Mrs. A and I have to head for the airport in a little while, to head home to Denver; on Friday morning, loyal sidekick Rat and I answer the call of the bloodwind once more, as we set forth in pursuit of deer and elk. But in the meantime: Time for the links!
Number One for today’s links: Feds have hurriedly dropped a case against a black-market gun builder because of a tentative judicial ruling that may have overturned much of the 1968 Gun Control Act.No shit. Go read, and try to ignore CNN’s pearl-clutching.
This scientist thinks we may already have found strong evidence of life on Mars. I’m not so sure, but my biology credentials are a few years out of date; I have tried to, as they say, keep current, but that’s a long ways from working in the field day to day.
These three countries tried socialism and rejected it. It sure would be nice if some American pols would learn from their example, but as my dear departed Grandpa was fond of saying, “you can teach ’em, but you can’t learn ’em.”
Have a read about the eccentric wonder that was Thomas Edison. One of my favorite quotes is from Edison: “People frequently don’t recognize opportunity when it arrives, because it usually shows up in overalls and looks like work.”
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee incorrectly claimed that AR-15 rifles fire .50 caliber ammunition and that the weapons are “as heavy as 10 boxes that you might be moving.”
The Texas Democrat, who is pushing for further gun control policies, made the statement to reporters, claiming that she has held an AR-15 but wished she had not.
“It is as heavy as 10 boxes that you might be moving,” Jackson Lee, 69, said. “And the bullet that is utilized, a .50 caliber, these kinds of bullets need to be licensed and do not need to be on the street.”
A loaded AR-15 weighs about 7.5 pounds and does not fire .50 caliber rounds, but rather .223 ammunition. The difference between the size of the two types of ammunition is stark, with .50 rounds typically used by the military in heavy machine guns and anti-material weapons.
It’s important to note that calling Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) an idiot does a grave disservice to idiots everywhere. While (as you all know) I dislike the practice of attributing any disagreement to stupidity, in her case, it’s legitimately true; the woman is a dullard. She makes her colleague Alexandria “Crazy Eyes” Occasional Cortex look almost functional by comparison.
But perhaps the most idiotic statement she makes here is that she has held an AR-15. She clearly has not. Like lying New York columnist and notorious pussy Gersh Kuntzman, she is not only a liar but a stupid liar. Neither of them have handled or fired an AR-15; I’d bet money that neither of them have been within hailing distance of one.
Lying is one thing, and sadly, we’ve come to expect that of politicians. But stupid lying – as stupid as this – should disqualify one from elected office. The people of Jackson-Lee’s district should be ashamed of themselves for sending this moron back to Congress for thirteen terms.
Oh, and here is by far the best response out of dozens and dozens of stinging responses:
For example, consider one such proposal that is currently on display via a billboard in Grand Junction: ban assault weapons. Fortunately, we have the benefit of hindsight for this specific proposal because we tried it before. In 1994, a ten-year prohibition on the manufacture, possession, and transfer of certain “semiautomatic assault weapons” was signed into law.
Except it wasn’t a ban on those rifles; no, it made even less sense than that. It was a ban on certain cosmetic features of those rifles; gun makers quickly started selling “post-ban” models with no flash suppressors and bayonet lugs, which made them perfectly legal.
And bayonet lugs? Serious? Bayonet lugs? Fucking bayonet lugs? When was the last time you heard of a drive-by bayoneting? I suppose all those opposing street gangs fixing bayonets and closing to hand-to-hand range promoted that particular piece of stupidity.
And what was the result of this ban? The bill mostly targeted the cosmetic qualities of these weapons — restrictions which manufacturers circumvented by altering production so that the banned elements were excluded. But even without these loopholes, the ban’s impact on violence would have been minimal. A Justice Department report examining the impact of the ban was underwhelming at best. “Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement,” the report states.
That rates a huge “no shit, Sherlock.”
The report goes on to explain that the law’s larger impact on overall gun violence was minimal, because the banned weapons were rarely involved in criminal acts in the first place. According to the FBI, rifles — a broader category that lumps together your grandpappy’s hunting rifle with military-style rifles — constitute an average of 340 homicides per year. Though any loss of life is tragic, these numbers don’t exactly rise to the occasion in solving what is commonly characterized as a national epidemic.
Remember that number. 340 homocides a year committed with any manner of rifle. Now remember a particularly stupid statement issued recently by the Irish tortilla from El Paso, Beta O’Rourke.
But this debate isn’t about just any old rifle, right? The scope of this debate is often targets one specific style of the rifle: the infamous AR-15.
Yup, the AR-15 – of which I have a copy, and Mrs. Animal has a copy.
But here’s the real peach of the piece (emphasis added by me):
Again, analysis regarding the AR-15 — the so-called “weapon of choice” of mass shooters — produces less-than-impressive numbers. Between 2007 and 2018, 173 people were killed by mass shooters using an AR-15, according to a New York Times analysis — roughly, 15 per year. (For perspective, 13 people die per year from vending machines falling on them.) The fearmongering regarding this weapon becomes even more apparent when one considers the estimated 8 million AR-15s currently in circulation — the vast majority of which will never be involved in a crime.
Remember that bit, True Believers, and use it (hah) liberally. You are, statistically, almost as likely to be killed by a vending machine as by a mass shooter with an AR-15.
Also: Thanks to blogger pal Doug Hagin over at The Daley Gator for the linkback to yesterday’s post! And while we’re on the topic, we have more news today from a Texas politician on guns. Excerpt:
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) discussed the contentious issue of gun control with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning, acknowledging that something should be done, but disagreeing with what his Democratic colleagues are proposing:
Cruz went on to reiterate what many have pointed out: everything the anti-Second Amendment Democrats have proposed wouldn’t have prevented any mass shootings. In their zeal to posture for the media, Democrats ignore reality and keep putting forth weak policy ideas that punish only law-abiding gun owners and enthusiasts.
There are damn few people out there making the pro-Second Amendment case as calmly, as eloquently and as factually as Ted Cruz. He even (too generously, if you ask me) graciously met with the washed-up actress Alyssa Milano to discuss gun policy, which is a lot like trying to discuss the merits of various craft beers with Carrie Nation.
But here’s the real warning from this piece:
He also cautioned fellow Republicans about overreacting to the problem of mass shootings:
“If Republicans abandon the Second Amendment and demoralize millions of Americans who care deeply about Second Amendment rights, that could go a long way to electing a President Elizabeth Warren,” Cruz said.
He should set that to music.
Anti-gun politicians like to cast aspersions at the NRA, but that august organization’s five million members are only a drop in the bucket. The GOP neglects gun owners at their peril; the pro-Second Amendment community is well-organized, well-informed and have long memories.
And we vote, Republicans. You can bet your goddamn last bottom dollar on it.
Just when we think Beto O’Rourke can’t put his foot any further into his mouth, he proves us wrong… again. After saying he would have mandatory buybacks of all AR-15s, O’Rourke doubled down, saying he know people would follow the new law, should it become a reality.
Sure, because we know how it will be enforced – selectively, and only when there is a political point to be made.
“My confidence is in the people of this country. Go into a gun show in Conway, Arkansas and listening to the owners of AR-15s and the vendors of AR-15s, many of whom, you can imagine, didn’t agree with my proposal, but each of whom was willing to at least have the conversation, some of whom said, ‘Look, you know what? I have an AR-15. Don’t need it. Would gladly sell it back or destroy it,'” O’Rourke told MSNBC’s Joy Reid. “All of them seem like they’d follow the law. We are a nation of laws. It’s part of what defines us and distinguishes us from the rest of the world.”
Beta has never heard that from anyone in a gun show, anywhere, ever, unless they were winking or crossing their fingers. I suppose, if he came in with a retinue of cameramen and reporters and demanded to know if attendees would “obey the law, if we passed it,” they probably said, “Oh, yeah, sure we would – we’d hand in any guns that survived our inevitable tragic canoeing accident.” One expects they would be about this honest:
“I believe that America will comply with the law and I believe that there will be a due process in devising the law in the first place, where we listen to stakeholders, all concerned and affected,” he explained. “But do not allow the delays that we’ve seen that have lasted decades to stop us from finally acting on this.”
Australians have not complied with these sorts of laws. New Zealanders have not complied with these sorts of laws. Canadians have not complied with these sorts of laws. And if you want to see open defiance of any such law, boy, howdy, forget those guys, and you just wait and see how Americans won’t comply.
“I don’t want to give into the hype or some of the scare tactics out that have been employed to stop us from even considering this in the first place, much like we don’t go door-to-door to enforce any law in the United States. In fact, I don’t think we do that for any law in the United States,” O’Rourke said with a smirk. “This would not be something that we’d do and I only raise that, Joy, because others have said, you know, this is something we would fear if there were mandatory buybacks program. No, we expect people to follow the law. And that’s certainly what I believe will happen.”
With that last sentence Beta has proved himself to be a bigger idiot that I had previously thought.
Here’s the thing about laws like this that Beta either doesn’t understand or is lying about: These laws aren’t intended to affect criminals. They won’t. Anyone with the IQ of a stuffed iguana knows they won’t. It’s not possible to make murder any illegal-er, and it’s not possible to get weapons out of the hands of criminals. No, the intent of laws like this was foreseen by Ayn Rand decades ago:
“Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”
Control, True Believers. It’s always about control. With politicians in general – both sides – it’s always about control. Understand that, and you understand the problem.
We all already know about the latest shooting spree by a nutbar, this one in Texas; I’m not going to rehash that. But instead, even as politicians scramble to climb onto the still-warm bodies to RHEEEEE for more gun laws that won’t be enforced, I’d like to talk a little bit about cause analysis.
Now, to preface this: I’ve been a self-employed independent consultant for fifteen + years. A big part of that work involves teaching the employees of major corporations how to solve problems, which means teaching people how to identify causes; several large corporations have and do pay me significant money to teach their people how to identify and address the root causes of problems.
So, how does one go about solving a problem like the criminal use of guns? Well, one might start by noting one of the primary rules of cause analysis: The tool is never the cause.
Ultimately, root cause is defined as “The fundamental underlying condition absent which the nonconformity would not have occurred.” To analyze the various possible causes and arrive at an ultimate root cause, the cause investigator should consider several things:
The investigation should uncover a series of events or facts that led up to the nonconformity. Root cause typically lies at the beginning of this chain of events. Keep asking ‘why?’
Test possible causes; take one possible cause at a time and compare it to your investigative tools. Now this isn’t easy when dealing with major social trends or criminal acts, as the streets and alleys of the nation aren’t laboratories. But we can move on to:
A tool, be it physical, procedural or software, is never a cause. Root causes are always due to one of two things, both of which have their source in how a process is managed:
Someone has made a mistake, error or omission, (qualitative) or
There is too much variation in the performance of the product or the process (quantitative.)
How do you know when you have found the root cause? Some hints include:
Patterns found in the data lead to one cause.
Following the chain of events runs the questioner out of “whys.”
Multiple lines of inquiry lead to one result.
One possible cause shows up in several places.
The cause being examined is a systemic cause, not a specific cause.
However, the final determination should consider one thing: An incident is an action; by the rules of cause and effect, the cause is likewise an action; an action requires an actor. Therefore, a root cause is always at the point where some person or group of people made a decision. A decision to act (or not to act) is always at the heart of every incident. Is this cause qualitative or quantitative? Without having done a thorough analysis, I’d guess the former; something in the minds of these assholes has gone badly wrong, and were they unable to get a gun, as we have seen in other incidents, they would turn to a pressure-cooker bomb, an automobile, a can of gasoline or some other tool, because the tool is never the cause.
Of course, nobody in the political world wants to think this deeply about a problem, and honestly, very damn few voters want to either. Nobody is interested in finding out why these assholes are making the decision to shoot a bunch of people; they are too focused on doing something highly visible and emotionally driven. So they call for more laws that won’t be enforced, and more bans on “assault weapons” that they can’t even define.
Red flag laws are generally a bad idea. They are a symptom of a malady pols on both sides of the aisle are all too likely to indulge in nowadays – the pathological need to be seen as “doing something.” In fact, these laws violate a number of Consitutionally-guaranteed rights. Excerpt:
Under pressure to “do something” about mass killings, some Republican politicians have followed their Democrat counterparts by endorsing red flag laws. These laws authorize confiscation of firearms if a judge finds the owner poses a risk to himself or others.
But the history of red flag laws should make those politicians reconsider.
Modern red flag laws deny gun owners prior notice or a chance to defend themselves against an initial confiscation order. A judge may issue the order after an uncontested hearing. In some states, the person seeking the order is held to a relatively low burden of proof.
This disregard for due process would be wrong even if red flag laws were proven effective. But the few studies on the subject suggest they are not. One study even concludes that these measures may increase rape.
In politics, if we know a proposal doesn’t serve its advertised purpose, then the advertised purpose usually is not the real one. In this case, the dominant motive seems to be to take guns away from people, despite the undeniable role of firearms in self-defense and crime prevention.
Ironically, by adopting the term “red flag law,” promoters inadvertently admitted their real motive is not safety. This is because the phrase “red flag law” has been proverbial for an enactment masquerading as a safety measure but really passed for more sinister reasons.
These laws violate our Bill of Rights guarantees in several ways:
4th Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures
5th Amendment guarantees of due process
6th Amendment right to confront an accuser.
But, at least, politicians can claim to have “done something.”
As we’ll examine in more depth on Friday, there is little or no impetus at any level of government to actually identify the underlying causes of things like mass shootings – and nobody in politics or media seems to give an ounce of crap about the death tolls in places like Baltimore or Chicago, which experience the equivalent of a highly-publicized mass shooting on any given weekend.
Instead, the media’s concern is ratings, and the pol’s concern is grandstanding. Facts be damned.
On Saturday last I took my new (old, made in 1942) Winchester Model 12 Black Diamond to the trap range. I shot two rounds of 12-yard singles, hitting 23 and 23. Not too bad, considering it’s the first time I fired the gun. A couple of things stood out:
In those years, when Winchester said “Full choke,” they meant full-damn-choke. The choke on that gun is as tight as a bull’s ass in fly season. On a lot of my hits I was just ticking the edge of the bird. You have to be right on the bird to dust it.
The straight-grip stock will take some getting used to. I’ve only owned shotguns with what we think of as standard pistol-grip stocks.
The big wide rib and contrasting beads make picking up the birds quickly almost ridiculously easy.
I’m going to like this gun a lot, even if it is, as a dedicated trap gun, kind of a one-trick pony.
It’s Labor Day, so before we get on with all the nothing we’re planning to spend today doing, here are a few links.
Why do people believe in curses? Well, I can think of two reasons: Ignorance and stupidity. Pretty much the same reasons people think of socialism as an effective economic system.
We had an evening flight last night and I have an early morning teleconference in an hour or so, so today it’s random notes and links.
Upside: Mrs. A and yr. obdt. are home in Colorado for the long weekend. I have a new shootin’ iron, a 1942 Winchester Model 12 Black Diamond trap gun, so I’ll be going out to the club to shoot a few rounds of trap; watch these virtual pages for a report.
Now, on to the links:
Our species, it has long been known, once went through a pretty tight genetic bottleneck. Now there are some more details about what may have caused that bottleneck.
Elsewhere, feral hogs are, well, making pigs of themselves. As a public service, I offer aid to any landowners with feral hog problems; I have a good rifle and am willing to arrange a time to come remove some of the beasts in question.
Also, if you aren’t reading the morning and evening links over at Glibertarians, you ought to be. There’s a wealth of other good content as well, plus you can read the comments without losing IQ points, which is more than I can say for most poltical/social commentary sites.
Today’s purely gratuitous totty is for blogger pal and long-time reader Andrew Pearce; Andrew, I believe you spotted the young lady in the center here in Tuesday’s post:
And on that note, we return you to your Thursday, already in progress.
Just last week, a man in Florida had his firearms confiscated simply because he had the same name as a criminal. That’s right. A man was stripped of his Second Amendment right…because the police failed to differentiate a law-abiding citizen with a thug.
According to Ammoland, Jonathan Carpenter received a certified letter from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services saying his concealed handgun permit had been suspended for “acts of domestic violence or acts of repeat violations.”
Carpenter was forced to go to the Osceola County clerk’s office to have a form filled out stating he wasn’t the person law enforcement was looking for. At that point, the clerk instructed Carpenter to speak with the sheriff’s office.
The Sheriff’s office supplied Carpenter with a copy of the injunction. In the statement, the plaintiff stated that she rented a room out to a “Jonathan Edward Carpenter” and his girlfriend. She alleged that this Carpenter was a drug dealer who broke her furniture and sold her belongings without her permission. He had a gun, and she feared for her life. She was not sure if the firearm was legal or not.
Carpenter had never met the woman in question and never lived at the address listed in the restraining order. Moreover, other than being white, he looked nothing like the man the terrorized the woman.
The man in question is 5’8. Carpenter is 5’11. The alleged drug dealer is 110lbs. Carpenter is over 200. The man has black hair. Carpenter is completely bald. Last but not least, the man in question is covered in tattoos, and Carpenter only has a few.
Even though it was evident they had the wrong man, Carpenter was forced to hand over his firearms. There was no hearing or any kind of court proceeding.
This is so stupidly unconstitutional it’s not even funny. Here’s the Fifth Amendment:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Jonathan Carpenter was deprived of his property without due process. No judge was involved. No court order was filed. Carpenter had no opportunity to confront his accuser. The accuser wasn’t even talking about him, just some asshole who happened to have the same name.
Red Flag laws are the subject of much discussion right now. Proponents of those laws – in both parties – assure us that the law-abiding citizen has nothing to worry about; that due process will always apply; that nobody’s property will be capriciously confiscated.
Well, tell that to Jon Carpenter. He has a long road, a great deal of expense, and a nebulously defined path ahead to get back his own damn property that the government had no business taking in the first place.
And if he had refused to comply, the Osceola County authorities would have flung him into a cell.
If that’s not a horrendous injustice, I don’t know what is.