Oct 19

Hey, DLC, Rethinking Is Not Enough

The Democratic Party is getting hip to the fact that advocating gun bans loses them elections. Way to go, Dems! For a crowd widely touted in the media as the best and brightest, it has taken you far too long to wake up.

But there is still a weird feeling of unreality about the exercise. It seems to be mostly about spin rather than substance, mostly about making people believe that Democrats have reformed on this issue without actual reform.

Various bloggers have waxed acidulous about this, but nobody has stepped up and said, explicitly, what the Democrats’ problem is and how to fix it. So. DLC honchos, you talk about being reality therapy for the rest of the party. Here is reality.

I am one of the independent, swing voters that could have won you the 2000 election. I do not consider myself a conservative, nor do I vote the Republican ticket.

I believe that the Founding Fathers of the United States bequeathed to me as a member of the unincorporated militia (that is, all citizens capable of bearing arms) the responsibility to remain armed and vigilant against both foreign enemies of my nation and domestic tyrants.

I am one of the people who will almost never vote for a Democrat, because I believe the Democratic Party wants to trash the Second Amendment, confiscate my guns, and destroy the balance of power between citizens and government that was intended by the framers of the Constitution.

I do not really trust either major political party on this issue, but whereas Republicans have less than sterling credibility, Democrats have negative credibility. That is, experience strongly suggests that when Democrats are quiet about firearms policy, they are concealing an anti-gun rather than a pro-gun agenda. Their silence is a lie.

Democratic pollster Mark Penn says “The formula for Democrats is to say that they support the Second Amendment, but that they want tough laws that close loopholes”. Be aware that I will interpret any Democrat talking about “tough laws that close loopholes” as an anti-gun agenda being pursued by stealth and deception.

If the Democrats want my vote, it is not sufficient for the Democratic merely to refrain from pushing more firearms restrictions. The Democratic leadership must explicitly recognize the Second Amendment as a guarantee of an individual right, explicitly repudiate the gun-grabbers in their ranks, and make the abolition of firearms restrictions part of their formal agenda.

Negative credibility means you have a ways to go before you can even get to zero. Want my vote, and that of millions of independent gun owners like me? Start earning it with pro-gun action, not just talk…because if you don’t, those millions of independents will have no realistic option but the Republicans, and the already serious decline of the national Democratic party may well become terminal.

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Oct 01

If Guns Are Outlawed, Outlaws Will Use Crossbows

This
happened about 15 minutes from where I live:

Police in West Chester are looking for an assailant they believe used
a crossbow to shoot a pedestrian from a passing SUV.

The victim, a restaurant worker who was walking home along High
Street early Sunday morning, was shot in the stomach with a 16-inch
hunting arrow. He was released Wednesday from the University of
Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia.

Benito Vargas told police he was at the corner of High and Barnard
Streets at about 1 a.m. when he saw the white SUV’s driver-side window
slide down, revealing the front part a crossbow just inside. Seconds
later, he was lying on the ground.

[…]

“This thing would be silent. You wouldn’t hear any noise,” West
Chester Detective Thomas Yarnall said. […] Yarnall said the
shooting appeared random […]

Gives a whole old meaning to the phrase “looking for a quarrel”,
which in fact, originally referred to a crossbow bolt.

UPDATE:(Well, maybe. Some etymologists think the noun quarrel and verb quarrel have
separate origins.)

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Oct 31

Armed children

The Bear of Considerable Brain, writes:
“This does not mean every man, woman and child should roam the streets
packing heat, much as some of my more rabid hoplophile colleagues in
the Blogosphere might enjoy the sight.”

N.Z. was probably thinking of me as one of his “rabid hoplophile
colleagues.”; I’d be rather disappointed if he weren’t, actually. I
endorse all his good sense about citizen miltias and the necessity of
a decentralized response to decentralized threats; in fact, I wrote an
essay
on that topic the day of the WTC attack. Establishing it as normal
custom that adults go armed strikes me as an excellent idea, and
not merely as a tactic against terrorism and crime either. “The possession
of arms is the distinction between a freeman and a slave.”

I was originally going to respond to His Ursinity’s remark by
tossing off some denial that I contemplate universally arming children
as a response to terrorism. But I’ve decided it would be more
interesting to attack the question from the opposite side: under what
circumstances should children be armed?

If your answer is “Never!” than consider that this is actually
quite a radical position. In large parts of the U.S., rather young
children have and use BB rifles. In much of rural America,
including most of my own state of Pennsylvania, boys learn to hunt
early, and to accept both the weapons and responsibilities of men
when barely into their teens.

The bloody slaughters nervous urban liberals would expect from this
policy somehow never materialize. Kliebold and Harris, the Columbine
shooters, were the exception that demonstrates the rule; they were
not taught to use firearms within approved contexts by their
parents and other adults, but instead devedloped a pathological,
isolated relationship to weapons that mirrored their pathological,
isolated lives. Their victims were not killed by the rural gun
culture, but by its absence.

So part of our answer is this: children should be armed, at least
part of the time when in company with responsible adults, in order
to prepare them for the responsibility of arming themselves as adults
and participating in civilian defense against terrorism and crime.

The next logical question is: under what circumstances should
children be trusted to carry weapons for self-defense without
direct adult supervision? Again, “Never!” would be a radical and
historically exceptional answer. It would also be unfair to the
children, especially poor children who live in areas where the chance
of encountering criminal or terrorist predators is significant.

It’s worth bearing in mind that most decisions about using a
firearm in self-defense are pretty simple. They don’t tend to involve
complicated ethical abstractions — the relevant question is
usually “Am I or a defenseless person I am responsible for in imminent
danger of being assaulted, abducted or killed?” If the answer is no,
you don’t even draw your weapon.

Of course, the capacity to make those judgments varies from child
to child. I have known intelligent, precocious children as young as
eight years old who I would sooner trust with my .45 than, say, an
adult alcoholic with an impulse-control problem. In fact, I wouldn’t
consider most adult pro-gun-control voters as trustworthy as the
children I have in mind; people who project fear of their own behavior
with weapons onto others make that spot between my shoulderblades
itch.

At the other extreme, it’s pretty obvious that pre-verbal children
don’t have the apparatus to make even the simplest ethical decisions
about lethal force. They don’t know enough about the world yet. The
standard models of childhood development tell me the same thing as my
experience of real kids; the on average, possibility of ethical
competence sufficient for self-defense decisions opens up at around
twelve years old. It is not invariably present at that age, but the
possibility deserves to be taken seriously.

I can say this. If a person who is legally a minor but twelve or
over shows signs of continuing responsibility (including either
holding down a job or applying him/herself to make steady grades in
school), and does not have a history of substance abuse or other
self-destructive or criminal behavior, and wants to accept
the responsibility of going armed — then I think custom should
support that.

Finally, I want to point out that we may be doing children no favor
by `protecting’ them from the decisions that go with bearing arms.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote to his teenage nephew as follows:

“As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives [only]
moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence
to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too
violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun,
therefore, be the constant companion to your walks.”

This was no aberration. I have developed elsewhere
the theme that the practice of bearing arms was not important to the
Founding Fathers merely as a counter against crime and overweening
government, but as a school of moral character in the individual
citizen.

The retreat of American gun culture from our cities and suburbs has
coincided with the the fetishization of adolescence and
the infantilization of our entire society. To reverse that trend, we
need to remember the ways we used to use to encourage people to
acquire self-discipline, character, and maturity. One of those ways
was — and in large parts of the U.S., still is — the
healthy use of lethal weapons.

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May 26

Arm and Assimilate

A current Weekly Standard article,
Crime Without Punishment
, observes that European crime rates are
soaring to levels that match or exceed the U.S.’s even while U.S crime
rates decline for the tenth consecutive year. Schadenfreude
is not a pretty emotion, but it’s hard not to feel a twinge of it
after so many years of listening to snotty Europeans lecture us
Americans on how U.S. crime rates demonstrate that we are a nation of
violent barbarians who can be saved only if we swallow European social
policies entire.

The article proposes as an explanation that local control of
policing is more effective than Europe’s system of large centralized
police agencies. This may well be true; in fact, it probably is true.
But it fails to explain the time variance — because that structural
difference is not new, but the flipover in relative crime rates
between the U.S. and Europe is recent.

If that’s not what is going on, what is? The article passes over
two potential explanations far too quickly. One: differences in
patterns of civilian firearms ownership. Two: the novel presence of
large unassimilated minority groups in European cities.

The article correctly notes that “John Lott has shown that greater
gun ownership reduces crime” but then dismisses this with “gun
ownership levels are about the same as they were when crime hit its
all-time highs in America 30 years ago”. However, the
distribution of firearms has changed in relevant ways. As
Gary Kleck noted ten years ago, the composition of the U.S. firearms
stock in the early 1970s was dominated by rifles and shotguns.
Nowadays it is dominated by pistols. Americans, aided by a recent
state-level trend towards right-to-carry laws, are packing concealed
weapons on the street in greater numbers than ever before — and those
are the weapons known to have the most dramatic effect in suppressing
crime. Indeed, one of the principal results of Lott’s regression
analysis is that encouraging civilians to carry concealed is both a
cheaper and a more effective way to deter crime than increasing police
budgets.

The article dismisses immigration with “violence and theft have
also spiked in countries that let in few immigrants”. Again, there is
an issue of distribution here. American experience tells us that it
is not the absolute number of unassimilated poor that matters, but the
extent to which they are concentrated in subsidized ghettos with
little contact with the mainstream and no incentive to assimilate.
After the repeated news stories observing that skyrocketing crime in Paris
is largely a phenomenon of Arab thug-boys from bleak government-run
housing projects, this should not be a difficult concept to grasp.

What’s new in Europe is not comparatively poor policing, but rather
the combination of two trends: laws disarming civilians and the
formation of persistent, crime-breeding ghetto cultures analogous to
the U.S.’s urban underclass. Both trends are clearest in Great
Britain, where violent assaults and hot burglaries have shot up 44%
since handguns were banned in 1996, and police now find they have to
go armed to counter gangs of automatic-weapon-wielding thugs in the
slum areas of Manchester and other big cities.

The prescription seems clear: arm and assimilate. Arm the victims
before they become victims and assimilate the criminals before they
become criminals. Raising the frequency of civilian concealed carry
of firearms will deter crime, just as it does in the U.S.
Assimilating the new wave of poor Third-World immigrants and breaking
up the ghettos will drain the stagnant pools in which crime
breeds.

And the next Euro-snob to lecture me on how America’s “gun culture”
causes crime is going to get both barrels of this prescription right
in his face…

UPDATE: The Boston Globe is running a story on the failure
of gun control in Great Britain
.

UPDATE: A reader points out that I was inexplicit about what has
led to the formation of a ghettoized underclass in Europe’s cities.
It is, of course, the same blunder that started the same process in
American cities forty years ago — the social-welfare state,
subsidizing poverty.

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May 25

Women With Guns

James Rummel

asks
why men keep teaching women to shoot, despite the fact
that they tend to outdo us at this manly pursuit.

As a man who makes something of a hobby of teaching woman to shoot, I can answer in two ways:

One: Women need to learn to shoot more than men do. Men
have a 2:1 advantage in upper-body strength over women. Most
criminal assailants are men. While we Y-chromosome types have a fair
chance of fighting the average assailant off without technological help,
women do not. I teach women to shoot on the principle that the
only good rapist is a dead one.

Two: A pretty woman with a gun in her hand is way sexier than
one without. Why this is I don’t know, but I do know that I am far
from the only male with this reaction. There was that legendary video
of bikini-clad models firing automatic weapons…

Which reason is more important? Let’s just observe that all
interesting behavior is overdetermined and leave it at that.

May 25

Women With Guns

James Rummel why men keep teaching women to shoot, despite the fact that they tend to outdo us at this manly pursuit.

As a man who makes something of a hobby of teaching woman to shoot, I can answer in two ways:

One: Women need to learn to shoot more than men do. Men have a 2:1 advantage in upper-body strength over women. Most criminal assailants are men. While we Y-chromosome types have a fair chance of fighting the average assailant off without technological help, women do not. I teach women to shoot on the principle that the only good rapist is a dead one.

Two: A pretty woman with a gun in her hand is way sexier than one without. Why this is I don’t know, but I do know that I am far from the only male with this reaction. There was that legendary video of bikini-clad models firing automatic weapons…

Which reason is more important? Let’s just observe that all interesting behavior is overdetermined and leave it at that.

May 15

Foo on you, Asparagirl!

Asparagirl has committed a base calumny
against me. While it’s true she had something to do with me entering
the blogosphere, this business about threatening her with a Glock is
totally off-base. I would never do anything like that. My carry
weapon is a Colt Officer’s Model 45 ACP. It’s my wife who
carries the Glock…

May 14

Firearms and the dominant media culture

A recent flurry of
nearly identical editorials
in American newspapers conveys the
degree of fluttering endemic in dovecotes everywhere in the wake of
the Justice Department’s new statement of position on the Second
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The New York Times
and Washington Post have viewed with alarm, displaying an
almost pathetic degree of panic at the thought that lawmakers might
once again have to start taking that pesky “shall not be infringed”
language seriously.

The dominant culture of the American national media knows what it
believes about guns. Firearms are evil juju that have the power to
induce murderous violence in otherwise normal human beings. Firearms
owners are all either ghetto drug dealers whose idea of the good life
is a drive-by a day, or else tractor-cap-wearing rural sociopaths jes’
itchin’ to shoot up a schoolyard. Firearms-rights advocates are a
tiny nut-fringe of reactionary wackos barely one step from blowing up
a federal building. Gun-control boosters are virtuous crusaders
animated by selfless love of children and small fuzzy things. There
will come a day when all guns are banned, hallelujah, violent crime
will plummet, and we can stop being embarrassed for being
Americans.

Over the last thirty years this mythology has grown so thick, so
armored with smugness, that the dominant media culture is normally
incapable of noticing mere facts that happen to contradict it. Gary
Kleck’s Point
Blank: Guns and Violence In America
should have put paid the
demonization of gun owners back in 1993. John Lott’s 1998 book
More Guns, Less Crime demonstrated that civilian firearms
dramatically reduce crime and violence. And Sanford Levinson’s 1989
study The
Embarrassing Second Amendment
began a wave of legal scholarship
that established what is now called the `Standard Model’, that the
Second Amendment does indeed protect an individual citizen’s right to
bear arms.

That smugness has been shook, badly, by three different
events of which the Justice Department’s finding is only the most recent.
The media panic we’re seeing is a cumulative result of all three.

First there was Michael Bellesiles’s exposure as a fraud. His book
Arming America won the Bancroft prize and gushing encomiums
from the dominant media culture when it purported to show that the
armed and self-reliant American frontiersman was a myth — that the
gun culture of the U.S. postdates the American Civil War and was alien
to the framers of the Constitution.

Alas for the bien pensants of the world that the book
turned out to be a tissue of lies, invented but nonexistent evidence,
and willful misquotation of existing evidence. A fabrication, in
fact, so egregious that it has induced the National Endowment for the
Humanities to open its first official fraud investigation in thirty-seven
years. Suddenly the fraud claims gun-rights activists had been making
for years about other anti-gun scholarship (such as the infamous
Kellerman “43:1”)
study) were no longer so easily dismissible as paranoid ranting.

But worse was to come, on September 9th 2001. Because Al-Qaeda’s
ability to turns airliners into weapons of mass destruction using
nothing but carpet knives illustrated in the most dramatic possible
way the folly of believing that a disarmed world is a safe one. All
the “security” that kept civilian firearms off airplanes did was make
terrorism easier for the determined few who could smuggle weapons on
board.

Many tides turned after 9/11, and not the least result of it was
a huge groundswell in popular support for civilian self-defense and
firearms rights. The
Pink Pistols
and chapters of the
Second Amendment Sisters
on college campuses previously known
as strongholds of anti-firearms politics became impossible to ignore.
The new wave of popular pro-gun agitation could not be forced into the
“right-wing kooks” box so beloved of the dominant media culture.

It’s no wonder the Justice Department’s endorsement of a
pro-gun-rights brief in “Emerson vs. U.S.” has the mavens of the
dominant media culture feeling faint and panicky. One of the pillars
of their world-view (up there with the unquestionable sanctity of
environmentalists, say, or the importance of `diversity’, or the
superior virtue of the putatively oppressed) is creaking. Those loony
gun nuts night turn out to be (a) right on the facts, (b)
overwhelmingly popular, and (c) backed up by the Bill of Rights, the
Justice Department, and the Supreme Court, after all!

If the Supreme Court grants certiorati on the Emerson case, we can
expect the dominant media culture to get its knickers in a knot so
complicated it would baffle an algebraic topologist. Because given
the composition of the Court and the tenor of the times, the result
might well be a dramatic rollback in the reach of firearms regulation.
Gun-rights advocates can hope that laws touching the Second Amendment
may in the future have to pass the same strictest level of scrutiny
as laws touching the First. A wave of lawsuits successfully striking
down state and local gun laws under the doctrine of incorporation
could well follow.

The closest historical precedent for what may be about to happen is
the rediscovery of the First Amendment in the early 20th century.
Before 1919 speech advocating unpopular ideas could be made a
punishable offense. Oliver Wendell Holmes created the doctrine,
since become sacred to the dominant media culture, that unpopular
ideas demand the most constitutional protection, and that
the press has a broadly privileged role under that shield.

There is irony in the fact that, having benefited from the
reassertion of the first article of the Bill of Rights, the dominant
media culture should so be resisting the second.

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