Saturday, August 1, 2009

Juan Marichal's Bat

On the Juan Marichal page of the Baseball Library there's a wonderful description of one of the most unforgettable moments in Major League Baseball.

On August 22, 1965, Marichal faced Sandy Koufax at Candlestick Park in the heat of a tight pennant race. The Giants and Dodgers had come close to a brawl two days earlier over catcher's interference calls. Los Angeles's Maury Wills had allegedly tipped Tom Haller's mitt with his bat on purpose, and Marichal's best friend, Matty Alou, retaliated by tipping John Roseboro's face mask. Roseboro nearly beaned Alou with his return throw to the mound. In the August 22 game, Marichal had flattened Wills and Ron Fairly with pitches when Roseboro purportedly asked Koufax to hit Marichal. When Koufax refused, Roseboro's return throw came close to Marichal's head. Name-calling ensued, until Roseboro suddenly ripped off his mask and stood up. Marichal rapped the catcher on the head with his bat. What followed was one of the most violent brawls in major league history. Willie Mays led away Roseboro, who had suffered a concussion, while Dodger Bob Miller tackled Marichal, Alou slugged Miller, and Tito Fuentes menaced the Dodgers with his bat. Roseboro sued Marichal, but eventually dropped the suit. Marichal was fined $1750, was suspended for a week, and missed two starts as the Giants finished two games behind the Dodgers. Years later, Marichal said, "I feel sorry that I used the bat."

I remember it well. As a 12-year-old who idolized Koufax and followed the Dodgers, I was deeply impressed with the explosive behaviour of Marichal. I looked for a video clip, but one site said there aren't even many photos of this famous incident. I hadn't thought of it in many years until I read mention of it in Denis A. Henigan's new book, Lethal Logic.

Henigan uses this in his chapter devoted to debunking the old "guns don't kill people, people kill people" mantra. It's a great read which I recommend to anyone interested in guns. On page 22, he says, "What would have happened if the Giants' right-hander had a Glock strapped to his waist?"

Please feel free to leave a comment.

Gun Flow into Mexico - Part 4

The NPR site reports on the situation between Mexico and the United States with regards to gun flow. In Gun Flow into Mexico - Part 3 we had a pretty lively discussion on this.

Last November, law enforcement in Reynosa, Mexico, just across the Rio Grande from Hidalgo, Texas, made this astonishing find: "500,000 rounds of ammunition, 300 assault rifles — mainly [AK-47s] and [AR-15s] — two grenade launchers, and 287 grenades," says Victor Trevino, the Mexican consul in Brownsville, Texas. "That's just in a single seizure."
What's Reported

None of these weapons has been traced yet. But a report released last month by the Government Accountability Office, based on traces done by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on crime guns recovered in Mexico in 2008, states that nearly 90 percent originated in the U.S. The report acknowledges the data are incomplete because Mexico doesn't submit all its confiscated weapons for electronic tracing.

I thought everybody was in agreement that the 90% figure is so high we shouldn't use it, even with that little qualifier about acknowledging "the data are incomplete." Maybe no one told the NPR folks.

The thrust of the article is that gun laws are so lax in America that it's very difficult for the ATF to do their job. Additional resources have been allocated to the border towns. Officials have created "gun-runner" task forces in Houston and south Texas dedicated to firearms trafficking.

We typically will see a straw purchaser go from gun shop to gun shop on the same day and be paid $50 a gun sometimes, buy 10 different guns, make $500 in one day," says Dewey Webb, the special agent in charge of the ATF field office in Houston.

Relaxed reporting requirements for arms purchases make it difficult for his agents. For instance, if you buy two handguns within five days, the dealer must report it to the ATF. But you can buy all the rifles you want, and the dealer doesn't have to report it.

Now, how does that work exactly? Can a person really go from shop to shop, submit to a background check in each one, and not raise any suspicion? How would a gun dealer know if his customer had bought other handguns earlier that day from other dealers? How is it different in Texas than, say, New Jersey? How do the Jersey gun dealers determine if a person is trying to violate the one-gun-a-month law, especially if that customer is shopping in different gun shops?

The idea that in the U.S. there are lax, sloppy and inconsistent gun laws, to me, is not in doubt, and this is at the heart of the matter. The only baffling part of the story is the closing remark where the author comments on Obama's reluctance.

Mexico has asked the U.S. not just to pursue gun traffickers on the border, but change the laws. But so far, the Obama administration has shown little interest in taking on the gun lobby.

What's your opinion? Is the Omama administration biding their time and still planning on keeping some of those campaign promises, you know the ones that sent the entire pro-gun world into a panic of buying guns last year? Or do you think since taking office the new President has realized this is a battle he cannot win and attempting to do so would be too costly?

What's your opinion?

Friday, July 31, 2009

PayPal Gun Policy

Everybody who's anybody in the pro-gun blogging world is writing about this. I think it started at Kevin's place, The Smallest Minority. For me that's the real story, not the PayPal policy, but the pro-gun response.

PayPal Acceptable Use Policy

This Policy was last modified on June 3, 2009.

You are independently responsible for complying with all applicable laws in all of your actions related to your use of PayPal's services, regardless of the purpose of the use. In addition, you must adhere to the terms of this Acceptable Use Policy.

Prohibited Activities You may not use the PayPal service for activities that:
  1. violate any law, statute, ordinance or regulation

  2. relate to sales of (a) narcotics, steroids, certain controlled substances or other products that present a risk to consumer safety, (b) drug paraphernalia, (c) items that encourage, promote, facilitate or instruct others to engage in illegal activity, (d) items that promote hate, violence, racial intolerance, or the financial exploitation of a crime, (e) items that are considered obscene, (f) items that infringe or violate any copyright, trademark, right of publicity or privacy or any other proprietary right under the laws of any jurisdiction, (g) certain sexually oriented materials or services, (h) ammunition, firearms, or certain firearm parts or accessories, or (i) ,certain weapons or knives regulated under applicable law.

Point H is the thing that's got everybody upset: "You may not use the PayPal service for activities that relate to sales of ammunition, firearms, or certain firearm parts or accessories." I'm not sure what the real problem with that is. Maybe Pay Pal feels like I do that although the vast majority of gun owners are good and responsible people, some of them are not. And you can't have these problem people buying and selling guns over the internet using the Pay Pal service.

I wasn't surprised at the heated reactions. Sebastian says they are "pure unadulterated evil." Joe Huffman says, "I reluctantly use PayPal." Linoge entitled his post, "Pay Pal Sucks."

None of this surprises me. That pro-gun writers respond strongly to anyone expressing anti-gun sentiments, even if they're well within their rights or can back up their opinions, is nothing new. What does surprise me though is the incredible speed with which information passes from one blogger to another. Within one day nearly 50 sites were talking about this. Check out the list on The Smallest Minority.

No wonder we poor gun control folks can't win arguments with these guys.

What's your opinion? Do you find it like I do, to be extremely impressive, the cohesion, the mutual support, the conscientiousness?

Please leave a comment.

Weapons of Mass Distraction

This is what I think is a perfect example of what Il Principe refers to as "Weapons of mass distraction." Things like this are the real WMDs while we're getting jerked around on health care and the war in Afghanistan.

What's your opinion? Is the situation between Professor Gates and the cop who arrested him really as important as all this attention it's gotten? Why do you think they do that? Whose fault is it? The Prince says get the news from AP or Reuters, is that the answer?

Please leave a comment.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Off-Duty Fireman Shoots Cyclist in Head

Thanks to our friend Microdot over at the Brain Police. reports on the story of a trigger happy fireman in Asheville NC.

Police said that Alan Simons and his wife, along with their 3-year-old son, were riding their bikes along Tunnel Road. Simons’ son was riding in a seat attached to Simons’ bike.

Simons was stopped by 42-year-old Charles Diez, of Swannanoa, who began arguing with Simons about the boy being on the bike in high-traffic area. Diez then pulled out a handgun and fired.

Does this perfectly illustrate the 10% that I'm always saying about, or what?

Miraculously, the bike helmet stopped the bullet so the fireman is in jail for attempted murder instead of plain old 1st-degree murder.

The way it is, I don't have too much compassion for him. I suppose if he'd killed Simons and was suddenly facing the death penalty, I might be tempted to think of the mitigating circumstances, the fact that he has obvious mental problems, etc.

What's your opinion? What kind of man can get so angry so fast that he shoots someone in the head who has a three-year-old child clinging to him? That's got to be someone completely unhinged, completely incapable of making decisions of any kind, let alone those which involve life or death.

How many are there like him? Do you think this is such an anomaly that we needn't worry about it? Do you think it's fair to count up all the incidents like this and divide them by the total number of gun owners to prove how rare they really are?

Please leave a comment. I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Baltimore's Busy Weekend

The Baltimore Sun reports that although they had a bad weekend, the overall situation this year is good.

The spate of shootings Sunday night and early Monday morning culminated a bloody weekend in which about two dozen people were shot, including four who were killed. But the violence belies police statistics that show shootings and overall gun crimes are down significantly from last year.

Like I said last time we talked about the FBI report that violent crime was down in 2008, this kind of talk, especially about Baltimore, makes me think of The Wire. Are they "juking the stats" again? That's always my question.

Baltimore recorded a 20-year low in homicides last year with 234 slayings, and could come close to that figure again.

Homicides are up 6.6 percent, with 130 people having been killed as of Monday morning, compared with 122 during the like period last year.

Shootings, however, are down markedly, with about 100 fewer people who were shot and survived. Even as at least 18 people were shot Sunday night, nonfatal shootings remain down 29.4 percent for the year, with 230 people shot as of Monday morning compared with 326 at this point last year.

Does that sound right to you? They used to have 6 murders a week, now it's only 5. What's the point, exactly? Is somebody going to divide the number of murders by the population of Baltimore to make the same point? Or better yet, why doesn't someone divide the number of murders by all the stars in the galaxy? That's what Mike W. does sometimes.

My point is 250 murders a year is unacceptable.

What's your opinion? Is Baltimore doing pretty well these days? Is the fact that they used to be doing so much worse, comforting? In addition to the 24 people who were shot with guns last weekend, four of whom died, do you think an equal number were stabbed with knives? I keep hearing so much about knives from the pro-gun folks.

Do you think anyone has thought of checking all the vacant buildings that are boarded up? What they need to do is check the nails that secure the plywood in place. Where it's a new shiny nail from a nail gun, they've got bodies inside. If it's secured with old rusty screws they can leave it alone.

Catholicism and Capital Punishment

The has published an article which might surprise some considering the last two Popes' opinions on the death penalty. Here's John Paul II's, here's Benedict XVI's.

From the Examiner article:

According to the Catholic Catechism (2265), “Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for someone responsible for another person’s life, the common good of the family or of the state.”

The church understands that the scale for punishment should reflect the gravity of a crime. “Preserving the common good of society requires rendering the aggressor unable to inflict harm.” The traditional teaching of the church “acknowledges… the right and duty of public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty” (CC 2266).

Pope John Paul II chose another sentence from the same article of the Catechism.

In any event, the principle set forth in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church remains valid: 'If bloodless means are sufficient to defend human lives against an aggressor and to protect public order and the safety of persons, public authority must limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.'

The present pope feels the same way, in spite of his reputation as a conservative theologian.

But, I would imagine many people couldn't care less what the popes or the Catholic Church think. These people, not unlike their Catholic neighbors, are faced with the same difficult questions. Is it possible to remove the vengeance factor from our feelings about capital punishment? Is executing a person ever necessary to set the social order straight?

Even unabashed supporters of the death penalty recognize that revenge is not a good motive for it; they invariably insist they're driven by justice not vengeance. And, although it escapes me, many people seem to put a lot of weight in the eye-for-an-eye theory.

What's your opinion? Do you find it interesting that even the Catholic Catechism can be variously interpreted? In that regard it's a bit like our own Constitution and Bill of Rights, isn't it.

Please leave a comment.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fox News Popularity

Thanks to our friends over at Newsy.

U.S. Guns in Canada and Mexico published an article on one of our favorite subjects: gun flow into Canada and Mexico. And, I must say, finally it seems articles are coming out which fairly address the question of where all the guns are coming from. Authors Philip J. Cook, of Duke University Durham, NC, US, Wendy Cukier Ryerson of the University of Toronto, Canada and Keith Krause from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies Geneva, Switzerland, collaborated.

Investigators have traced 90 to 95 percent of weapons in Mexico to the US, but how did they get there? The guns sampled may not represent the bigger picture: the figure reflects firearms submitted for tracing by Mexican authorities. Authorities recover only a fraction of firearms from crimes and gun battles, and traces are only requested on some recovered weapons.

Central America, a region awash with weapons imported by both governments and rebel groups during the civil wars in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala, is a further potential weapon source to Mexico, as are Chinese, Russian, Eastern European, or other sources. To date evidence is mainly anecdotal. Still less is known about the third source of weapons, the Mexican security forces themselves. The Small Arms Survey 2008 showed that weapons diverted from police and armed forces are a major and sometimes the main source of illicit weapons in many countries.

Some weapons used in Mexican crimes such as grenades, RPGs and fully automatic weapons are less easy to acquire in the US, and have probably arrived from elsewhere. This contrasts with Canada, where very few cases detail handguns from anywhere but the US, other than arms illegally diverted from legal Canadian supplies.

There you have it. Finally, here's an article which allows for the other sources of Mexican guns, Central American countries and the Mexican military itself, and properly qualifies that 90% business. Nevertheless, the point is exactly the same: too many guns bought in the United States are ending up in Mexico. As a solution we have this.

The authors speculate US authorities would not only have to stem the supply of smuggled weapons from the US, but also other potential sources to successfully block the flow of deadly arms to criminals and criminal organizations.

About Canada, there's no question, apparently.

What's your opinion? Does this description of the problem seem fair? To me, it seems like the authors were reading the comments on this blog an took some of that information into their report. What do you think?

What about Canada? Are the numbers so small we shouldn't worry about them?

Please leave a comment.

Swords Don't Kill People, People Kill People

If you wanted to chop a bunch of arms and legs off, what tool would you choose?
If you wanted to kill a bunch of people, what tool would you choose? (Hint: no bombs allowed. This exercise has to be hands-on.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Arm the Senate

Thanks to our good friend Mud_Rake for tipping me off to this wonderful article in the Washington Post.

Isn't it time to dismantle the metal detectors, send the guards at the doors away and allow Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being free to carry their firearms into the nation's Capitol?

I've been studying the deep thoughts of senators who regularly express their undying loyalty to the National Rifle Association, and I have decided that they should practice what they preach. They tell us that the best defense against crime is an armed citizenry and that laws restricting guns do nothing to stop violence.

If they believe that, why don't they live by it?

It's a good question, one which I've asked myself pertaining to prisons. When visiting a prisoner, even cops must disarm prior to entering. How does that work with all this talk of guns in the hands of responsible people make us safer?

Why would freedom-loving lawmakers want to hide behind guards and metal detectors? Shouldn't NRA members be outraged that Second Amendment rights mean nothing in the very seat of our democracy?

What's your opinion? Would you feel unsafe in a highly secure building which disallows weapons? Do you think the same folks who favor guns in national parks and on college campuses would agree to allow concealed carry in the Capitol Building?

Please leave a comment.


Drug Courts

The Huffington Post has published an article by Gen. Barry McCaffrey about the very hopeful future of drug courts. We discussed the Seattle program once before, but now the General is talking about the promising national picture since the Obama administration is on board with this.

The verdict is in on Drug Courts. It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Drug Courts work. Drug Courts significantly reduce drug abuse and crime and do so at less expense than any other justice strategy.

That is why the historic 1994 Biden Crime Bill authorized $1 billion for the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, administered by the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. The intent of the Biden Crime Bill at the time was to expand Drug Court funding to $200 million annually by the year 2000. Unfortunately the DOJ federal appropriation has averaged only $40 million and saw its lowest level in 2006 at a mere $10 million.

But the attitude in Washington is changing. Earlier this year, Congress approved $64 million for Drug Courts; the highest federal appropriation for the program in its 20 year history, with another $118 million earmarked for 2010.

Drug Courts need $250 million per year for the next six years--essentially as was originally envisioned in the Crime Bill -- in order to put a Drug Court within reach of the 1.2 million adult offenders who need it and to truly begin to heal America's number one social problem...addiction.

What Will be the Return on the Investment?

A $250 million annual Federal investment would reap staggering savings, with an estimated annual return of as much as $840 million in net benefits from avoided criminal justice costs alone and another 2.2 billion in savings to our communities. A $250 million annual Federal investment would also substantially reduce the demand for illicit drugs and enable state and local governments to cease over-relying on expensive and ineffective prison sentences for nonviolent, addicted offenders.

What's your opinion? Is this one area where the Obama administration might be making significant improvements? Do you agree with General McCaffrey that "America's number one social problem" is addiction? Do you agree that locking addicts up is not the solution?

Please leave a comment.

Concealed Carry Reciprosity - The Wrap-up

Thanks to Daniel over at for this wonderful video which provides a balanced overview of this controversial issue, as he says, "without the flying insults."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thank God For Evolution

"Thank God for Evolution" is the name of a wonderful web site run by Michael Dowd, who has been an occasional commenter here.

Until we appreciate what God has revealed in the last 200 years about how everything was actually created and why death at all levels is necessary—until we GET that—we can't help but belittle God and trivialize the core concepts of our faith.

For example, you can't possibly know how God created the heavens and Earth if you don't understand supernovas. You can't know how God created soil, lakes, oceans, and mountains if you don't understand glaciers and plate tectonics. And only by understanding extinctions and why they're essential for the emergence of complex life could we learn how God created us.

Rev. Dowd suggests that science reveals more about God than the Bible writers did. He says, "Darwin didn't kill off God. He gave us the first glimpse of the real Creator behind and beyond all the world's mythic portrayals of the divine."

Claiming that evolution is of the devil and that all the evils of the world can be attributed to Darwin, as many creationists do, is blasphemous. It is labeling as evil that which is actually divine.

What's your opinion? Are the concepts of creation and evolution mutually exclusive or can they be reconciled as Rev. Michael Dowd attempts to do?

I don't suppose hard core atheists would be open to these ideas any more than strict fundamental Christians, but to me they make sense. How about you.

Please leave a comment.

Buy American


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Guns and Skateboards

Big thanks to Phuck Politics for sending me this link. What does this have to do with legal gun owners? Nothing directly, but indirectly, everything. Guns, like the one in this video, generally start out legal and through various means pass into criminal hands. The attitude and efforts of legal gun owners, along with that of manufacturers and dealers, is responsible for that.

After viewing this one, I'll bet our gun enthusiast friends will suggest banning skateboards.

Happy Birthday, Mick

Las Vegas Kids and Guns

USA Today reports on the latest gun tragedy in Las Vegas.

A 2-year-old girl was in critical condition Friday after being shot by her 4-year-old brother at their Las Vegas home, police said.

Police were investigating how the boy got the 9mm handgun. Cassell said their father was home when the shooting happened about 8:30 p.m. local time Thursday. It was not immediately clear if the father would face any charges.

"At this time it appears the (boy) was able to gain access to the weapon because it was improperly secured," Cassell said.

"Not immediately clear" whether he would face any charges? I don't know what to say about that. It sounds like a joke.

Once before we discussed the bloody relationship between kids and guns. Amazingly, the commenters, for the most part, refused to admit even the fact that there is such a problem. That analysis included children between 5 and 14 years of age, which essentially excluded older teens who might be involved in gangs as well as very young kids like in today's story.

If I were a gun owner who sincerely believed in the 2nd amendment as an individual right, and who equated that right with "freedom" itself, I'd feel a certain responsibility for this kind of collateral damage. Wouldn't you?

At first glance, this story from Las Vegas might seem like a one-off anomaly. Unfortunately, that's not the case at all.

The shooting came less than a week after a 5-year-old boy shot and killed himself with a handgun inside his father's vehicle outside a Las Vegas pharmacy. That father, 31-year-old Alex Kopystenski, has been charged with felony child endangerment.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.