Saturday, March 28, 2009

Dennis Henigan on the DC vs. Heller Case

I find these discussions endlessly fascinating. Please feel free to add to that by commenting.

My favorite part is the "wolves, bears and grizzlies theory of the 2nd Amendment." That comes in the 3rd video.

Obama's Pot Comments

On Daisy's post yesterday I read about the latest town hall meeting in which Obama disappointed everyone who wants marijuana reform.

Here's the video from The Young Turks site.

Cenk Uygur, at The Young Turks, as well as the others to whom Daisy linked, all agree that the comments were disappointing. I agree with that, but take a slightly different impression from what I saw. It seems to me the live audience laughed first, this triggered Obama to laugh and make a silly joke, and then to dismiss the whole thing. To his credit, he gave a fairly clear "no," which is better than a wishy-washy non-answer. It was the laughter and the shrugging it off lightly that seems to have upset people.

I put this one in the same category as that unfortunate comment he made on Jay Leno. These are the risks of speaking without a teleprompter.

We've also got the point raised by Uygur about the rephrasing of the question. Even that, I'm OK with. Obviously the President is not ready to make a big move on marijuana reform yet. I think the baby steps that have been made are good ones and over the next couple years we'll see bigger changes.

What's your opinion? Would marijuana reform be good for the country? One thing I keep wondering is, isn't most of the problems and violence and cost associated with heroin and cocaine and not marijuana? Although I'm all for reform of the pot laws, I'm afraid it would only resolve a small percentage of the problems. What do you think?

Please leave a comment.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Maryland Increases Death Penalty Requirements

Jeralyn over at Talk Left has the good news from Maryland. Governor Martin O'Malley has indicated he'll sign the bill which just passed in the Maryland House.
The measure will limit capital cases to those with biological or DNA evidence, a videotaped confession or a videotape linking the defendant to a homicide.

This will make Maryland's requirements for sentencing someone to death the strictest of any of the 35 States that still carry capital punishment on their books. What do you think about that?

Do you get the impression, with the recent changes in New Mexico, and this news from Maryland, that the country's moving away from the death penalty?

Please feel free to leave a comment.


Forget about guns, we need to ban plastic. (Thanks Steven Hart)

Happy Birthday Quentin Tarantino

Dear Quentin,

Happy Birthday, man. Thanks so much for writing the masterpiece True Romance. For me it's a work of art.

Your devoted fan,


"You just said you love me, now if I say I love you and just throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may and you're lying to me, I'm gonna fuckin' die."

"I'm not lying to you, and I swear from this moment forth, I'll never lie to you again."

Rihanna's Tattoos

The Huffington Post reports on Rihanna's newest tattoos. Please click over there to see the pics.

It's been said a few times that the interminable argument on this blog about guns will probably not result in anyone's conversion. That may be true, but, I'd love to hear what some of our frequent commenters think about Rihanna. C'mon guys, admit it, those tattoos make you want to give up your guns and join my side. I swear, I won't ever say, "I told ya so."

Thursday, March 26, 2009


An old Italian Mafia Don is dying and he calls his grandson
to his bed!
'Lissin-a me. I wanna for you to taka my chrome plated
38 revolver so you will always remember me.'
'But grandpa, I really don't lika guns. Howzabout
you leava me your Rolex watch instead?'
'Shuddup an lissin. Somma day you gonna runna da gonna have a beautifula wife, lotsa money,
a biga home and maybe a couple a bambinos'
'Somma day you gonna comma home and maybe find you wife
inna bed with another man. Whadda you gonna do then.......
pointa to your watch and say 'Times up'?

Hillary Gets on the Bandwagon

The Miami Herald reports on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to Mexico and her very direct comments about the United States' involvement in the problems there.

Clinton offered the bluntest comments to date by any senior U.S. official that Americans' habits and government policies have stoked the drug trade and the accompanying violence.

"How could anybody conclude any differently?" she said. "Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians."

U.S. domestic drug-control strategies during the past three decades have largely failed, she said, suggesting that the Obama administration will try to reduce demand and emphasize treatment more than its predecessors.

"We have certainly been pursuing these strategies for ... a long time. I remember Mrs. Reagan's 'just say no,' " Clinton said, referring to former first lady Nancy Reagan's exhortation to young people to refuse drugs. "It's been very difficult."

Although this is certainly a case of Ms. Clinton getting on the bandwagon of gun smuggling across the border, there is an important distinction. Her main focus is not the guns but rather the failed war on drugs. I find this extremely encouraging. In her comments to the Mexican government, she pulled no punches on the gun issue, actually promising about the expired assault weapons ban, "[w]e're exploring approaches that might work." But she consistently made it clear that the first main problem is the "insatiable demand for drugs" in the U.S.

The immediate response has already been implemented with a much increased military presence on the border. Plus, she announced that Obama would seek $80 million, most of it in an upcoming supplemental budget request, to provide Mexico with three Blackhawk helicopters. My belief is that these efforts are largely lost in the maelstrom of violence of which there is no end in sight. The hope I take from these announcements is that by admitting the main problem is the demand for drugs in the U.S., and that the Reagan-era war on drugs has failed, policy changes will continue that will bring about a true improvement. It will take time, but I think we're heading in the right direction with the recent changes we've made.

Plus, about the gun smuggling, I for one can't wait to see what the Secretary has in mind by saying they are "exploring approaches that might work." What about you?

Do you think it's important that Clinton names the priorities, first the war on drugs then gun smuggling? Do you think it's possible to do something about the hunger for drugs in our country?

Please feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brady Campaign Urges Stronger Laws

Yesterday the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence urged U.S. leaders to help reduce the gun violence that is devastating Mexico "by strengthening U.S. laws to make it harder for Mexican criminals to arm themselves with U.S. firearms."

The news release, issued on March 24th, 2009, was entitled, Brady Campaign Urges Stronger Laws To Curb Guns To Mexico: Enforcing Existing Laws Is Not Enough.
“Our polices help enable this cross-border violence,” said Helmke at a news conference in Washington D.C. “For too long, we have been putting our own citizens at risk by making it so easy for criminals to get guns. Now our neighbors are threatened as well, and our national security is at risk. We must do more to keep dangerous weapons away from dangerous people.”

It's interesting that the theory of "gun flow into Mexico" has been in the news so much lately. In spite of the fact that Mr. Iknadosian has been exonerated, at least for the time being, public awareness of this problem seems to be on the rise. Tom Diaz, senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center spoke to the House of Representatives on March 12th. The New York Times published an article the other day about the violence in Tucson AZ.

What's your opinion? Do you think they're all wrong? Do you think they all have ulterior motives? Why do pro-gun people accuse the anti-gun folks of being biased? Aren't the gun guys the ones who have something to be biased about? What does the anti-gun movement have to gain except what they say, a decrease in gun violence?

Please leave a comment.

A Warm San Franciscan Night

Three Escaped Convicts

(Photos courtesy: Indiana Department of Corrections)

WAVE 3 TV in Louiville KY reports on the escape of three Indiana convicts who've made their way across the border into Kentucky and have broken into at least one home along the way.

Three men who escaped from a Southern Indiana correctional facility on Friday are still on the loose.

At the home in Sanders KY on Monday morning, the three fugitives first attacked Richard Marshall. He was badly beaten and tied up in the barn. Then they moved to the house.
"The other brother, Keith, when he opened the door for them, they hit him in the head with a club, put him on the floor and tied him up," said Carroll County Sheriff Ben Smith.

Police say the three escapees ransacked the house, and when the third brother, Barry Marshall, showed up, he was met at gunpoint and tied up.

"They've got clothes. They are well armed now," said Sheriff Smith. "They have got two high powered rifles, three handguns, plenty of ammunition."

Investigators say the fugitives stole 10 guns, $2,000 in cash, a truck, flannel shirts, and jeans.

I don't know about you, but I call this a dilemma. What's the well-intentioned anti-gun guy supposed to say? Should he actually say that when three escaped convicts come a knockin' it's a bad thing to have guns in the house? Honestly, I'd be hard-pressed to say that. Yet, this story, which very likely will have a bad ending, is a perfect illustration of some of the key points in the anti-gun argument.

The main point is "gun flow." These ten guns moved from the good guys to the bad guys. It's simple. Rarely is there a clearer example than this one.

Another point is that guns in the hands of the good guys are not the answer to violent crime. Now, as I said, I couldn't sit here and say that I'd not want to be armed if this frightening situation should ever befall me, I would, but using this case as an example, those 10 guns did not help the Marshall brothers protect themselves. Unfortunately, most gun owners are not as prepared and trained as some of you. In fact, those 10 guns, due to the inexorable nature of "gun flow" are now liable to do some terrible damage.

What's your opinion?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

First Black President

Via One Utah.

Frank Zappa Returns to Baltimore

(statue of Frank Zappa stands in Vilnius, Lithuania. Sun photo by Mindaugas Kulbis / May 7, 2008)

The Baltimore Sun reports on a Frank Zappa story. (hat tip to Notions Capital. Check out Mike's links; he really knows how to put a story together).

The statue, a representation of Frank Zappa’s head by sculptor Konstantinas Bogdanas, is on a tall thin column. A duplicate of this 15-foot-tall artwork will be placed in the Fells Point section of the city in the coming months, under a plan supported by Baltimore's Public Art Commission. The commission endorsed a site at the foot of Broadway on the south side of Broadway Market.

Everything I know about Baltimore, however, I learned on the Wire.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New Commenting Policy

I feel compelled to change my long-standing commenting policy, which you can read here. The reason for the change is the fact that a couple commenters seem to have lost the ability to argue and disagree respectfully. I've asked for it and not gotten it. So now it'll be enforced through comment moderation.

I think the problem stems from my idea that all gun owners share in the responsibility for gun violence. I admit this is a debatable premise, and that's exactly what we've been doing until recently when it turned particularly vicious and personal. I realize a legal gun owner might take my idea very personally, and even be offended by it, but when I'm repeatedly called "liar" and "bastard," and when the inference is made that I'm involved in child pornography, I say it's gone too far.

If you feel so strongly about my premise and are convinced that by proposing it I deserve to be called a "liar" and a "bastard" and if you really think that by engaging the pro-gun community in an argument like this I deserve to be slandered as a child pornographer, I would simply remind you that this is my blog. Here, I can do what I want, you cannot.

One interesting aspect is that the offending parties were never called to task by any of the other commenters. What is that all about? Do you gun guys support each other, right or wrong? Is that it? I don't have much respect for that. But, I'll tell you what I do respect. I respect someone who argues their point passionately, even heatedly. I can even accept some name-calling; we've had plenty of that around here. But, when it comes to personal attacks and slander, all of which is off topic, I won't have it. And if anyone cares to notice, I hold myself to the same standards.

Please feel free to comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say about this.

UPDATE June 28, 2009

Personal attacks will be rejected at my discretion.

Tucson Arizona

The New York Times reports on the ever-increasing violence in Tucson Arizona.
This city, an hour’s drive north of the Mexican border, is coping with a wave of drug crime the police suspect is tied to the bloody battles between Mexico’s drug cartels and the efforts to stamp them out.

Tucson is hardly alone in feeling the impact of Mexico’s drug cartels and their trade. In the past few years, the cartels and other drug trafficking organizations have extended their reach across the United States and into Canada. Law enforcement authorities say they believe traffickers distributing the cartels’ marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs are responsible for a rash of shootings in Vancouver, British Columbia, kidnappings in Phoenix, brutal assaults in Birmingham, Ala., and much more.

This may very well be further evidence that the so-called "war on drugs" is failing. What do you think? It makes sense doesn't it that if the United States is the biggest consumer of these illegal drugs, the drug gangs would either be in the business of distributing in the U.S. or would have close ties with the gangsters who do? Either way, the violence and death in the Mexican drug wars is not limited to Mexico.

Of great interest to me was the following paragraph in the NY Times article:

Law enforcement officials on both sides of the border agree that the United States is the source for most of the guns used in the violent drug cartel war in Mexico.

“The key thing is to keep improving on our interdiction of the weapons before they even get in there,” said Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security and the former governor of Arizona, who will be testifying before Congress on Wednesday.

Do you think the New York Times newspaper has a vested interest in convincing people that the guns come from the U.S.? I don't. So, I'll ask again, why do gun owners find this suggestion so difficult to accept? How does it harm them? When we discussed this before, it seemed like many pro-gun people take this personally. Why would that be? Why would law-abiding gun owners be interested in protecting law breakers by denying that they even exist?

Please leave a comment.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tom Diaz Addresses the House of Representatives

Tom Diaz is a senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center and a well-known advocate for strict gun control. Because he is a former NRA member and competitive shooter, who became a gun control activist, some of us feel his opinions carry more weight than someone who might not be familiar with the other side.

On March 12, 2009, Mr. Diaz made a statement in the U.S. House of Representatives before the Subcommittee on National Security & Foreign Affairs under the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. It was part of a Hearing on “Money, Guns, and Drugs: Are U.S. Inputs Fueling Violence on the U.S./Mexico Border?”

In the very beginning of the statement, in keeping with the title, he has this to say:

It is beyond question that firearms from the U.S. civilian gun market are fueling violence not only on both sides of the U.S./Mexico Border, but in Mexico itself.

This made me stop and think about several recent discussions we've had. News reports had come out recently stating that this just isn't so for the simple reason that the Mexican drug wars require far more weaponry than is possible to smuggle across the border a few pieces at a time. Now, here comes an expert on the matter, a guy who's been on both sides of the argument and presumably knows what he's talking about, addressing the House of Representatives with as strong a statement as this.

He goes on to explain, exactly what we've heard before in the Iknadosian case, that there are thousands of FFL dealers now along the border. Diaz describes the process as an inexorable army of ants moving guns over the border. To me it's convincing.

One of the surprising bits of information I learned in this statement was the fact that over the last three decades the numbers of guns have actually diminished in certain quarters. There are fewer hunters, for example. The demographics show that hunting is an older man's activity. Other survey data shows that "during the period 1972 to 2006, the percentage of American households that reported having any guns in the home dropped nearly 20 percentage points: from a high of 54 percent in 1977 to 34.5 percent in 2006."

I found that amazing, but not as amazing as the gun industry's response.
For the gun industry, innovation has translated into introducing increasingly deadly firearms into the civilian market. The gun industry uses firepower, or lethality, in the same way that the tobacco industry uses nicotine. Firearm lethality is a means to “hook” gun buyers into coming back into the market again and again as more deadly innovations are rolled out. As a consequence, the profile of the civilian gun industry today is defined by military style weaponry.

This increased lethality, naturally serves the gangsters, both foreign and domestic, who make up a certain percentage of the buyers. Guys like Iknadosian, and apparently there are thousands like him, have become expert in concealing the fact that their product is not all destined for sportsmen and collectors.

A large number of the firearms smuggled from the United States into Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America come from the Southwest, the states of which are notoriously lax in gun control laws and law enforcement regulation. It has been reported that there are more than 6,700 U.S. gun dealers within a short drive of the southern border — more than three dealers for each of the approximately 2,000
miles of the border.

In his statement Diaz concludes with clear suggestions about what can be done. Examples of these measures include stopping the production and import of military-style firearms such as semiautomatic assault weapons and 50 caliber anti-armor sniper rifles, and making all transfers of firearms subject to a background check.

What's your opinion? Do you feel Diaz' credibility is increased by the fact that he was formerly a member of the NRA? Are you swayed by the argument that thousands of gun dealers could actually supply the Mexican drug war with guns, transporting the weapons like a column of ants across the border? Do you think his suggestions fall into the category of "common sense gun laws?"

Please leave a comment with your opinion.

Chris Crocker

Chris Crocker covers a few subjects near and dear to our hearts: the government, fundamentalist Christian beliefs, the Founding Fathers, history, carbon dating and then back to the government.

People do not die, that's all theatrics.

Medical Marijuana

The new administration seems to be moving in the direction of accepting medical marijuana as a legitimate option for those people whose doctors feel they need it. How much of this is just a front for people who want to get high, do you think? If there is a significant percentage abusing this option, do you think that'll ruin it for the people who really need it, the glaucoma patients, for example?

It seems to me that for every person with a true medical need for marijuana, there are probably two or three who are just taking advantage of the situation. But, I think that's a good thing, as long as that abuse does not hinder the overall program. For me, marijuana should be the first drug to be removed from the so-called "war on drugs." Perhaps what happened in Massachusetts last year along with these recent announcements by the Attorney General is the beginning of the long-overdue reversal of America's attitude towards recreational drugs.

What's your opinion?