Quote of the day—Jay Caruso

Harriet Tubman was an American hero. A gun-toting, no nonsense, devout Christian spy who fought during her retirement to obtain better treatment for African-American soldiers. She was a remarkable woman and totally deserves a place on our currency.

Jay Caruso
April 22, 2016
What You Might Not Know About Harriet Tubman, Gun-Toting Slave Liberator
[I’m good with Tubman replacing Jackson on the $20. I would have rather it been Ayn Rand and dumping Hamilton, but Rand isn’t going to get serious consideration anytime soon. And I’m not a huge fan of Jackson either.—Joe]

What’s the real reason?

Today President Obama said:

As I said in January, these commonsense steps are not going to prevent every tragedy, but what if they prevented even one?

This is incredibly simple minded thinking. There are tradeoffs involved in nearly everything. In this case the tradeoffs include:

  • How many people will be unable to save innocent lives because the gun failed to fire when it was required?
  • How many people will be unable to purchase a gun to save innocent lives because of the increased cost?
  • How many lives could be saved if the resources put into “smart gun” technology were instead spent on safety training?

I think it is very telling President Obama and his anti-freedom cohorts haven’t proposed increased gun safety instruction. This demonstrates this isn’t about safety. This is about increasing the price of guns and making firearms less user friendly.

Constitutional Sheriffs in the news

Via Drudge, we get this piece from Progressive Rag, The Washington Post.

The elitist, fear-mongering editorializing in the piece only makes it better, kind of like John Boehner calling Ted Cruz the living embodiment of Lucifer– It’s something of a ringing endorsement, considering who’s saying it. So much so in fact that you’d think he should understand that and keep his mouth shut.

Continue reading

Consolation prize

This is very, very cool:

Russian billionaire Yuri Milner plans to spend $100 million over the next few years to begin developing the technology needed to build a giant laser array to propel swarms of postage stamp-size spacecraft off on 20-year-long interstellar flights to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to the sun, the internet investor announced Tuesday.

The tiny 1-gram nanocraft, or “StarChips,” would be equipped with small, ultra-thin light sails and accelerated, one at a time, to 20 percent the speed of light by a powerful half-mile-wide array of ground-based lasers, boosting them to a cruise velocity of some 37,200 miles per second in a few minutes.

From that point on, the tiny spacecraft would sail on their own across the immense 4.3-light-year — 25-trillion-mile — gulf, flying through the Alpha Centauri system about 20 years after launch. Each surviving “spacecraft on a chip” would snap pictures and beam the data back to Earth using tiny on-board lasers, the faint signals arriving four years later.

The G-forces are very high and that would make scaling it up to be a manned starship a huge challenge:

The collimated beam hitting the sail of a nanocraft would accelerate it to cruise velocity in about two minutes, he said, briefly subjecting the craft to 60,000 times the force of Earth’s gravity

When Neil Armstrong landed on the moon in 1969 I expected I would be alive to see colonies on the moon and perhaps even visit the moon myself. That seems very unlikely at this point. But it’s plausible that I will be alive to see the pictures taken from within a million miles from Alpha Centauri. That’s something I didn’t imagine and is a certain amount of consolation.

Attention coin collectors!

I don’t collect coins but maybe someone else would be interested in this. It’s definitely not something you are going to be finding in the change you get at the grocery store:

Million_Dollar_Coin_MountiesThe coins were minted by the world renowned Royal Canadian Mint, which operates world-class refineries, as well as minting Canadian bullion coin products including the popular Canadian Maple Leaf gold and silver bullion coins (0.9999 pure or 24 karat).

Coin Specifications

  • Face Value: $1,000,000
  • Composition: 99999 fine gold
  • Weight (troy oz): 3,215
  • Weight (kg): 100
  • Coins in Existence Worldwide: 5
  • Coins Currently for Sale Worldwide: 1

Suicide and guns

Washington State just passed a law regarding suicide by gun. As I started read the first article on the topic I was highly skeptical:

My husband died by suicide. Here’s what happened during my awkward call with the NRA.

It wasn’t the hardest phone call I’ve ever made, but it was certainly awkward. I was cold-calling the National Rifle Association. Because the NRA is well-known for offering gun safety training, I wanted to know whether the organization had ideas on how to reduce the number of firearm suicides.

But I learned a couple of surprising things from that call and the many follow-up meetings with a local NRA lobbyist and the executive director of the Second Amendment Foundation.

First, they were not just willing to talk but also willing to listen.

The details of the law are here. The voting is telling:

Passed by the House March 8, 2016  Yeas 94  Nays 2

Passed by the Senate March 1, 2016  Yeas 47  Nays

Basically the law requires a task force, in part, to:

(a) Develop and prepare to disseminate online trainings on suicide awareness and prevention for firearms dealers and their employees and firearm range owners and their employees;
(b) In consultation with the department of fish and wildlife, review the firearm safety pamphlet produced by the department of fish and wildlife under RCW 9.41.310 and, by January 1, 2017, recommend changes to the pamphlet to incorporate information on suicide awareness and prevention;
(c) Develop suicide awareness and prevention messages for posters and brochures that are tailored to be effective for firearms owners for distribution to firearms dealers and firearm ranges;
(d) Develop suicide awareness and prevention messages for posters and brochures for distribution to pharmacies;
(e) In consultation with the department of fish and wildlife, develop strategies for creating and disseminating suicide awareness and prevention information for hunting safety classes, including messages to parents that can be shared during online registration, in either follow up electronic mail communications, or in writing, or both;

Yes. It addresses pharmacies as well as firearms owners, dealers, and ranges. It looks like it has the potential to be a good program that truly tries to address the problem of suicide in a fair handed manner and not just something to demonize gun ownership. Others think so as well:

A couple of years ago, Stuber began reaching out to firearms retailers and asking them if they worried about the possibility of selling a gun to someone who might be suicidal. Virtually every employee she spoke with, she said, answered yes. With some trepidation, Stuber called the National Rifle Association and Gottlieb’s group to enlist their help in reducing firearm suicides. To her surprise, they were willing to talk, and also listen.

“There’s real hurt,” she said. “Everybody showed up at the table willing to share their pain. This is an issue that impacts all of us.”

Forefront, the NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation met with groups including the Seattle Police Department and the Department of Fish and Wildlife over about six months to draft the language for the initiative. Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, the bill’s main sponsor, was instrumental in getting the legislation passed, Stuber said.

About 20 other states have taken steps to bring together suicide prevention advocates and gun owners, Stuber said, but none of those efforts are as broad as the Washington bill. Gottlieb thinks the initiative could become a successful model that can be replicated in other states.

“Lots of us in the firearms rights community have been concerned that a significant percentage of suicides involve lethal force,” he said. “If there’s a way to lower those numbers, it’s in gun owners’ interest to do that. To me, this is a no-brainer, but it took someone like Jenn to put it together.”

Hypotheses to test

It’s not a scientific study by any means, but this article from the New York Times could be used to generate a good hypothesis worthy of being tested:

“Our cities are facing a huge problem, maybe the largest since World War II,” Mr. Goldstein said. “How is it that people who were born here in Brussels, in Paris, can call heroes the people who commit violence and terror? That is the real question we’re facing.”

Friends who teach the equivalent of high school seniors in the predominantly Muslim districts of Molenbeek and Schaerbeek told him that “90 percent of their students, 17, 18 years old, called them heroes,” he said.

Mr. Goldstein, 38, grew up in Schaerbeek, the child of Jewish refugees from Nazism. Now a councilman from Schaerbeek, he is also chief of staff for the minister-president of the Brussels Capital Region.

I could see the hypothesis worthy of test being something like:

  • Most Muslims in Europe are peaceful and tolerant
  • Those who commit terrorism and violence do not represent Islam in Europe

I could also see the politically correct crowd insisting that it is racist and Islamophobic to even test such a hypothesis while simultaneously insisting the quote above is proof Jews are racists.

My take on things is that there is a huge problem in Europe that to a greater or lesser degree extends over the entire globe and there are no good solutions. There are only painful remedies and pragmatic tradeoffs which will challenge our principles to their core.

Quote of the day—Jason R. Baron

The setting up of and maintaining a private email network as the sole means to conduct official business by email, coupled with the failure to timely return email records into government custody, amounts to actions plainly inconsistent with the federal recordkeeping laws.

Jason R. Baron
Former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration
Told to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2015
147 FBI agents are reportedly involved in the Hillary Clinton email investigation — here’s how the scandal took root
[Also, there were 22 emails which, according to Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence,:

…are on their face sensitive and obviously classified, This information should have been maintained in the most secure, classified, top-secret servers.

As Bill Whittle said, “Here Be Dragons”:

If she is not indicted will others guilty of similar crimes get out of jail or escape prosecution due to lack of “equal protection under the law”?

If she is indicted will she drop out of the race? Can she take office if she is in prison on inauguration day? Can Hillary pardon herself?

Where is my popcorn? This is going to be, by far, the most interesting election I have ever seen.—Joe]

Selective reporting

For some reason this portion of the latest gun control study has not been well publicized in the media:

According to the study, gun dealer licensing, dealer state record reporting requirements, dealer police inspections, gun owner fingerprinting, closing of the “gun show loophole,” ammunition purchaser recordkeeping, child handgun restrictions, child access laws, juvenile handgun purchases, magazine bans, and may-issue carry permits, have little to no effect on firearm-related deaths. Further, their results show, semi-auto bans, firearms locks, “bulk purchase limitations,” and mandatory theft reporting, increase firearm-related deaths.

The media did report on the laws which they think should be passed:

According to their calculations, implementing these laws throughout the U.S. – not just on the state level – could reduce gun-related deaths 80 percent. Broken down by each law, that would be a decrease of 84 percent for firearm identification, 61 percent for universal background checks for purchasing guns and 82 percent for ammunition background checks.

I wonder why?

H/T Sebastian.

Quote of the day—Pawpaw

If Islam is unwilling or unable to rein in its radical adherents, they must not complain when we do so.  There will be collateral damage, as regrettable as it may be.  With the recent attacks in Europe and the United States, we may not long consider the Islamic problem to be simply one of law enforcement.  There may be a backlash, and the peace-loving Muslims may want to consider how that backlash may affect them, should they choose to ignore the problem within their religion.

They might not want to play Cowboys and Muslims.  Once the backlash begins, they may not have a chance to influence the outcome.

Pawpaw
March 23, 2016
The Problem With Islam
[I have nothing to add.—Joe]

Alternate quote of the day – Samuel Adams

“A general Dissolution of Principles & Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole Force of the Common Enemy. While the People are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their Virtue they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or internal Invader. How necessary then is it for those who are determind to transmit the Blessings of Liberty as a fair Inheritance to Posterity, to associate on publick Principles in Support of publick virtue.”
Samuel Adams, Letter to James Warren (February 12, 1779)

Those old dead white guys seemed to talking about us (here in 2016) all the way back in 1779. Gosh; how did they know?

But they made a horrific error. They understood the importance of the non establishment clause, religious freedom clause, freedom of speech, of assembly and redress of grievances, AND the importance of education, but somehow they failed to make the connection between religion and education when it came to the importance of non establishment. He continues;

“I do verily believe, and I may say it inter Nos, that the Principles & Manners of N Engd, producd that Spirit which finally has establishd the Independence of America; and Nothing but opposite Principles and Manners can overthrow it. If you are of my Mind, and I think you are, the Necessity of supporting the Education of our Country must be strongly impressd on your Mind. It gives me the greatest Concern to hear that some of our Gentlemen in the Country begin to think the Maintenance of Schools too great a Burden.”

He’s right of course, but this argument has led to the making of law to establish education, rather than the free exercise thereof. It’s one or the other, which is why the first amendment included both the non establishment and the free exercise clauses with regard to religion.

That they (and we) seem to have failed utterly to understand the similarities between religion and education is surprising– Both are highly influential to a culture and it’s fundamental beliefs. That is precisely WHY they kept federal government out of religion and, tragically, why we got government into education.

The founders didn’t seem to contemplate the enemies of the American Founding Principles being in charge of a government education system, hostile to knowledge and truth, desiring a pliable, ignorant society ripe for the picking.

Therefore I once again put forth a recommendation for an addition to the first amendment to the U.S. constitution;

“…nor make any law respecting the establishment of education, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,…”

It belongs there for exactly the same reasons that religion belongs there, and it always did. I see the failure to include it (to allow such a thing as public education at all) as being one of the greatest failings of the Republic, possibly THE fatal mistake.

Giffords group merges with Law Center

This is interesting:

The group created by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to push for tighter control on the sale of guns is merging with a group focused on the legal issues surrounding gun control.

The merger, announced Wednesday, brings together the notoriety of Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions in Washington with the legal acumen of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco.

For now, the two groups will retain separate names and separate offices.

Usually when an anti-gun group merges with another it means one of them was broke. This doesn’t seem to be the case this time:

Americans for Responsible Solutions Foundation took in $159,900 in 2014, according to its most recent tax return filed with the Internal Revenue Service. Americans for Responsible Solutions Political Action Committee raised about $3 million in the final six months of 2015, according to its filing with the Federal Election Commission. There was about $4.2 million in its campaign account at the start of 2016.

The Law Center took in about $1.4 million in 2014, according to its most recent tax return.

I wonder if Giffords just doesn’t have the time and/or energy and is basically selling her name and donor list.

Confusion over Idaho law

I received an email from Frank G. in Spokane today. He was confused by something he read in the Spokesman-Review (Spokane Washington) newspaper. The Spokesman-Review says:

The Idaho Senate has spiked legislation that would have expanded the list of the worst kind of felons banned from owning firearms.

Senate lawmakers voted 29-6 on Friday to reject including terrorists, criminal gang members, human trafficking and felony riot convictions as qualifiers to lose one’s right to own firearms.

Frank asked:

I don’t know a LOT about gun laws, but I’m pretty certain that federal law prohibits all convicted felons from owning firearms. It doesn’t matter if they were convicted of murder or embezzlement. Felony conviction? No guns for you.

So, is the idea that “the worst kind of felons … terrorists, criminal gang members [and people convicted of] human trafficking and felony riot” would be SUPER DUPER prohibited persons?

The confusion is because under Idaho law a convicted felony who as served there sentence may own a gun unless they have committed certain types of felonies. Basically non-violent crimes, such as embezzlement, do not put you on the Idaho “no guns for life” list. But under Federal law you could be convicted of using the wrong packaging for shipping shellfish and end up prohibited of possessing firearms for life.

Here is the Idaho law.*

The legislature was attempting to add terrorism, arson, theft by extortion, human trafficking, felony riot, hijacking, racketeering, and supplying firearms to a criminal gang as bars to further firearm possession. It failed, as Frank pointed out, in the Senate 29-6.

The question one would ask is, “With Federal law prohibiting all felons from firearms possession how does Idaho restoring firearms rights after completion of their sentence help anyone?”

Perhaps some lawyers can answer this better than I can, but I would say it means these people have to get the attention of a Federal Prosecutor who probably has “bigger fish to fry” then some little old lady who embezzled a few thousand dollars a decade ago who now wants to defend herself in her home with the gun her husband left in the dresser draw when he died.

I would like to suggest it might be a “good first step” to get changes in Federal such that it is similar to Idaho law. It’s just common sense.


* Note, that except for things like murder, after five years a person convicted of other things including counterfeiting, unlawful possession of destructive devices, rape, and kidnapping, may apply to the commission of pardons to get their firearms rights restored.

Quote of the day—Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green)

If the US government dictating iPhone encryption design sounds ok to you, ask yourself how you’ll feel when China demands the same.

Matthew Green (@matthew_d_green)
Tweeted on February 17, 2016
[H/T to Tyler Durden.

Of course, as I posted before, Lyndon Johnson once said:

You do not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered.

The problem being that it is difficult for many people to see the “unintended consequences” in foresight. If there is the possibility of a good outcome they will focus on that. In a lot of ways it’s like gun control. “People might be safer if guns are banned because the bad guys won’t have guns to commit crimes with.” Overlooking that the good guys won’t have guns to defend against the bad guys with.

The gun control analogy is an even a better fit when you remember that at one time the U.S. government insisted encryption was a “munition” and was mostly banned from export. It would seem to me that if the Second Amendment were well respected by Congress and the courts then a good lawyer could make the case government resistant encryption is protected by the Second Amendment as much or more so than it is by the First Amendment.—Joe]

Quote of the day—Justice Antonin Scalia

I don’t see how there’s any, any, any contradiction between reading the second clause as a — as a personal guarantee and reading the first one as assuring the existence of a militia, not necessarily a State-managed militia because the militia that resisted the British was not State- managed. But why isn’t it perfectly plausible, indeed reasonable, to assume that since the framers knew that the way militias were destroyed by tyrants in the past was not by passing a law against militias, but by taking away the people’s weapons — that was the way militias were destroyed. The two clauses go together beautifully: Since we need a militia, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Justice Antonin Scalia
March 18, 2008
During oral arguments in the case of District of Columbia et. al. v. Heller.
[We lost our strongest ally on the Supreme court in the battle against anti-gun people yesterday. He will be greatly missed.

See also other quotes and references I have posted about him.—Joe]

This will be interesting

Cosmic breakthrough: Physicists detect gravitational waves from violent black-hole merger:

Scientists announced Thursday that, after decades of effort, they have succeeded in detecting gravitational waves from the violent merging of two black holes in deep space. The detection was hailed as a triumph for a controversial, exquisitely crafted, billion-dollar physics experiment and as confirmation of a key prediction of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

It will also inaugurate a new era of astronomy in which gravitational waves are tools for studying the most mysterious and exotic objects in the universe, scientists declared at a euphoric news briefing at the National Press Club in Washington.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have detected gravitational waves. We did it!” declared David Reitze, the executive director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), drawing applause from an  audience that included many of the luminaries of the physics world. The briefing was watched around the world by physicists who have long waited for such a detection.

I’m hoping this will lead to the development of “warp drive”.

The science is settled

Report: Criminologists, Economists Find Benefits to Gun Ownership:

Economists and criminologists have very different approaches to research and different political views, but they both generally find benefits from gun ownership,” Lott told Townhall in an email. “Economists, on the whole, were much more likely than criminologists to believe that there are benefits from gun ownership.  By a factor of 12-to-1, economists believe that permitted concealed handguns reduce rather than increase murder rates.  Despite their differences, still criminologists also believe this by a factor of just 2-to-1.”

Perhaps surveys such as this will help Americans take a level-headed approach to gun control in the future.

No. It won’t help Americans take a level-headed approach to gun control. This is because anti-gun people have never been “level-headed”. If they had the capacity to be level-headed they wouldn’t have been anti-gun to begin with and they wouldn’t have to lie to gain traction.

We must continue to fight them culturally and politically until they become as irrelevant as the KKK which they so closely resemble.

Quote of the day—United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

We reject the State’s argument that the Second Amendment does not apply to detachable magazines because magazines are not firearms—that is, detachable magazines do not constitute “bearable” arms that are expressly protected by the Second Amendment. See U.S. Const. amend. II. By Maryland’s logic, the government can circumvent Heller, which established that the State cannot ban handguns kept in the home for self-defense, simply by prohibiting possession of individual components of a handgun, such as the firing pin. But of course, without the ability to actually fire a gun, citizens cannot effectively exercise the right to bear arms. See Jackson v. City of San Francisco, 746 F.3d 953, 967 (9th Cir. 2014) (“The Second Amendment protects ‘arms,’ ‘weapons,’ and ‘firearms’; it does not explicitly protect ammunition. Nevertheless, without bullets, the right to bear arms would be meaningless.”). In our view, “the right to possess firearms for protection implies a corresponding right” to possess component parts necessary to make the firearms operable.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
February 4, 2016
No. 14-1945; STEPHEN V. KOLBE et al. v. State of Maryland
[It’s nice to find a court that agrees with us and is making clear what we gun rights activists all know to be true and essential.

This answers the ignorant high school kid I quoted yesterday.—Joe]

Strict scrutiny in MD by the 4th on the 2nd

The 4th Circuit Court ruled on an assault weapon ban in Maryland. They said, in part:

Strict scrutiny, then, is the appropriate level of scrutiny to apply to the ban of semi- automatic rifles and magazines holding more than 10 rounds.

…..

In our view, Maryland law implicates the core protection of the Second Amendment—“the right of law-abiding responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home,” District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 635 (2008), and we are compelled by Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742 (2010), as well as our own precedent in the wake of these decisions, to conclude that the burden is substantial and strict scrutiny is the applicable standard of review for Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claim. Thus, the panel vacates the district court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ Second Amendment claims and remands for the district court to apply strict scrutiny.

It was a 2-1 majority. To put it technically, “Suck on that one, anti-rights cultists!”

Ahem. That is to say, “I’d count that as a potentially important win.”