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Rule Five Japan Resurgent Friday

Our best ally in the Pacific, a place I personally love and where I have done a lot of business, has since WW2 sheltered under the American defensive envelope.  But now it appears Japan may be rethinking that idea; rearmament is now being discussed.  Excerpt:

The notion that the best defense is a good offense is gaining traction among Japanese decision-makers. On Aug. 4, newly appointed Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Tokyo would begin considering whether to allow its military to carry out pre-emptive strikes against overseas targets. Such a move would be a substantial reinterpretation of Japan’s post-World War II defense policy, which has generally abided by constitutional stipulations limiting the use of force to self-defense. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe quickly walked this back, saying he had no plans to consider the issue. Japan’s 2017 Defense White Paper, released the following day, made no mention of such a policy shift. But Abe did note that escalating threats from China and North Korea have made Japanese defense guidelines effectively obsolete — a sentiment echoed in the white paper.

Despite Abe’s dismissal of the issue, there’s enough smoke around pre-emptive strikes to suggest that Tokyo is taking the possibility seriously. In March, a research commission (of which Onodera was a member) set up by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party called for Japan to arm itself with long-range weapons to address the growing threat from North Korea. In May, following a visit to the Pentagon, Onodera said Washington had given Tokyo tacit approval to do so. Shortly thereafter, several reports alleged that Abe’s government was in discussions to buy Tomahawk cruise missiles from the U.S., potentially giving Japan the capability to pre-emptively disrupt a North Korean missile launch.

Japan has a fundamental desire and ability to project power and to give its military freer rein to operate abroad. A push for the Tomahawks would show how the emerging crisis on the Korean Peninsula is creating a sense of urgency in Tokyo to do so. But at the same time, Abe’s apparent unease with saying so publicly underscores the stiff domestic political currents that will, at least for now, keep Japan’s drive for a modern military from moving too fast.

Post-war treaties have discouraged Japan from re-arming before now – and, in truth, even now.  But missile launches in Japan’s direction by the insane little gargoyle with bad hair in North Korea has a lot of folks in the Japanese government very nervous, which is a big part of their motivation for rearming.

The fact that Japan and China have been snapping at each other over the Spratleys isn’t helping, either.

Here’s where the plan may run awry, though:  Japan isn’t the same nation it was in 1941.  The Japanese people don’t look at things the same was as the Japanese people of 1941 did.  Japan is today a pretty pacific society, a comfortable, wealthy, modern Western-style nation with an aging population and little appetite for things military.  As the linked article points out: In the Japanese context, even if Tokyo can expand its offensive capabilities without Article 9 reform, public uneasiness with remilitarization is likely to suppress defense spending — currently at roughly 1 percent of GDP annually — and hinder Japan’s ability to lay the groundwork needed to act decisively in a crisis.

One percent of GDP is a pittance for a defense budget.  But my experience with Japan is that most of the common folk there have little enthusiasm for raising that to any higher level of spending.  But will they maintain that attitude if tensions with the Norks increase?  If a Nork missile “accidentally” lands in Japanese territorial waters – or in a Japanese coastal village in Kyushu?

Were those (unlikely, but still) things to happen, we may well see a preference cascade take hold in Japan.  The nation once had a strong, proud martial heritage; it’s not impossible to conclude that they may find that within themselves again.

Rule Five Machine Gun Friday

Want to know what one of the easiest guns to make in a basement workshop is?  A submachine gun.  That’s right.  Excerpt:

In 1998, a British subject named P.A. Luty decided to illustrate the fallacy of complete civilian disarmament by building a weapon that lacked any of the registered parts of the firearm.

Recently, the YouTube channel “Forgotten Weapons” got a chance to take a look at the result, a submachine gun built entirely with parts that could be picked up at the hardware store.

As noted in the video, Luty ended up spending some time in a British prison for his efforts, as would people who were caught with such weapons in pretty much any other nation on Earth.

Yet Luty proved his point.

Since his book was first published, such firearms have shown up in Australia, Indonesia, and many other places.

Some might argue that Luty is responsible for a self-fulfilling prophecy, that the only reason he was right was because he dropped the plans in the criminal’s laps. Unfortunately, that would only be true of Luty’s designs were the only option. After all, hasn’t the “zip gun” been around for ages?

None of this takes into account the tooling existing in some backyard shops these days. Metal lathes, milling machines, and 3D printers all can be useful in building far more sophisticated firearms that Luty’s effective but almost prehistoric design.

In other words, guns are definitely here to stay. Try as the leftist gun control advocates might, they’ll never be able to get all of the weapons. Even if they did, though, guns would still be produced for illegal purposes.

In this scenario, of course, there’s also the problem of rounding up somewhere north of 300 million guns already in the hands of American citizens – the vast majority of them law-abiding.  But let’s set that aside for the moment and consider the possibility of a complete confiscation of all guns – imagine someone had the ability to snap their fingers and poof every firearm out of existence.

How long do you think it would take for a robust black market to crop up?  I’m guessing a matter of hours.

Now, consider the likely consequences of that.  There’s a reason that 2nd Amendment advocates are fond of saying “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”  Two aspects of that would derive here; first, criminals would be armed not with crappy, cheap Hi-Points but with small, cheap, concealable submachine guns.  Second, many law-abiding citizens would become non-law-abiding, as they seek their own bathtub-gin arms to make up for the sudden disadvantage.

Bear in mind that this could be a feature, not a bug; as Ayn Rand wrote in Atlas Shrugged:

“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.”

In either case, the end result would be a crime rate shot through the roof.

Rule Five Self-Defense Myths Friday

Recently The Daily Caller presented a pretty good article on three self-defense myths that you still see bandied about.  Here they are, with some of my comments.

Myth No. 1: Hit him anywhere with a .45 and it will knock him down.

This myth probably started with the advent of the .45 Colt back in the 1870s, but it has been repeated most often when people refer to the .45 ACP. Nowadays, you will hear it touted regarding the .44 Mag., the .41 Mag., the .40 S&W or whatever new pistol cartridge that has just been introduced.

The truth was discovered way back in 1687, when Sir Isaac Newton published his third law of motion. Newton simply stated that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, if a bullet shot from a handgun was so powerful that it could actually knock a person down, it would also knock the shooter down.

Part of the reason you still see this line of horseshit served up is because you see it in the movies and on television so often.  One of the best portrayals of an old Western gunfight is in the excellent Costner/Duvall flick Open Range; it shows a real gun battle, with old guns made with varying tolerances and inconsistent black-powder ammo, with opponents literally just blasting away at each other at short range until hits are scored.  But there is a scene that ruins the whole thing; Robert Duvall fires his double-barrel 12 gauge through a plank wall at a bad guy, and the blast picks the baddie up and slams him against a wall.  Not even a 12-bore at a range of about six feet will do that; not even close.  More on that in the next bit:

Myth No. 2: There’s no need to aim a shotgun, just point it in the general direction of the bad guy and fire.

The shotgun is an awesome firearm that is altogether too often overlooked by today’s defensive shooters. However, it is not a magic wand. People who claim you don’t have to aim a shotgun have simply never done patterning tests with their favorite defensive smoothbore.

When shot exits a shotgun barrel, it does so in almost one solid mass. That mass is smaller than a man’s fist. It is only as the shot travels downrange that it begins to spread apart, and it spreads much more gradually than a lot of people expect.

A shotgun can be absolutely devastating at close range; I can attest to this from personal experience, having personally taken a hit to the leg from a 12-gauge at a range of about three feet.  (It was just a minor difference of opinion; call it a misunderstanding and leave it at that.)  But it’s not a damned paintbrush.  A good tight aim is still required.

Myth No. 3: If you have to shoot a bad guy in your front yard, drag him into the house before calling the cops.

As ridiculous as this may sound, it is one of the self-defense myths that just won’t go away. A student brought it up once in a defensive pistol class. There are couple of good reasons why this is a terrible idea.

We live in a time when any halfway-awake forensics weenie can reconstruct your life history from the remains of your gerbil’s three-week-old fart, and people are still spouting this nonsense.

Here are a couple of additions of my own:

Don’t ever fire a warning shot.

Daffy old Uncle Joe Biden’s advice on the topic notwithstanding, this is a bad idea.  For one thing, you may well be guilty of negligent discharge of a firearm.  But more to the point, if things are bad enough that you have produced a firearm to deter a threat, if you are called upon to fire your first shot should be center mass.  Shoot to stop the threat; a shot in the air does nothing to that end.

Understand the laws of your jurisdiction.

In Colorado, we are fortunate enough to have what liberals call the “Make My Day” law; state law gives home and business owners the right to use force to defend themselves on their property, without requiring one to retreat.  Your state may differ; some places require you to flee before using force, which to my thinking is a horrendous abuse of government authority and a denial of a basic human liberty.  But if you don’t want to end up in the crowbar Hilton yourself, know your local laws.

It’s a damned shame that so many folks who write about guns don’t seem to know much about them – including some that should know better.

Rule Five CCW Friday

Every time the subject of concealed carry comes up, you hear the same arguments from opponents of this overwhelmingly successful public policy:  The same old carp about a return to the Wild West (which was actually a pretty peaceful place) shootouts over parking spaces and the like.

That’s all bullshit, of course.  John Lott Jr. has recently released another study showing just how full of shit these arguments are.  From the abstract:

There are now over 16.3 million permit holders, a record 1.83 million increase in permits since last July. Nationwide, 6.5% adults have a concealed handgun permit. Outside of California and New York, 8 percent of adults have a permit. Permits for women and blacks are increasing much faster than they are for men and whites. There are also significant differences in not only the number of permits issued but also who gets them when politicians have discretion in granting them. Los Angeles County provides a vivid example of how women and Hispanics are given few permits when politicians decided who can defend themselves. We also provide evidence that death threats don’t let people get permits for protection and how incredibly law-abiding permit holders are and how crime rates have changed in the states that have had the largest increases in concealed handgun permits.

Take a look at this sentence from the abstract:

Los Angeles County provides a vivid example of how women and Hispanics are given few permits when politicians decided who can defend themselves.

When politicians decided who can defend themselves.

That, True Believers, is a recipe for tyranny.

The full paper by Dr. Lott is behind a free membership; you have to sign up to view the entire thing, but I’ll give you a few key bits here:

In 2013, LA Weekly obtained a list of the 341 concealed carry permit holders in Los Angeles County, California.  That is only about 0.0045% of the 7.7 million adults living in the county in 2013.  LA Weekly pointed out that the people given permits were judges, reserve deputy sheriffs, and a small group who gave campaign contributions or gifts to then-Sheriff Lee Baca.

That’s what happens when politicians decide who can defend themselves.  Your Constitutional rights, on auction, to the crony with the biggest purse.

Another:

Among police, firearms violations occur at a rate of 16.5 per 100,000 officers. Among permit holders in Florida and Texas, the rate is only 2.4 per 100,000. That is just 1/7th of the rate for police officers. But there’s no need to focus on Texas and Florida—the data are similar in other states.

In other words, whatever worries anyone may have with the misuse of firearms, legal concealed-carry permit holders are not and never have been a problem.  Trying to make that case is dishonesty of the first water; trying to restrict the issue of permits to the political elite and their cronies flies in the face of individual liberty.

Download the entire report.  Add it to your arsenal of pro-CCW arguments.  As usual, Dr. Lott presents some great data.

Rule Five Economic Infringement Friday

Here’s an important point to remember:  When pols talk about regulating “the economy” they are talking about regulating people.  Excerpt:

Strictly speaking, it’s not markets that can and should be free—it’s people. The term free market merely describes one political-legal context in which people conduct themselves. It’s shorthand for a subset of human action—the exchange of goods and services, usually for money. (The logic of human action, the study of which Ludwig von Mises called praxeology, applies to all purposeful conduct, not just market exchange.)

It follows, then, that when politicians and activists call on the government to regulate the economy, they mean to regulate us. There’s no economy to regulate. It’s not a machine or a vehicle. It’s an unending series of purposeful activities the logic of which gives rise to a process characterized by regularities. Hence, for example, the law of supply and demand. We can talk about this orderly process—the market—as though it were a thing, but we have to keep its metaphorical nature in mind. It’s still only people cooperating with each other.

When market critics demand government regulation, they imply that markets are by nature unregulated. But we’ve just seen that this is nonsense. An unregulated market is a logical contradiction. That we call it a market indicates the regularities, or laws, just mentioned. No regularity—no market. There could no more be an unregulated market than there could be a grammarless language or a perpetually disorderly society. We would not call a population a society if it did not display a general order expressed by rules (written and unwritten), customs, and mores. Without such things, a population would be not a society but a Hobbesian state of nature.

What this article omits when writing of free markets is the appending of the term “capitalism”:

Free market capitalism.

There are damn few pols of any political stripe who actually support honest free market capitalism.  (Rand Paul comes closest.)  But here’s the thing about capitalism:  There is no real “ism” there.  In true free market capitalism, there is no underlying ideology, no central dogma, except liberty.  Free market capitalism consists only of free people engaging in free trade with one another, using their own skills, talents, abilities and assets to trade with others for their skills, talents, abilities and assets to the mutual advantage of all parties.

How could anyone be against that?

Ronald Reagan once pointed out that liberals “aren’t always wrong – it’s just that they believe so many things that aren’t so.”  Would-be market regulators are much the same.  The problem – no, not the problem, the really scary thing about politicians that want to regulate markets your economic freedom is that not only do they believe things that aren’t so, they are willing to use force – men with guns – to compel you to comply with their beliefs.

You can have regulated markets or you can have liberty.

You cannot have both.

The market in microcosm takes essentially this form:

Producer:  “I have produced Item A.  I would like to sell Item A for $5.”

Consumer:  “I would like to have Item A.  Here is $5.”

Producer:  “Thank you.”  Producer then uses the $5 to purchase more raw materials to make more Item As.

Both parties gain value.  This is the only legitimate way for economic transactions to take place; if they take place by coercion, that is theft, and if they take place by deception, that is fraud.

That’s how economies grow, True Believers, because we are the economy.  And if we are free – truly free – then unless theft or fraud has taken place, there’s no damn room for government regulators to stick their noses in.