Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fareed Zakaria vs. Guns - Robert VerBruggen

Link: (via

Fareed Zakaria has tried to make "The Case for Gun Control" in Time. The results are not pretty. Virtually every argument he makes misrepresents the underlying data.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Very Impressive Collection of Facts About Gun Control


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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Invincible Ignorance - by Thomas Sowell

Invincible Ignorance - by Thomas Sowell

via A Voice of Sanity - by Thomas Sowell on 12/18/12

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of "gun control" advocates?

The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available.

If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.

Places and times with the strongest gun control laws have often been places and times with high murder rates. Washington, D.C., is a classic example, but just one among many.

When it comes to the rate of gun ownership, that is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but the murder rate is higher in urban areas. The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than among blacks, but the murder rate is higher among blacks. For the country as a whole, hand gun ownership doubled in the late 20th century, while the murder rate went down.

The few counter-examples offered by gun control zealots do not stand up under scrutiny. Perhaps their strongest talking point is that Britain has stronger gun control laws than the United States and lower murder rates.

But, if you look back through history, you will find that Britain has had a lower murder rate than the United States for more than two centuries— and, for most of that time, the British had no more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Indeed, neither country had stringent gun control for most of that time.

In the middle of the 20th century, you could buy a shotgun in London with no questions asked. New York, which at that time had had the stringent Sullivan Law restricting gun ownership since 1911, still had several times the gun murder rate of London, as well as several times the London murder rate with other weapons.

Neither guns nor gun control was not the reason for the difference in murder rates. People were the difference.

Yet many of the most zealous advocates of gun control laws, on both sides of the Atlantic, have also been advocates of leniency toward criminals.

In Britain, such people have been so successful that legal gun ownership has been reduced almost to the vanishing point, while even most convicted felons in Britain are not put behind bars. The crime rate, including the rate of crimes committed with guns, is far higher in Britain now than it was back in the days when there were few restrictions on Britons buying firearms.

In 1954, there were only a dozen armed robberies in London but, by the 1990s— after decades of ever tightening gun ownership restrictions— there were more than a hundred times as many armed robberies.

Gun control zealots' choice of Britain for comparison with the United States has been wholly tendentious, not only because it ignored the history of the two countries, but also because it ignored other countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States, such as Russia, Brazil and Mexico. All of these countries have higher murder rates than the United States.

You could compare other sets of countries and get similar results. Gun ownership has been three times as high in Switzerland as in Germany, but the Swiss have had lower murder rates. Other countries with high rates of gun ownership and low murder rates include Israel, New Zealand, and Finland.

Guns are not the problem. People are the problem— including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts.

There is innocent ignorance and there is invincible, dogmatic and self-righteous ignorance. Every tragic mass shooting seems to bring out examples of both among gun control advocates.

Some years back, there was a professor whose advocacy of gun control led him to produce a "study" that became so discredited that he resigned from his university. This column predicted at the time that this discredited study would continue to be cited by gun control advocates. But I had no idea that this would happen the very next week in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jewish Voice for Peace: Animation FAIL


Jewish Voice for Peace has released a 6 minute animation which purports to be an introduction to the Israeli-Arab conflict.  Like much of JVP's other work, it's cute, simple-- as well as wrong on the facts. It's also misleading with respect to JVP's actual agenda, which includes consistent support for "river-to-the-sea" rejectionist groups and support for BDS.   


The video notes that "several" Arab armies invaded Israel; it might have been appropriate to mention that their goal, as with the Arab population of Palestine, was not a Palestinian state but the destruction of the Jewish one. Had the Palestinians accepted the partition plan, there would have been no war and no refugees, and Arab villages would not have been left as ghost towns to be built over. Even Mahmoud Abbas recognizes this choice as one of the two worst decisions made by the Palestinians. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fwd: Living in a time of clashing ideologies

It's not always pleasant living in the crucible of clashing ideologies

DECEMBER 23, 2012 I've tried with moderate success to stay away from gun control posts.  To the extent I have posted on the subject, it hasn't been to develop my own ideas but, instead, to introduce you to other people's writing on the subject.  The top of that list, of course, is Larry Correia's answer to the anti-gun crowd, written from the useful perspective of someone who actually knows about guns.  I urge all of you to read it.  Moreover, if you won't end up getting to much grief from people who don't want their closed minds opened, I think you ought to share it around.

The problem for me is that closing my eyes to the gun control debate means tuning out of the world around me.  As is always the case, my Facebook friends (whom I find extremely useful when I want to get a snapshot of Progressive thinking) are deluging Facebook with gun control posters.  Here are the three most popular:

Armed cops in schools -- what could go wrong?

Note to the NRA

Put a teacher in every gun store

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea what point that last one is supposed to make.  It's utterly fatuous, and it speaks very poorly of a political ideology that so many people find this meaningful enough to express their "deep" political thinking.

The second poster is false by omission.  Ft. Hood was indeed a military base -- except that the shooter went for a weapon free zone, in which nobody had immediate access to arms.  The same holds true for Virginia Tech.  Having a police station nearby is meaningless when someone is shooting without a somewhat distant gun free zone.  (Also, if it's anything like the police department I remember from my UC Berkeley days, the police weren't armed.)  Finally, Columbine did have an armed guard who tried taking out the two shooters and undoubtedly slowed them down.  How much more effective would it have been if there had been more armed people to strike against those shooters?

Finally, the first poster simply represents a world view that police are bad.  I don't think they're bad at all; I just did think that even the best police can't be everywhere at once.  More than that, I find this hostility to police -- who are, after all, an arm of Big Government -- funny coming from a crowd that is in thrall to Big Government ideology.

My Facebook friends were also shocked and disgusted that the NRA would propose something as utterly stupid as armed guards in the schools.  They and their friends fell completely silent when I pointed out to them that this idea originated with Bill Clinton after Columbine and that Obama de-funded it.  Whoops!

My favorite poster is this one, which I found at PowerLine:

Which of these signs will prevent another tragedy?

This poster effectively sums up the differences between the two ideologies currently at war in this country.  The war goes far beyond the Second Amendment.  Instead, it pits a world view that believes in self-reliance against a world view that devoutly hopes that, if/when trouble comes, some white knight with a government ID will come riding to the rescue . . . eventually.

Friday, December 21, 2012

An opinion on gun control @ Monster Hunter Nation

Link: (via

An opinion on gun control

I didn't want to post about this, because frankly, it is exhausting. I've been having this exact same argument for my entire adult life. It is not an exaggeration when I say that I know pretty much exactly every single thing an anti-gun person can say. I've heard it over and over, the same old tired stuff, trotted out every single time there is a tragedy on the news that can be milked. Yet, I got sucked in, and I've spent the last few days arguing with people who either mean well but are uninformed about gun laws and how guns actually work (who I don't mind at all), or the willfully ignorant (who I do mind), or the obnoxiously stupid who are completely incapable of any critical thinking deeper than a Facebook meme (them, I can't stand).

Today's blog post is going to be aimed at the first group. I am going to try to go through everything I've heard over the last few days, and try to break it down from my perspective. My goal tonight is to write something that my regular readers will be able to share with their friends who may not be as familiar with how mass shootings or gun control laws work.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Matt Ridley: Cooling Down the Fears of Climate Change -

The general public is not privy to the IPCC debate. But I have been speaking to somebody who understands the issues: Nic Lewis. A semiretired successful financier from Bath, England, with a strong mathematics and physics background, Mr. Lewis has made significant contributions to the subject of climate change.
He first collaborated with others to expose major statistical errors in a 2009 study of Antarctic temperatures. In 2011 he discovered that the IPCC had, by an unjustified statistical manipulation, altered the results of a key 2006 paper by Piers Forster of Reading University and Jonathan Gregory of the Met Office (the United Kingdom's national weather service), to vastly increase the small risk that the paper showed of climate sensitivity being high. Mr. Lewis also found that the IPCC had misreported the results of another study, leading to the IPCC issuing an Erratum in 2011.
Mr. Lewis tells me that the latest observational estimates of the effect of aerosols (such as sulfurous particles from coal smoke) find that they have much less cooling effect than thought when the last IPCC report was written. The rate at which the ocean is absorbing greenhouse-gas-induced warming is also now known to be fairly modest. In other words, the two excuses used to explain away the slow, mild warming we have actually experienced—culminating in a standstill in which global temperatures are no higher than they were 16 years ago—no longer work.
In short: We can now estimate, based on observations, how sensitive the temperature is to carbon dioxide. We do not need to rely heavily on unproven models. Comparing the trend in global temperature over the past 100-150 years with the change in "radiative forcing" (heating or cooling power) from carbon dioxide, aerosols and other sources, minus ocean heat uptake, can now give a good estimate of climate sensitivity.
The conclusion—taking the best observational estimates of the change in decadal-average global temperature between 1871-80 and 2002-11, and of the corresponding changes in forcing and ocean heat uptake—is this: A doubling of CO2 will lead to a warming of 1.6°-1.7°C (2.9°-3.1°F).
This is much lower than the IPCC's current best estimate, 3°C (5.4°F).

How can there be such disagreement about climate sensitivity if the greenhouse properties of CO2 are well established? Most people assume that the theory of dangerous global warming is built entirely on carbon dioxide. It is not.
There is little dispute among scientists about how much warming CO2 alone can produce, all other things being equal: about 1.1°-1.2°C for a doubling from preindustrial levels. The way warming from CO2 becomes really dangerous is through amplification by positive feedbacks—principally from water vapor and the clouds this vapor produces.
It goes like this: A little warming (from whatever cause) heats up the sea, which makes the air more humid—and water vapor itself is a greenhouse gas. The resulting model-simulated changes in clouds generally increase warming further, so the warming is doubled, trebled or more.
That assumption lies at the heart of every model used by the IPCC, but not even the most zealous climate scientist would claim that this trebling is an established fact. For a start, water vapor may not be increasing. A recent paper from Colorado State University concluded that "we can neither prove nor disprove a robust trend in the global water vapor data." And then, as one Nobel Prize-winning physicist with a senior role in combating climate change admitted to me the other day: "We don't even know the sign" of water vapor's effect—in other words, whether it speeds up or slows down a warming of the atmosphere.
Climate models are known to poorly simulate clouds, and given clouds' very strong effect on the climate system—some types cooling the Earth either by shading it or by transporting heat up and cold down in thunderstorms, and others warming the Earth by blocking outgoing radiation—it remains highly plausible that there is no net positive feedback from water vapor.
If this is indeed the case, then we would have seen about 0.6°C of warming so far, and our observational data would be pointing at about 1.2°C of warming for the end of the century. And this is, to repeat, roughly where we are.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

MercatorNet: Same-sex marriage ten years on: lessons from Canada

Link: (via makes sense to consider the Canadian experience since the first Canadian court established same-sex marriage a decade ago. There are, of course, important cultural and institutional differences between the US and Canada and, as is the case in any polity, much depends upon the actions of local political and cultural actors. That is to say, it is not necessarily safe to assume that Canadian experiences will be replicated here. But they should be considered; the Canadian experience is the best available evidence of the short-term impact of same-sex marriage in a democratic society very much like America.

Civil rights and freedom of expression:

But the legal and cultural effect was much broader. What transpired was the adoption of a new orthodoxy: that same-sex relationships are, in every way, the equivalent of traditional marriage, and that same-sex marriage must therefore be treated identically to traditional marriage in law and public life.

A corollary is that anyone who rejects the new orthodoxy must be acting on the basis of bigotry and animus toward gays and lesbians. Any statement of disagreement with same-sex civil marriage is thus considered a straightforward manifestation of hatred toward a minority sexual group. Any reasoned explanation (for example, those that were offered in legal arguments that same-sex marriage is incompatible with a conception of marriage that responds to the needs of the children of the marriage for stability, fidelity, and permanence—what is sometimes called the conjugal conception of marriage), is dismissed right away as mere pretext.

Religious freedom:

At first glance, clergy and houses of worship appeared largely immune from coercion to condone or perform same-sex marriages. Indeed, this was the grand bargain of the same-sex marriage legislation—clergy would retain the right not to perform marriages that would violate their religious beliefs. Houses of worship could not be conscripted against the wishes of religious bodies.

It should have been clear from the outset just how narrow this protection is. It only prevents clergy from being coerced into performing marriage ceremonies. It does not, as we have seen, shield sermons or pastoral letters from the scrutiny of human rights commissions. It leaves congregations vulnerable to legal challenges if they refuse to rent their auxiliary facilities to same-sex couples for their ceremony receptions, or to any other organization that will use the facility to promote a view of sexuality wholly at odds with their own.

Neither does it prevent provincial and municipal governments from withholding benefits to religious congregations because of their marriage doctrine. For example, Bill 13, the same Ontario statute that compels Catholic schools to host “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs (and to use that particular name), also prohibits public schools from renting their facilities to organizations that will not agree to a code of conduct premised on the new orthodoxy. Given that many small Christian congregations rent school auditoriums to conduct their worship services, it is easy to appreciate their vulnerability.

Slippery slope arguments:

Once one abandons a conjugal conception of marriage, and replaces it with a conception of marriage that has adult companionship as its focus, there is no principled basis for resisting the extension of marriage licenses to polygamist and polyamorist unions.

In other words, if marriage is about satisfying adult desires for companionship, and if the desires of some adults extend to more novel arrangements, how can we deny them?
a society that institutionalizes same-sex marriage needn’t necessarily institutionalize polygamy. But the example from British Columbia suggests that the only way to do so is to ignore principle. The polygamy case’s reasoning gave no convincing explanation why it would be discriminatory not to extend the marriage franchise to gays and lesbians, but not discriminatory to draw the line at polygamists and polyamorists. In fact, the judgment looks like it rests on animus toward polygamists and polyamorists, which is not a stable juridical foundation.

Marriage as an institution:

There are approximately 21,000 married same-sex couples in Canada, out of 6.29 million married couples. Same-sex couples (married and unmarried) constitute 0.8% of all couples in Canada; 9.4% of the 64,575 same-sex couples (including common-law and married) have children in the home, and 80% of these are lesbian couples. By contrast, 47.2% of heterosexual couples have children in the home. Canada stopped tracking divorce after 2008, and has never provided data on same-sex divorce.

What we can gather from these data is that same-sex marriage has not, contrary to arguments that it would, powered a resurgent marriage culture in Canada. Nor are there any census data (one way or the other) for empirical arguments tying the institutionalization of same-sex marriage to marriage stability.

Mass Killings Stopped by Armed Citizens

via GUN WATCH by Dean Weingarten on 12/17/12

There are several documented cases where armed citizens have stopped mass attacks by gunmen. Let me list a few: The Pearl, Mississippi school shooting was stopped by the vice principal Joel Myrick with a Colt .45, The Appalachian School shooting was stopped by two students with handguns. Both of the above incidents were stopped by the armed citizens threatening the shooter without firing.
Pearl High School Link
Appalacian Law School Link
Plans to slay everyone in the Muskegon, Michigan, store and steal enough cash and jewelry to feed their "gnawing hunger for crack cocaine" fell apart for a band of would-be killers after one of their victims fought back.
Muskegon Shooting Link
The mass church shooting in Colorado Springs was stopped by the shooter being shot by a church member with a CCW permit.
New Life Church Link
The Santa Clara gunshop shooting in 1999 was stopped by an armed citizen after the shooter declared that he was going to kill everyone. Police found a list of intended victims in his car. Only the perpetrator, Richard Gable Stevens was shot.
Santa Clara Gunshop Link
The December, 1991, Aniston, Alabama defense where a CCW holder stopped armed robbers who were herding employees, customers, and his wife into a cooler. He shot both robbers, killing one.
Aniston Shoney's Shooting Link
July 13, 2009, in Virginia at the Golden Food Market: The gunman tried to shoot several people, was stopped by a CCW carrier.
Golden Food Market Shooting Link
Just recently, in Early Texas, armed citizen Vic Stacy shot and stopped a deranged man who had just murdered two neighbors and was firing at police with a rifle. Stacy made a very long shot with his revolver, three times as far as the perpetrator was from the police officer, who had an AR-15 type rifle.
Early Texas Peach House Shooting Link
That sounds like a very good story... but it never made the national news.
I wonder who made the decision to spike that story.
Of course, when a mass shooting is stopped by an armed citizen, there are not as many victims. This leads to the charge that it would not really have been a "mass shooting".
I have added this incident at the request of a reader:
Abraham Dickman had a history of anger against employees of the AT&T store in New York Mills, New York. On May 27th, 2010, he walked into the store with a .357 and a list of six employees. He shot the first employee, but was stopped from further attacks when Donald J. Moore, an off duty police officer who was allowed to carry his own handgun when not on duty, drew and fired his .40 caliber, killing Mr. Dickman before he could fire any more shots.
AT&T store Link
Here is another likely candidate.
College Park, GA, May 4, 2009.
Two gunman entered a party and ordered the men separated from the women. Then they started counting bullets. "The other guy asked how many (bullets) he had. He said he had enough," said Bailey.
When one of the assailants prepared to rape a girl, a student was able to access a handgun and engage the two attackers in a firefight, driving one off and killing the other before the thug could rape his girlfriend.
"I think all of us are really cognizant of the fact that we could have all been killed," said Bailey.
College Park Link
Another off duty police officer stopped the Trolley Square shooting with his personal handgun. He stopped the killing and contained the shooter until police reinforcements arrived and ended the situation.
Trolley Square Shooting Link
Winnemucca NV shooting, 25 May, 2008
The shooter, Ernesto Villagomez, entered the Players Bar and Grill and killed two people. He reloaded and was continuing to shoot when a citizen with a concealed carry permit shot him and stopped the killing.
Winnemuca Shooting Link
Parker Middle School Dance Shooting
14 Year old Andrew Jerome Wurst Killed one person and wounded three others when he was confronted by James Strand who subdued Wurst with a shotgun and held him until police arrived.
Parker Middle School Dance Shooting LinK
Destiny Christian Center Shooting, April 24, 2012
Kiarron Parker rammed his car into another in the church parking lot, got out and attempted to kill multiple church members. He was only able to kill one before a member of the congregation, the nephew of the lady killed, and an off duty police officer, drew his handgun and shot Parker, stopping the killing.
Destiny Christian Center Shooting LinK
Tyler Courthouse shooting, 2005 While police officers were involved in this shooting before and after Mark Alan Wilson intervened, no more people were killed after he shot the shooter, who had body armor, and who was able to return fire and kill the CCW holder, Wilson.
Tyler Courthouse Shooting Link
Dean Weingarten

One in Ten Mass Shootings Stopped by Armed Citizens; Most Occur Where Guns a...


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via GUN WATCH by Dean Weingarten on 12/17/12

In the best published study of mass shootings, it was found that 99 had occurred between 1980 and 2010. We know that a number of mass shootings have been stopped by armed citizens. All but one of the "successful" mass shootings occurred in areas where armed citizens are banned. A comparison of mass shootings stopped by 911 response vs mass shootings stopped by citizens indicates that when citizens are able to stop the killing, they prevent 84 percent of the deaths.

Mass shooting study link

Mass shootings Stopped by Armed Citizens

Armed Citizen stopped shooting average 2.3 deaths, 911 response average, 14.3 deaths (84% reduction)

Definitions and precise numbers vary by researcher, but it is clear that at least 10 percent of mass shootings are stopped by armed citizens. I believe this is the minimum number, the actual number may be much higher, because when a citizen stops an intended mass shooting early, it never becomes a successful mass shooting and may never become a news story of note. For example, in the recent Clackamas Mall shooting, an armed citizen may well have cut the killings short without firing a shot. While we can never be certain, a large percentage of mass shooters stop killing and commit suicide when they are confronted with armed force.

Clackamas CCW video

The problem of quantifying mass shootings stopped by armed citizens is exacerbated by the inablility to know the intentions of a dead attacker. Some attackers leave notes, making their intentions clear, as did the Santa Clara shooter in 1999, or the AT&T store shooter in 2010. Some announce their intentions, or otherwise indicate that they intend to kill many people. But these are the rare cases. If an attacker attempts to kill many, but is stopped at the beginning of the attack or after a few shots are fired, it is impossible to know if a mass killing was stopped, or if it was only one of thousands of more ordinary crimes stopped by armed citizens.

Santa Clara Shooting Link

AT&T Store shooting Link

It is clear that the number of mass shootings has decreased as the number of armed citizens has increased. Three decades ago, there were very few citizens with concealed carry permits. Most states did not allow concealed carry. The increase in concealed carry states mostly occurred after 1994, and the bulk of concealed carry permits have been issued after the turn of the new millenium. Even today, less than 2.6% of the population has concealed carry permits, and 30 percent of the population of the country live in states where it is very difficult to obtain a permit, or in the case of Illinois, impossible. The first decade of the millennia showed a remarkable drop in mass shootings, a 44 percent reduction, according to Grant Duwe, a criminologist with the Minnesota Department of Corrections . These numbers are compatible with research published in 1999, that showed a drop in mass shootings with increased concealed carry permits.

Growth of CCW permits:

Current number of CCW permits:

Mass shooting study link

Mass shootings in gun free zones link

Link to paper

While it is too early in this decade to determine if the trend will continue, reducing the number of places that ban armed citizens will likely result in more citizens being able to stop the mass shootings in the early stages, sometimes before any innocents are killed.

Dean Weingarten


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Fact-Checking Kristof's Gun Control Strawmen


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via Breitbart Feed on 12/18/12

Nick Kristof published a call for gun control in the Saturday edition of the NY Times. While it's not the worst of the genre, it relies on some disingenuous argumentation to reach its conclusion.

After his introduction, Kristof throws out a few chestnuts like this "We even regulate toy guns, by requiring orange tips — but lawmakers don't have the gumption to stand up to National Rifle Association extremists and regulate real guns as carefully as we do toys." Guns are far more heavily and seriously regulated than toys. Connecticut, where this latest shooting took place, had some of the most stringent laws in the country after California and New York.

In fact, the regulations worked in this case by denying Adam Lanza the ability to buy a gun. Instead he killed his own mother by shooting her in the face (possibly while she slept) and stealing her guns. So the regulations that might have prevented this would necessarily be those which would have prevented Mrs. Lanza from buying her guns. Kristof doesn't want to point this out because it detaches his argument from reality.

The core of his piece is a comparison to regulations on cars. Here's his opener "I understand: shooting is fun! But so is driving, and we accept that we must wear seat belts, use headlights at night..." Fair enough. Let's stipulate that seat belts and headlights save lives. What is the equivalent with regard to guns? What can I do to make myself marginally more safe from a crazed shooter? The analogy seems to break down unless we want to mandate body armor.

Kristof continues "...and fill out forms to buy a car. Why can't we be equally adult about regulating guns?" Again, we already have regulations--including in Connecticut-- which require filling out forms to buy a gun. Adam Lanza refused the forms and the mandated waiting period and was turned away. The system of regulations exists and it worked as advertised yet failed miserably. The question is what else could we have done?

After a laundry list of proposals, Kristof returns to the auto analogy "some auto deaths are caused by people who break laws or behave irresponsibly. But we don't shrug and say, 'Cars don't kill people, drunks do.'" Actually, that's exactly what we do. We socially stigmatize those who drink and drive and we punish them severely after the fact, often taking away their right to drive. We even expect alcohol producers push a 'drink responsibly' message. What we don't do is limit everyone's access to cars (or really fast cars). We target drunks, not AAA.

Finally there's this claim "don't bother with the argument that if more people carried guns, they would deter shooters or interrupt them. Mass shooters typically kill themselves or are promptly caught, so it's hard to see what deterrence would be added by having more people pack heat." This is a pretty egregious bit of ignorance.

  • Adam Lanza reportedly shot himself as police moved in on him.
  • The shooter at New Life Church in Colorado was shot by an armed security guard and immediately killed himself.
  • Wade Page killed six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, was shot once by police and then killed himself.
  • Omar Thornton killed himself as police closed in after he had killed eight co-workers at a beer distributor.
  • Jiverly Wong killed himself when he hears sirens approaching after killing 13 people at an immigration center.
  • Sulejman Talovic, the Trolley Square shooter, killed five and wounded four others. His rampage ended when an armed, off duty cop cornered him until SWAT arrived and shot him dead.
In short, many of these mass shooting incidents end when someone else with a gun shows up. Kristof's gun control recommendations may or may not have some value. What's certain is that the arguments he uses to advocate for them are neither particularly thoughtful or well informed.


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Random Thoughts on the Second Amendment

If you follow me on Twitter, you will see I have been in the trenches for the last few days defending the second amendment against those who would leave me unable to defend myself and my wife.  And yeah, I take it personally.  So I thought I would share a few thoughts and knock down some common arguments I have heard against the right to bear arms in addition to my thoughts the other day.

1.         Anyone who talks about the Second Amendment in terms of hunting is missing the point.  Do you really think the founding fathers would have enshrined the right to hunt in the Constitution?  In places where hunting was a matter of survival, there was no need for constitutional protection because no politician would be fool enough to ban it any more than anyone would ban the drinking of ordinary water.  In places where it was not necessary for surival, it was too trifling a matter to constitutionalize.  The founding fathers had just finished throwing off the shackles of British tyranny and they didn't do so with sternly worded letters; they did it with guns.

Seriously, the founders believed that one had a God-given right to rebel against tyranny.  The Seal of Virginia glorifies the killing of dictators.  How do you expect for that to happen without guns?

Big picture, I have long referred to the First and Second Amendments as the rights of rebellion.  The founding fathers believed in a moral, but not legal, right to rebel.  The doctrine is enshrined in our Declaration of Independence.

But at the same time, no government can legalize its own destruction.  There is no legal right to secede or rebel.  It is not workable.  So one can only appeal to the moral right of rebellion if the government has become tyrannical.  And the founding fathers did believe this could happen here.  As Franklin quipped, this is a republic, if we can keep it.

But in my opinion the founders did the next best thing.  Think about it.  If tyranny should arise, we have the right to speak and print to warn people, to call people to arms.  We have the right to assemble.  And we have the right arm that crowd...

In short we have a have a right to raise an army and arm it.  All of that is legal.  It is simply that the moment the assembly becomes violent (remember it is a right to peaceable assembly), that it becomes illegal.  In other words, preparation for rebellion is legal; but the act of rebellion is illegal and you will have to make the appeal to heaven for the righteousness of it as our founders did in 1776.

Which is not to say that we will need to rebel anytime soon.  As I said to someone just this morning, I don't expect this to happen even once in my lifetime.  But as Kozinsky said in my last post, this is a doomsday provision, a last resort to be use in extremis and we cannot afford to meet that situation unprepared—i.e. unarmed.

Incidentally, even the part of the First Amendment that concerns itself with Freedom of Religion might be in part about securing the right of rebellion.  As my Constitutional hero Thaddeus Stevens pointed out, tyrants often used religious suppression as a cover for political suppression.  If you were a political opponent of the king, and he was Catholic and you were a Protestant, it served as a ready excuse to suppress you.

2.         The Battles of Lexington and Concord were prompted by an attempt by the British to take away our arms.  Those of us playing Assassin's Creed 3 were recently reminded of this fact.  See?  Video games are useful after all!

3.         The fact that no one has attempted to overthrow democracy from within, in America, is not proof we don't need the Second Amendment; it is proof it is working.  Like I have repeatedly said, one of the purposes of the Second Amendment is to protect all of the other amendments.  And a common response to that argument is that in 200+ years under our Constitution, no serious attempt at creating a dictatorship has ever been tried.  I mean okay, maybe Aaron Burr was up to that (maybe, his exactly plans were pretty murky), and there was a brief danger that the military would bully Congress that George Washington famously diffused that could have led to a military junta if Washington hadn't acted, but by and large no one has tried to make anyone dictator of America or anything horrible like that.

But there is a chicken and egg problem to that argument.  Certainly if anyone has the impulse to become Generalissimo of America, they have to recognize that 1) it isn't likely to work if only because we will rise up against that and 2) he or she is not likely to survive the attempt.  So just as more guns lead to less crime, more guns not only protects you in case someone attempts to overthrow the republic as they did in Rome, but it discourages the attempt.

4.         Liberals, please stop saying that the Second Amendment is limited to the technology of the times.  How many times do I hear liberals say the Second Amendment only applies to muskets?  This is particularly funny in one case because the person also maintained that the First Amendment applied to video games.  Hey, the founding fathers played Pong, right?

Mind you, I am not putting down the idea of applying the First Amendment or any other part of the Constitution to modern technology.  The First Amendment applies to movies, television, radio, CD's, mp3 players, smart phones, the internet, telegraph and video games and anything else I might have left out of that sort.  I think the Fifth Amendment demands that if a man is accused of rape and semen is found at the scene, that DNA testing must be performed.  I believe the Federal Government has a right to create an Air Force even though there is nothing about it in the Constitution.  And I believe that the Second Amendment is not frozen in the technology of the time in which it was written.  That is why it guarantees a right to bear "arms" and not "muskets."

On the other hand, I don't take this as a right of an individual to keep and bear a nuclear weapon.  It's not that a nuke isn't an "arm."  It plainly is.  But I do believe in a reasonable limiting principle of constitutional interpretation.  The Supreme Court enunciated it in Dartmouth College v. Woodward.  The court was discussing whether the Contracts Clause applied to school charters and the Supreme Court ruled that it did.  And in doing so it had to ask whether a charter was a "contract" within the meaning of the Constitution against the objection that the Founders never considered that it might apply to that.  The Supreme Court brushed that objection aside, declaring that:

It is not enough to say, that this particular case was not in the mind of the convention, when the article was framed, nor of the American people, when it was adopted. It is necessary to go further, and to say that, had this particular case been suggested, the language would have been so varied, as to exclude it, or it would have been made a special exception. The case being within the words of the rule, must be within its operation likewise, unless there be something in the literal construction, so obviously absurd or mischievous, or repugnant to the general spirit of the instrument, as to justify those who expound the constitution in making it an exception.

So you have a two tiered test.  The first is if you can show that if the founders realized the implications of their words they would have gone and changed what they were writing to exclude it in some fashion.  Failing that, if applying the rule is either absurd or mischievous or otherwise undermines the rest of the Constitution, then the courts can carve out an exception

I think a purported right to bear nuclear weapons falls within both tests.  I think if you went back in time to the founding and (after successfully convincing them you are actually from the future) you explained to the founders about nuclear weapons, they are extremely likely to have tacked on "except nuclear weapons" somewhere in the Second Amendment.

And even if they wouldn't, a right to bear nukes does undermine democracy itself and thus is "repugnant to the general spirit" of the Constitution.  If a man can build a nuke in downtown Manhattan and threaten to detonate it if he doesn't get a harem of college cheerleaders or perhaps something more reasonable, like a 32 oz. slurpee, if a man can hold a whole city hostage this way, this is a threat to democracy itself.  So I believe the courts are justified in carving out a nuclear exception to the term "arms."

But I will add that often the very same people who believe I should not be able to own a gun don't seem terribly worried about Iran having a nuke.  Everyone believes that guns should be kept out of the hands of criminals and nutcases.  Isn't the government of Iran both?

5.  Historically governments have taken guns away from groups they hated. Did you know that the English have a Bill of Rights?  Indeed I suspect many of you educated in America didn't know this, nor did you know that the British had their own revolution.

If I can go off on a tangent (and since it is my blog, I can), this is a bit of ignored history in America, and I suspect in England, too.  The English had their own revolution, called The Glorious Revolution of 1688 where they ran out their king, briefly became a dictatorship and then settled into something close to their current system where parliament runs the show in reality, and the king is largely a figurehead.  And in that revolution there are two documents that justified their action: John Locke's Second Treatise on Governmentand the English Bill of Rights.

Anyone who reads Locke's book and the English Bill of Rights, and looks toward our Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights will get a sense of deja vous.  It's very much like our founders placed those British documents in a blender and then reassembled them.  For instance, the famous preamble to the American Declaration of Independence reads like a Cliff's Notes version of Locke's book.  Indeed I once ran a "compare documents" function in Word using copies of both and virtually every word in the Declaration of Independence is taken from Locke, with only a few really notable exceptions.

Meanwhile, the English Bill of Rights is divided into two parts.  The first is a list of grievances against the King justifying running him out of the country, and the second is a list of rights this newly freed England would guarantee.  And if you read the list of grievances, you realize that the founding fathers in America were very intentionally aping the style of their English forefathers, when writing out their list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence.

All of this leads one to a revelation about the founders of America.  What they were really doing, in writing their Declaration of Independence, was taking the principles of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and throwing it back in the faces of those in England who revered that prior revolution.  They were saying, "you rightly rebelled against the crown in 1688, but you are as tyrannical over us as the king was over you."

This leads one to discover the dirty secret of the success of our revolution.  We didn't win the war by kicking the English's collective behinds, and our greatest ally was not the French.  We won the Revolution by convincing the British we were right.  This is why, for instance, the Revolutionaries called themselves Whigs and the loyalists Tories; that was the name of the two dominant political parties at the time in England, and the Whigs were associated with the Glorious Revolution and tended to recognize the justice of our cause, and the Tories did not.  Our greatest allies, during the Revolution, therefore, was not the nation of France, but the English who decided we had the right of it.

(This also explains why the Federalist party believed in an alliance with England.  It was not due to a love of British tyranny, but because they recognized that only half of the country was our enemy during the Revolution.)

Which is all tangential to the point I was getting to, which is to talk about the second half of the English Bill of Rights, which reads very much like the American Bill of Rights, prohibiting the English government from various abuses of power.  For instance, it states "That excessive bail ought not to be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted;" which is virtually identical to our Eighth Amendment which states that "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."  Aside from an extra "that" and changing "ought" to the more commanding "shall" they are the same.

Of course the crucial difference between the English Bill of Rights and the American one is that the English Bill of Rights was simply that: a bill.  It was just another law, which could be undone by passing another law and has been so undone.  By comparison, the American Bill of Rights is part of a Constitution that cannot be easily changed.

Anyway, circling around to my point, buried in the English Bill of Rights is their version of the Second Amendment: "That the subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence [sic] suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law[.]" As I joked repeatedly on Twitter, this is surely done because they liked Catholics better than Protestants, right?

And of course that is not the case.  The fathers of the Glorious Revolution were infected with some anti-Catholic bigotry, which is why they included that limitation.

Likewise, in the American South after the Civil War the KKK and the Red Shirts and like-minded organizations set about making sure black people were disarmed using means that were formally legal and otherwise (the KKK was a terrorist organization, after all).  This was not done for their benefit but so they could be more easily reduced to a state barely distinguishable from slavery—indeed often so they could be literally returned to slavery.*

Which kind of bleeds into my next point...

6.  You can't always trust the government to defend you.  First, let us recognize a long and sad history of the unequal protection of the law by law enforcement, particularly aimed at African Americans and other minorities.  The evidence that the police can be infected with racism is rifle and championed primarily by prominent liberals.  For instance, Public Enemy once decried the alleged slowness of emergency response in black communities by declaring that 911's a Joke.  I don't know if it is true or not, but how does one argue that simultaneously the cops don't care as much about protecting your life and property while claiming that no one should be able to protect your life and property but the same police?  I wonder if Al Sharpton will answer that question.

And of course that ignores the history of police brutality and racist violence by the police.  I think it is particularly hard to explain to Rodney King why he should trust the police to protect his life...

Yeah, I am sorry if I part ways with my conservative brethren on that, but there is no justification for all of what you see in that video.  And while I don't endorse riots, I understand the deep frustration that drove them.  They were saying, "we got it on video and you still won't do anything about it?"

Yeah, I can't relate to that at all.

And while I am fully convinced that OJ Simpson killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, I am equally convinced that Mark Fuhrman was racist as all get out, and screwed up that prosecution as a result.  So why should your safety be left solely in the hands of someone who might hate you for the color of your skin?

Now in all of that I don't want to sound like I think the police are all evil or anything like that.  I believe the vast majority of the police are good and honorable people who strive to provide the best protection for all of the citizens under their watch.  But it has to be remembered, sometimes the police are bad or negligent.  Consider for instance the facts in the case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales:

Respondent alleges that petitioner, the town of CastleRock, Colorado, violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution when its police officers, acting pursuant to official policy or custom, failed to respond properly to her repeated reports that her estranged husband was violating the terms of a restraining order.

The restraining order had been issued by a state trial court several weeks earlier in conjunction with respondent's divorce proceedings. The original form order, issued on May 21, 1999, and served on respondent's husband on June 4, 1999, commanded him not to "molest or disturb the peace of [respondent] or of any child," and to remain at least 100 yards from the family home at all times....  The bottom of the preprinted form noted that the reverse side contained "IMPORTANT NOTICES FOR RESTRAINED PARTIES AND LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS." Ibid. (emphasis deleted). The preprinted 752*752 text on the back of the form included the following "WARNING":


The preprinted text on the back of the form also included a "NOTICE TO LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS," which read in part:


On June 4, 1999, the state trial court modified the terms of the restraining order and made it permanent. The modified order gave respondent's husband the right to spend time with his three daughters (ages 10, 9, and 7) on alternate weekends, for two weeks during the summer, and, "`upon reasonable notice,'" for a midweek dinner visit "`arranged by the parties'"; the modified order also allowed him to visit the home to collect the children for such "parenting time."...

According to the complaint, at about 5 or 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 22, 1999, respondent's husband took the three daughters while they were playing outside the family home. No advance arrangements had been made for him to see the daughters that evening. When respondent noticed the children were missing, she suspected her husband had taken them. At about 7:30 p.m., she called the Castle Rock Police Department, which dispatched two officers. The complaint continues: "When [the officers] arrived . . ., she showed them a copy of the TRO and requested that it be enforced and the three children be returned to her immediately. [The officers] stated that there was nothing they could do about the TRO and suggested that [respondent] call the Police Department again if the three children did not return home by 10:00 p.m." App. to Pet. for Cert. 126a.[2]

At approximately 8:30 p.m., respondent talked to her husband on his cellular telephone. He told her "he had the three children [at an] amusement park in Denver." Ibid. She called the police again and asked them to "have someone check for" her husband or his vehicle at the amusement park and "put out an [all points bulletin]" for her husband, but the officer with whom she spoke "refused to do so," again telling her to "wait until 10:00 p.m. and see if" her husband returned the girls. Id., at 126a-127a.

At approximately 10:10 p.m., respondent called the police and said her children were still missing, but she was now told to wait until midnight. She called at midnight and told the dispatcher her children were still missing. She went to her husband's apartment and, finding nobody there, called the police at 12:10 a.m.; she was told to wait for an officer to arrive. When none came, she went to the police station at 12:50 a.m. and submitted an incident report. The officer who took the report "made no reasonable effort to enforce the TRO or locate the three children. Instead, he went to dinner."…

At approximately 3:20 a.m., respondent's husband arrived at the police station and opened fire with a semiautomatic handgun he had purchased earlier that evening. Police shot back, killing him. Inside the cab of his pickup truck, they found the bodies of all three daughters, whom he had already murdered.

The Supreme Court held in that case that even if the woman could establish that the police failed to enforce the TRO, that they were under no obligation to enforce it and thus she couldn't sue them.  Which I think is the wrong decision, but it means as a matter of law, the police don't have to protect you. And in Ms. Gonzales' case that is exactly what appears to have happened.

And even if the police are being as diligent as they can be, you still can't one hundred percent depend on them.  First it is a cliché to say that when seconds count the police are minutes away, because it is true.  The average police response time is six minutes, during which a lot of evil can happen.  Second, even when you feel rightfully threatened by someone, there can be problems with proof.  If a person threatens you, but it is solely your word against his, the courts might not believe you.  And of course there are situations where you know a person is dangerous but they have not been stupid enough to make an actionable threat.

Like I said most cops do their best, but they can't be everywhere and see and hear everything, nor do I think most people would want them to.  So there will always be a gap, a space where the law is not able to reach, where you have no choice but to defend yourself.  And that leads to my next point.

7.         A gun is a great equalizer.  Back in my Patterico days I wrote a post about disabilities and gun ownership.  Let me quote from that extensively:

And gun ownership by the handicapped also taps into another big philosophical belief I have about the handicapped.  In a very real way, humanity is the disabled species.  Think about it.  Compared to other species, we are slow, weak, blind and deaf; we have little sense of smell, our teeth and "claws" are weak, etc.  If left naked in the wild we would be easy supper for the other animals out there.  And yet we dominate the planet for one simple reason: our brains.  And those brains have allowed us to create tools that in turn makes up for our deficiencies.  So we can't run as fast as a cheetah, but we invented motor cars that allowed us to move even faster and for long periods of time.  We can't see like an eagle, so we invented the telescope and can see things no other creature can.  Our brains haven't just leveled the playing field between animal and man, but in fact gave us a critical advantage over them which is why we rule this planet and no longer have any natural predator (except ourselves).

And in no area has our brains been more critical in making up for our physical deficiencies than in combat.  Now we might suspect a few tough souls like Chuck Norris or Todd Palin** could take on a grizzly bear with their bare hands, but for most of us, if we don't have a gun we are SOL (and from my understanding, even with a gun they are hard to kill).  Our only option is to run.

So to tell a disabled person that they can't use artificial help goes directly against the grain of what we have done as humans.  For instance, I have difficulty writing by hand.  But it only affects my ability to write by hand, so I buy a computer and I am rendered "normal."

Likewise, Mr. Boyd has cerebral palsy.  I have known people with that condition and it almost certainly impairs his ability to win a fistfight.  I'm not saying he can't do it, but it's almost certainly harder.  Now, the anti-gun approach would tell him tough and that he would just have to remain defenseless and hope that if someone attacks him that he cops get there in time.  But the second amendment allows him to say, "screw that," and defend his own life and safety as need be.

Now yes, obviously there are some disabilities that make it unacceptably dangerous to carry a gun. We should at all times be reasonable about this and I expect as Mr. Boyd writes about this as promised, he will describe how he and others can safely operate a gun.  And I would be surprised if a blind man can ever safely operate a gun.  But at the same time we shouldn't be too quick to assume a person should not own a gun.

If you are curious, you can read the whole thing, here.

Likewise, the same can be said for women facing down their attackers.  Now I am enough of a egalitarian to believe that there are women who can beat a man in a fistfight.  But let's face it, it takes an unusually weak man or an unusually strong woman to do it.  The average woman doesn't have much of a chance.  Even if a woman has a knife and the man has bare hands, one needs strength to drive a knife into another and women would still have a hard time fighting back.

But if you put a gun in her hand, and her chances get much better.  You make sure she is well trained in their use, and they improve even more so.

This applies particularly to the subject of abused women.  First as I noted before, most wife- and girlfriend-beating takes place in private, where the only witnesses are the victim and the perpetrator.  So there is a proof problem involved in such cases.  And even if you gather enough proof to get a restraining order, they don't usually stop the abuser.  Which is not to say an abused woman shouldn't get restraining orders; they provide useful legal clarity should an altercation occur and they do occasionally deter the pig.  But they aren't some kind of magic force field that will save most women from an abusive ex.  And a gun is no guarantee of their safety either; but it gives them a fighting chance.

On a related note, many liberals say that gun ownership should be limited to revolvers and not allow for semi-automatics that use clips.  These are people who have apparently never fired a gun.  In all bluntness, my wife has tried both and she is physically incapable of firing a revolver with any kind of accuracy.  This is because a revolver requires more hand strength than a semi-automatic.  As a result you have to squeeze the gun harder to pull the trigger and thus it is harder to keep it steady as you do.  But she is a great shot when using our semi-automatic.  :-)  The same can probably be said for those with certain handicaps.

And even if you are a burly man, and don't have compassion for those who are weaker who would like to defend themselves, too, let's not forget that you can be outnumbered.  If four men are breaking into your home, I don't care how strong you are, you are not likely to win that fight without a gun.  And that is assuming they are unarmed.

Indeed this possibility deflates the argument that you will never need a so-called assault rifle for self-defense.  Liberals often argue that such weapons are only designed to kill large numbers of people, as though it is impossible to need to defend yourself against a large number of people.  If four criminals are trying to break into your home, and they are armed, an assault rifle might be the difference between life and death.

8.         Finally, it is the anti-gun left that is paranoid, not the pro-gun right.  The left loves the demonize gun owners as just a bunch of crazies sitting in their basements ruminating on black helicopters and the like.  But as I outlined above, there are many rational reasons to believe that individuals should be armed to defend themselves and as a rule I found my fellow gun owners to be imminently rational.

"We don't want the wild west" is a frequent refrain by liberals.  The irony is that the wild west was not what most people imagine.  As Cracked demonstrates in a gloriously deflating article the west was not really that violent at all:

The Insanity:

A gloriously mustached man sits at a card game in an old saloon, surrounded by cowboys and surprisingly fresh-faced prostitutes. He looks up, and notices that the player opposite him is hiding an extra card up his sleeve. He calls him on it, the word yellow is pronounced as 'yeller,' and pretty soon they're facing off in the city square. There's a long moment before the cheater moves for his hip holster, but he's not fast enough. Quick as lightning, the gambler draws his revolver and shoots the cheat dead between the eyes.

The cowboys and prostitutes go back to their drinks, well-accustomed to this sort of random violence, as the man nonchalantly twirls his pistol and says: "Guess he couldn't read my poker face."

A hundred years of Westerns have taught us that this is how you lived and died in the Wild West. The quicker draw lived to gun-fight another day. It was essentially a roving single elimination rock, paper, scissors tournament that didn't end until you were dead.

But in Reality...
How many murders do you suppose these old western towns saw a year? Let's say the bloodiest, gun-slingingest of the famous cattle towns with the cowboys doing quick-draws at high noon every other day. A hundred? More?
How about five? That was the most murders any old-west town saw in any one year. Ever. Most towns averaged about 1.5 murders a year, and not all of those were shooting. You were way more likely to be murdered in Baltimore in 2008 than you were in Tombstone in 1881, the year of the famous gunfight at the OK Corral (body count: three) and the town's most violent year ever.
Sorry to break it to you folks, but pretty much every western you have ever seen is full of it.  The article goes on to explain why we believe it and the short version is it started because, as Johnny Rotten once said, "tourists have money"—that is towns discovered that gullible tourists loved to hear those stories.  It was an early civic version of gangsta rap, which I am convinced is equally full of crap.**

And then we continued to believe it, because as a fantasy it is frakking cool.  Seriously, look at that picture on the right!  Even decades later, that is just plain cool.

But as a reality there is simply no way people would have allowed things to be so continuously out of hand.  It's fun to play in the world of Red Dead Redemption, but it wouldn't be fun to live there and thinking that world is realistic is as silly as believing Grand Theft Auto--where you can kill twenty cops and only pay a fine if you are caught--is true-to-life.

But it all reflects a deep paranoia on the part of the left.  If we all have guns we are going to shoot each other over stupid crap, just like in those really cool Clint Eastwood movies.  On a similar note, I have pointed out several times that if people are armed they might stop such massacres very early on and save dozens of lives.  That seems to be a no-brainer to me, but this has actually led some liberals to argue that ordinary people having guns would have made things more dangerous to innocent bystanders, because ordinary citizens would fire recklessly or something.

I think that regular people, if they are armed, will generally only draw their weapon when they have a rational reason to fear for their lives or the lives of others.  I think that they will generally only fire if they are left with no choice, and I think that they will generally take care that they only hit their intended target.  I expect them to practice with and maintain any guns they own.  On the other hand, many on the anti-gun left believe that ordinary people will generally start killing people at the slightest provocation, will shoot when unjustified and will not take the care to make sure they hit only what they intend to.  Who exactly are the paranoid ones?

A while back I wrote about the depressing real life heroism we saw at the Ft. Hood, which was, ridiculously, a gun-free zone.  We might also remember Victoria Soto, one of the true heroes of Sandy Hook, another gun-free-zone.  Let's let her sister describe what she did:

It came as no surprise to Carlee and Victoria's mom that her daughter died trying to save kids.

"She was truly selfless," Donna Soto said of her 27-year-old "Vicki," who was shot trying to shield her first-graders from madman Adam Lanza's assault.

Vicki ushered her tiny charges away from the door of Classroom 10 as Lanza, 20, descended. She ordered them into a closet, but six of the panicked kids got out — and Vicki dived to save them as Lanza trained his rifle on them. They all died.

"She would not hesitate to think to save anyone else before herself and especially children," Soto's mom told CNN. "She loved them more than life, and she would definitely put herself in front of them any day, any day, and for any reason."

"So it doesn't surprise anyone that knows Vicki that she did this."

You should indeed read the whole thing and pay tribute to her bravery.  But I can't help thinking to myself, imagine if she had a gun and knew how to use it.  Run that scenario through again.  Maybe she could have shot back.  Maybe we wouldn't be praising her for dying for her kids, but for ending the rampage or at least making him back off and finding an easier target.  And maybe the honors we are rightfully pouring on her would not have been posthumous.

Or maybe we don't have to speculate.  Consider as a counter-example, the shooting at a theater in San Antonio on Sunday night.  Liberals cited this as another example of why we need to prohibit guns, but Sooper Mexican caught the real story with this superbly written headline: "Crazed Gunman Stopped from Movie Massacre by 'Gun-Free Zone' Sign... Oh wait. No, a woman SHOT him."  You can read what he wrote about it, herebut by all indications it appears that another serious massacre was about to occur when the gunman was shot.

Which is not to say good people with guns will never be shot.  Of course sometimes they will be taken by surprise, or just won't be as good as their opponents.  But having a gun at least gives them a fighting chance.  Victoria Soto didn't have that, so all she could do is try to shield her students with her own body.  It's heroic, but it might not have been necessary if her state allowed her to keep a gun in school.


* For instance, many parts of the South passed vagrancy laws that required black people—and only black people—to have a contract for work at all times.  If they did not, then they were jailed and sentenced to slavery, and sold to the highest bidder.  This was facially legal because the Thirteenth Amendment did have an exception allowing for slavery as a punishment for a crime.  So in short they were coerced into a transaction and a refusal to form this contract resulted in a penalty.  Just like under Obamacare!

** Particularly fun the other day was the kid on Twitter pretending to be a gangsta while using a picture with him posing with a cartoon character as his avatar.

My wife and I have lost our jobs due to the harassment of convicted terrorist Brett Kimberlin, including an attempt to get us killed and to frame me for a crime carrying a sentence of up to ten years.  I know that claim sounds fantastic, but if you read starting here, you will see absolute proof of these claims using documentary and video evidence.  If you would like to help in the fight to hold Mr. Kimberlin accountable, please hit the Blogger's Defense Team button on the right.  And thank you.

I have accused some people, particularly Brett Kimberlin, of reprehensible conduct.  In some cases, the conduct is even criminal.  In all cases, the only justice I want is through the appropriate legal process—such as the criminal justice system.  I do not want to see vigilante violence against any person or any threat of such violence.  This kind of conduct is not only morally wrong, but it is counter-productive.

In the particular case of Brett Kimberlin, I do not want you to even contact him.  Do not call him.  Do not write him a letter.  Do not write him an email.  Do not text-message him.  Do not engage in any kind of directed communication.  I say this in part because under Maryland law, that can quickly become harassment and I don't want that to happen to him.

And for that matter, don't go on his property.  Don't sneak around and try to photograph him.  Frankly try not to even be within his field of vision.  Your behavior could quickly cross the line into harassment in that way too (not to mention trespass and other concerns).

And do not contact his organizations, either.  And most of all, leave his family alone.

The only exception to all that is that if you are reporting on this, there is of course nothing wrong with contacting him for things like his official response to any stories you might report.  And even then if he tells you to stop contacting him, obey that request.  That this is a key element in making out a harassment claim under Maryland law—that a person asks you to stop and you refuse.

And let me say something else.  In my heart of hearts, I don't believe that any person supporting me has done any of the above.  But if any of you have, stop it, and if you haven't don't start.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gun statistics you seldom see - The Orange County Register

Link: (via

It happened earlier this month in Irvine. Police were looking for a man suspected of raping an 18-year-old woman in her home. As the cops searched, the fleeing suspect, a 27-year-old L.A. gang member, tried to hide by breaking into another home. Inside, the homeowner, a man who had recently undergone defensive firearms training, heard the commotion, grabbed a handgun and confronted the suspect.
But as I said, the homeowner - for security reasons, he declined to be interviewed or identified by name - didn't shoot. Instead, he shouted at the suspect to stop, at which point the guy ran out of the house. Shortly thereafter he was caught and arrested by the police.

So how will that incident be reflected in the crime statistics?

Yes, the rape will be added to the grim numbers of that despicable crime, and the successful arrest will appear in the Irvine Police Department's annual statistics. And ironically, if the homeowner had justifiably shot and killed the intruder it still would have been listed in the overall statistics as a gun-related homicide - the same statistics that anti-gun activists use to promote stricter so-called "gun control" laws to keep firearms out of the hands of law-abiding citizens.

But police departments and other government agencies don't collect hard numbers on crimes that may have been prevented by armed citizens - because, as in the Irvine case, they're difficult and sometimes impossible to quantify.

And that's unfortunate. Because crimes prevented by firearms are as important in the debate over guns as crimes committed with firearms.

Why Not Regulate Guns Like Cars?

via GUN WATCH by Dean Weingarten on 12/14/12

I was just on a HuffPost Live panel with, among others, Elie Mystal (Above The Law), and he suggested — as a gun control proposal — that guns should be regulated like cars. This prompts me to repost an item I posted several years ago:
Cars are basically regulated as follows (I rely below on California law, but to my knowledge the rules are similar throughout the country):
(1) No federal licensing or registration of car owners.
(2) Any person may use a car on his own private property without any license or registration. See, e.g., California Vehicle Code §§ 360, 12500 (driver's license required for driving on "highways," defined as places that are "publicly maintained and open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel"); California Vehicle Code § 4000 (same as to registration).
(3) Any adult — and in most states, 16- and 17-year-olds as well — may get a license to use a car in public places by passing a fairly simple test that virtually everyone can pass.
This is pretty much how many gun rights advocates would like to see guns regulated, and is in fact pretty close to the dominant model in the over 35 states that now allow pretty much any law-abiding adult to get a license to carry a concealed weapon: No need to register or get a license to have a gun at home, and a simple, routine test through which any law-abiding citizen can get a state license to carry a gun in public.
Now I suspect that many gun control advocates would in reality prefer a much more onerous system of regulations for guns than for cars (though Mystal seemed to say that he was indeed suggesting a very similar regime for guns and for cars). Of course, one can certainly argue that guns should be regulated more heavily than cars; thoughtful gun control advocates do indeed do this. But then one should candidly admit that one is demanding specially burdensome regulation for guns — and not claim to be "merely asking that guns be regulated like cars."
Incidentally, I don't claim any great originality on these points: Others have made them before me, see, e.g., David Kopel's Taking It to the Streets, Reason, Nov. 1999. But some things are worth repeating.
UPDATE: I originally omitted the "of gun owners" in item (1); I included it in response to a comment pointing out that manufacturers must generally place VINs on cars, much as federal law already generally requires serial numbers for guns.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

MercatorNet: What Is Marriage?

Link: (via

One reason why supporters of traditional marriage are losing elections is that they are losing the war for intellectual credibility. They are too often mired in facile arguments about “tradition”, Bible passages, and bleeding heart litanies about children. Supporters of gay marriage have succeeded in ridiculing these fumbling attempts at a rationale as ignorant and homophobic.

Indeed. You can't win by making the case against redefining marriage until you make a case for the current definition of marriage. Here is one attempt to address that.

In 2010 [Sherif Girgis is a Ph.D. student in philosophy at Princeton and a J.D. candidate at Yale Law School and Ryan T. Anderson, William E. Simon Fellow at the Heritage Foundation and editor of the Witherspoon Institute's journal Public Discourse, is a Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University and a Ph.D. candidate in political philosophy at the University of Notre Dame] published a controversial article in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, putting forward a philosophical defence for the conjugal view of marriage. It gained many responses from all sides of the debate and has proved so successful that they have expanded it into a book to further flesh out their claims and answer their opponents.
The authors start by contrasting, with precision, the “conjugal” and the “revisionist” views of marriage. The conjugal view presupposes an exclusive union between a man and a woman that is bodily and mental and distinguishes itself by its comprehensiveness, while, revisionists claim that marriage is just two (no more, for the moment) people committing to romantically love and care for each other for as long as they see fit.
Marriage, as it has been understood for centuries, is a unique and comprehensive institution that joins mothers and fathers to their children and to each other. The authors show that it is a rationally defensible cornerstone of Western civilisation and a bedrock of societal stability. In confronting the challenge currently facing marriage in parliaments, courtrooms and schools around the world Girgis, Anderson and George put forth a clear and formidable case for one of our most sacred traditions.