Minor Thoughts from me to you

Archives for Guns (page 1 / 1)

Imagine if Exxon Was Protected From Liability After the Valdez?

John Gruber approvingly quotes Evan Osnos:

Anybody — especially people who favor free markets — should conclude that the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act was a big mistake. Imagine if Exxon was protected from liability after the Valdez? That’s not how markets should work. It will probably be revised or repealed to make sure that companies are doing safe work — as with any industry.

The argument is that because Exxon was held responsible for the Valdez oil spill, gun manufacturers should be held responsible for deadly shootings.

That's one of the stupidest comments that I've seen smart people make. Exxon was the company operating the Valdez. The Valdez itself was manufactured by National Steel and Shipbuilding Company. As far as I can discover, NASSCO was never sued or penalized over the Exxon Valdez crash. Exxon (the user of the ship) faced massive penalties for the oil spill.

The same principle would apply to cars. If someone uses a Ford Focus to detonate a car bomb, you don't sue Ford for making the car. If someone drives a Ford into a crowd of people, killing some, you don't sue Ford for making the car. And if someone uses a Colt handgun or rifle to kill someone, you don't sue Colt for making the gun. You prosecute the individual who was using the gun.

This entry was tagged. Guns Regulation

Black Residents Armed With Assault Rifles Stand Guard Outside White-Owned Business During Ferguson Riots →

A group of black Ferguson residents armed with high-powered rifles stood outside a white-owned business in the city during recent riots, protecting it from rioters that looted and burned other businesses.

… a group of heavily armed black men stood outside a Conoco gas station.

One of the residents, a 6-foot-8 man named Derrick Johnson, held an AR-15 assault rifle as he stood in a pickup truck near that store’s entrance. Three other black Ferguson residents joined Johnson in front of the store, each of them armed with pistols.

The men said they felt indebted to the store’s owner, Doug Merello, who employed them over the course of several years.

I said before that I didn't like the rioting and looting that was going on in Ferguson. This story is both a good example of why not and a good antidote to the riots.

This entry was tagged. Civil Liberties Guns

Ferguson

I find the entire situation in Ferguson to be infuriating and frustrating. I'm furious that a police officer got into an altercation with a young, black man and shot and killed him. I'm furious that the police department's first response was to suit up and bring out the tactical military gear. I'm furious that MRAV's, sniper rifles, and grenade launchers are considered appropriate tools for America's civilian police force.

I was frustrated that it took 3 nights of standoffs, tear gas, and rubber bullets before Missouri governor Jay Nixon decided that something was wrong and relieved the police of responsibility for Ferguson. I was elated when the Missouri State Highway Patrol was given responsibility and responded by leading protestors through town, listening to protestors, and being photographed hugging protestors instead of pointing guns at them.

I was confused when I heard that protestors, on the very first night, had reacted to the shooting by looting and trashing a local convenience store. Looting, in general, confuses me. Who does that? Who responds to a tragedy by saying, "Screw it. I'm mad and I'm going to respond by beating up this other innocent bystander."

Make no mistake, that's what looting and vandalism is. It's violence against the innocent and the uninvolved. Most stores that are looted are owned by local community members. They're staffed by local community members. They provide goods, services, jobs, and incomes to local community members. By destroying them, you're destroying local incomes, services, jobs, and wealth. You're depriving the owner of a livelihood. You're depriving the workers of an income. You're depriving the people who live and work near that store of the services that that store provided.

I've heard that protestors are claiming that they looted because that was the only way to draw attention to their cause. That's stupid. Protest marches, sit-ins, and rallies draw attention to your cause. Practicing non-violent resistance draws attention to your cause and generates sympathy from those watching. Looting and vandalism is a senseless act of violence and rage directed against those unfortunate enough to be located too close to the scene of tragedy. It's violence for violence's sake, responding to injustice by multiplying injustice.

So I was frustrated and angry when I heard that the night of calm in Ferguson was followed up with a night of renewed fighting and renewed vandalism. I was angry when I heard that the police stood back and allowed the looting to happen, forcing store owners to defend their own businesses. First the police over responded by armoring up and acting worse than most occupying forces. Then they under responded by allowing thugs to destroy community businesses. I'm angry because they don't understand—and can't perform—their own jobs.

I want justice in Ferguson. I want the police officer responsible for the shooting to be arrested and tried for murder, treated the same as any other civilian assailant. If a jury determines that his actions were justified, he can walk free and resume his job, the same as everyone else. If the jury determines otherwise, he can suffer the penalty, the same as everyone else.

And I want the looters to be arrested, charged, and tried as well. Their actions are neither necessary nor useful. They're criminal and should be treated as such.

One final note. I've seen people on Twitter questioning why second amendment anti-tyranny gun nuts haven't had anything to say about Ferguson. As one such nut, here's my response.

The citizenry of Ferguson absolutely have a right to own weaponry sufficient to defend themselves from criminals, whether vandals or an overreaching police force. The police force certainly seems to have given sufficient provocation for these Americans to justify an armed response. It was just such provocations, in Boston, that ultimately led to the War for Independence.

That doesn't mean that now is the right time for an armed response or that an armed response is the wisest course of action, at this time. I won't absolutely advise against it, and I won't absolutely advise it. I'm not on the ground in Ferguson, I don't know all of the facts, and I don't have the knowledge to speak wisely about the situation.

But the citizens of Ferguson, as citizens of the United States, have the right to assemble, to speak, and to petition for redress of grievances by any means necessary, either First or Second Amendment. But they don't have the right to claim that violence against local property owners is one such means of redress. That's why I'm increasingly angered with, and frustrated by, both sides of this standoff.

Mass Shootings Aren’'t On the Rise →

It seems like there's a constant drumbeat of bad news about mass shootings. I've been starting to wonder if there really are more mass shootings than there used to be or if we're just seeing more mass shootings than we used to. It looks like we're just seeing more mass shootings, thanks to an increased focus by the news media. James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, provides this data.

Number of mass shootings and deaths, per year

Why, then, is there such a powerful feeling that things are getting worse? Media coverage plays a big role. It's almost hard to believe today, but there was a time in the not too distant past when people in New York might not even hear about a school shooting that happened across the country. Today, every incident immediately explodes onto the national stage and is then amplified a millionfold by social media. It's a visceral example of the availability heuristic — the easier it is for us to think of a certain type of event (whether a school shooting or a plane crash), the higher we rate its probability. But this is an illusion; just because it's easier than it ever has been to think of an example of a shooting doesn't mean these events are more likely than they were in the past.

The trend lines shows that the number of victims has been edging upward but that the number of actual incidents has stayed flat, over nearly a 40-year period.

This entry was tagged. Guns Research

The Power of Bias →

Megan McArdle wrote recently about the power of bias, as applied to people's opinions of George Zimmerman. I recommended reading it for insight into how our thinking can be affected by bias. But, given the still swirling gun control debates, I was also struck by this passage.

Parents find it easy to imagine their child being kidnapped by a stranger, which is why many children under the age of 12 or 13 are now escorted everywhere by a parent or another trusted adult. But stranger abductions are incredibly rare and always have been, even in the days when first-graders regularly walked themselves to school. Parents find it easy to imagine their children dying in a gun accident, which is why you hear about parents who won’t have guns in the house, and refuse to let their kids play at the homes of parents who do. But those sorts of accidental shootings involving young children are about as rare as stranger abductions. On the other hand, very few parents would say “I won’t let you play at their house -- they have a swimming pool,” even though drowning is one of the most common ways for young children to die. Economist Steven Levitt estimates that swimming pools are about 100 times more dangerous than a gun in the home.

Who Cares What the Majority Wants on Guns? →

The Founding Fathers worried that "some common impulse of passion" might lead many to subvert the rights of the few. It's a rational fear, one that is played out endlessly. Obama, who understands how to utilize public passion better than most, flew some of the Newtown families to Washington for a rally, imploring Americans to put "politics" aside and stop engaging in "political stunts." This is, by any measure, a preposterous assertion coming from a politician piggybacking tragic events for political gain. It would have been one thing, I suppose, if the gun control legislation written in the aftershock of a gruesome massacre had anything to do with the topic at hand. But what senators came up with would have done nothing to stop the shooter in Newtown -- or the one in Aurora, Colo. Passions can be aggravated by events, but in this case, events have little to do with the policy at hand.

The President's gun control bill failed in the Senate. That's a feature of the American political system, not a bug. The Senate is supposed to move slowly on legislation—and reject much—to ensure that whatever passes is passed by cool-minded individuals. The alternative is bad laws like the Patriot Act, which passed with no deliberation whatsoever.

This entry was tagged. Guns

The Gun Rights Consensus →

The Wall Street Journal had this to say:

A word, first, about that Senate "minority." Majority Leader Harry Reid was free to bring the deal struck by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey to the floor for an up-or-down vote, and this background-checks amendment might have passed. It did convince 54 Senators, including four Republicans.

But under Senate rules, a simple majority vote would have opened the measure to up to 30 hours of debate, which would have meant inspecting the details. The White House demanded, and Mr. Reid agreed, that Congress should try to pass the amendment without such a debate.

Majority rules would have also opened the bill to pro-gun amendments that were likely to pass. That would have boxed Mr. Reid into the embarrassing spectacle of having to later scotch a final bill because it also contained provisions that the White House loathes. So Mr. Reid moved under "unanimous consent" to allow nine amendments, each with a 60-vote threshold.

The White House was right to worry. An amendment from John Cornyn of Texas that would have required all states to recognize every other state's concealed-carry permits earned 57 votes, 13 Democrats among them. The nearby table has the list. On Thursday, Wyoming's John Barrasso offered an amendment to protect gun ownership privacy that passed 67-30.

This entry was tagged. Guns

The “Pro-Gun” Provisions of Manchin-Toomey were Actually a Bonanza of Gun Control →

David Kopel, at the Volokh Conspiracy, analyzes the actual language of Senator Toomey's and Senator Manchin's gun control bill.

The Toomey-Manchin Amendment which may be offered as soon as Tuesday to Senator Reid’s gun control bill are billed as a “compromise” which contain a variety of provisions for gun control, and other provisions to enhance gun rights. Some of the latter, however, are not what they seem. They are badly miswritten, and are in fact major advancements for gun control. In particular:

  1. The provision which claims to outlaw national gun registration in fact authorizes a national gun registry.

  2. The provision which is supposed to strengthen existing federal law protecting the interstate transportation of personal firearms in fact cripples that protection.

On April 17, after the bill died, the President had this to say.

They claimed that it would create some sort of “big brother” gun registry, even though the bill did the opposite. This legislation, in fact, outlawed any registry. Plain and simple, right there in the text.

Except that, as Kopel showed, the bill only outlawed some registries, leaving the government free to enact others. It also posed a danger to gun owners who drive through anti-gun states. The way I read the relevant legislative language, the Senate was right to vote against the bill and the President was wrong to accuse them of acting in bad faith.

This entry was tagged. Analysis Guns

5 Facts About Guns, Schools, And Violence →

Reason.TV put together a nice, short, video talking about 5 gun violence facts that most people aren't aware of.

  1. Violent crime – including violent crime using guns – has dropped massively over the past 20 years.

  2. Mass shootings have not increased in recent years.

  3. Schools are getting safer.

  4. There Are More Guns in Circulation Than Ever Before.

  5. “Assault Weapons Bans” Are Generally Ineffective.

Americans own more guns than ever before and yet our schools are safer, violent crime is down, and mass shootings are down. When I hear all of that, I don't think that we need stricter gun control or that everyone needs to get rid of their guns.

This entry was tagged. Guns

Gunman killed at Sullivan Central (TN) →

I just recently came across this 2010 story, about a would-be school shooter. He was stopped before anyone was hurt because he was quickly met by an armed response. The School Resource Officer was able to keep him in a standoff, until the Sheriff's officers arrived. Without that initial armed response, this could have been another deadly school shooting.

“He pulled out his gun and started pointing it at people,” Thacker said.

Cowan trained a .380-caliber semi-automatic pistol at Riden’s face [the principal], said Sullivan County Sheriff Wayne Anderson. Carolyn Gudger, the school resource officer, drew her gun, then shielded the principal’s body with her own.

Riden fled and Gudger inched back into the school, leading Cowan through the scattered pastel chairs in the empty cafeteria. It was a tactical move, meant to lure the gunman into a more contained place, Anderson said.

This entry was tagged. Guns

The Case For Ugly Guns And Big Magazines →

Mitch Berg looks at, and responds to, many of the common arguments in favor of banning high capacity magazines and "assault" weapons. Effective self defense is just one of his points.

It was one burglar. She shot six times, hitting the guy five times, in the face and neck. Which, by the way, is pretty good shooting under that kind of stress. So think about it; that’s five shots, in the face and neck with a serious-caliber pistol, and the guy lived. And there are cases of people surviving many, many hits by serious bullets and living to tell the tale. One bullet can kill someone instantly – if it hits the brain stem – but a person can still function just fine if they’re hit in the heart, for a few seconds anyway. Hits in the lungs, liver, stomach, muscle tissue? If they’re high enough, or dissociative enough, or drunk enough, or have enough adrenaline going, they may not even know they’ve been hit until they collapse from blood loss.

Remember the book Black Hawk Down? There were stories of Rangers hitting Somali attackers with armor piercing bullets from their M-16 rifles – which are like AR15s, only they can fire full-automatic, like machine guns, and each of their bullets has five times the hitting power of that woman’s pistol – and they didn’t even know it, since they were high on adrenaline and qat.

This entry was tagged. Guns

12 Year Old Girl Shoots Home Intruder →

Just last night, I posted that the "gun is civilization" and that "the gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger". This morning, I came across this story, from October, 2012. It perfectly illustrates the point.

A day off for fall break was anything but relaxing for a 12-year old Bryan County girl, when an intruder broke into her home on Michael Avenue.

Deputies say, the girl was home alone when a man she'd never seen before, rang the front doorbell. They say when no one answered the door, the man went around to the back of the house and kicked a door open. That's when authorities say, the girl grabbed a gun and hid in a bathroom closet.

"He had worked his way all the way through the house and into the bathroom. And from what we understand, he was turning the doorknob when she fired through the door." Says Bryan County Under sheriff, Ken Golden.

After the man was shot, The 12- year old ran out of the closet and called for help.

I hope that none of my girls are ever in that kind of situation. And I hope that if they are, that they do as well as this girl did.

This entry was tagged. Civil Liberties Guns

Why the Gun is Civilization →

It's been nearly six years since I first read this brief essay, by Marko Kloos. It had a powerful impact on me and the central point has stuck with me ever since. Carrying a gun is not an uncivilized act. It is the ultimate civilizing act.

Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that’s it.

In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.

When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force. The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gangbanger, and a single gay guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.

This entry was tagged. Civil Liberties Guns

Open Letter to the Oregon (WI) School Board

This was written Friday, just a few hours after I learned about the Newtown shooting.

Members of the Oregon School Board,

On a day like today, I feel very reassured that Netherwood Knoll Elementary is a gun-free zone. I feel reassured every time I think about the fact that my kindergarten aged daughter is perfectly safe from law-abiding people. She will never have to worry that someone who reads and obeys the “No Guns” sign will ever bring a gun to campus.

I wonder, though, how safe she is from people who aren’t law abiding? How safe is she, if someone decides to break the law by committing murder? How does that sign protect her then? In that moment, a gunman will walk into the school full of confidence. He’ll be confident that none of the school staff have the means to stop him. He’ll be confident that none of the teachers have the means to stop him. He’ll be confident that the classrooms are a perfect killing field for him. He’ll be confident that none of the classrooms are a potential threat to him.

Laws creating gun free schools have turned schools into killing fields for every psychopath who wants to get on the evening news. You’ve taken responsibility for my daughter but you’ve ensured that no one around her has the means to defend her or the means to stop evil doers that would threaten her.

Is there any one at Netherwood Knoll Elementary that is capable of committing violence in defense of the defenseless? Or are you going to continue to claim that the weapon is the real problem? By systematically disarming every individual in the school, you allow a lone murderer with a lone weapon to become the most powerful man in the school. That is immoral.

I beg of you. Reconsider your stance on guns in schools. Let the Oregon School District be full of schools that the evil are afraid to enter. Let our students come to school, secure in the knowledge that their teachers and staff are fully capable of protecting them, whether it’s from ice on the sidewalks or gunmen in the halls. Don’t allow NKE to be a shooting gallery of the defenseless any longer.

This entry was tagged. Guns

Heinlein Defines Our World →

In the course of defending Robert Heinlein’s position on firearms from David Brin, Eric S. Raymond offers up a view on the staggering impact that RAH has had on the world we live in today.

(When time has given us perspective to write really good cultural histories of the 20th century, Heinlein is going to look implausibly gigantic. His achievements didn’t stop with co-inventing science fiction and all its consequences, framing post-1960s libertarianism, energizing the firearms-rights movement, or even merely inspiring me to become the kind of person who not only could write The Cathedral and the Bazaar but had to. No. Heinlein also invented much of zeitgeist of the 1960s counterculture through his novel Stranger In A Strange Land; it has been aptly noted that he was the only human being ever to become a culture hero both to the hippies of Woodstock and the U.S. Marine Corps. I am told that to this day most Marine noncoms carry a well-thumbed copy of Starship Troopers in their rucksacks.)

This entry was tagged. Guns Libertarian

Re: Fort Hood's Shootings (Joe's Take)

I believe this post finishes our site's libertarian conversion. We now occupy the same portion of the libertarian spectrum that LewRockwell.com occupies.

I don't like America's wars of aggression. The problem, as I see it, is that it can be hard to tell the difference between a war of aggression and a good preemptive defense. For instance, I'm still not convinced that going into Iraq was the right thing to do. I'm not sure what risk we were defending ourselves against.

On the other hand, Afghanistan was a necessary war. You give safe harbor to people who blow up part of a city, you die. It's just that simple. But I think that we should have left a while ago. I'm not sure that we're accomplishing anything worthwhile by propping up a corrupt Karzai government. I know about the fear that that terrorists will get Pakistani nukes and attack us with those. But I'm not sure how likely that scenario is or how fragile Pakistan's own government is. So I'm not sure if what we're doing is preemptive defense against a nuclear scenario or whether we're engaging in blatant imperialism for no good return.

But I am grateful for those who do decide to join the military and protect our borders. I respect their loyalty, their sense of honor, and their dedication. I don't always agree with their mission but I know that I'm not qualified to judge how necessary each mission is. As a result, I do sympathize with them and with their families. For this attack, especially.

The Army, for its own inscrutable reasons decided that stateside military bases should be gun-free zones. That strikes me as absolute lunacy. Had someone removed this nut months ago when it became apparent that he was a nut, soldiers would be alive today. Had someone decided to allow our soldiers to carry the guns that they were trained to carry, more of them would be alive today.

I have a lot of sympathy for people who are hamstrung and betrayed by their own leadership. Incidents like this raise a lot of questions about whether a bureaucratized military is the best way to protect a country. I'm not sure that it is. The institutional Army protects its turf quite fiercely, even when that turf isn't worth protecting. Instead, I'd like to see us get back to the old way of doing things: no standing army and a fully armed citizenry that stands ready to form an ad-hoc army as conditions warrant.

Michael Z. Williamson envisioned a heavily armed libertarian society in his book Freehold. I rather like it. And I can think a large portion of our current military would like it too. I don't think they're in the military because they're thugs. I think they're in the military because it's the only institution we have that will allow them to arm up and stand on the borders, protecting those within. Getting called upon to engage in dubious ventures is an unfortunate cost of being a protector. And that's why I sympathize with them.

And, just for the record, I think this LewRockwell.com post is more than a little nuts itself.

Can Anyone Ban Handguns?

The Heller decision was a big win for the 2nd Amendment: it established that citizens do have a right to own guns. Unfortunately, that decision only applies to the federal government. What about the states? It will take a new court case -- and a new decision -- to establish whether or not the 2nd Amendment applies to state and local governments.

Well, that didn't take long. It looks like that new court case is on it's way: SCOTUSblog » New case tests Second Amendment's reach:

In a newly filed lawsuit in federal court in Chicago, two gun rights organizations and four individuals asked that the Second Amendment be extended to block strict gun laws at the state and local level. "The Second Amendment right," the complaint contended, "is incorporated as against the states and their political subdivisions pursuant to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The case, McDonald, et al., v. City of Chicago, et al. (District docket 08-3645), was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago to challenge a city ordinance that bars registration of handguns with only a few exceptions, and that limits registration of other guns. The case was assigned to Senior District Judge Milton I. Shadur. The complaint can be read here.

Murder Most Foul

Sometimes it's possible to take lawn care a bit too seriously:

A man who neighbors say was devoted to his meticulously kept lawn was charged with murder in the shooting of a 15-year-old boy who apparently walked across his yard.

Charles Martin called 911 on Sunday afternoon, saying calmly: "I just killed a kid."

Police, who released the call's contents, said Martin also told the dispatcher: "I've been harassed by him and his parents for five years. Today just blew it up.

Of course:

Joanne Ritchie, 46, said [the boy] was known as "a good kid," but she always also considered Martin to be friendly.

Everyone is friendly, until they point a shotgun in your direction.

This entry was tagged. Guns