Monday, December 31, 2012

Germany Compiles First Nationwide Gun Register - (Since 1919 anyway)

In the news today, I saw this headline: Germany Compiles First Nationwide Gun Register.  Considering the report comes from Germany, the reporter is either ignorant of his own country's history or is willfully misleading the reader.  The Weimar Republic and, to be fair, the Allied powers in WWI thought it would be a good idea to disarm the German populace.

Quoting from Chicago Law professor Bernard E. Harcourt's 2004 paper entitled, "Hitler and Gun Registration",
[quote]But even before the Treaty [of Versailles] was signed, the German parliament of the Weimar Republic enacted legislation prohibiting gun possession: on January 13, 1919, the Reichstag enacted legislation requiring the surrender of all guns to the government. This law, as well as the August 7, 1920, Law on the Disarmament of the People passed in light of the Versailles Treaty, remained in effect until 1928, when the German parliament enacted the Law on Firearms and Ammunition (April 12, 1928)—a law which relaxed gun restrictions and put into effect a strict firearm licensing scheme.[/quote]
Of course, it should be noted that the 1928 law and its successors relaxed restrictions on gun ownership, but only for those deemed deserving by the state.  Isn't that always how it goes?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Gun Culture

NBC sports announcer Bob Costas continues to rail against the "gun culture" in the United States in the wake of the Jovan Belcher incident last weekend where an apparently otherwise normal (by NFL standards) player decided to murder his girlfriend and then kill himself.

On MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Costas stated,
"[The gun culture] demonstrates itself in the Wild West, Dirty Harry mentality of people who actually believe that if a number of people were armed in the theater in Aurora, they would have been able to take down this nut-job in body armor and military-style artillery."

As someone who grew up around firearms, I have lots of fond memories that involve firearms.  I remember getting my first BB gun and shooting it in the backyard with my dad.  I remember buying my first .22 from a family friend (with my dad's permission) with money that I had earned.  I have given and received firearms as gifts for special occasions.  I have introduced new people (including my kids) to firearms.  I have put meat on my family's table with a firearm.  I have picked up a firearm when someone was pounding on my door at 2AM in a less-desireable section of town.  At no point in any of this did I hurt anyone.  This is my gun culture.

When people are new to firearms, or they have questions about a particular firearm or getting their carry license, most people in the gun community will bend over backward to help them out.  It is not uncommon to be at a range and have someone offer to let someone else shoot their gun if they've asked a question of expressed interest in it.  That is my gun culture.

Back to Costas's comments, I do not carry because I harbor some Walter Mitty-esque fantasy of being a hero.  I carry a gun for the same reason I have a fire extenguisher in my house: duty.  I have a duty to my family to take care of them.  That includes getting them home safely.  I don't know if I could have stopped the Aurora shooter (who was NOT wearing body armor, and whose "military-style artillery" functions no differently than President Teddy Roosevelt's Remington Model 8), but I know that if I were trapped in that theater, I'd rather have a gun than not have one.

My gun culture is one of responsibility and self-reliance.  What is the matter with that?

For further reading/viewing on this subject, I recommend Katie Pavlich's article here and/or Mr. ColionNoir's video here.

USDA Chief: Rural America becoming less relevant

Tom Vilsack, the head of the USDA, had some salient comments on rural communities' influence in US politics today, as reported here. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Why Perot Did Not Cause Clinton to Become Pres in '92

I get really tired of hearing that Perot "stole" the election from Bush the Elder in '92.  This is usually uttered by folks who are attempting to convince you that voting for a third party candidate is a vote for [scary mainstream candidate from the party opposite that of the accuser].  It's been 20 years since that election.  Perhaps it's time we actually do some analysis.

First, let's set the stage.  In '92, Republicans had held the White House since '80. The White House tends to swap parties with some regularity. Bush's base was fractured. He'd torqued off gun-owners by his '89 ban on importation of so-called assault rifles by Executive Order. The economy was in the tank, and he'd foolishly promised that his Democratic-led Congress wouldn't raise taxes. (They did.)

I think this article lays out a descent case for why Perot's 19% of the popular vote wasn't enough to affect the outcome of the election.

The outcome of the electoral vote was 370-168 with 270 needed to win.  According to '92 election data, there were 17 states where the vote total between Clinton and Bush was <5%.  Of these states, the authors let Bush keep the 6 states that he won, plus they spot him all but WI and TN. I think we can rule out WI as a Bush win based on the fact it went Democrat in '88 and '96. To win TN, Bush needed to win 73% of Perot's votes, which seems a bit of a stretch to me. (He had to make up the difference between himself and Gore plus win half of the remainder of the Perot votes.)

Of the 16 states that were within 5-10% of each other, the authors spotted Bush 8 of the 16. MI and OR were Democrat in '88 and '96, so let's count them as solidly in Democrat territory. The article assumes Bush would have taken Maine. The other five states are listed below with the % of votes that Bush would've needed to win.  Remember, he had to make up the gap and then take 50% plus one vote of the remainder.
- Iowa: 66.1%
- Connecticut: 64.9%
- Deleware: 70%
- New Mexico: 76.5%
- Pennsylvania: 74.8%

With all the article spots him, the electoral vote count would've been 281-257. It would take Bush winning all of the those states in the article, plus Iowa (7 electoral votes) plus Connecticut (8 electoral votes) to win.  This is my oh-dark-thirty back-of-the-napkin calculation, so please tell me if I missed something.

In further analysis, George Easterbrook writes :
(1) Economic anxiety was high, causing Bush’s poll numbers to drop to poisonous levels — by the fall of ’92 he was not an incumbent who, on paper, should have won reelection; (2) Not a single public opinion poll from the middle of July (when Perot dropped out the race) through the end of September (when Perot returned) gave Bush a lead over Clinton — not even in the immediate wake of the August ’92 GOP convention. In fact, Clinton’s average lead in this period was double-digits — and the race was not tightening at the time Perot jumped back in; (3) A comprehensive national exit poll found that Perot voters were divided almost evenly on their second choice and that Clinton — in a two-way race — would still have beaten Bush by 5.8 million votes (his actual margin was 5.3 million in initial ’92 tally).
The '92 election has always intrigued me.  A lot of die-hard Republicans use Perot as the sole reason Bush lost without any analysis to back it up. They refuse to admit that Bush lost a lot of votes on his own (22 states that he had carried in '88). 

Feel free to debate me on this one.  All I ask is that you show me numbers.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How Gun Owners Will Continue to Win the Gun Control Debate

Despite the recent mass murders that have taken place in Aurora and Milwaukee, support for additional gun control remains relatively low. Thankfully, according to recent polling, the majority of Americans support either the same amount of gun control or less gun control.  Nevertheless, it seems that our opponents in the gun control debate are marshalling their forces once again to attack so-called "assualt weapons."

It is the dream of every gun owner to be able to enjoy his Constitutionally-enumerated rights in peace; however, the average AR-15 owner is 35 years old or older.  While our rights seem relatively secure at present, now is the time to vaccinate the next generation of shooters against the twisted "logic" of gun control.  The good news is that we have two big advantages in this: truth and fun.

First, we can keep setting the facts straight any time the subject of gun control rears it's head.  Use correct terminology.  Josh Sugarmann, head of the anti-gun Violence Policy Center made this statement in 1988:

[A]ssault weapons . . . will . . . strengthen the handgun restriction lobby . . . . [H]andgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. . . . Assault weapons . . . are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. . . . Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.
As you can see, disinformation is part of the core strategy of our opponents.  We combat this by being firm but polite, and never letting a lie remain unchallenged.  As radio host Tom Gresham likes to say, "A lie that remains unchallenged becomes the truth."  Be polite, but be informed and be engaged.

The second prong of our strategy is the fun part.  Take someone shooting.  It is critical that we be friendly and professional.  Make sure all your guests understand safety before handling any weapons.  Start them out with a .22.  Remember, you are an ambassador for the sport.  You are helping your guests form an opinion about firearms that they will carry into the voting booth.  If instructing others is something you find you like, there are many ways to scratch that itch and serve your neighbors at the same time.  For instance, you can become an NRA-certified instructor and/or teach shooting for an organization such as the Boy Scouts or 4-H.

Gun owners currently have the high ground in the battle for gun rights.  The way to ensure that we hold the high ground is to educate our friends and neighbors that are either undecided or anti-gun.  The good news is that doing so is very rewarding.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Non-Choice in November

I have been told that by saying there's not really much of a difference between Obama and Romney, I'm just someone who's too lazy to do any research.  Granted, I didn't do this research, but the videotapes confirm what I suspected: that there isn't any appreciable difference between these two.  They share the same view of guns, the PATRIOT Act, ObamaCare (which is based on Massachusetts's RomneyCare), TARP, stimulus/bailout, the Fed, Iraq, the 2012 NDAA, and a variety of other issues.  They also have the same major supporters. 

Don't take my word for it.  Listen to them in their own words

Solving the Chicago violence problem using a historical method

We are told repeatedly that guns cause deaths.  Considering that Chicago is one of the most restrictive cities in the US with regard to gun rights, one would think that it would be a very safe place to live.  Unfortunately, that's not the case.  Chicago is experiencing a homicide surge that has the mayor, Rahm Emanuel, asking gang members nicely to take their fight elsewhere. While this is a noble sentiment, methinks this might be asking a bit much of your average gangmember.

Michael Bane feels the same way, but he has a response that is rather outside the box.  He recommends dropping an updated version of the FP-45 Liberator to residents of Chicago.  The masses can then fight back against the gangs the same way that occupied Europe fought against the Germans in WWII.  We even updated the concept during Vietnam with the Deer Gun, but these were never mass produced.  It's worth a read.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daylight Savings Time - What Say You?

It's that time of year again.  Change the batteries in your smoke detector and wind the clocks forward.  Even if you slept in today, those of you with strict hours at work will notice work's arrival an hour earlier tomorrow.

This begs the question of "why".  It seems that none other than Ben Franklin (writing anonymously and satirically) advocated the use of a DST-like concept as early as 1784.  He was living in Paris at the time, and he contended that Parisians would save a lot of money on candles because they were forced to get up earlier.  He went so far as to advocate a curfew and the ringing of church bells at sunrise to force people to awaken.  He was not alone in his thinking.  In 1934, Winston Churchill said that DST enlarges "the opportunities for the pursuit of health and happiness among the millions of people who live in this country." 

The idea was bandied about in New Zealand and later England in the late 1890's.  Alas, DST was not to come to pass until World War I.  It was originally used by the Axis nations to conserve coal during the summertime, and it was quickly adopted by other European nations.  The practice fell out of favor after the war, but it was eventually adopted by many nations by varying degrees.  Whether or not the practice has any actual energy-saving benefits is open to debate. 

Having always been a morning person, I've never had much use for DST.  Just yesterday, I was able to go far a walk in the woods with my dog at 6 AM in daylight.  Today, not so much.  Why must we assume that everyone uses their leisure time in the evening?

I say let's repeal the process and let people live on their own time.  Eat when you're hungry.  Sleep when you're tired.  Of course, that won't work because need some standard of time in order to function as a society.  This leaves us with at least three options that I can think of: 1) leave the clocks on standard (or would that be daylight wasting?) time year-round, 2) leave the clocks on DST year-round, or go the way of Afghanistan and Newfoundland and split the difference by permanently setting the clocks 30 minutes ahead of standard time.

What say you?