes petty crime. Statistical analysis can only determine correlation; a carefully designed experiment (that excludes all other conflating variables) is needed to determine causation.
Where that is not possible, studies can try to account for as many significant factors as possible. When this is done, the correlation for individual variables can be determined. This analysis looks a lot like causation; you typically end up with a large number of variables, each with a correlation coefficient relative to a result. So, in our study, we might have variables for the passage of the assault weapons ban, variables for the state each gun trace came from, a variable to indicate whether the state had a pre-existing assault weapons ban in place, and so on. This is done in an attempt to account for variables in the sample that can be known, but not eliminated.
Sometimes that kind of analysis is the best you can do, for cost or ethical reasons. Because it looks a lot like causation, it's often mistaken for such. But it has fundamental flaws when used in that manner. For example, even if the drop in assault weapons traces is highly correlated with the assault weapons ban and all other variables are accounted for, it's impossible to tell (with statistical tools) which direction the causation arrow points. Does the ban cause the reduction, or does the reduction cause the ban? It's easy to form logical assumptions about that arrow, but there is no statistical evidence to back them up.
In this case, people are mistaking the correlation between the passage of the assault weapons ban and the drop in assault weapon traces with the proposition that the assault weapons ban caused the drop. It might have, or it might not have. We just don't know. We don't even have the kind of information and analysis that would help us to eliminate other related variables, which might let us make logical guesses. We just have two raw numbers -- before, and after. That's not enough information to even suggest a causal connection.
To normal people, the concept of "significance" refers to importance. In statistics, it's subtly different: a correlation is significant if it is sufficiently unlikely to have occurred by chance.
Chance matters because of the randomness (at least, the hoped for randomness) of the sample. Even using a completely random selection process, it's possible to pick a biased sample. If a population of one hundred people has 5 people who like peanuts, and your random sample of 5 people happens to be the 5 people who like peanuts, you're going to think that the entire population likes peanuts -- and you'll be completely wrong. But picking those 5 people for your sample is unlikely.
A large part of statistical analysis is understanding just how unlikely that is, and quantifying it for your specific sample. That way the analyst can report how likely it is that his results are due to chance rather than a true correlation. Sometimes this is reported as a confidence interval (a range of values between which the true value lies some percentage of the time, usually 95%), and at other times as a simple test for significance. Exactly how wide the confidence interval is depends on how much variance is in the sample.
Variance is a term that describes how closely grouped the values of the variable being measured are. If you have a sample of 3 people, one 6 feet tall, one 3 feet tall, and one 10 feet tall, you could describe that sample as having a high variance -- because most people are more tightly clustered in the 5-6 foot range. The variance of a variable influences how broad the confidence interval will be.
Another influence on the size of the confidence interval is the sample size. The larger the sample, the less likely random selection bias will be to influence the results. Using a larger sample won't reduce the variance of the population, but it will reduce the distortion of randomly selecting a non-typical member of the population as part of the sample. In other words, it's harder to pick 500 non-typical examples than it is to pick 5 non-typical exaples.
So what does this mean if you are reading a study, rather than writing one? Simple: look for the author's tests for statistical significance. If there are no tests for statistical significance, the study is bunk; toss it. If there are tests, read them carefully. Usually the level of significance will be specified, with .95 being the most commonly used standard (that is a 5% chance that the results of the study with respect to that specific variable are due solely to chance).
If the study reports that results did not attain significance it's an indication that they are probably not reliable. The results could mean nothing more than the effect of randomness in the sample selection. If the results are reported as significant, check at what level the significance test was conducted. Anything less than 95% significance should be considered questionable, although 90% is sometimes used.
One of the most common tactics for obfuscating lack of results is to report results in the summary that don't pass the significance test in the detailed paper. There's no real way to catch this without reading the whole study, but when the whole thing is available, make sure to check the results reported in the summary against the significance tests for those results.
In the case of the assault weapons ban study, the change from 3% to 1% was tested and found not to be significant. In other words, it presents absolutely no evidence for the effectiveness of the ban. Assault weapons, it turns out, are so rarely traced in absolute numbers that there simply isn't enough data to show any results. The drop in traces, which has been widely reported, is statistically insignificant at the standard 5% level. The authors had to reduce their standards to the 10% level to attain significance, and (as already noted) they were working with a biased and invalid sample to start with.
It's easy to lie with statistics. But it's also easy to see through those lies, if you know the basics.
ESR has a really good discussion of violence and mankind. It's old, but it's damn good. Read it.
A New Foundation for Liberty
Through the history of mankind, we have endured many forms of government. Everything from tyranny (consent by lack of revolution) to democracy (consent by majority vote) has been tried, and many shades in between. The Libertarian principle of government is based on the concept of a necessary evil; there must be a government to protect the citizens in the ways that only concerted action and compulsive force can, but that compulsive force it itself evil; therefore the use of force is minimized to the extent that the government remains able to carry out its functions.
Advocates of anarchy propose complete individual freedom with no central authority, but history tells us that anarchy is unstable; government will arise from within or be imposed from without. The Libertarian goal must then be to minimize government without surrendering to anarchy; sufficient power must be concentrated in the government to repel foreign invaders and protect the rights of the citizens from each other, but that power must be strictly limited to prevent tyranny.
The history of America is the history of a Libertarian government hamstrung by the inability to obtain true consent from its citizens. Without the resources to obtain affirmative consent to the Constitution from every citizen, our founding fathers were forced to elect representatives as proxies, and employ the strategy of federalism to retain the local flexibility and accountability necessary for a government to respect the wishes of the people. The use of representatives elected by majority vote, subordinate to the law, restrained in their powers by a written Constitution, and separated into smaller, nearly-autonomous regions directly responsible to their citizens was a tremendous leap forward for Liberty. But inevitably, there were those who did not agree to the new social contract.
Some were conquered. Some were never granted the right to vote. Some owned no property. Some were enslaved. Some were women. Some were children. And some were simply outvoted. But they all had a new government imposed upon them against their will, and were faced with a choice: leave your home and return to lands which you prefer, under a government which you prefer, or submit to our government. In those days, it was still possible to leave your nation and join another. Today, it is much more difficult.
But now, with computer and communication technology our forefathers could never have dreamed of, we can do better. Indeed, we must do better. There is no frontier left; no place where the malcontents can flee to in order to escape an oppressive government. The federal government of the United States has absorbed the powers of the states into itself, turning what were once very nearly separate sovereign nations into mere arms of a many-tentacled beast. It is no longer possible to choose the government you live under by moving from state to state. The long arm of the Federal government will reach you throughout the states, and even into the other nations upon the earth, should you attempt to escape (without paying your taxes).
We must therefore respect rights of the individual far more than in the past, where the frontiers offered the opportunity to escape and begin anew. We can now implement a government that functions on the principle of affirmative consent, and therefore, we must: it is the least intrusive government still capable of protecting its citizens. The Leviathon of the United States has abandoned the remnants of its Libertarian foundation, and those who yearn for freedom must begin anew.
To understand the Libertarian principle of government as applied in the American Revolution, read The Consent of the Governed. To understand how a government based on affirmative consent can be established, read Obtaining Unanimous Consent. And to understand how such a government might function in a liberty-maximizing fashion, read Governing by Consent.
Obtaining Unanimous Consent
In A New Foundation for Liberty I discussed the idea of governing by the consent of the people, and the manner in which technological advancements have made possible advancements in liberty as well. In The Consent of the Governed, I discuss the origins of modern government and the theory of the social contract, as implemented in the American revolution. In this article I discuss a method for establishing a government based on unanimous consent rather than coercion.
Let us began with a hypothetical island, population zero. Such an island needs no government. Add a single resident, however, and he becomes both citizen and government; there is no risk of dissent. Adding a second resident adds the potential for disagreement, however, and so that is where we begin to consider the problem of consent.
Suppose our first island resident owns the island. He can then decide whether to allow the second resident onto the island. For instance, he can specify terms, and agree to allow the second resident onto the island only if that second resident agrees to those terms. This mechanism obtains affirmative and informed consent from each new resident, with the terms set by the first resident. Even if the later residents buy part of the island from the first resident, they would still be bound by the terms of the original entrance agreement; the first resident has become a de-facto government, setting the terms of the social contract.
Suppose that his terms included the things we traditionally consider the realm of government: taxes on income, imports, and exports; assistance in enforcing the law against those who violate it; agreement to abide by the decisions of a legislative body in some form; agreement to pay fines or submit to imprisonment for certain crimes, if found guilty by a jury in a court of law. By that method we have obtained affirmative consent for each citizen living on the island to whatever form of government the original resident chooses to institute.
Such a government could be a tyranny as easily as a republic, though it might be harder to convince people to agree to live under the rules of a tyranny; the point is that this mechanism for establishing consent does not establish any particular form of government. The first step to a government of affirmative consent is to start from a blank slate, and permit only those who agree to be governed under the rules of the new government to enter the territory.
What about those who enter the territory without agreeing? In one sense they are outside the law; they have given no affirmative consent to the form of government in place. It would be ethically difficult to punish someone who has given no affirmative consent to the government in place (while modern governments do this routinely, it is the very problem we are attempting to resolve). Without their agreement they cannot be considered bound by the laws of the government; yet neither can they be allowed to harm others. .
One potential solution would be to specify that the legal protections of the social contract apply only to those who agree to that contract. Such a solution would put all uninvited "guests" outside the law, and subject to whatever the citizens felt was necessary. It conveniently deals with the problem of invading armies by making it legal for anyone to shoot back without fear of reprisal. But if applied to accidental visitors or those who are not truly malicious, it falls prey to the same problem of consent as normal government: how can a government based upon consent enforce its laws on those who do not consent to them?
The question of how citizens should behave towards non-citizens is easily included as part of the social contract. The obvious answer is to frame the laws set forth in the social contract as applying to people in general rather than exclusively to citizens. This will ensure that a resident can be punished, according to the terms they agreed to, if they break those terms with respect to a trespasser.
However, without having agreed to the conditions of residence on the island, such illegal residents would have no legal right to remain. They could thus be detained by the police or any property owner for trespassing and deported immediately; no trial necessary, unless they claimed to be a citizen. And, of course, if they did so claim, they would then be subject to the laws they had agreed to.
Children, however, are a more complex question. They are not settlers and they cannot be expected to provide affirmative consent until they reach an age appoximating adulthood. Neither can we practically deny them the protection and responsibilities of the legal system until that time. The United States government solves this problem with minor status; juveniles are considered under the care and authority of their parents until their majority, and their parents are generally responsible for ensuring that their children behave according to the rules of society -- which means paying the penalties for their children's crimes.
For the crimes typical of youth, that solution will apply on our hypothetical island just as well. The parents are responsible to the law, and the children are responsible for their parents. However, in some cases this principle is equally unjust; the parents should not be punished for a horrible crime committed by a near-adult child.
The solution is simple: the parents can escape punishment by choosing to disown the child. The child would then be given the opportunity to agree to the social contract and pay whatever penalties are specified by the law, or be deported as with any other unauthorized trespasser.
This procedure can be successfully applied to a child who has obtained adulthood. The child's parents disclaim responsibility for him or her, or the child proclaims his or her own independence from his family, and the child is given the opportunity to agree to the social contract or leave the island. By this means the consent of the child can be obtained when the child himself is ready, in his own judgement or the judgement of his parents. It neatly sidesteps the question of mental competence; such a matter is left to the parents to decide or the child to demand.
Clearly there remain corner cases in this framework (orphans, for example) that do not have a satisfactory resolution. Such cases are easily addressed by whatever legislature is in place.
Visitors could obtain permission to enter the country by agreeing to the social contract for the duration of their stay. Such temporary residents would be exempt from the requirements and privileges of full citizenship, such as military service or the vote, but would agree to obey the laws regarding the treatment of others.
If you're not sure why a government might wish to obtain unanimous consent from its citizens, read The Consent of the Governed and A New Foundation for Liberty. If you want to find out how a government could be implemented along these lines in a way that would maximize liberty, read Governing by Consent.
TO summarize the important points from the above: big brother is here in the form of a GPS-enabled implantable microchip, it hurts when he gets under your skin, and he's a job requirement. Inevitably there will be proposals to move this into the US. There will be calls to implant these chips in criminals, in illegal immigrants, in pets, in government workers, and finally in your kids... just to keep them safe, you understand, in case they are ever abducted. It's for the children.
Well, I say they've all got their priorities wrong. If these chips ever make their way across the border, there's one place to put them before we even consider anything else: put them in the politicians, and make the records publically available in realtime. Consider it an experiment -- a trial period. We can test the idea to see how Americans react to being "chipped". We can do a survey at the end, to see how politicians felt about having their location tracked at all times. If there were any that didn't decide to resign in disgrace, that is.
In my continuing quest to give you the opportunity to take positive action to protect your rights against a government gone mad, I have created the TriggerFinger News Aggregator to keep you abreast of important news, events, and activism opportunities even faster than I can type them in. The News Aggregator will pull news listings from TriggerFinger itself, along with pro-gun weblogs like Publicola and FreedomSight, the online-rights-and-privacy section of popular sites like Wired News and Slashdot, the activism alerts and headlines of the Center for Democracy and Technology and Electronic Frontier Foundation, the eclectic commentary of Declan's PoliTech.
I will cheerfully add new sources so long as they have either an Atom or RSS feed on their site, and are focused primarily on political activism or news related to political threats to the rights of the people. Email me (email@example.com) with any sites you think should be tracked.
The News Aggregator will be updated hourly, or sooner than that if the site owner arranges to send a ping from his site when it updates. If you want to make sure that you don't miss any opportunity to make your commitment to liberty mean something, make sure you bookmark this link.
John Ross is the author of Unintended Consequences, a book about the "gun culture", and generally a damn smart guy. So when he writes about Islamic terrorism, he gets it right. Read it. Pay attention to it.
The events at Abu Ghraib probably violated the Geneva Conventions for treatment of "prisoners of war". I don't think many of the people there qualified as "prisoners of war". Some were common criminals, some were terrorists. Aside from the possibility that some innocent Iraqis or legitimate prisoners of war may have mistakenly been caught up and involved, who they were doesn't much matter.
What matters is culture.
The tactics used in the pictures that have been released, and discussed in the pictures that have not been released, are tactics designed to break down the psychological support structure of the Islamic culture. They are designed to turn a macho warrior into someone ashamed of himself, ashamed of his culture, ashamed of his friends... someone who is thoroughly cowed and ready to cooperate.
Is it pretty? No. But it's effective, and perversely, publicizing the pictures will make it even more effective, especially on those outside the prison. They'll see those pictures and know that it could be them; that American power has put their friends in that position. They'll be angry, but they'll also be afraid.
The people involved will be punished, because we're supposed to be above torture -- even psychological torture to get information that will save lives. But we're dealing with something that wasn't institutional and barely registers on the scale of "naughty things done by governments".
There comes a time when you have to prioritize. If we can goad a terrorist into taking on a tank with nothing more than his AK by calling him an impotent eater of pigs, I'll take that as a battle tactic. If we can save lives by making terrorists (NOT innocents, and NOT legitimate prisoners of war) prance around in women's underwear and making fun of their ... equipment, so be it.
The ends do not justify the means. Nevertheless, the two are not separable. For the nascent Iraqi democracy to thrive, it must first survive. The law of the jungle rules Iraq right now, more than any council or government or representative President. Before the law of man can take root in Iraq, it must be imposed, and in order to impose it, the American troops must be the biggest, baddest beast in the jungle.
Now that those pictures have been released, any Iraqi who is thinking of making trouble with a gun is going to think of those pictures -- and think again of the wisdom of pissing us off. Can a culture of machismo and misogeny respect a man who, captured, is led around on a leash by an American woman? Can it follow a man whose genitals have been the subject of public mockery? I doubt it.
It's not pretty. It's not moral. It's not justifiable. But neither is war. War dredges up the darkest part of the human soul and turns it loose to run rampant in a field of blood, because to leave an enemy alive is to be slain in your own turn. War is primevil; death is fundamental.
We've spent hundreds of years trying to civilize those impulses out of humanity. We've failed. Inevitably, we will fail. Survival is the need that calls to us all. When it calls, we must answer or perish.
Those fighting Iraq have answered, on both sides, and this is the result. While Iraqi and Al Qaeda insurgents use women and children as human shields, some few Americans laugh at naked terrorists and take pictures, and the newspapers write that we have abandoned our morality even as we court-martial the offenders?
We have abandoned nothing.
We fight for what we believe in. Sometimes, we lose to the external enemy; sometimes, to the internal one.
Saddam Hussein's goal through the 1990s and until the 2003 U.S. invasion was to end U.N. sanctions on Iraq, while working covertly to restore the country's ability to produce weapons of mass destruction, a report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector says.
This report is actually a vindication of Bush's arguments for war. Saddam presented a threat that was not imminent, but which would have become imminent as soon as the sanctions were removed and inspections ceased. And, in fact, this report supports exactly that point. Saddam was prepared to resume production of biological agents immediately following the collapse of the sanctions. And after over a decade of hostillty, can there be any doubt that Saddam would have felt free to share those weapons with terrorists to enable a strike on the US?
The real question now, however, is not about Iraq. We must finish our task there, of course, but that is a long term concern. A far more pressing problem is that of North Korea and Iran, and specifically their nuclear programs.
According to this article China has shut down almost two thousand internet cafes due to minors playing violent or adult-only video games, with fines totalling over $12M dollars. 2M internet cafes were inspected, and nearly 20K were temporarily closed to correct problems.
A 4-year-old crackdown on the illegal global trade in small arms has had little impact on the uncontrolled availability of pistols, rifles and machine guns in many parts of the world, a coalition of arms control groups reported on Tuesday.Gee, ya think? Gun control doesn't work.
The NRA has uncovered a talking points memo instructing anti-gun types how to talk to the media in case they are interviewed during the UN conference on small arms. No real surprises, but a lot of amusement value -- particularly the fact that the document mentions as the very first tip when talking to journalists: Tell the truth.
You might even think that there's a problem with honesty among anti-gun types. Nah, couldn't be.
The general theme is that governments are supposedly responsible for the safety of their own citizens. Of course, that's blatantly false; even in the US, a Supreme Court decision recently held that the police cannot be held responsible for their failure to enforce a legally-issued restraining order, never mind protecting citizens from random muggers or carjackings.
And let's not forget that even police states which deny the right to self-defense, such as Britain, are unable to keep their citizens safe. In such states, it is illegal to defend yourself, and the police will not protect you and cannot be held responsible for failing to do so.
There's a lot of bullshit about "the misery caused by guns". Hell, there's a lot of bullshit in general. Take this gem, from a question-answer section: "If States aren't implementing the Programme of Action properly, why would they implement an Arms Trade Treaty?" "An Arms Trade Treaty would be legally binding and therefore they would be compelled to do so." Who the hell is going to compel the government of a nation-state to implement a treaty it does not wish to implement? And, too, I question how that compulsion could be either morally justified or practically enforced... without firearms violence.
There's too much in here to even bother fisking. Read it yourself. I may return to the issue with a point-for-point rebuttal.
Despite the horrifying advances in military technology produced during the 20th century, it also seems that the events of that century have produced one of the most powerful arguments supporting the right to keep and bear arms. The nature of that argument is not pretty. It's not pleasant. It's not the sort of thing you debate over dinner in a civilized fashion. It's raw. It's visceral. It hits you like a punch in the gut.
Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership understands this. They produced a documentary demonstrating it (Innocents Betrayed). Genocide is always preceded by civilian disarmament.
Gun control kills.
Dave Kopel has a new law review article out. (Thanks to Geek with a .45 for the link). In it, he makes the case for the right to keep and bear arms as a universal human right... because it is the only defense against genocide.
Over at Winds of Change, a Canadian contributor has been convinced that the right to keep and bears arms is a universal human right... starting from exactly the opposite position. What convinced him? Genocide in Zimbabwe.
I will never give up my arms, because I know what follows.
In England, we've watched with nausea as they banned one form of firearm after another, and after finally reducing the population to the status of helpless subjects once more, began banning firearm replicas and setting age limits on the purchase of knives.
Well, now Japan has done them one better. Kyoto City has proposed knife registration.
Now, truth be told, Japan has had a form of sword registration for a while. But those are expensive family heirlooms that have been officially designated national treasures. For hundreds of years, Japan's martial culture worshipped the sword. The laws didn't apply to modern swords, and didn't really bother anyone.
But now, there is a proposal in Kyoto City to create a registration process for all knives longer than 15 centimeters. That's just about anything bigger than a steak knive, and I probably have steak knives that are longer than that. Thank god I don't live in Japan.
When you're thinking about this, consider too these factors:
Honest men do not need to be controlled.
On the heels of embarassing misunderstandings of the American system, Vladimir Putin (the current, and increasingly dictatorial, Russian president) has announced the formation of -- I kid you not -- the Putin Youth. If you're having flashbacks to a certain moustachioed murderer of millions, well, you're not the only one. It's sad to see Russia moving backwards rather than forwards on the freedom scale, but a move like this may signal Putin's weakness. Then again, it may not.
Even more disturbing:
When two outsiders - one from an opposition party, the other a journalist - sneaked into its founding conference, they were humiliated and one was beaten.Hat tip to He Who Needs No Hat Tips.
I wouldn't call this proof... yet. But it's naming names and giving specific facts from credentialed journalists.
So... does gun control work, or doesn't it? You decide.
This "last bastion of the free world" shit is starting to get scary. It's easy to fight a war defensively, but if defense is all you do, you will lose in the end. If the United States ends up the last nation in the world allowing civilian gun ownership, there will undoubtedly be substantial international pressure to "correct" things.
Apparantly this police chief isn't familiar with what happens to an ordindary citizen when they confront a criminal without a firearm. I can offer a hint: it's messy and painful.
Oh, and did you notice where firearms aren't a problem? North America. Where they aren't banned. (Unless you count Mexico. Maybe that's why the Mexicans seem to want to leave.)
Firearms don't cause vote fraud, voter intimidation, or miscounted votes. Corrupt officials cause miscounted votes; corrupt thugs cause voter intimidation; and corrupt voters cause vote fraud. Any threat to peace comes from the evil that lurks in the hearts of men, not the power that lurks in the heart of a gun. Mankind has managed to find the ways and means to make war upon one another for millenia before we even dreamed of firearms, and not only has none of that changed, firearms themselves are well and truly out of the bottle.
On the other hand, having a firearm is a good way to prevent voter intimidation.
This is an excellent argument for not maintaining a gun registration database! But frankly, I'll take that particular trade. If an unarmed criminal needs a gun, he's welcome to try to take mine. He can have it -- ammunition first.
What, exactly, would such a campaign solve? People in third-world countries can manufacture AK-47s (yes, Virginia, the full-auto version) for the price of a goat, and offer change in chickens. Under what delusionary scenario are these people going to suddenly become "civilized" and stop making them?
Anyone who still thinks the UN should have been the arbiter of action on Iraq needs to realize that France and Russia both have veto power on the UN Security Council... and their votes on the issue of Iraq were bought and paid for.
The United States of America is a independent nation, with a government formed by the people, for the people... of Canada? What on earth does Canada have to do with anything?
Nothing at all, if you ask an American. But if you ask a Canadian, you just might hear about a Canadian plan to advocate for gun control in the United States.
If you ask The Guardian (a UK paper), you'll find that they're trying to tell Americans who to vote for.
And if you ask the United Nations, you'll hear about this small arms treaty.
It's not very comfortable being the last bastion of the free world.
I have absolutely no idea how people can write these stories with a straight face... at least not without being absolutely sick. Implanting all government workers? Gun control via implied RFID chip? Are they nuts?
Apologies for the recent performance problems...
The site has been a bit slow lately; we're working on it.
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