Monday, March 28, 2011

Life gets in the way sometimes.

I haven't updated this blog in some time, because life just gets in the way of things like this sometimes. Between my two jobs and kids, I just haven't been able to make the time to come up with any more posts lately.

More will come before too long, I promise.


Friday, February 25, 2011

34 per day.

Via Mikeb302000, via Laci:

A common thread throughout the video is that almost nobody mentioned the shooter that was responsible, almost everything in that video blamed the gun or "gun violence."

"murdered with guns."

"killed with guns."

And at the end,

"In memory of the 34 Americans murdered every day by gun violence. Let's talk about reducing that number."

Yes, absolutely, let's do that!

Let's start by examining what has worked and what hasn't.

Here's what fails to show any real evidence that gun control laws have ever worked, anywhere:

Here's an example of something that has actual evidence to prove it works:

What's the difference? The gun control organizations mainly sit on their ass and work for government to implement useless laws and expect the police to do all the work on the street. These organizations and their supporters don't do anything directly that has any real effect on the "gun violence" they want to stop, instead wanting to put others (police) in harm's way to enforce gun control laws which have never really proven to have any positive effect anywhere they've been tried before.

Meanwhile, CeaseFire Chicago actually gets their hands dirty, getting down to business at the street level with violence prevention workers that work to stop violence where it occurs. Without calling for more useless gun control.

Back to some misguiding statements from the video:

"It makes no sense for anyone to possess or acquire a gun unless they pass a background check."

"If you don't close the loopholes, it's going to continue leaking, people will continue to die."

The whole premise of this assumes that a) you can actually force violent criminals to go through a background check, and b) that you can close all the "leaks" or routes for guns to get to the street and into the hands of criminals.

Yes, let's talk about reducing all violent crime, and I'll bet we could find some solutions that would actually work without infringing on the rights of individuals.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Safety at the cost of Liberty? No thanks!

Over at Baldr's blog, "A New Trajectory," I posted a comment in regards to (Child Access Prevention) laws for firearms. I suggested that such laws may save lives, asked if there were other alternatives that didn't involve infringing on our liberties and overriding our judgement. The the response was:
Are CAP laws overriding your judgement as a parent? Maybe, but their previsions tend to match what responsible gun owners do already. But if a few people are inconvenienced for the sake of the greater good, I am willing to support it.
- Baldr Odinson
He also stated he wasn't aware where CAP laws had ever cost any lives (you can read the rest of the discussion here).

Here is my response:

@Baldr: A primary example of CAP laws being directly responsible for 2 deaths:

There's no telling how many other people have died or become victims of other violent crime because laws required them to keep their firearms locked and unloaded, because such things are hard to count.

I will admit that this type of law may actually save more lives than it costs, but lives aren't the only thing to measure. What about the cost to our liberty, and the punishment by the law of innocent people guilty of nothing more than using their own judgement in violation of the law?

I do not think the "greater good" is EVER a reason to infringe on our rights. Such a "nanny state" mentality is wrong in my opinion by depriving a free people of their essential liberties.

The Declaration of Independence gives a clear, simple description of the purpose of government - The job of government is to protect our individual, unalienable rights by ensuring justice for those whose rights are harmed by punishing those that infringe upon the rights of others. Not to protect us from ourselves or ensure the "common good" at the price of our liberties. I doubt you will find ANY writings or speeches of ANY of the founding fathers that supports such an inherently flawed concept, and in fact will find many quotes to the contrary:

"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety" - Benjamin Franklin.

If you want a nanny state to protect us from ourselves, I wish you and your like-minded comrades would go find some other country that doesn't care about individual rights to ruin, instead of continuing to try and gain public support in THIS country for your twisted ideas of what constitutes the "public good."

Some of us would rather live in the animated contest of freedom with all it's inherent chaos and protected liberties than a coddled life subject to overly-restrictive laws that make innocent people into criminals for victimless crimes like CAP laws do.

Some like yourself, may be willing to give up their liberty for a little perceived safety. I, and many others, are not.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? As always, all comments are welcome!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gun Control Flaws 2.7, "What does it hurt? Hello, Unintended Consequences!"

A major problem with gun control "solutions" is their narrow perceived scope of cause and effect. Since most all gun control focuses on the tool used in violent firearm-related crime, it doesn't consider any of the other factors that are actually directly responsible for violent crime, such as socio-economic factors (poverty, prevalence of gangs), the failure of our criminal justice system to rehabilitate offenders before letting them go back onto the street, and how prohibitions actually serve to increase violent crime rates by creating a profitable enterprise for violent criminals.

Consider the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's. The government saw a problem (abuse of alcohol), implemented a solution (ban it completely), and once it was implemented, received a stern lesson in Unintended Consequences.

With legal distribution and sales of alcohol now illegal, organized crime took over, making millions of dollars distributing the contraband, making it profitable for those willing to engage in a life of violent crime.

The same thing has occurred with the prohibition of recreational drugs - all the laws and money dumped into the "war on drugs" have had little proven effect to reduce consumption or demand, or even the supply. Being a profitable enterprise for those willing to disobey the law, the lure of "easy money" draws those in poverty with little other opportunity to succeed into gangs for illegal drug distribution. They must be violent to protect their distribution "turf" from other violent gangs.

The lesson to be learned is: When something there is a demand for is made contraband, those willing to disobey the law will step in, drawn by the profitability, to supply the demand - actually increasing the number of violent criminals on the street and thereby increasing violent crime.

Viewing the history of homicide in this country, note the slow increase in the homicide rate leading up to and during prohibition, then the sharp drop right at the end. Note the same increase with the ramp-up on the "war on drugs" in the 60's.

Now consider the similarities in what's happened with increasing gun control:

Back before the Gun Control Act of 1968, except for some states, anybody had open access to purchase firearms from a legal gun dealer. Pretty much anyone could buy a gun, even through mail order. It stands to reason that since there was no real prohibition, guns were no different than any other item bought and sold on the street - perhaps a gun was stolen merchandise, but otherwise there was nothing special about them, because they could just as easily be bought from almost anywhere.

Now flash forward 40+ years to our current state, where the supply to "prohibited persons" within the US is limited - They can no longer buy directly from FFL dealers if they can't pass a background check, but it hasn't actually been proven to stop any significant number of violent criminals from getting their hands on a gun - instead, it has bolstered the "black market" on the street, making guns a profitable commodity for those willing to disobey the prohibition and sell to those that aren't allowed by law to possess a gun.

As we see with anything else we prohibit where a demand exists, the more tightly we try and regulate guns, not only will the law not have any significant effect keeping them out of the hands of "prohibited persons," but the black market on the street (and the number of criminals running it) will actually increase to meet the demand.

Not quite the result that gun control advertises, is it?


Gun Control Flaws 2.5, "What does it hurt? Plenty!"

Background checks revolve around the concept of a list of people determined to be "prohibited persons," based solely on the assumption that such people are more likely to commit crimes involving firearms. While originally this discrimination started with convicted felons, it has since spread to include people convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, people who have been institutionalized for mental illness, and people with current restraining orders against them. The current push is to "close the [so-called] Terror Gap," and prohibit the purchase of firearms to people merely SUSPECTED of being involved in whatever they define as "terrorism."

So we know from experience that a prohibition simply doesn't effect those willing to break the law - they will continue to get their guns, either with straw buyers, or steal them, or get them from the black market on the street. So what's wrong with making it harder for dangerous people to get guns?

First of all, with the wide variety of felony crimes our society has created, many of them victimless, a good many of these felons are NOT a danger to society, even if they have firearms in their possession. Consider some of the famous examples: Tim Allen (comedian) has a felony conviction for drug possession. Martha Stewart has a felony conviction related to her illegal stock trading. How is our society made better for prohibiting these people from possessing firearms for any good purposes?

While there ARE many convicted felons that really are a danger to society, if they are willing to disregard the laws prohibiting them from hurting innocent people, they're going to disregard the laws that prohibit them from having a firearm if they really want one. The only felons effected by this prohibition are the ones that choose to obey it, and the facts prove the ones obeying the law aren't the ones we need to be concerned about.

For individuals convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence, I actually know someone that fell into this category. My acquaintance Pete was living with his girlfriend when they got into an argument. He is well over 6' tall and she was over a foot shorter than him and less than half his weight. The argument got physical - she started the attack by jumping on him, knocked him over, and began flailing at him with her fists. He grabbed her, threw her off of him, and she hit a piece of furniture, causing a scrape and bruise on her back. He called the police to report the attack. When the cops arrived, she denied ever striking him and played the "poor abused girlfriend" sob story. The cops looked at him (with no visible signs of injury), looked at her bruise, ignored his side of the story and arrested only him. In spite of having a lawyer, the judge did the same thing, looked at the size of him, the size of her, believed her lies and convicted him. He has now lost his right to keep and bear arms under Federal law FOR LIFE unless he can get the conviction overturned on appeal (which he doesn't have the money to continue to fight), or gets a pardon from the governor.

Now I wasn't there, of course, so I only have the word of one party involved, but this kind of thing DOES occur. I also know people that have had restraining orders filed against them maliciously by an angry ex-wife (used as a tool to guarantee her custody of the kids), and that the prohibition of people with current restraining orders against them results in the restriction of people's rights without even being convicted of a crime! We know that truly dangerous people with restraining orders against them will break the law to go attack and kill their target, and sometimes they even use a gun - how is this prohibition supposed to work again?

The push to prohibit "suspected terrorists" is even worse, because the list is "secret." You have no way of even identifying IF you are on the list, WHY you are on the list, and removal from this list is next to impossible. It can result in people's rights being restricted with absolutely no due process, no convictions of a crime, and basically no redress. Those that really are terrorists willing to harm people won't be stopped by a simple law, and if they are denied their purchase, they may even realize they are now tagged as "suspicious" and change their plans to evade further suspicion.

Any of these prohibitions ONLY effect those who are willing to obey them. Trying to determine who is "dangerous" by these factors alone is a gross abuse of government, and in trying to protect us from these "prohibited persons" possibly abusing the right to keep and bear arms, they prohibit the good and rightous exercise of it. We throw many of these prohibited people who are NOT dangerous under the bus, in an ineffective attempt to prohibit the dangerous ones from getting guns, which doesn't work.

Either we all have equal rights, or we don't. We ALL have the equal right of self defense, and that means the equal right to an effective means of self defense of our life and liberty - This is the root behind the right to keep and bear arms. All people have this right, even if our government enacts unjust laws prohibiting it.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gun Control Flaws 2.0, "What does it hurt? Plenty!"

Gun control advocates not only ignore the fact that their measures have never worked anywhere they've been tried, but they also ignore the negative effects that gun control laws have on law-abiding citizens. They justify the infringement on the rights of regular citizens by claiming that we "shouldn't have a problem with reasonable regulations," and "what does it hurt?"

The answer is: They aren't reasonable and it hurts plenty.

Consider one of the staple "safety measures" of the gun control crowd, waiting periods. They suggest that it helps eliminate "crimes of passion" where someone in a relationship gone wrong is driven to violence, goes down to the gun store, walks out with a gun, and goes to commit a murder or murder-suicide. The problem with this scenario is that it really doesn't happen often enough to be concerned with, if it even happens at all. The average "time to crime" between when a handgun is purchased from a dealer and the commission of a violent crime is years on average.

A common reason to need a firearm immediately is self-defense. If someone has an immediate need for a firearm to protect themselves, a five, ten, or 15 day waiting period can mean the difference between their life and death. While there are "time to crime" studies, there aren't any particular statistics of people that would have bought a firearm but couldn't, and died as a result. However, just because there aren't statistics doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

There are, however, plenty of examples and evidence of people that were able to defend themselves because they had a gun.

Some of these examples and statistics are people that had recently acquired a firearm because their situation demanded the need - does it worth making some of them go defenseless through a "waiting period" in a feeble attempt to prevent the very rare "crime of passion" that a waiting period may deter?

More examples soon in "Gun control Laws 2.3, 'What does it hurt? Plenty!'"


Monday, February 14, 2011

Gun Control Flaws, Part 1: "Plugging the holes."

I see a lot of gun control advocates suggesting that making it harder for convicted criminals, the mentally ill, and other prohibited persons to get guns is the best and/or only way to make our society safer from "gun violence."

On the surface, that almost sounds like a good idea that might actually work as advertised, except for two flaws such advocates seem to ignore:

1. Making it harder doesn't actually STOP those determined to break the law, because

2. It's impossible to stop enough of the sources of guns to dangerous people as long as they are free to walk the streets without a custodian.

Because I love analogies, let's compare the flow of guns to the street with a leaky bucket of water.

Gun control advocates believe that if we simply plug all the holes in the bucket, criminals can't get the water. The mistake in this reasoning is that determined individuals who are willing to break the law are extremely resourceful - they will always find ways around the rules and laws we put in place to deter or prevent them from getting what they want.

In our bucket analogy, if we plug all the holes, the criminals will either a) make their own new holes, b) simply go dip from the top of the bucket, or c) find another less-protected bucket!

This is evidenced by the so-called "war on drugs." Making recreational drugs illegal has closed down almost every "legal" means for people to get them. Those people who want the drugs and are willing to break the law to get them has created the demand. The government has tried to plug as many holes as possible with laws and enforcement, yet those criminals willing to break the law for their own use or to supply the demand simply manufacture or grow more (poke more holes in the bucket), cheat the prohibition by lying to get perscriptions for narcotics or medical marijuana (dipping from the top of the bucket) or smuggle it in across the border (get it from someone else's bucket).

The statistics on drug use seem to show that "making it harder" really hasn't had a significant effect on actual usage. In spite of new laws and an ever-increasing budget for the "war on drugs," levels are seemingly unaffected by "making it harder" over the last 20+ years.

What makes gun control advocates think the results of gun control are going to be any different? Why is it that any country in the world that has tried to "make it harder" for "dangerous" people to get guns has seen no consistent or significant effect because of it?

Because there's only one effective way to make sure dangerous people don't get firearms - Incarcerate them until they are no longer a danger to others. As long as criminals and other dangerous people are free to walk the streets, simply "making it harder" isn't making it hard enough to make a difference for those willing to disobey the law.

You may ask, "So what? Why shouldn't we make it harder for them? What does it hurt?" Look for part 2 coming soon discussing the negative side effects and unintended consequences of "making it harder."


Friday, February 11, 2011

There was a WHAT behind my target?

The last rule of Jeff Cooper's 4 rules of firearm safety is: Be sure of your target.

This not only means what you are intending to hit, but what is behind and beyond your intended target as well.

Movies, of course, give us some wonderful examples of what not to do:

Of course I'm sure it's all for the dramatic effect, but what kind of police officers completely ignore the fact that there are several cars and an entire busload full of people immediately behind what they're shooting at?

Of course our politicians also lead the way with shining examples of carelessness. Who can forget Dick Cheney's 2006 hunting accident where he peppered another hunter in his party with birdshot? And watch this recent hunting episode of Sarah Palin's Alaska:

All sorts of people complained about her lack of shooting skill, that she wasn't a real hunter, etc. etc. I don't really care about any of that, what disturbs me the most is where the animal was when she shot it. I don't care if they're 500 miles from the nearest civilization, they don't know what's on the other side of that ridge! One lesson repeated in hunter's safety courses is never shoot at an animal on a ridgeline, because of precisely that reason.

One deer hunting season several years ago, my oldest nephew Corey and I were dropped off up above a series of sloped clearings to walk down, and my wife went down to the bottom to watch for anything we may scare her direction. After she had waited for awhile, she heard some noises and looked up the hill, and saw a beautiful 3 or 4 point buck just 20 or 30 yards away. Just as she put her sights on the animal, just over the deer's shoulder she saw a glimpse of our two orange hats a couple hundred yards up the hill coming her direction. She instantly took her aim off the deer, but by the time she started to re-position for a better shot that was not in our direction, the deer disappeared into the brush. I am thankful my wife looked at what was beyond her target, because it's hard to enjoy venison when you're dead.

I recommend an interesting website called The Box O' Truth that answers the question, "exactly how many walls will this gun shoot a bullet/shot/slug through?"

"It's an .88 Magnum."... "It shoots through schools."

If your home defense weapon is a handgun or a rifle, you should understand that some rounds will go through multiple walls, doors, and rooms. If you don't keep that in mind, you may end up with a larger tragedy on your hands than just a home invasion.

Whether you're hunting, or defending yourself with a firearm, or even just plinking in the woods, you must know exactly what you're shooting at and what's behind it.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Watch where you're pointing that thing!

Muzzle control is one of the most important firearm safety skills, and unfortunately, like keeping the finger off the trigger, it doesn't come naturally to people - it has to be a conscious, learned skill.

Rule # 2 of Jeff Cooper's Four Rules of Firearms Safety is, "Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy."

Twice I've been in a classroom of students when the instructor calls up a student to demonstrate how to shoulder a rifle. Sure enough, the student swings the gun around sweeping the muzzle across the class, and everybody ducks under their desk or table. This of course allows the instructor to go over that safety rule with that episode as a reminder - I almost wonder if the instructor knows this is going to happen, but I'll chalk it up to coincidence.

Of course, our motion picture media is also full of poor examples of following this rule:

And of course our beloved politicians during publicity shoots:

Keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction all the time is an absolute must. Even if you're checked the firearm and believe with all your heart and soul that the gun is unloaded, you can't have a different "unloaded" behavior than "loaded" behavior. Otherwise you end up making (Caution: Links have graphic images of "accidental" self-inflicted gunshot wounds) mistakes like these.

Another note about muzzle control that was brought up during the Hunter Safety Course my kids took last year is concrete floors. I've always focused on keeping the muzzle pointed down, but you also have to be aware of concrete or very hard floors and where a ricochet may strike. Keeping a gun pointed at the concrete floor isn't very safe if the shot ricochets and a bullet or pellets bounce up into someone's undercarriage. Keep it pointed up or in another safe direction at all times in those situations.

Be aware of your muzzle at all times, do not let it point at anything you do not wish to destroy, and even if all other safety rules go out the window, this one rule could eliminate almost all firearm-related accidents.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I didn't know it was loaded!

Continuing my out-of order sequence of Jeff Cooper's 10 rules of firearms safety, I'll jump back to number 1: All guns are always loaded.

Now obviously, all guns are not always loaded, so what's the rule mean? It means we always believe all guns are always loaded and always treat them that way, no exceptions.

In Middle School, I was privileged to attend an Outdoor Education class, an 8th grade 2-quarter elective class taught by Mr. D'Amico. He was an older (in his early 60's?) Italian guy that had more life in him than any other guy his age that I knew. He was an avid outdoorsman, and in his class we learned not just firearms safety (shooting highly accurate pellet guns in the extended classroom), but his knowledge of hunting and fishing.

He had a sobering story about the importance of Rule #1. When he was a teenager, my teacher's oldest brother was proud of his "quick draw" skills. He asked the next youngest brother to go get the revolver out of the gun cabinet so he could practice and show his skill to his family. The oldest brother carefully unloaded the firearm and even had his next-oldest brother verify that yes, it was unloaded, then proceeded to quick draw against his brothers with the unloaded revolver. For some reason or another the oldest brother got called away. He took off the gun belt and set it on the counter. The next oldest brother thought he was all finished, put the cartridges back in the gun and was going to put it away in the gun cabinet when he got distracted by something else. When the older brother came back, he put the gun belt back on, and when the other brother came back into the room, the oldest brother showed him his quick-draw skill one last time, killing him.

Sure there were some odd circumstances leading up to the tragedy, but had rule #1 been followed, the oldest brother wouldn't have the lifelong guilt of knowing he killed one of his brothers.

"I thought it was unloaded" doesn't bring the bullet back when you learn you were wrong. It's a pretty shallow excuse when someone's lying on the floor bleeding to death and you were in control of the firearm.

"I didn't know it was loaded" should be followed with, "so I assumed it was loaded anyway."


Friday, February 4, 2011

Keep your booger hook off the bang switch!

I happened to be walking through the local Barnes and Noble bookstore lately with my 13 year old son (he received a gift card from some relatives for Christmas). While browsing through the store, I happened to spy Roger Moore's autobiography My Word is My Bond, and I immediately noticed a problem.

I called over my son. "Hey, look at this book."
"That looks stupid, I don't want to buy that one."
"No, I don't want you to buy it." I pointed at the cover and asked, "what's wrong with this picture?"
My son immediately said, "he's got his finger on the trigger."

I'm so proud of my boy, I have taught him well. I ought to reward him by taking him out shooting more often :)

Just on a whim, I decided to do a Google search of Roger Moore, and am surprised to find that in every damn picture of him holding a gun, he's got his finger on the trigger. Actually, it seems to be a common infliction for most all of the Bonds.

On further research, I find it occurs far too much in Hollywood. After an extensive search of Google images, every single movie poster I could find where someone's holding a gun and not actively involved in firing it, their finger is definitely inside the trigger guard and resting on the trigger.

Rule number three of Jeff Cooper's rules of Firearms Safety is "Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target." Or, my favorite translation of that rule: "Keep your booger hook off the bang switch!"

Allow my son to demonstrate:

Finger straight, along the frame of the firearm, until the sights are on the target and you are ready to shoot. Pretty simple rule, huh? Yet I constantly see action movie stars with their fingers on the trigger for no good reason far more frequently than I should. Unfortunately, some people I see handling firearms in real life also have the same bad habit.

No wonder we still have too many firearm-related accidents when we see these kind of slopppy gun handling examples in the media all the time:

How ironic that he's breaking Rule #3, no?

More discussion of the rest of the 4 rules for firearms safety coming soon.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

A proposed solution for a safer society that has guns in it.

In addition to picking apart the statements and suggestions of those opposed to the free exercise of the right to keep and bear arms, I feel I should also offer some suggestions that would actually help make our country safer.

My belief is that in a country such as ours, which has the highest rate of gun ownership of any country in the world (approximately 90 guns per 100 people), we should be putting more effort into firearms safety.

I don't believe that any training should be mandatory to own or buy a gun, because when you put restrictions on a right, it is then treated like a privilege, only allowed to be legally exercised after meeting what could be arbitrarily set conditions. Once you allow a right to be treated like a privilege by the government, that privilege may be revoked.

Instead, a much more effective method that would include more than just gun owners, would be mandatory education in schools, and for public education to embrace, instead of shun, the proper gun culture in this country.

For elementary education, mandatory gun safety training explaining the danger of firearms, with emphasis on "Stop! Don't touch! Leave the area, and tell an adult." How many of the children involved in firearms accidents have ever had any proper education to KNOW that's what they're supposed to do if they find a gun?

In Middle School, continue the same mandatory education, except expand it to include some optional safe firearms handling. Allow an optional strictly supervised marksmanship and firearms handling safety class. One middle school I attended back in the 80's had an "outdoor education" class, where we shot pellet guns in an extended classroom with direct supervision and a great focus on gun handling safety. Completion of the class even counted towards the hunter's safety certificate required by the state for a youth hunting license.

In High School, there should be mandatory classes on self defense. This doesn't even have to have any substantial focus on firearms, but instead steps to avoid using physical force to defend yourself. Situational awareness, crime prevention steps for the home, how to avoid becoming a target for a criminal to begin with. There should also be some instruction on what options there are if you ARE the target of a violent criminal attack, what legal and moral responsibilities go along with defending yourself with physical and/or deadly force. Shooting sports should also be offered at the high school levels, such as marksmanship and sporting clay target shooting. Shooting sports do have a better safety record than any other sport, with less injuries than any other physical sport - even golf!

Just like our public schools try to help prepare our children by teaching sex education and drug education, we could also be teaching gun education as well. Many high schools have mandatory classes teaching "personal finance" to try and get them ready for the real world of bills and balancing checkbooks. There is no good reason why we shouldn't also include education for how to avoid becoming a victim and what options there are if it becomes unavoidable. Much of the education could come from the optional classes and extra-curricular activities (after-school shooting sports).

Just like parents have the ability to "opt-out" their children from sex education and drug education classes, they could also be the option where parents can have their children excluded from gun education classes as well.

Such a plan would have far more advantages by educating more of our youth about proper gun safety and their responsibilities of self defense. I don't see any downsides that outweigh that benefit.

As always, your comments are encouraged.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Save one life? What's it worth to you?

I often see a suggestion from gun control advocates that they support gun control because they believe it will save lives, or even (to paraphrase), "It we can save just one life our efforts will be worth it."

The problem with such limited thinking is that they do not consider all the possible effects of the laws they wish to implement. I'll actually agree, that some gun control may actually save some lives, but looking at the overall picture, not a considerable amount, and the unintended consequences outweigh the benefit.

Take, for example, mandatory waiting periods to purchase firearms. I'll concede that there may actually be a very few instances where someone would, in a fit of anger, go buy a gun just to kill someone with it, and if they had to wait 5 or 10 days, they would cool down and change their mind. Statistics show this is a very rare event, as the average purchase "time to crime" for firearms is a year or longer depending on the type.

So let's just agree it would save at least the "one life" that the gun control advocates are after. Success, right?

Not if you consider the unintended consequences.

Far more common than buying a gun in the "heat of passion" to kill someone is people who want a firearm for personal protection. How many people, needing a firearm immediately to defend themselves against a known, imminent threat, will become victims because they had to wait 5 or 10 days for a firearm to protect themselves?

So consider: Is the one life you save with gun control worth the one life that is taken because it prevented someone from defending themselves? Or, how many rapes? is the one life saved worth 5 rapes? 10? 100?

I don't know how many lives are saved by gun control vs. how many people are left defenseless. Has such a study ever been done? There is plenty of evidence that gun control doesn't seem to have any effect on violent crime rates involving firearms, and there is also anecdotal evidence that proves some people that were denied purchasing a firearm because of a "waiting period" become victims unable to defend themselves in the face of an imminent threat.

There is not one gun control law I can think of that doesn't have negative side effects that more than offset any positive result. Lives saved? I'll admit there MAY be few - Very few. Is that minor advantage worth the lives lost and people victimized because they were denied their right of effective self defense? What about the other costs, such as charging and punishing people for victimless crimes, or denying people the free exercise of their rights? Are those negative consequences of gun control worth it?

Is it worth saving one life if you deny someone else the right to save their own?


Monday, January 31, 2011

Does bias have a place in the problem solving process?

Let's say you have a problem. In order to determine if a course of action is the best choice to solve that problem, the logical process would be to determine -

A) What the goal is (What do I want?)
B) What possible courses of action are there to accomplish that goal (How do I get what I want?)
C) What other side effects or consequences are there for each chosen action (What else will/might happen?)

If this process is reviewed considering ALL possible solutions and ALL possible consequences, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume this would have the best chance to find the best solution?

If bias is included in this process, it precludes the ability to accurately determine the problem and analyze all possible solutions and their side effects. How likely is it that the best solution (or any solution) will be found with such limited scope?

This is the problem that anti-gun bias causes for finding a solution to violent crime. The only problem they try to solve is firearm-related violent crime (ignoring or barely acknowledging that non-firearm related violent crime even exists), and their only proposed solutions revolve around firearms. Due to their bias, they can only see access to firearms as the cause of the problem, so that is the only solution they choose to pursue.

Unfortunately, their bias also instills a false sense of logic. They think that because dangerous people can get firearms, that limiting access is the only logical solution. They see this as a simple 1+1=2 formula, easy access + guns = "gun violence." Because their bias prevents them from realizing their narrow scope of the problem, they don't realize that it's more of a 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1=10 formula. They refuse to see that there are MANY factors in violent crime, including several socio-economic issues (poverty, lack of quality education, racism, gang activity), failures of the criminal justice system, the "war on drugs," and our society's trend to not hold people accountable and responsible for their own actions. Because of their prejudice against firearms, they believe guns are the only (or at least the biggest) cause of the issue, in spite of having no evidence to show for it.

Due to their prejudice, they also fail to see and consider the benefits of guns in our society, and the negative consequences of gun control on those benefits. They fail to believe or factor in studies that show how many defensive gun uses occur, so they do not understand or weigh the consequences that stricter gun control will have on law-abiding, peaceably armed citizens.

Finally, their skewed sense of logic fails to allow them to comprehend that their suggested solutions simply don't work. In spite of being unable to prove any positive effect of gun control anywhere in the world, they continue to believe that if access to firearms is reduced, less criminals will get them, and the violent firearm-related crime rate will go down as a result.

Bias and prejudice has no place in a problem-solving process, it limits the view of the problem, eliminates solutions from being considered, and prevents accurate analysis of the possible side effects of proposed solutions.

As always, comments are encouraged.


Friday, January 28, 2011

The primary purpose of guns - Killing? Nope.

The statement is often made by gun control advocates that guns are made for killing, period. Or, that anything else guns are used for (such as sport/target shooting) are secondary to killing. However, logical analysis and statistics clearly show this to be opinion, not fact.

Now that's not to say that designers of some firearms didn't intend their weapons to be used for killing. Some of them did. Certainly some firearm designers have built some guns specifically for sport (Such as competition target rifles and handguns), Others are designed to kill varmints or pests, and there actually are some guns that were designed and manufactured specifically to kill a person.

However, the general utility of almost all firearms lends them to much more purposes than killing.

Consider the actual function of almost any firearm: To load a cartridge to fire a bullet (or multiple projectiles from a shotgun) with a specified degree of reliability, accuracy, and power.

That capability (firing a lead projectile very very fast) can be used for multiple purposes. Remember that purpose is how a person uses the tool to accomplish a goal. If that goal is to try and punch a hole in a piece of paper at 100 yards, or send a can flying, or shatter a clay target in mid-air, that obviously has nothing at all to do with a purpose of killing.

Now by its nature, a firearm can be used as a weapon, and in that use it has more utility than actually using its designed function. The threat alone of using a weapon on someone can accomplish the goal of the user, whether it's to coerce a victim to hand over their wallet, convince a criminal suspect to get out of the vehicle with their hands in the air, or to scare a violent criminal into stopping their attack and running away. The fact that in most firearm-related crimes, and in the overwhelming majority (over 95%) of defensive gun uses, no shots are even fired. In the majority of times firearms are used to commit crimes, or by police, or in self defense, the THREAT of using the firearm accomplished the goal, and thus fulfilled the purpose of the user.

There's further proof that weapons can be used without using their actual function. Consider the biggest weapons of them all, Nuclear weapons. Their designed function is to create a massive explosion. It has a capability of being used for the purpose of killing people if that is the purpose of the person using it. However, a nuclear weapon's most common purpose by far is as a defensive deterrant - the THREAT of using it if we are attacked or threatened - purely defensive.

Studies show that self defense is the third most common use of a firearm in this country (behind hunting and sport/recreational shooting). Considering that in the US, people purchased 12 billion rounds of ammunition in 2009, compared with roughly 30,000 firearm-related deaths, that is absolute evidence that killing people with a gun is just about dead last on the list of purposes it's used for in this country.

So where is the logic in claiming that guns are only made to kill? There is no reason behind the suggestion that killing is the primary designed purpose of firearms when over 99% of the time they're used for other purposes than killing. It merely shows ignorance of all the the facts and a personal bias against firearms.

As always, comments are encouraged.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Completely original joke of the day.

Q. How many gun control advocates does it take to change a light bulb?

A. None. Because they have such an irrational fear of the dark, they don't identify that the burned out light bulb is the real problem. Instead, they blame the darkness for the lack of light, demonize the darkness to try to gather public support for banning it, and push for "common sense" dark-control legislation to try and solve the problem.

As always, comments are encouraged.


Conversations with the willfully ignorant.

Since I have been banned from commenting on most anti-gun group pages on Facebook, but I still stay subscribed to see their updates, occasionally comments cross my news feed that I feel compelled to respond to.

One such recent post by a supporter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Ownership caused me to choose to respond with a personal message, which he replied to and we started discussing the issue. Here is the message thread in its entirety:

Orygunner January 26 at 6:31am

Hi Neil,
You wrote:
"The all powerful NRA has culpability in their blinder vision of completely ignoring the cost in lives and dollars that gun violence produces in America."

So what's your proposal to reduce firearm-related violent crime? Gun control has never been effective at reducing violent crime rates anywhere else it's been tried (countries with low firearm-related crime rates and strict gun control ALREADY had low rates BEFORE the gun control and didn't see any decrease because of them).

Do you have the courage to look for something that would actually work to reduce "gun violence," or just support ineffective gun control because you can't think of anything else to do?


Neil Mauriello January 26 at 7:40am Report
The main reason for why we have ineffective gun control laws is that the NRA, through its lobbying efforts, have our elected leaders either bought through their contributions or simply too afraid to take them on. My wish is to make the registration process much stricter with more intense background checks and a longer waiting period combined with harsher penalties for "straw buyers" and dishonest gun dealers. In addition I would like to see an expansion of the ATF with enough money to pursue the bad characters. I support the 2nd Amendment, but feel that there must be reasonable restraints to the production and sale of assault type weaponry whose sole purpose is to kill people. I anxiously await any input that you may have on how YOU might help in this public safety issue.

Orygunner January 26 at 9:42am
So, Neil, the gun control laws you suggest have already been tried multiple times in different cities, states, and countries.

Where is your evidence that any of that has ever actually decreased violent firearm related crime rates?

Just because you believe it works or wish it works doesn't mean it's actually going to work, especially when it's already been tried many times and failed to have any effect. What makes you think it will work here? What effect do you think it will really have?

I have a great suggestion that actually works, follow the example of THIS group:

Note that they don't suggest useless gun control laws, they actually get provable results.


Neil Mauriello January 26 at 1:29pm Report
What I am saying is that the present gun control laws are not stringent enough and we have a weakened ATF unable to get the job done correctly. Ceasefirechicago is a noteworthy organization and can be a very effective partner to stronger enforcement. Hopefully they are providing some intelligence, to law enforcement, as to where and how the bad guys are acquiring their guns. I notice that you do not wish to comment on my call for increased enforcement, growth of the ATF and the pursuit of rogue gun dealers and "straw" buyers. How come, is it simply that you wish to turn a blind eye to the killing and maiming as a result of guns? Please do not respond that cars kill more people.

Orygunner January 26 at 1:50pm
ATF has a horrible record of doing things fairly, has absurdly inaccurate record keeping, and a long history of abuses towards law-abiding gun owners. They're basically armed tax collectors, and ought to be disbanded.

But let's entertain your idea that present laws are not stringent enough. Every gun control law you can suggest has already been tried somewhere in the world. Surely among all those countries, such as England, Australia, or any other country that has "stronger" gun control and less gun-related crime than the US, there must have been a significant or consistent DECREASE in firearm-related crime as a result of their stricter gun control laws?

Gun control laws have been tried. Strict enforcement has been tried. With no proven effect anywhere that I can find. If you're supporting stricter gun control and enforcement of those laws, surely you must have some examples where these things have worked?

If you don't have any examples, what is your reason for wanting stronger laws?

I'm not turning a blind eye towards killing and maiming as a result of CRIMINALS. I've studied this issue fairly, honestly, and with an open mind for years, and recognize that gun control is about as effective in reducing violent crime as doing nothing at all. it's not a part of a bigger picture or a worthwhile addition to other methods of reducing crime, it's completely worthless and the negative side effects of restricting people's right of self defense is terrible on a personal level.

As a side note, I don't suggest that MORE guns = LESS crime, either, because simply enough, there is no direct correlation (or causation) between guns, gun control, and firearm-related crime, period.


Neil Mauriello January 26 at 3:04pm Report
Initially I really thought that you might be a serious person and interested in controlling the proliferation of guns in our society, but to find out that you are nothing more than a gun enthusiast with all of the same old arguments is disconcerting and I will no longer reply to your utter nonsense. Goodbye!
Orygunner January 27 at 5:37am
So in other words, you have no evidence to back up what you want to do. You don't have a single example of where your gun control WOULD prevent criminals from getting guns, and you say that *I* am stating utter nonsense.

I shake my head in disbelief at you sir. You must truly live your life lead around by your fear and emotion instead of logic and reason. You have shown yourself to be typical of gun control supporters: when asked for any facts, you shut off communication because you can't back up what you say with any truth.

Here's the truth: CRIMINALS, not guns, are the cause of violent crime. Gun control has never been proven to reduce firearm-related crime. I don't want "proliferation of guns," I want people to be able to exercise their rights without government imposing useless, worthless, ineffective gun control that has no effect except to restrict GOOD, law-abiding people from being able to responsibly and safely own and use firearms for good, legitimate purposes.

All your gun control effects is good people willing to obey the law. Criminals will continue to get their guns even if you completely banned them.

I'm sure all this truth is just bouncing off your tough emotional exterior, but I'm finished with you anyway. I rest confident in the fact that gun control is LOSING in this country, gun control laws are being relaxed and rescinded all over, there are more peaceably armed citizens in public carrying firearms than ever before, and YOU are fighting a losing battle with no facts to back you up. :)

Have a great life, stay safe!


(PS, I'll let you get in the last word if you want, then you can block me like so much of your ilk usually does to avoid the truth)

This is fairly typical of how most of these conversations go, with a few exceptions. Some of the people I start discussions with appreciate my politeness and how frank I am about the issue, and even though I don't change their mind about guns themselves, They are interested enough in what I have to share that they do seem to realize that guns aren't the scourge of society they originally thought, that they are used for at least some good.

Others, like Neil here, get increasingly agitated and eventually shut down all conversation when they no longer want to be bothered with being asked to logically prove or explain their position. Guns are evil, guns are bad, guns kill, guns are the cause of "gun violence" and gun control is the best and only solution there can possibly be, period. Some get downright insultive, saying that I'm a gunloon, a gun nut, a right wing-nut (that one always amuses me since I'm Libertarian), a bully, stupid, ignorant, and closed-minded.

But I'll keep trying. The few that choose to listen make it all worth it.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh, come on, it's only common sense!

I hate the phrase, "common sense." I do my best to avoid using that often-twisted phrase as much as possible, in my writing, when I'm talking to people, and anywhere in between.

Why? In my observation, there are few phrases more mis-used in discussions and debates than the phrase "common sense."

I know there are some things that everyone could agree falls under the description of common sense. Don't step in front of a moving car on the freeway or else you'll get hurt or killed. If you stick a fork into an electrical socket you will probably get shocked. Don't drink gasoline or you'll get sick.

These nuggets of "common sense" have some actual logic on their side that a person reasonably knowledgeable of the forces involved can reason out. . Someone that has never seen anyone step in front of a moving car before (i.e. has never seen YouTube or could logically reason that if something big and heavy is going very fast, it's not going to bode well for my physical health to step in front of it. If those two holes in that receptacle deliver power capable of running powerful electrical motors, then trying to make that power run through my body might not be very comfortable. Gasoline smells terrible and makes my nose and eyes burn, it might not be very compatible with my tummy (of course, that also describes my sister-in-law's cooking but it actually didn't poison me).

The problem comes in where people try to use the phrase to lend some non-logical or half-assed credibility to their side of an argument. It also (whether intentionally or not) discredits their opponent as NOT having it, because after all, who but a fool would disagree with what is common sense?

If both sides claim that their view is just common sense, one of them has to be wrong, right?

No, because "common sense" is not an absolute fact. Common sense depends entirely on the knowledge, experience, and context of the individual.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "Common sense is merely the deposit of prejudice laid down in the human mind before the age of 18." Although the exact age is up for debate, it seems true that what someone decides is common sense is heavily dependent on their beliefs and experiences by the time they reach maturity.

I cringe when gun control advocates suggest that we need "common sense gun regulations," because what they think is logic backing their suggestions is actually based heavily in prejudice and bias from their own experiences and formed beliefs. Perhaps that bias against guns wasn't formed at the point where the person entered maturity. I believe if someone becomes a victim of firearm-related violent crime as an adult, and they didn't have a healthy respect for individual rights and/or the right to keep and bear arms when they reached adulthood, then that view of people's rights combined with their experience (being a victim of "gun violence") is going to weigh heavily on their decision to support gun control at the expense of others' liberty.

I could itemize different laws that the gun control advocates suggest are "common sense," but it's really unnecessary - All gun control rules and laws have these facts in common:

  • They prohibit free responsible exercise of the right to keep and bear arms, either to some people, or to all.
  • They do nothing to actually STOP violent criminals from obtaining firearms illegally and abusing the right to keep and bear arms by harming others
  • Almost all the different gun control laws proposed have already been tried somewhere in the world with no proven significant or consistent decrease in violent firearm-related crime.

Just because someone claims something in common sense doesn't make it right, doesn't make it logical, and doesn't make it morally superior somehow.

I'm sure that for many people in this country's history that it was only "common sense" at the time that blacks should not drink from the same water fountains or use the same facilities as whites.

For some, it was common sense that the Jews were the cause of Germany's problems and had to be eliminated.

It was once common sense to practice bloodletting a person when they were ill to "purge the patient of bad humors."

I'm sure that for Vizzini, it was only common sense that you never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

So I refuse to use the phrase. I will argue that something is logical, or that it's reasonable, and I try to always make sure I have facts to back up my statements. I have some opinions, too, but I build those based on as much information I can find and try to make sure my beliefs don't contradict the facts.

Frankly, when the person's belief is limited by bias instead of considering all the facts and the truth, "common sense," really isn't.


More guns, less guns - you know it doesn't matter, right?

More guns or less guns do not have a direct effect on how safe any society is. This is mainly evidenced by the fact that there is no consistent relationship between the number of guns in a society and the violent firearm-related crime rates. I have seen some narrow scope evidence of some minor correlations between stronger gun laws and lower crime rates, but not enough evidence that proves causation.

There is also no proven significant causation between allowing or disallowing concealed carry and violent crime rates. I'm not a believer in "more guns = less crime" because if I remember correctly, the only major study I've seen done on the issue (John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime) only showed a very small (a few percent) improvement in crime rates in states that allowed concealed carry over states that didn't. Not enough to prove a significant change, or that allowing concealed carry was the cause.

I simply believe that the number of guns in a society or its gun laws do not effect violent crime rate, and there are many other factors with a more direct effect on the issue.

My reasoning is this: If gun control is increased, it doesn't effect the criminal - It isn't going to make it harder for the criminal to get a gun himself. It's already easy for criminals to get guns on the street even in cities like DC and Chicago with the strictest gun laws. Stricter gun control actually makes it safer for the criminal, because the stricter the gun laws, the more change his victims are going to be disarmed. He's not going to commit MORE crimes because of that fact - he just doesn't have to be as picky of his targets.

If gun control has relaxed and allowed people to lawfully carry concealed, It doesn't reduce crime significantly - The motivations for violent crime haven't changed any (money, money for drugs, criminal gang activity). The criminal that victimizes innocent people just has to be more careful picking his targets.

So basically, tightening gun laws doesn't effect the violent crime rate because if a criminal wants a gun, he can still get one. Loosening gun laws and allowing people to carry doesn't effect the violent crime rate because there are still plenty of targets that are NOT carrying a firearm.

Where tightening or loosening the gun laws has the most effect is the individual that is NOT a criminal intent on harming others. If a person is allowed their right of self defense with a firearm and they are attacked, the overwhelming majority of the time (over 95%) the attacker runs away when faced with an armed victim and runs away without any shots being fired. (For the issue of overall crime rate, do you think the criminal will now give up his life of crime and fly straight, or just be more careful picking his target the next time?)

If gun control is tightened, it discriminates against the people who are NOT a danger to others. Expensive licensing and registration and training requirements, as well as "junk gun" (a misnomer) bans discriminate against the poor. Prohibiting ALL felons and those convicted of "domestic violence" offenses discriminates against those convicted of non-violent crimes and those that have turned their lives around and are obeying the law. Prohibiting those people without criminal convictions such as people with restraining orders against them or people on the "suspected terrorist" list discriminates against people's right to keep and bear arms without any due process at all.

ANY of those "prohibited persons" that WANTS to get a gun and hurt others can always go get one through illegal means. Such restrictions, requirements, and prohibitions discriminate against those that are NOT a danger to others by depriving them of their right of self defense. Tightening or loosening gun laws doesn't effect the overall crime rate for society, but it can make a life's worth of difference to an individual.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Is the risk worth dying for?

(This is based on a response I posted on Baldr Odin's blog "A New Trajectory")

There are some that believe that some studies (such as the flawed Kellermann study) prove that a firearm in the home is more likely to kill someone in the home than an intruder. The flaw with such studies like Kellermann's is that it tries to suggest causation from correlation, and doesn't take into account enough factors. Such as, how many defensive gun uses occur when no shots are even fired? Or, what about the likelihood of firearms and violence both accompanying illegal activity such as drugs and gang activity? Sure, a firearm present will increase the possibility of someone being shot rather than other weapons being used if someone is intent on harming someone in their household, but you have no proof the firearm is nothing more than the tool used for the crime - not a cause of the assault.

Protecting my family is very important, but it's not the only reason I own firearms. Plinking and clay target shooting are a fun, safe family activity. I use firearms to teach my kids responsibility, safety, and marksmanship.

There are some that believe that their perceived "risk" of having a gun in their home isn't worth those benefits. Consider that I also ride motorcycles (I'm a motorcycle safety instructor, actually). Riding a motorcycle increases the risk of being injured in an accident, yet I manage that risk as best as I can, because the benefits (feeling of freedom, enjoyment of riding with friends and my family, huge gas savings) are worth it to me.

I manage my risks riding motorcycles by wearing proper gear, making myself visible and my intentions known to other drivers, constantly working to practice and improve my mental and physical riding skills, and making sure my motorcycle is well maintained.

I manage my risks with firearms by keeping all my handguns except my regular carry gun securely locked in a lock box (My carry gun is always either on my person or next to my bed when I'm sleeping), my long guns are kept far separate from the ammunition, and my two teenage children are well trained in firearms safety and I trust their responsibility that they're not going to play with the long guns (or try to get into the handgun box) without my permission.

Perhaps riding a motorcycle or having a gun in your home aren't worth the risk that some perceive, and that's their choice - I respect that. My choice is to do both, be well informed on the risks and to manage that risk wisely.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why would a reasonable, sane person DO that?

There was a workshop I attended some time ago called Crucial Conversations. The basic concept was to give people tools to be able to approach and correctly handle necessary conversations where emotions run high and there are high stakes involved.

One of the lessons about how to deal with a crucial conversation is to focus mainly on facts and what we KNOW and not to assume things we really don't know as fact. All of us, every day, try to rationalize and come up with a reason for people's behavior we witness. We tell ourselves a story in our mind based on the facts we do know, to fill in the rest of the things we don't.

For example: You see someone talking on their cell phone on their job. You don't have any more facts than that, but all of us want to fill in the gaps, so we assume the rest we really don't know. You can assume that the person is slacking off and not doing their work. You can assume that maybe he's on break taking care of personal business. You can assume that perhaps his desk phone is malfunctioning and he's trying to call someone to fix it. You can assume that he has received an emergency call from his wife. Any of these are a possibility but until we know the rest of the facts, they're just assumptions.

Part of the problem is that most people assume the worst of others, so the most likely choice for any of us would be to automatically assume he's slacking on the job when he should be working. We do it all the time. When somebody cuts us off on the freeway, we assume the person is an asshole who thinks he owns the road. When we find the coffeepot empty at work, we assume the last person to get coffee is a lazy jerk.

Part of this may come from ourselves: The only reason we would talk on our cell phone during working hours would be if we chose to be a slacker. The only reason we would cut someone off is if we were in a bad mood and wanted to be an asshole to other drivers. The only reason we imagine we wouldn't refill the coffeepot is if we were feeling lazy that day.

So the Crucial Conversations class suggested that when we see behavior that we would think the worst of others for doing what they're doing, stop. Instead of thinking the worst, ask yourself:

"Why would a reasonable, sane person do what they're doing?"

Maybe the person that cut me off on the freeway is rushing to the hospital because his wife is in labor. Maybe the guy that didn't refill the coffeepot got called away on an emergency before he could make another pot. Maybe the guy talking on his cell phone at work is just on break, or maybe he is trying to reach I.T. because his desk phone is out of order.

If we start out with the positive attitude towards the person's behavior, it can change our whole outlook and the way we approach them and their behavior. If you're the supervisor of the employee on the cell phone, your approach is going to be much different. If you assume they're wasting company time and money by slacking on the job, "What are you doing on your cell phone during company time, Bob?" If you assume they're trying to deal with a problem of some kind, "Bob, I see you're on your cell phone, is everything all right?"

How would YOU react to the two different questions if you believe what you were doing is reasonable?

I observe that the same kinds of things happen with discussions about gun control, from both sides of the debate. People assume all sorts of things about the motivation of those they disagree with, because they just don't know all the facts why the opposition believes the way they do, and so they make up the rest based on their own motivations if that was their behavior.

Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms assume that the reason other people want more gun control is because they must want good people to be defenseless victims. Or that gun control supporters just want all guns banned, and they're doing it one step at a time. Or that the anti-gun people only care about the victims of tragic shootings because it furthers their agenda of more gun control.

I see gun control supporters accuse people that carry guns of only carrying them because they want to kill people. Or that people choosing to open carry firearms are only wanting to feel macho, or to intimidate those around them. I have been personally accused by one gun control supporter of living a Clint Eastwood fantasy because I only want criminals to "make my day." One of the biggest assumptions that I've heard the most is that the reason I carry a firearm is because I am afraid - that I live my life in fear.

I know for a fact that I don't want to kill anyone. I know for a fact that when I open carried a gun for a short time around Eugene/Springfield, I wasn't trying to be macho or to intimidate anyone. I'm don't have any illusions of grandeur that I'm going to whip out my gun, spit out a witty one-liner, and see how lucky some punk feels. And I know I don't carry a gun because I'm afraid.

These are all accusations from people who simply don't know all the facts and are telling themselves a story, based on the only reasons they would consider doing these things. Until we all stop assuming things about the people we disagree with, we're never going to get past our assumptions and into the real facts.

What sorts of things do you assume about people? If you start asking yourself why a reasonable, sane person would behave like they are, it gives you a far different perspective and changes the tone of the discussion (at least your side) for the better. Perhaps the person really isn't reasonable or sane, but at least it will start the conversation on better, kinder footing.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Things I would do if I were an Evil Overlord.

There's a fun list called "Top 100 things I would do if I were an Evil Overlord." It's actually quite a bit longer than 100, but as you'll see after the jump, it was started to poke some fun at the common movie cliches. You know, since the hero often sneaks into the evil genius's lair through a ventilation duct, #2 on the list is "My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through." Since bombs and other destructive devices in movies have a digital countdown timer that the hero usually manages to either stop or just barely escape from with a second or two to spare, rule #15 is "I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation."

So, on a more serious note, what would I do if I planned to enslave an entire region as an Evil Overlord/Tyrant?

Well, the first thing I would do is ban anyone from having guns but my police and military. Adolf Hitler (one of the biggest Evil Overlords of all time) gave some good advice when he said,
"The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so."
- Adolf Hitler, April 11, 1942, quoted in Hitlers Tischegesprache Im Fuhrerhauptquartier 1941-1942
Obviously, I don't want the people under my control to have a means to rise up and overthrow me and my minions of evil, so I must not allow them to have guns.

Now let's say I've taken over a region that already HAD guns. Where the people value their freedom and where a widespread confiscation would cause instant rebellion. How can I get them to a disarmed state?

Here is where I have to get sneaky and use some very evil, very detailed planning.

First, an analogy, called "boiling the frog." If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will instantly freak out and try to jump out of the pot. However, if you put a frog into a pot of cool water, and slowly increase the temperature, the frog will sit happily in the water and not even realize he is being boiled to death until he has actually boiled to death.

What needs to be done with these free people is to boil the frog slowly, and engage in some trickery to get public support for me to to actually keep turning the temperature up.

First, find something moral that the majority would agree with, but that many would still want even if it was illegal - such as making recreational drugs illegal. This not only justifies adding more police to enforce the laws, but crime will skyrocket, as whenever you make something illegal, it becomes lucrative for criminals.

Then, you have to use the media into tricking people to believe that the police are there to protect them, even though no laws actually SAY they have a duty to protect anyone. That way, when crime continues to rise because of the illegal drug trade and distribution, the people will cry for MORE police, getting them more and more used to a "police state" state of mind.

Now at this point, the media is happily reporting all the violence these criminals are perpetrating with firearms amongst themselves as they fight amongst themselves for turf to sell their illegal drugs, and people addicted to the drugs are committing violent crimes with guns to get money to buy more drugs... People want a solution.

Enter gun control.

I propose to the people that the GUNS are to blame for all the "gun violence" and that the solution is to ban guns - but not all at once, because that would turn up the heat under the frog too quickly. You have to do it a little bit at a time.

First, target cheap firearms, claiming that they're what's used by violent criminals. Give them a scary name that elicits an emotional response, like "Saturday Night Special" Give reports to the media about how they're used by drunkards on weekends to settle drunken arguments and suppress the fact that they're actually mostly used by low-income citizens to protect themselves.

Then, find the next firearm I can get public support for. Say, semi-automatic firearms. I couldn't get public support for banning ALL semi-automatic firearms, but I can suggest that the public has no need for such "Assault Weapons" (hey, catchy name!). Have the media confuse the issue by showing footage of fully-automatic weapons while talking about the semi-automatic assault weapons. Even though they're used in only 1% of crime, claim they're the "weapon of choice" and even though no cops had ever been killed with one, suggest that gangs with "Assault Weapons" are out-gunning our police on the streets.

The next nibble is "Sniper Rifles," which since the public is already supporting itself down the slippery slope, shouldn't be much trouble. The .50 calibers will be easy, just claim they can shoot down aircraft (total BS, I know, but the public will believe it by this point). For the rest of the "Sniper Rifles," the hunters won't like their deer rifles being taken away, but they're a minority by now.

Next, "Street Sweepers," which is of course just semi-auto and pump action shotguns... Nobody needs more than a double-barrel or single-shot shotgun to shoot birds.

Of course none of these will decrease violent crime any, so we'll point out that most violent crime is perpetrated by criminals with handguns. We may need to take this in two bites, semi-autos first, and revolvers second. We might have to come up with a catchy scary name for semi-auto handguns, maybe something like "Cop Killers" or "Mini-Death Machines." I may need to have marketing work on that when the time gets near.

By the time we get to this point, we're pretty much golden. Citizens no longer have anything but weak rifles and shotguns, hardly able to put up any resistance to my tyranny. I figure the plan might take 15-20 years, during which I can put other pieces of my infrastructure in place, such as government control of all commerce, including the auto industry and healthcare, get the whole "nanny state" mentality deeply ingrained into the public consciousness, and a really cool cult of personality going for me.

If I wanted to be a tyrant, I would have to ban guns, and yeah, that's just about the best way to go about it. Boil the frog slowly so it doesn't know what's happening to it.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Logic vs. Emotion and the art of Persuasion.

I recently attended a training class at my job about persuading customers. The class was very interesting, but one point it made that directly relates to the issue and debate of gun control is this:

When trying to persuade someone, Emotion is the overriding factor for the facts or logic.

What this means is that the facts are irrelevant if the EMOTION of the person you are working with isn't addressed. You can have a customer so completely pissed off about his initial experience with your company that even if you bend over completely backwards and deliver everything they're asking for, unless that emotion is addressed and turned around, they'll still keep a negative opinion of your company. The negative emotion overrides the fact that they've gotten everything they initially wanted and more.

Inversely, if your customer's emotions are addressed and they are kept happy and positive, you can just about give them a total shit sandwich of disappointment and they'll still have an upbeat opinion of you and your company.

This also correlates directly with the issue of Gun Control.

I've had many discussions with people supporting gun control, both public and private. The one common thread that almost everyone that supports gun control exhibits is that their emotion overrides their ability to logically analyze the facts.

Most of the "extreme" supporters of gun control have either been direct victims of firearm-related violent crime, or their immediate relatives have. I've discussed with gunshot victims, grieving parents and siblings, even a woman who rescued gunshot pets. These seem to be the most stalwart and determined (and occasionally personally insultive) supporters of gun control.

Because their emotions lead the charge, no matter what legitimate facts I have shared that shows the complete inability of gun control to do what they THINK it's going to do, (and the unintended consequences), they continue to cling to the EMOTIONAL belief that gun control is good, gun control is necessary, and gun control works.

I think that groups like the Brady Campaign and Violence Policy Center and anti-gun politicians KNOW that these people are leading with their emotion rather than their logic, and deliberately phrase their statements to play on an emotional response. The Brady Campaign site is filled with emotional phrases and imagery.

"Stop Mass Murders!"
"Thousands upon thousands of people will continue to die and be injured needlessly each year without stronger, sensible gun laws."
"Our weak gun laws make weapons too readily available to dangerous people."

Yet, any of their actual "facts" are almost always comprised of cherry picked information chosen specifically to back their pre-determined agenda of incremental, total citizen disarmament.

The truth is that stricter gun control doesn't "stop" anything, stronger gun laws haven't proven to reduce any violent crime rates anywhere they have been implemented.

I welcome any comments.