Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Columbus NE Concealed Carry

Update: more postings at original article
In an article regarding Nebraska's new concealed carry law and the city of Columbus deciding to "opt out" as it were, several commenters waxed ignorant regarding concealed carry, firearms laws, the NRA, and gun issues in general.

Two in particular just begged for my wisdom, the first by Concerned, and a later one by roca, who listed "educator" as the occupation.

Now, I have no idea if my answers to them will make it past the StatePaper reviewers and actually get posted on the site. But that's part of why I have my own blog, right? Of course, right!!

So, here in all their original glory, are my answers to Concerned and roca:

"Someday, people will realize the NRA is only interested in the profit that can be made, not in public safety, child safety, or even the right of a hunter to own a gun.

Dear Concerned,

There is almost no profit to be made in selling guns. The market is extremely competitive. And since the NRA doesn't sell guns and is a non-profit organization, it doesn't have a profit motive. However, it does have an interest in preserving the freedoms endowed by our Creator and codified by our Founding Fathers in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

There is nothing dangerous about allowing trained law-abiding citizens to carry weapons concealed. Your visceral opposition to it is based on fear, which is based on either a lack of information or an overabundance of misinformation. Unfortunately, the anti-gun lobby and their allies in the traditional media have filled print, radio, and television with misinformation about firearms and self-protection issues.

One of those canards is the concept of "gun safety features". Your example of having a counter on a gun is absurd, and one I have never heard before. All guns have counters. Are they externally displayed? No, of course not. Cameras have external counters because opening it to look at the number of exposures left ruins the film. Most semi-automatics have a "chamber loaded" indicator with the magazine easily inspected to determine number of remaining rounds, and all modern revolvers can be opened to visually inspect which rounds have been fired.

There are several so-called safety features that have been proposed. The most famous is perhaps the "smart gun" which will only operate for its intended user. Technology to create such a feature does not exist, but that doesn't limit the anti-gunners from trying to get the requirement codified into law. The main problem with it, even if it were possible to create, is that it cannot be guaranteed to work properly 100% of the time. When you need a firearm for self defense, you cannot have the risk that some sophisticated technology designed to prevent unauthorized use will also prevent your use.

Another feature recently pushed is called "microstamping." This technology is completely unproven. It is based on the popular CSI television series and assumes that since they can so easily match casings and bullets to particular guns, think how much easier it would be if the gun was designed to intentionally "microstamp" its identifying information on the casings. The problem with it is multifold. First, CSI story lines aside, it is rare that casings are matched to a random collection of cases fired by the same or different guns. Second, because such markings would have to be applied without adversely affecting the gun's operation, they can't be very large. Third, the barrels, firing pins, and extractors, all identified as the means for applying the microstamps, are easily replaced by necessity...barrels wear out, firing pins and extractors break. Fourth, even without replacing such items, a criminal could easily file or buff off the identifying marks...making it illegal to do so doesn't stop them from their other criminal acts, so there's no reason to believe it would stop them from this one. Fifth, marked cases could not be used as evidence, even if they did match a particular gun, because there is no way to prove that the criminal didn't collect the marked cases some other location and leave them at the scene of the crime...there is no chain of custody.

Perhaps before you again rant about what the NRA is interested in, you might want to actually read their materials. The foremost gun safety program available anywhere is sponsored by the NRA. The NRA teaches gun safety in every class, regardless of other content, and even has a special gun safety only class for elementary school children called "Eddie Eagle". The course is taught only by active police officers, usually in school assemblies, and teaches children that if you see a gun, you "Stop, Don't Touch, Leave the Area, and Tell and Adult." Tens of thousands of school children have been taught this firearms equivalent of "Stop, Drop, and Roll", and many of those children have done exactly what they were taught when they found an unattended gun.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Second Amendment to the Constitution does not only protect the right of a hunter to own a gun. It protects the rights of all citizens to own arms - weapons - for defense of themselves, their families, their neighbors, and their country...especially against a government that gets out of control and tries to take away those rights. When the right to keep and bear arms is wrongly limited to hunting or other "sporting uses," the citizens have begun to lose a right that was deemed so inalienable by the Founding Fathers that they included it in the Bill of Rights. That inclusion did not grant the right; it only codified the right which had already been granted. And, frankly, the first place I'm aware of where such a right, perhaps even a responsibility, to keep and bear arms was codified, was in Luke 22:35-38 where Jesus changed his previous instruction to go without purse, bag, or sandals, and instead told the Disciples they should sell a cloak to buy a sword if nobody had one. As it happened, no cloaks were sold that evening because two swords were found among the eleven disciples, which Jesus said was enough.

So if you're in a group of people where fewer than two of eleven are armed, perhaps it's time for a garage sale...

"It seems to me it would be better to let people carry weapons openly rather than concealed weapons. I think it would be better knowing a person has a gun than not knowing that a person has a hidden weapon. jw

It's not overly surprising that an "educator" would ask this question. The NEA has been viciously anti-gun for a long time, long before school shootings ever happened, and has preached their anti-gun message as though all their arguments were fact for years. (For the record, almost nothing anti-gun groups state categorically is fact.) I ask you to step out of your own shoes and into those of the "bad guy" when determining what is better for the "good guys." I put myself in the latter category, but have spent plenty of time with the former while visiting prisons and jails. Does that make me an expert on the criminal mind? Hardly. That caveat in place, let's proceed...

Situation: "Bad Guy" decides to prey on "Good Guy". Being criminal but not having a death with, "Bad Guy" carefully selects the victim "Good Guy" to minimize his own risk.

Option 1: Jurisdiction bans concealed carry. "Bad Guy" looks at potential victims and sees one carrying a firearm and does not see a firearm on the other. "Bad Guy" knows most people are law abiding citizens, and that criminals like him are a distinct minority. Odds are that both potential victims are law-abiding citizens. Therefore, the chances of the potential victim who does not have a gun visible probably has no effective defense against attack.

Option 2: Jurisdiction permits concealed carry. "Bad Guy" looks for potential victims and sees none carrying a firearm. However, he heard on the news last week that another criminal was shot by a potential victim. He also checked the statistics (okay, maybe a little stretch) and discovered that several thousand people have applied for and received concealed carry licenses. But "Bad Guy" doesn't live (as I do) in Ohio, so no newspapers print lists of concealed carry licensees. There's no way for him to know in advance who is not or is licensed and potentially carrying a weapon. "Bad Guy" now needs to choose between two people who both look vulnerable, but might not be.

Which of these two options do you think protect the greatest number of people? If you set aside the emotional bias and fear of guns that has crept into society in the last have of the 20th century, the conclusion should be pretty obvious. Open carry protects the individual carrying the weapon by reducing the likelihood of attack and by providing an effective means of defense. Concealed carry protects everyone, the license holder by providing an effective means of defense and the non-license holder by creating uncertainty in the mind of a criminal contemplating an attack.

Unfortunately, the city of Columbus has chosen option 1.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Taking Hannity to task

For the last few weeks, Sean Hannity has been listing off several races across the country where Republicans are in trouble - Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and others. In the show opening today, he said that Mike DeWine and Ken Blackwell are behind their left wing opponents primarily due to Governor Taft's problems.

Sean, I'm in Ohio. I think you're missing the point on why Mike DeWine is in trouble. It's not because of the governor's integrity problems. It's because Mike DeWine is a RINO.

Frankly, I'm hoping that several other Republicans in the Senate win their elections, because it's unlikely DeWine will. Too many conservative Republicans would rather let DeWine twist in the wind, even if it means having the wacko Brown in the seat, so that the Ohio Republican Party and the National Republican Party will finally get the message that they don't deserve support when they oppose rights guaranteed (not granted) by the Constitution and Bill of Rights. DeWine opposed the First Amendment by supporting campaign finance reform, the Second Amendment by supporting the extension of the Clinton Gun Ban, and resolution once and for all that Article II Section 2 of the Constitution means what it says, and that "advice and consent" does not mean the minority can veto a judicial (or any other executive) appointment. The DeWine campaign is saying that the Senator voted with the President 92% of the time. That may be true, but the problem is in the details. The most important and crucial votes where his vote mattered? Too many of those votes were with the obstructionists on the left side of the aisle, including opposing working towards energy independence by drilling for domestic oil in ANWR, voting against the President's budget and opposing spending cuts, opposing strengthening our border security without granting amnesty to illegal aliens and immigration reform in general, votes with environmental wackos instead of working to make us energy independent, supports laws to restrict the right to keep and bear arms, and votes half the time with labor interests against a free and efficient economy. DeWine isn't losing because Governor Taft doesn't deserve to be in office. DeWine is behind because DeWine doesn't deserve to be in office. No, neither does Sherrod Brown, but there are enough union liberals in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Toledo inner cities that he just might.

There could be a better argument that Ken Blackwell is being tarred with the Taft brush, but I don't think that's happening either. Liberals are targeting him because he really IS a conservative, unlike either Taft or DeWine (or Voinovich, for that matter, previous Governor and currently junior RINO in the Senate). When they can't win fairly, liberals want to win by any means available. In 2004, that meant villifying the secretary of state who was sworn and dedicated to a fair and honest election. He has been targeted, just as your Senator, Katherine Harris, was targeted for her role in upholding the integrity of the 2000 election. Frankly, I think Ken Blackwell may still win, regardless of what the polls say. The latest poll showing Strickland ahead by double digits was conducted for stations in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Youngstown, all pockets of deep blue in an otherwise red state.

If Sean, or any other conservatives, want to weigh in somewhere for conservative values in an Ohio election, don't tie the DeWine and Blackwell campaigns together and blame them on Taft. By doing so, you impugn Blackwell's integrity; DeWine has done that for himself already. Tying Blackwell to DeWine, even by making any comparison that implies they are in any way similar, does a disservice to Ken Blackwell. And, at least for Ohio, the Governor's seat is much more important for a conservative win than is the Senate, and, frankly, I absolutely believe that is true for the country as a whole. Taking DeWine out of the Senate, even though it means one less seat for a Republican in the Senate, is probably a benefit in the long term, especially if any at-risk Senators in other races go Republican. Losing the Ohio governor's race has national implications that are, in my opinion, more dangerous than losing one Senate seat, even in this year's close races.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Cease Fire!

It's been widely reported that a ceasefire has been negotiated in the UN between Israel and Lebanon, supposedly with Nasrallah's qualified support.

The topic has received several comments at HotAir.com. One comment in particular stoked my burner. Naturally, all that hot air had to go somewhere, so I sent it to HotAir. My rant is down about comment 21 or so.

All that said, in many ways I hope Hizbullah (no, it's not misspelled...it's spelled as the Israelis transliterate it to English) decides to follow their leader's guidance and continue to attack Israel as long as they remain in Lebanon. According to the terms of the agreement, that could be several weeks. Although Hizbullah must cease all attacks immediately, the agreement requires Israel to cease only offensive military operations (OP1). Basically, that means Hizbullah must stop first.

Nasrallah, in accepting the resolution, qualified that acceptance by saying 'As long as there are Israeli soldiers on our soil we'll continue to fight them.' Well, back to the resolution...

(PP5) Lebanon will be sending 15,000 troops to the southern area to extend its authority over the area and requested immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces, but (OP2) that won't happen until full cessation of hostilities, which won't happen until Hizbullah is destroyed or Nasrallah changes his perspective. Although not explicitly stated in the resolution, this is a parallel withdrawal by Israel, meaning they pull back gradually as they are replaced by Lebanese and UNIFIL forces. Those forces, especially UNIFIL forces, will not go in if there's a hot zone. So it's up to the in-place Israeli forces to hold the territory until Hizbullah stops attacking them.

The best we can hope for is that Nasrallah is true to his word and that the Hizbullah fighters back him to the end. If that happens, Israel will have the chance to do what we failed to do after their attack on our embassy...eliminate the Hizbullah army entirely.

True peace is never achieved via UN ceasefire agreements. True peace is achieved when the superior force eliminates the threat entirely and to its very roots. Israel didn't start this fight any more than we started the war at the World Trade Center. If they are not allowed to finish their war, there is very little hope we will ever be able to finish ours.

There is only one place where it's appropriate to apply a ceasefire. That's on the firing line so we can go down range to score and replace targets. In fact, I think I'll go do that later today...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Today was (or at least should have been) a wake up call for anyone who might have lost their sense of outrage at the terrorist attacks that hit this country on 9/11/2001. Today, US and British authorities announced they had foiled a terrorist plot to blow up as many as 10 airliners in flight between Great Britain and the United States. So, what is Reuters' approach to this? Tell the terrorists more about how to build the bombs. No doubt the real bad guys don't need Reuters to tell them that such is possible, but is the public served by an article like this? I don't think so. I don't think the public would be served by any news outlet publishing details on how to produce weapons grade uranium or how to improve missile guidance, either.

But maybe that's just me.

A Washington Post poll conducted July 21-24 indicated that 30% of those surveyed didn't even remember the year that the 9/11 attack occurred. At first hearing, that news really bothered me. So I asked my lovely bride what year the attacks occurred. She wasn't sure, but figured about 4 years ago. Okay, so not everyone remembers dates. A better question might have been to ask what event they remember that occurred on September 11 and, assuming they associate that date with the terrorist attacks, what do they remember of the day or how did it affect them? But back on topic...

Suppose the terrorist attacks hadn't been detected and foiled today? Would 8/10 have been burned in our minds with the same passion as 9/11, 12/7, and 7/7? (Maybe I need to instead say WTC, Pearl Harbor, and the London subway bombings...) Or, more critically, should we be more alert of our surroundings as we travel on those days plus 10/12, 11/13, and 12/14? After all, our enemies appear to be big fans of date symbolism and anniversaries.

Of course, it could be just my limited and distinctly American perspective. Yes, we are focus of their hatred and attacks. But Israel has been putting up with this sort of terrorist attack and have lost a much larger percentage of their population to these attacks. Did they lose 3000 in one attack? No, but that's not the point, or at least it shouldn't be. We all have our own triggers.

For my wife, it was the third airplane that really got her attention...the one that hit the Pentagon. She didn't know anyone in New York and had never been to the World Trade Center. It was a tragedy, and it was awful, but it wasn't personal. On the other hand, I had worked in the Pentagon for over three years, and she knew people who still worked there. For me, both places were very emotional. I had stayed at the Marriott World Trade Center Hotel twice only two years before the attack, and that hotel was destroyed by the debris from the WTC. Some of the people I'd worked with and met worked within walking distance of that facility. I had eaten dinner in the mall under the WTC towers and walked around the buildings.

Let the thwarted attacks be a warning and a reminder. Keep them in mind as you vote in the upcoming elections, particularly if your elected representatives are running against winning the war against radical Islamist terrorists.

And, above all, never forget...

Update Okay, so now they're telling us it wouldn't have happened on this day, so the 8/10 would have been 8/16. Which, following pattern, might make some folk think twice about traveling on Christmas Eve...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Demobrats National Security Collapse

Hugh Hewitt posts today at TownHall.com titled The National Security Collapse of the Democratic Party. No doubt the conclusion captured in the article title is routinely confirmed by the left side of the aisle.

So why bother even mentioning it here? He made a statement I had to dispute:
I ... want to suggest we start by assisting the four GOP incumbent senators who are best positioned to win crucial close contests:

Montana's Conrad Burns
Ohio's Mike DeWine
Missouri's Jim Talent
Pennsylvania's Rick Santorum

Each is a very solid, very committed vote for victory in the war and clarity about our enemies...

What? The senior Senator from Ohio a very solid, very committed vote on any conservative principle?

Not based on anything seen so far.

I had to comment, of course...
Neither solid nor committed...
I'm afraid I have to differ with your assessment of Mike DeWine of Ohio as a solid and committed vote for anything. Mikey has no spine whatsoever and will be more than happy to bend to whatever whim best suites his immediate purpose. Unfortunately, the conservatives in Ohio couldn't get together and agree that a single candidate would have a much better chance of drawing enough of the "Anyone But DeWhine" vote in the May primary to win the party nod. Doubly unfortunately, there are no qualified third party candidates and the Demobrat Sherrod Brown is an even worse option.

Then again, perhaps you meant that the senior Senator from Ohio would be solid and committed to freedom compared to the only remaining alternative. Against that position I can have to argument. Indeed, we're stuck with a horrible candidate to vote for instead of one that is even worse.