Saturday, March 27, 2010

Another DGU

Ohh Shoot has the story. Naturally it would be counted with the others (the other DGUs I mean, many of which are no more true defensive uses of the gun than this is). And besides, it was the brother's fault for being stupid enough to climb through the window.

A Kentucky man fired a shot at someone he thought was breaking into his mobile home. But it was his brother who was trying to enter the home through a bedroom window.
The brother suffered a single gun shot wound to the neck and was air-lifted to the hospital where he remains in serious condition.

Police said the man fled the scene after the incident but family members insist that the shooting was an accident, saying the two brothers would never intentionally hurt each other.

Ohh shoot.

Interpreting Heller

The Gun Guys reports on the latest struggles in Washington D.C. to understand Heller.

A federal judge on Friday upheld limitations on gun ownership that the District of Columbia put in place following a 2008 Supreme Court decision overturning the city's outright ban on handguns.

"We fully expect to go the Court of Appeals," said Heller's lawyer Richard E. Gardiner.

Urbina's opinion "misinterprets Heller altogether," Gardiner said, referring to the Supreme Court decision. In particular, he took issue with the judge's observation that the Supreme Court did not explicitly declare the Second Amendment right to be "fundamental."

The plaintiffs claimed the new process for registering guns — which includes fingerprinting, vision tests, background checks and other requirements, and which limits people to registering one pistol per month — was too burdensome.

That doesn't sound too burdensome to me. What is it with these Heller supporters?

Ted Nugent on Health Care

Ted's a good talker, but where was he during the Bush years?

Scalia's Own Logic

The Chicago Tribune published a very entertaining opinion piece by Thomas William Heyck.
I've seen the light! After many years of believing that the U.S. Constitution should be made relevant to modern society, I've been converted by the arguments of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose brand of originalism (often called "strict construction") clearly and decisively settles all the issues of gun control.
True, the Second Amendment is a tad ambiguous. The phrase with which it begins does not fit with the last part: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed." That first phrase about "a well-regulated militia" only confuses things. The correct way to deal with it is to ignore it (as the current Scalia-led majority on the court happily does). That way, we get a little wiggle room to focus on the part that counts: "the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
So there you are: By their very words the Founding Fathers plainly meant to protect the right of every person to own and bear muzzle-loading flintlock arms. But we true originalists logically cannot see any constitutional prohibition of governmental regulation of center-fire weapons, whether they be revolvers, assault rifles, automatic or pump shotguns, submachine guns, Glock automatics, or whatever. This truth will upset the arms industry, the drug gangs, prospective terrorists, the National Rifle Association and most gun nuts — and Justice Scalia himself, an avid hunter. But that's the inescapable deduction from Scalia's own irrefutable originalist logic.

Don't you just love that part where he said, "That first phrase about "a well-regulated militia" only confuses things. The correct way to deal with it is to ignore it (as the current Scalia-led majority on the court happily does)." For me, that just says it all.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Policeman Charged with Murder

The Seattle Times reports on the murder charge which is being brought against a policeman who shot and killed an unarmed man. Instead of the usual cover up, it sounds like they're doing the right thing in this case in spite of the cop's explanation. He thought the car was a lethal threat. Now, where have we heard that one before?

Snohomish County prosecutors added a charge of second-degree murder Thursday against Everett police Officer Troy Meade, who previously was charged with first-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a man seated in a car outside a restaurant last year.

Meservey [the dead guy] allegedly wouldn't get out of his car. Meade first shot Meservey with a Taser, then Meservey's car, parked between two other cars, lurched forward into a fence, according to charging papers.

According to another Everett officer's account, Meade said something like: "Time to end this; enough is enough," and opened fire, the charging papers say.

The other officer also told investigators Meservey posed no immediate threat to anyone in the area.

I'm glad to see this officer of the law being investigated and now being charged. I've heard this car-as-lethal-threat justification a few times and it never worked for me. Why the pro gun types defend it so is the weird part. Even folks who generally distrust the police will go to great lengths to defend the alibi that the car really was going to run down the cop and there was no choice but to shoot at it with a handgun. As I've said many times, this is what Bruce Willis does in the movies. In real life it's not like that.

What likely happens in cases like this and this one in particular is, you've got a cop on a power trip who cannot accept not being obeyed. He probably has the lowest opinion of those who resist his authority and too often, like any gun owner, uses firepower to make his point.

What's your opinion? Isn't it ironic that pro gun folks who often make fun of gun control people for having been influenced by the Hollywood movies, are the ones who do that very thing in these cases? Even in the extremely rare case in which the driver of a vehicle is trying to run down the cop, does it make sense for the cop to take a stance and shoot little bullets at the vehicle? That's a bizarre fantasy and an even more bizarre justification for having killed someone driving the car.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Crooks and Liars on Mike Vanderboegh

Crooks and Liars puts the kibosh on Mike Vanderboegh. The video is breathtaking in its insane exaggeration, but what Susie Madrak comes up with on the C&L post is just wonderful.

Paul Krugman on the Republican Party

The New York Times opinion piece by Paul Krugman provided a wonderfully brief description of what the Republican Party has become in recent years.

What has been really striking has been the eliminationist rhetoric of the G.O.P., coming not from some radical fringe but from the party’s leaders. John Boehner, the House minority leader, declared that the passage of health reform was “Armageddon.” The Republican National Committee put out a fund-raising appeal that included a picture of Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, surrounded by flames, while the committee’s chairman declared that it was time to put Ms. Pelosi on “the firing line.” And Sarah Palin put out a map literally putting Democratic lawmakers in the cross hairs of a rifle sight.

All of this goes far beyond politics as usual. Democrats had a lot of harsh things to say about former President George W. Bush — but you’ll search in vain for anything comparably menacing, anything that even hinted at an appeal to violence, from members of Congress, let alone senior party officials.

No, to find anything like what we’re seeing now you have to go back to the last time a Democrat was president. Like President Obama, Bill Clinton faced a G.O.P. that denied his legitimacy — Dick Armey, the second-ranking House Republican (and now a Tea Party leader) referred to him as “your president.” Threats were common: President Clinton, declared Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina, “better watch out if he comes down here. He’d better have a bodyguard.” (Helms later expressed regrets over the remark — but only after a media firestorm.) And once they controlled Congress, Republicans tried to govern as if they held the White House, too, eventually shutting down the federal government in an attempt to bully Mr. Clinton into submission.

I suppose some will challenge the fact that Bush didn't get the same kind of treatment, but for there have been two glaring examples of the all-too-prevalent attitude towards Obama, and by extension, to all Democrats. One was when Joe Wilson yelled out "liar," and the other was the Bret Baier interview.

Krugman's point is that it's not a few voices from which it would be a mistake to judge the whole group. He says it's the Republican Party as a whole.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

New Arizona Laws

On the NRA-ILA site there's a good run down of the newest proposed legislation in Arizona. I suppose in the Grand Canyon State they don't want to lose any of their Brady Ranking.

Currently under Arizona law it is generally legal to carry a firearm openly as long as you are 18 years of age and not prohibited from possessing a firearm. However, if the firearm becomes covered, say with a coat, or if you are a woman and prefer to carry your firearm in your purse, you need to possess a concealed carry permit. The intent of this legislation is to give people the greatest possible freedom to choose the best method of carry for them.

I guess that makes perfect sense. This would be another minor victory for the gun folks, eh?

In his book More Guns, Less Crime, John Lott demonstrates statistically that as training requirements are relaxed, more crimes are deterred as more people carry firearms for self-defense. In Arizona, 16 years after the passage of its original concealed carry law, the murder rate has gone down as the carry rate has gone up.

This also makes perfect sense if you buy the original premise. If more guns means less crime, then anything you do to bring about more guns would mean even less crime. But, even Lott supporters must admit that when described like this, the counter-intuitive nature of Prof. Lott's claims goes beyond the limit. Less training and fewer requirements means less crime?

Let's say I accept that, which I do not, but for argument's sake, let's say I do. Wouldn't less training and fewer requirements increase the accidents, the theft, the 10% who go bad? Wouldn't all those things militate against the dubious claims of less crime?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Down WithTyranny

Down With Tyranny wrote a wonderful post drawing on several recent sources. The title says it all: "Is it time yet for sane gun advocates to separate from the total crazies?"

As regular readers know, I'm not a big fan of Mayor Bloomberg, but when he's right, he's right.

The dark reality that the gun loons don't like to talk about is what a big business guns are. What we're getting here is, of course, the brilliant if sub-imbecilic crock of doody concocted by the NRA to turn the U.S. into its private Murder Inc.: Guns don't kill; people kill.

What's your opinion? Could the impassioned resistance be attributed to the fact that guns are "big business?" Does it start from the gun manufacturers themselves and trickle down? By the time it gets to the grass roots gun owners it's all about freedom and rights, but at its origins it's just market share and numbers?

Do you find it significant that critics of Mayor Bloomberg, such as the author of Down with Tyranny, find his gun control position to be right? Do you think that could apply to gun owners as well? Could it be that the vocal passionate ones represent only a small percentage of the whole? That would make their claiming such vast numbers misleading, as if every gun owner was in agreement with their positions?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

New Georgia Gun Laws

Gold Dome Live reports on the new gun laws proposed in Georgia.

Two bills allowing licensed guns to be carried in churches, bars and parts of airports on Wednesday were passed by the Senate, closing out a marathon day of legislation.

SB 308, sponsored by Sen. Mitch Seabaugh of Sharpsburg and clarifying language regarding where guns can be carried in the state, withstood strong objections from the Board of Regents and at least 10 amendments that were either rejected or withdrawn. It passed with bipartisan support, 41-12.

The other bill, SB 291, which permits concealed weapons in vehicles that pick up and drop off passengers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, was sponsored by Sen. David Shafer (R-Duluth). It passed 43-10.

The usual debate is accompanying these proposals to the House for their final approval. Here's the comment that made most sense to me.

“It is idiotic to allow firearms in churches and bars, [the latter] where inebriated people can get into an argument,” Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta argued. “The extreme right wing is in control of the politics of the Republican Party. Extremism dominated the floor of the state Senate today.”

What's your opinion? I was wondering if all these minor victories for the gun rights movement, guns in national parks, guns on college campuses, less restrictions on open and concealed carry, might not be a big smoke screen to conceal the major problems of no background checks required for private sales and no general licensing and registering requirements.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

Jethro Tull - Bouree

One time Daisy posted her favorite instrumental music videos (I couldn't find the specific post) pointing out that they're sometimes hard to find unless you happen to remember the title.

This is one of mine.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Judge Napolitano - Ilya Shapiro - John Lott

I realize they didn't try to say this was a debate, but talk about three guys who couldn't agree with each other more. Does John Lott sound strident to you?

Do you think the judge realized how funny this line was?

John, you've done some interesting work with statistics in your book.

Is This What a Justified DGU Looks Like?

Our commenter Gecko sent me this link with the following disclaimer. I guess she's been reading some of my critics' opinions of me.

I will understand if you decide not to allow this question on your blog. But I listed to the entire tape. It was heartbreaking. Some people tried to defend the person who broke into the house and suggested that she should shoot to wound or wait to find out what he wanted. He threw patio furniture and broke into her house. In Oklahoma there is no duty to retreat.
The National Examiner reports on a dramatic shooting in Oklahoma in which a woman defended herself from an intruder by using lethal force.

I'm particularly impressed with the anguish this woman went through and how she had to struggle with her own conscience about the possibility of taking another person's life, even in the face of a potential threat to her own. It speaks volumes about her character and for those opposed to gun ownership, a lot of what gun ownership is about is character --it's what separates you from the "cowboy," as we used to call them, that reckless loose cannon who thinks he's tough because he's got a gun. Not this woman. It's character that separates the responsible, conscientious gun owner from the gun-toting criminal thug.

I like that description very much. Given the same exact circumstances, if the homeowner starts spouting off about how people who break into others' houses get what they deserve and they asked for it, especially if they refer to them as "scumbags," I come away with a different impression.

Still, if the guy is unarmed and had shown indications of being lost or confused, I'd have liked to see her shoot him in the knees. But, truthfully, I tend to think of this woman is a courageous person who did what she had to do.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

AA Shooter of Kayson Helms Justified?

Suddenly the story we discussed last year of a young man trying to hold up an AA meeting in South Carolina received a lot of attention. There were a dozen or so comments and many more hits. I took this to mean the story was back in the news, probably the courts declaring the action of the shooter justified, but I couldn't find anything this morning.

The main interest seems to be, like when the story first broke, about what constitutes a justified shooting. Some say, since you can't read the criminal's mind, you should presume the worst and act accordingly to protect property and life. In fact that pretty much describes the pro-gun attitude. I don't think I've heard one pro-gun commenter ever question the righteousness of a DGU; to them they're always justified.

Gun control folks, on the other hand, question if in some of these shootings a bit more restraint might not have worked better for everyone.

About the Kayson Helms killing, I wondered if the old adage of "two wrongs don't make a right," might not apply. A young kid comes into an AA meeting with a gun. Chances are he's not a killer. Most likely - I believe statistics about how often armed robberies turn into actual murders supports this - he has no intention of killing anyone. If no one there has a gun and no one resists, as incomprehensible as that is to the gun-owning law-and-order types, the kid would take the coffee money and a watch or two and be on his way.

Part of the problem is that folks who carry guns often disparage the very humanity of criminals. They call them names like "goblins" and "scumbags," careful never to hint at the slightest racial slur. But the disparaging of an entire class of people, yes people who have rights like everybody else, is not dissimilar to any other bigotry that's so politically unacceptable that only the truly hardcore would fail to conceal these feelings.

Dividing people into two separate classes, criminal and law-abiding, has its problems too. There exists a third group in between, often referred to as "the gray area." This is comprised of the many people who break minor rules, take shortcuts, and engage in risky behavior, but do not really fit the profile of either the criminal or the law-abiding. It's possible this group is the largest and that's one of the reasons why it's dangerous for people to go around with guns and the attitude of adjudicating the actions of others.

Another interesting angle on this case, which no one mentioned, is that the shooter was presumably an AA member. As I understand it, and most people do understand 12-step recovery programs these days, having been popularized on TV and in the movies like they have, is that the Program of Recovery is about surrender to a Higher Power and not about self-reliance. Part of that Program of Recovery is described in Step 12.

Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The idea of "carrying the message," seems antithetical to the actions of the shooter of young Mr. Helms, who very possibly was an addict and alcoholic himself. The idea of surrender to the will of the Higher Power also seems antithetical to the self-reliance so graphically demonstrated by the shooter.

What's your opinion? Was the shooter justified? Is it the same rationale that says Christians can protect themselves with guns as AA members can? Do you think there's a gray area in the categorizing people for lawful adherence?

Please leave a comment.

Here's a Gun

Gapingvoid provides a humorous cartoon, at least I think it's humorous. What do you think? He could be a former gun-control guy who changed his mind. I keep hearing there are many of them among the gun rights advocates. But, don't forget some folks moved the other way, while young and foolish, guns played a part, but when older and wiser they became gun control supporters.

Which do you think is more prevalent?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Indiana Guns in the Workplace Parking Lot

True / Slant published a wonderful piece by Austin Considine about the new law Governor Daniels signed into law in Indiana.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels signed a controversial bill into law at the end of last week, that allows employees to bring their guns to work, permitted those guns are left hidden in their cars.

Just a few weeks prior, the state’s General Assembly had passed the bill — HEA 1065 — amid a flurry of debate between Second Amendment advocates, and those who argue that business should have the right to protect their own properties as they deem fit.

I’m not really surprised Daniels signed the bill. Gun advocates constitute a powerful lobby in Indiana, which has some of the loosest gun-buying laws in the country. But, as I wrote the other week, I had hoped a recent Indiana workplace shooting — one that transpired, literally, the day after the bill left the Assembly — might give Daniels a moment’s pause.

We talked about that recent shooting, a typical disgruntled employee. How in the world will a law like this help? Will it give the other employees a chance to run out to their own cars to retrieve guns? Then we'd be at the mercy of the one with the greatest firepower, hopefully a good guy.

What's your opinion? Is this a good move for Indiana? How can it be seen as such? Does the following remark make sense?

“We believe a citizen’s constitutional right to self-protection doesn’t stop when they drive onto their employer’s property,” NRA spokeswoman Rachel Parsons said.

My first question is what "right" is she referring to exactly? I believe my "right to self-protection" is lessened by people who carry guns? I'd bet most business owners feel that way too.

My second question is what good is being able to keep a gun in the car? Is that for "self-protection" during the ride to the office? If something happens at work, are you supposed to run out to the parking lot? Is that it? That's what the disgruntled employees do.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

L.A. Police Shoot and Kill Unarmed Man

The Associated Press reports on the involvement of the ACLU in a tragic shooting that took place in Los Angeles.

A fatal weekend police shooting of an unarmed man who family members say was autistic prompted the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California on Monday to urge the Los Angeles Police Department to re-examine its policies.

Steven Eugene Washington was shot by gang enforcement officers Allan Corrales and George Diego near Los Angeles' Koreatown shortly after midnight Saturday after he approached them and appeared to remove something from his waistband, police said. No weapon was recovered.

Corrales and Diego heard a loud noise while driving in their patrol car and turned around to see Washington. The officers said the 27-year-old was looking around suspiciously and manipulating something in his waist area.

I realize it's a nearly impossible task the police have, but can we all agree that although their training is not all that intensive, it is adequate to the job at hand? Can we agree that normal police training should be sufficient to avoid these gross departures from acceptable procedure? That would mean the ones who commit these acts are either unfit for the job in the general sense or acting in bad faith.

What's your opinion? Is this the kind of thing that should be considered an accident that can happen to anybody? Is it similar to unintentional discharges of the weapon, the kind a bit of a warning or a slap on the wrist can correct? Are cops who do this less likely to do it again in the future?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Bob Herbert on the Health Care Vote

The New York Times ran an editorial by Bob Herbert containing some of his reflections of the Health Care Vote. After recounting some of the ugly scenes that took place during the demonstrations leading up to the vote, he observes.

At some point, we have to decide as a country that we just can’t have this: We can’t allow ourselves to remain silent as foaming-at-the-mouth protesters scream the vilest of epithets at members of Congress — epithets that The Times will not allow me to repeat here.

It is 2010, which means it is way past time for decent Americans to rise up against this kind of garbage, to fight it aggressively wherever it appears. And it is time for every American of good will to hold the Republican Party accountable for its role in tolerating, shielding and encouraging foul, mean-spirited and bigoted behavior in its ranks and among its strongest supporters.

For decades the G.O.P. has been the party of fear, ignorance and divisiveness. All you have to do is look around to see what it has done to the country. The greatest economic inequality since the Gilded Age was followed by a near-total collapse of the overall economy. As a country, we have a monumental mess on our hands and still the Republicans have nothing to offer in the way of a remedy except more tax cuts for the rich.

I've been hearing quite often that these are isolated incidents, from which we cannot generalize. But as they become more frequent, they do in fact color the entire group, they do run through the entire movement. Outbursts like the ones Mr. Herbert refers to, people yelling out "nigger" and "faggot", and don't forget that nut from South Carolina who yelled out "liar" to the President himself. More telling still was the Bret Baier interview of Obama.

I agree it's not right to generalize. No rational person would extrapolate from these situations and seriously posit that ALL Republicans are like this. But, when the group is shot through with these influences, you have to ask yourself if Bob Herbert is right.

This is the party of trickle down and weapons of mass destruction, the party of birthers and death-panel lunatics. This is the party that genuflects at the altar of right-wing talk radio, with its insane, nauseating, nonstop commitment to hatred and bigotry.

Glenn Beck of Fox News has called President Obama a “racist” and asserted that he “has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”

Mike Huckabee, a former Republican presidential candidate, has said of Mr. Obama’s economic policies: “Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff.”

The G.O.P. poisons the political atmosphere and then has the gall to complain about an absence of bipartisanship.

A party that promotes ignorance (“Just say no to global warming”) and provides a safe house for bigotry cannot serve the best interests of our country.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Glenn Beck on the Health Vote

News Hounds ran an article with a video of Glenn explaining his take on the historic vote.

Glenn Beck was surprisingly unvitriolic yesterday (3/22/10) in the wake of the passage of the Democrats’ health care plan. Oh, sure he called Michael Moore a “big fat cottage cheese butt” and attacked civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis for having the nerve to “compare” himself to a civil rights activist - and failed to mention that racial epithets had been hurled at him and others by tea party protesters. But, overall, Beck was thankful. Really. Why? Because the Democrats had finally outed themselves as the kind of radicals Beck had always said they were. So the heck with the country going to hell in a handbasket, as Beck sees the health care legislation. He had been vindicated!
What do you think? Is this the beginning of the end, as Beck says? Is this the end of the Democratic party as we know it because the progressives have taken over?

Please leave a comment.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Are the Tea Parties Racist?

Newsy asks the question. I say yes, absolutely.

The Georgia Guidestones

From Wikipedia, of course. I sure hope the Supreme Court Justices keep Rule number 8 in mind as they write the McDonald decision.

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  2. Guide reproduction wisely - improving fitness and diversity.
  3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  4. Rule passion - faith - tradition - and all things with tempered reason.
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  9. Prize truth - beauty - love - seeking harmony with the infinite.
  10. Be not a cancer on the earth - Leave room for nature - Leave room for nature.

Schaeffer Cox

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports on the latest trouble for Schaeffer Cox, a well-known gun activist.

The leader of the local Second Amendment Task Force has been barred from possessing a gun for at least the next two months.

Schaeffer Cox, 26, was arrested Wednesday night after Fairbanks police say he failed to notify an officer he was carrying a concealed pistol. Cox was in court Friday morning to plead not guilty to a misdemeanor count of fifth-degree weapons misconduct.

Cox also recently had a court appearance on a felony assault charge, which stemmed from an accusation that he choked his wife during a trip to Anchorage. Three days later, Cox, who had no prior criminal record, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor reckless endangerment and received a suspended sentence.

Cox posted $500 bail Wednesday night on the weapons misconduct charge, but Magistrate Alicemary Rasley set as a condition of his release that he is not to possess any firearm while the case is pending.

This is what I'm talking about when I urge Zorro to step up into a role of leadership. The sad reality is there are guys like young Mr. Cox taking those positions and speaking for the rest.

I would like to point out that I'm not the only one who makes certain observations. Look what the prosecutor, Scott Mattern had to say.

“He probably came close to getting shot, and his conduct reflects poorly on every law-abiding firearm owner.”

I say something is wrong with the gun-friendly Alaska attitude when a guy can assault his wife, choking her, plead guilty to a lesser charge, and continue to enjoy his gun rights. The recent arrest for not telling the cop he was carrying sounds like it was more a case of the cop abusing his power, but that business with the wife sounds like a deal breaker to me.

Cox, whose task force has offered seminars about the Constitution, said he believes police violated several of his rights, including the right to bear arms, the right to remain silent and protection from unlawful search.

“If a right can be lost, it’s not a right; it’s a permission,” Cox said. “So in America, you don’t have the right to bear arms; you have permission to have a gun.”

Maybe this is the problem. Many gun owners have elevated this idea of "a right" to a place that is untouchable. They become so intoxicated with the idea of exercising their "rights" that they forget about the responsibility part. They forget that you can't slap your wife around and plead to a lesser charge and continue to have "gun rights." They forget you can't go barging into police business because the neighbor claims their "rights" are being violated without paying some consequences.

Cox is known to carry a gun anywhere he’s allowed to. He said he carries the gun and wears a bullet-proof vest because he has received “[no] fewer than 12” death threats, but he refused to elaborate.

“Everybody’s going to think, ‘He’s not armed, so let’s go get him,’” Cox said.

What could this be all about? This guy is a gun rights advocate, a 2nd Amendment guy, so how could he possibly receive 12 death threats? Are the gun control people in Alaska that passionate? Is it the Brady Campaign or Josh Sugarmann he's worried about?

No, obviously he's worried about gun owners coming after him, that's why he wears a vest. But who would they be and why would they be so numerous?

I know there's not enough to go on in this report, but I can't help noticing what a perfect example he seems to be of the grandiose victimism and the paranoia of many pro gun folks. "They're after me, but I can't elaborate." Some of these guys live in a fantasy world which in and of itself should disqualify them, the only problem is it's hard to screen for.

Zorro, please consider moving up to Alaska. These guys are desperate for a proper leader.

Please leave a comment.

Adoption Agencies Can't Ask

The Parent Dish site published an article on a new law in Florida which would prevent adoption agencies from asking prospective adoptive parents about their gun ownership.

The adoption bill resulted from a mixup at the Children's Home Society in Central Florida, according to the newspaper. The nonprofit adoption agency, under the Department of Children and Families (DCF), was using an old form that asked about prospective parents' gun ownership. When the NRA brought it up to lawmakers, the DCF ordered all adoption agencies to avoid asking questions about firearms.

Marion Hammer, the NRA's Florida lobbyist, says that the adoption issue illustrates that government groups like adoption agencies could keep a list of firearm owners, which is prohibited in Florida. Hammer urged the gun list prohibition law to be written years ago, as well as a ban on law-enforcement agencies from keeping a list of gun purchases at pawn shops.

Hammer tells the newspaper her next step toward gun ownership freedom may be to stop pediatricians from asking children about guns in their home. She says some think this could end up in the child's file, which could end up in the hands of the health insurance company, who could pass it over to a homeowner insurance company, who could then deny the family coverage because they own a firearm.

If guns are so right and good and acceptable and not-to-be-feared, then why all the secrecy? Ostensibly, the gun rights folks insist on secrecy because of the danger of creating a database of gun owners. This must be avoided because a database could be used in a door-to-door confiscation of guns. Taken to its logical conclusion, this thinking is laughably paranoid.

The real reason for all the secrecy, I would guess, has more to do with the fact that they realize, but would be quite loathe to admit, that guns are not as good and acceptable and not-to-be-feared as they pretend.

What's your opinion? Is it right to prohibit adoption agencies from asking about gun ownership? Is it right to prohibit pediatricians from asking their patients? If guns are so good, wouldn't it be just as likely that the inquiring person would consider gun ownership a plus? Wouldn't the adoption agency and the pediatrician understand the best way to protect the children is if the parents are armed?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Canada Warns Ann Coulter

Think Progress reports on the reminder sent to Ann Coulter by a Canadian University where she is scheduled to speak.

Far-right pundit Ann Coulter will be in Canada this week for “a trio of speaking engagements,” including one at the University of Ottawa. In advance of her visit, a senior official at the school sent Coulter a letter warning her to use “restraint, respect and consideration” in her remarks and telling her to review the country’s hate speech and defamation laws. From the letter:

I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or “free speech”) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.

You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges. Outside of the criminal realm, Canadian defamation laws also limit freedom of expression and may differ somewhat from those to which you are accustomed. I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind.

In the past, Coulter has bashed Canada, saying, “They’d better hope the United States doesn’t roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent.” In response to the letter, Coulter writes, “I was hoping for a fruit basket, not a threat to prosecute.”

It's interesting how this touches on our frequent discussions of the responsibility these right-wing celebrities have for their words. It's fascinating that in Canada, not only do they not have an antiquated and nonsensical 2nd Amendment to interfere with their common sense laws, they seem to have a better understanding of the ideas contained in the 1st.

What's your opinion? What do you think the danger is in trying to define violations of the "free speech" aspects of the 1st Amendment? Is it always the slippery slope - if they outlaw this today what will happen tomorrow?

Do you think the University spokesman was out of line issuing that warning instead of offering a fruit basket?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Monday, March 22, 2010

True Romance

This movie should have won about 10 oscars, including a 5-way tie for Best Supporting Actor. Even the parts they cut are fantastic.

The Tanner Gun Show Back in the News

The reports on an "accidental" shooting which took place in one of the most famous gun shows in the world.

Adams County sheriff's deputies responded to the Tanner Gun Show at the Denver Merchandise Mart at Interstate 25 and East 58th Avenue about 2 p.m. after a man was shot in the upper torso.

Investigators interviewed "numerous witnesses," the gun's vendor and the "person holding the gun at the time of the discharge," Sgt. Candi Baker with the Adams County Sheriff's Office said.

"They were just looking at a gun," Baker said.

Russ Huntley, who was at the gun show Saturday, told 9News he had heard someone had been shot in the shoulder and "there was blood all over the floor."

The Tanner Gun Show bills itself as the state's largest gun show, with 700 tables displaying guns, knives, ammunition, reloading equipment, military surplus, and hunting and fishing gear. The show, which drew complaints in 1999 when three guns bought there were used by Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris in the Columbine High School shooting, has run in some form since 1964.

Zorro keeps asking me why I feel reporting these incidents as "accidents" favors the pro-gun side. Well, when we say "the gun accidentally went off," or the guy was "just looking at it when it went off," or "he was holding it at the time of the discharge," I say you're using words which minimize the responsibility of the shooter.

I especially object to this because the same gun rights activists who use wording like this are the first to accuse gun control folks of fearing inanimate objects and giving too much power to "just another tool."

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say "the man who was looking at the weapon, obviously had his finger on the trigger and negligently fired the gun?" Or, how about, "although the stupidity of the gun seller in handing a loaded gun to the customer is unbelievable, the customer who shot himself failed to treat the gun as loaded - Rule number 1."

Of course we'll hear the old infrequency rationale. That's why these things make the news, after all.

It's not the first time there's been a shooting at or around the show.

In March 2008, a 64-year-old Littleton man accidentally shot himself in the stomach with .38-caliber handgun in the mart's parking lot.

The show's website says it is illegal to have loaded guns inside the show. Security personnel disable most guns, looping zip ties through gun chambers.

There's that word again, "accidentally." "Stupidly and negligently" would be more accurate, don't you think? This means that two incidents are known to the writer, but do you think there might have been others? Do you think there might have been any number of them which resulted in minor injuries or no injuries at all? I would say yes, indeed. Do you think this is just part of the deal? Is this the price we have to pay for freedom?

What about those security guard who "disable most guns?" Do you believe that nonsense? The show's website says so, but in reality do you think the self-respecting gun owners would allow such a thing? I really can't picture it.

And finally, lest we forget why this gun show is one of the most famous in the world, this is where the Columbine shooters got their weapons. Shame on the people who run this thing. Shame on the private sellers who profit from the sick business of selling guns to people who shouldn't have them. And most of all shame on all of you who support that pernicious laxity in the gun laws of America. Shame on you.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The John Patrick Bedell Lesson

The Washington Post published another editorial about the gun control situation in America in light of the recent Pentagon shooting. The article points out two areas which need improvement.

First, it is absurd for police departments to put guns back into circulation. The possibility of making a little bit of money from the sale of illegal weapons or swapping them for guns more suitable for law enforcement is not worth the cost in lives and safety. Police departments should put a halt to this practice; legally confiscated guns should be destroyed after they are no longer needed as evidence -- a measure endorsed by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Second, there are steps the Obama administration could take immediately to reduce the danger to law enforcement officers and other law-abiding citizens. Legislation is needed to close the gun-show loophole to require background checks for all purchasers.

As I mentioned before, I think they've got it backwards. The second priority should take precedence. If that were corrected, it wouldn't matter so much what the police did with their confiscated guns. The problem is the impossibility of tracing the entire history of a gun which turns up at a murder scene.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

No Death Penalty for Retarded Man reports on the decision to drop the death penalty in this fascinating case.

SALEM — One of two Oregon State Penitentiary inmates charged with aggravated murder in the killing of another inmate no longer faces the death penalty after experts found that he is mentally retarded.

The inmate, James Demetri Davenport, pleaded guilty Friday and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The 32-year-old Davenport already is serving a life sentence for a previous murder.

Prosecutors said they dropped plans to seek the death penalty against Davenport after his mental disability was confirmed by separate evaluations performed by experts hired by defense lawyers and the prosecution.

But prosecutors said they still plan to seek the death penalty for Davenport’s co-defendant, Isacc Creed Agee, in the February 2008 beating death of 36-year-old Antonio Barrantes-Vasquez.

Do you think this decision is tantamount to going soft on criminals? Should people capable of killing others get a pass because of low intelligence? Does this defeat one of the main benefits of the death penalty, that of ensuring that offenders don't repeat their offenses?

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.

Stephen Colbert and Fr. Jim Martin

It's hard to decide which one's the better comedian.

Glenn Beck Attacks Social Justice - James Martin
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