Saturday, December 12, 2009

Those Peaceable Hunters

The site reports on a wild incident which took place between hunters.

State police say they won't charge a bear hunter who shot and killed a property owner who first shot him during an argument about trespassing in rural northern Pennsylvania.

State police in Punxsutawney say the Nov. 24 shooting of Frank Shaffer, 63, of Red Lion, was justified.

Police said yesterday that Shaffer confronted five hunters on property he owns in Summerville and ordered them off his land. A short time later, he confronted three of them in another area near his property line and fired at least four shots at Paul Plyler, 23, of Summerville, with a semiautomatic rifle.

Plyler was hit in the back and the hand, police said. Plyler fired back, hitting Shaffer once in the abdomen. Summerville is about 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

Of course, the guy telling the State Police what happened, who fired first and what words were exchanged and all that, is the survivor.

I know this kind of thing is supposed to be so rare, but how can it be? When counting DGUs, the pro-gun folks like to point out that many of them do not result in shots fired, but what about this? What about all the incidents of abuse that result in less than mortal ends among hunters?

I guess you could say hunting is bad news for animals and hunters alike.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Gun Rights Star on the Rise

Yahoo News reports on the successful year the NRA has had in pushing gun-rights legislation across the country. Via Il Principe.

It's been the year of the gun in Tennessee. In a flurry of legislative action, handgun owners won the right to take their weapons onto sports fields and playgrounds and, at least briefly, into bars.

A change in leadership at the state Capitol helped open the doors to the gun-related bills and put Tennessee at the forefront of a largely unnoticed trend: In much of the country, it is getting easier to carry guns.

A nationwide review by The Associated Press found that over the last two years, 24 states, mostly in the South and West, have passed 47 new laws loosening gun restrictions.

Here's one example of common sense working in reverse.

Arizona, Florida, Louisiana and Utah have made it illegal for businesses to bar their employees from storing guns in cars parked on company lots.

Even pro-gun writers have often said storing guns in cars is one of the least secure methods, but when it comes down to a common sense choice of leaving the gun at home or taking it to work and leaving it in the car, guess what happens. Is that to protect themselves against armed criminals with road rage on the drives to and from work? Or is it just in case they witness a bank robbery while driving past the bank?

Meanwhile, the cars are stolen or broken into.

There are many other examples. What seems to be happening is the NRA-backed initiatives across the country do not take anything into account except whether the law is pro gun or not. A victory is a victory. It's bad news.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Oath Keepers

Laci posted today about the Oath Keepers. I was wondering when this one would come up.

In their Orders they will not obey (3) they say:
"We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal."

Would this mean that they wouldn't be able to detain John Walker Lindh, the American Taliban?

There are other questions that beg asking when reading their "non-exhaustive" list of orders they will not obey. But, what do you think? Are these the true patriots?

Critics might call them treasonous, but what occurred to me is the mercenary aspect of the web site. Prominently displayed are ways to "donate." Could it be nothing more than a slick con which appeals to so many? The paranoid self-aggrandizing characters whom I often say suffer from "grandiose victimism" probably number in the millions. I'll bet that site is a money maker.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Dan vs. Captain Turner (Deadwood 3)

I thought the Swearengen vs. Bullock fight was a good one in season 2. But this one I'd put up there with the Turkish Bath fight in Eastern Promises.

Zappadan Festival 2009 - Day 8

Wikipedia says, ""I Have Been in You" pokes fun at Peter Frampton's 1977 hit "I'm in You" while maintaining a sexually driven structure."

A Different Perspective on Heller

The Washington Times published an article suggesting that the Heller decision and the upcoming McDonald case might not be the victories for gun rights they appear to be.

Many have heard about the historic gun rights case going to the Supreme Court. Fewer have heard that this is also a major case for businesses and family values. It could lead to anything from court-ordered Obamacare to same-sex marriage. This is the biggest case of the year, and everyone has a stake in it.

On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in McDonald v. City of Chicago. It is a gun rights case, challenging Chicago's categorical ban on handguns. The ban is essentially identical to the D.C. gun ban that was struck down by the Supreme Court in the 2008 case D.C. v. Heller, in which the court held that an absolute ban in the federal city violates the Second Amendment.

The question in this case is whether the Second Amendment applies to cities and states as it does to the federal government. The Bill of Rights applies only against actions of the federal government. Most of the Bill of Rights has since been applied to the states (or "incorporated," to use the legal term) by the Fourteenth Amendment. The question in McDonald is whether the right to keep and bear arms is incorporated against the states.

"Incorporated" is the word used so often by pro-gun folks, I think to give the impression that they're hip to legal terms. Some of them may be, but they always use this word in a way that sounds like it would decrease federal control in favor of the states and cities. They always use it to say that it increases freedom and rights. But does it?

Here's what Laci says.

I have always held that Heller was tyranny in the guise of the Second Amendment since the DC gun law was locally enacted, yet non-DC citizens used the court system to overturn a law they didn't like. This was true even though the DC law was popular amongst DC residents.

I don't think that the people who hope McDonald will find that the right will be incorporated against the States realise the implication. Instead, they prefer to hear something that matches their view of the world: the Second Amendment is incorporated against the States.

Facially, that is a ridiculous proposition since the Second Amendment was designed to protect state sovereignty (that is State's militias) against Federal power (the US Army). The fact that this irony is not perceived only shows how the Second Amendment has been perverted by special interests.

What's your opinion? Isn't this incorporation business a way of increasing federal control over the states? Are the gun control folks so short-sighted they fail to see the problem with this? Doesn't it do just the opposite of what they always claim they want?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

The Tony Arambula Shooting by Officer Lilly

Via Xavier Thoughts, this video contains the audio recording of the 911 call which actually captured the gunshots of Officer Lilly. Our initial impressions seem to have been right. The only news is that Mr. Arambula is recovering and planning to sue the cops and city of Phoenix.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Disarming the Police

Laci the Dog posted an article entitled, First, Disarm the Police...

It sounds like a joke or an exaggeration, but it's nothing of the sort.

Says Laci,

I found this US News & World Report story--Disarming News: Why Bobbies Have No Guns (3 February 1998) that pointed out:
According to a survey by the police officers union, the Police Federation, 4 out of 5 British cops do not want to be armed. Today, 95 percent of officers in England and Wales never carry firearms, and on average police nationwide open fire on only half a dozen occasions a year. In the 30-year history of the Thames Valley Police, a southern England force with 2 million people in its district, not a single round has ever been fired at a human.

And to sum up,

It is even more interesting to see that the place where the US received its concept of rights, does not share a similar concept of "gun rights".

I prefer a disarmed and peaceful society to an armed and violent one.

That is a much better right.

I couldn't agree more. What's your opinion?

The Security Aspect of Gun Control

Paul Helmke published a wonderful article on the security aspect of gun control and how necessary it is. After citing several examples of the numerous security breaches which have taken place at the highest levels, Paul had this to say.

These stories should trouble us. We want security not only for the President and our top officials, but also for ourselves and our families. Yet as a nation we make it very easy for dangerous people to arm themselves.

For example, several events attended by President Obama this past summer featured protesters armed with assault rifles and semi-automatic pistols. At least one protester had a state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon even though he had recently been released from jail.

The Fort Hood shooter had been issued a concealed carry permit by Virginia. This killer raised a number of red flags before the shooting, including several apparent contacts with a radical cleric “sympathetic” to Al Qaeda. Yet he was able to walk into a Texas gun store, pass a minimal computer background check, and easily arm himself with a “cop killer” pistol (capable of firing armor-piercing bullets) and formerly banned high-capacity ammunition magazines which allowed him to fire 20 rounds at a time without re-loading.

Even if the Fort Hood killer had been placed on the “Terrorist Watch List” because of his reportedly erratic behavior and connections to radical ideology, our weak gun laws would not have been an obstacle to his gun purchases.

I really find it amazing that some people want to argue with that. But supporting this, is just too much.

And now some elected officials actually want to make it easier for “mentally incapacitated” veterans to get guns. Legislation sponsored by Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.) would give immediate access to guns to over 100,000 veterans already found to be “mentally incapacitated, deemed mentally incompetent, or experiencing an extended loss of consciousness.”

Sen. Burr wants to take these individuals out of the “prohibited purchaser” category in the Brady background check system even though professional Veterans Affairs personnel made those competency determinations after hearing medical evidence and following a rigorous system which protects due process.

One of our frequent commenters responded to this on the HuffPo posting of it by offering Senator Burr's comments on Health Care. I just couldn't see the connection, although the objection was clear, perhaps Jay will explain.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Teah Wimberly Guilty of 2nd Degree Murder

The Miami Herald reports on the verdict in the highly publicized Teah Wimberly case. We talked about this terrible tragedy at the time of the shooting and one year later.

Inside a Broward County courtroom Wednesday, families mourned two teenage lives cut short -- one by a bullet, the other by a possible life prison sentence.

The parents of Amanda Collette quietly cried as Teah Wimberly, the 16-year old charged with killing their daughter, was found guilty of second-degree murder.

Steps away, John Wimberly wept, too, as the beloved granddaughter he raised since infancy was placed in handcuffs.

Overcome with emotion, the elder Wimberly had to be carried out of the courtroom by two relatives. His cherished granddaughter was the opposite -- stoic and slumped in a chair.

Teah Wimberly kept her head down and buried her face in her hands as Circuit Judge John Murphy read the verdicts: "guilty'' of both second-degree murder and possession of a weapon on school grounds.

I don't think there's been a sadder case than this one, the victim and shooter were 15 at the time of the incident, it was about young jilted love. Then on top of those details, the State of Florida decided to try her as an adult and finally the judge rejected all suggestions of temporary insanity.

This case is a big winner for all those personal responsibility folks who believe everyone is responsible for what they do and no mitigating circumstances can diminish any incurred guilt.

I find it a terrible injustice. A light sentence could, in large part, correct that, but somehow I don't think that'll happen.

What's your opinion? Is it right that this 15-year-old, now turned 16, should have been tried as an adult? Is it right that the temporary insanity defense should have been rejected?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Zappadan Festival 2009 - Day 7

Via Yourarf.

Murder Defendant to Cover Tattoos reported on an interesting death penalty case in Florida.

A FLORIDA judge has ordered that tattoos on the face and neck of a neo-Nazi on trial for murder be covered with make-up during his trial, as they might prejudice a jury against him.

John Allen Ditullio has a 6in swastika tattooed under his right ear, barbed wire inked down the right side of his face and an extreme vulgarity on his neck.

Judge Michael Andrews ruled that the state must pay a make-up artist $150 a day during Ditullio's trial to cover the black ink.

Andrews, acting on a request by Ditullio's lawyer, ruled that the tattoos are potentially offensive and could influence a jury's opinion in the state's death penalty case against the 23-year-old accused of donning a gas mask, breaking into a neighbour's home and stabbing two people, killing one of them.

Ditullio's lawyer Bjorn Brunvand said: "Whenever someone is facing the death penalty, they should get a fair trial."

This is how they do it in Florida, but I remember a case in Texas a couple years ago which was handled a little differently. The guy was charged with a hate crime, facing the death penalty, and the judge ordered that he uncover the huge tattoo on his chest depicting the lynching of a black man. He was eventually executed. I wonder if Mr. Ditullio will fare any better.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Jon Stewart on Gretchen Carlson

Gretchen Carlson Dumbs Down
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Tiger's Woes

Via Newsy. I think it's the media blowing it out of proportion. What do you think?

John Lennon

Via DeRosaWorld. This is a wonderful video to commemmorate John Lennon's death anniversary which was yesterday.

Zappadan Festival 2009 - Day 6

Ray collins (lead vocals)
Frank zappa (lead guitar)
Roy estrada (bass)
Jimmy carl black (drums)
Arthur tripp (drums)
Ian underwood (piano, alto saxophone)
Don preston (piano)
Motorhead sherwood (baritone saxophone, tambourine)
Bunk gardner (tenor saxophone)

The DGU Myth

The gun control vs. gun rights debate often seems to boil down to a simple question, "do guns do more harm than good?" The pro-gun crowd never tires of claiming that the frequent incidents of defensive gun use (DGU) more than make up for the gun violence, and further, they say if not for the many guns in the hands of good guys, there'd be far more gun violence.

I've never been convinced. In spite of all the so-called statistical proof, the research by Professors Lott and Kleck, the untiring repetition of gun rights apologists, I find their claims unconvincing. Here's why.

I read dozens of pro-gun blogs daily. The comments, predominately from like-minded writers, number in the hundreds, not on every post of course, but as a cumulative figure, hundreds. Over the last year that adds up to 70,000 or 100,000 communications from the pro-gun world. I can recall only one report of a DGU, which was the story Caleb shared about throwing his coffee at the mugger and drawing his gun.

Often the argument is that the typical DGU results in only the brandishing of the weapon, like in Caleb's story, and as a result it's difficult to gather accurate statistics. My question is why don't we read about them regularly on the blogs. The anonymity of the internet would allow any proud gun owner who's had the good fortune to fend off an assailant to tell his story. Yet, there's nothing or next to nothing.

The other argument is that Clayton Cramer runs a wonderful site dedicated to this very thing. Well, as I've pointed out before, he accounts for about a thousand a year, hardly the numbers required to justify private ownership of guns in America.

My conclusion is that true incidents of defensive gun use are quite rare. They're much rarer than the incidents of guns being stolen, sold to the wrong people privately or misused by the legal owner. In other words, guns do more harm than good, much more. I admit they're not quite as rare as meteorite strikes, but they're certainly not what the pro-gun crowd says.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Internet Privacy

Via Liberal Viewer.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Zappadan Festival 2009 - Day 5

Reciprocal link to FGAQ for their roundup.

Ecole Polytechnique Massacre reports on the rally held the other day to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of Canada's most famous mass shooting.

On Dec. 6, 1989, 14 women were killed simply because they were women when a gunman attacked Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique. Several commemorative events were held yesterday to remember that sad day, including a private ceremony at the school for families of the victims and another featuring a huge human chain formed around a city park.

More than 500 people turned out for the solemn event at Place Emilie-Gamelin, which honoured the memory of those wounded and killed by Marc Lepine's 20-minute shooting spree, which has become known as the Ecole Polytechnique massacre. The ceremony was organized by a Quebec women's group as part of Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, which was declared by the federal government in 1991.

I couldn't help but notice one of my favorite themes so well captured in this tragedy. But I guess you could say guys like Mr. Lepine are bad news for women, or guys like Mr. Lepine who have guns are bad news for women. It's not just the guns, right?

Several well-known political figures from the province, including Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe and head of the Parti Quebecois, Pauline Marois, were on hand for the ceremony.

Asked if the treatment of women has made any progress since Lepine's attack two decades ago, Marois said there is still work to be done.

"I think there has been progress, but not enough," she said. "Because as long as there will be victims of violence, the battle won't be won." Duceppe said he wanted to be on hand because, as he put it, "it's our duty to remember."

There may have been insufficient progress made in the problem of violence to women but sparked by this incident there was major progress made in the problem of gun availability in Canada. In fact theirs has been a model society as far as gun control laws go, at least until recently.

The violence 20 years ago helped garner support for tougher gun laws in Canada, leading to measures such as the controversial gun registry. In November, Parliament took the first steps to scrapping the long-gun registry for rifles, which would include the Ruger Mini 14 used by Lepine. The move, which provoked outrage in Quebec, would also strike about eight million records on hunting rifles from the registry.

Duceppe used the events yesterday to highlight what he said was the importance of maintaining the gun registry. "The registry is in danger of being abolished. The Conservatives are completely short-sighted.

What's your opinion? Could it be that, not unlike the United States, in Canada there's a very vocal minority effecting changes which the majority either oppose or are insufficiently passionate to resist? Is that what's happening with the famous long-gun registry in or northern neighbor?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Indiana Guns in Chicago reports on the source data released showing that guns used in crime in Chicago for the most part come from Indiana.

Illinois and Chicago maintain some stiff gun laws, but recently released federal statistics suggest a lot of guns seized last year by police in Illinois came from a source beyond the reach of those laws: Indiana.

The relationship seems intuitive, said Chicago-based Special Agent Thomas Ahern of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The states share a border, and Chicago contains no gun stores.

Ahern said it would be hard to deny the connection between what the ATF calls "source states" and weaker gun laws. Any gun that ends up pointed at a gas station clerk or tucked into a felon's pants could once be found on a store shelf, Ahern noted.

"All guns throughout the United States start out legal. Somewhere down the road, they become illegal," Ahern said.

That makes sense, doesn't it? Guns start out as legally owned products and somewhere along the line end up in the hands of criminals.

The stats show Indiana was, by far, the leading out-of-state supplier of guns recovered by police in Illinois in 2008, then traced by the ATF to a "source state," the last state in which the gun was legally sold.

Actually, this presents a bit of a problem. Given the lax gun laws throughout the country, it is not really possible to know "the last state in which the gun was legally sold." To know that we would have to require background checks and registration of all private sales of guns as well as those from licensed gun dealers. The way it works now, there could be a number of totally legal transfers of a gun done privately with no records whatsoever. This is a problem.

But the main point of the article seems clear. States with lax gun laws like Indiana are the source of guns in places like Chicago where the laws are strict. This is also a problem and the solution is obvious.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Laci on Gun Registration

Laci the Dog published a post on the constitutionality of gun registration. Linking to the Lux Libertas site, Laci gives us a couple great quotes.

Even some pro-gun scholars and advocates reluctantly agree. “I think under the Heller decision, registration would be constitutional,” Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation in Bellevue, Wash., told this week. “It doesn’t make it good public policy.”


“Registration is probably not unconstitutional,” says Don Kilmer, an attorney in San Jose, Calif. who has sued two California counties for denying law-abiding citizens permits to carry concealed weapons. “There’s a difference between registration as a permissible regulation and registration as good policy.”
What's your opinion? Why have I heard so many times that registration is unconstitutional? Do you sometimes get the impression, like I do, that pro-gun people refer to the Constitution too much? Everything with them is either constitutional or unconstitutional, ever notice that?

What's wrong with just liking guns or just wanting to have guns for self-protection, or any other reason for that matter? Why does it so often have to be placed on the lofty plane of "rights?"

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

The Terror Loophole

The Washington Post reports on the latest initiative by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG).

The first aims to close the so-called "terror gap" in existing gun laws by prohibiting any one on the country's "no fly" list from being allowed to purchase a gun. Such a prohibition would allow the FBI to stop "people who are too dangerous to get on a plane from buying guns and explosives," said New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a co-founder of the mayors group. This proposal is a no-brainer.

There has been quite a lot written by the pro-gun crowd in opposition to this proposal, using lots of inflammatory language about freedom and rights, but doesn't the MAIG proposal make good sense? No one is suggesting the federal government should be allowed to keep open-ended lists of political enemies and to abuse the system in any way, but the idea of preventing "people who are too dangerous to get on a plane from buying guns and explosives," seems fairly simple, does it not?

Colorado's Instant Background Check System

CBS4 in Denver reports on the results of the state background check system for gun purchasers.

Twenty-six convicted killers tried to buy guns in Colorado this year but were denied as part of the state's instant background check program.

The 26 killers were among the nearly 5,000 people who were denied a gun purchase because of their criminal records through November of this year, according to data from the state's InstaCheck program.

That sounds like an endorsement for the background check system, wouldn't you say? Or, is it an endorsement for the state-run system only?

Colorado is one of only 14 states that conducts its own criminal background checks on potential gun purchasers. Other states rely on the FBI, which can sometimes take up to three days for a check. The average time for a background check in Colorado is 37 minutes.

This data illustrates the program's effectiveness and "shows that state-run background checks can work better than those conducted by the FBI because the federal agency doesn't have access to local law enforcement databases."

A big problem with the national system is that when a background check takes longer than three days it defaults to an approved status and the gun purchase goes through. The law requires that the results are destroyed within 24 hours, Allowing a certain percentage of prohibited persons to buy guns legally.

The problem with the states system is that approximately 1 in 40 applicants is denied because of a criminal record in COLORADO. Wouldn't it be reasonable to expect some of the 39 to have had convictions in other states?

The other problem is the 37 minutes it takes for someone in Colorado to buy a gun is not long enough for them to cool down if they happen to be in a deranged state. The beautiful Rocky Mountain state of Colorado ranks number 7 in suicides. Add the suicides which might have been avoided to the other crimes of passion and you've got a good argument for a three day waiting period.

What we need is a national background check system that works, not a state system that instantly screens out those with criminal records there at home but allows volatile people to buy guns, and certainly not a federal system that can't produce results within three days and defaults to approved. What we need is a system that works and it needs to be applied to all purchases, but that's another argument.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.