The Paradox and Absurdities of Carbon-Fretting and Rewilding

Herschel Smith · 28 Jan 2024 · 4 Comments

The Bureau of Land Management is planning a truly boneheaded move, angering some conservationists over the affects to herd populations and migration routes.  From Field & Stream. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently released a draft plan outlining potential solar energy development in the West. The proposal is an update of the BLM’s 2012 Western Solar Plan. It adds five new states—Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, and Wyoming—to a list of 11 western states already earmarked…… [read more]

A Case For More Guns (And More Gun Control)

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 5 months ago

Briefly, recall what I said about the data from Virginia in which we learned that gun sales had soared, while crime had dropped.

Second amendment advocates aren’t making the case, generally speaking, that increased gun sales equals decreased crime.  As an anecdotal note, my own home might be safer with weapons, but that’s a different conversation. The case that must be made belongs to the gun control advocates, not us.  They must make the case that the increased availability of weapons causes an increase of crime.  Otherwise, what’s all this silly argumentation about the “scourge of guns” across our inner cities, and the “rivers of blood” caused by the “easy availability of illegal firearms,” and so on ad nauseam?  Their national conversation with us makes no sense whatsoever if they cannot trot out the data to make it meaningful.

In fact, they cannot.  It is the lack of this data that is remarkable.  The gun control advocates and their ideas fail at every point, and this is the reason behind Chicago being the crime capital of the U.S. in spite of the stringent gun control.  Crime is a moral decision, value judgment and social and cultural phenomenon.  It isn’t related to the existence of guns, and if guns weren’t available, they will use hammers.  Gun control laws cannot raise children to believe in values.

I don’t have to demonstrate that the exercise of my constitutional rights doesn’t affect anyone else in order to legitimize such exercise (think here the first amendment as a case study).  Nor do I have to demonstrate that the public good – whatever that is (it sounds too utilitarian for my tastes) – is served by said right in order to justify its existence.  But what does indeed have to happen is in order for the national conversation the gun control advocates want to have to make any sense whatsoever, they must demonstrate that there is data to justify their claims.

This is important to recall as we examine a recent article by Jeffrey Goldberg entitled The Case For More Guns (And More Gun Control).  Jeffrey makes a few errors of fact, such as the claim that the Colorado shooter was wearing body armor.  He wasn’t.  He was wearing a tactical vest, and that vest had neither soft armor nor hard plates.  Not, of course, that it is a problem to have body armor if someone wants to have it and can afford it, but it is an error of fact anyway.  There are other slight or moderate problems like this throughout the piece.  The Brady Campaign wants to come off as oh-so-sensible in their admission that we do actually have constitutional rights to own and bear arms, but in fact as anyone who has followed their activities can attest, this is disingenuous.  One remarkable element in Goldberg’s interviews is the tacet (if unintentional) admission by progressives and behaviorists as to the existence of evil, and the possibility that a gun wielding concealed carrier will just blow his top and begin shooting when he gets into a heated argument.  Not good form, unforgivable, and the society of humanists might just have to evict them for this outrage.

But on the whole the article is very interesting if for no other reason than Goldberg finds gems here and there and discusses this issue with enough people (including gun control advocates) that one gets a good sense of their arguments.  For me, the money quote is this:

In 2004, the Ohio legislature passed a law allowing private citizens to apply for permits to carry firearms outside the home. The decision to allow concealed carry was, of course, a controversial one. Law-enforcement organizations, among others, argued that an armed population would create chaos in the streets. In 2003, John Gilchrist, the legislative counsel for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, testified, “If 200,000 to 300,000 citizens begin carrying a concealed weapon, common sense tells us that accidents will become a daily event.”

When I called Gilchrist recently, he told me that events since the state’s concealed-carry law took effect have proved his point. “Talking to the chiefs, I know that there is more gun violence and accidents involving guns,” he said. “I think there’s more gun violence now because there are more guns. People are using guns in the heat of arguments, and there wouldn’t be as much gun violence if we didn’t have people carrying weapons. If you’ve got people walking around in a bad mood—or in a divorce, they’ve lost their job—and they get into a confrontation, this could result in the use of a gun. If you talk to emergency-room physicians in the state, [they] see more and more people with gunshot wounds.”

Gilchrist said he did not know the exact statistics on gun-related incidents (or on incidents concerning concealed-carry permit holders specifically, because the state keeps the names of permit holders confidential). He says, however, that he tracks gun usage anecdotally. “You can look in the newspaper. I consciously look for stories that deal with guns. There are more and more articles in The Columbus Dispatch about people using guns inappropriately.”

Ooooh.  Sounds ominous, no?  Sounds as if Goldberg has landed on someone who has authority and backbone  to go after the evil gun lobby and the data to back it all up.  But wait.  This little issue of tracking “gun usage anecdotally” seems like it might be a bit problematic.  Goldberg has the scoop.

Gilchrist’s argument would be convincing but for one thing: the firearm crime rate in Ohio remained steady after the concealed-carry law passed in 2004.

Well there you have it.  The gun control lobby’s case remains stillborn, and thus their national conversation with us remains self referential and nonsensical.  It is a myth, a phantom, and they believe their case in spite of – not because of – the facts.  Since there is no real case, they turn to this wonderfully emotional appeal at the end of the article.

“In a fundamental way, isn’t this a question about the kind of society we want to live in?” Do we want to live in one “in which the answer to violence is more violence, where the answer to guns is more guns?”

Note the construction of the phrases to achieve maximum effect.  I have a different way of expressing the same question.  In a fundamental way, isn’t this question about what kind of society we want to live in?  Do we want to live in a society in which we are able to defend ourselves against the designs of criminals and those who would wish us harm, or do we want to be defenseless against their acts?

I know what kind of society I want.  I don’t think it’s the same one as the gun control lobby.

Rifles: Threat To The Nation’s Energy Grid?

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.  I leave for a few minutes and this is what I come back to?

Let’s recall that in A Terrorist Attack That America Cannot Absorb, I described in some detail an attack on the main step-up transformers of the fossil fuel power plants in the nation as being perhaps the most serious threat to the economy and infrastructure that this country faced.  I also linked two papers on Hezbollah fighters already being in America.  I described an attack in which fighters destroyed the transformers completely and thoroughly enough that they could not function.  For this article I relied on a colleague at work who knows far more than I do about the subject.

David Codrea discusses the Obama administration’s reaction to this same type of threat.

Rifles, even .22 caliber models many young people receive as their first gun, are “among the greatest threats to the reliability of the nation’s power system,” U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff claimed at a Tuesday Bloomberg Government Breakfast, Bloomberg News reported yesterday.

Citing “inadequately protected” transformers as easy targets, Wellinghoff told the group that terrorists in “coordinated” actions committed to destroying them “could get 200 yards away with a .22 rifle and take the whole thing out.”

A .22 rifle.  When I learned to shoot a .22 rifle, I did my target practicing in my back yard (we lived in the country) using our aluminum trash can lid as a target.  The .22 round would penetrate that lid, but not much more.  My dad would come home from work, inspect my targeting, and let me continue.

Has Wellinghoff ever shot a .22?  Rather than focusing on Hezbollah they are focusing on backyard shooting with a .22.  Rather than working to shore up the nation’s energy grid and its vulnerabilities, they have put their attention on 200 yard shots taking “the whole thing out!”  Nothing about Hezbollah, nothing about securing the border, nothing about additional security infrastructure around these components, but hand-wringing over .22 rifles.

This is unserious.  It isn’t adult-like analysis.  It’s juvenile and childish.  As soon as I turn my back, this is the kind of twaddle that the Obama administration comes out with.  See, this is why we can’t have nice things.  Everything gets broken.

The Washington Post On Virginia Gun Statistics

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

Oh dear.  Someone named Peter Galuszka waxes on about the Virginia gun statistics we briefly discussed.

Virginians have been buying more firearms than ever, even though crime has been steadily falling. Why?

Last year, 420,829 firearms were bought through licensed gun dealers in the state. That’s a 73 percent increase over 2006. Leading the list were pistols (175,717), followed by rifles (135,495). According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, central Virginians packed more heat than anyone else, followed closely by Northern Virginians.

And yet, as more firearms are sold, the crime rate has continued to drop. From 2006 to 2011, the number violent crimes committed with handguns fell from 4,040 to 3,154, about 25 percent, the newspaper reported.

Is there a correlation between increased gun sales and decreasing crime?

Indeed, some believe that hardened criminals are less likely to threaten victims if they know there’s a chance they could end up looking down the barrel of a 9 mm. Glock, or perhaps something that fits more easily into a lady’s handbag, such as a Ruger LCP 380 Ultra Compact Pistol. And by some accounts, women as well as men are flocking to training courses and firing ranges operated by gun stores.

At first glance, “the data is pretty overwhelming,” Thomas R. Baker, a criminologist at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the Richmond newspaper.

When you take a longer view, however, this thinking starts to fall apart. According to FBI reports, violent crime has been on a fairly steady downward trend since the early 1990s – much earlier than 2006, when Virginians started buying guns like crazy. The Economist magazine says the violent crime rate is at its lowest in 40 years and that the murder rate is less than it was a half a century ago.

It’s anyone’s guess why crime has continually dropped. Theories include demographic shifts resulting in fewer of the younger, inner-city men who tend to be involved in violent crime. Better community-based police work could be a cause. Some even say it’s because of large numbers of abortions by low-income women.

This last sentence is disturbing, and betrays a gross moral failing on his part.  But wait!  Peter has thought of something no one else has stopped to ponder.  Really.  Does correlation equal causation?  Peter is alone in the world.  No one else is smart enough to raise that particular question.

Or maybe not.  Go over even pro-gun web sites such as reddit/r/guns and and post a statement that this proves that guns decrease crime and you’ll get eaten alive.  Everyone knows that correlation isn’t equivalent to causation, and no one … no one … is making this argument.  That isn’t what’s being said.

So what is being said?  Recall what I said earlier.

Here the point isn’t about correlation and causation.  In order to demonstrate that gun control achieves its “purported” purpose, one must find evidence that it reduces crime, and it is the absence of this evidence that is remarkable

So let’s extend this a bit.  Second amendment advocates aren’t making the case, generally speaking, that increased gun sales equals decreased crime.  As an anecdotal note, my own home might be safer with weapons, but that’s a different conversation. The case that must be made belongs to the gun control advocates, not us.  They must make the case that the increased availability of weapons causes an increase of crime.  Otherwise, what’s all this silly argumentation about the “scourge of guns” across our inner cities, and the “rivers of blood” caused by the “easy availability of illegal firearms,” and so on ad nauseam?  Their national conversation with us makes no sense whatsoever if they cannot trot out the data to make it meaningful.

In fact, they cannot.  It is the lack of this data that is remarkable.  The gun control advocates and their ideas fail at every point, and this is the reason behind Chicago being the crime capital of the U.S. in spite of the stringent gun control.  Crime is a moral decision, value judgment and social and cultural phenomenon.  It isn’t related to the existence of guns, and if guns weren’t available, they will use hammers.  Gun control laws cannot raise children to believe in values.

So there.  Peter may stop wringing his hands now, and worrying over issues that only he ponders.  Others have thought of these things as well, and Peter isn’t alone.  I’m glad to have helped.   As for Peter’s irrational fear of firearms, I can help with that too, but Peter must be willing to listen and participate.

I’m available Peter.  Give me a call and we can go shooting.

Gun Rights Setback In New York

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

From NY Daily News:

A federal Court of Appeals panel has rejected a constitutional challenge to New York’s handgun licensing law, a ruling state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is hailing as a major victory for public safety.

In Kachalsky, et al. v. Cacace, et al, five people from Westchester and The Second Amendment Foundation argued that the state’s gun laws — which require a demonstration of “proper cause” to obtain a concealed-carry permit — violated Second Amendment protections. To qualify under New York’s licensing laws, the applicant has to show “a special need for self protection distinguishable from that of the general community or of persons engaged in the same profession.”

In the case, one plaintiff simply argued the Second Amendment entitled him to carry his weapon without restrictions, in part because “[W]e live in a world where sporadic random violence might at any moment place one in a position where one needs to defend onself or possibly others.”

Two others said they were entitled to the permits because they were gainfully employed citizens in good standing, while another cited his status as a federal law enforcement officer with the U.S. Coast Guard.

The final plaintiff “attempted show a special need for self-protection by asserting that as a transgender female, she is more likely to be the victim of violence.”

The three-judge panel of the court’s Second Circuit, noting that “New York’s efforts in regulating the possession and use of firearms predate the Constitution” and continued with the 1911 Sullivan Law, said none of the plaintiffs demonstrated a qualifying need for self-protection beyond that of any other member of the public.

“As the parties agree, New York has substantial, indeed compelling, governmental interests in public safety and crime prevention,” the ruling says. “The only question then is whether the proper cause requirement is substantially related to these interests. We conclude that it is.”

Schneiderman called the unanimous decision “a victory for New York State law, the United States Constitution, and families across New York who are rightly concerned about the scourge of gun violence that all too often plagues our communities.”

Here is the decision.  This has nothing whatsoever to do with a “scourge of gun violence,” and they know it.  What we know is that there is this nice little summary statement at the end of the decision that looks quite a bit like presupposing the consequent.

… we decline Plaintiffs’ invitation to strike down New York’s one-hundred-year-old law and call into question the state’s traditional authority to extensively regulate handgun possession in public.

Ignoring the split-infinitive in the sentence, they began with the idea that New York could legitimately “extensively regulate handgun possession in public,” and unsurprisingly, that’s exactly where they ended, after paying due homage to New York’s “one-hundred-year-old law,” as if the age of the law has anything to do with its constitutionality.

This is a setback in the march towards recognition of our God-given rights, and unfortunately, fully expected from a New York court.

UPDATE: I had forgotten that Alan Gura was attorney in this case.

Alan Gura, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said: “We’re evaluating our options. I’m confident at some point the Supreme Court will weigh in on the issue.”

“The courts, like this court, have offered that they need more guidance from the Supreme Court,” he said, referring to a passage in the ruling that the Heller decision “raises more questions than it answers.”

Which is what I’ve always said about Heller.  To me the second amendment is clear, and Heller only muddled it.  I guess we’ll have to continue the fight in perpetuity, no?

Churches Offer Concealed Carry Classes

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

In an article cleverly titled What Would Jesus Shoot, we learn about concealed carry classes increasingly being offered by churches.

Salvation isn’t automatic — but it might be semiautomatic.

In an effort to increase membership, a number of U.S. churches — including the Church of Christ congregation in this rural village 30 miles north of Columbus — are offering an unconventional public service: Concealed weapons training.

“Church has done a good job with coffee klatsches or whatever, but we haven’t really reached out to guys,” said Jeff Copley, a preacher at the church. “And guys in Morrow Country, they shoot and they hunt.”

Hundreds of students have enrolled in the 10-hour course, which meets the state requirements for earning a concealed weapons permit. The training includes two hours on a church member’s private shooting range.

“I grew up going to church, but hadn’t attended in a number of years,” said David Freeman, 52, a local engineering manager who attended a firearm safety class at the church. “Always considered myself a Christian. I came for the gun classes and have been coming back for two years.”

The Marengo church launched its program several years ago and was likely among the first in the country to offer concealed weapons training. But from Texas to North Carolina, a smattering of congregations have recently followed suit, as ministers seek to capitalize on local enthusiasm for gun culture and demand for carry permit classes to expand their flocks.

Central Baptist Church in Lexington, N.C., held its first concealed weapons classes in March, in what the Rev. Ryan Bennett described as just “another avenue to reach people.”

“We want to draw people in to our campus,” Bennett told a local newspaper at the time. “And we’re going to try anything that we can to do that.”

While conceding that he carries a 9mm pistol with him at all times, he said he doesn’t want his congregation to be labeled “gun-toting.”

“We promote responsibility. We don’t endorse violence,” he said. “It’s just another way to draw people in.”

In Texas, where it’s legal to carry guns into any church without a specific no-firearms policy, Heights Baptist in remote San Angelo began offering concealed carry classes in June. The class was a response to security concerns among congregants.

“We’re about 150 miles from the border with Mexico and we’re very unsure about our insecure borders — about what’s coming into our cities,” Pastor James Miller told NRA News. “Personally, I feel more secure that should our worship time be interrupted by a life-threatening intrusion, that we would at least stand some kind of a chance in stopping either a mass killing or terrorizing experience.”

Preacher Jeff, as Marengo Christian’s Copley is called by his flock, likewise emphasizes the spiritual importance of being able to defend oneself.

“Jesus advises his disciples to sell their cloak and buy a sword,” he told The Daily. “He instructed his people to be prepared to defend themselves. It’s really hard to find someone in our congregation that doesn’t shoot somehow.”

In part, the new offerings represent a response to broadly declining religious enthusiasm. Across the country, about 20 percent of Americans identify themselves as unaffiliated with any church, up from 15 percent five years ago, according to a study released this month by the Pew Research Center.

Against that backdrop, the classes “may reflect the desperation of some churches to attract members in a time of decline,” said Bill Leonard, a professor of church history at Wake Forest University.

But gun training remains out of step with mainstream doctrine. For example, the National Council of Churches of Christ, which represents about 100,000 Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox and Evangelical churches comprising 45 million members nationwide, endorsed strict gun control in a 2010 position paper.

Conceding the need for an armed police force, the council wrote that “to allow assault weapons in the hands of the general public can scarcely be justified on Christian grounds. The stark reality is that such weapons end up taking more lives than they defend, and the reckless sale or use of these weapons refutes the gospel’s prohibition against violence.”

Absurd.  No, not the idea of churches offering concealed carry classes, but the notion that it would be done to attract new members.  These seeker-friendly churches should study my own Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense.  It contains everything they need to form a Biblically-based view of guns and religion.

Maybe even more absurd is the notion that this report would have cited the National Council of Churches, which is an empty shell … an open tomb … a worthless mouthpiece for Marxism … a dead artifact of a time gone by when people actually cared what such a group had to say.  There is no prohibition on violence, witness Paul’s discussion of the sword in Romans 13, and, oh yea, also read my own Christians, The Second Amendment And The Duty Of Self Defense.

But it gets worse.  They have mentioned the idea of “weapons in the hands of the general public” with disapprobation.  Thus, the only thing we learn from this report is that many Christians are still uneducated, and National Council of Churches is still filled with statists and Marxists who don’t trust anyone except the government.

Finally, what would Jesus shoot?  Answer: a gun.  Swords were supplanted by more effective weapons.

Open Carry In Texas

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

My second son Joseph was visiting from Texas over the Thanksgiving holidays, and we went backpacking on the foothills trail in South Carolina.  Pictures to come soon.  At any rate, Joseph is a gun owner in Texas, and I remarked how strange it is that I live in North Carolina, a traditional open carry state, while Texas prohibits open carry.

Chance Ballew with Say Uncle gives us an update to this fascinating question.

A bill for that.  I often forget that Texas has some goofy carry laws. You wouldn’t think that since it’s Texas.

The report goes as follows:

According to the Dallas Morning News, Representative George Lavender plans on introducing an open carry bill in 2014.

Of course the TSRA is against it, as usual: “Alice Tripp, a lobbyist for the Texas State Rifle Association, said her organization backs open carry in principle, but she acknowledged that gun owners aren’t exactly clamoring for a return to the days of Gunsmoke.”

That “in principle” part is weasel speak for “we don’t support it.

The most interesting explanation comes from Say Uncle’s commenters.

If it helps, most of Texas gun laws were remnants from the carpetbagger government imposed on the state following the War of Northern Aggression.

Well, that explains it.  It makes more sense than anything I’ve ever heard about why Texas wouldn’t be an open carry state.  It’s about time for a change.

The Wrong Way To Argue About Assault Weapons

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

In a well-intentioned article, Megan McArdle argues against Dianne Feinstein’s proposed new assault weapons ban this way.

There’s little evidence that the assault weapons ban achieved its ostensible purpose of making America safer; we did not see the predicted spike in crime when it expired in 2004. That’s not really surprising, because long guns aren’t used in the majority of gun crimes, and “assault weapon” is a largely cosmetic rather than functional description; the guns that were taken off the street were not noticeably more lethal than the ones that remained. It was a largely symbolic law that made proponents of gun control feel good about “doing something”.

But we should not have largely symbolic laws that require real and large regulatory interventions.  There should always  be a presumption in favor of economic liberty, as there is with other liberties; to justify curtailing them, we need a benefit more tangible than warm and fuzzy feelings in the hearts of American liberals.  But that is not the only reason that we should oppose ineffective, or marginally effective, regulations.  There’s also an important question of government and social capacity.

Every regulation you pass has a substantial non-monetary cost. Implementing it and overseeing that implementation absorbs some of the attention of legislators and agency heads, a finite resource.  It also increases the complexity of the regulatory code, and as the complexity increases, so does uncertainty.

Similarly, the Florida Assault Weapons Commission found no evidence of increased danger to the people of Florida from any specific kind of weapon.  But while the sentiment of McArdle’s commentary is laudable, the theme and thrust of the argument is not.

In Virginia, crime rates have continued to drop as gun sales soar.

Gun-related violent crime in Virginia has dropped steadily over the past six years as the sale of firearms has soared to a new record, according to an analysis of state crime data with state records of gun sales.

The total number of firearms purchased in Virginia increased 73 percent from 2006 to 2011. When state population increases are factored in, gun purchases per 100,000 Virginians rose 63 percent.

But the total number of gun-related violent crimes fell 24 percent over that period, and when adjusted for population, gun-related offenses dropped more than 27 percent, from 79 crimes per 100,000 in 2006 to 57 crimes in 2011.

The numbers appear to contradict a long-running popular narrative that more guns cause more violent crime, said Virginia Commonwealth University professor Thomas R. Baker, who compared Virginia crime data for those years with gun-dealer sales estimates obtained by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

“While there is a wealth of academic literature attempting to demonstrate the relationship between guns and crime, a very simple and intuitive demonstration of the numbers seems to point away from the premise that more guns leads to more crime, at least in Virginia,” said Baker, who specializes in research methods and criminology theory and has an interest in gun issues.

The ownership of weapons neither causes increased violence nor enables would-be offenders.  What McArdle misses here is that lethality isn’t the point.  Utility is the point.  Over the Thanksgiving Holidays I shot a 0.27 bolt action rifle with nice glass.  The design is intended for target shooting or deer hunting, but not (per se) home or personal defense.  The round is nice, and I like the lack of recoil compared to 7.62 mm or other .30 variants, but my AR’s sweet 5.56 mm round with its high capacity magazine makes it my weapon of choice for personal defense, or one of my several handguns with high capacity magazines if they are what I happen to be carrying or holding at the time.

Leaving aside Hamilton’s argument in Federalist No. 28 (which would only serve to strengthen my point), it is unwise to argue that the stipulations of the assault weapons ban are merely cosmetic or incidental.  Any weapon that has a detachable magazine that contains more than ten rounds is considered to be an assault weapon, and this includes handguns.  Now, it’s important at this point to rehearse the recent example of Stephen Bayezes of South Carolina.

A North Augusta gun store owner used a semi-automatic weapon when he opened fire on three men who broke into his business early Thursday, killing one and sending two others to the hospital with gunshot wounds, officials said.

The break-in occurred around 4 a.m. at the Guns and Ammo Gunsmith, located on Edgefield Road in North Augusta, said Aiken County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jason Feemster, a spokesman for the agency.

Stephen Bayazes Jr., 57, who lives in an attached apartment in the rear of the business with his wife, said he awoke to a loud bang and the silent store alarm going off.

Police said he got out of bed, grabbed his AR-15 weapon and found three men inside the store.

The men crashed a vehicle into the business and were smashing display cases and taking guns when he said he heard one of the men shout, “kill that (expletive deleted ).”

He told investigators he emptied a .223-caliber 30-round magazine and then retreated to his room to reload.

When he returned, he said he saw the vehicle pulling out from the business.

Note again.  He emptied a 30-round magazine and then had to go for another.  In Do We Have A Constitutional Right To Own An AR?, I have also noted 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-man home invasions all over the country that could have been stopped with weapons and high capacity magazines.  Unfortunately, Mr. Bayazes’ experience isn’t unique.

The utility of a light recoil weapon firing with a high capacity magazine saved his life.  It is immoral to relegate any law abiding citizen to the use of a weapon that doesn’t have the features he needs to defend himself or his family.  But for Feinstein it isn’t about self defense or morality.  Nor is it important to her that Virginia statistics don’t lend support for the notion that her proposed controls would reduce crime (Here the point isn’t about correlation and causation.  In order to demonstrate that gun control achieves its “purported” purpose, one must find evidence that it reduces crime, and it is the absence of this evidence that is remarkable).

Gun control at its root has always been about gun control.  Feinstein is a statist, and her laws and regulations will always and forever increase the power of the state.  Feinstein sees through McArdle’s argument on cosmetics, which is why her proposed ban includes semi-automatic weapons.  There isn’t anything cosmetic about the aims of the gun control advocates.

Arguing that their bans don’t adequately distinguish between weapons leads them to refine their ban.  Arguing that there is equivalent lethality between weapons denies aspects of utility and design, and only causes them to ban weapons that have specific utility for home and self defense.  And arguing that their regulations were ineffective only embarrasses them to pass even more onerous ones.

The correct way to argue against Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban is to argue that there is no constitutional basis for such a ban, and any new assault weapons ban would be at least as immoral and obscene as the last one was.

UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the attention.

UPDATE #2: Thanks to Michael Bane for the attention.

UPDATE #3: Thanks to David Codrea for the attention.

UPDATE #4: Thanks to Mike Vanderboegh for the attention.

Benghazi: Shit Happens

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

Douglas Kmiec writing for Huffington Post gives us one of the canned progressive responses to the debacle at Benghazi.

First, a reminder: the work of the American foreign service in the Middle- East extending into the Mediterranean is difficult, and often, dangerous. The particular risks of working in Libya were well-reported to the Department of State in cable and in person by Ambassador Stevens, who, readers of this column know, was a fellow diplomat serving in neighboring country. To meet Chris is to instantly like him and I grew ever more admiring. I know from conversation with Chris dating back to spring 2011 that he was well aware of the risks in his assigned mission. Chris understood the primary risk to be the absence of any governmental tradition.

This is a slight more polished response than the one given to me earlier by a Facebook “friend” named Philip Smucker, an independent journalist whom some may know (he has written about Afghanistan).

I listened to his rants as we debated Benghazi, with Philip claiming to be good friends with Ambassador Stevens.  Good friends.  He mentioned it enough times in his Facebook replies that it became rather odd and monotonous.  He then gave me a long winded discussion about the risks associated with being in Libya, told me that Stevens assuredly knew about them, and then said, “What I’m trying to tell you is that shit happens!”

There you have it.  Good friends with Mr. Stevens take the position that shit just simply happens.  At that point I unfriended Philip not because we take different political views, but because I consider that to be one of the creepiest responses I can imagine.

Forget questions of who ordered what and when it was ordered and what assets were available to assist those poor souls at Benghazi.  Smucker, a known and very vocal supporter of Mr. Obama, just thinks that “shit happens.”

It doesn’t work that way with other Presidents, or for those with whom he disagrees.  For instance, he also went off on a diatribe against Mr. Bush for allowing UBL escape Tora Bora.  For Smucker, who wrote a book on the subject, UBL’s escape isn’t about shit happening.

But for the right President, people like Smucker and Kmiec are willing to throw their colleagues and good friends under the bus.  They are just so much collateral damage, and knew all about the risks associated with their job.

For those who have followed my prose, I was as hard on Bush for untimely reinforcement of the troops in Iraq as I have been on Obama for giving the Operation Enduring Freedom less than half of the additional troops requested, and much less than needed.

I also don’t care for the present discussion about why Stevens was at that “special mission” (although the reasons will be important in the future).  When we find out all of the facts, I may disagree with the assignment.  Some Americans disagreed with Operation Iraqi Freedom too.  But when my son was deployed to Fallujah in 2007, I would have expected the 2/6 Marines to move heaven and earth to find my son had he been captured or upon learning that his fire team was under siege.  Once the deployment is decided, America owes the very best to our men, including Mr. Stevens.

“Shit happens” isn’t even nearly an acceptable excuse.  But then again, I suppose that’s the difference between me and Philip.

Proposed Assault Weapons Ban

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

We’ve briefly covered the proposed assault weapons ban floated by Mr. Obama.  David Codrea adds detail.

The shootings in an Aurora, Colo., theater and the Sikh temple in Milwaukee, Wis., make it “likely that there will be calls in the 112th Congress to reconsider a 1994 ban on semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices,” a November 14, 2012 Congressional Research Service report on “Gun Control Legislation” obtained this morning by Gun Rights Examiner reveals.

That’s hardly breaking news to those who monitor such things, but to see it coming out of an official report talking about a session that will end on January 3 of next year is indicative of a new-found confidence in the wake of the recent elections …

[ … ]

“This report also includes discussion of other salient and recurring gun control issues that have generated past or current congressional interest,” the summary continues. “Those issues include (1) screening firearms background check applicants against terrorist watch lists, (2) combating gun trafficking and straw purchases, (3) reforming the regulation of federally licensed gun dealers, (4) requiring background checks for private firearms transfers at gun shows, (5) more-strictly regulating certain firearms previously defined in statute as “semiautomatic assault weapons,” and (6) banning or requiring the registration of certain long-range .50 caliber rifles, which are commonly referred to as ‘sniper’ rifles.

Chris Cox notes that in the very near future, we may be in the fight of our lives.

… not long after Obama floated the idea of banning semi-automatic firearms, we learned that California Senator Dianne Feinstein was working with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to draft new legislation that would ban semi-automatic rifles, shotguns and handguns, so-called “high capacity” magazines, and rifles and shotguns with pistol grips. Reportedly, Feinstein wants to make it illegal not just to sell your guns and magazines, but to leave them behind in your will.

I know a lot concerning the intentions of the gun haters, but I didn’t know until reading Cox’s account that the hatred goes all the way to your children and children’s children.  If Feinstein gets her way, you won’t be able to bequeath your firearms to them.

I and hundreds of thousands of other firearms owners will indeed treat this as the fight of our lives.  The designs of the progressives are nefarious, but if those in the House of Representatives don’t stand strong on this (presumably, the GOP), it will redound to their own demise.

Here is a promise to House Republicans.  You currently own the House.  If you cave on this issue and allow new gun control measures, we will spare no expense and waste no time.  You will be defeated the next available opportunity and lose your seat in the House.

I know that I have readers in the House of Representatives.  I see your visits.  You’ve been warned.

Trouble With The Benghazi Timeline

BY Herschel Smith
11 years, 6 months ago

The distraction has been successful.  For several days now, America (and its horrible main stream media) has been captivated by stories of scandals involving generals and men who have no business being involved in anything other than making the weighty decisions to protect the country.  As one recent commenter said, if you want to play games, get out of the way and let a more serious person make the moves.

There are a number of disparate timelines being floated by various sources (I’ve seen most or all of them), and sooner or later the truth will come out.  Someone will divulge what he knows, and it will differ from some other report, and then the other report can be examined more closely for accuracy, and so on until the investigative work points to all of the culpable actors.  Secrets cannot be kept, and the sooner the truth comes out the better off the innocent actors will fare.

But one such recent report in the midst of the silly focus on tawdry affairs comes to us from Fox News.  Here is the money quote.

The Pentagon says that the European-based team of rescuers landed at Sigonella air base at 7:57 p.m. on Sept. 12, more than 20 hours after the attack began and 40 minutes after the last survivor was flown out of Tripoli on a U.S. C-17 transport plane.

Fox News has learned more details about the European rescue team. More than 30 Special Operations Forces, part of a Commander’s In Extremis Force, or CIF, which is normally on a short tether, are deployed in the event of a terror attack. They are a counterterror SWAT team.

The group ordered toward Libya was from the Charlie 110 Company, based in Stuttgart, Germany, but had been training in Croatia on an exercise known as “Jackal Stone.” The training involved counterterrorism exercises.

Military sources familiar with the orders given to the CIF team tell Fox News the CIF plane headed to Libya — not to first stage at Sigonella as the Pentagon timeline suggests. The Pentagon denies this, saying simply that they were ordered to an intermediate staging base.

What cannot be confirmed is what time that team could have been outside Libyan air space. The Pentagon won’t say when they took off from Croatia.

Multiple defense sources say that the plane did not have permission to enter Libya. That permission would have to be secured from the Libyans by the State Department.

Survivors of the attack at the annex say that they heard over the radio net that night that U.S. military assets were, “feet dry over Libya,” which would refer to assets crossing from sea to land and hovering. The Pentagon denies this.

The original story board that shows the CIF movement that night is difficult to find, according to those who saw the original timeline. The official brief, according to those familiar with it, simply says that the plane landed at Sigonella at 7:57 p.m. on Sept. 12 — 20 hours after the start of the attack, even though they were just a few hours away in Croatia.

This raises the question: what time did they get their orders and how long did it take the CIF to scramble?

The team was most likely flying on a modified MC-130 P Talon 2. A modified C-130 flying from Croatia about 900 miles from the Libyan coast could have been there under three hours from take-off. Croatia to Libya is the same distance approximately as Washington, D.C., to Miami.

Furthermore, the modified C-130 plane used by Special Operations teams can be refueled in flight, allowing them to extend their range and hover time, if an air refueling plane is available. It can fly for nine hours without being refueled.

Here is the offending part: “The official brief, according to those familiar with it, simply says that the plane landed at Sigonella at 7:57 p.m. on Sept. 12 — 20 hours after the start of the attack, even though they were just a few hours away in Croatia.”

This is simply not believable.  It cannot possibly be correct.  Such forces carry pagers and aren’t allowed to take local tours to get drunk and visit with the local women.  If commanded to deploy to Benghazi to protect American citizens and interests (such as classified documents at the consulate – or “special mission” as the Ambassador called it), they were a few hours away at the most.  This report strains credulity and just doesn’t pass simple tests of acceptability for evidence.  I’ll say it again.  It’s just incorrect, and if the report actually reads that way, the first interrogation should be saved for the author of that report.

On the other hand, it would make better sense if the balance of the Fox News report is accurate and the official statement a lie, with the timeline including a short flight from Croatia to Libya, with the administration showing deference to a non-existent Libyan government and refusing to land in Libya without “permission.”  Short of further data and information, thus far this is the most believable report.

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