Saturday, January 31, 2009

Bud Light, anyone?

Tonight's beer ads, as we get ready for tomorrow's Superbowl:


New Hampshire lawmaker wants firing squad for murderers

From the Granite State:
One state lawmaker is proposing a bill to expand the death penalty and force people convicted of homicide to face execution by a five-officer firing squad.

New Hampshire State Rep. Delmar Burridge, D-Keene, is sponsoring H.B. 37, a bill providing for execution by firing squad for anyone who causes the death of another person by use of a firearm while engaged in the commission of a felony – an offense that would be considered capital murder under Burridge's plan.

According to the bill, the commissioner of the department of corrections will be required to select five peace officers to carry out the execution of defendants convicted of capital murder.

Article here. The text of the proposed bill can be found here.

Bringing a gun to a knife fight

From an article by Michael Janich in Police Magazine:
In March 1983, S.W.A.T. magazine published an article titled "How Close Is Too Close" by an instructor from the Salt Lake City Police Department named Dennis Tueller. That article discussed the research that Tueller had conducted to answer a question posed by one of his students, in essence, "How close can you let someone armed with a contact-distance weapon get before you can no longer effectively draw and fire your sidearm?"

Although the results of Tueller's research involved as much coincidence as diligent experimentation, they nevertheless pointed out an incredibly important maxim of close-quarters combat: If an attacker armed with a contact weapon begins his attack from a distance of 21 feet or less, standing your ground and going to guns will almost guarantee that the attacker will hit his target.

Tueller's groundbreaking research became the inspiration for the often-repeated "Tueller Drill," which basically replicates his initial experiments and validates how quickly an attacker can close the distance on you. Unfortunately, to some trainers it also gave rise to the term "21-foot rule."

And at that point, the real meaning of Tueller's research began to get lost.
What the Tueller Drill really teaches is that drawing and shooting alone are not going to save your life in a close-range encounter. In fact, the entire concept of going for your gun as an initial reaction is probably not the best way of ensuring your survival. Movement, the use of obstacles, and sound empty-hand tactics—applied properly—can all do more to keep you alive than a pure "gun-fu" response.

Article here. While one may argue with the specifics of the techniques you should use, the need for some form of empty hands / defensive tactics response to a sudden knife attack is indeed essential for successfully defending against such an attack.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Situational awareness, the Whodunnit version

Tonight's trained observer test:

Senate panel backs Holder for AG

Unfortunately, looks like we're one step closer to having a committed anti-gunner as our nation's next Attorney General. From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved, and sent to the full Senate, the nomination of Eric H. Holder Jr. to be the nation’s The committee vote was 17 to 2, with only two Republicans, Senators John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, voting against the nomination.

Some Republicans had hoped to make the Holder nomination a demonstration of party strength in the face of a Democratic-controlled White House and Congress. But the air went out of that effort even before Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the ranking Republican, said on Tuesday that he would support Mr. Holder’s nomination.

The nomination of Mr. Holder, who would be the nation’s first African-American attorney general, will go to the Senate floor in the next few days.

More from the Washington Post:
In a surprise, given comments over the past two months, several GOP lawmakers also cast their votes for Holder. Only two Republican senators, John Cornyn of Texas and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, voted "nay" on the nomination. Cornyn expressed concern about the nominee's role in controversial Clinton era pardons, Holder's view on terrorism issues and his approach to gun rights.

But other members of the panel -- from Republican Lindsay Graham (S.C.) to Democrat Dick Durbin (Ill.) -- said that Holder had charted a careful balance between protecting the nation's security and endorsing civil liberties.

Only two senators on the Judiciary Committee, Sens. Cornyn (R-TX) and Coburn (R-OK) had the guts to stand up for gun owners. Remember that when Mr. Holder starts his anti-gun jihad on law-abiding gun owners, and when those senators who voted to confirm Mr. Holder say they "support the Second Amendment."

At least Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma's other senator, has indicated he plans to vote against Holder when his nomination comes before the full Senate:
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., cites the right to bear arms, his preference for justice over patronage, and the war on terror as reasons he plans to vote against confirming Eric Holder as attorney general.

Inhofe issued his statement in a news release, as well as on his blog and a YouTube video. The statement:

“I wanted you to be the first to know I am going to vote against to the appointment of Eric Holder to be the next attorney general of the United States.

“I believe I am speaking on behalf of Americans who value their Second Amendment personal right to own their own firearms. I also believe I am speaking on behalf of Americans who favor justice over political patronage. Finally, I believe I am speaking on behalf of Americans who realize we are in a War on Terror and want to continue the strong efforts to bring terrorists to justice. I am opposed to the appointment of Eric Holder . . .

“I take particular interest in this nomination, because I, as well as the voters of the state of Oklahoma, feel strongly that the rights conferred upon us by the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantee an individual freedom that no government regulation can take away. Eric Holder’s record and his true beliefs about the Second Amendment are clear. In a brief filed in the Heller case, Holder joined other past Department of Justice officials by saying, “The Second Amendment Does Not Protect Firearms Possession or Use That Is Unrelated To Participation In a Well-Regulated Militia” and that “recognition of an expansive individual right to keep and bear arms for private purposes will make it more difficult for the government to defend present and future firearms laws.”

In addition, at least one other senator, Sen. John Barasso (R-WY), also thinks the Second Amendment is important:
In Wyoming, we don't ask for much from Washington. We do ask that Washington limit its intrusion on our land, water and especially our Second Amendment rights. That's not a lot to ask in the grand scheme of Washington but it is critically important to the constituents who sent me to fight for them.

President Obama has nominated Eric Holder to serve as the United States attorney general. During the Clinton administration, Mr. Holder was Janet Reno's deputy attorney general from 1997-2001. Deputy Attorney General Holder was on record supporting a long list of proposals to limit the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. He supported a three-day waiting period for handgun purchases, one-gun-a-month purchasing limits, licensing and registering of all gun owners, mandatory so-called smart gun technology and regulating gun shows out of existence.
As a United States senator for Wyoming, I take very seriously the responsibility to protect and defend our right to keep and bear arms. President Obama has every right to nominate Eric Holder to be attorney general. I have the duty to closely review the nominee's qualifications and philosophy on issues important to all Americans.

During Mr. Holder's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, he said gun control is not on this administration's agenda. He also said he still supports regulating private gun sales, banning ammunition and semi-automatic assault weapons. Given Mr. Holder's career of attacks on the Second Amendment, his nomination continues to be of great concern to me. I am not convinced his philosophy on the Second Amendment is acceptable to the people of Wyoming and gun owners across the United States.

Agendas and intentions can change quickly. Our nation's highest law enforcement officer must be committed to protecting and defending our individual rights to keep and bear arms. I intend to vote "no" on the nomination of Eric Holder.

American Riflemen

From an interview with historian Alex Rose in Popular Mechanics, on Americans love of the rifle:
You point out that colonial Americans preferred rifles to muskets. How do they differ?

The primary advantages of a musket are that it loads quickly, hits hard and is very easy to learn to use. The whole point of 18th-century tactics was to bunch your guys together and send the proverbial hail of lead toward the enemy. But the rifle, from the very beginning, was the tool of specialists. It was made by craftsmen and used by an individual. To use it properly, you had to spend many hours, weeks and months practicing.

George Washington, the essential founding father, as early as the French and Indian War and during the Revolution, was carrying a rifle. This is at a time when nobody else in the world was using rifles. There were specialized units of riflemen operating and by the time of Andrew Jackson and the War of 1812, you're getting these national myths created of the American frontiersman and his sturdy rifle. So it's really embedded in America's genes.

And frontier warfare favored the more accurate weapon?

If you were at the top of a mountain, then obviously the rifle's longer range would be great. And if you're in the wilderness, in a place where you can barely see 20 paces and your enemy is flitting between trees, you need to hit and kill with one shot. This was an American Indian way of fighting, individual on individual. Another reason for the adoption of the rifle was the need to conserve gunpowder and make more efficient use of lead. ...

Article here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Right brain or left brain?

Tonight's test:

Which way do you see the dancer turning -- clockwise, or anti-clockwise?

From the video description:

The Right Brain vs Left Brain test ... do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa. Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies

uses feeling
"big picture" oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can "get it" (i.e. meaning)
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
risk taking

Lifesaving tools

From an article in Human Events by Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL):
The right to bear arms is more than a Constitutional right: every human being has the natural unalienable right to self-defense. Cicero said 2,000 years ago, “If our lives are endangered by plots or violence or armed robbers or enemies, any and every method of protecting ourselves is morally right.”

The U.S. Constitution, the constitutions of 44 states, common law, and the laws of all 50 states recognize the right to use arms in self-defense. Right to carry laws respect the right to self-defense by allowing individuals to carry concealed firearms for their own protection.

So many liberal politicians and self-appointed experts want to keep honest Americans from having access to firearms, even though, since 2003, in states which allow concealed carry, violent crime rates have been lower than anytime since the mid-1970s. The reverse logic of this "knee jerk" reaction is astounding and has lead to an outright assault on our basic Constitutional and natural rights. These misguided policies to keep firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens literally mean a death sentence for thousands of Americans.

Look at the facts. According to a study by criminologist Gary Kleck of Florida State University, “[R]obbery and assault victims who used a gun to resist were less likely to be attacked or to suffer an injury than those who used any other methods of self-protection or those who did not resist at all.” In approximately 2.5 million instances each year, someone uses a firearm, predominantly a handgun, for self defense in this nation.
Laws allowing the concealed carrying of a firearm are on the books in 48 states, in some form. Two-thirds of Americans live in states with right-to-carry laws, their respective state houses and governors recognizing their fundamental right to self-defense. But let me pose a question. Should your natural right to self defense and your Constitutional right to bear arms end when you cross a state line? I think not.

That is why I, along with Representative Rich Boucher (D-Va.) introduced H.R. 197, the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act. Our legislation proposes a federal law that would entitle any person with a valid state-issued concealed carry permit to carry in any other state, as follows: In a state that issues carry permits, its laws would apply. In states that don’t issue carry permits, the Federal law providing a "bright-line" standard would permit carrying in places other than police stations; courthouses; public polling places; meetings of state, county, or municipal governing bodies; schools; passenger areas of airports; etc. The bright-light standard in itself is not a license -- the individual would still have to possess a valid state permit issued by their state of residence. It doesn't make sense to me for Americans to forfeit their safety because they happen to be on vacation or on a business trip. This legislation would greatly enhance the safety of this nation's ever-increasing mobile society.

Article here. As noted, Mr. Stearns has introduced bill H.R. 197, which would create a federal law to force states to honor concealed carry permits from other states. Unfortunately, the chances of H.R. 197 becoming law with an anti-gun President and Congress are slim.

Supply-side restrictions and gun control

From a law review article entitled Imagining Gun Control in America: Understanding the Remainder Problem by Professor Nicholas Johnson, published in the Wake Forest Law Review:
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in District of Columbia v. Heller that the Second Amendment prohibits general disarmament, the temptation is to view Heller as the central obstacle to effective gun controls. This is a mistake born of our failure to confront the incoherence of supply-side controls pre-Heller. While Heller technically prohibits the supply-side ideal, supply-side rules are, and long have been, blocked by structural barriers rooted in the nature of our armed society—viz., 300 million guns tightly held by people who believe they are uniquely useful tools.

Two things are foreseeable. First, supply regulations on the edges of Heller will have only symbolic effect because Heller plainly bars laws intended to cut supply to zero. Second, because Heller formally blocks the supply-side ideal, its trajectory will be the focus of political and constitutional warfare. Underlying this will be the mistaken perception that, with sufficient political shift and Heller nullified, supply controls still might work in America. Understanding the structural barriers to supply controls will help us avoid that mistake.

This Article will illuminate those structural barriers by removing, theoretically, the constitutional impediment of Heller and the political impediments to the supply-side ideal. Assume, therefore, that Heller is reversed or explained away. Assume further that the political barriers to sweeping supply controls are overcome. Now imagine gun control in America.

Part I elaborates on the supply-side ideal as the foundation of our most ambitious gun control proposals. Part II explains the primary structural challenges to the supply-side ideal and introduces the remainder problem as a peculiarly American obstacle to supply controls. Part III presents the remainder problem and the defiance impulse as both cultural and physical phenomena that block supply-side rules. Part IV evaluates a series of familiar gun control proposals in the context of the structural (and incidentally constitutional) barriers to supply-side regulation. [footnotes omitted]

Read the article here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Al Gore's humble invention

Tonight's geek history lesson:

Illinois politician wants "Change"

Alan Korwin gives us his take on HR.45, the latest anti-gun bill:
Illinois congressman Bobby Rush, from Obama’s home state and with a voting record on gun ownership as bad as Obama’s, introduced a bill on the first day of the 111th Congress that shows what we can expect. If we don’t defeat this bill, and others expected to follow it, gun owners will lose guns and the industry will suffer harm beyond description.

Under HR 45, if you can’t pass a complex test written by the U.S. Attorney General (described in detail below), pay the tax, give up fingerprints and a biometric-capable photo of yourself (that can be turned into a digital facial-recognition number and used as a de facto national ID), every gun you own will become contraband and subject to confiscation, while you stand trial before imprisonment. You’d think Bobby, a former black panther, would know better.

Your rights will have an expiration date, and if you screw up and miss it, you’ll be in the same mess as people who can’t pass the test. Can you say “unconstitutional”? Do you think these “gun bigots” care?

Now that the Supreme Court has made it clear in the Heller case that government can’t ban guns, the Brady’s have stopped saying they want to ban guns. So the virtually treasonous Bobby Rush bill doesn’t ban guns, it bans gun owners, maybe by the millions. How many gun owners read poorly or don’t test well? How many can’t explain local, state and federal gun laws? They’d become prohibited possessors under HR 45. Are there any limits to what the AG can put on the test? The bill doesn’t mention any — it gives the AG a free hand to include anything.

Article here.

OSHA: Oklahoma pro-gun law not preempted

From the Oklahoma City Journal Record:
OKLAHOMA CITY – The federal agency in charge of workplace safety does not believe the Occupational Safety and Health Act pre-empts an Oklahoma law prohibiting employers from forbidding the storing of firearms in workers’ cars, according to a letter filed in an appeal with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Oklahoma has appealed an October 2007 federal judge’s ruling, which said the 2004 state law conflicts with federal worker-protection laws, including the OSH Act.
The letter stating the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s position, from Thomas Stohler, acting assistant secretary of labor for OSHA, to state Rep. Jerry Ellis, principal author of the Oklahoma law, was filed on the state’s behalf by Washington, D.C., attorney Charles J. Cooper.

Cooper said Stohler’s letter makes clear that the federal law does not pre-empt the Oklahoma statute.

“The district court’s judgment thus no longer has any legal support and should be reversed,” Cooper said in a letter to 10th Circuit Court Clerk Elisabeth A. Shumaker.
In the OSHA statement-of-position letter, Stohler said, “[W]e do not believe that, as a general matter, the general duty clause of the OSH Act pre-empts your state’s law.”

The clause requires employers to maintain workplaces free of “recognized hazards.”
Stohler said the OSHA law specifically preserves states’ authority to regulate occupational safety and health issues on which no OSHA standard is in effect.

“Since no OSHA standard specifically governs the issue of the presence of firearms in vehicles in company parking lots, states generally retain broad authority regarding individual rights under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or state equivalent constitutional provisions, as they affect employers within federal OSHA’s jurisdiction,” Stohler stated.

“Gun-related violence is not a recognized occupational hazard in industry as a whole, under normal working conditions,” he wrote. “Therefore, state laws protecting an employee’s right to transport and store firearms in a locked car on employer premises would not on their face impede the employer’s ability to comply with the general duty clause.”

Stohler said employers are not required to implement policies to protect against random, unforeseeable acts of violence.

Article here. Hopefully, the Tenth Circuit will reverse the District Court's ruling, which held that the federal Occupational Safety and Health law preempted the state statute now under appeal. That statute prohibited employers from prohibiting employees from keeping firearms in their locked vehicles parked on company parking lots.

Update 20-Feb-2009: The original article on the Journal Record site has been archived in their subscription-only archive. A copy of the original article, however, is available here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Punctuation matters

Tonight's english lesson, on the subject of punctuation:

Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is . All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?




Dear John:

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy –will you let me be yours?


Wisconsin Attorney General sidesteps open-carry issue

Here's a follow-up article to this post, discussing the open carry environment in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Attorney General has declined a request from a state legislator to issue a formal opinion on the legality of open carry:
As conflicts over of the open carry of firearms mushroom in the state, Wisconsin attorney general J.B. Van Hollen is declining to issue a legal opinion about whether the practice is legal.

In a Nov. 6, 2008, letter to then state Rep. Terry Musser (R-Black River Falls), deputy attorney general Raymond Taffora acknowledged a number of requests for just such an opinion, as well as a growing number of arrests for carrying firearms in plain view, mostly on the charge of disorderly conduct.

On behalf of an unnamed constituent, Musser had specifically asked for an opinion about the open carrying of firearms for personal defense, but Taffora told him there were prudent legal reasons for the attorney general not to get involved.

For one thing, Taffora said, many requests for a formal opinion had been prompted by disorderly conduct charges brought by district attorneys. In general, he wrote to Musser, private citizens wanted an opinion to cite at trial or at the appellate level to defeat the charge.

There are procedural reasons not to give them those citations, Taffora wrote.

First, he noted, state statutes provide that the attorney general can only provide formal opinions to the governor, the Legislature, state officers and agencies, corporation counsels, and district attorneys. The attorney general cannot issue formal opinions to cities, towns, villages or other municipal attorneys or private citizens.

"We also discourage authorized requestors from acting as proxies for private citizens seeking a formal opinion," he wrote. Musser was in fact acting as such a proxy when he asked for the opinion.
"The reason they (the attorney general's office) blew Musser off, I think, is that if J.B. says open carry is in fact lawful and then West Allis appeals, the state will be representing the city and he's going to end up creating a problem for himself defending the city's actions when he has already said what Brad did was lawful. So he's not going to put himself in jeopardy and open his mouth, although he should."

Whatever his motivation, the attorney general certainly has a surfeit of case law and DOJ briefs to form an opinion, if he chose to do so.

As German alluded to and The Lakeland Times has reported, both Doyle, as attorney general, and the Supreme Court recognized open-carry rights in State of Wisconsin v Hamdan, in which the High Court carved out a concealed weapon exemption for small storeowners.

In a brief signed by Doyle, the Department of Justice argued against the exemption, citing the ability of citizens to already possess and carry an open weapon: "The State argues that even under the strictest enforcement of the [concealed carry] statute, a person lawfully in possession of a firearm will always retain the ability to keep the firearm in the open - holding the weapon in the open, keeping the weapon in a visible holster, displaying the weapon on the wall, or otherwise placing the weapon in plain view," the court stated in summing up the DOJ's brief.

In her dissent of the final decision, chief justice Shirley Abrahamson went even further.

"That is, [the law] does not prevent anyone from carrying a firearm for security, defense, hunting, recreation, or other lawful purposes," Abrahamson wrote. "Rather, it limits the manner of carrying weapons, by requiring that a weapon that is on a person or within a person's reach not be concealed. The gist of the offense is the concealment."

What's more, the state Supreme Court has already ruled on what can be and cannot be considered disorderly conduct, in the case, State v. Douglas D.

"To prosecute a defendant for a violation of this statute, the State has the burden to prove two elements," the court determined. "First, it must prove that the defendant engaged in violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or similar disorderly conduct. Second, it must prove that the defendant's conduct occurred under circumstances where such conduct tends to cause or provoke a disturbance. Under both elements, it is the combination of conduct and circumstances that is crucial in applying the statute to a particular situation."

How the very act of a carrying a visible legal firearm fits or does not fit that judicial criteria is a matter screaming for clarification.

With the attorney general on the sidelines, that will likely happen in court, probably the Supreme Court, and take months, if not years. In the meantime, more open carry arrests for disorderly conduct and more contested court cases can be expected.

Read the article here. If memory serves, like Wisconsin, the Ohio Supreme Court had held that the prohibition on concealed carry did not violate the Ohio state constitution due to the availability and legality of open carry. And as I recall, Ohio concealed carry advocates held a number of open carry marches during their successful fight to get a concealed carry law passed.

Perhaps it's time for Wisconsinites to organize a similar process, with sympathetic news organizations (and their video cameras) on hand to record any peaceful marchers getting arrested on these ridiculous disorderly conduct charges, and pro-gun rights attorneys on hand to any fight such unfounded charges, and (just as important) sue the offending LE agencies and municipalities for civil rights violations.

Op-ed recalls the Long Island massacre

Op-ed in the UK Telegraph by New Yorker Stephanie Gutmann on the new New York senator, virulently anti-gun NY Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, and the failure of gun control to prevent the Long Island massacre:
So Caroline (Kennedy) is out and our Governor Paterson of New York has chosen who will fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Hillary Clinton now that Clinton has moved on to become secretary of state.

She is Kristen Gillibrand, an upstate Democrat. No one knows very much about her except that, as the papers put it, she's "pro gun" which means that she was once endorsed by the National Rifle Association and has written on her website "I learned at an early age how to safely handle a gun and I believe that every law-abiding citizen should always have the right to bear arms."

But a relatively mild statement like this is enough to make a New York liberal Democrat apoplectic. State Representative Carolyn McCarthy has said she is "furious" and has told newspapers, "I will not show any support whatsoever. The majority of New Yorkers are trying to reduce gun violence...I'm not going to let New York be represented by someone who gets a 100 percent rating form the NRA." She is determined to run against Gillibrand when Gillibrand defends her seat next year (the Paterson appointment runs only till 2010) because gun views like these are simply "unacceptable."

McCarthy's tone of righteous indignation and utter horror at the Gillibrand choice stems from the fact that McCarthy's political career was launched, as things so often are these days, by high-profile victimhood. In this case, McCarthy, a political novice, lost her husband in 1983 to one of those horrific random-shooter-massacre incidents that occur far too often in America. She was elected to the state senate on a gun control platform.

One can identify with the burning need to do something, anything, after such an untimely loss, but what has always been so wrong-headed about McCarthy's political career is that the Long Island Railroad Massacre would be many peoples' nomination for an incident illustrating the basic injusice of many gun control laws. The Long Island Massacre is certainly not a slam-dunk illustration of why gun control works.
As I have seen living in Israel where 18-year-old men and women slung with M-16 rifles are everywhere, more guns do not necessarily make for more random mass murder. Each time a crime like this has been attempted in Israel (last year, for instance when a man began attempting to run people over with a massive Caterpillar digger), it is shut down within a few minutes by armed bystanders. The average number of dead coming out of these incidents in Israel has been 1 to 3 (including the murderer.)

And now Carolyn McCarthy is set to come sweeping back. I hope this time people will take the time to review what happened on that commuter train on that evening in 1983.

Read the op-ed here.

Concealed carry permits spike in Missouri

From the Show Me State:
SPRINGFIELD -- Gun rights supporters fear the new president will get Congress to impose new gun control laws. That fear triggered a surge in gun sales nationwide after the election in November.

Instead of waiting, more people are exercising their right to personal protection.

"I know Obama said he wouldn't take away any of our gun rights but that remains to be seen," said Glen Hirsch, who was buying a gun on a recent day.

In Springfield, concealed carry courses are booked full through April.

"I want to be able to have it when I need it," said Kevin Hale of Aurora.

Instructors even added Sunday sessions.

"The demand for this course has pretty much tripled over what it was a year ago," said Randy Gibson, a concealed-carry weapons class instructor.

Article here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Doggy style

Tonight's safe sex video (sorta/kinda NSFW):


UC Davis students forms local SCCC chapter

Another Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, this one in Californistan:
DAVIS - To some observers, incidents like the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007 prove the need for tighter gun control. But to a growing group of students, such tragedies show that people on college campuses should be allowed to arm themselves for protection against school shooters. UC Davis psychology major Brendan Chan says such protection is "crucial in the minute or so that it takes police officers to respond." Chan is forming a local chapter of Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a national organization lobbying for change in campus gun regulations.

Article here. Efforts like this in anti-gun states like California face even more of an uphill battle in getting changes to the law than similar efforts underway in states like Texas. Naturally, California currently prohibits those who obey the law (and only those who obey the law) from carrying loaded guns on campus.

Scientists: New method can remove lead in blood

From Newsmax, reporting on a new method to remove heavy metals such as lead from the bloodstream:
South Korean scientists may have found a way to remove dangerous heavy metals such as lead from blood by using specially designed magnetic receptors.

The receptors bind strongly to lead ions and can be easily removed, along with their lead cargo, using magnets, they wrote in an article in Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a leading chemistry journal.

"Detoxification could theoretically work like hemodialysis: the blood is diverted out of the body and into a special chamber containing the biocompatible magnetic particles," they wrote in a statement.

"By using magnetic fields, the charged magnetic particles could be fished out. The purified blood is then reintroduced to the patient."

Article here. For those who handle and shoot firearms with traditional (lead-based) ammo, a certain amount of lead exposure is probably inevitable. Proper precautions can reduce the exposure to acceptable levels, but blood lead levels should be monitored regularly.

Utah bill would nix out-of-state CCW permits

From the Beehive State (Utah residents: you need a new state nickname! :)), comes this Salt Lake Tribune editorial supporting a bill to limit Utah concealed carry permits to Utah residents only:
The words "liberal" and "Utah" are rarely used in the same sentence, unless you're talking about firearms statutes. Utah's concealed-carry permit law is one of the most liberal, and by that we mean permissive, in the nation.

Utah permits are inexpensive, simple to acquire, slow to expire, easy to renew and are accepted in 32 other states through reciprocity agreements. And, for those reasons, they're the permit of choice for a nation of gun lovers. Approximately half of the new permits issued by the state in recent years have been acquired by nonresidents, many from states with more restrictive laws.

But that could change. There's a gun battle shaping up on Utah's Capitol Hill.

State Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, fired the first shot last week, filing a bill that would prevent nonresidents from obtaining Utah gun permits. And gun advocates, who claim to have been ambushed by the proposal, appear determined to shoot it down.

There are three good reasons why McCoy's bill should be enacted into law. ...

Read the op-ed here. If you have a Utah permit, you might want to make your opposition to such a change known. You might start with the state senate committee that will hear Sen. McCoy's bill.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

All the comforts of home

Tonight's well-equipped home ad - a walk-in beer closet:

Link: Heineken Walk in Fridge commercial

Open carry in Wisconsin

From the Badger State, on the issue of open carry:
For most of this decade, the most contentious gun issue in Wisconsin has been that of concealed carry, or the legal sanction to carry a firearm in public in a hidden manner, either on the body or in close proximity.

But this year that affair may take a backseat to a rapidly intensifying debate about the legality of open carry, or the act of publicly carrying a firearm in plain view.

Ostensibly, Wisconsin is an open-carry state, meaning there is no law against a law-abiding citizen openly carrying a legal firearm. Theoretically, at least, one could strap on a holster and pistol and go buy groceries, or plant trees in one's own yard, whether or not such an action might be wise.

Indeed, Wisconsin remains one of only two states in the nation not to allow some form of concealed carry, and one of the most-repeated arguments used by concealed-carry opponents is that it is not necessary because citizens can openly carry their guns.

Then attorney general Jim Doyle used that precise argument before the state Supreme Court in Wisconsin v Hamdan, in which the state carved out a concealed weapon exemption for small business owners.

As governor, Doyle reportedly reiterated his belief at a Lake Delton press conference, in which The Wisconsin Dells Events quoted him as saying, "If you want to carry a gun in Wisconsin, wear it on your hip."

Then again, maybe not, if the attitudes of other state officials, not to mention more than a few police actions, are any indication.

Doyle's proclamation notwithstanding, others in his administration take a wary view of wearing a gun openly on the hip, and their message is, if you do it, you're inviting trouble.

For example, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hunter education administrator Timothy Lawhern wrote last year that openly carrying a gun would likely provoke an unsympathetic and severe response from law enforcement officers.

"Note that the officer on the street doesn't expect to see firearms openly exposed," Lawhern wrote in the April 2008 issue of the Wisconsin Hunter Education newsletter. "In most cases when they do see a firearm, they draw theirs and tell the person 'Let me see your hands! Don't move!' In some cases they yell, 'Put the gun down,' or 'Drop the gun!'"

Him or them?

So whom should the public believe, the governor or his underlings?

Those who are inclined to place faith in the governor's words and legal contentions might want to consider the case of West Allis resident Brad Krause, whose experience last summer while wearing his legal firearm on his own property eerily recalled Lawhern's stern admonition.

According to multiple reports, on Aug 22, 2008, Krause was at home planting trees - with a holstered firearm on his side. That prompted a neighbor to call the police to ask if that was legal.

It wasn't, at least to the West Allis police. The department dispatched two squad cars to his residence and, after approaching him with their weapons drawn, ultimately arrested him for disorderly conduct, says Gene German, a gun-rights advocate who has followed the case closely.

"The police had him standing in handcuffs on his own property for 45 minutes with squad cars parked in front of his residence while they tried to figure out a way to arrest him," says German, who is the state director of the American Association of Certified Firearms Instructors and one of the founders of Wisconsin Patriots, a grassroots organization whose declared mission is to "encourage our fellow citizens to restore, exercise and preserve their individual rights, including the right to be safe."

"They shortly discovered Brad had no criminal record and was lawfully openly carrying on his own property, but instead of releasing him and returning his weapon, they tried to figure out how to arrest him. A call to the supervising lieutenant provided the answer: claim his action of carrying a weapon is disorderly conduct, and haul him down to the station. His firearm was taken away from him without a receipt, and it has not been returned. The police have effectively banned his exercise of his right by disarming him." ...

Article here. Worth a read. If I recall correctly, the Wisconsin Supreme Court (in the Hamdan case mentioned in the article) has upheld the ban on concealed carry under that state's constitution, due to the legality and supposed availability of open carry. But, as the article notes, apparently some law enforcement agencies are doing their best to suppress open carry via the use of specious "disorderly conduct" charges. Hopefully, Wisconsinites will get their act together and not stand for these sorts of infringements.

Ninth Circuit hears argument in Nordyke case

From San Francisco, on the long-running Nordyke case:
A long-running challenge to Alameda County's ban on gun shows at the annual county fair in Pleasanton was back before a federal appeals court in San Francisco today.

Gun show promoters Russell and Sallie Nordyke, of Willows in Glenn County, claim the ban violates their constitutional First Amendment right of free speech and their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

Their lawyer, Donald Kilmer, told the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, "We are asking to be allowed to hold the traditionally law-abiding gun shows held in the country fair for 10 years."

A three-judge panel took the case under submission after hearing an hour of arguments and will issue a written ruling at a later date.

Article here.

See this post for background on the case here.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Urban hack

Tonight's fun with buildings:

Conservatives give till it hurts, liberals ... not so much

From a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Arthur Brooks, on the "Giving Gap" between conservative and liberals:
Over the past several years, studies have consistently shown that people on the political right outperform those on the left when it comes to charity. This pattern appears to have held -- increased, even -- in 2008.

In May of last year, the Gallup polling organization asked 1,200 American adults about their giving patterns. People who called themselves "conservative" or "very conservative" made up 42% of the population surveyed, but gave 56% of the total charitable donations. In contrast, "liberal" or "very liberal" respondents were 29% of those polled but gave just 7% of donations.

These disparities were not due to differences in income. People who said they were "very conservative" gave 4.5% of their income to charity, on average; "conservatives" gave 3.6%; "moderates" gave 3%; "liberals" gave 1.5%; and "very liberal" folks gave 1.2%.

A common explanation for this pattern is that conservatives are more religious than liberals, and are simply giving to their churches. My own research in the past showed that religion was a major reason conservatives donated so much, and that secular conservatives gave even less than secular liberals.

It appears this is no longer the case, however: The 2008 data tell us that secular conservatives are now outperforming their secular liberal counterparts. Compare two people who attend religious services less than once per year (or never) and who are also identical in terms of income, education, sex, age and family status -- but one is on the political right while the other is on the left. The secular liberal will give, on average, $1,100 less to charity per year than the secular conservative. The conservative charity edge cannot be explained away by gifts to churches.

Perhaps you suspect that the vast political contributions given to the Obama campaign -- $742 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, versus $367 million for the McCain campaign -- were crowding out charitable giving by the left. But political donations, impressive as they were this year by historical standards, were still miniscule compared to the approximately $300 billion Americans gave charitably in 2008. Adding political and charitable gifts together would not change the overall giving patterns.

But here's where the charity gap really starts to make a difference for the recession of 2009: Conservatives don't just give more; they also decrease their giving less than liberals do in response to lousy economic conditions.
Ironically, few environments are less tolerant of conservatives and their ideas than the nonprofit world. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in October of 2008 that employees of major charities favored Democrats over Republicans in their private political contributions by a margin of 82% to 18%. Among the employees of major foundations, the difference was an astounding 98% to 2%. [emphasis added]

Reasonable people can disagree on politics, but the numbers on giving speak for themselves. Nonprofit executives, disproportionately politically progressive, do well to remember that many of the folks they will count on in hard times are not necessarily those who share their political views. Understanding this might make for better fund raising in a scary year -- and help us all to give credit where it is due.

Read the whole thing here.

As noted in this post, the Democratic candidate for president was far less generous (as a percentage of income) than his Republican counterpart.

The charitable giving gap between conservatives and liberals is well-established. See, e.g., here and here. Basically, conservatives are more generous than liberals. Which is ironic, given the overwhelming support for democrats over republicans by those who work at charities that are the recipients of conservatives' greater generosity.

A little light from New York

From the Empire State comes news that Governor David Patterson has appointed Representative Kirsten Gillibrand to replace Hillary Clinton as the junior senator from New York, upon Ms. Clinton's confirmation as Secretary of State.

(Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand speaks during introductory news conference where Gov. David Paterson named her as replacement for Hillary Clinton in U.S. Senate. At left is former Republican Sen. Al D'Amato. AP Photo / January 23, 2009)

In contrast to Ms. Clinton's anti-gun record and positions, Ms. Gillibrand, just beginning her 2nd term in the U.S. House of Representatives, has garnered an "A" rating from the National Rifle Association.

Gunowners of America (GOA) gives Ms. Gillibrand a "C" on gun rights, which is mighty good for (1) a Democrat (2) from New York. Indeed, to put that "C" in perspective, of the 25 New York reps rated by GOA, the vast majority were rated "F" or "F-". In fact, for her state Ms. Gillibrand ranked in the top three on gun rights (an "A", an "A-", and her "C" grade, and I’ll bet the other two were Republicans or Libertarians).

By contrast, the woman she’s replacing, Hillary Clinton, has an “F-“ rating from GOA. (See here for Ms. Clinton's GOA grade)

In addition, Ms. Gillibrand was a co-signatory to the pro-individual rights congressional amicus brief filed with SCOTUS in the Heller case.

Now, Ms. Gillibrand is currently serving only her second term in the U.S. House of Representatives, so she doesn’t that have much of a voting / legislative record to scrutinize, and I haven’t in my very brief search uncovered her positions on, e.g., cosmetically-impaired firearms. But given that New York Governor Patterson is a Democrat, in an anti-gun state, her appointment seems at this point to be a net win for gun rights supporters. A pleasant surprise, you might say.

Here are some other links:

From her website:
Congresswoman Gillibrand grew up in a family of hunters and strongly supports the rights of all hunters and gun owners. She has been an ardent opponent of legislation that will curb the Second Amendment for responsible gun owners and currently has a 100% voting record with the National Rifle Association (NRA). As a Member of the Agriculture Committee, she sponsored an amendment to the Farm Bill that will expand public lands dedicated for conservation and hunting.

For her positions on other issues, see here.

From an Albany Times Union article, dated 06-Oct-2008 [emphasis added below]:
Today, local Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand announced that she received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association. Gillibrand has a 100% voting record with the NRA, and an “A” lifetime rating by the organization. Gillibrand is one of only two New York Democrats on the federal level endorsed by the NRA.

“As a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, it is a privilege to have the endorsement of the NRA and the support of Upstate New York’s gun owners and hunters,” said Gillibrand. “I come from a family of hunters, and preserving this strong Upstate tradition is a priority of mine in Congress. I will continue to oppose legislation that will restrict the rights of responsible gun owners and I will continue to advocate for policies that will keep our rivers, land and air clean, so that future generations can enjoy hunting and wildlife in our region.”

The NRA has more than four million members nationwide. Gillibrand’s district has the most NRA members out of New York’s 29 Congressional Districts.

“Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand has earned the endorsement of the NRA’s Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) by consistently voting for the rights of law-abiding gun owners and hunters in the 110th Congress. She believes that the Second Amendment is an individual right and she co-signed the congressional amicus brief in support of our individual right to keep and bear arms in the historic Heller case earlier this year. We are pleased to endorse this friend of freedom and fully support her reelection,” said Chris W. Cox, chairman of NRA-PVF and NRA’s chief lobbyist.

During her first term in Congress, Gillibrand sponsored legislation that would open up more federal lands for hunting and fishing. Gillibrand, a Member of the House Agriculture Committee, was able to have this provision included in the new Farm Bill that was signed into law.

For GOA bio and voting scores, see here.

All in all, a little bit of good news from a usually anti-gun state.

Bay area environmentalists whine about national parks rule

From Northern California, via the Marin Independent Journal:
Local environmentalists and others are expressing surprise and disappointment over a change in federal law this month that makes it legal to bring concealed weapons into Muir Woods National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

To many, the idea of guns being brought to Muir Woods seems at odds with its tranquil character, where people come to escape urban life to feel at one with nature.

"Unbelievable," said Richard Watson of Greenbrae, who leads hikes for the Sierra Club's Marin Group. "When you go into Mother Nature and places like Muir Woods, and you have a rule like this, it is particularly obscene."
Scot McElveen, a retired chief park ranger and president of the Association of National Park Rangers, is apprehensive about the rule.

"Park wildlife, including some rare or endangered species, will face increased threats by visitors with firearms who engage in impulse or opportunistic shooting," McElveen said. "We also worry about increased vandalism shooting at historic monuments, archaeological petroglyphs and park signs and markers."

Article here. I guess the "rare or endangered species" that face "increased threats" due to those wacko law-abiding citizens with hard to obtain California CCWs who will no doubt "engage in impulse or opportunistic shooting" is the anti-gun wilderness version of "blood will run in the streets" and "there will be shootouts over parking spaces." Sigh.

Friday, January 23, 2009


Tonight's illicit airline caper:

Britain on the edge of bankruptcy?

From the UK Telegraph:
They don't know what they're doing, do they? With every step taken by the Government as it tries frantically to prop up the British banking system, this central truth becomes ever more obvious.

(Photo: UK Telegraph)

Yesterday marked a new low for all involved, even by the standards of this crisis. Britons woke to news of the enormity of the fresh horrors in store. Despite all the sophistry and outdated boom-era terminology from experts, I think a far greater number of people than is imagined grasp at root what is happening here.

The country stands on the precipice. We are at risk of utter humiliation, of London becoming a Reykjavik on Thames and Britain going under. Thanks to the arrogance, hubristic strutting and serial incompetence of the Government and a group of bankers, the possibility of national bankruptcy is not unrealistic.

The political impact will be seismic; anger will rage. The haunted looks on the faces of those in supporting roles, such as the Chancellor, suggest they have worked out that a tragedy is unfolding here. Gordon Brown is engaged no longer in a standard battle for re-election; instead he is fighting to avoid going down in history disgraced completely.

Article here.

Naturally, as the level of desperation grows we would expect any government worth its power-hungry, socialist salt to do what, exactly? Well, lie, cheat, and steal, of course! Just with greater alacrity and mendacity than usual. Anything to hide the truth from the populace, for as long as possible:
The Government is set to throw out the 165-year old law that obliges the Bank to publish a weekly account of its balance sheet – a move that will allow it theoretically to embark covertly on so-called quantitative easing. The Banking Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, abolishes a key section of the law laid down by Robert Peel's Government in 1844 which originally granted the Bank the sole right to print UK money.

The ostensible reason for the reform, which means the Bank will not have to print details of its own accounts and the amount of notes and coins flowing through the UK economy, is to allow the Bank more power to overhaul troubled financial institutions in the future, under its Special Resolution Authority.

However, some have warned that it means: "there is nothing to stop an unreported and unmonitored flooding of the money market by the undisciplined use of the printing presses."

Article here.

Gunmaking, Pakistani style

A look at guns and gun manufacturing in one of the tribal areas of Pakistan. The reporter seems totally clueless about guns, but the video is interesting nonetheless.

Video here, about 8 minutes long.

Note that these guys have been making guns with only simple tools. No fancy CNC machines. Puts into perspective the folly of trying to ban guns, when your local Home Depot probably has all the equipment needed to make a workable gun for anyone with decent mechanical skills. I guess we'll have to have NICS checks for power tool purchases soon. :)

Nebraska cities can't ban guns, says Attorney General; cities disagree

From the Cornhusker State:
LINCOLN — City officials across Nebraska were reviewing their options Wednesday in light of an attorney general's opinion that said state law trumps local ordinances banning the carrying of concealed weapons.

Lynn Rex, executive director of the League of Nebraska Municipalities, said one possibility might be to seek legislation yet this year.

"We are still in the process of assessing the opinion," she said.

Rex said the opinion will be a major concern for the communities that have set tighter restrictions on where holders of permits may carry concealed handguns. She said the state law would not have passed had it not allowed a local option.

Local concealed weapons ordinances were believed to be allowed under a state law that lists the authority granted to cities and towns.

But in the opinion, Attorney General Jon Bruning's office quoted portions of the concealed carry law that say a permit is "valid throughout the state" and that "a permitholder may carry a concealed handgun anywhere in Nebraska" with certain exceptions.

The concealed carry law does not explicitly allow local bans, according to the opinion. Without such express permission, state law would predominate.

State Sen. Mark Christensen of Imperial, who sought the opinion, said he did so because he was tired of battling legislatively to force cities and towns to repeal local bans. He tried and failed to get such legislation in 2007.

Now he believes that cities and towns with local concealed weapons ordinances will have to change their laws or risk being sued.

Article here.

Of course, getting anti-gun mayors, city managers and police chiefs to obey the law on their own is another story:
KEARNEY — Hub Territory cities can continue to ban the carrying of concealed weapons despite the Nebraska attorney general’s opinion.

Attorney General Jon Bruning announced an opinion Wednesday that a conceal-carry law passed in 2006 applies to all communities, despite clauses that allowed cities local control.

Lexington City Manager Joe Pepplitsch said until he hears differently, he will assume that Lexington’s ban remains in effect.

“An attorney general’s opinion has no legal effect. There’s a lot of questions about it, but we’ll probably take no action,” Pepplitsch said. “We have an ordinance prohibiting concealed weapons, and it doesn’t pre-empt any other laws, so for us it’s a nonissue. We’re not taking any action on it.”

Article here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I wonder what kind of driver's license you need

Tonight's automotive oddity - the Carver Car/Motorbike:

That does look like fun, but the passengers are probably gonna need to break out the Dramamine.

Buy a home cheap on the "Urban Priarie"

From the Denver Post: How low can homes go? Try $0
Detroit real estate agent Ian Mason has sold homes for $1.

When I asked him to check the listings for other properties at that price, he found four more.

He then took me to a white, clapboard-sided house that his company, Bearing Group Real Estate Brokerage, has listed.

"If you want this house, you can have it," he said. "I'll just give it to you."

"I'm not allowed to accept anything of value from a source," I told him.

"Who said I was giving you anything of value?" he replied.
In the neighborhood where Mason offered me a $0 house (not including closing costs, escrow, taxes, etc.), almost every dwelling was in shambles. Boarded windows. Abandoned cars. Collapsed porches. Ubiquitous graffiti.

The home across the street was charred, likely by arsonists.

We drove through snow nobody would ever plow.

"What's this place like in the summer?" I asked.

"You wouldn't be driving through here," Mason said. "There's a small chance you'd field a bullet."

Police stopped patrolling these neighborhoods years ago.

"So if I buy a $1 house, I'm going to need to hire some security?"

"Not necessarily," Mason said. "Some of these neighborhoods are so desolate, crime isn't much of a concern."


"I could take you to 30 square blocks of urban prairie." ...

A bleak picture, to be sure. Just wait till GM, Chrysler, and Ford go belly up.

Pennsylvania bill would ban reloading

From the Keystone State:
Reloading ammunition in Pennsylvania may become a thing of the past if a bill currently in state legislature is passed.

According to the National Rifle Association-Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA), “in the last year, so-called “encoded” or “serialized” ammunition bills have been introduced in 13 states — Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington.”

The bills, if passed, would require all bullets and cartridge cases to be marked with a code and registered to the owners in a computerized database, therefore, reloading would be outlawed.

“It (the bill) would eliminate reloading because there would be no way to serial it (the ammunition),” Rollin Anderson of Anderson’s Gun Shop in Watsontown said. “A lot of guys that handload (reload) are not happy about it.”
Ammunition you already own could also be at risk as many of the bills state that people would be required to forfeit all personally owned “non-encoded” ammunition after a certain date. Therefore, reloading would actually be deemed illegal.

“I think it’s ridiculous!” commented State Rep. Merle Phillips. “They’d take away reloading which a lot of gun owners do to save money. It makes no sense.”

Along with encoding and registering ammunition, there would also be a five cent tax on each bullet sold, therefore, a minimum $2.50 increase per box would be enforced.
According to the Ammunition Accountability Web site, the legislation was prompted by a “newly forming group” that includes “gun crime victims, industry representatives, law enforcement, public officials, public policy experts and more.”

However, Angus McClellan of the NRA-ILA Grassroots said, “this is a proposal by a commercial enterprise that has a patent on technology to imprint the codes. They are trying to create a demand for their product by making it mandatory. The owner of the company admitted on NRA News that his lobbying firm put up the whole thing.”

Article here. As the article notes, ammo serialization bills are being pushed in a number of states. If (when?) this legislation passes, expect a state legislature in an anti-gun state like New Jersey or Illinois to pass such a law first. Unless, of course, Congress decides to pass such a law for the entire country, a law that our new Antigunner-In-Chief President Obama will, I suspect, be happy to sign.

Judge rules gun control law unconstitutional, cites Heller

Via Volokh, discussing the case of U.S. v. Arzberger (memorandum opinion and order available here). The defendant was charged in federal court in New York City.

An excerpt from the Judge's ruling:
A year ago, I might well have taken for granted the authority of Congress to require that a person charged with a crime be prohibited from possessing a firearm as a condition of pretrial release. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution
provides that “[a] well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” U.S. Const. amend II. Courts, however, had routinely interpreted the right to bear arms as a right limited to the possession of weapons for certain military purposes. ...
This all changed with District of Columbia v. Heller, __ U.S. __, 128 S. Ct. 2783 (2008). There, the Court stated that “[t]here seems to us no doubt, on the basis of both text and history, that the Second Amendment conferred an individual right to keep and bear arms.” Id. at __, 128 S. Ct. at 2799. It interpreted Miller as holding “only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.” Id. at , 128 S. Ct. at 2815-16. The Court did acknowledge that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited” and noted that
longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Id. at __, 128 S. Ct. at 2816-17 (footnote omitted).

To the extent, then, that the Second Amendment creates an individual right to possess a firearm unrelated to any military purpose, it also establishes a protectible liberty interest. And, although the Supreme Court has indicated that this privilege may be withdrawn from some groups of persons such as convicted felons,
there is no basis for categorically depriving persons who are merely accused of certain crimes of the right to legal possession of a firearm.4

Again, the next step in the analysis is to apply the Mathews balancing test. The private interest at stake is paramount: the right to possess a firearm is constitutionally protected. In Heller, the Court made clear that there is no hierarchy of constitutional rights: “[t]he very enumeration of the right takes out of the hands of government -- even the Third Branch of Government -- the power to decide on a case-by-case basis whether the right is really worth insisting upon.” Id. at __, 128 S. Ct. at 2821. The remaining Mathews factors play out much as they did in the analysis of the curfew requirement. First, there is a serious risk that, in the absence of an individualized determination, an accused person will wrongly be deprived of his Second Amendment rights. Indeed, the Government may well find it difficult to articulate a nexus between an accusation of receiving child pornography and the need to prohibit possession of a firearm. Second, providing the defendant with an opportunity to be heard with respect to the appropriateness of this condition would reduce the potential error rate without creating a significant burden. And, finally, the Government’s interest in ensuring the safety of the community would not be undermined by requiring an independent judicial determination of the danger caused by the defendant and the efficacy of the proposed bail condition.

Accordingly, the Adam Walsh Amendments violate due process by requiring that, as a condition of release on bail, an accused person be required to surrender his Second Amendment right to possess a firearm without giving that person an opportunity to contest whether such a condition is reasonably necessary in his case to secure the safety of the community. Because the Amendments do not permit an individualized determination, they are unconstitutional on their face. The Government’s application to impose as a condition of bail that Mr. Arzberger not possess a firearm is therefore denied.

Obviously, this is a trial-level court ruling by a magistrate judge and not an appellate-level opinion, so the ruling doesn't have any binding effect on other courts in New York (or elsewhere).

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fast draw

Tonight's quick draw specialist, multiple world record holder Bob Munden:

Montana considers Castle Doctrine bills

From Big Sky country, via the Bozeman Daily Chronicle:
HELENA - Two bills put before lawmakers Thursday would put on the books a widely recognized right to use a gun on home intruders posing a serious threat, but one Republican says the Legislature needs to go farther in protecting Montanans’ Second Amendment rights.

Sen. Larry Jent, D-Bozeman, and Rep. Kendall Van Dyk, D-Billings, presented their bills in Senate and House hearings Thursday morning with the backing of law-enforcement officials and prosecutors from across the state.

The identical bills would enshrine the so-called “Castle Doctrine,” a common-law concept that holds a person can use deadly force in their own home if someone poses a serious threat to them.

Those testifying at Thursday’s hearings said county prosecutors in Montana already recognize the Castle Doctrine and that the law should reflect that.

Article here.

Perspective: Argentina's economic collapse

Here are a couple of "food for thought" articles on dealing with major economic disruptions and their aftermath. The posts deal with life in Argentina, once the richest and most prosperous nation in South America, after that nation's 2001/2002 economic collapse.

From the Washington Post, August 2002: Despair in Once-Proud Argentina
The desolation of that day, neighbor vs. neighbor over hunks of meat, suggested how profoundly the collapse has altered Argentina. Traditionally proud, Argentines have begun to despair. Talk today is of vanished dignity, of a nation diminished in ways not previously imaginable.

Argentines have a legacy of chaos and division. In search of their "workers' paradise," Juan and Eva Peron declared war on the rich. During the "dirty war" of the 1970s, military rulers arrested tens of thousands of people, 15,000 of whom never resurfaced. And when then-President Carlos Menem touted New Capitalism in the 1990s, the rich got richer -- many illegally -- while the poor got poorer.

Yet some things here never really changed. Until last year, Argentines were part of the richest, best-educated and most cultured nation in Latin America. Luciano Pavarotti still performed at the Teatro Colon. Buenos Aires cafe society thrived, with intellectuals debating passages from Jorge Luis Borges over croissants and espresso. The poor here lived with more dignity than their equals anywhere else in the region. Argentina was, as the Argentines liked to say, very civilized.

Not anymore.

Argentines have watched, horrified, as the meltdown dissolved more than their pocketbooks. Even the rich have been affected in their own way. The tragedy has struck hardest, however, among the middle class, the urban poor and the dirt farmers. Their parts of this once-proud society appear to have collapsed -- a cave-in so complete as to leave Argentines inhabiting a barely recognizable landscape.

Worth a read, if only to see what economic collapse has wrought on what was once South America's wealthiest nation.


Here are a couple of videos, parts 1 and 2 from a series of 12 on the 2001 Argentine economic collapse:

The rest of the series can be viewed on YouTube (search for "Argentina economic collapse") if you're interested.


Another article, author unknown: What an Economic Collapse Looks Like: How to be a survivalist in an economic decline

Here's a blog, Surviving in Argentina, purportedly written by someone currently living there. The author's posts do have a ring of authenticity to them, so I am inclined to give his views weight as to the situation in Argentina. Read a couple of his posts (excuse the occasional incorrect grammar -- his English is far better than my Spanish, for sure!) here, here, and here.


Back around 2003 or so I did some defensive firearms training, and one of the students was a fellow from Argentina, who painted a pretty bleak picture of the Argentinean economy and the adverse effects on the entire social structure, at all levels. He talked about the rising crime in his country, and the importance of having defensive tools and the skills to use them. You could tell he thought the stuff he was learning would have real-world application when he got back home to Argentina.

As we here in the US embark on an era of potentially multi-trillion (that's trillion with a "T") dollar deficits, with a total public debt already in the $10.6 trillion dollar range ($6.3 trillion in debt held by the public, and $4.3 trillion in intragovernmental holdings, as of Jan 15th, 2009), the possibility of once unthinkable economic collapse begins to seem less remote, and more than idle speculation to more and more Americans. And this in America, a nation whose poor are the envy of some nations' upper middle classes. The social dislocation of such a collapse, should it occur, would likely be great indeed, in part because so many Americans are woefully unprepared for even modest (by comparison) and localized events, such as floods, hurricanes, and the like.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Smooth talker

Tonight's cute animal video:

If you think the U.S. economy's bad ...

Be grateful you don't live in the EU:
Events are moving fast in Europe. The worst riots since the fall of Communism have swept the Baltics and the south Balkans. An incipient crisis is taking shape in the Club Med bond markets. S&P has cut Greek debt to near junk. Spanish, Portuguese, and Irish bonds are on negative watch.

Dublin has nationalised Anglo Irish Bank with its half-built folly on North Wall Quay and €73bn (£65bn) of liabilities, moving a step nearer the line where markets probe the solvency of the Irish state.

A great ring of EU states stretching from Eastern Europe down across Mare Nostrum to the Celtic fringe are either in a 1930s depression already or soon will be. Greece's social fabric is unravelling before the pain begins, which bodes ill.

Each is a victim of ill-judged economic policies foisted upon them by elites in thrall to Europe's monetary project – either in EMU or preparing to join – and each is trapped.

Article here.

Shipping rates hit zero

More bad news on the global economic slump:
Freight rates for containers shipped from Asia to Europe have fallen to zero for the first time since records began, underscoring the dramatic collapse in trade since the world economy buckled in October.

"They have already hit zero," said Charles de Trenck, a broker at Transport Trackers in Hong Kong. "We have seen trade activity fall off a cliff. Asia-Europe is an unmit­igated disaster."

Shipping journal Lloyd's List said brokers in Singapore are now waiving fees for containers travelling from South China, charging only for the minimal "bunker" costs. Container fees from North Asia have dropped $200, taking them below operating cost.

Industry sources said they have never seen rates fall so low. "This is a whole new ball game," said one trader.

The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) which measures freight rates for bulk commodities such as iron ore and grains crashed several months ago, falling 96pc. The BDI – though a useful early-warning index – is highly volatile and exaggerates apparent ups and downs in trade. However, the latest phase of the shipping crisis is different. It has spread to core trade of finished industrial goods, the lifeblood of the world economy.

Trade data from Asia's export tigers has been disastrous over recent weeks, reflecting the collapse in US, UK and European markets.

Article here. Not a bright picture of the near future, unfortunately.

Welcome, Mr. President, and good luck

Today, Barack Obama, our nation's 44th President was sworn in. His oath of office, specified in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, reads thusly:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

And while President Obama's political ideology and record on several critically important issues, including gun control and the Second Amendment, are at odds with my own, I congratulate him on his historic electoral victory.

I wish him good luck as he strives to fulfill and remain faithful to his solemn oath of office to "preserve, protect, and defend" the Constitution, and join him in praying that the Lord will continue to bless our great nation.

Good luck, Mr. President.

Hedge fund managers bullish on gold, guns, and survival gear

From an article in New York Magazine:
During the final months of 2008, as the financial markets imploded, talk on trading desks turned to food and water stockpiles, generators, guns, and high-speed inflatable boats. “The system really was about six hours from failing,” says Gene Lange, a manager at a midtown hedge fund, referring to the week in September when Lehman went bust and AIG had to be bailed out. “When you think about how close we were to the precipice, I don’t think it necessarily makes a guy crazy to prepare for the potential worst-case scenario.”

Preparations, in Lange’s case, include a storeroom in his basement in New Jersey stacked high with enough food, water, diapers, and other necessities to last his family six months; a biometric safe to hold his guns; and a 1985 ex-military Chevy K5 Blazer that runs on diesel and is currently being retrofitted for off-road travel. He has also entertained the idea of putting an inflatable speedboat in a storage unit on the West Side, so he could get off the island quickly, and is currently considering purchasing a remote farm where he could hunker down. “If there’s a financial-system breakdown, it could take a year to reset the system, and in that time, what’s going to happen?” asks Lange. If New York turns into a scene out of I Am Legend, he wants to be ready.

He’s not the only one. In his book Wealth, War, published last year, former Morgan Stanley chief global strategist Barton Biggs advised people to prepare for the possibility of a total breakdown of civil society. A senior analyst whose reports are read at hedge funds all over the city wrote just before Christmas that some of his clients are “so bearish they’ve purchased firearms and safes and are stocking their pantries with soups and canned foods.” ...

Article here.

Permit applications increase in Colorado

From Colorado:
FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- There's an increasing chance the guy sitting or standing next to you is carrying a concealed weapon.

Applications for concealed carry permits tripled in Larimer County in the last quarter of 2008, and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation said Thursday it is having trouble keeping up with the workload due to so many new applications statewide.
"The political power is moving to the left, and the power brokers are the radical left. And whenever you see that, people get concerned. Law abiding gun owners get concerned that their Second Amendment rights will be infringed upon," said Larimer County Sheriff Jim Alderden.

Alderden said his office was processing about three to four applications a week before the November election. Now, they are processing an average of 35 a week. He cites studies that he said prove society benefits from concealed weapon permits.

"With the increase in permits, violent crime goes down. When I started to issue permits, there was all this talk that there would be 'blood in the streets'. That hasn't happened," said Alderden. Alderden said concealed carry permits enhance public safety.

Article here. Note the pro-CCW position of the Larimer County Sheriff, always a good thing to see reported in the news. While police chiefs are appointed, sheriffs are elected. Thus, in states with lots of gun owners, sheriffs tend to be much more supportive of gun rights than police chiefs.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Playing the piano with your balls

Tonight's musical oddity:

Cemetery worker shoots self without gun

From the Sunshine State:
Sheppard initially said the ammunition was on a shelf and one of the bullets may have discharged because he threw a hammer and a string trimmer on the shelf, police said. After being pressed, he told Hudson that he secured the sixth bullet in a vise clamp, placed a metal punch into the cartridge primer and hit the punch with a hammer. [emphasis added]

Article here. Sigh. Sometimes, stupid hurts.

Don't try this as home

For the spicy food folks out there:

I don't know if the video is real or not, but that looks painful.

Op-ed: Obama named "Gun Salesman of the Year"

From the Chattanogan:
In recognition of the unprece­dented demand for firearms by nervous consumers, The Outdoor Wire has named President-elect Barack Obama its "Gun Salesman of the Year". For me, it was a simple fact of recognizing that without President-elect Obama's frightening consumers into action, the firearms industry might be suffering the same sort of business slumps that have befallen the automotive and housing industries.

It's credit where credit is due. Mr. Obama has consistently voted against individual rights to firearms, appointed a re-tread Clinton administration full of gun banners, and made it plain to anti-gun groups that despite what he might say to the contrary, he's on their side That history, along with the unquestioned support of anti-gun organizations has spooked consumers into a buying frenzy for firearms that could be outlawed in another Assault Weapons Ban.

Manufacturers are months behind on orders for semi-automatic pistols, AR-style rifles, and anything with so-called 'high-capacity magazines, buyers we've surveyed across the country seem to have a single explanation for their rush to purchase firearms - Obama.

Op-ed here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Awareness test

Tonight's awareness test:

The phenomenon is often called "inattentional blindness", and is one of the reasons you shouldn't give detailed statements to police in the immediate aftermath of a critical incident, such as a deadly force event. You're not likely to have very good recall of details that your mind perceived as non-critical (non-threat-related) information, and your answers to detailed questions may very well seem vague and evasive to an adversarial questioner. Heck, you might not accurately recall details such as the number of shots you fired, how close your attacker(s) were (due to e.g., tunnel vision, low light), etc. This is especially true in the immediate aftermath of a violent encounter.

As my friends in the criminal defense bar like to say: You have a right to remain silent ... use it!

Just your local neighborhood deer hunter

From Maryland:
A year ago, this would have been illegal: Mark Eakin, a federal oceanographer and avid deer hunter, sat in a portable tree stand with his bow at the ready, overlooking a small creek and two Rockville back yards on a cold January morning. As the camo-clad Eakin peered down, the weekday routine rolled down the street behind him, school buses, trash trucks and commuters heading toward Wootton Parkway.

"The worst is when people are out here with their leaf blowers," Eakin said. "You don't see a lot of deer then."

But Eakin, who has bagged eight deer since bow season began in September, isn't complaining about the suburban conditions. In fact, he's one of several hunters, game officials and residents to hail Montgomery County's surprising emergence as something of a deer-hunting haven.
Behind Montgomery's new openness to hunting, officials said, is public frustration with the whitetail population boom. Crumpled fenders, ruined gardens and the risk of Lyme disease have made residents much more receptive to hunters.

"They've gone from 'How dare you propose shooting the deer' to 'When are you coming to my neighborhood?' " said Rob Gibbs, head of Montgomery's Deer Management Working Group.

Article here.

Another National Parks carry op-ed

From Human Events, op-ed by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), on the new rule allowing lawful concealed carry in National Parks:
On January 9, 2009, the National Park Service was tasked to live by the same rules that the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service and the rest of the nation use. On January 10, 2009, the earth rotated. The sun rose. The Constitution still worked. Law-abiding citizens were still, well, law-abiding. Apparently, we all survived.

Starting in the 1980s, a significant number of states passed laws which allowed law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms. Most federal land agencies acknowledged these rights and respected the 2nd Amendment. But the National Park Service (NPS) failed to keep pace with these developments and for years banned firearms on NPS land -- in clear violation of the 2nd Amendment. This occurred despite an executive order by President Clinton that reinforced the long-held understanding that federal regulations should be implemented in a manner that respects “state prerogatives and authority.” The Interior Department has finally responded with new regulations that, as of last week, now allow law-abiding Americans the same rights inside our national parks as they have outside the national parks.
As the Ranking Republican member on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and the first member in Congress to begin offering amendments to lift the ban on firearms, I agree that the Interior Department change is good, logical and needed. A few have who object to this rule have inaccurately analyzed data so I also feel duty-bound to refute a few silly criticisms of the new regulations.

First, some erroneously contend that “allowing guns will bring violence and upset the tranquility” of the parks. Good grief! The Park Service claims that according to their data “only” 9 people were murdered and 49 people were raped on Park Service lands in 2007; however, NPS numbers may vastly under-represent the number of crimes on Park Service lands. The NPS excludes from their reports crimes handled by other agencies such as the FBI, DEA and state law enforcement. The Park Service has no clue how many crimes actually occur on their lands. Even if the Park Service claims about the numbers of crimes committed in national parks is correct, it is of little comfort to the 9 people murdered and 49 people raped.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein recently blasted (no pun intended) this new respect of legal concealed weapons by saying it will create a “dangerous environment.” I happen to believe that law abiding Americans with concealed weapons permits aren’t too different from Sen. Feinstein when she received her concealed weapons permit in the 1970s and carried a .38 for her safety.

At least now she won’t be arrested for inadvertently walking on land administered by one branch of the federal government rather than land administered by a different branch of the federal government.

Read the op-ed here. Kudos to Rep. Bishop for his support for this sensible (and long overdue) rule change. For those who haven't visited Mr. Bishop's home state of Utah, with its beautiful national parks -- Zion, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Arches -- I would definitely recommend a visit.

[Hat Tip to reader Jason for the link]