Hat tip to Barron.
Why we don't trust the government
The government is not your friend. Not even in the US.
Back, with a vengeance...
I resurrected the old site because, suddenly, all of my old Parker v DC material is relevant again... in a big way.
... is that they deal with Libertarians in the same way: they don't want our policies, just our votes. The Hammer of Truth brings it home.
A glimmer of hope
Many of us have mourned the slow descent of the UK's government into tyrrany, especially as it seems to offer a slightly-accelerated view of the trends in our own nation. It's sometimes useful to remember that not everyone in the UK is ready to go quietly into the night.
The purpose of the public education system is not education...
... but rather indoctrination. Witness (thanks to The War on Guns) what happens when a physics teacher tries to actually teach physics:
This one strikes close to home for me, because I work in computers -- and one of the major sources of funding for early computer efforts was calculating ballistics. How are we ever to make great strides in knowledge if whole areas of inquiry are deemed verboten?
We've seen all sorts of analysis of how Moore treated the subject of firearms and gun control in his alleged "documentary" Bowling for Columbine, particularly with regard to his shameful "interview" with Charleton Heston, but less has been said about his election-year movie Fahrenheit 9/11. Now, a lawsuit by a disabled veteran suggests that the same shady interviewing and editting tactics used in Bowling are also used in Fahrenheit 9/11 -- in particular, using footage of a interview filmed with NBC without the consent of the soldier appearing in it. The soldier is suing for $85 million.
Less important than the legal niceties is the fact that Moore editted the interview to make it seem the soldier opposed the war:
Amusingly enough, there's an exemption within copyright law that allows some educational institutions to avoid obtaining permission to use copyrighted works. I don't know exactly how this sort of situation would play out legally, but I would be very amused if Moore cites some sort of educational exemption and loses the case anyway.
Hat tip to Arms and the Law for the original story.
So, I went looking for the decision in DC v Beretta...
... and I stumbled across something quite interesting. Those of you who have been paying attention, particularly before the War on Terror became the major threat to American freedom and liberty, are familiar with the increasingly confiscatory tactics the police have taken in their war on whatever happens to be convenient. The idea is simple: the police "catch" an individual but can't find probable cause to charge him with anything. Nevertheless they somehow know he is guilty, so they charge his possessions with being ill-gotten gains. It is, apparantly, easier to convict a person's property than the person himself.
This results in cases like:
United States of America v. MQ Power Whisperwatt 85 KW Disel Generator, Serial No. 7700228 et al
In this case, a charge of "28:1345 Complaint for Forfeiture" was brought against the following defendents:
Defendant MQ Power Whisperwatt 85 KW Disel Generator, Serial No. 7700228
Defendant 1998 Honda Foreman Quadrunner, VIN 478TE2204WA006354
Defendant 2003 Honda Foreman Quadrunner, VIN 478TE260334206419
Defendant $7,040 in US Currency
Defendant Ruger Mini 14 Rifle with Scope
Defendant Beretta 12 Gauge Double Barrel Shotgun Defendant Colt .223 Caliber Rifle with Scope
Defendant Norinco Rifle Mak-90 Sporter
Defendant Browning 30-06 Rifle with Scope
Defendant Norinco SKS Rifle with Scope and Bayonet
Defendant Remington 870 12 Gauge Shotgun
Defendant Ruger l22 Caliber Rifle with Scope
Defendant Winchester 30-30 Rifle with Scope
Defendant .22 Caliber Rifle
Defendant Remington 12 Gauge Shotgun
The property was not represented in court. Now, before you get the wrong idea, this case was dismissed. I have no idea why -- I figured maybe even a judge in the 9th Circus might wonder why the property was being charged. Or perhaps the judge threw out the case because the property was not properly represented in court ("So, .22 Caliber Rifle, do you have any kind of alibi? Friends who were with you that night, who knew where you were?").
So I clicked through the next few. USA v. Marlin Rifle has the disposition listed as Judgment on Default, so I figure that particular rifle was found guilty on account of not being able to defend itself, not being an animate object. A case against $37900 and a 1998 Audi is still pending. Another case brought against a Beretta A303 Semi seems to have a motion for judgement before trial pending, or at least there was such a motion pending in 2003; it seems to have been dropped in 2004 due to lack of activity. Interestingly enough, in that case the firearms were represented by a real lawyer. No word on whether they took the stand or pled the 5th.
This is exactly the sort of absurdity that results from the erosion of our Constitutional rights and protections. Why is our government so eager for an easy victory in court that it is willing to make itself a laughingstock by charging inanimate property with crimes? Is it merely greed? Or something worse?
UPDATE: Oh, and anyone who was wondering why the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was necessary... I was simply searching for cases involving Beretta. I got maybe 110 results, of which perhaps 20-30 were against humans named Beretta and another 30 or so were against guns made by Beretta. That's about 50 lawsuits involving just one manufacturer.
"Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms should be a convenience store, not a government agency." That quote (whose origin slips my mind) was originally inspired by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, which is the government agency in charge of regulating those three things, and doing a notoriously poor job of it.
By way of John Lott, we learn that Texas has turned that saying into reality.
Unfortunately, since that quote was first uttered, the agency which inspired it has gone through a reorganization. They are now the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
I can only hope that the wonderful little Texas convenience store will view the change in the agency's scope as an inspiration.
If this journalist's story is true, it's repulsive, and it's a clear sign that the government has gone too far. It is not appropriate for the FBI to maintain dossiers on people who are not under suspicion of a crime.
... who calls his blog GunShowOnTheNet. But his latest entry reveals that he is in dire need of some education. Witness:
It is evident that the Federal Government has not only the Right but the duty to perform 'Background' checks on prospective purchasers of Firearms. It is quite apparent that our Founders desired that Firearms be in "safe and sane" hands. That the Federal Government assures that a citizen is indeed capable of possessing a firearm is a matter of Ensuring Domestic Tranquility.No such thing is "evident". First, the federal government does not have rights; it has powers, granted to it by the Constitution. Second, "ensuring domestic tranquility", despite the appearance of those words within that document, is not a grant of power. It's a statement of purpose, similar to "promote the general welfare", to which those specifically granted powers should be applied. (Unless you want to contend that drugging the water supply with valium is Constitutionally-permissible).
The present prohibition on felons possessing firearms is doubly offensive to the Constitution; it is an infringement of the right to keep and bear arms, and it lacks any Constitutionally-enumerated power from which its authority is derived. While removing or overturning it is both unlikely and probably unwise, only the naive proponents of gun control imagine (usually only for brief moments of supreme concentration, accompanied by a supportive chorus) that it actually prevents criminals from getting their hands on a gun if they want one.
A Constitutional government would lock its criminals up without their guns, preferably for long enough to ensure that they would trod the straight and narrow in the future, and restore them their arms upon release. Those criminals who repeatedly committed violent crimes would find Darwin close upon their heels before long.
While it may be politically expedient to publically voice support for background checks, it is neither effective in reducing crime nor is it sound in principle. Even if prohibitting felons from firearms possession is considered a wise and successful policy, background checks on ordinary citizens represent a prior restraint upon a protected right. We must always remember that it represents a compromise, not a victory.
Who exactly has Bush "aided"?
Hugh Hewitt writes (regarding the Miers nomination):
I did not call for the GOP to steadfastly defend the president and his nominee against obviously meritous charges of perjury, etc. I argued that the Democratic Party's example of absurd and wrong headed loyalty of a scandal-plagued Clinton contrasted sharply with many among the GOP's immediate turn on Bush/Miers even before the hearings, when Bush deserves political support from the very people he has aided, at a minimum until the hearings begin. The GOP and allied pundits cold move a long way towards party loyalty and the sort of political maturity that enduring majority coalitions need without ever coming close to the line the Democrats crossed with Clinton, and that move would serve the party and their goals in the long run.He's got a point -- there's a difference between loyalty to a President on the matter of perjury charges and similar crimes, and a Supreme Court nomination. But Hugh is arguing here that those the President has aided owe him loyalty in return. Fine, to a degree. Those the President has aided with his Presidency do perhaps owe him something. But what has President Bush done for me?
He's passed tax cuts... that will expire in a few years. But he's also spending like a drunken sailor, including massive new drug benefits.
He's kept America "safe" from terrorism... while undermining vital civil liberties. And he won't even close off the southern border, something that is vitally important to preventing terrorists from smuggling in weapons of mass destruction.
He's appointed a justice to the Supreme Court... whose opinion on vital questions is still a mystery. No credit there.
He's supported the Firearms Liability Protection Act... while also supporting the Assault Weapons Ban. He has failed even to propose meaningful reforms to bring our nation's gun laws back to sanity.
He's failed even to propose meaningful social security or tax reforms. Never mind pass them -- he hasn't even proposed them, aside from broad speculative outlines of possible future proposals that fade into mist once Democratic opposition crystalizes.
In short -- we, the People, put a single party in control of the Presidency and both Houses of Congress. And what has he changed about our government? Not much. He's changed how we interact with other nations, to be sure, and mostly in positive ways. But domestically, he's done nothing for gun owners, nothing for libertarians, nothing for small-government conservatives.
So when Hugh says that "we" owe Bush... well, maybe someone does. But I don't owe the man a damned thing.
The Big Lizard has come up with a way to maybe get some useful answers out of Miers about her judicial philosophy: ask her for her opinion on specific older cases that might help reveal her thinking. So what are the good ones to ask about?
There's one that stands head and shoulders above all others, in my opinion: US v Miller. Give me a thoughtful, considered opinion about that case, and it will reveal two important facts about her... whether or not she thinks that the Constitution means what it says, and how willing she may be to overturn the governmental apple cart.
What a difference two years makes!
My first big break into the world of blogging was a series of articles refuting the Detroit News Special on the firearms liability protection issue. They spent a week exploring, in typically biased manner, the various claims put forward in so-called "product liability" lawsuits targeting the firearms manufacturers. It was a hit piece aimed squarely at the laws being proposed at the time to prevent such lawsuits, and was very careful to present only one side of the issue.
But now, their tune seems to be changing. In the wake of Katrina, their editorial page editor Nolan Finley is talking the talk of gun-rights. Where was he in 2003?
Wondered what sort of cases John Edwards (the VP candidate associated with John Kerry) has been litigating? FindLaw has the link. I've included summaries and commentary below.
Beyond representing clients in routine personal injury cases, Edwards developed a specialty in swimming pool injury cases. In one case involving a 5-year-old girl who was disemboweled by suction from a pool drain, the jury awarded her $25M, the highest personal injury award in North Carolina history at the time.
Aside from the one bizarre case (children disemboweled by pool drains?), the personal injury and product liability cases look less than wonderful. Most of them appear to involve stupid behavior by clients, such as diving into the shallow end ("improper supervision"), dying during a rescue attempt after a head-on collision ("wrongful death"), falling from a scaffold, or being crushed by a delivery box.
Another specialty Edwards developed was in medical malpractice cases involving problems during births of babies. According to the New York Times, after Edwards won a $6.5M verdict for a baby born with cerbral-palsy, he filed at least 20 similar lawsuits against doctors and hospitals in deliveries gone wrong, winning verdicts and settlements of more than $60M.
Lots of babies with cerebal palsy being blamed on doctors improper care that I don't have the medical knowledge to evaluate. One adult woman who committed suicide after being removed from suicide watch, which frankly offends me -- I believe in the right to commit suicide. Unless there was some medical reason why the woman could not be considered to be in her right mind, she should be able to make her own choices.
The non-baby, non-suicide cases (all two of them) look valid.
Another specialty Edwards developed was in motor vehicle accident and injury cases involving tractor-trailers.
And these are just classic ambulance-chasing, as far as I can see.
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.
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.
With supporters like this...
Ravenwood examines an editorial by a "2nd Amendment supporter" who feels that the .50 calibre rifle is a horrifying threat that should be more restricted than it is. I don't disagree with anything in Ravenwood's commentary, but I thought I'd point out something that's being overlooked. Being a "2nd Amendment supporter" is just the latest way of sneaking an anti-gun opinion past the filters of the public, who have conclusively rejected gun control and broadly support the 2nd Amendment. People writing editorials say it in order to make readers feel comfortable with their position, even when they advocate things that are directly contrary to what they just claimed to support. It is nothing more than persuasive rhetoric.
These so-called supporters of the 2nd Amendment are its enemies. Treat them appropriately.
Rhode Island's constitution includes a provision similar to the Second Amendment., but this recent appeals court decision doesn't see that provision as a barrier to a "may issue" concealed-carry provision. Apparantly, in Rhode Island, the "right of the people to keep and bear arms" refers to the right of individuals to join the military. Hmm. And can anyone tell me where they keep pulling this absurd 'reasonable regulation [under the] police power" from?
Is the First Amendment subject to "reasonable regulation"? How about prior license from the state before it can be used?
CLayton Cramer has some good analysis, but the only good points about the ruling itself are as follows:
All told, though, the decision isn't wonderful. It declines to strike down a may-issue law and draws a distrinction that appears to suggest that banning handguns would pass constitutional muster. The dissenting opinions have some good bits:
Read the whole dissent (in PDF format). It starts on page 30.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
Well, I've just finished updating the TriggerFinger weblog with the latest version of our weblog software. There may be some oddities while it all gets sorted out, but the hard part is over (and seems to have gone just fine).
Feel free to comment on the new look; as always, I welcome either shrieks of adulation or muted quivers of revulsion and disgust.
Can anyone recommend a really good, in-depth history of the Revolutionary War and the very early government of the United States? I'm thinking something not so much a military history, but a political history with strong reliance on primary sources and actual events. Please limit your suggestions to things you have actually read; I understand that the history profession has been infiltrated by revisionist leftists and I wouldn't want to pick up anything by one of those.
Day 54 in the So-Called Capitol of the Free World
On this, my fourth visit to the gun registration office, I planned to quickly pick up my completed and approved application. Alas, said application was not completed. I waited patiently while the office applied the necessary numbers, stamps, and embossed seals to my paperwork. On application of the 'APPROVED' stamp and city seal, the 'application' becomes the 'registration' and they provide you with three copies of same. You keep one with the firearm at all times (including during transport), and turn another over to the dealer. It is not clear what the third copy is for. None of the copies is actually marked as to its' intended recipient or purpose. Perhaps it's time to update the form? Also, the registration for the firearm serves as the registration for the ammunition, but only the ammunition of that same caliber. As a resident of DC it is forbidden for me to possess ammunition for a caliber of gun which I do not own and have registered. There is no separate process for registering ammunition. It should be noted, that at this point the officer kindly returned two of four passport photos as only two were actually required.
That evening after work, I returned to the dealer to pick up the gun. In the end, it took 54 days to get to the point where I could walk into the gun dealer and officially take delivery of the gun. If you are unemployed, you could probably get that down to 45 days. Of course, I should point out that, before being handed the gun, I had to undergo the very same instant NICS check that is sufficient for most other American citizens. So, having to wait 54 days to do what most any other citizen can accomplish in 15 minutes, what was I buying? Was I buying an 8 round semi-auto 12 gauge? No. Was I buying a Clinton tagged 'Assault Rifle'? No, the detachable magazine means Homeland Defense Rifles are banned in DC. Did I buy a .50BMG sniper rifle, of the type that has Senator Lautenbergs' panties in a bunch? No. My fellow enthusiasts: I went through bureaucratic hell, FBI fingerprinting, a full six week background investigation, and paid $72.60 in fees and other costs (plus gas and parking for all those trips to the registration office) to buy... drum roll please... a single shot hunting rifle.
Welcome to Washington DC, Capitol of the 'Free' World!
-- An Anonymous DC resident
From another source, hidden far behind enemy lines in the state of New York, comes a report on the official government preparations for another terrorist attack. I read the report carefully, and (after I stopped laughing) I now bring it to you in its original form... the Emergency Evacuation Kit, as distributed to state employees and contractors.
Your Emergency Evacuation Kit contains the following:
I imagine this must be very comforting. I know I would much rather die in a terrorist attack after following government instructions. Really. The glow sticks will be a great comfort to me and my friends as we share last-minute revelations about our private lives, and they may help rescuers find our bodies up to 12 hours after the building has collapsed. The water pouch will allow us to douse any stray matches or lighters that our comrades might choose to light up in their final hours, because no one would want to die with the sin of violating a no-smoking regulation on our conscience! And the emergency whistles will provide haunting accompaniment as we go to our final rest, assuming any of us remember the tune to Taps and can still breathe. Luckily the particle masks will take care of that, as long as there is no smoke.
Goodbye, cruel world. At least I will die with my particle mask firmly in place.
Seriously, folks. Three years after 9/11, this is the best that the State of New York can provide its citizens for their emergency evacuation needs? This is some bureaucrat's idea of an appropriate use of public funds? How many lives would have been saved if everyone in the World Trade Center had had one of these in their desk?
(If you guessed "none", you are most likely correct).
But at least you can die in the approved manner, following instructions to the last. Heaven forbid that any especially-paranoid employees show initiative by bringing, at their own expense:
has a page up on the issue of seniors and firearms ownership. He's nice enough to link to my site and to cite me as his source for "Top reasons for gun accidents among seniors". The only problem is, he's quoting me out of context -- I wasn't talking about seniors, nor purporting to offer "top reasons for gun accidents" in general. He's quoting this post on gun safety which was written in response to a Detroit News Special on gun liabilty. I was specifically categorizing the gun accidents reported in that "special report", not gun accidents in general.
Not that I think the four categories presented aren't generally applicable, but I don't have evidence for any general applicability, nor that they are "top" categories for anything other than the sample provided by the Detroit News. We've got to be sticklers for getting the facts right, because the other side lies and misleads so casually. Even a simple, and undoubtedly accidental, slip like this needs to be corrected.
The rest of the page has some pretty thoughtful discussion of the issues, and is worth a read if you are reaching that age yourself, or if you have parents or relatives who are.
One of the less noticable campaigns by the anti-gun bigots has been pressuring newspapers to refuse advertisements for firearms, under the theory that firearms advertised in that manner might be sold to criminals. (Nevermind that there is no evidence this actually happens regularly). Some people find it a little bit difficult to defend the practice because it doesn't involve asking the government for permission.
Well, David Hardy over at Arms and the Law provides a solid historical argument for allowing newspapers to carry for sale and wanted ads for firearms. That's a damn good blog over there.
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