Saturday, February 28, 2009


Tonight's clumsy video compilation:

Oregon university gun ban challenged

From Oregon:
LEBANON -- Jeffrey Maxwell, a 30-year-old student at Western Oregon University who served in the Marines, always carries a loaded two-bullet derringer in his front pocket that's so small it looks like it could be his keys.

He has a license to carry and conceal the gun, but he never takes it out or talks about it on campus because he doesn't want to scare anyone. It's only for protection, he says.

State law allows him to carry his gun in most public places. But the university says he can't carry it on campus -- license or no license. Maxwell's case might finally settle the long-standing conflict in court for all seven public universities in Oregon.
Maxwell's gun rekindled the legal and legislative debate over guns on campus after campus safety officers received reports of a suspicious man with a large knife on campus one morning in late January.

Maxwell, who also had a 5-inch folding knife in his pocket, was sitting in the student union doing his homework when officers approached.

When Maxwell told officers he had the gun and knife in his pocket and an unloaded rifle in his truck, he was handcuffed and taken to the Monmouth Police station, where he was cited for possessing a firearm in a public building.

The Polk County district attorney later determined he had not committed a crime and didn't charge him. But a student judicial panel suspended him through the end of the spring term under a student conduct rule banning the possession or use of firearms and other weapons.

To re-enroll, Maxwell has been ordered to get a mental health evaluation and write a minimum 10-page paper on following the law, accepting responsibility for his actions and "recognizing the impact possession of weapons on college campuses has on others."

Maxwell has appealed the punishment.

Starrett said his firearms group is preparing a federal civil rights suit unless the university reinstates Maxwell and changes its firearms ban.

Article here. While I can appreciate the need for an unobtrusive carry gun, a two-shot derringer would not exactly be my choice as a primary gun. Maybe as a second or third gun, but definitely not as a primary gun. Given the anemic nature of handgun caliber rounds, you want more than two rounds on tap. As the old adage goes: Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

In addition, Mr. Maxwell was given away by his visibly carried folding knife, probably via the pocket clip, although the article doesn't say. In certain environments, carrying your knife (and gun) fully concealed will help you avoid unwanted attention.

The future of books?

How about this for a eBook reader:

Slick, although I wonder about battery life, and cost. Amazon just released their second-generation Kindle 2 eBook reader as well, but it's still pretty pricey.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Full faith ... in lots of credit

Tonight's economics lesson, government edition:

Spelling test

Tonight's interactive spelling test:

Commonly Misspelled Words

Oregon permit holders seek privacy

From Oregon:
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Sheriffs around Oregon have been sending an unusual letter to holders of concealed weapons permits with this message: If you don't want the public to know you've got a permit, we'll try to help you out.

The letter from the sheriffs says newspapers and others are trying to get lists of people who have concealed handgun permits, sparking a legal challenge that's pending in the Oregon Court of Appeals.

And as the appeals court mulls the issue, Oregon lawmakers are pursuing legislation to take those records completely out of public view by prohibiting their release under the Oregon public records law.

The bill to close those records has broad support, with half of the members of the Legislature, both Democrats and Republicans, signing on as co-sponsors.

It's the latest turn in a dispute over whether the public should have the right to know who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon and whether permit holders have a right to privacy based on personal security considerations. ...

Article here. Those in Oregon with CCWs should contact your elected servants and let them know your thoughts on this matter. I believe similar legislation to keep permit holders' data private is pending in Tennessee.

Holdup victim fights back, wins

From Oakland, CA, comes this story:
A 23-year-old visitor from the East Coast had just gotten money from an ATM when he told his friend on a cell phone that he had a bad feeling about two men approaching him at the Fruitvale BART Station in Oakland.

His worst fears were realized when one suspect, Victor Veliz, 18, held a folding knife with a 5-inch blade to his neck and the other, Christopher Gonzalez, 18, threatened to shoot him Thursday night, authorities said.

In a blind panic, he lashed out at his attackers, grabbing the knife from one of them and punching the other as his friend listened in horror on the phone.

Without realizing it, authorities say, the man stabbed Gonzalez in the chest. Gonzalez stumbled to his family's home around the corner, collapsed into his father's arms and died.

Veliz, who is affiliated with a gang, was arrested at Gonzalez's home after police allegedly found him with the East Coast visitor's cell phone. He will be charged with murder in the death of his accomplice, along with a robbery count, prosecutors said.

The robbery victim suffered only cuts in fighting off his assailants. He ran from the station, flagged down an Oakland police officer on Fruitvale Avenue and turned over the bloody knife. His name was not released.

The man was "scared senseless" when he was attacked about 9:30 p.m. Thursday, said Allison Danzig, an Alameda County deputy district attorney. He acted in self-defense and will not be charged, she said.

When police told him that Gonzalez had died, "he was very saddened and very upset," Danzig said.

Gonzalez's father, Javier Gonzalez, said Friday that his son had cried out for his parents and sister when he burst into his home on San Leandro Street. He died there.

Javier Gonzalez sobbed at the loss of his son, who worked with him in his roofing business and at Oakland Raiders games.

"I'm angry at both of them," he said of the robbery victim and Veliz. "They took my son away from me. He was a hard-working kid."

He added, "My son is dead. I want somebody to pay for this."

Article here. Note that Mr. Gonzalez's "hard-working" son was killed while trying to commit a violent felony, and Mr. Gonzalez wants to blame the victim for his son's death.

The article reports that prior to the attack the victim had a "bad feeling" about the two men who attacked him. Generally, we ignore these "bad feelings", which are really warning signs, at our peril. Learn to trust your instincts. If you think someone is a potential threat, or that you're about to be attacked, pay attention, identify possible avenues of escape, prepare to fight back if escape isn't possible or cannot be accomplished safely. Don't blithely continue to chat on your cell phone, hoping that "bad feeling" will go away.

Tennessee lawmaker wants to outlaw "microstamping"

From the Volunteer State:
Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson, has filed legislation that would ban the sale of “microstamped” firearms and ammunition, calling them an infringement on the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

California has passed a law mandating microstamping of firearms, “and I predict that Tennessee will pass a law banning it,” Sen. Jackson said.

Called the “Second Amendment Protection Act,” the bill would outlaw sale of firearms and ammunition that are laser-engraved, or microstamped, to identify the buyer of the firearm or ammunition after it has been shot.

“This process does little to track criminals, but it does a lot to eclipse our Second Amendment right to bear arms,” Sen. Jackson said.

Microstamping would lead to the establishment of a registry or database of gun-owners who are guilty of nothing more than owning a gun, the senator noted. “A firearm registry is a preamble to gun confiscation. And the law-abiding American gun owner would have to pay the added costs it would incur.”

He said the legislation "points out that microstamping would do little to fight or solve crime" because:

Most guns used to commit crimes are purchased illegally, many of them stolen, so a microstamp ID would be meaningless.

Microstamping can easily be removed from a firearm with simple tools.

Most guns do not eject shell casings, which is where the microstamp mark is found.

Microstamping wastes money that could be used on proven crime-fighting methods that give results.

“Just last year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that each citizen has a constitutional right to bear arms,” Sen. Jackson said. “But we have to be diligent if we are to protect that right.

“Microstamping is meaningless technology that threatens the Second Amendment.” ...

Article here. Good stuff. And the state senator is a Democrat, even.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Not Medicare

Tonight, the importance of having the right health care coverage [probably NSFW]:


Alabama House passes anti-confiscation bill

From the Heart of Dixie:
MONTGOMERY — A bill to prevent state or local government from seizing lawfully owned guns during emergencies sailed through the Alabama House on Thursday and now heads to the Senate, where it was approved last year.

Rep. Mark Keahey, D-Grove Hill, said his measure is aimed at ensuring the chaos that comes with disasters, such as hurricanes, is not made worse by overzealous government officials.

"The Second Amendment gives us a constitutional right to bear arms, and this bill is just an effort, on Alabama's part, to help us maintain that right," Keahey said.

The bill was inspired by the events following Hurricane Katrina, when New Orleans police collected more than 1,000 firearms from residents, according to a National Rifle Association tally. Law-abiding citizens turned over their guns, but criminals kept theirs to use against unarmed citizens, Keahey said.

"You've got those people going into others' houses, knowing that they don't have their guns or anything to protect them, and it's just free rein," he said. Keahey added that his bill would prevent similar events in Alabama and bring the state in line with 33 others to pass similar legislation.

Article here.

Newspaper publishes Arkansas CCW list

From Arkansas, via the Arkansas Concealed Carry Association:
The Arkansas Times blogger and uber leftist Max Brantly, gleefully put up a link to the excel file that holds every Arkansas Concealed Carry License holders name & address.

The Times didn't even bother to scrub the address of the permit holders, have they ever heard of identity theft? And what about my privacy rights?

As Arkansas Project Contributor and State Representative Dan Greenberg notes, "Max’s glee in communicating public information wasn’t in evidence a week or two ago, when my bill to make the criminal records of public officials available to the public came before the House Judiciary Committee. At that point, Max said that that bill “simply has an aura of meanness.” (Of course, he’s hardly the only person who didn’t like the idea; the bill got voted down by the House Friday.)What drives Max’s shifting moods on the freedom of public information? Is it just a matter of what he had for breakfast that day?"

Not only is Max obviously biased in his intrepetation of freedom of public information he seems to have quite a distaste for the privacy rights of lawabiding gun owners.

Maybe we should look at getting a bill through that keeps law abiding gun owners personal information private?
UPDATE 4- Max has scrubbed the information from his website. Glad I captured a screenshot. Other news breaking is that the outrage over this has not gone unnoticed. Tomorrow legislation will be introduced to stop this kind of irreponsibility and I hear it wil be modled after the Tennesse bill, great work guys. Now you must call your representation and ask them to be co-sponsors of the bill. There will likely be heavy oppositon from the news community. ...

Read the blog post here. Gotta love a newspaper reporter/blogger who opposes making the criminal histories of elected officials public, but who thinks the names and addresses of law-abiding gun owning citizens should be public information. Let's hope the Arkansas legislature closes this "loophole" (see, we can use that word too!).

Fairbanks group organizes open carry days

From the great (currently frozen) Last Frontier:
FAIRBANKS — A growing group of Fairbanks gun rights activists will show their support for the Second Amendment today by openly carrying guns.

“We’re going to have an open carry day,” Schaeffer Cox, unofficial leader of the Second Amendment Task Force, said Thursday.

Members of the task force, which he called a “movement” more than a group or organization, will be displaying their firearms openly across Alaska’s second largest city on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for the next two weeks, Cox said.

“There’s a social stigma that only cops and robbers have guns,” Cox said. “The truth is everybody is packing but nobody knows it because we keep it concealed.”

Cox said he expects about 500 gun owners in and around Fairbanks to participate. The idea sprouted at the group’s last meeting on Monday at Friends Community Church. The gathering attracted a crowd of more than 600 supporters, Cox said.

Fairbanks police Chief Dan Hoffman doesn’t have a problem with gun owners displaying their Second Amendment rights around town.

“There’s no law that prohibits a citizen in the state of Alaska from carrying an open, legal firearm,” Hoffman said. “It’s perfectly legal.” ...

Article here. Good for them. Hopefully they'll get a good turnout.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Driving lesson

Tonight's Women In Action video:

I know, I know, men drive like this too. I can't find that video, though. :)

Lead wipes

Press release about a new product designed to remove lead residues:
NEWINGTON, NH - Hygenall Safety Products, a division of Mk-IX Technologies Corporation, today announced the availability of Hygenall(TM) hand wipes. Leveraging an exclusive license for science developed in the laboratories of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Hygenall is a breakthrough hand wipe that safely removes 98 percent of trace lead particles as well as dirt and common germs associated with children's toys, clothing, paint and other common surfaces, from the hands. Compared to common soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizers -- which cannot remove lead -- Hygenall offers a much higher level of protection and prevention. Hygenall is currently being sold via and

Hygenall wipes are offered in a 20-count canister for $6.99 MSRP. Each seven inch by nine inch wipe is primarily used on the hands, where agents safely grab and remove the heavy metal ions -- such as lead -- from the skin. The process is completed by rinsing the hands after use.

Press release here, with links to product websites.

Times targets Tiahrt, Tetons

From the New York Times, whose editorialists apparently have yet to meet a gun control law or proposal they didn't like:
The Obama administration has chosen to defend a bad rule rushed through during former President George W. Bush’s final days in office that allows concealed, loaded firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. The rule is a gift to the gun lobby.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has asked for a 90-day internal assessment of the rule’s environmental impacts, offering some hope that the administration might later reverse an unwise policy. But for now, the administration’s operating position is contained in a Justice Department brief filed last Friday. It seeks to block a preliminary injunction of the rule sought by gun control and environmental groups.

Although concealed, loaded weapons obviously have no place in the national parks, the Justice Department brief asserts that the rule “will not have any significant impacts on public health and safety.” We can only hope that the Justice Department’s position does not reflect a broader weakening of President Obama’s stated commitment to sensible gun control policies.

Another early test of that commitment is coming soon. It involves the so-called Tiahrt Amendment, which is strongly supported by the gun lobby. The amendment denies police and local governments access to essential information about guns used to commit crimes. The question is whether Mr. Obama’s forthcoming budget blueprint will include language aiming to repeal it. ...

Article here.

Heller sequels move along

From SCOTUSblog, on the Second Amendment-related cases filed against Chicago and Oak Park, IL, currently working their way through the system:
On a pace that very likely will put them in the Supreme Court at its next Term, three significant test cases on the scope of the Second Amendment — the “gun rights” Amendment — are moving along in the lower courts. Briefing on the core question of whether state and local governments must obey the Amendment — and thus allow private ownership of handguns, for example — will be completed in the Seventh Circuit Court by mid-March. Argument and a decision by summer appear likely.

The three cases were filed swiftly after the Supreme Court, late last June, declared for the first time that the “right to keep and bear arms” is a personal, individual right — at least to have a gun in one’s own home for self-defense (District of Columbia v. Heller, 07-290). The Justices, however, did not then settle whether the Amendment applies to state and local governments, as well as the federal government amd the District of Columbia.

The sequel cases tested handgun bans or controls in the cities of Chicago and Oak Park, Ill., a Chicago suburb. (A California case that also had been filed promptly has been settled.) The Illinois cases were narrowed to the core question of whether the Amendment applied to the states. Consolidated, the cases were decided Dec. 4 by Senior U.S. District Judge Milton I. Shadur of Chicago. ...
The briefs by the NRA and others seeking to curb state and local controls on guns are studied efforts to get around the Supreme Court’s 1886 Presser decision. They argue that the Presser ruling either did not decide the issue of applying the Second Amendment to the states (because the notion of “incorporating” the Bill of Rights so that they applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment had not yet existed at the time), or that it is outdated and essentially overturned by modern Supreme Court precedent.

The NRA makes the bolder argument on this point, suggesting that any specifically mentioned in the Bill of Rights necessarily applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. But the other challengers contend that, at least the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms has been incorporated to apply to the states. The two groups either rely on the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, or its Privileges and Immunities Clause, as the basis for the absorption of gun rights against state and local governments.

The two groups also make an argument that failure to extend gun rights to individuals, for their own self-defense and other personal uses of guns, discriminates against them when others are allowed to have guns (an Equal Protection argument). ...

Article here. Links to some of the earlier rulings are available at the preceding link.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The new math

Tonight's Congressional math, er, money trick:

Supreme Court rules in gun possession case

Today, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in U.S. v. Hayes, holding in a 7-2 decision that a "domestic relationship, although it must be established beyond a reasonable doubt in a §922(g)(9) firearms possession prosecution, need not be a defining element of the predicate offense." In other words, the underlying state domestic violence (misdemeanor) statute need not have "domestic relationship" as a element of the crime. Justice Ginsburg wrote for the majority.

Two justices, Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia, dissented.

Notably, the decision turned exclusively on the issue of statutory construction, and the opinion did not mention the Second Amendment or the Court's Heller decision from last term.

From the majority's opinion:
Section 922(g)(9) makes it “unlawful for any person . . . who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence . . . [to] possess in or affecting commerce, any firearm or ammunition.” Section 921(a)(33)(A) defines “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” as follows:
“[T]he term ‘misdemeanor crime of domestic violence’ means an offense that—
“(i) is a misdemeanor under Federal, State, or Tribal law; and
“(ii) has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim” (footnotes omitted).

This definition, all agree, imposes two requirements: First, a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” must have, “as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon.” Second, it must be “committed by” a person who has a specified domestic relationship with the victim. The question here is whether the language of §921(a)(33)(A) calls for a further limitation: Must the statute describing the predicate offense include, as a discrete element, the existence of a domestic relationship between offender and victim? In line with the large majority of the Courts of Appeals, we conclude that §921(a)(33)(A) does not require a predicate offense statute of that specificity. Instead, in a §922(g)(9)prosecution, it suffices for the Government to charge and prove a prior conviction that was, in fact, for “an offense . . . committed by” the defendant against a spouse or other domestic victim.

The Court's opinion is available here.

Palin supports National Park carry rule

From CNN:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin wrote the Interior Department on Wednesday to express her support for a last-minute Bush administration regulation that allows the carrying of concealed weapons in national parks.

Palin said the new measure provides Alaskans with a means of self-defense in a state with vast swaths of federally-protected wilderness.

"As you know, my state contains vast, pristine areas where the ability to carry firearms can address a potentially life-threatening situation, enabling citizens to respond to bear and other wildlife conflicts," Palin wrote in a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

Article here.

Every single day

A little perspective on just how large $800 billion is:

Utah guns-in-cars bill passes Senate panel

From the Beehive State:
A bill that would allow gun owners to keep a firearm in their vehicles even while parked in a private lot passed a Senate committee Tuesday.

SB78, sponsored by Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Eagle Mountain, has cleared House and Senate panels in the past, but never has made it through the Legislature.

The measure would allow employees to keep a firearm in their vehicles, but a business could prevent that if it has a secured parking area, which needs a fence and a security guard. In that case, it must provide a locker to allow gun owners to stow their weapons before entering the secured lot.

Article here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Another great flood

Tonight's "Pitch in, and lend a hand" call to action:

Tennessee lawmakers fast-track gun bills

From the Volunteer State:
NASHVILLE -- The legislature began fast-tracking bills Thursday to let people with carry permits take guns into state and local parks and establishments serving alcohol -- all places where they are currently banned.

The House handgun study committee also recommended making secret the list of Tennessee's 219,236 gun-carry permit holders and to penalize any publication of their identities. Shelby County has 32,934 permit licensees.

The panel recommended four bills on which Chairman Joe McCord, R-Maryville, said there is broad consensus to approve. All four are set for the criminal justice subcommittee next week and could reach floor votes in March.

Lawmakers said the parks bill would prohibit cities and counties from restricting handguns in their local parks, playgrounds and ball fields.

Current Tennessee law outlaws guns in all state and local parks, playgrounds and ball fields other than by law enforcement officers.

The bill allowing guns in places serving alcohol, including restaurants, was recommended with a provision forbidding guns after 11 p.m.

The new Republican majority has made the bills' passage a virtual certainty after years of defeat. McCord said The Commercial Appeal's posting of a searchable database of permit holders on its Web site also prompted swift action. [emphasis added]

Article here.

The "Wild West" would be an improvement

Article by John Pierce, co-founder of, on crime rates in the "Wild West":
... With all this talk of “The Wild West”, I thought it might be informative to look at the reality of crime in the “wild west” cattle towns and compare them to the peaceful streets of such eastern, gun-control paradises as DC, New York, Baltimore and Newark.

In his book, Frontier Violence: Another Look, author W. Eugene Hollon, provides us with these astonishing facts:

* In Abilene, Ellsworth, Wichita, Dodge City, and Caldwell, for the years from 1870 to 1885, there were only 45 total homicides. This equates to a rate of approximately 1 murder per 100,000 residents per year.
* In Abilene, supposedly one of the wildest of the cow towns, not a single person was killed in 1869 or 1870.

Zooming forward over a century to 2007, a quick look at Uniform Crime Report statistics shows us the following regarding the aforementioned gun control “paradise” cities of the east:

* DC – 183 Murders (31 per 100,000 residents)
* New York – 494 Murders (6 per 100,000 residents)
* Baltimore – 281 Murders (45 per 100,000 residents)
* Newark – 104 Murders (37 per 100,000 residents)

It doesn’t take an advanced degree in statistics to see that a return to “wild west” levels of violent crime would be a huge improvement for the residents of these cities.

The truth of the matter is that the “wild west” wasn’t wild at all … not compared to a Saturday night in Newark.

Article here.

Some questions for NRA Director candidates

David Codrea has some suggestions for candidates running for NRA Board of Director positions:

As we discussed yesterday, the election of NRA Directors is once more upon us. Voting is restricted to Life Member and higher, or those with five consecutive years of membership.

If you are eligible to vote and have concerns about the direction current management has taken the organization, if their method of assigning political ratings seems less than straightforward, if you believe we should repeal, rather than enforce existing gun laws, if you are troubled by perceived compromises, and if you share the concerns of many in the gun community over "Project Exile" and its spin-offs, perhaps you'll want to see how candidates would answer the following questions before giving them your support.
1. Do you believe that the Constitution is the "supreme law of the land" and that the Bill of Rights acknowledges a birthright of all Americans?

2. If so, should these rights be proactively protected from infringement by all levels of government, including city, county and state?

3. Please give some examples of gun laws you consider constitutional.

4. Please give some examples of gun laws you consider unconstitutional.

5. Does the right to bear arms include the right for any peaceable citizen to carry them concealed without a permit, as in Vermont?

6. Do you believe that Americans have a right to own, use and carry weapons of military pattern?

7. Do you support or oppose Project Exile, and do you agree with current NRA management’s call to “enforce existing gun laws”?

8. Do you support or oppose licensing requirements to own or carry firearms? Why?

9. What specific gun laws will you work to get repealed?

10. If elected to the NRA Board, will you back your words of support for firearms rights up with consistent actions? How? ...

Read the rest of the questions here.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

He's sooo gay

Tonight's "what if" video:


Texas veterans nursing home has own gun range

From the Lone Star State:
EL PASO -- Firing rifles and pistols at the new outdoor shooting range is one of the latest activities for residents of the Ambrosio Guillen State Veterans Home in Northeast El Paso.

On Friday, the scheduled day for shooting, a handful of Army veterans take turns shooting at targets, while recalling their days in the service.

"I was in the service for 28 years, and served in two wars, Vietnam and Korea," he said. "I like doing this."

Willie Brown, activities coordinator at the home, loaded the rifles and pistol with ammo, and reminded the shooters to keep the weapons pointed down range. The weapons fire only .22- and .177-caliber pellets.

"We started this about five months ago, and some of the residents really look forward to this," Brown said. "This is probably the only nursing home in Texas with a shooting range."

Article here. The range is only for .22s and pellet guns, but it seems like a great activity for these military veterans.

The new, flatter face of British policing

From the fading British empire:
It was billed as the latest police tactic to combat crime and now the idea has taken off nationwide.

Police figures show that forces across the country have spent more than £20,000 on the flat-pack PCs. ["PC" is the abbreviation for a Police Constable]

West Midlands police said it had ordered 80 cardboard constables at a cost of just over £10,000. In Derbyshire, £6,650 was spent over the past two years on a "substantial number" of cut-outs.

(Cardboard cut-out of a policeman used to help deter shoplifters Photo: PA / UK Telegraph)

"The theory is that it creates the impression at first glance of a capable guardian being on site, which hopefully also reduces the perception of fear of crime," said a Derbyshire police spokesman.

A survey using the Freedom of Information Act revealed that 13 forces in England and Wales have used cardboard officers.
Several forces admitted to having suffered the theft of cut-outs. Three went missing from filling stations in Derbyshire in the past two years, while two were stolen in Cleveland. [emphasis added]

Humberside reported the theft of one cardboard officer, which disappeared from a Tesco supermarket in Grimsby last November.

A spokesman for West Midlands police, which had the highest spending on cut-outs, said that some of the money would be reclaimed from shops which benefited from the scheme, but could not say how much had been recouped so far.

Article here. So sad. I wonder if those caught stealing the cardboard cops would face kidnapping charges? :)

Amish technogeeks

Article on the Amish, and their relationship to technology:
The Amish have the undeserved reputation of being luddites, of people who refuse to employ new technology. It's well known the strictest of them don't use electricity, or automobiles, but rather farm with manual tools and ride in a horse and buggy. In any debate about the merits of embracing new technology, the Amish stand out as offering an honorable alternative of refusal. Yet Amish lives are anything but anti-technological. In fact on my several visits with them, I have found them to be ingenious hackers and tinkers, the ultimate makers and do-it-yourselfers and surprisingly pro technology.

First, the Amish are not a monolithic group. Their practices vary parish by parish. What one group does in Ohio, another church in New York may not do, or a parish in Iowa may do more-so. Secondly, their relationship to technology is uneven. On close inspection, most Amish use a mixture of old and very new stuff. Thirdly, Amish practices are ultimately driven by religious belief: the technological, environmental, social, and cultural consequences are secondary. They often don't have logical reasons for their policies. Lastly, Amish practices change over time, and are, at this moment, adapting to the world at their own rate. In many ways the view of the Amish as old-fashioned luddites is an urban myth.

Like all legends, the Amish myth is based on some facts. The Amish, particular the Old Order Amish -- the stereotypical Amish depicted on calendars – really are slow to adopt new things. In contemporary society our default is set to say "yes" to new things, and in Old Order Amish societies the default is set to "no." When new things come around, the Amish automatically start by refusing them. Thus many Old Order Amish have never said yes to automobiles, a policy established when automobiles were new. Instead, they travel around in a buggy hauled by a horse. Some orders require the buggy to be an open carriage (so riders – teenagers, say – are not tempted with a private place to fool around); others will permit closed carriages. Some orders allow tractors on the farm, if the tractors have steel wheels; that way a tractor can't be "cheated" to drive on the road like a car. Some groups allow farmers to power their combine or threshers with diesel engines, if the engine only drives the threshers but is not self-propelled, so the whole smoking, noisy contraption is pulled by horses. Some sects allow cars, if they are painted entirely black (no chrome) to ease the temptation to upgrade to the latest model.

Behind all of these variations is the Amish motivation to strengthen their communities. When cars first appeared at the turn of last century the Amish noticed that drivers would leave the community to go shopping or sight-seeing in other towns, instead of shopping local and visiting friends, family or the sick on Sundays. Therefore the ban on unbridled mobility was aimed to make it hard to travel far, and to keep energy focused in the local community. Some parishes did this with more strictness than others. ...

Article here. An interesting read.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Not so "tactical" now, are you?

The new British constabulary's uniform:


The coming swarm

From the New York Times:
WITH three Afghan government ministries in Kabul hit by simultaneous suicide attacks this week, by a total of just eight terrorists, it seems that a new “Mumbai model” of swarming, smaller-scale terrorist violence is emerging.

The basic concept is that hitting several targets at once, even with just a few fighters at each site, can cause fits for elite counterterrorist forces that are often manpower-heavy, far away and organized to deal with only one crisis at a time. This approach certainly worked in Mumbai, India, last November, where five two-man teams of Lashkar-e-Taiba operatives held the city hostage for two days, killing 179 people. The Indian security forces, many of which had to be flown in from New Delhi, simply had little ability to strike back at more than one site at a time.

While it’s true that the assaults in Kabul seem to be echoes of Mumbai, the fact is that Al Qaeda and its affiliates have been using these sorts of swarm tactics for several years. Jemaah Islamiyah — the group responsible for the Bali nightclub attack that killed 202 people in 2002 — mounted simultaneous attacks on 16 Christian churches in Indonesia on Christmas Eve in 2000, befuddling security forces.

Even 9/11 itself had swarm-like characteristics, as four small teams of Qaeda operatives simultaneously seized commercial aircraft and turned them into missiles, flummoxing all our defensive responses. In the years since, Al Qaeda has coordinated swarm attacks in Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Yemen and elsewhere. And at the height of the insurgency in Iraq, terrorists repeatedly used swarms on targets as small as truck convoys and as large as whole cities.

This pattern suggests that Americans should brace for a coming swarm. Right now, most of our cities would be as hard-pressed as Mumbai was to deal with several simultaneous attacks. Our elite federal and military counterterrorist units would most likely find their responses slowed, to varying degrees, by distance and the need to clarify jurisdiction.

Article here.

Arkansan pastors differ on church carry

Another article on the bill that would allow lawful concealed carry in Arkansas churches:
“Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition” could take on new meaning if a measure passed this week in the Arkansas House gains Senate approval and Gov. Mike Beebe’s signature. House Bill 1237 would allow people licensed to carry concealed handguns to carry them in church and on church property.

The possibility of armed members in the congregation received a mixed reaction among some Twin Lakes Area ministers.

Dave Gadbaw, pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Mountain Home, said he thinks the proposed bill is “not a bad idea” in light of church shootings across the country.

“I find the idea of carrying a handgun to church very disturbing,” said Pastor Ron Rector of First Christian Church of Mountain Home.
Pyle’s proposal does allow churches to continue prohibiting the carrying of firearms on their property. Originally, a church would have been required to post a sign banning guns, but an amendment to the bill gives churches more leeway in how they notify their congregations guns are prohibited without having to post a sign.

According to Pyle, about 20 other states have laws letting churches decide if concealed guns are permitted on their property.
Currently, HB 1237 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. [Governor] Beebe has said he would sign the bill if it comes to his desk. [emphasis added]

Article here.

Illinois House panel recommends CCW law passage

From the Land of Lincoln:
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A state House panel is recommending that the General Assembly give Illinois residents the right to carry concealed weapons.

The proposals are expected to garner opposition from Chicago-area lawmakers, who have expressed concern about increased gun violence

Supporters of a concealed weapon law say the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last summer overturning a handgun ban in Washington D.C., and an endorsement of concealed carry by the Illinois Sheriffs' Association gives a boost to their efforts.

Article here. Expect Chicago King Daley and his minions to step up the pressure to kill this bill. As an aside, notice the reporter's language: the panel recommends the legislature "give Illinois residents the right to carry concealed weapons." [emphasis added] The wording reflects the erroneous "rights come from government" approach that is so pervasive in our society.

Permits rise in Wyoming

From the Equality State (what kind of nickname is that?), via the Wyoming Tribune Eagle:
CHEYENNE -- Dick Holtz leans on the counter in his East Lincolnway store, dozens of handguns displayed in the glass casing.

Behind him a rack of shotguns, long rifles and assault rifles is plucked throughout a day of business. The store is barely able to keep pace.

Men in baseball caps and women in cowboy boots mill about, chatting about their collections and handling firearms for potential purchase.

Business seems to be going well.

Holtz was once a police officer in Oregon and has owned and operated Frontier Arms for nine years.

Last month the man who has been a gunsmith since 1962 applied for a concealed weapon permit.

It is the first in his life.

In recent months permit applications have skyrocketed in Wyoming, and it has been well reported across the country that gun sales increased both before and after the November 2008 elections.

The increase doesn't surprise Holtz, and he knows why it's happening.

"It's because of our leader that got elected," he said, referring to President Barack Obama.

Holtz will join the roughly 2.8 percent of Wyoming residents who are permitted to carry a concealed gun. ...

Article here.

Friday, February 20, 2009

You're like, totally clueless, dude

Tonight's L.A. culture:

Tenth Circuit upholds guns-in-vehicles law

In a follow-up to this post, the Tenth Circuit has upheld the Oklahoma law prohibiting employers from banning guns in employees' locked vehicles:
DENVER — Oklahoma's law requiring employers to allow workers to have guns in their locked vehicles at work is valid, an appeals court decided Wednesday.

The decision by the Denver-based court overturns a court order by a judge in Tulsa who in 2007 barred enforcement of the law.

A panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided 3-0 that U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern erred in concluding that the law is pre-empted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The appellate judges said Kern's ruling "interferes with Oklahoma's police powers and essentially promulgates a court-made safety standard — a standard that OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has explicitly refrained from implementing on its own. Such action is beyond the province of federal courts." ...

Article here.

Read the appeals court opinion here.

[via How Appealing]

Wisconsin man acquitted in open carry case

From Wisconsin (see posts here and here for background info):
West Allis - As Brad Krause planted a tree in his yard last summer, a neighbor noticed that in addition to a shovel, Krause had a tool not usually required for yard work - a gun in a holster.

Police arrived and gave Krause a ticket alleging disorderly conduct, launching a case that a national gun-rights group has been watching for months.

On Tuesday, Krause won acquittal in what some advocates say is one of the first so-called open-carry gun cases heard in a Wisconsin court.

Municipal Judge Paul Murphy said he had reviewed several state statutes and court cases related to the right to keep and bear arms. "There being no law whatsoever dealing with the issue of an unconcealed weapon or the so-called open carry is why we're here today," Murphy said.

In the end, he determined Krause's actions did not rise to disorderly conduct and found him not guilty.
After Murphy's ruling Tuesday, Krause said the significance of the case extends beyond gun rights.

"The reason people are upset about this is it's not about guns. It's about civil liberties. And we obviously have a property issue. There was no warrant issued, no exigent circumstances, no permission to enter the property, yet the police stormed in with guns drawn and put my life at risk," Krause said. Asked why he was carrying a gun to plant a tree, Krause said, "There's no requirement to justify why you're able to exercise constitutional rights. I and everyone else are able to go to church, they're able to vote, they're able to speak their mind. Even though the city might not like it, we have that right." ...

Article here. Good news for Mr. Krause and Wisconsin gun owners.

Obama Justice Dept. to defend national park carry rule

From the Washington Post:
The Obama administration is legally defending a last-minute rule enacted by President George W. Bush that allows concealed firearms in national parks, even as it is internally reviewing whether the measure meets environmental muster.

In a response Friday to a lawsuit by gun-control and environmental groups, the Justice Department sought to block a preliminary injunction of the controversial rule. The regulation, which took effect Jan. 9, allows visitors to bring concealed, loaded guns into national parks and wildlife refuges; for more than two decades they were allowed in such areas only if they were unloaded or stored and dismantled.

The three groups seeking to overturn the rule -- the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the National Parks Conservation Association and the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees -- have argued that the Bush administration violated several laws in issuing the rule, such as failing to conduct an adequate environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. They also argue that the new policy could deter some visitors, such as school groups, from visiting national landmarks.

In its reply, the Justice Department wrote that the new rule "does not alter the environmental status quo, and will not have any significant impacts on public health and safety."

But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has asked for an internal assessment of whether the measure has any environmental impacts the government needs to take into account, Interior spokesman Matt Lee-Ashley said yesterday.

Article here. We'll have to see how vigorously the Justice Dept. decides to defend this rule. The Salazar "internal assessment" could very well be setting up the road to repealing the rule, depending on who's doing the "assessing". Donald Sensing over at Sense of Events thinks the excuse for banning firearms on federal lands will be the issue of lead:
That's the tack that the Obama administration will take: it's the lead that's the problem, so guns must be banned from federal lands. This is not a new tactic, of course, since opponents of Second Amendment rights have long tried to shut down firearms use by trying to cripple ammunition makers and users with absolute liability for ammunition use. It won't matter, either, that ammunition without any lead at all is available on the civilian market. A way will be found, a reason will be given. The present "defense" of the Bush rule is just theater.

Actually, lead-free frangible ammunition does exist, but its use is for the most part limited to specialty training uses, such as close range shooting with steel targets. Unfortunately, the lead-free primers used in such ammo tend to be less reliable than traditional leaded primers. Less reliable ignition in training might be acceptable, even perhaps desirable to some extent, allowing the trainee to practice malfunction clearance drills, but for real life encounters the lower ignition reliability of lead-free primers might just get you killed.

While the Obama administration may use the "lead issue" to repeal the recently enacted National Parks carry rule, the reality is that the rule simply allows the lawful concealed carry of firearms for the limited purpose of self-defense, not general shooting. Thus, the only lead that should be going into "the environment" should consist of those bullets going into the bodies of violent criminals. If the National Park Service is to be taken at its word (always an iffy proposition when dealing with bureaucrats pushing an anti-gun agenda), violent crime in the parks is "rare". So the "impact" (pun intended) on the environment of a few bullet-riddled would-be rapists, robbers, or murderers should be similarly minuscule. Right?

Zero tolerance policies, North Carolina edition

From the Tar Heel state:
On Thursday Rick Kipper of Charlotte County found out a co-worker's 10-year-old son and two other boys got in trouble at Neil Armstrong Elementary School. "His son had been suspended from school for bringing a gun, or actually a whole cache of guns to school in his backpack," explains Kipper. He says the "cache of guns" were action figure guns that can fit in your palm. "I think this is over-zealous, it's over-stepping. It's ridiculous," insists Kipper. He wants to know: "What is zero tolerance? Where do you draw the line?" [emphasis added]

Four in Your Corner took his concerns to Michael Riley, a spokesperson with the Charlotte County School District. "We have a code of student conduct that goes home at the beginning of the year and we don't allow toy guns of any kind on campus. The children read it and sign it. So the first situation was that they shouldn't have had those here," says Riley. He adds, "There were a number of children that felt threatened by this. They (the boys) were pointing them and even on the internet you can find tiny guns that will fire a projectile 300 miles an hour." In terms of drawing the line, Riley says the district upholds its no tolerance policy. He says, "After Columbine, the FBI issued a statement if someone were to point their finger and make a threat at you, it would be something that you should report. And that's what we encourage the kids." Riley adds the district would rather err on the side of caution. ...

Article here (video available at the link). Another set of school administrators that don't seem to have a single working neuron among the lot. These "zero tolerance" policies really should be named "zero intelligence" policies to more accurately reflect their application.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's not that type of bank

Tonight's TV commercial humor:

The "outdoor divide" in California

From the Golden State:
The ownership and recreational use of firearms has become the "outdoor divide" in California and across much of America. Gaines wants to bridge this divide.

The split in California used to be North and South. No more. The split is between people who live in the country, who often own many firearms and enjoy target shooting or hunting, and people who live in cities, who tend not to own firearms and for whom any gun is an evil device used by criminals.
Gaines is the president of the California Outdoor Heritage Alliance, a pro-hunting and pro-conservation advocacy organization that he helped create three years ago. The alliance has united the political interests of 30 organizations that represent recreational shooters, hunters, firearm owners and wildlife interests.

The primary issue, over and over, has turned to firearms, urban vs. rural, he said. The biggest challenge is the gap between core beliefs.

Because anti-gun legislation always comes from urban areas, the election of President Obama, a city guy from Chicago, has set off concerns that new laws are likely that would further restrict firearms. As a result, despite a weak economy where sales of just about everything are down, in January the FBI reported a 24 percent increase in federal background checks that are required when purchasing firearms. That indicates a major spike in sales.
In California, new, sweeping federal anti-gun laws are not the main concern for gun owners. It's rather local ordinances that could spread, along with new state laws.

In Sacramento and Los Angeles, for instance, you have to fill out a form and leave a thumbprint to purchase center-fire ammunition for a rifle or handgun. In the western foothills of the central and southern Sierra, state law does not permit lead ammunition because this area has been classified as historical condor habitat, even though there are no condors there. You cannot use a lead .22 bullet to shoot rats, for instance. [emphasis added]

In the past, proposed laws have tried to add taxes on ammunition sales in California. "In the last five years in California, we've killed three ammo tax bills," Gaines said. "One proposal wanted to add a tax of 10 cents per bullet. For a brick of .22 shells, 500 rounds, that would add 50 bucks to the cost just to go target shooting. Right now, that brick costs us about 10 bucks. These kinds of laws chip away at us, making firearms and ammunition more difficult to get."

He said such proposals widen the divide between urban and rural. ...

Article here.

The eighty / one percent problem

From NRA News:
Did you know that 80 percent of the crime in this country is committed by less than 1 percent of the population?

The FBI says the one million gang members in this country are responsible for four out of five crimes, yet the Obama administration seems to ignore this fact to focus on gun control that has nothing to do with breaking the back of criminal gang violence.

For example: The Obama administration only mentions gangs in the "Urban Policy" portion of its agenda, not in crime and law enforcement. Yet the FBI tells us "Gang migration from urban communities to suburban and rural locations, which began more than two decades ago, is a significant and growing problem in most areas of the country."

It's shocking that this White House limits violent gangs to "Urban Policy" solutions. Its agenda focuses on support for gun control that would do nothing to reduce gang activity, but would erode the Second Amendment rights of every law-abiding American -including history's most sweeping ban on semi-automatic firearms.

The Obama plan seems to ignore the one million gang members who commit 80 percent of the crime in this country, while targeting the 80 million lawful gun owners in the United States. That's not a solution to gang violence, and it's not "Change."

In fact, it's just relying on the same failed policies that have made Chicago one of the most crime-ridden cities in the country.

One of the important points to keep in mind behind the anti-gun political agenda, is that for many of these anti-gun politicians, gun control isn't about crime prevention, but about control over the people. Crime is simply a convenient excuse for pushing a civilian disarmament agenda.

The ABC News article mentioned in the NRA News item is available here:
As many as 1 million gang members are believed responsible for as much as 80 percent of crime in America -- and the gangs are spreading across the country, according to a Justice Department gang threat assessment.

Approximately "1 million gang members belonging to more than 20,000 gangs were criminally active within all 50 states and the District of Columbia as of September 2008," the report says. ...

Virginia students aim for campus carry

From the Washington Post:
HARRISONBURG, Va., Feb. 14 -- Kyle Smith agreed to play the bad guy.

In a scenario eerily designed to imitate the Virginia Tech massacre, when a lone gunman shot and killed 32 people in the nine minutes it took for campus police to respond, Smith burst into a classroom here Saturday, his right index finger pointed as if it were a gun drawn, and immediately "shot" the teacher between the eyes.

"You people treated me wrong," the freshman yelled, a little sheepishly. "I just can't take it anymore."

As the four students in the room screamed, hit the floor and crouched under desks, he methodically fired five more shots with his finger and "killed" them all. In 23 seconds, it was over.

"You're all dead," Shawn Deehan, a gun rights advocate from, told the jeans-clad James Madison University students crumpled on the floor and waiting for his cue that the reenactment was over. "A great rate of response from law enforcement is six minutes. Six minutes. If you don't care if you live or die, that's a suitable response. But if you're concerned about living another day, another minute, then that's too long." ...

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I'll have some broccoli, please

Tonight's laugh (language warning):


See more at

Tennessee lawmakers seek to ease gun restrictions

From the Volunteer State:
NASHVILLE -- Tennessee legislators have filed a rash of new bills to allow guns in state and local parks, restaurants serving alcohol and even schools and also limiting public access to lists of gun-carry permit holders.

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, who is sponsoring two of the gun bills, said Thursday he believes the measures stand a much better chance of passing this year as a result of the new GOP majority in the legislature.

Supported by the Tennessee Firearms Association and the National Rifle Association, lawmakers have tried for years to pass bills allowing gun-carry permit holders to take their guns into places serving alcohol as long as they are not drinking themselves, but the legislation was killed in House subcommittees controlled by Democrats.

This year, with the state House reorganized under a nominal GOP majority, the volume of bills loosening restrictions on where permit-holders may take guns has sharply increased. So has the scope of places the bills propose to allow the guns, including state and local public parks, colleges and universities and potentially into high schools.

There is also a renewed push this year on bills to make confidential the identities of gun-carry permit holders at the state Department of Safety, the licensing agency, and to make it a crime for anyone, including media organizations, to publish identities of anyone with the permits. Currently, applications bear a disclaimer that information submitted is subject to the state public records law.

Article here.

Hacker demos passport RFID data collector

From the UK Register, comes this story:
Using inexpensive off-the-shelf components, an information security expert has built a mobile platform that can clone large numbers of the unique electronic identifiers used in US passport cards and next generation drivers licenses.

The $250 proof-of-concept device - which researcher Chris Paget built in his spare time - operates out of his vehicle and contains everything needed to sniff and then clone RFID, or radio frequency identification, tags. During a recent 20-minute drive in downtown San Francisco, it successfully copied the RFID tags of two passport cards without the knowledge of their owners.

Paget's contraption builds off the work of researchers at RSA and the University of Washington, which last year found weaknesses in US passport cards and so-called EDLs, or enhanced drivers' licenses. So far, about 750,000 people have applied for the passport cards, which are credit card-sized alternatives to passports for travel between the US and Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. EDLs are currently offered by Washington and New York states.

"It's one thing to say that something can be done, it's another thing completely to actually do it," Paget said in explaining why he built the device. "It's mainly to defeat the argument that you can't do it in the real world, that there's no real-world attack here, that it's all theoretical."

Article here. Time to break out the Faraday cage (i.e., your stylish metal foil wrapping :)) for your passport.

Note however, that other technologies are being developed that overcome the existing RFID tag limitations. One such technology is called RuBee [emphasis added below]:

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers has approved a standard for RuBee, a technology that is a bit like RFID but can be used in harsher environments such as underwater or in firearms.

Steel, liquids, animals and people, among other things, can disrupt RFID (radio frequency identification), according to Visible Assets, the small company that developed RuBee. Visible Assets sponsored the development of the new IEEE 1902.1 standard along with Seiko Epson, one of its licensees. It took about three years to complete the specification, according to Visible Assets CEO John Stevens.

RuBee gets around some of the limitations of RFID by using magnetic or "inductive" waves rather than radio waves and using very long wavelengths, Stevens said. In addition, RuBee tags can both send and receive signals, unlike RFID tags, which can only be passively read by scanners, he said. That means RuBee tags can either communicate with a base station or form a peer-to-peer network. RuBee is a packet network protocol like Wi-Fi or ZigBee, according to Stevens.

RFID is used to identify and gather information about objects and people for shipping, asset management, security and other applications. RuBee can serve much the same purpose, but in conditions that hamper RFID, according to Visible Assets. For example, a RuBee tag can be built into a gun and send data through its steel body. That allows a base station at an armory to collect information about how many times the gun was fired while it was in the field, Stevens said. The same base station and tags can be used to keep track of which guns are in the armory at a given time, he said.
Steel and other materials can block RFID signals and "detune" RFID antennas, preventing them from using the frequency they are supposed to use, according to Stevens. RuBee signals can go through steel, water and other materials because they use very long wavelengths with "near-field" communication, he said.

RuBee uses frequencies in the kilohertz range, far below those typically used for radio communications, where it's easier to use magnetic than radio signals, Stevens said. The wavelengths used in a typical RuBee network are about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) long, while the wireless links between tags and base stations typically span less than 50 feet. With less than one wavelength between the elements of the network, the signals can penetrate materials more easily.

Another advantage of low frequencies and long wavelengths is low power consumption, according to Visible Assets. RuBee tags have been proven in the field to last several years on one coin-sized lithium battery, the company said.

Visible Networks, founded in 2002 and based in Chatham, New Hampshire, makes its own RuBee chips and licenses the technology to other vendors. Epson Seiko makes RuBee tags, and gunmaker Sig Sauer builds tags into guns for use with tracking systems. Visible's chips range in price from a few dollars to more than US$100, depending on how specialized they are, Stevens said. The company has demonstrated RuBee with steel and water in a YouTube video. [video below]

Article here.

Another round of gun control proposed for Los Angeles

From the Los Angeles Times:
Just a few weeks after the Los Angeles City Council approved a batch of new gun and ammunition ordinances tightening restrictions on ammunition vendors, council members Jack Weiss and Janice Hahn are proposing a new law that would make it more difficult for individuals convicted of certain misdemeanors to own guns.

The proposal, which Weiss and Hahn plan to introduce as early as today's council meeting, would expand on a state law that bars possession of a gun for 10 years if convicted of certain crimes, including assault, illegal weapons sales or threatening a public official or a witness.

Weiss, a candidate for city attorney in the March 3 primary election, has made gun control one of his top campaign issues.

Weiss and Hahn's measure would add other offenses to the list, including carrying a concealed weapon, possession of an assault weapon, burglary and misdemeanor gang crimes.

Article here. Of course, California has a firearms preemption law on the books, but that doesn't seem to stop anti-gun politicians from trying to break that law.

Montana lawmakers push states rights with gun bill

From Big Sky country:
HELENA (AP) - Montana lawmakers fired another shot in battles for states’ rights as they supported letting some Montana gun owners and dealers skip reporting their transactions to the federal government.

Under House Bill 246, firearms made in Montana and used in Montana would be exempt from federal regulation. The same would be true for firearm accessories and ammunition made and sold in the state.

“What we need here is for Montana to be able to handle Montana’s business and affairs,” Republican Rep. Joel Boniek told fellow lawmakers Saturday. The wilderness guide from Livingston defeated Republican incumbent Bruce Malcolm in last spring’s election.
Boniek’s measure aims to circumvent federal authority over interstate commerce, which is the legal basis for most gun regulation in the United States. The bill potentially could release Montanans from both federal gun registration requirements and dealership licensing rules. Since the state has no background-check laws on its own books, the legislation also could free gun purchasers from that requirement.

“Firearms are inextricably linked to the history and culture of Montana, and I’d like to support that,” Boniek said. “But I want to point out that the issue here is not about firearms. It’s about state rights.”

The House voted 64-36 for the bill on Saturday. If it clears a final vote, the measure will go to the Senate.
The bill is one of a number the Legislature is considering that may extend gun rights in Montana.

Earlier in the week, the House passed another measure, HB228, that would let Montanans carry concealed weapons in city limits without having permits.

On Saturday the House Judiciary Committee narrowly passed a resolution that affirms Montanans’ right to carry weapons in national parks and wildlife refuges.

Article here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Instant ice

Tonight's not-Global-Warming video, what happens to boiling water in -45 degree Fahrenheit weather in Fairbanks, Alaska:

Brrrr. Minus 45F is cold.

A tough pill to swallow

As the President signs his "stimulus" package, and the nation gets ready to swallow what will likely be a bitter pill, maybe we should take a few moments to read the fine print:

Four states consider open carry laws

From USA Today:
Four Southern states — Texas, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Arkansas — are considering legislation that would allow people to carry handguns openly in a holster.

These generally Second Amendment-friendly states are among the last six holdouts against open carrying of guns. Openly carrying handguns is legal in most states, even those that ban concealed firearms. New York and Florida also bar openly carrying handguns.

The four other states that ban so-called open carry "are extremely gun-friendly. They understand the individual-rights aspect. Yet for whatever reason, the carry laws in these states are restrictive," says John Pierce, a co-founder of, which promotes gun rights.

Most states have strict laws governing concealed weapons. Illinois and Wisconsin ban carrying them entirely, according to the National Rifle Association. Concealing a weapon "was seen in the early days of our nation as something of an unwholesome act. People would bear arms openly," Pierce says.

Says Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, which opposes open-carry laws: "We don't want more people carrying guns either openly or concealed because the more guns you have in a situation, the more likely you are to get gun violence."

Grass-roots movements supporting open carry have emerged via Internet and e-mail campaigns, Pierce says. The online Texas petition now has more than 55,000 signatures. raised $25,000 through online donations to pay for advertising in Texas, says co-founder Mike Stollenwerk. ...

Article here.

D.C. continues anti-gun efforts

And the sun rises in the East. No surprise. Article looks at the latest D.C. anti-gun ordinances:
Since the United States Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008) the District has continued its unconstitutional ban on gun possession in the District of Columbia by non-residents, as well as the ban on gun carry outside the home even for residents. These injuries were not at issue in the Heller case, nor was the constitutionally suspect registration requirement because the Plaintiffs did not challenge registration per se, just the ban on registering handguns.

But in December, 2008 amidst all the hubbub leading up to President Obama’s inauguration, the DC City Council, in addition to extending the closing time for bars, quietly enacted 2 new bills which became effective in January, 2009. These bills, inter alia, ban the registration (and thus ownership) of a large number of ordinary rifles, shotguns, and handguns merely because they contain certain apparently cosmetic offensive features, such as pistol grips, or because they are not on the California Roster of Handguns Certified for Sale.
DC taxpayers, already on the hook for a $3.5 million dollar bill for Mr. Heller’s legal fees, should note that San Francisco taxpayers also just got stuck for over $800,000 in legal fees relating to the San Francisco City Council's unsuccessful effort to defend their city’s gun ban. In the end, it’s the District’s taxpayers who will pay for the DC Council’s dangerous game with the people’s gun rights. ...

Article here.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Office firefight

Tonight's office warfare:

The Reagan vs. Obama Debate

Via The Anchoress, comes this juxtaposition of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama's positions, in their own words:

Arizona lawmaker wants restaurant carry

From Arizona:
A bill that would give customers the right to take guns into restaurants which have certain liquor licenses has been introduced in the Arizona Senate.

Restaurant owners who do not want firearms in their establishments would be required to post signs about the ban.

Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, said current law bans people from carrying a weapon into any business with a liquor license. He said his proposal is aimed at leveling the playing field.

"This should be up to the business owner to exercise their property rights to decide whether or not they want to allow a patron to exercise their Second Amendment rights," said Harper, who tried unsuccessfully to get a similar bill passed last year.

Harper said the main difference between last year's bill and the current version is that this year's proposal is limited to restaurants that have a Class 12 liquor license, which means they are allowed to sell just a low-volume or a casual amount of alcohol.

"If someone comes into a restaurant and they're not consuming alcohol, that's no different than them walking through a Wal-mart, K-mart or Target that sells firearms and has alcohol," Harper said. "If you're not consuming, there's no reason why the business owner shouldn't be allowed the decision to allow you to exercise your Second Amendment rights."

Article here. The last time the Arizona legislature passed a restaurant carry bill, Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed it. Hopefully, now that Gov. Napolitano is on her merry way to bigger and better things in the Obama administration (as head of the Department of Homeland Security), law-abiding gun owners will have better luck getting this change in the law.

From the description in the article, the current bill is limited to certain types of restaurants (presumably not bars), but well ... baby steps, baby steps. In contrast to Virginia, where open carry is currently legal in restaurants, I believe no form of carry is currently legal in Arizona restaurants.

Arkansas House passes church carry bill

In a followup to this post, the Arkansas House has approved a bill allow carry in church. From ABC News:
The Arkansas House on Wednesday approved a bill allowing concealed handguns in churches, despite hearing arguments that lawmakers should put their faith in God, not guns.

The bill, which passed on a 57-42 vote and now heads to the Senate, removes churches and other houses of worship from the list of places where concealed handguns are banned. Currently, the only private entities where concealed weapons are banned are churches and bars.

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Beverly Pyle, R-Cedarville, said she introduced the measure after a series of church shootings across the country. She said it would be up to each individual church whether to allow the concealed guns.

Article here. Let's hope the Arkansas Senate follows suit.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I love the world

Tonight's catchy commercial, from the Discovery Channel:

Virginia judge clears man charged with open-carry violation

From Old Dominion, in a follow up to this post from last Fall:
It's legal to wear a gun on your hip in Waterside, a judge decided Tuesday.

After hearing more than two hours of testimony, a General District Court judge dismissed a trespassing charge against Dan Moore, a Hampton resident who police said was ordered to leave Waterside for carrying a weapon, and refused to leave.

State laws permit openly carrying firearms in public places. City officials contended that Waterside, though built in part with public funds, is owned by a private entity and thus is a private facility not subject to state laws.

Judge James S. Mathews did not agree. After hearing from six witnesses called by the city attorney's office, he dismissed the charges, ruling that Waterside is a public facility, said Stephen Merrill, a Norfolk attorney who represented Moore.
Moore was ecstatic.

"I had a hard time sleeping last night," he said. "This has been a very stressful thing. It was a great relief to hear the judge dismiss the charges."

Moore had several previous run-ins with the Norfolk police while carrying a gun in a holster. After he was detained downtown in 2007 for standing outside the Bank of America building with a gun, the city paid him $10,000 to avoid a lawsuit.

In September, he was detained while trying to ride a Hampton Roads Transit bus.

A month later, after he and other gun -rights activists spoke to the City Council, he was arrested at Waterside. Moore said he will sue for the bus and Waterside incidents.

"The police think they can do this to me, but they can't," he said. "Someone has to answer for this." ...

Article here. Hopefully Mr. Moore will prevail in his lawsuit against Norfolk, and receive another substantial sum from the city for the violation of his civil rights.

Wisconsin open carry

From JPFO, a follow up to this post, in which a citizen in Wisconsin, on his own property, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for his holstered, openly carried handgun (Wisconsin has no provision for concealed carry by "ordinary" citizens):
It's less than a week until the Constitution gets another court hearing. To recap what happened, in August 2008 Brad Krause was arrested at gunpoint in West Allis, Wisconsin while planting trees in his yard. The reason: he lawfully possessed a holstered weapon. (Full story at: )

His first hearing was December 16, where the story started to unfold under oath. The prosecution admitted into evidence a small semi-automatic handgun, positive retention holster, and self-defense ammunition, each item being the type of equipment police officers are known to use for their own protection, not the sort of thing criminals tend to carry.

The first witness was the man who had called the police. Normally this person is the victim of a robbery, mugging, or other violent attack, but in this case the man testified he called the police to find out if a person could legally carry a handgun within city limits. He went on to say that although he thinks only police officers should carry weapons for self defense, it was never his intention "for Brad, excuse me, I mean Mr. Krause, to end up in court." He testified that "Mr. Krause" is a nice guy, they get along fine, and the first time they met was when "Mr. Krause" came over to help him dig his car out of the snow. There was no sign of animosity between the neighbors who apparently are still on a first-name basis.

The next witness was the first officer to respond, who said he saw a man with a gun and immediately called for backup. A back-and-forth line of questioning ensued:

Attorney: "Officer, you were the first person to see Mr. Krause in his yard, correct?"
Officer: "Correct."

Attorney: "What was he doing when you saw him in his yard?"
Officer: "I believe he was planting a tree."

Attorney: "Was he in any way handling the gun?"
Officer: "No."

Attorney: "Was the gun plainly and openly carried?"
Officer: "Yes."

Attorney: "You had no question that was a handgun on his hip?"
Officer: "Yes, I knew it was a handgun on his hip in a holster."

Attorney: "And he was not handling it, waving it, doing anything with it?"
Officer: "No. I believe he had a shovel in his hand and was in the process of planting a tree."

The questioning continued, eventually with the officer testifying Mr. Krause was cooperative the entire time, and never used any profanity or even raised his voice. ...

Read the rest here.

UAW and GM break off talks

From Bloomberg:
Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The United Auto Workers union is objecting to proposals from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC to modify a retiree health-care fund as required by the U.S. so the automakers can keep $17.4 billion in aid.

The UAW stopped negotiations with GM last night, a person familiar with the talks said. Chrysler still is talking to the union, though the talks haven’t been substantive, said another person briefed on those discussions. A delay in the talks could risk the automakers missing a Feb. 17 deadline to show progress in a government-ordered plan to cut labor and debt costs. It’s not clear what that would mean.

The GM and Chrysler proposals on the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association “contradict the explicit terms of the Treasury loan agreements, and would severely hurt retirees,” UAW legislative affairs director Alan Reuther said in an e-mail last night. “These proposals are a non-starter as far as the UAW is concerned.”

The terms of the Dec. 19 loan agreements from the U.S. Treasury require GM and Chrysler to convince the UAW to accept half of scheduled payments into a union-run retiree health-care fund next year in equity instead of cash. The automakers are also seeking to eliminate supplement unemployment pay and change plant work rules to trim labor expenses.
The automakers are also asking the union to end a 54-year- old benefit that ensures almost full pay during layoffs.

The so-called “supplemental unemployment benefit,” or “SUB” pay, gives laid-off workers most of their take-home wages. Automakers and the UAW are discussing the future of the program, said people familiar with the talks, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. The UAW isn’t negotiating cuts in core wages or benefits, the people said. ...

Article here. With the Feb 17th deadline looming, this is a game of high-stakes chicken between the UAW and GM.

Lberal think tank supports Second Amendment incorporation

From Reason Magazine:
As Brian Doherty noted earlier, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the 2nd Amendment does not apply against state and local governments. In more positive gun rights news, the Constitutional Accountability Center, a liberal law firm and think tank "dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of our Constitution's text and history," filed a friend of the court brief last week on behalf of the plaintiffs in McDonald v. City of Chicago, arguing that the 14th Amendment's Privileges or Immunities Clause does make the 2nd Amendment applicable against the states (Alan Gura, the lawyer who argued D.C. v. Heller before the Supreme Court, is representing the plaintiffs in McDonald). Among the authors of the CAC's brief is legal scholar Michael Kent Curtis, one of the foremost experts on the history and meaning of the 14th Amendment. Curtis was also the lead author of the friend of the court brief filed last fall in Nordyke v. King, which also argued that the 2nd Amendment applies to the states via the 14th.

Article here. Good to see at least a few honest liberal thinkers support application of the Second Amendment to the states via the Fourteenth Amendment, just as they support the incorporation of, e.g., the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments. No principled reason exists to deny having the Second Amendment similarly apply against the states like those other individual rights.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

User interface

Tonight's satirical next gen technology, from The Onion:


The United States of Argentina

From the American Conservative magazine comes this cautionary tale of woe:
Anyone not alarmed by the state of the U.S. economy is not paying attention. As our Dear Leader begins his term, the theory of very big government has the support of an alarmingly broad political consensus. Despite the obvious dangers—devastating inflation and the ruin of the dollar—the United States seems pledged to a debt-funded spending spree of gargantuan proportions.

In opposing this trend, critics face the problem that the perils to which they point sound very theoretical and abstract. Perhaps Zimbabwe prints its currency in multi-trillion units, but that’s a singularly backward African dictatorship: the situation has nothing to do with us. Yet an example closer to home might be more instructive. Unlike Zimbabwe, this story involves a flourishing Western country with a large middle class that nevertheless managed to spend its way into banana-republic status by means very similar to those now being proposed in Washington.

The country in question is Argentina, and even mentioning the name might initially make any comparison seem tenuous. The United States is a superpower with a huge economy. Argentina is a political and economic joke, a global weakling legendary for endemic economic crises. Between them and us, surely, a great gulf is fixed. Yet Argentina did not always have its present meager status, nor did its poverty result from some inherent Latin American affinity for crisis and corruption. A century ago, Argentina was one of the world’s emerging powers, seemingly destined to outpace all but the greatest imperial states. Today it is … Argentina. A national decline on that scale did not just happen: it was the result of decades of struggle and systematic endeavor, led by the nation’s elite. As the nation’s greatest writer, Jorge Luis Borges, once remarked, only generations of statesmanship could have prevented Argentina from becoming a world power.
The country was killed by political decisions, and the primary culprit was Juan Perón. He dominated political life through the 1940s and ruled officially as president from 1946 to 1955, returning briefly in the 1970s. Although he did not begin the process, he completed the transformation of Argentine government so that the state became both an object of plunder and an instrument for plunder.

Perón came from a fascist and corporatist mindset, which became more aggressively populist under the influence of his second wife Eva. They aimed their rhetoric against the nation’s rich, a designation that was swiftly expanded to cover most of the propertied middle classes, who became an enemy to be defeated and humiliated. To equalize the supposed struggle between the rich and the dispossessed, the Peróns exalted the liberating role of the state. The bureaucracy swelled alarmingly as nationalization brought key sectors of the economy under official control. Government bought loyalty through a massive program of social spending while fostering the growth of labor unions, which became intimate allies of the governing party. Argentina came to be the most unionized nation in Latin America. Perón also ended any pretense of the independence of the judiciary, purging and intimidating judges about whom he had any doubts and replacing them with minions. [emphasis added]

The Peronist model—a New Deal on steroids—evolved into an effective clientelism, in which party overlords and labor bosses ruled through a mixture of corruption and violence. Clientelism, in effect, means the annexation of state resources for the benefit of political parties and private networks. Right now, both the word and the concept are not terribly familiar to Americans, but this is one Latin American export that they may soon need to get used to. ...

Article here. The road to socialism, like the road to hell, is paved with good intentions. Go read the whole thing.