Let me begin by setting the stage a little, and telling you about me.  There's not much about me that's relevant to a movie review, but because Serenity originated from a television series, this preface is necessary: I don't watch a lot of television. 

Perhaps that doesn't get the point across.  The last television series I followed regularly was Babylon 5, which ended in the last century.  Cable news programs persisted until 2 years ago, but they also reached the end of my patience.  So, in order for me to see a television series, it needs to be available on DVD, and it needs to have generated enough interest for me to have noticed... and then it needs to be good enough to deserve a permanent copy. 

Firefly begin to show up on my radar screen by way of Claire Wolfe.  Yes, that Claire -- the "Is it time to shoot them yet?" one.  We're talking here about a television series, produced from the infamously-liberal mainsteam media, by a director who had just spent the past decade or so turning a blonde cheerleader into a vampire-slaying national obsession.  And his next project is winning praise from Claire Wolfe?

So I looked into it.  And it turns out the Firefly is not typical Hollywood fare at all.  The series followed the adventures of Malcomb Reynolds, a veteran of the Civil War between the Alliance and the Independent Worlds, who "retired" to a tiny cargo ship with an eccentric crew and a list of business opportunities that starts at mildly illegal and only gets worse from there.  Smuggling, theft, bank robbery, kidnapping... it's all in a day's work for Serenity and her crew.

If you're wondering how this series managed to survive... it didn't.  Firefly was canceled before the first season ended.  (If I had to guess, I'd say that the episode where the Serenity undertakes to defend the local house of ill repute from the local sheriff was the straw that broke the media executives' back).   But for the 11 episodes they made and broadcast, Firefly was something unique: a well-written, well-produced show with reasonably talented actors that celebrated independence, freedom, and liberty, characters who neither needed or wanted government.  There was nothing else like it.

But then the media released the series on DVDs.  Unlike broadcast, DVD sales are not dependent on scheduling, obscure timeslots, or competing shows on other networks. Firefly sold like gangbusters.  And the result was enough to convince the right people that maybe the show was hitting a chord somewhere.  And of course, the cancellation had left a gaping plot hole in the series just when fans were starting to figure out what was really going on with some of the more mysterious characters.

The result was Serenity: a full-length movie to pick up where the series left off and deliver some badly needed answers. 

Those answers pack one hell of a punch.

If you're a fan of the TV series, you need to see the movie.  Unlike most movie adaptations, it doesn't waste time telling the "introduction" story; it picks up where the series left off and finishes the established arc.  The feel is a very close match for the series, making up in polish and intensity what it looses in casual humor and witty reparte.  You'll be on familiar ground.

For those who haven't seen the TV series, you'll be happier watching it first.  Borrow it from a friend and watch a few episodes.  If you like what you see enough to finish out the series, you'll like the movie.  If not, you won't.  If you can't manage that, though, by all means see the movie anyway.  It stands alone quite well, and the additional background from the series is a bonus rather than a requirement.

Thu Sep 29 01:59:34 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

New Orleans Police Chief resigns...

Yes, P Edwin Compass, police chief of the City of New Orleans, has resigned.  Was it the widespread desertion and looting by police officers?  Or was it his decision to order the illegal confiscation of lawfully-owned firearms

The media mentions the former prominently, while ignoring the latter.  But Compass did not resign until shortly after the NRA and the SAF received an injunction prohibiting further firearm confiscations -- a consent decree in which Mayor Nagin hung Compass out to dry, refusing to admit to any delegation of authority or give any official sanction to disarmament orders.

I know what I think.

Hat tip to SayUncle, who got it from Jay.

Tue Sep 27 16:14:24 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

More details on the NO lawsuit...

... from Of Arms and the Law.  The plaintiff in that case had his arms seized while he was in his boat.  That is to say, he was not in his home.  That changes the legal situation; it shifts from possession of arms on private property to the legality of "open carry" of firearms, at least for this plaintiff.  That makes it harder, since regulations on the carry of firearms outside private property are on firmer precedential ground than confiscation of firearms from the home.  Let's get some plaintiffs in this case that had their guns seized from their homes.  That little old lady who got tackled by California's finest should do.

But at the moment, the question seems to have become: Can the police legally prohibit carrying firearms openly under the 2nd Amendment (remember, freedom to keep and bear arms)?  Under the Louisiana Constitution?

I suspect we're about to find out.

Someone who wants to research the law in Louisiana on this would get a lot of links...

Tue Sep 27 12:16:22 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Cramer has a copy of the NO injunction...

... and it doesn't quite add up.  As far as I can tell, it amounts to a claim that the confiscation never happened and was not official policy.  They are on videotape about this ("Only the police can have guns").  We have at least one report (via the Geek with a .45, only 2 degrees from the eyewitness) of National Guard units confiscating firearms.  We have a video of what are, apparantly, California Highway Patrol officers tackling an old woman to take her revolver, and leaving gun owners in handcuffs while their weapons were confiscated ("They were jealous because ours were bigger than theirs.").

I expect that the city will now engage in a massive coverup, and simultaneously try to argue that they only confiscated guns from people who were somehow not law-abiding; they'll probably claim any confiscations were from people who threatened the police.  Remember that this is all after-the-fact whitewashing.  We have them on tape. 

UPDATE: We still don't know exactly what happened in that New Orleans courtroom.  But thanks to this interview with Alan Gottlieb of the 2nd Amendment Foundation, recorded just before the injunction was issued, we can start to guess.  In it, Alan says that the judge is waiting for one thing: he wanted to see the video clip himself.  So we can presume that the judge saw the denials from the Nagin and Compass and wanted to see evidence that they were lying to him.  Reasonable, and since he later issued the injunction, it appears he was satisfied. 

In order to figure out what's going on, it's useful to summarize and paraphrase the confusing statements in the injunction:
  1. Nagin states he has neither ordered the seizure of lawfully-possessed firearms from law-abiding citizens, nor delegated the authority to do so.
  2. Compass acknowledges that he was not delegated the authority to do so from Nagin, and any alleged statements from him to that effect do not represent the policy of Nagin personally or the City of New Orleans.
  3. Nagin and Compass deny that any seizures occurred.
  4. Nagin and Compass deny that it is the policy or practice to seize firearms from law-abiding citizens, either officially or unofficially.
So, can we figure out what is going on by finding a version of events that is consistent with this statement and with the news reports we have seen?

I will start by taking a moment to point out that the ABC news video does NOT name the police officer making the statement.  It has been attributed to Compass in print but not in the video itself.   Similarly, it's risky to take the claims of Nagin and Compass in court at face value; their lawyers may well want to concede nothing at all at this early stage, especially if they don't see any way to defend their actions legally.  So with that in mind, here's what I deduce from the injunction:

First, Nagin is hanging Compass out to dry.  Nagin claims he did not delegate any authority and Compass affirms that.  Nagin will blame his underlings, deny having anything to do with it, and get away with it unless there's something written down or on tape with his name attached.

Second, Compass acknowledges that he was not delegated any authority to order confiscations from the Mayor, and that any statements attributed to him to that effect do not represent the policy of Nagin or the City of New Orleans.

Third, Nagin and Compass deny that any seizures took place. This should probably be read to mean that they do not admit to knowing any seizures took place.  If they can't sustain that denial they can claim that they thought their seizures were lawful and still be within the bounds of this statement.  If they can't sustain that they may be able to claim that out-of-state officers and National Guard troops conducted the seizures without orders.  They may be preparing to claim that people disobeying mandatory evacuation orders are not law-abiding citizens.  They may also be preparing to pass the buck downwards. 

Fourth, Nagin and Compass deny that seizing firearms from law-abiding citizens is the policy of the City of New Orleans.  The only way this makes any sense at all when combined with the video we have is if the video is not Compass talking, or if the context of the video has a lot more information than we're seeing.  I can't rule out either possibility, although the man in the video does look like Compass (compare with other images of Compass).

Overall, though, it's clear that Nagin doesn't want to defend the confiscations and is hanging his subordinate out to dry (whether deserved or not).  Compass may be sincerely denying any knowledge, or more likely, his lawyers are conceding nothing as part of their defense strategy.   Either way, he's not saying that no seizures took place; he's saying that no illegal seizures took place.

This is not a real denial that confiscations took place; it's ass-covering.

UPDATE: I was able to obtain the full court order from Clayton Cramer.  There are two interesting points from the material he did not quote.  First, there is a simple declaration that the injunction does not contravene any presently-declared state of emergency within the state.  This might have the effect of rendering it powerless, if there is in fact a (purportedly) legal power to confiscate firearms during a state of emergency.  Second, and potentially much more serious, the order requires the defendents to return confiscated firearms upon the presentation of identification and a receipt.

Although the situation is obviously still very chaotic, in all the reports I have read or seen, only one mentioned receipts.  That report indicated that receipts were not being given.

I can't imagine that the NRA/SAF lawyers would have overlooked that.  Either their plaintiff has a receipt, or the judge wasn't listening to the part about not giving out receipts.

Following this one is going to be interesting.

UPDATE: The plot thickens.  This Houston Chronicle story quotes the NRA's Wayne LaPierre as saying "there were no receipts given."

UPDATE: According to Gun Law News the plaintiff already has his guns back.  No word on everyone else who wasn't specifically named in the NRA/SAF lawsuit.

Sat Sep 24 18:04:33 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Carnival of Cordite #31...

is ready for you, with more details on New Orleans and quite a lot else.

Sat Sep 24 13:48:57 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Serenity blogger screening...

For those who have been questioning whether they should wait for a confirmation email on the pre-screening of Serenity to bloggers: I just received my confirmation email.  Others have suggested that there may not be one.  I'm looking forward to it.  While Joss Whedon never quite hit the level of genius displayed by Babylon 5, he's been producing the best thing on television since the main arc of B5 ended.

If you're not familiar with the premise, here's the synopsis:
Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a  small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family  -- squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.
I'm not sure how well the things that I like about the series will carry over into the movie, but there's only one way to find out. 

The only thing that makes me nervous is the great big sword and axe prominently featured on some of the promotional graphics.  It looks too Buffyesque to me, however fond I am of swordplay in general; it simply doesn't fit the scenario.  I'll just have to wait and see how they handle that.

I like the graphic below better. 

Sat Sep 24 13:35:25 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

A ban on hunting?

Mr. Completely has the scoop on a proposed hunting ban on Whidbey Island.  He's also got email addresses you can send your comments to.   

Sat Sep 24 12:43:39 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Terrorism and the US

There is a consistent assertion seen in the media that the United States has not been the victim of terrorism at home since the 9-11 attacks (including the anthrax incidents at about the same time), although there have been thwarted attempts.  While I don't dispute that there have not been any additional attacks on the scale of 9-11, that doesn't mean that there is no terrorism.  It may simply mean that we aren't recognizing it as terrorism.  The sniper attacks in and around Washington, DC are a good example.  The media treated that as a criminal act rather than a terrorist attack.  Alphecca has more evidence that Al Qaeda's operational capability in America has been sufficiently degraded that their operatives are lost in the noise of common street crime.

Sat Sep 24 12:16:50 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Not legal advice...

Earlier this week, I received the following fairly interesting query by email:
I am in the U.S and if someone tried to break into my house and I do not know him or her and I assume their going to hurt me I have every right to kill them?  Not on purpose but at least stop them. im 15 if that has anything to do with it. I live in Texas also
I am, of course, not a lawyer, and I responded as such.  You need to ask a lawyer if you want to get a legal answer you can rely on.  But it's also possible to just read the law for yourself, and decide based on that.  That's why we have written laws.  And while I'm not going to give legal advice, when I saw Volokh's post on Texas laws concerning the use of deadly force on thieves or looters I thought it was worth mentioning.  It doesn't deal with the law on using deadly force to protect yourself or others, just on protecting property.

I should mention as well that what the law allows for is not always the wisest course of action.  You don't want to be pushing the legal envelope in court on a murder charge.  But as the saying goes, if it comes down to the decision to shoot or not to shoot, it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

Sat Sep 24 12:02:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Speaking of John Ross...

He's got a bunch of new Ross in Range columns up.  His column about how to be a more effective advocate for freedom is particularly good.

Sat Sep 24 11:34:46 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Unintended Consequences

Most of the people in the gun rights community are familiar with a novel called Unintended Consequences by John Ross.  It's a strange book; a fictional political thriller, a history lesson, and a warning to overreaching politicians that their actions have consequences that they may not have intended.  The main character of that novel is one Henry Bowman, and it seems that someone has taken that name as their online pseudonym to write about his intent to make a last stand.  If that's how he wants to spend his last few minutes on earth, I admire his courage, but I do not expect the outcome of his choice to make a difference. 

Given the opportunity to make an informed choice, I suspect that the character John Ross wrote would have chosen differently than what that particular editorialist has expressed.  Actions perhaps no less radical, but significantly more effective. 

If you've read the book, you know how Henry Bowman fought his fight, and you can make your own decision as to which Bowman to emulate.

Sat Sep 24 11:07:31 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Lockyer urges creation of national ballistics identification system

State Attorney General Bill Lockyer Sunday called for the creation of a national ballistics database to track firearms use in the country.

Lockyer says the California Department of Justice is currently evaluating the feasibility and cost of creating and maintaining its own such database for the state.

He urged the federal government to do likewise.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Mesa police ordered to pay $500,000 to mistaken identity victim

Aaron S. Markley was an Arizona State University honors student until Mesa police mistook his identity.

He had to drop out of school, lost a home he and his wife had purchased, and spent $40,000 clearing his name.

This week, Mesa police were ordered to shell out $500,000 after a Maricopa County jury found the department was negligent when it falsely accused Markley of selling drugs.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Court Refuses Ky. School Shooting Case

The Supreme Court refused Tuesday to revive a lawsuit that blamed Hollywood for a school shooting in Kentucky.

The case questioned the responsibility of moviemakers and other entertainment companies for video games and other products that feature violence.

The court did not comment in rejecting an appeal filed by the families of three girls killed in 1997 at a high school near Paducah, Ky. They argued that entertainment companies were wrongly using the First Amendment free speech protection to shield themselves from lawsuits.

So why can't they apply this reasoning to the 2nd?

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Baghdad Empties, but Fills With Foreboding

Tuesday was a grim day in Baghdad, perhaps the grimmest since the war began, and with the darkening prospect of worse to come.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

FBI Pulls Open Net For Wiretapping

Wiretapping takes on a whole new meaning now that phone calls are being made over the Internet, posing legal and technical hurdles for the FBI as it seeks to prevent the emerging services from becoming a safe haven for criminals and terrorists. The FBI wants regulators to affirm that such services fall under a 1994 law requiring phone companies to build in surveillance capabilities. It also is pushing the industry to create technical standards to make wiretapping easier and cheaper

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Permit to Carry Irrelevant to Abusive Cops Who Can't Admit a Simple Mistake

On April 13, 1999 Dennis Maly's life changed, and not for the better. His view of the police changed. His view of our justice system changed. And he still shakes with anger when he thinks about that day. That was the day Dennis was arrested in front of his teenage daughter, treated like a common criminal, booked and prosecuted -- for carrying a concealed weapon, despite having a legal permit to do so.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Court Gives Bryco/Jennings the (Index) Finger

Once again, someone has managed to blame a few pounds of metal for the demonstrated ineptitude of a few pounds of gray matter. Last week, jurors in a California civil court ruled that gun manufacturer Bryco/Jennings must pay over $50 million to a 16-year-old who became a quadriplegic after his moronic babysitter shot him in the jaw nine years ago. Virtually no one--even the normally "pro-gun" right--seems to be complaining about the verdict. While the right remains silent, the left is hailing the decision as an example of a "legitimate" case of compensation for a "dangerous design flaw" in the gun.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Gun Company Wants Teacher's Widow To Pay Legal Costs

A South Florida gun distributor wants the widow of a slain middle school teacher to pay its defense costs from last year's five-week trial. The Valor Corp. says it is entitled to recover legal costs, including attorney's fees, because Pam Grunow, wife of slain teacher Barry Grunow, lost her lawsuit. She had accused the Broward County company of being responsible for her husband's death.

Seems reasonable to me -- the lawsuit is completely silly and an utter waste of time. "Loser pays costs" is a reasonable principle when a suit is particularly frivolous.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Gun Rights Activist Accused Of Threatening Judge

But instead of appearing to be sentenced at a hearing scheduled last Wednesday, he had a document titled "Notice and Order' delivered to the municipal and state district judges handling his case, according to court records. The document, posted on Stanley's Web site, "ordered" the judges to dismiss the charge and return to him $1,500 in bond money, his "Smith and Wesson 6 shot .357 pistol and 6 each .357 bullets." The document also accused the judges of treason and included a statement he would have his "mutual defenses Pact Militia" order a warrant for their arrest. Bob Grant, district attorney for Adams and Broomfield counties, viewed the notice as a threat against the judges.

This is the kind of activism we don't need. Civil disobedience is one thing; making threats is another. As soon as threats are made the person making them moves from "gun rights activist" to "armed and dangerous lunatic".

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

NRA Secret Agent uncovers enemy documents

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.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Technician's View: 'Fingerprinting' firearms will not end crime

The recent sniper attacks in the Washington, D.C., area have sparked a strong debate about beginning a national database program recording the "fingerprints" of every gun sold. The formation of such a program may make lawmakers feel as if they are keeping our streets safe, but a national program of this magnitude would be complicated and difficult to control, and it would take years to construct and without necessarily leading to the benefits some groups optimistically expect.

The entire concept of fingerprinting guns sounds like an easy solution to find the origin of every bullet fired, but there are many flaws with this system and ways to alter the fingerprint of a firearm. Even lawmakers are mixed about how the need to catch criminals balances with the cost, resources and possible inaccuracies involved with initiating such a program.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

National Rifle Association, Something To Be Thankful For

This is the time of year when we set aside a day to be thankful for our freedom and way of life. We celebrate the story of the pilgrims starting this tradition in what would become the United States of America. So I say, eat hearty and enjoy life with your family and friends.

Now on to something that has just made my heart glow with joy. I got a call from the National Rifle Association this past weekend and they played a recording by one of my favorite people, Mr. Charlton Heston. Then I talked with a lady who was telling me how the NRA has decided to go on the push side of attempting to get rid of some of the stupid gun laws passed during the Clinton era. Of course they were looking for money, and I was only too happy to give them some with this in mind.

I have been preaching for so long that most of the dumb gun control laws have done nothing to reduce crime and have only hampered law abiding citizens, that this news was like a breath of fresh air. The NRA is looking at our last election and they think the time is right to start a little proactive work to get rid of these laws. I couldn't agree more.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Man held on drug charges after police chase

A 33-year-old man was being held today in the Hendricks County Jail following a police chase that ended with the discovery of drug-making equipment in his pickup truck, officials said. Plainfield Police Capt. Larry Brinker said Tommy L. Mundy of Brazil is being held on multiple charges ranging from operating an illegal drug lab to criminal recklessness and possession of marijuana.Privacy? 4th Amendment? Hello?

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

Diplomacy's Last Chance

Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain's efforts to reunite the United Nations Security Council on Iraq deserve strong American support.

Sat Sep 24 10:43:35 CDT 2005 by TriggerFinger. Comments [Tweet]

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