Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Right-Wing Media

I just got introduced to by a video over at American Digest.  The video is on YouTube - a wholly-owned subsidiary of Goolag - er, Google:

Watch that, if for no other reason than to appreciate the content creator's real mastery of the multimedia format.

If you had told me six years ago that the American Left would be self-destructing as rapidly and violently as they appear to be today, I'd have had you committed.  But bear in mind, their "long march through the institutions" has secured their (ever more tenuous) grasp on the reins of power.  They own academia, the media, and the entertainment industry almost completely, and that's still a lot of power, power they won't surrender easily.

The .25ACP and Defending Your Life

The third most popular piece on TSM is a reprint of an old Usenet post, written by a Florida pawnbroker who went by the handle Flimflam.  It's the story of how he was attacked in his store one day and had to defend himself from a sword-wielding nutcase.  He wasn't wearing his fully-loaded Glock, the backup .38 in his office was disassembled for cleaning, but while standing with a blade jammed through his abdomen he finally remembered the tiny Beretta .25 in his back pocket and it saved his life.

Well, yesterday someone emailed me a similar story of how a .25 saved another life:
While out walking along the edge of a pond just outside my house in The Villages with my soon to be ex-husband, discussing property settlement and other divorce issues, we were surprised by a huge 12-ft. Alligator which suddenly emerged from the murky water and began charging us with its large jaws wide open. She must have been protecting her nest because she was extremely aggressive.

If I had not had my little Beretta .25 caliber pistol with me, I would not be here today! Just one shot to my estranged husband's knee cap was all it took. The 'gator got him easily, and I was able to escape by just walking away at a brisk pace. It's one of the best pistols in my collection, plus the amount I saved in lawyer's fees was really incredible. His life insurance was a big bonus.
The .25ACP. It ain't much, but it beats harsh language!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Another Update from the Gun Retail Front Lines

Tam posted recently on what she believes is at least partially the cause of the current glut on the firearms market:
(W)hile most firearms companies are privately held and therefore inscrutable on matters fiscal, the goings-on at a few are public knowledge because they are publicly traded.

The news from American Outdoor Brands Corporation (neé Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation) tells a tale that is probably all too common in the industry right now: Shelves groaning under unsold inventory that was churned out in expectation of the mother of all gun panics following a Hillary Clinton victory.
I sent this link to my favorite local Merchant O'Death, and he recently replied:
As I mentioned in an earlier email, and, as others have pointed out elsewhere, it is definitely a buyer's market in the firearms industry right now. The big name companies continue to offer almost absurd "deals" in the form of free gear, mail in rebates and the like. One company was offering a free pair of Oakley sunglasses with he purchase of one of their AR platform rifles. I do believe that particular deal has ended but several other companies have continued deals that were only supposed to last a month or two. Ruger is currently engaged in a program for gun store employees. Sell a certain number of new Ruger firearms, send in proof to Ruger that you have done so and, upon verification that no skullduggery is afoot, they will send the gun store employee a brand spankin' new Ruger firearm of the said gun store employee's choice (from a list of firearms posted by the company of course). . There are some pretty cool choices on the list. Now to the point: the program was supposed to last for a couple of months. It has been extended for a couple more. I suppose that is one way to move product out of the warehouse.

Our distributors call us Monday through Friday with "ganga deals" on firearms we don't need either because we have them on the shelves (and in back stock) or because we have no room for them. The only firearms we have a hard time acquiring are a handful of things that were announced at SHOT earlier in the year. The CZ P-10C is much sought after though availability is getting better. Colt announced the return of the Cobra revolver at SHOT this year. I have almost a double handful of customers with money down on one. I have yet to see one. The Kimber K6S, even though it has been out for over a year is still a scarce beastie on our shelves despite the fact that we are a "Master Dealer". With rare exception ammunition is not hard to come by at all (those rare exceptions leaning toward the "semi-obsolete" cartridges like 30-40 Krag and 348 Winchester etc.) We turn down 22 rimfire ammo every day.

We are still turning customers away with firearms for sale. We are still stacked to the gunwales with black rifles, Glocks, XDs, M&Ps, Sigs, 1911s, pocket pistols and small frame revolvers. We also have a glut of heavy barrel target/benchrest rifles of varying caliber. Had to turn a guy away today with a nice Sako single-shot, heavy barrel bolt gun in 222 Rem. He couldn't understand why we didn't want to buy it even after we showed him the eight other target guns we had that had been there for longer than we wanted them to be.

The old and collectable are still flying of the shelves. Had a non-military/police Sig P-210 come into our possession from an old customer that is getting out of the firearms game due to poor health. That gun never made it to the shelf. Customer saw it as we were buying it and said that he didn't care what the price was he wanted it. Same thing with a couple of semi-scarce Colt 1911A1 models. Same story with some older S&W revolvers.

Things are selling, just not things that are collecting dust on manufacturers'/distributors' shelves.
So, interesting things are happening in the used market, but the market for all that stuff sitting in manufacturer's and distributor's warehouses? Not so much.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Quote of the Day - Gunnie Edition

Paraphrased because I can't find the actual quote at the moment, but seen elsewhere:
Handguns put holes in bodies.

Rifles put holes through bodies.

Shotguns, at the proper range and with the proper load, remove significant portions of bodies and splatter those portions all over the ground.
I'm advised that quote is from Clint Smith, President and Director of Thunder Ranch. And I think that's a pretty fair assessment.

I Wonder What the Earworm from This Would Be?

Seen at the Book of Face, had to share:

Frozen 2:  Lethal Ice

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Yup, It's Official

Photobucket sucks.  I've got to find another photo hosting service.  I'm sure as hell not paying them $40/month (Or $400/yr.) just so I can link photos here.  I don't need 500GB of storage (I'm currently using 2.7G of the 24G I'm paying something like $24/yr for.

This is like when HaloScan/Echo went pay-for-play on their "free" blog commenting service back in 2010.  I lost the better part of 40,000 comments dating back to just after this blog got started.  Through the herculean efforts of reader John Hardin, he managed to recover and host the comments to a large number of older posts, but I'm not going through anything like that again for the literally thousands of photos I've posted over the last dozen years or so.  Screw that.

Breda Fallon has said that blogging is dead.  I think she's right, and in large part because supporting industry business models simply don't work anymore.  It's just not worth dealing with bullshit like this.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Looks like, barring unforeseen events, I'll be in northwest Houston, Texas the week of August 14-19 with my evenings mostly free.  Anybody want to get together?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Those Were the Days....

I posted this last year and the year before. Here it is updated.

On this day at 02:56 UTC 48 years ago, Neil Armstrong became the first human being to leave one of these on the surface of another astronomical body. Three years and five months later, Eugene Cernan became the last man to do so, so far.

The last Space Shuttle touched down for the last time six years and one day ago.

Elon Musk of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX fame has said that the impetus behind the development of SpaceX came when his son asked him, "is it really true that they used to fly to the moon when you were a boy?"

Now there are two-dozen or more private space ventures around the world. There is a plan to capture and retrieve an asteroid for commercial purposes. Two companies want to mine the moon. One plans on landing a probe by the end of the year.

If we can just hold it together for a couple more decades, humanity might get off this rock, and we might do it in my lifetime.

But it's looking less and less likely to me.

As someone posted on Facebook, "They promised me that by now we would have colonies on the moon. What did we get instead?"

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We got an electorate that put Barack Obama in the Oval Office - twice - and then gave us a choice between Felonia von Pantsuit and The Big Cheeto.

I hate to say it, but the nation peaked in 1969, Viet Nam and all.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

I LOL'd. No, Seriously.

Interesting Data from the Trenches

While Form 4473 Background Checks are still at all-time highs, things seem to be shifting for firearms retailers and wholesalers out there. Dennis Badurina of Dragon Leatherworks owns a brick-and-mortar gun shop and reports on Facebook:
I've gotten more calls in the past two weeks by folks asking if I buy guns.

When they tell me what they are selling, and I give them a ballpark of what its worth to me, they start bitching about how much they paid, and my offer is an insult, blahblahblah...

Anyone tries to tell me that the gun industry isn't in freefall, they'll be told to go away. I don't give a rats ass about how many NICS checks are run in a given month, or gun show attendance, or other such meaningless bullshit.

Firearms industry is slowing exponentially, both manufacturers and distributors are dumping their inventory through sites like CDNN, Buds, Grab-a-Gun, etc., and folks can buy a brand-new gun for 30% less than they did last year on those same websites, and even last year those prices were low.


I had a customer come in and ask me to price out Wolf steel case ammo. I actually logged in to my dealer portal, he watched me put the stuff in the cart from my distributor, and saw what the ammo would cost as if I were buying it. I was going to simply have him pay me $10 over invoice, and he would WITNESS the fucking invoice being created.

He logged into SG Ammo, and the EXACT SAME FUCKING AMMO in the EXACT SAME FUCKING QUANTITY was $70 cheaper than what the distributor sells to the little mom-and-pop. He saw it with his own eyes.

The distributors are dumping inventory so as to not be left holding the bag on the long-term purchase agreements they have with the manufacturers. They entered those agreements because everyone was certain that Clinton was going to go skipping down Pennsylvania Ave. with 99% of the vote.

Now the distributors are sweating bullets (pun intended) because they bet on the wrong horse.
I sent that info to my local favorite Merchant O'Death and asked him if he was seeing similar things. His response:
That FFL is spot on.

We are buying more firearms right now (the "down season") than we have in the previous eight months. Usually the shop is damned near a morgue come summer time. We are turning people down more often than not when they bring stuff in for sale simply because we can't take another one of what they are trying to sell.
ARs are pretty much dead as are most of the other tacti-cool types of rifles

Several manufacturers have extended promos that were only supposed to last a couple months at the most by a further couple of months. S&W has a $75 dollar mail in rebate on M&P Shield pistols that has been going on since this spring and has been continued until September.

The FFL is also right about the election outcome. I have heard more than one person selling stuff to us remark that they don't need said firearms "cuz Hillary didn't win". Apparently the family vacation to the Free People's Democratic Republic of California is more important than hanging on to the firearms they already own.

Part of the problem with people bitching about low offers from dealers (at least in our experience) is that they are spending way too much time on the internet. When we make the offer, the response is often: " well, on the Internet it is going for [insert random amount of money here]). The other part of that is that they whine and snivel when we tell them we just can't but what they have because we are over stocked as it is. They whine some more and come up with some hard luck story about why they have to sell. We tell them again that we just can't do them any good. Then the same question is asked almost verbatim, almost every time: " can you offer me anything?".

That being said, we are selling quite a bit more than usual but it is largely used stuff. Anything remotely considered "collectible" disappears from the racks in short order. I am still amazed by the number of people coming in looking for Mosin Nagant 91/30s.

Nope. Nobody expected the election to go the way that it did.
Over at the recommendation is "Stock up on ammo while it's cheap."


Saturday, July 08, 2017


Went to Tucson's version of Cars & Coffee this morning.  Here's some of what I saw.  First up, the unique:

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The rare:

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And the damned near unobtanium:

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And a personal "grail" car for me:

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I really have to try to get to the next one by 7AM.  By 9AM a lot of the cars had already left because the temperature was pushing 100°F. Good show anyway, though. I figure there were at least 125 cars there. Followed a C7 Vette into the parking lot with the license plate "HER401K". That was pretty amusing. Didn't see it long 'Vette Row though:

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Monday, June 26, 2017

A Tale of Two Cities

So, Seattle's minimum wage is now $13/hr.  What effect has that had?

According to one story, nothing bad:
The city of Seattle is in the process of gradually phasing in a $15-per-hour minimum wage: It has now reached $13 for workers at large companies and will move up to $15 in 2021 for all workers. As the wage rises, the city is providing a lot of data on the effects of the policy, and that data is continually proving helpful to activists as they work to raise the wage in other cities, states, and nationally (and embarrassing to the economists who sounded alarm bells about how damaging a living wage would be for the city).

One common critique of higher minimum wages is that they also raise the cost of living. But last year, an initial study from the University of Washington found that retailers, despite having to pay their workers more, weren’t raising prices. Another is that higher pay will lead to fewer shifts and fewer jobs. And while those same UW researchers are analyzing the data, other researchers at UC Berkeley’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) used an innovative model to prove that the city’s increased minimum wage has had no negative effect on job availability.
According to another, nazzo fast, Guido:
In January 2016, Seattle’s minimum wage jumped from $11 an hour to $13 for large employers, the second big increase in less than a year. New research released Monday by a team of economists at the University of Washington suggests the wage hike may have come at a significant cost: The increase led to steep declines in employment for low-wage workers, and a drop in hours for those who kept their jobs. Crucially, the negative impact of lost jobs and hours more than offset the benefits of higher wages — on average, low-wage workers earned $125 per month less because of the higher wage, a small but significant decline.
$125/month is $1,500/year or about a 6% drop for a full-time minimum wage worker at $11/hr. Not to mention that "steep decline in employment for low-wage workers."

Which story do you believe? The one sourced out of a UC Berkeley report, or the one sourced out of a University of Washington report?

And how many jobs were lost due to closed businesses related to the minimum wage increase?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Your Moment of Zen - Seagoing Edition

Check out the work of photographer Ray Collins. For images like this, I'll forgive him the top-knot:

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Quote of the Day - Jay Hafemeister Edition

Responding on Facebook to this Redstate story about Seattle's firearm and ammunition tax neither improving revenue nor reducing gun violence in that city:
Gun Control isn't supposed to reduce crime. It's only supposed to reduce gun owners.
See also this.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

And Now for Something Completely Different ... GUNSTUFF

I've been collecting pieces for this for several months now. I bought the Encore frame back in 2008 right after The LightBringer™ was first elected to office, and I put a .260 Remington pistol barrel on it and took it to Boomershoot 2009. But I've been wanting an Ultra-Violent Rodentblaster for quite some time now, so when I stumbled across a sale on 26" .204 Ruger barrels for the Encore I snapped one up. A 26" barrel doesn't play well with a pistol grip, however, so I needed a rifle stock. And, of course, I needed glass, since this is a 300+ yard rifle.

I ordered a fixed 12x 42mm SWFA Super Sniper scope with the Mil-Quad reticle, a set of 30mm Burris Zee rings, a bubble level and Butler Creek flip-up caps, then I went hunting for a stock maker. I found Tony Gettel, and had him make me this custom thumbhole set to my dimensions out of fiddleback maple. The stock set arrived yesterday.

Not bad, huh?

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Now to build some ammo and get out to the range.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Friday, June 09, 2017

Quote of the Day - Daniel Greenfield Edition

Daniel Greenfield, Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, aka "Sultan Knish" has a piece up on Frontpage Mag entitled The Civil War is Here.  QotD:
We can have a system of government based around the Constitution with democratically elected representatives. Or we can have one based on the ideological principles of the left in which all laws and processes, including elections and the Constitution, are fig leaves for enforcing social justice.

But we cannot have both.

Some civil wars happen when a political conflict can’t be resolved at the political level. The really bad ones happen when an irresolvable political conflict combines with an irresolvable cultural conflict.

That is what we have now.

The left has made it clear that it will not accept the lawful authority of our system of government. It will not accept the outcome of elections. It will not accept these things because they are at odds with its ideology and because they represent the will of large portions of the country whom they despise.

The question is what comes next.
Yes it is.


Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Quote of the Day - Be Careful What You Wish For Edition

Third QotD from Hillary Versus America: Knowledge Is Power. Seriously, read the whole thing:
All of this points to a basic, obvious truth of contemporary American politics: the Republican coalition is going to lose. Republicans are clumsy with power; they can’t seem to hold it for long, or ever use it to achieve any vision that fundamentally opposes the Democrats’. Republicans have been fatally outmaneuvered, flanked, and divided. The key institutions, the high ground, belong to the Democrats. Therefore, the Republican base is not going to get what it wants. The Democrats may offer a few expedient compromises along the way, but the state is well and truly caught up in the engine of “progress.” The total transformation of American social and civic life to align with the Democratic vision of the common good is a foregone conclusion.

And this basic truth, in turn, points to another. It’s this second truth that has become my singular political concern in the last several years. And this truth is one that the left has studiously ignored, because if they admit it, they will have to let go of their beloved vision of the common good. The truth is this: the right is not going to accept the left’s victory. The left has treated politics like a game, like a matter of points and position, like a matter of scoring goals and blocking returns. It isn’t a game. There are neither rules nor referees. At its base, the Republican coalition is furious, outraged, boiling. They will not quit the field gracefully. We are not heading into the fourth quarter. We are heading into an explosion. We are heading into civil war.

Everyone who is paying attention to politics knows this, by the way. It’s just something we don’t speak of. But if we want to survive, this silence has to stop. Each side has reasons for staying quiet, but it’s the left’s reasons that matter most. The left remains quiet about the civil war we all know is coming … because they think they are going to win it.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Quote of the Day - America's Ruling Class Edition

Second QotD from Hillary Versus America: Knowledge Is Power, and it echoes Angelo Codevilla's "Ruling Class" thesis:
The reason the Democratic coalition’s Final Solution is nigh is that it was superbly incisive strategy on their part to capture the knowledge-management institutions of mass media and higher education. There can be no serious argument over whether they have captured these institutions, which is why I have only glossed over the evidence here. Everyone knows these institutions belong to the left. Everyone has known it for a long time. But there are implications of this capture that are not as clear to everyone.

First, the left’s capture of higher education, combined with our cultural tilt toward credentialism, means that the only people qualified to hold upper-level positions in the civil service bureaucracy are those who have spent thousands of hours earning those credentials — in institutions of higher education that already belong to the left. As a result, especially considering the Ivy League is the unofficial headquarters of the Democratic coalition, the upper reaches of power in American government are much easier to access for those who have deep roots within the Democratic coalition’s establishment. It was no accident that the 2004 presidential election was between two of Yale’s C-students, both of them members of its most elite fraternity.

Second, the left’s capture of mass media means that every issue, every controversy, and every candidate will be presented in a way that favors the Democratic coalition’s agenda. Even though it is well known in the Republican coalition that the media are compromised, the rhetorical power of “framing” issues remains formidable in the extreme. Even if every Republican ignored the media’s framing, the centrists and undecideds that finally decide every issue can still fall for it, and they do. By holding the high ground of these key institutions, the left has managed to advance its agenda, with a few minor setbacks, virtually without opposition, for more than a century.

One further aspect of the left’s domination of key institutions must be understood before moving on. That is: the Republican party is part of the Democratic coalition. The Republican base, the mass that forms the heart of the Republican coalition, when it is paying attention, has nothing but contempt for the Republican party leadership. It has been paying attention more and more often lately.

The leadership of the Republican party went to Andover and Yale, just like the leadership of the Democratic party. Thus, top Republicans and Democrats share the same general worldview, the same manners, the same values. There are differences, but, from the perspective of the Republican base at least, these are slight. For example, on foreign policy, both the Republican leadership and the Democratic leadership are interventionist and globalist. The difference is that the Republican party tends to favor a global community with the United States of America as its undisputed leader. The Democratic party favors a global community ruled by transnational corporations, non-governmental organizations, and bodies like the United Nations. It’s a difference of emphasis, not essence. And the Republican base knows it.
Drop by tomorrow for the next excerpt, or just go read the whole thing. Strongly recommended.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Quote of the Day - Higher Education Edition

The GeekWitha.45 sent me a link to a piece published two days before the 2016 election, Hillary Versus America: Knowledge Is Power which as readers of this blog I recommend you head over and read. I wish like hell I'd written it.

I'll get more than one QotD out of it, but in reference to other recent QotD's, this one jumped out at me:
From the Republican coalition’s perspective, the left’s dominance of the major media is repugnant. But far more worrisome, for those Republican-types who pay attention to these things, is the Democratic coalition’s dominance of higher education. That’s because higher education hates America, and everyone knows it.

When a college freshman starts attending classes, his general-education curriculum, in almost every school in the country that still has one, will have one over-arching theme: The United States of America Is Evil, and your Duty, once Higher Education has made you ready for it, is to Right the Wrongs of this country by dedicating yourself to Progress.

Many students tune this propaganda out, because, as is well-known, young people don’t go to college to learn. The agenda the left pushes in the university system goes right past many students. Nonetheless, the better students tend to pay attention. And every student who does pay attention is going to get this message.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Obviously, They Need to Spend More Money

According to this 2016 Baltimore Business Journal story:
The Baltimore City Public School System spent the fourth most per student during the 2014 fiscal year out of the 100 largest public school districts in the country, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The city's school district, which is the 38th largest elementary and secondary public school district in the country, spent $15,564 per pupil during the time frame. Maryland has four of the 10 highest per pupil spending public school districts, with Howard County Schools rounding out the top five with a per pupil spending of $15,358.


Maryland came in at 11th out of the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., in average per pupil spending across the state at $14,003. New York spend the highest per pupil at $20,610 and Washington, D.C., was second at $18,485.

Utah had the lowest per pupil spending at $6,500.
This source provides this chart:

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So it would appear, dollar-wise, that Baltimore schools are sufficiently funded. 

And yet:
6 Baltimore schools, no students proficient in state tests

A Project Baltimore investigation has found five Baltimore City high schools and one middle school do not have a single student proficient in the state tested subjects of math and English.
Does the article blame lack of spending? No:
We sat down with a teen who attends one of those schools and has overcome incredible challenges to find success.

Navon Warren grew up in West Baltimore. He was three months old when his father was shot to death. Before his 18th birthday, he would lose two uncles and a classmate, all gunned down on the streets of Baltimore.


Despite his tremendous loss, Warren is set to graduate this year from Frederick Douglass High School. It’s a school where only half the students graduate and just a few dozen will go to college. Last year, not one student scored proficient in any state testing.
(Italics my emphasis.) Hey, he put in his time, give him a diploma! He can't read or do math to the level of a high-school graduate, but what does that matter?

But wait! It gets better!
High school students are tested by the state in math and English. Their scores place them in one of five categories – a four or five is considered proficient and one through three are not. At Frederick Douglass, 185 students took the state math test last year and 89 percent fell into the lowest level. Just one student approached expectations and scored a three.

Despite the challenges at his school, Warren found a path to higher education. He’s the reigning Baltimore City 50 and 100 freestyle champion who competed at the junior Olympics, finishing in fourth place. In the fall, he will leave the streets of Baltimore and head to Bethany College in West Virginia, where he will swim.
(Again, italics my emphasis.) So this kid, completely unprepared for college, will travel to West Virginia on a swimming scholarship (which won't cover everything, you can bet) and will rack up a year or three of student loans before dropping out because he can't do math or read at a high school level.

And he obviously isn't alone.

UPDATE:  6/3 - Instapundit steals my schtick.

Quote of the Day - Sarah A. Hoyt Edition

Common core is trying to do to math what whole word did to reading. They found that fast readers read "whole word" instead of sounding out, so they thought that everyone should just cut to reading "whole word." Of course, the problem was that fast readers had done the work to get there. Just treating English as a pictographic language, simply left the kids unable to read NEW words (and none to good with the old, because the word shapes aren't distinctive enough.)

Common core tries to take the little tricks that people who love math do in their head (because we got bored and worked it out in our heads when we didn't have anything to read) and reverse engineer them, so everyone does these math tricks. The problem is if you haven't done the work to internalize these tricks, you're actually just doing three times the work and never learning the simplest route to the solution.

This is exactly like realizing people who own homes are more stable financially and tend to be more prudent, etc, and deciding the remedy is to make it possible for everyone, no matter how addled, to own a home. It's taking the virtue required to do something, and thinking it accrues automagically if you do the thing.

It's one of current leftists' most persistent and pernicious illusions. They consistently put the cart ahead of the horse.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Quote of the Day - Malcolm Muggeridge Edition

In keeping with the light and uplifting QotDs I post here*, another:
So the final conclusion would surely be that whereas other civilizations have been brought down by attacks of barbarians from without, ours had the unique distinction of training its own destroyers at its own educational institutions, and then providing them with facilities for propagating their destructive ideology far and wide, all at the public expense. Thus did Western Man decide to abolish himself, creating his own boredom out of his own affluence, his own vulnerability out of his own strength, his own impotence out of his own erotomania, himself blowing the trumpet that brought the walls of his own city tumbling down, and having convinced himself that he was too numerous, labored with pill and scalpel and syringe to make himself fewer. Until at last, having educated himself into imbecility, and polluted and drugged himself into stupefaction, he keeled over--a weary, battered old brontosaurus--and became extinct.

Malcolm Muggeridge, Vintage Muggeridge: Religion and Society


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Quote of the Day - Jerry Pournelle Edition

We have always known that eternal vigilance is the price of freedom. It's worse now, because capture of government is so much more important than it once was. There was a time when there was enough freedom that it hardly mattered which brand of crooks ran government. That has not been true for a long time — not during most of your lifetimes, and for much of mine — and it will probably never be true again.
We voted our way into this.

We won't be voting our way out of it.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The New Soviet Genderless Person

Warning:  Überpost.  I don't know how big this thing's gonna get, but it woke me up at 4AM insisting that I write it.  It is, however, a rehashing of ideas and observations previously made here leavened with some new supporting links, so if you think you've read it all before, you probably have.  At least most of it.  After fourteen years of blogging, "new" is hard to come by.

According to Wikipedia:
The New Soviet man or New Soviet person ... as postulated by the ideologists of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was an archetype of a person with certain qualities that were said to be emerging as dominant among all citizens of the Soviet Union, irrespective of the country's cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity, creating a single Soviet people, Soviet nation.
And they give an example of the idea via Leon Trotsky:
Man will make it his purpose to master his own feelings, to raise his instincts to the heights of consciousness, to make them transparent, to extend the wires of his will into hidden recesses, and thereby to raise himself to a new plane, to create a higher social biologic type, or, if you please, a superman.
If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you'll note that this concept was not original to Communism. Thomas Sowell in his seminal work, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (which I covered in a previous überpost) discussed William Godwin and his book An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice dating back to 1793 and the French Revolution:
Where in Adam Smith moral and socially beneficial behavior could be evoked from man only by incentives, in William Godwin man's understanding and disposition were capable of intentionally creating social benefits. Godwin regarded the intention to benefit others as being "of the essence of virtue," and virtue in turn as being the road to human happiness. Unintentional social benefits were treated by Godwin as scarcely worthy of notice. His was the unconstrained vision of human nature, in which man was capable of directly feeling other people's needs as more important than his own, and therefore of consistently acting impartially, even when is own interests or those of his family were involved. This was not meant as an empirical generalization about the way most people currently behaved. It was meant as a statement of the underlying nature of human potential. ... Godwin referred to "men as they hereafter may be made," in contrast to Burke's view: "We cannot change the Nature of things and of men - but must act upon them the best we can."
If you're a long-time reader of this blog, you'll know which side of this argument I believe to be the accurate one.  See Kipling's The Gods of the Copybook Headings.

Throughout history, one thing sticks out:  No civilization, no society, no political body survives forever.  The causes for this vary - war, resource exhaustion, internal revolution, etc. - but nothing lasts.  However, as Robert Heinlein wrote, the worst thing about living in the declining era of a great civilization is knowing that you are.

I first came across the phrase "Cold Civil War" in 2005 in a post at The Belmont Club linking to a Syrian blog Amarji and a post titled "A Cold Civil War!"  The author of that blog seems prescient now:
While neocons and liberals, or however one categorizes one at this stage, argue over wagging dogs and other fine assortments of beasts and monsters, and while the debate over the merits of real politick vs. salvation politics rages on, there are parts of the world that are going to hell in a hand-basket, reflecting the new cold war climate created by this internal debate. It looks as if America is having a nice cold civil war by proxy over its own identity and future.

The ideological components of this war might be taking place in the halls of academia and the congress and through US and international media, but the physical aspect is taking place in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, etc. Each camp here is producing, wittingly and unwittingly, its own allies there, both ideological and tactical. And like in all proxy wars, these allies are quite capable of furthering their own particularistic agendas by stoking the debate here.

The point:

Well, despite the seemingly irresolvable challenge that a presence like the Syrian regime seems to pose, in truth, solutions can actually be found. But first, this new American civil war, no matter how cold it happens to be at this stage, has to come to an end. Otherwise the war on terror can never be won and Iraq will be followed by Syria, then Lebanon then Sudan, then Saudi Arabia, then… You get the point.
The "Cold Civil War" concept has since spread. Do a Google search on the phrase. In 2012, just before the November election Michael Walsh at PJ Media wrote:
Now we are engaged in a great Cold Civil War. But the decision American voters will make in November is far more than merely an ideological clash about what the Constitution meant or means. For that supposes that both sides are playing by the same rules, and have a shared interest in the outcome. That presumes that both sides accept the foundational idea of the American experiment, and that the argument is over how best to adhere to it.

That is false.

For some, this is a difficult notion to grasp. To them, politics is politics, the same game being played by the same rules that go back a couple of centuries. The idea that one party -- and you know which one I mean -- is actively working against its own country as it was founded seems unbelievable.

But that is true.

Don't take it from me, take it from Barack Hussein Obama who famously said on the stump in 2008: "We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America."
Peter Robinson, in one of his many interviews of Thomas Sowell for Uncommon Knowledge asked in 2014:
How’s my generation’s project of holding on to liberty coming along?

Thomas Sowell
: Not well. One of the reasons I’m glad to be as old as I am is that it means I may be spared seeing what’s going to happen to this country, either internally or as the result of international complications.

Robinson: You think that America’s greatest days are gone? Full stop? That it’s irreversible?

Sowell: Nothing is irreversible. But I think that we’re like a team that is coming to bat in the bottom of the ninth, five runs behind. We can win it, but this is not… I wouldn’t bet the rent money on it.

Robinson: Last question. What would you say – talking about Milton (Friedman) talking to my generation – what would you say to the next generation, to your grandchildren’s generation about the America for which they should be preparing themselves?

Sowell: Since I don’t know what that America is going to be, I don’t want to say anything to them. By the time they get here I think the issue will have been settled one way or the other.

Robinson: By then it will be irreversible.

Sowell: Either we will have pulled out of the dive, as it were, or else it will be all over.
I'm on the record stating that the 2012 re-election of Barack Obama convinced me that the country could not save itself.  We'd passed the point of no return.
In April of this year Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University published another very important essay titled The Cold Civil War.  Previously he had written America's Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution, from which I took several Quotes of the Day and got an essay or two back in 2010.  Read that, if you haven't, before you read The Cold Civil War.

I have ruminated on the idea of a second Civil War (or a second American Revolution) since the inception of this blog - Pressing the "Reset" Button, But What if Your Loyalty is to the Constitution?, While Evils are Sufferable, Freedom's Just Another Word for "Nothin' Left to Lose", Confidence, Part III, and most recently Pressing the "Fuck It" Button, just to list a few.  My take on the question has been that there's too much apathy and ignorance in the general population to support an all-out "hot" war, but that - should things really go pear-shaped - we're going to get "asymmetrical warfare" like we're seeing in the Middle East right now.  As I've said, we didn't buy those millions of firearms and billions of rounds of ammunition in anticipation of handing them inOur "austerity riots" are going to be spectacular.

Here in the U.S. the problem is - once again - human nature and Sowell's conflict of visions.  In America's Ruling Class Codevilla identifies the schism:
Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all. So was “social engineering.” Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday’s upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.

Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America’s ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
“Saviors of the planet and improvers of humanity." The unending quest to build the New Soviet Person.

In a speech he gave some time back Bill Whittle explained the Three Legs of Liberal Philosophy, the third leg of which was "Let us help you!"
Let us help you.

Let us help you!

You need health care? Fantastic! Let us help you.

You need job training? Let us help you. You need unemployment insurance? Let us help you!

Let us help you, let us help you! What's wrong with these Republicans and Conservatives? We just want to help you. Why won't you let us help you? All we want is all of your money and all of your freedom, we'll help you all you want!
A little later on he explained the three legs of Conservative Philosophy, one of which was "Leave Me Alone."
Raise your hands out there if you're the kind of person who likes to be left alone. Most of them do. Now raise your hand if you're the kind of person who likes to tell other people what to do.

Now some people really do want to tell other people what to do, but I'll tell you one thing about young people, there's not a twenty year-old college student - not one - who will raise their hand in a group of their other fellows and say "Yes, I want to tell other people what to do!"

That's a really uncool thing, man. It's really uncool to tell other people what to do. So they won't do it.

So you say, "OK, you want to be left alone?" "Yeah." "I do too. I want to be left alone too."

Most of the time I want to be left alone. That means, if I want to start a business, leave me alone. If I want to go into a lemonade stand, leave me alone. If I want to be skateboarding, leave me alone.

We're the party that says "Leave us alone." We're the party that says "Let us do what we want to do, let us keep what we make." We're the party that's about being left alone. They're the guys trying to tell you that you can't have a big Big Gulp. They're the guys telling you how warm your house has to be. They're the guys telling you what kind of car you have to drive. They're the guys telling you what kind of things you have to wear, what you have to do, who you have to be, and who you have to hang out with.
But I have a bone to pick with Bill here, and that excerpt from Codevilla's essay above illustrates it. Robert Heinlein put it more pithily:
The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire.
Frank Herbert expressed it in Chapterhouse: Dune thus:
All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible. Such people have a tendency to become drunk on violence, a condition to which they are quickly addicted.
With apologies to Bill and Michael Walsh, the Ruling Class is both parties, and they all want to tell us what to do.  That's why they end up in government.  Daniel Webster back at the beginning of  the 19th Century observed:
Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
And in today's world the subversion of the Constitution is justified because they're the saviors of the planet and improvers of humanity.  They know better.  They need to reconstruct humanity.  They want to "fix our souls."  They want to use the Rule of Law to bring "human redemption."

Terry Pratchett has an appropriate quote. From Night Watch:
There were plotters, there was no doubt about it. Some had been ordinary people who'd had enough. Some were young people with no money who objected to the fact that the world was run by old people who were rich. Some were in it to get girls. And some had been idiots as mad as Swing, with a view of the world just as rigid and unreal, who were on the side of what they called "The People." Vimes had spent his life on the streets and had met decent men, and fools, and people who'd steal a penny from a blind beggar, and people who performed silent miracles or desperate crimes every day behind the grubby windows of little houses, but he'd never met The People.

People on the side of The People always ended up disappointed in any case. They found that The People tended not to be grateful or appreciative or forward-thinking or obedient. The People tended to be small minded and conservative and not very clever and were even distrustful of cleverness. And so, the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people.

As soon as you saw people as things to be measured, they didn't measure up.
But, per William Godwin, they mean well and that's what matters.  Ignore the piles of human bones!

Founding libertarian Isabel Paterson in her 1943 book The God of the Machine wrote:
Most of the harm in the world is done by good people, and not by accident, lapse, or omission. It is the result of their deliberate actions, long persevered in, which they hold to be motivated by high ideals toward virtuous ends.

This is demonstrably true; nor could it occur otherwise. The percentage of positively malignant, vicious, or depraved persons is necessarily small, for no species could survive if its members were habitually and consciously bent upon injuring one another. Destruction is so easy that even a minority of persistently evil intent could shortly exterminate the unsuspecting majority of well-disposed persons. Murder, theft, rapine, and destruction are easily within the power of every individual at any time. If it is presumed that they are restrained only by fear or force, what is it they fear, or who would turn the force against them if all men were of like mind?

Certainly if the harm done by willful criminals were to be computed, the number of murders, the extent of damage and loss, would be found negligible in the sum total of death and devastation wrought upon human beings by their kind. Therefore it is obvious that in periods when millions are slaughtered, when torture is practiced, starvation enforced, oppression made a policy, as at present over a large part of the world, and as it has often been in the past, it must be at the behest of very many good people, and even by their direct action, for what they consider a worthy object. When they are not the immediate executants, they are on record as giving approval, elaborating justifications, or else cloaking facts with silence, and discountenancing discussion.
Rush Limbaugh was vilified for stating, after Obama won the Presidency the first time, "I hope he fails." Right now we're watching the Ruling Class and its enablers in the media do absolutely everything they can to pull off a coup d'état because the man who won the White House this go-around isn't one of them.  He's not one of the New Genderless Persons who mean to Do Good, who Care About You, who just want to help.

Codevilla from Cold Civil War:
America is in the throes of revolution. The 2016 election and its aftermath reflect the distinction, difference, even enmity that has grown exponentially over the past quarter century between America’s ruling class and the rest of the country. During the Civil War, President Lincoln observed that all sides “pray[ed] to the same God.” They revered, though in clashing ways, the same founders and principles. None doubted that those on the other side were responsible human beings. Today, none of that holds. Our ruling class and their clients broadly view Biblical religion as the foundation of all that is wrong with the world. According to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy, or any form of intolerance.”

The government apparatus identifies with the ruling class’s interests, proclivities, and tastes, and almost unanimously with the Democratic Party. As it uses government power to press those interests, proclivities, and tastes upon the ruled, it acts as a partisan state. This party state’s political objective is to delegitimize not so much the politicians who champion the ruled from time to time, but the ruled themselves. Ever since Woodrow Wilson nearly a century and a half ago at Princeton, colleges have taught that ordinary Americans are rightly ruled by experts because they are incapable of governing themselves. Millions of graduates have identified themselves as the personifiers of expertise and believe themselves entitled to rule. Their practical definition of discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, etc., is neither more nor less than anyone’s reluctance to bow to them. It’s personal.

On the other side, some two thirds of regular Americans chafe at insults from on high and believe that “the system” is rigged against them and, hence, illegitimate—that elected and appointed officials, plus the courts, business leaders, and educators are leading the country in the wrong direction. The non-elites blame the elites for corruptly ruling us against our will, for impoverishing us, for getting us into wars and losing them. Many demand payback—with interest.

So many on all sides have withdrawn consent from one another, as well as from republicanism as defined by the Constitution and as it was practiced until the mid-20th century, that it is difficult to imagine how the trust and sympathy necessary for good government might ever return. Instead, we have a cold civil war. Statesmanship’s first task is to prevent it from turning hot.
One would hope.

Statesmanship, however, seems to be pretty much absent these days, replaced with overbearing arrogance - "Shut up" they explain.
Well-nigh the entire ruling class—government bureaucracies, the judiciary, academia, media, associated client groups, Democratic officials, and Democrat-controlled jurisdictions—have joined in “Resistance” to the 2016 elections: “You did not win this election,” declared Tom Perez recently, the Democratic National Committee’s chairman. This is not about Donald Trump’s alleged character defects. The Resistance would have arisen against whoever represented Americans who had voted not to be governed as they have been for the past quarter-century. It is a cold civil war against a majority of the American people and their way of life. The members of the Resistance mean to defend their power. Their practical objective is to hamper and otherwise delegitimize 2016’s winners. Their political objective is to browbeat Trump voters into believing they should repent and yield to their betters. This campaign might break the Trump presidency.

In the meantime, however, it exacerbates the spirit of discontent in the land. In 2016 the electorate, following the pattern it had set in 2010 and 2014 (and even in 2012, except for the presidential election), voted Republican to show its desire to reduce government’s intrusion in American life, to get out from under the ruling class’s socio-economic agenda and political correctness.
"Leave us alone!"
But the Republican leadership did not and does not share the electorate’s concerns. Cycle after cycle, Americans who vote to “throw the rascals out” get ever more unaccountable rules piled on by the same unelected bureaucrats; and even modest attempts to hold back capillary intrusion into their lives get invalidated by the same judges. They come to believe that the system is rigged. In short, they want to drain the swamp.

Yet such revolutionary sentiments do not amount to a coherent program to reverse the past century’s course. Donald Trump’s promises with regard to the swamp and to restoring America’s greatness would be extraordinarily difficult to keep even were they matched with due understanding and forceful execution. But the ruling class is so big, so pervasive, and so committed to its ideas, that sidelining it, and even more so, undoing its work, would require at least matching its power, pretensions, and vehemence. In other words, it would take raising the temperature of our cold civil war’s right side to match or overmatch the temperature of its left side. Statesmanship’s task, however, is to maximize peace, not strife.

American society has divided along unreconcilable visions of the good, held by countrymen who increasingly regard each other as enemies. Any attempt by either side to coerce the other into submission augurs only the fate that has befallen other peoples who let themselves slide into revolution.
There's that "conflict of visions" again. As David Horowitz observed:
(I)f you believe that social institutions can change things by getting enough power, then when you look at your opponents, who are the people who are not going along with the program? You see yourself as the army of the Saints. Who are they? They are, YOU are the party of Satan!
And there's no Statesmanship in the world that can overcome religious fervor.
It follows that the path to peace must lie in each side’s contentment to have its own way—but only among those who consent to it. This implies limiting the U.S. government’s reach to what it can grasp without wrecking what remains of our national cohesion.
That is what the Ruling Class will not allow. Power, once seized, is never yielded easily, and the Ruling Class sees itself as being made up of New Persons who are bringing us, the Great Unwashed, kicking and screaming if necessary, into their Utopia.

And all Utopias are just one mass-murder away from being achieved.


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Well, THIS Sucks.

When I got up yesterday morning I had an ache in my groin area (I know, TMI! TMI!) on the left side. Didn't know what it was, but it was only slightly annoying. Last night when I went to bed it was worse, but I noticed that my left leg was a bit swollen. Still, the discomfort was minimal. This morning the skin on my left leg was tighter than a bloated tick. Pain still wasn't bad, but it had reached the level of annoying.

I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but I do read a LOT, and most of it sticks. "Kevin," my brain said, "I think you've got a blood clot in your leg."

So I did what every good digital denizen does when confronted with a possible life-threatening medical condition, I asked the internet whether I should go to Urgent Care or not. Consensus was "Yes." So I called my regular doctor (before normal business hours) and left a message asking them. Got a return call almost immediately: Emergency room. Urgent care doesn't do ultrasound tests.

So bright and early this morning I was in an ER getting an ultrasound of my leg. Diagnosis: a healthy bouncing baby blood clot, very high up in my thigh.

This shit can kill you.

But I told the ER doctor the reason I came in wasn't the possibility of sudden death by heart attack or pulmonary embolism, it was an old joke that kept running through my head:
A guy's mother collapses, and she's rushed by ambulance to the hospital. After hours in the ER waiting room the Doctor comes out. "I have good news and bad news," he says. "What's the bad news?" the son asks.

"Well, your mother has suffered a severe stroke. Her entire left side is paralyzed, but that doesn't really matter because her brain function is severely degraded. She can't talk, in fact about all she can do is make this really annoying screeching sound. You'll have to feed her, bathe her, change her diapers, basically care for her like she's an infant for the rest of her life. And she may live another twenty years."

"Jesus," the son says, "What's the good news?"

The doctor replies, "She died. I'm just fucking with you."
Got both the doctor and the nurse to laugh. 

Anyway, as I said, Deep Vein Thrombosis can fuck you up. I'm pretty sure that's what killed Acidman and Captain Phil Harris from Deadliest Catch.

Pay attention to the symptoms.

And if it gets real quiet around here, well.....

Monday, May 01, 2017

May Victims of Communism Day

Today is the ninth annual Victims of Communism Day, a day to remember the people murdered by their own governments in their quest to achieve a "worker's paradise" where everyone is equal, where "from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs" is the beautiful dream lie.  R.J. Rummel, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Hawaii, has calculated that the total number of victims of Communism - that is, the domestic victims of their own governments - in the USSR, China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cambodia is 98.4 million people.  For all Communist governments during the 20th Century, he puts the estimate at approximately 110 million.  And this wasn't in warfare against other nations, this was what these governments did to their own people - "breaking eggs" to make their utopian omelette.

Six million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, and another six million people the Nazis decided were "undesirable" went with them.  "Never again" is the motto of the modern Jew, and many others just as dedicated.  But "again and again and again" seems to be the rebuke of history.

The Communists are hardly alone in these crimes.  Rummel estimates that the total number of people murdered by their own governments during the 20th Century is on the close order of 262 million, but the single biggest chunk of that truly frightening number is directly due to one pernicious idea:  That we can make people better.

Why do I own guns?  For a number of reasons, but one of them is this:
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?  --  Alexandr Solzhenitzyn, The Gulag Archipelago


The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed - where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once. -- Judge Alex Kozinski, dissenting, Silveira v. Lockyer, denial to re-hear en banc, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, 2003.
I intend to repeat this post each May 1 that I continue to run this blog.  This is the seventh time I have put it up. Since Bernie Sanders made a credible run for the Presidency last year, obviously we've not learned a fucking thing from history.

Six years ago, Sipsey Street Irregulars had a post to go along with this one.  It's still up.  STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Quote of the Day - "That'll Get You Killed On the Street" Edition

Wise words from Tam K.:
The best contribution Gamer culture makes to shooting is the lack of fear of people finding out how much you suck.
Read it all.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

More Quora Debate

So somebody over at Quora asked:  Why haven't gun control advocates commented about the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma home invasion shootings?

One Jim Page answered:
The perspective of someone who lives in a country with gun control:
3 people are now dead who would probably otherwise still be alive. The decision as to whether they should live or die was taken by someone who’s only qualification was that they had $300 to spend on an AR15.

The 3 invaders probably felt empowered to enter the victim’s home because they had easy access to guns.

Of course invading that person’s home was wrong, but wrong enough to be killed for?? Without knowing more about the incident, can you categorically say that the invaders meant the victim physical harm? It’s more likely they wanted money or stuff they could sell, and planned to use their weapons to pacify the home owner. Is a person’s TV or the contents of their wallet more important than 3 people’s lives?
Gun control advocates don’t need to comment, because this is an insane conversation that could only be had by people that feel it’s more important to own guns than to be right.
Paul V. Wilson commented:
On #2, one of the invaders had a large knife and the two others had brass knuckles, either of which can easily be a deadly weapon. None of them had guns.

On #3, I’m not sure why, on a moral basis, anyone who invades a person’s home should have any expectations of surviving. If they didn’t mean to cause harm, why did they go in with weapons? Is the homeowner supposed to think people entering his home wearing masks and holding weapons don’t mean to cause him harm?
To which Mr. Page replied:
On #2: if they didn’t have guns isn’t shooting them all with a semi automatic weapon even more of an appalling overreaction?

On #3: it’s illegal to break into someone’s home, and the law puts people behind bars for it. It doesn’t give them the electric chair or even life imprisonment. So why should someone expect to lose their lives for breaking and entering? There is a long way between a person being allowed to kill a person for being in their house, and the legal penalty for breaking and entering, and that seems to be bridged by the idea ‘that’s what happens when people own guns’. I don’t see how legal ownership of a lethal weapon can make that right.
I was reminded of my 2004 trilogy of posts beginning with "(I)t's most important that all potential victims be as dangerous as they can", so I started with this:
Mr. Page:

You perfectly illustrate the difference in the attitude toward violence exhibited by residents of the UK vs. residents of the U.S., I think. To wit: “(I)f they didn’t have guns isn’t shooting them all with a semi automatic weapon even more of an appalling overreaction?”

Col. Jeff Cooper, a man who pretty much helped develop civilian firearms training once commented:

"One bleeding-heart type asked me in a recent interview if I did not agree that 'violence begets violence.' I told him that it is my earnest endeavor to see that it does. I would like very much to ensure — and in some cases I have — that any man who offers violence to his fellow citizen begets a whole lot more in return than he can enjoy."

In the UK the law pretty much restricts the citizen to “proportional” response - that is, in a situation of extreme stress the victim of the attack is supposed to assess the intention and capability of the assailant(s) and limit his or her response to something that will not be judged an “overreaction” by calm and sober third parties after the fact. Instead in the U.S. overwhelming response is considered appropriate, not appalling. As one popular cartoonist here has stated it, “There is no overkill. There is only ‘open fire’ and ‘reloading.’”

“(W)hy should someone expect to lose their lives for breaking and entering?”

They didn’t die for breaking and entering. Had the house been empty they’d have been fine. What they did was an armed home invasion. The concept of pacifism as it pertains to crime is generally predicated on the concept that all life is of value, and that using violence to injure or kill in defense of mere property is - as you suggest - disproportionate, the value of the material being much less than the value of the lives of the persons attempting to take the material. Surprise! I concur. The life of a human being is of greater value than, say, the contents of my wallet or my home. But this ignores something more important - the fact that the contents of my wallet or home are the least things at risk. Because someone willing to threaten bodily injury or death in order to take my property violates the tenets of the society in which both of us live. He puts in fear not only me, but the entire society. He has proffered a new social contract - "Give me what I want, and I might not hurt you."

The pacifist culture tells us that we should not resist, that we should call the authorities who are empowered to deal with social miscreants. At most, we should respond (as the British are required) proportionally. Yet a proportional response requires us to read the mind of the assailant. If he holds a knife, are we to ask "Do you actually intend to use the knife, and if so is your intent simply to wound or would you be intending a killing blow?" A proportional response requires the defender to reason cogently in a situation wherein our lives, or at least our health may be at risk. The advantage belongs to the attacker, and that is a recipe for social disaster.

To prevent that social disaster, the new social contract offered by the criminal should be understood by all parties to be: "Whatever it is I want, I have decided that it is worth risking my life for." And we, the potential victims, should be as dangerous as possible.

So long as a sufficient number of us are, the rest of society will enjoy the benefit of our protection. When there are too few of us, or when those of us who are willing to resist are restricted by law from doing so, there remain only two options: suffer the onslaught of criminals, or increase the police forces to overly burdensome levels. With the second option, assuming that a sufficient level is attained to reduce crime, the officers of the State required to accomplish that task will not then be reduced, they will be reassigned to other tasks, and a de facto police state will exist.

Those are the choices. It seems apparent which Britain has decided on, and which the U.S. has.
Mr. Page upvoted my comment and replied:
I appreciate your long and reasoned response. I mostly agree with you right up to ‘ … and that is a recipe for social disaster.’ It’s not. It’s a recipe for dialling down the violence, and in the case of most developed countries it works, there simply is less violence, and we absolutely prefer it that way. Second: your assertion that the only alternative to the US solution is a police state - and that’s what the Uk has chosen ... can you explain what you mean by that? If you had spent any time in the Uk you’d know that it simply isn’t true.

Look it seems to me that one area of disagreement that we have is whether or not an armed person in your house is attacking you or not, if they do not know you are there. It seems that US thinking is that they are. I, and most people in the Uk I suspect, are not comfortable with that, whatever ‘Castle Law’ says. It seems like an amoral solution to a moral problem, with the side effect that there is an upward cycle of up-gunning arms race between criminals and non-criminals. Who does that benefit aside from Messrs Smith and Wesson?
To which I responded:
“It’s not. It’s a recipe for dialling down the violence…”

I suggest you study the rates of violence in the UK from the turn of the 20th Century until the present. Specifically the period right at the middle of the century when laws making self-defense with a weapon essentially impossible were enacted. I guarantee you, violence did not go down.

“Second: your assertion that the only alternative to the US solution is a police state - and that’s what the Uk has chosen ... can you explain what you mean by that?”

I suggest you check your reading comprehension: “When there are too few of us, or when those of us who are willing to resist are restricted by law from doing so, there remain only two options: suffer the onslaught of criminals, or increase the police forces to overly burdensome levels.”

You have chosen the former. England and Wales used to be one of the least violent nations in the world. It is now one of the most violent nations in Europe. Sure, you don’t kill each other much (and you never did) but violent crime there is epidemic. See: (XML file) Pay particular attention to the column marked “Total violence against the person” and the numbers following passage of the Prevention of Crime Act 1953. You may not consider that “social disaster,” but levels of violence like that here resulted in people buying guns.

“It seems like an amoral solution to a moral problem, with the side effect that there is an upward cycle of up-gunning arms race between criminals and non-criminals.”

Yeah, we keep hearing that one - “More guns = more crime” - except it hasn’t happened. Over the last decade something on the order of sixty million new firearms were purchased by individuals here, about half of them handguns, and most of those weren’t purchased for target shooting. Concealed-carry laws, for instance, have been gaining popularity around the country - see this graphic:

The states marked in green do not require a license to carry concealed. And what has violent crime done here? DECLINED. To levels not seen since the 1960’s.

5 facts about crime in the U.S.

Who has it benefited? Our general population. Who has benefited from the UK’s policy of disarmament and “proportional response”? The criminals. Which is more amoral - allowing people to defend themselves, or in effect telling them instead to “close your eyes and think of England”?
We'll see if he has anything to add.

UPDATE, 4/12: Mr. Page indeed posted a response. I have replied. See below:
Kevin, I can see we are not going to agree on this, but just to set the record straight: when you compare figures between the US and UK, you will find that the US and the UK do not define ‘violence’ the same way. The UK definition is much broader, and the UK numbers include such things as bicycle theft and domestic violence, which the US numbers do not. Also - it’s hard to compare ‘home invasion with intent to harm’ between the UK and the US as the UK doesn’t really classify crimes that way, or at least not that I have been able to find. If you equate burglary (breaking and entering to commit a crime), then the US and the UK are in pretty much the same ball park. But if you look at gun-related crime … the US leaves everyone else in the dust. The numbers are further skewed as it seems that in the US unreported crime is much higher than the UK. But the headline feature, surely, has to be the number of people killed by guns. Take a look here for more up to date and detailed figures than you provided: United Kingdom vs United States: Crime Facts and Stats

To your point regarding historical crime stats, the key time points you miss are the tightening of the rules after the Hungerford and Dunblane massacres, where automatic weapons and handguns (respectively) were outlawed and other guns began to be properly controlled. For a brief period after Hungerford, gun crime actually increases. But after the rules are tweaked and enforcement is perfected (and by the way it was NOT draconian, my family owned a number of shotguns and all was done fairly and reasonably, and yes! I like firing guns!), the numbers fall off a cliff. Take a look at this Guardian article, sorry about the rather antagonistic title: So, America, this is how other countries do gun control

‘Yeah, we keep hearing that one - “More guns = more crime” - except it hasn’t happened.’ Look at US gun crime figures compared to everywhere else on the planet. Why is not obvious that if you have guns you have gun crime and without guns you don’t?

One thing: I am not putting forward the UK as an example of perfect gun control. There are better. From the article above, take a look also at Germany. German gun ownership is almost as high per capita as the US, but their gun crime is ridiculously low, and dropping, because they positively vet people that apply to have guns … and only sane people are allowed them. That’s probably how it should be done. Can we agree that only sane people should have guns?

Regarding ‘close your eyes and think of England’ :) The calculation is: in the incredibly rare case where someone actually breaks into my house armed, I will find a way to come out of it unscathed, either by bargaining, or self defence, or running, because the alternative, everybody up-gunned and shooting to kill, is worse. Most people here find a baseball bat or a kitchen knife a sufficiently comforting deterrent. I don’t think you’ll find most people in this country would sit around and do nothing if their home is invaded, we are not pacifists :)! But having a gun makes it too easy to end up with everybody dead. I suppose you could say criminals do benefit, because they don’t end up dead.

Yes - I did misread the section on ‘police state’ - my apologies.
OK, get an adult beverage and settle in:
My apologies, I’ve been AFK all day, and I certainly wasn’t going to try to reply to this on my iPhone. Let us begin:

“…when you compare figures between the US and UK, you will find that the US and the UK do not define ‘violence’ the same way. The UK definition is much broader, and the UK numbers include such things as bicycle theft and domestic violence, which the US numbers do not.”

And that doesn’t really matter, because the statistics I pointed you to were exclusively for your nation. Let’s look at “More serious wounding or other acts endangering life” for example.

1950: 1,078 incidents
1960: 1,847
1970: 2,956
1980: 4,390
1990: 8,920

Your population didn’t grow that much over that period (about 45 million in 1950, about 50 million in 1990). So the rate of this specific violent crime increased from about 2.4/100,000 population in 1950 to 17.84/100,000 in 1990. That’s over a 700% increase in 40 years, and the numbers nearly doubled again by the end of the century.

You are not safer than you were in 1960.

“But if you look at gun-related crime … the US leaves everyone else in the dust.”

Only if you cherry-pick the nations you compare us to. Internationally the heavily-armed U.S. ranks about 100th for homicide. Think about that. What disqualified those other 99 nations from your consideration? And why do you concentrate on gun violence? The U.S. has a higher homicide rate committed without guns than England and Wales has by all methods. I will stipulate to our violent tendencies. What I won’t do is attributed those tendencies to the widespread ownership of firearms. I can riff on this subject for a few thousand words, but I’ll pass at this time.

“Take a look here for more up to date and detailed figures than you provided:”

Again, so stipulated. But I wasn’t comparing our rates to yours. I was comparing your rates over history to our rates over the same period. That says that England & Wales has gotten more dangerous over time (going from incredibly safe to notably less so) and the U.S. has gotten safer (from notably unsafe to considerably safer). Your nation has banned the tools of self-defense and made self-defense legally risky by imposing a “proportional response” requirement. Over that same period my nation has loosened the laws on self defense and the restrictions on the ability to have weapons suitable for it.

These two data points seem to contradict the gun control narrative.

“To your point regarding historical crime stats, the key time points you miss are the tightening of the rules after the Hungerford and Dunblane massacres, where automatic weapons and handguns (respectively) were outlawed and other guns began to be properly controlled.”

I’m going to skip quoting the rest of that paragraph and ask again, why the exclusive focus on gun crime? Is it somehow worse than knife crime (the latest focus of your law enforcement attention)? On physical assault with other weapons or bare hands? Because those numbers, as far as we can tell, are not improving. We can’t really tell because apparently they’re not being properly recorded.

'Fifth of all crimes' go unrecorded Pullquote: “The problem is greatest for victims of violent crime, with a third going unrecorded. Of sexual offences, 26% are not recorded.”

And if you can link to The Guardian, so can I: Violent crime in England and Wales is up 24%, police figures show

Makes one wonder why the numbers aren’t being recorded, doesn’t it?

“ ‘Yeah, we keep hearing that one - “More guns = more crime” - except it hasn’t happened.’ Look at US gun crime figures compared to everywhere else on the planet.”

I have. Again, why do you ignore those countries that don’t conform to your worldview?

“Why is not obvious that if you have guns you have gun crime and without guns you don’t?”

Oh, it is. This is known as a tautology. Again, why the emphasis on guns versus violence? Here is a good place to give you a quote from the conclusion of a gun control meta-study performed here in the early 1980’s at the behest of the Carter administration that addresses this question directly:
“The progressive's indictment of American firearms policy is well known and is one that both the senior authors of this study once shared. This indictment includes the following particulars: (1) Guns are involved in an astonishing number of crimes in this country. (2) In other countries with stricter firearms laws and fewer guns in private hands, gun crime is rare. (3) Most of the firearms involved in crime are cheap Saturday Night Specials, for which no legitimate use or need exists. (4) Many families acquire such a gun because they feel the need to protect themselves; eventually they end up shooting one another. (5) If there were fewer guns around, there would obviously be less crime. (6) Most of the public also believes this and has favored stricter gun control laws for as long as anyone has asked the question. (7) Only the gun lobby prevents us from embarking on the road to a safer and more civilized society.

“The more deeply we have explored the empirical implications of this indictment, the less plausible it has become. We wonder, first, given the number of firearms presently available in the United States, whether the time to ‘do something’ about them has not long since passed. If we take the highest plausible value for the total number of gun incidents in any given year - 1,000,000 - and the lowest plausible value for the total number of firearms now in private hands - 100,000,000 - we see rather quickly that the guns now owned exceed the annual incident count by a factor of at least 100. This means that the existing stock is adequate to supply all conceivable criminal purposes for at least the entire next century, even if the worldwide manufacture of new guns were halted today and if each presently owned firearm were used criminally once and only once. Short of an outright house-to-house search and seizure mission, just how are we going to achieve some significant reduction in the number of firearms available?

“Even if we were somehow able to remove all firearms from civilian possession, it is not at all clear that a substantial reduction in interpersonal violence would follow. Certainly, the violence that results from hard-core and predatory criminality would not abate very much. Even the most ardent proponents of stricter gun laws no longer expect such laws to solve the hard-core crime problem, or even to make much of a dent in it. There is also reason to doubt whether the ‘soft-core’ violence, the so-called crimes of passion, would decline by very much. Stated simply, these crimes occur because some people have come to hate others, and they will continue to occur in one form or another as long as hatred persists. It is possible, to be sure, that many of these incidents would involve different consequences if no firearms were available, but it is also possible that the consequences would be exactly the same. The existing empirical literature provides no firm basis for choosing one of these possibilities over the other. Restating the point, if we could solve the problem of interpersonal hatred, it may not matter very much what we did about guns, and unless we solve the problem of interpersonal hatred, it may not matter much what we do about guns. There are simply too many other objects that can serve the purpose of inflicting harm on another human being."
The estimate of 100,000,000 firearms in the early 80’s was almost definitely low. The current estimate of 300,000,000 is also probably low. But it means the problem of gun elimination hasn’t gotten any smaller. But gun violence has.

“German gun ownership is almost as high per capita as the US, but their gun crime is ridiculously low, and dropping, because they positively vet people that apply to have guns … and only sane people are allowed them. That’s probably how it should be done. Can we agree that only sane people should have guns?”

In an ideal world, yes. I’m not going to get into a lengthy discussion on the topic of American vs. European views of government authority in this thread. Suffice it to say, what you are noting as a victory of “common sense gun regulation” is more an example of a quite homogeneous culture. If I recall my history correctly, those famously law-abiding people managed to kill tens of millions of other Europeans during the 20th Century, did they not? I don’t think I’d point to them as the gun-control ideal, myself.

“Regarding ‘close your eyes and think of England’ :) The calculation is: in the incredibly rare case where someone actually breaks into my house armed, I will find a way to come out of it unscathed, either by bargaining, or self defence, or running, because the alternative, everybody up-gunned and shooting to kill, is worse.”

This is an argument that I hear repeatedly. Since you admitted to missing the alternative to a police state reference in my early comment, I’ll point you to that same excerpt once again:

“So long as a sufficient number of us are, the rest of society will enjoy the benefit of our protection. When there are too few of us, or when those of us who are willing to resist are restricted by law from doing so…”

EVERYBODY doesn’t need to be armed. In fact it takes just a small percentage of the population armed and willing to benefit the rest of society. You say “I will find a way to come out of it unscathed…” You may. What about a single woman, or an elderly man?

I’ve seen this argument before too. A previous discussion yielded this bit of “wisdom” that seems to represent your position:
Consider two scenarios:
1. Attacker has a gun. Defender does not.
2. Attacker does not have a gun. Defender doesn't either.
Self defence is possible in the second scenario while it isn't in the first one. Is that clear now?
No. How about this instead:

If the law disarms citizens, then it can make self defense impossible where it would have been possible if the citizen was armed.

Take these incidents from 2004, for example: Vulnerable pensioners need the self-defence law changed Pullquote:
“Two women in their eighties have been brutally beaten in their own homes by burglars in the past few days….

“Annie Hendrick, an 89-year-old grandmother, was in a critical condition in a London hospital yesterday after being beaten almost beyond recognition 11 days ago.

“Sally Skidmore was attacked on her 81st birthday a week ago yesterday, as she sat in an armchair watching television at home. She was punched repeatedly in the face and was left with two black eyes, a swollen jaw and a bleeding nose.”
Let’s ignore the Telegraph’s call for allowing women like these to possess at least pepper spray to defend themselves with. I doubt seriously that the perpetrators of these crimes began their criminal careers with the assaults on Ms. Hendrick and Ms. Skidmore. More likely they’ve been doing similar crimes, perhaps without the assault and battery, for some time. Had they met someone armed and willing to shoot, might that not have ended their careers before either lady had the misfortune to meet them? How many other crimes might have been prevented? We literally can’t know. But what we do know in the Oklahoma incident is that the three perpetrators of that home invasion will not be recidivists.

“Most people here find a baseball bat or a kitchen knife a sufficiently comforting deterrent.”

A kitchen knife did not work out so well for Mr. Brett Osborne: Five years in prison for acting in self-defence Pullquote:
’The law,’ explains Harry Potter, the barrister who, with Charles Bott, would defend Osborn, ‘does not require the intention to kill for a prosecution for murder to succeed. All that is required is an intention to cause serious bodily harm. That intention can be fleeting and momentary. But if it is there in any form at all for just a second - that is, if the blow you struck was deliberate rather than accidental - you can be guilty of murder and spend the rest of your life in prison.

‘Moreover,’ Mr Potter continues, ‘while self-defence is a complete defence to a charge of murder, the Court of Appeal has ruled that if the force you use is not judged to have been reasonable - if a jury, that is, decides it was disproportionate - then you are guilty of murder. A conviction for murder automatically triggers the mandatory life sentence. There are no exceptions.’
Pour encourager les autres, as the Froggies put it?

“I don’t think you’ll find most people in this country would sit around and do nothing if their home is invaded, we are not pacifists :)!”

When defending oneself or others can get you jailed, then sitting around and doing nothing might be an option.

“But having a gun makes it too easy to end up with everybody dead.”

Despite the fact that I can give you link after link to incidents were ether the perpetrator ended up captured (wounded or unwounded), driven off, or killed, while the defenders suffered little to no injury. What do you say to those people? They shouldn’t have had a gun?

“I suppose you could say criminals do benefit, because they don’t end up dead.”

Or wounded. Or captured. Or driven off to consider a safer career path. No, they get to keep on victimizing others. And society loses.
Damn, but I do enjoy these.

UPDATE 4/14:  And another round:
As I say, we will not agree. Of course you can cherry pick stories in the UK news where a person comes to grief who would have been better off armed, and the daily mail and telegraph are great places to start looking. And of course there are cases where the tabloids can make out that the victim is unfairly punished for defending himself - I assure you that if you look into the case it will not be quite as simple as you suggest, the legal system is quite sane here in general. And for every article you cite where there is a positive outcome where an armed victim saved themselves, I’ll cite one where a child kills themselves or someone else with a gun sitting on a table at home, or a school massacre, or some other ghastly avoidable gun accident or crime occurs.

Is our system perfect? Of course not! But we think it’s OBVIOUSLY miles better than your alternative.

Regarding countries not on the list: who do you want to include? From that guardian article:

If you want to include Honduras, Venezuela, Swaziland, Guatemala, Jamaica, El Salvador, Columbia, I have no problem with that, but I’m not sure it helps your cause to compare the US to countries like that. Isn’t it more useful to consider countries that are a bit less chaotic? I note also that the top 2 Euro countries in the list, Finland and Switzerland the vast majority of gun killings are suicides! But that’s a separate problem. Source here: List of countries by firearm-related death rate - Wikipedia

Regarding historic data - I see where you are coming from, and I agree that the long term is generally the best we to look at trends, but the key point you are missing is that during the majority of the 20th century, in the UK you could own a semi-automatic weapon, rifle, handgun or shotgun, with a little bit of paperwork and a clean criminal record. We have only really been doing proper gun control since legislation following the Dunblane massacre in 1996, finally enacted after massive public pressure in 2003. Here’s Uk gun crime chart from 1990 to the present:

I have no idea why the number increased so markedly up to 2002 or so, but since then the trend has been pretty clear, do you agree? But before 2003, the Uk did not have effective gun control, so am not sure that you can read anything useful into the prior data.

I understand you feel that having guns around overall reduces all crime. That may be so or it may not be (my gut feeling after scanning a lot of data is that the US and the UK are in the same ball park where it comes to non-violent crime, so gun ownership has little effect overall on non-gun crime, but I could well be wrong), but in this country we are more than happy to accept the consequences of NOT having every home invasion turning into the equivalent of the St Valentines day massacre, even if it means a slightly higher level of other types of crime. Yes. We feel it’s better to sacrifice a few unlucky people rather than suffer the consequences of everyone being armed to the teeth, because (sorry) we don’t want to end up like the US, having to justify the craziness of more or less anyone being allowed to own a device specifically designed to kill other human beings as efficiently as possible, by saying it makes everyone safer.
"As I say, we will not agree."

No, we won’t, but for me the purpose of discussions like this isn’t to change your mind, it’s to put both sides of the argument up for those undecided to see and consider. Thanks for doing your part.

“I assure you that if you look into the case it will not be quite as simple as you suggest, the legal system is quite sane here in general.”

From this side of the pond, it appears that your legal system is - at best- schizophrenic when it comes to self-defense, and as a result the apparently real risk of prosecution in the event of a self-defense situation has what one person on your side grudgingly called a “chilling effect” on such actions.

“And for every article you cite where there is a positive outcome where an armed victim saved themselves, I’ll cite one where a child kills themselves or someone else with a gun sitting on a table at home, or a school massacre, or some other ghastly avoidable gun accident or crime occurs.”

I’d be happy to take up that challenge - to the point that I would be willing to bet I could give you at least three “positive outcome” stories for each “bad outcome” story you could find, but this isn’t the place for that. Nor is it the point. The question for me is, “Who gets to decide?” Who gets to decide how I choose to defend myself and my loved ones? Me? Or an entity that isn’t responsible for providing the protection that they deny to me (but still reserve to themselves)? You’ve made your choice. I’m fine with that. But I won’t live under those rules.

“If you want to include Honduras, Venezuela, Swaziland, Guatemala, Jamaica, El Salvador, Columbia, I have no problem with that, but I’m not sure it helps your cause to compare the US to countries like that. Isn’t it more useful to consider countries that are a bit less chaotic?”

But many of those nations are - judging by their laws - gun control paradises! Honduras - 6.2 (legally owned) guns per 100 population (GB has 6.6, the U.S. 112.6 according to Wikipedia), yet it is the undisputed champion of homicide worldwide. Does this not suggest to you that guns aren’t the issue as much as culture? British law has treated firearms as deodands, and now they’re doing the same to knives.

“We have only really been doing proper gun control since legislation following the Dunblane massacre in 1996, finally enacted after massive public pressure in 2003.”

Where “proper gun control” is defined as “banning and confiscating all legally-owned handguns”? What law was passed in 2003 that magically fixed everything?

The British government has been incrementally passing gun control laws since 1920 in order to reach the point in 1996 where they could pass, and more importantly implement, the handgun ban. In 1920 the Firearms Act implemented registration of handguns and rifles and restricted possession to people who could prove “good reason” to have them. At that time “self defense” was accepted as a good reason. The law was passed as a crime control measure, but when the seal on the discussions of that legislation expired in 1981 the real reason behind it came to light - fear of armed revolt by communists (read: unions) as had occurred in Russia just a few years previously.

Though Britain didn’t have Prohibition and the associated problem with Tommy-gun toting mobsters, in 1937 the machine guns that had been brought back after WWI and had been legally registered under the 1920 Firearms Act were - you guessed it - banned, along with short-barreled shotguns. American pundit Charles Krauthammer writing about our 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” (that wasn’t) said: “It might be 50 years before the United States gets to where Britain is today. Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic -- purely symbolic -- move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.” You started in 1937. Sixty years later you had banned all but a handful of firearms after first requiring that they all be registered and after making acquisition, storage and use of them onerous and expensive. You said you owned shotguns - how many people there are willing to jump through the regulatory hoops necessary to do so?

And you were told that each and every law that was passed would make you safer. The previously mentioned Prevention of Crime Act of 1953 took away “self defense” as a legitimate reason to own a firearm or to carry any “offensive weapon” including things like pepper spray.

To make you safer.

The Criminal Justice Act of 1967 (later consolidated into the Firearms Act of 1968) required registration of all shotguns, previously considered merely “sporting arms” and gave the police the power to refuse registrations if they believed the registrant would “endanger public safety.”

To make you safer.

The 1988 Firearm Act (passed after the Hungerford massacre) had been sitting on a desk in Parliament since 1973 as a White Paper, just awaiting the proper crisis to be implemented. (As Winston Churchill - later quoted by current Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel - said, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste. Crisis provides the opportunity to do things you couldn’t do before.”) That one banned all semi-automatic and pump-action centerfire rifles and changed shotguns that could hold more than two shells into “firearms” that required the more stringent license required for rifles and handguns.

To make you safer.

Then after Dunblane all centerfire handguns were banned effective October 1997. All other handguns were banned effective February 1998.

To make you safer. Home secretary Alun Michael said after passage of the handgun ban: “This is an important step towards improving the safety of the public after the terrible events of Dunblane. Britain now has some of the toughest gun laws in the world. We recognize that only the strictest control of firearms will protect the public.”

But only after 2003 did you get truly effective gun control? Again, what was the magical change? And did it make you safer? Again, check your statistics. Historical crime data indicates not. Using the data there for “Total Violence Against the Person” minus “Violence without injury” for the period of 1990 - 2014/15 this is the graph I get:

What happened after 2001 to cause that massive spike? It wasn’t just gun crimes that increased. What law was passed after 2003 that caused it to drop? And why were there still over double the number of incidents in 2015 than in 1990? Your population hasn’t grown that much over 25 years. Based on a fixed population of 55 million, the rate in 1990 would be about 327/100,000. In 2014/15 about 650/100,000.
We don’t keep track of statistics the same way, but Aggravated Assault here generally involves a weapon or injury of some sort, so it’s at least comparative. In 1990 our aggravated assault rate was 424.1/100,000. In 2015 it was 237.8.
With our lax gun laws.

So, are you safer? You’ve traditionally never killed each other very often, so you get what I call “OMGWTFBBQ?!?” headlines like Murder rate in England and Wales rises 11%. Yeah, 573 dead. So an 11% increase is an extra 63 deaths, or two guys driving lorries through crowds of holiday shoppers. But you’re beating, stabbing and bludgeoning each other at two and a half times the rate we are.

Are you safer? Safer than you were in 1990? Safer than you were in 1960? Because we’re just about as safe now as we were in the 1960’s and we have a lot more guns than we had then, and much more leeway in their use in self-defense.

My argument isn’t that guns necessarily make us safer, it’s that disarming the public DOESN’T. And the numbers appear to back me up, because I’m not fixated on the tools of violence, but the ACT.
I get the feeling this one's petering out.

UPDATE: Jim is still in it!
Hi Kevin - I think we could go on at this forever :) Two things though really:

First, Honduras, Columbia, Guatemala etc. I honestly don’t think there’s much point in arguing that gun control there is properly enforced, do you? Are you seriously going to suggest we compare the real situation of how many people actually have guns legally/illegally between the UK, Japan, Australia, other euro countries, etc etc to these very out-there countries? I don’t think to do so does your argument much good. ‘Look - we’re miles better than Columbia’ … I should jolly well hope so!

Second: comparative numbers. There are a lot of articles out there saying that the Uk is 5 times more violent than the US. Most of these seem to link back to a survey carried out by Civitas for the Tory party in the Uk from a few years ago, designed to discredit the law and order policies of the Labour government … and it fails to take into account the different definitions for violence between the US an the UK - I believe I mentioned this in an earlier post. I have spent a little time trying to find a rigorous analysis where an honest effort is made to compare apples and apples, and I can only find one, here: Dispelling The Myth - a response to the Civitas report I refer to above. The guy links to his data sources and describes his methodology. He only uses published results, though he does point out that in similar surveys in the UK and the US, UK violent crime is under-reported by about 2x and in the US by about 4x, but that is not taken into account in the calculation. The headline results (sorted from worse in the UK to worse in the US):

You are 1.27x (58.3 / 45.8) more likely to be knifed in the UK than in the US

You are 1.1x (135.7 / 113.7) more likely to suffer robbery in the UK than in the US.

You are 1.02x (26.7 / 26) more likely to be raped as a female in the US than in the UK

You are 1.29x (229.5 / 176.9) more likely to suffer theft of a vehicle in the US than in the UK

You are 1.52x (702.1 / 460.1) more likely to suffer burglary in the US than in the UK.

You are 4.03x (4.6 / 1.14) more likely to be murdered in the US than in the UK.

You are 6.9x (241.05 / 34.7) more likely to suffer aggravated assault in the US than in the UK.

You are 35.2x (3.17 / 0.09) more likely to be shot dead in the US than in the UK.

These are absolute numbers, like compared to like as far as possible, from snapshots taken in 2013. Building a narrative based on whether crime rates go up or down year on year is not much use when comparing the UK and the US if you don’t take into account the initial starting points. Here’s at least one initial starting point and in my opinion it doesn’t make the US look good, guns or no guns, and there is no argument here at all that the UK is bludgeoning its citizens to death 3 times more than the US. That would come under either murder or aggravated assault in the figures above.

I am not making this stuff up. By all means check this guy’s sources … I have spot checked a couple of calculations (rape and knife crime) and I can’t find any errors. If you can, let me know.

If you do take into account this guys assertion that crime is underreported in the US 2x as much in the US as the UK, the situation in the US looks even bleaker.

If you can find an alternative analysis of like for like crimes between the US and the UK, please cite it.

As to why crime of any sort increases or decreases, I would say that there’s a lot more that goes into it than gun control, eg poverty, alienation, the gap between rich and poor, policing, sentencing, social security, healthcare, education etc etc. Generally the poorer and more alienated people feel, the more they commit crime. There comes a point I suspect when for some people any risk is worth taking.

Frankly the best way it seems to live in a country with low crime is to live in a country with a strong social conscience, where the disadvantaged are looked after. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know.

Out of curiosity - do you think we are the only people on the planet reading this conversation?? :-D
I've got to dig through that link and see what's in it, but Jim is holding up his end of the argument with skill and enthusiasm.

UPDATE 4/18:  OK, there's been another exchange.  I put up my response this evening, but copying everything over here isn't a simple cut-and-paste exercise.  Maybe tomorrow.

UPDATE 4/19: OK, here's my latest response to Jim:
OK, I’ve read your link and explored the authors methodology, and honestly can find little to criticize except one thing - it compares one year’s data only.

Which completely avoids my point.

Going back to your opening paragraph:

“First, Honduras, Columbia, Guatemala etc. I honestly don’t think there’s much point in arguing that gun control there is properly enforced, do you? Are you seriously going to suggest we compare the real situation of how many people actually have guns legally/illegally between the UK, Japan, Australia, other euro countries, etc etc to these very out-there countries? I don’t think to do so does your argument much good. ‘Look - we’re miles better than Columbia’ … I should jolly well hope so!”

I have already stipulated to the US’s (much) greater tendency toward violence. You seem to attribute it to the presence of firearms, and I attribute it to culture. I understand we won’t reach any consensus on this, but I wanted to make the point clear. If you study world history prior to the invention of the (effective) firearm, you will note that violence was much more widespread, and the world much more lethal back then. I recommend you look at Long Term Historical Trends in Violent Crime (PDF) and The Better Angels of Our Nature.

What I was trying to get across to you was not the relative safety of the UK vs. the US, but rather the relative safety within each nation over time.

Going back to the link I provided before, Historical crime data let’s look at one data series - “More serious wounding or other acts endangering life” for the period 1898–2001/02 (all that data set is good for). Again, this data set is for “number of incidents” and per capita is more what we’re interested in, so I’ve looked up the census data and interpolated between those data points to give that measurement. As you noted, this data is restricted to the polity of England and Wales and does not include Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Here’s the graph I get:

 photo Serious_Wounding_England_Wales.jpg

Gun control in the UK began as I said in 1920 with the registration of firearms. Doesn’t appear that things were very violent there in 1920. In 1937 full-auto weapons and short-barreled weapons (excluding handguns) were banned. Still doesn’t look very violent. Post WWII violent crime began to inch up. The 1953 Prevention of Crime Act - passed to make you safer - removed self defense as a valid reason to carry any kind of weapon, and removed self defense as a valid reason to possess a firearm.

It apparently didn’t make you safer.

The Criminal Justice Act of 1967 and the Firearms Act of 1968 - again, passed to make England safer - didn’t.

The 1988 Firearms Act which banned semi-auto and pump-action rifles - again, to make you safer - again, didn’t.

The handgun ban of 1997? Ditto.

Now you assert that after 2003 these laws or some additional law you can’t seem to point to magically started working! Yet the current level of violent crime dwarfs what you had in the 1950s. It’s bad enough that police departments have been cooking the books to make it look better.

Met tried to silence PC whistleblower who exposed crime figures scandal

'Fifth of all crimes' go unrecorded - not because they aren’t reported, but because the police deliberately record them as less serious offenses or don’t record them at all.

Yes, we kill each other a lot over here, but then we always have. The UK used to be damned near idyllic. Now it’s just about average - again, excepting the fact that y’all just don’t kill each other very much. But regardless, you aren’t safer than you were.

Europeans (and others) wring their hands over our supposedly astronomical homicide rate and tell us we need to get with the 21st Century and get rid of our guns so we can be safer, just like you. I respond with this:

 photo homicides.jpg
We'll see if anything further develops.