In which I am thankful for Barack Obama’s election

I’ve been trying to buy a gun recently, a better carry weapon (and by “better” I mean more concealable than what I have now and in my favorite caliber). My friends, I am here to tell you that this is an awful time to be in the market for a firearm; they are scarce and teeth-jarringly expensive because demand for them has gone through the roof. On reflection, though this is deucedly inconvenient for me at the moment, I think it implies some excellent news for the longer term and is one of a very few reasons I can think of to be grateful that Barack Obama is in the White House today.

I’ve talked with over a dozen gun dealers in the last two weeks and they’re all singing minor variations on the same song. “They’re back-ordered for five or six months out.” “I could sell fifty of those if I could get them from the manufacturer.” “Kimber is about forty thousand guns behind.” “I’ve been in this business thirty years and I’ve never seen supplies so tight.”

What I’m hearing from every single one of them is that demand for firearms – especially pistols – surged in November of last year and hasn’t un-surged since; gunmakers are scrambling like mad to catch up. Alas, a firearm is not an injection-molded gewgaw; they have to be made from high-quality metal machined to fairly close tolerances, and ramping up production capacity on such hard goods is not something you can do quickly, especially in the middle of a credit crunch.

Why last November? Because though Barack Obama worked hard at it, he didn’t lie convincingly enough to cover his record of hostility to civilian firearms and Second Amendment rights. The day he won the Presidency of the United States, a significant fraction of the population of this country apparently decided they’d better get theirs while the getting was still possible. A similar demand ripple has been triggered often enough in the past by the election of Democratic presidents that it’s been a running joke among firearms fans for decades; what’s unprecedented is the tsunami-like magnitude of this one.

Americans are still out there eight months later buying firearms like mad – and I think this can be nothing but good in the longer term. Let me count the ways:

1. More firearms in civilian hands means a larger constituency to oppose restrictive firearms laws and regulations.

2. More firearms in civilian hands means more people carrying concealed, depressing crime rates.

3. More firearms in civilian hands means the balance of coercive power shifts in favor of the people and against government, making some of our nastier potential futures just that much less likely.

4. Higher demand means more firearms-manufacturing capacity in the future, leading to lower prices and a likelihood that the previous three virtuous effects will be sustained.

My most serious concern about this situation is that the manufacturers might overinvest themselves into a capacity glut and get badly hammered when and if the market saturates. But that’s a worry for another day.

Thank you, Barack Obama. You didn’t intend this good result, but then I suspect that pretty much all of whatever little good you end up doing will have been unintentional. I’m grateful for it anyway.

258 thoughts on “In which I am thankful for Barack Obama’s election

  1. Right after the election I could believe it was stockpiling, but eight months later? I doubt it – especially since none of my gun-owning friends have reported that reaction. Not with regard to the guns themselves, anyway.

    By contrast, I think there is a significant stockpiling effect going on with respect to ammunition. Hard-core gun fanciers do seem to have been buying that stuff like crazy, largely (I think) in response to rumors that the Feds were going to mandate microstamping. .45ACP hardball is not quite as scarce as the guns, but I’ve been hearing stories about sporting-goods stories limiting the number of boxes you can buy in one go.

  2. I guess with a two party system, most people are stuck between a rock and a hard place. I am amused at the outrage of people who are still waiting for Barack Obama to deliver on his campaign promises, yet I still think this is better than Sarah Palin in the White house… Why did the USA not adopt the Westminster Parliamentary System?

  3. More innocent people will be killed in pointless escalation of petty arguments and personal grudges is what it means. More people will be inexperienced and untrained and gung ho. More criminals will shoot first before they can be shot at – even if their mental profile would have made likelihood of actual gun use minimal in regular circumstances. Guns will breed violence by definition. They don’t make anything safer.

    ESR says: This is profound ignorance talking. Worse, it’s ignorance that thinks it’s wise.

  4. I guess with a two party system.

    Argh! You just pushed one of my biggest pet peeve buttons: we do not have a two-party system. Anyone who believes otherwise has been brainwashed and must now report for unbrainwashing immediately.

  5. Right after the election I could believe it was stockpiling, but eight months later? I doubt it – especially since none of my gun-owning friends have reported that reaction. Not with regard to the guns themselves, anyway.

    I don’t know anyone stockpiling weapons, either. Ammunition, OTOH, is a different story. Gun stores/sporting goods stores everywhere seem to be low on ammo, especially .45, .38 and 9mm.

  6. I think ESR has it right when it comes to the stockpiling question. My gun-owning friends and I have taken a sort of “I’ve already got mine” attitude. However, I’ve had no fewer than three friends who did not already own firearms approach me for counsel on a purchase in the last six months. They had been on the fence about firearms ownership until the election.

    ESR says: This matches what I’m seeing. Thank you again, Barack!

  7. Here’s to hoping his lie rings true sooner rather than later — all hail gun control!

    ESR says: What self-confused drivel. For Obama’s “lie to ring true”, he’d have to be opposed to more firearms restrictions. As usual, the gun-banner displays no grasp of either facts or logic.

  8. Not only is it hard to get a weapon, but just trying to get ammo is tough. A local gun store in Cookeville, TN is not selling all their ammo because of the complaints from people buying guns and not being able to purchase ammo for it. So the owner of the gun store is making sure he has at least one box of ammo for the gun that you purchase.

    I own a Glock .40 cal and usually seem to find ammo if I hunt around. Though it is really expensive to buy now. Fifty cartridges of Black Hills ammunition cost about 26.00 dollars two months ago. Usually at Walmart you can get 100 rounds of Winchester for about 30 dollars. Walmart is sold out at the moment and sells out quickly when they get it.

  9. Argh! You just pushed one of my biggest pet peeve buttons: we do not have a two-party system. Anyone who believes otherwise has been brainwashed and must now report for unbrainwashing immediately.

    No one outside the D’s and R’s has a prayer of getting elected to the Presidency, and their chances for Congress are very slim. How is this not, effectively, a two-party system?

  10. No one outside the D’s and R’s has a prayer of getting elected to the Presidency, and their chances for Congress are very slim. How is this not, effectively, a two-party system?

    It’s effectively a two-party system only because 90%+ of the population has been brainwashed into believing it is a two-party system, creating a de-facto two-party system. Many people who voted for Barack Obama were not casting their vote for Barack, but rather against McCain/Palin.

  11. I bought my first three firearms the week after the election: a pistol, a shotgun, and a used AR-15. I was lucky to get the AR-15, as it had come back from the gunsmith shortly before I arrived and was the only one in the shop. They had no high capacity magazines for the AR at all, and did not receive any for weeks. A Rand-flavored libertarian friend also bought his first firearm that week.

  12. I only bought two guns after the election, but I did buy 4500 rounds of ammunition in three calibers. (TRM: I should take my roommate out shooting again soon so he can compare the AR-15 to the AK-47; he really likes shooting the AR-15.)

  13. > How is this not, effectively, a two-party system?

    I believe that the claim is that it’s effectively a one-party system, that the differences are at the margin.

    That belief is not absurd. Take the death penalty. In Europe, the political class is almost uniformly opposed. The system is set up so that it’s impossible to get elected advocating the death penalty. Yet, a significant fraction of the population, a strong majority in some countries, supports it.

  14. Is “more firearms in civilian hands” really that useful in and of itself if those civilians don’t really know how to use the firearms effectively?

    I have nothing against firearm ownership and might’ve even considered owning one (or more) but I don’t have the time or inclination for the training and practice required to use it (them) effectively.

  15. Bret, it’s not at all uncommon for people who purchase their first firearm to discover, quite against their expectations, that shooting is fun. I think the fraction of firearm owners who don’t know how to use them is much lower than you do.

  16. >Is “more firearms in civilian hands” really that useful in and of itself if those civilians don’t really know how to use the firearms effectively?

    Perhaps not. On the other hand, enough competence with a pistol or rifle to be effective in typical self-defense or home-defense situations is ridiculously easy to acquire – it’s not a complicated skill. People of average intelligence can and do teach it to themselves from books and it only takes a few hours under instruction.

    Even military-grade proficiency only requires, IIRC, twelve to fourteen hours of training. And this is the U.S. military, which is more rigorous about it than most.

  17. It is probably more difficult to train to use a gun under stress than it is to be competent with the gun in the first place. However in most situations where a gun is used, it is never fired.

    Your typical street criminal will usually exercise the better part of valor when he sees his mark is armed. He will run the other way.

  18. “The day he won the Presidency of the United States, a significant fraction of the population of this country apparently decided they’d better get theirs while the getting was still possible.”

    This is exactly how I felt. I had never owned a gun in my life. I despised guns when I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps after my four years of service. But when it looked like Obama was going to become the next president I was at the gun store drooling like a kid in a candy shop. Then its on the range and putting rounds on target like I was in training again.

    Now looking deeply into my actions of buying a gun kind of brought me to face some facts of my personal beliefs that I did not want to admit. I’ve never considered myself a racist, but when there was going to be a black man leading my country I did not like it. But on further review of my inner motions I was not sure if I was a racist. Because lets says Colin Powell became president. For some reason I use to trust Powell and don’t believe I would of felt the same way. After all I would have to believe Powell would be pro-gun(serving in the military.)

    When ever I walk around town and see magazines, calenders, coffee cups, kid toys………etc for sale with a smiling Obama. I have have to pull out (The True Believer by Eric Hoffer) and remind myself something does not smell right.

    For me it boils down to this. I don’t trust Obama. Not even sure if he is a US citizen. My distrust of Muslims. Our government is out of control.

    I’m armed and sleep better at night. It’s my right to own a weapon.

    “Dont Tread On Me!”

  19. I’m British, so I’m speaking from a position of personal ignorance – personal firearms are basically banned here. If you’re a farmer, you can get a break-open shotgun after jumping through a few hoops; you can also get the same for grouse or clay-pigeon shooting. Handguns, rifles and even pump-action shotguns are basically reserved for the military, the small fraction of police that are armed and, of course, criminals.

    I tend to think of firearms as being a lot like motor vehicles – potentially very dangerous if misused, but really valuable and popular. My inclination would be for a licensing system much like the vehicular one, where you need to pass a (routine) test to ensure that you understand how to be safe and the licence can be taken away if you use the firearm in an unsafe way.

    Can people with a bit more knowledge comment on whether that’s a sensible mental model, or whether I’m talking out of my behind?

    From what I can pick up, it seems that the lower the population density, the more popular the legal status of firearms is. I guess urbanites are more likely to think of firearms as being used for shooting people and ruralites to think of hunting or self-defense against animals. Shooting governments is only something that the small minority who pay serious attention to politics ever consider outside of a revolution.

  20. I’ve acquired plenty of guns over the years, in all configurations. I’d like to buy some more modern handguns and battle rifles, but the inflated prices are too much for me. I’m resigned to waiting this surge out.

    What really gets me is the price and unavailability of ammo. I’ve got enough hunting ammo for several years, but I’d like to have more combat ammo…..can’t find it for love nor money. 00 buckshot and slugs are nowhere to be seen. .40/.45 & .223 is rare and pricey. Some dudes are literally stalking the Walmart delivery trucks and buying everything up as soon as it hits the shelves. It’s crazy.

  21. “Perhaps not. On the other hand, enough competence with a pistol or rifle to be effective in typical self-defense or home-defense situations is ridiculously easy to acquire – it’s not a complicated skill. People of average intelligence can and do teach it to themselves from books and it only takes a few hours under instruction.”

    I have over 100 hours of training, and I feel like that’s scratched the surface. Is a gun owner with a few hours training in a better defensive position than an untrained unarmed person, sure. But there are plenty of people who view the gun and some basic training as panacea, and it’s not. A little bit of force on force training with simunitions or airsoft will make that abundantly clear.

  22. >A little bit of force on force training with simunitions or airsoft will make that abundantly clear.

    There are levels and levels. Um, you do realize that the kind of tac training you’re talking about is way beyond what military line troops normally get, right? Homeowners don’t need it; their likelihood of facing trained opponents is quite low. There are only two classes of people who routinely train to that level; elite military and LEO in G8 countries who do it for serious and civilian sports shooters in G8 countries who do it for fun.

  23. I have over 100 hours of training, and I feel like that’s scratched the surface.
    I’ve got over 350 hours of flight time in my logbook, I’m a certified flight instructor, and I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of aviation. Even so, I’m confident I’m a safe, conservative pilot.

    Just because there’s more to learn doesn’t mean you’re not competent at the basic skill. The homeowner who can take his gun to the range and hit the target at reasonable engagement ranges is competent enough to defend his life and his home.

  24. My inclination would be for a licensing system much like the vehicular one, where you need to pass a (routine) test to ensure that you understand how to be safe and the licence can be taken away if you use the firearm in an unsafe way.
    Richard, the problem with this is that the test can be – and has proven to be in the past – a way for gun-hostile bureaucrats to deny people the right to keep and bear arms at all. There’s no other basic right that requires a test for its exercise.

  25. the test can be – and has proven to be in the past – a way for gun-hostile bureaucrats to deny people the right to keep and bear arms at all.

    Fair point. My concern is that there are people who really shouldn’t have guns (e.g. me; I barely know one end from the other, and I wouldn’t know where to start looking for the safety). Perhaps the solution is to allow private institutions to administer the test. If the NRA was doing the testing, I think we’d all feel confident that it was a gun-safety check and not a method for keeping guns from people.

  26. Merv: More innocent people will be killed in pointless escalation of petty arguments and personal grudges is what it means.

    Oh, nonsense. Outbursts of insane violence are frequently planned in advance. (Though I don’t think those folks first purchased guns quite so recently, I do think that they were animated by the same fears, like the ones Scott outlines.)

    Morgan Greywolf: It’s effectively a two-party system only because 90%+ of the population has been brainwashed into believing it is a two-party system, creating a de-facto two-party system.

    No. I, and plenty of other people, understand the matter quite well. The marginal effect of breaking with your (dominant) party in favor of a third party is to hurt your own party. (The electoral college system means that because your marginal vote doesn’t count in a red or blue state, you can vote for a third party all you want there.) This is called Duverger’s Law, and telling people they’re brainwashed or foolish for making a simple, straightforward observation–voting for a third party is hopeless unless a lot of people suddenly start doing it–is profoundly unproductive.

    The two-party system is a consequence of the plurality-wins system. For a significant change to be at all likely, you’d need to change the voting method to something else, like instant-runoff.

    Scott: I don’t trust Obama. Not even sure if he is a US citizen.

    Gee, Eric, you sure do get the best commenters.

  27. Gah. I meant to write Scott in the attribution for the quote there. Apologies; that’s an honest mistake. Eric, please change that; I’m not intending to attribute someone else’s views to you.

  28. @Richard Gadsden

    Please don’t take this as naked ridicule, I ask in all sincerity: When you say something like “people who really shouldn’t have guns (e.g. me; I barely know one end from the other, and I wouldn’t know where to start looking for the safety)”, are you being serious or making a casual throw-away comment?

    As somebody that seriously knows ‘one end from the other’, such a statement advertises you as one with such little competence as to not even be trusted with pointy objects, or be left alone in the bath. I have no idea who you are, but I suspect you are more than intelligent enough to learn essential firearm competency :)

    Follow the arc of arms development – from skills with physical weapons (swords, bows etc) and unarmed martial arts that require years of dedicated training to master, we have come to a state where literally one hour of instruction can render a novice competent to deliver accurate deadly force with a point and a click.

  29. Fair point. My concern is that there are people who really shouldn’t have guns (e.g. me; I barely know one end from the other,

    You have got to kidding me. Are you seriously suggesting that learning to shoot a gun is anything but trivial? This isn’t rocket science. You point the end of the barrel with the hole in it at your target and pull the trigger. Okay, there’s a little more to than that — you have to learn how to load the ammunition, set the safety, aim the gun, proper stance, etc., but seriously if you can read this, you can learn to fire a handgun in almost no time at all. Of course, as with anything in life, there are additional skills you can develop with a pistol beyond basic firing technique, but basic firing technique is all that’s required.

    Sure, there are ‘safety instructions,’ but these are mostly common sense: know what your target is, know what’s on the other side of your target, never point a gun at anybody unless you intend to shoot them, and never shoot anybody unless you intend to kill them, wear adequate eye and ear protection (if you can), etc. Any adult capable of rational thought is capable of understanding this.

  30. Plato: Why do gun advocates see Obama as a threat?

    Well, I couldn’t say for certain. But from what I’ve read, it’s certainly not that he’s black, or that they’re afraid that black people will be overcome by an urge to rise up en masse and kill whitey. It also has nothing to do with disguising fears about Obama fulfilling the Scary Black Man trope as theories that he’s actually the love child of Malcolm X. It’s definitely not that.

  31. Plato wrote:

    Why do gun advocates see Obama as a threat?

    Scott wrote:

    For me it boils down to this. I don’t trust Obama. Not even sure if he is a US citizen. My distrust of Muslims. Our government is out of control.

    Any more questions?

  32. When you say something like “people who really shouldn’t have guns (e.g. me; I barely know one end from the other, and I wouldn’t know where to start looking for the safety)”, are you being serious or making a casual throw-away comment?

    You have got to be kidding me. Are you seriously suggesting that learning to shoot a gun is anything but trivial?

    I have no idea. I have never seen a real gun other than once seeing one holstered on an Italian policeman’s belt.

    I’m a British citizen who grew up in and has always lived in a city. Our police are not normally trusted with firearms, and they are banned for civilians (especially urban civilians). The only way I would be able to work out what to do with a gun is from Hollywood, and given my experience with how accurate Hollywood is on subjects I do know about, I don’t trust that “knowledge”.

    I really am that naive. So are lots of other Europeans. So, I suspect, are lots of American urbanites – though I wouldn’t know for sure. At the very least, US police carry firearms.

    I have always assumed that learning to use a firearm safely and effectively is a lengthy and challenging process. I guess I thought that was what boot camp was, though a little thought (which I have never applied to the subject until challenged today) makes me realise that boot camp has many other purposes. Our armed police go through long and intensive training courses. I suppose that’s because they are the equivalents of SWAT in the US (normal police only carry a truncheon and possibly mace or a taser).

  33. 4. Higher demand means more firearms-manufacturing capacity in the future, leading to lower prices and a likelihood that the previous three virtuous effects will be sustained.

    My most serious concern about this situation is that the manufacturers might overinvest themselves into a capacity glut and get badly hammered when and if the market saturates. But that’s a worry for another day.

    As you mentioned earlier in your post, the manufactures have been here before, most recently the Clinton semi-auto rifle ban (the so-called “Assault Weapon Ban”). All reports from the industry are that while everyone is running three shifts, very little capital expenditure for additional tooling is happening.

    Also, I think your post is a little late, the market has begun to saturate now and has been cooling for a month or two, you can actually see a few black rifles in shops now. Ammo, specifically primers, are the current problem area.

    For more I reccomend the Michael Bane blog and most recently on the subject this post.

    ESR says: As of mid-last-week here in PA, the market for pistols was still so tight that the dealers are screaming.

  34. “I have always assumed that learning to use a firearm safely and effectively is a lengthy and challenging process”
    OK. Your assumption is wrong – simple as that. I’m dumber than a bag of hammers, and I’ve managed to not shoot my eye out or lose any toes ;)

    It is very easy to learn how to competently utilize a firearm, as Morgan Greywolf highlighted. That’s kinda the whole point of modern arms.

    It is my opinion that the psychological aspects of gun ownership are the most challenging.

  35. >Plato: Why do gun advocates see Obama as a threat?

    Obama has a long history of close ties to organizations and people who are extremely and specifically hostile to firearms rights. He has attempted to cover up this history with clumsy lies that he wouldn’t have gotten away with if the U.S. national media were anything but an acquiescent poodle for the First Black Man in the White House (oooooh!).

    (For the benefit of the truly dimwitted, I have no issue with Obama’s race at all – in fact I’m glad a black man got elected President, so we can now tell the racial-grievance industry to go stuff itself up its own festering asshole. I do have a problem with the acquiescent-poodle behavior.)

  36. >It is very easy to learn how to competently utilize a firearm, as Morgan Greywolf highlighted. That’s kinda the whole point of modern arms.

    True. Unless you are either blind as a bat or have the shakes so bad you can’t feed yourself, you can shoot a modern pistol adequately for basic self-defense with only a few hours’ training. OK, I’m exaggerating a little but not much.

    >It is my opinion that the psychological aspects of gun ownership are the most challenging.

    True.

  37. This is called Duverger’s Law

    I’m familiar with Duverger’s Law. It is important to remember that Duverger’s Law, like so many ‘laws’ in political science, is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an absolute. There are numerous counterexamples.

    I am certainly in favor of instant run-off voting, but when you ask Joe Sixpack what he thinks of “instant runoff voting” a) he hasn’t heard of it, and b) once you explain it to him, responses typically run like “We have a two-party system. Why do we need instant run-off voting?” *forehead slap*

    Anyway, the fact is that the Constitution certainly does not say we have a ‘two-party system.’ Duverger’s law is simply of 20th century observation about the tendency to develop a two-party system where plurality voting exists.

  38. Morgan Greywolf: It is important to remember that Duverger’s Law, like so many ‘laws’ in political science, is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an absolute. There are numerous counterexamples.

    Of course they are. It’s a strong tendency, and there are odd situations, even here in the United States, where it doesn’t quite apply. That said, the two party system is plainly a consequence of plurality voting, and no matter how well you educate (or berate) the voters, it will remain a consequence of plurality voting. The two party system doesn’t reflect any particular hebetude or moral failing on the part of the populace here that’s not present in jurisdictions with other voting systems.

  39. Although I ‘get’ what people mean when they say “two party system”, my inner anal semantics geek always objects ;)

    There is absolutely nothing systemic about our electoral process that defines it as constrained to two parties. The “two party system” is simply an emergent gaming strategy.

  40. I bought my first gun when it became evident that Obama was going to win the election.

  41. This photo was one of things that put me over the top for voting against Obama. It comes from the Joyce Foundation, for which Obama sat on the board of directors, and appears front-and-center on the section of their website promoting gun control. If your reaction it is anything other than visceral horror, I give up on you.

  42. > There’s no other basic right that requires a test for its exercise.
    Why is gun ownership a basic right? A gun is a tool, just like a car.

  43. I mean, you can argue against gun control on the basis that it violates private-property rights, but philosophically, I don’t think there is any basic right that specifically pertains to firearms.

  44. True. Unless you are either blind as a bat or have the shakes so bad you can’t feed yourself, you can shoot a modern pistol adequately for basic self-defense with only a few hours’ training. OK, I’m exaggerating a little but not much.
    …as we demonstrate at least annually at the Penguicon Geeks with Guns event.

    Really, Richard…handling a firearm safely and shooting it adequately well for self-defense is a matter of an hour’s training or so and another hour’s practice. That doesn’t mean you’ll be a crack shot by any means, but it does mean you’ll know enough, and be safe enough, to protect yourself and your loved ones. An investment of 12 hours will take you from complete newbie to someone who knows enough, and can shoot well enough, to earn a handgun carry permit in Minnesota from one of the best instructors around. If you ever make it to the US, I’m sure we could scare up someone wherever it is you may be going to take you through the basics.

    It’s really not rocket science. That, and the dismal rate of shooting of innocent bystanders by cops, is what makes the argument that only police should have firearms because of their superior training so laughable. It’s not about training. It’s about the desire to do it well. Many cops just don’t have it.

  45. Thomas -

    First, self-defense is a basic human right.
    Second, ownership of arms is one of the few enumerated rights in the Constitution that the founders thought was self-evident, but felt strongly enough about to actually specify.

    As to why people bought guns once Obama was elected, simple: for all his prevaricating to the contrary, he has historically been anti-gun. Not just anti mean-looking gun, but all arms. The fact that his administration has someone seriously considering changing the definition of “switchblade” to include all knives with any kind of rapid-open or assisted-open blade should indicate the level of hostility this administration feels toward self-defense.

    The irony, of course, is that both gun-control and the outlawing of “switchblade” knives both have their historical roots (in the US anyway) in the racist practice of denying blacks access to vigorous self-defense and the racist belief that roving gangs of blacks were brandishing knives.

  46. Daniel Franke — that’s funny, because I think I interpret that picture differently. Minorities in the United States have, for very good reasons, no particular trust of the police; trying to pursuade them that the police might give a shit or not take the wrong side in a dispute is hard. I’m assuming you’re reading it as “I’ve not got a gun, come get me!”, whereas I’m reading it as, “I’m actually going to call for back-up, unlike most people in this area”. I think we might agree with how doomed that statement is as a form of protection, but it’s not quite the same kind of doomed.

    I think people buying firearms right now are being taken for a ride (by the supply curve and their own herd reactions); realistically the political atmosphere right now, and Obama’s stance make it incredibly unlikely that any serious gun control law would be introduced. The left have realised that kind of culture war is self-defeating, and they have better things to do. Obama’s successful policy is to stuff that the repubs and the center-right have no easy way to unite upon, and that’s working very well. You can count that down either as a win, or a worrying indication that your primary aims have been marginalised and other matters are afoot.

  47. @Thomas

    The right to keep and bear arms is rooted in the essential dignifying right of self-ownership.

    As a free, sentient individual, you have the right to acquire technology to improve your life, and nobody else has the right to arbitrarily deny you access to technology.

  48. Jeff Read says:
    >No one outside the D’s and R’s has a prayer of getting elected to the
    > Presidency, and their chances for Congress are very slim. How is this
    > not, effectively, a two-party system?

    Two teams play in the Superbowl, but that doesn’t mean that the NFL is a two team system. One team might be called the NFC champions, the other the AFC champions, but that doesn’t mean that the NFC or the AFC only have one team. Just because the last contest is between two, doesn’t mean that 32 teams does have a fairly even chance of winning (“even” in the sense the rules are blind to the color of your hat.)

    (Not a bad analogy for a chick don’t you think?)

    Of course, the problem is not the political parties per se, the problem is democracy itself. The problem is that the strict limits placed on what the Federal Government can do are basically ignored. And the problem is that a people deserve the government they get.

    It is worth commenting that the biggest flies in the ointment here are the FEC and the mass of campaign finance laws which are designed to keep challengers out. Do we have a 90+% re-election rate because congress is so popular? I think not.

    It is also worth pointing out that when the government runs the school system, one should not be surprised when the products of that school system are pro-government. If you want to change the political climate in the country, job one is to destroy or at the very least undermine the public school system, and replace it with a private school system.

  49. >esr: For the benefit of the truly dimwitted, I have no issue with Obama’s race at all – in fact I’m glad a black man got elected President, so we can now tell the racial-grievance industry to go stuff itself up its own festering asshole.

    Here Here (but if only it were that simple)

    Hopefully it will also serve as a counter-example to the attitude in some communities that buckling down, studying and getting an education something ony “whites” do.

  50. @Danny O’Brien
    If that interpretation was the intended one, I’d be surprised. Among the communities you allude to, going to the cops is a sin that you wouldn’t wish to advertise with a sign in your window, unless you want it bricked ;)

  51. Dan:

    > The right to keep and bear arms is rooted in the essential dignifying right of self-ownership.

    > As a free, sentient individual, you have the right to acquire technology to improve your life, and nobody else has the right to arbitrarily deny you access to technology.

    I think all that Thomas is saying, and you don’t seem to refute, is that the right to bear arms is a theorem rather than an axiom. I agree.

  52. “Here Here (but if only it were that simple)”
    Yes, now we can wag our finger at all those racist european nations that have never elected a black man to presidential office. So very racist. Tsk tsk.

    /sarc

  53. “I think all that Thomas is saying, and you don’t seem to refute, is that the right to bear arms is a theorem rather than an axiom. I agree.”
    I’m not sure I really understand that distinction. Maybe it depends on the ‘school of thought’ you belong to viz-a-viz the nature of a right.

    Either way, I don’t think I was trying to refute anything. Thomas raised a question and I threw in my $0.02.

    I don’t think anyone can claim a right to a gun, only a right to own a gun. In that sense, it’s no more significant that a ‘right’ to own a car or a telephone; however, what is being expressed by the exercising of this right is of far deeper significance.

  54. “I think people buying firearms right now are being taken for a ride (by the supply curve and their own herd reactions)”

    Well I actually bought a 1957 Ruger Standard .22 pistol recently(can’t afford to shoot the Glock.) It’s a excellent used buyers market now. Sure the prices are high, but it is bringing out the sellers sitting on some nice gems. Not much of a selection here in TN on new guns, but if you surf the used market you can’t find what your looking for.

  55. What I really want to buy are a couple of select-fire automatic rifles. Fat chance. *sulk*

  56. >I think people buying firearms right now are being taken for a ride (by the supply curve and their own herd reactions);

    Or possibly I’m not the only person to have gotten a death threat recently? I know, I know, rude of me to mention it…

  57. “I think all that Thomas is saying, and you don’t seem to refute, is that the right to bear arms is a theorem rather than an axiom. I agree.”
    I’m not sure I really understand that distinction. Maybe it depends on the ’school of thought’ you belong to viz-a-viz the nature of a right.

    A theorem is something you arrive at by deduction; it isn’t self-evident. An axiom is something that just is: it is self-evident. A classical example is that saying that “A and B” implies A. Or, as Ayn Rand would say, “A is A”. ;)

    So while it’s self-evident that a human being has the right to live and be free, it is perhaps not self-evident that he has the right to own a gun.

  58. So while it’s self-evident that a human being has the right to live and be free, it is perhaps not self-evident that he has the right to own a gun.

    … unless you feel that the latter is merely a manifestation of the former.

  59. It’s not just the firearms and ammo. Reloading supplies, particulary powder and primers for small-caliber pistol and rifles are backordered. I’ve been waiting on primers for 4 months, and they’re not expected for another 3. The run on .223 supplies and firearms is especially interesting, in that it’s not a self-defense/carry caliber. To me, that seems to indicate a profound mistrust of the Obama administration, to the extent of arming for rebellion.

  60. > … herd reactions

    Well, yes, you see, just because the wildebeasts panic doesn’t mean there are no lions, does it?

    And that’s a bit of a misnomer. Can a herd reaction really force individuals to react with individualized behavior? Herd reactions mean that everyone does the same thing, in the same direction, presumably to preserve the herd. But while I wish fervently for all of your safety, my gun safe is under my bed to protect my family.

  61. First, let me say that I’m strongly in favor of public gun ownership.

    Now I will follow that up by saying, I’m unconvinced that there’s an actual problem here. I give next to zero weight to evidence delivered via anecdotes from people who are served by the anecdote. Gun dealers, in fact, salesmen of any type, are prone to making it sound like you’ve gotta buy now. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the situation was half as dire as they make it sound.

    I guess I’m just saying, I’d feel a lot better if there were some sort of market statistics on the matter.

    I counter the anecdotes presented by saying that I know of zero people who have bought extra guns since Obama’s election and I live in a rural area full of farmers and gun owners.

  62. >Gun dealers, in fact, salesmen of any type, are prone to making it sound like you’ve gotta buy now.

    Oh, no, It’s gone way beyond that. What I’ve been hearing out here isn’t “You’ve gotta buy now!”, it’s “I’ve got nothing to sell you and that pisses me off!”

  63. Massad Ayoob has written very convincingly on the absurdity of the effort required to ban all guns – the implementation difficulties, the enforceability, not to mention the Constitutional mountain to be overcome.

    I have no doubts that Obama and his seditious ilk would be only too happy to impose a police state upon us, yet I seriously doubt their practical ability to do so, politically and physically.

    Around here, any gun grabbing cops/feds would literally be hunted down and shot – anyone with a badge really. This myth about not being able to effectively do anything against superior arms is bullshit – for a start, we’re all excellent snipers…I mean hunters ;) Obama would literally be sending men to their deaths. I actually suspect there would be widespread insubordination among cops/military/feds if ordered to turn their weapons en masse against the general public.

    No. I think that what will happen is that there will be attempts to nibble around the edges of the 2nd Amendment, harass the innocent armed civilian. Maybe concealed carry restrictions. Maybe taxes. Nothing we can’t wait out and repeal.

    To that extent, I think a lot of this panic-buying is irrational. Maybe some dealers are intentionally not promoting ‘cooler heads’, and cashing in….I don’t blame them for profiteering – only a sucker wouldn’t.

  64. >To that extent, I think a lot of this panic-buying is irrational.

    I haven’t taken a position on whether it’s rational or not because I don’t care. It makes like more difficult for would-be gun-banners and puts a crimp in the ambitions of statists; that’s good enough for me.

  65. > >I think people buying firearms right now are being taken for a ride (by the supply curve and their own herd reactions);
    >
    > Or possibly I’m not the only person to have gotten a death threat recently? I know, I know, rude of me to mention it…

    *Again*.

    I love you Eric, but getting death threats over the Internet (or over the phone) is not exactly unknown, especially when you’re helping dissidents with free speech, or being a woman in a non-female friendly environment, or adopting a minority stance in a forum where people like to shoot their mouths off: and I don’t really there’s any growth in that that correlates with the election of Obama. It sort of comes with the territory of an ongoing easy-to-talk, hard-to-act environment like the Net.

    I guess that I don’t disagree with your public behaviour (if you’re going to conceal-carry, then you’d want to publically state you were doing so for it to act as a deterrent), but I’m surprised, once again, by your threat assessment. It reminds of that time that you conceived of a potential risk to the national infrastructure, and believed yourself to be therefore a potential target for kidnapping by terrorists. “Non-zero” risk has an awfully low bottom range, and most of the people I know who either work to protect anonymous speech or devise and publicise threats to the infrastructure (and who receive death threats because of it) are more worried about getting sued or having their cars ticketed than gunned down or tortured for their secrets by hostile forces. Perhaps they should be more concerned, but none of them have been assassinated yet.[*]

    It feels a bit like looking for keys under the streetlamp. Here is an event that makes me feel unsafe. Having a weapon on me makes me feel safer, even though the actual scenario that I feel unsafe about is, objectively, of a low probability. Similar with Obama: I don’t think that there’s really much chance of gun laws passing in this administration, *especially* gun laws that would reach into the kind of purchases that people are making now (and I’d welcome correction on that; I read the NRA periodicals, and most of their stuff behind a restart of the “assault weapons” ban seem vague and reaching). But people who see Obama elected do feel unsafe, and one way they feel safer is by purchasing handguns. I am trying to think of the leftist equivalent of “please make me feel safer after a Bush election”: it was probably starting a blog :)

    [*] — This is not to say that they are *not* currently armed to the teeth, you naughty terrorist readers!

  66. “It makes like more difficult for would-be gun-banners and puts a crimp in the ambitions of statists; that’s good enough for me.”

    Indeed so. I guess it’s good enough for me too. Civilians buying firearms, whatever the motivation, is always a good thing :)

  67. Massad Ayoob has written very convincingly on the absurdity of the effort required to ban all guns – the implementation difficulties, the enforceability, not to mention the Constitutional mountain to be overcome.

    For an opposing viewpoint, read this very interesting essay comparing current U.S. gun laws with the path the Nazis took. I think that perhaps those panicked about Obama may have fears that are justified. (Yep, you just got Godwin’d! ;)

  68. >I love you Eric, but getting death threats over the Internet (or over the phone) is not exactly unknown

    Did you miss the part where multiple members of the project team got death threats before I joined up? You’re free to suppose I’m overreacting, but neither the FBI nor my personal go-to expert on security and counterterrorism does. The threat against me is not isolated, like the one I got in 2006; rather, it’s part of a pattern of intimidation. That’s a major reason I’m taking it seriously.

    That said, you may be surprised how much of the rest of your comment I agree with. I do not in fact think Obama’s election is associated with a rise in death threats; I was being snarky, there, at people who think irrational herd reaction is the only possible reason one could be shopping for a gun at this time. I know I’m a counterexample; I’m sure there are others.

    >believed yourself to be therefore a potential target for kidnapping by terrorists.

    Where’d you get that idea? I know what you must be talking about, but you’ve misremembered important details. It wasn’t actually my idea, it was something Steven denBeste and I discussed – and I wasn’t living in fear of being kidnapped, I just refused to give details of it in public because it would be too easy to exploit.

    >It feels a bit like looking for keys under the streetlamp.

    This is to some extent a fair criticism, but I’m going to turn it around on you. One of the basics of security threat modeling is that you counterplan against threats you can deal with and not against those you can’t, because trying the latter diverts resources that you could put to effective use against the former.

    Practical application: I can’t counterplan against a pro sniper with a rifle, because my resources don’t include bodyguards and armored limos and I can’t be holed up in a bunker all the time. So I’m not trying. Instead, I’m taking reasonable measures against plausible threat scenarios I do have the training and resources to meet. That’s all you can ever do, really.

  69. @Richard Gadsden:

    “My inclination would be for a licensing system much like the vehicular one, where you need to pass a (routine) test to ensure that you understand how to be safe and the licence can be taken away if you use the firearm in an unsafe way.”

    Somethings are similar betwixt UK and US, eg:

    Driving is a privilege, not a right, don’t drink and drive

    Somethings are very different however:

    The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed

    A right is a right essentially, because it does not require a licence.

  70. merv Says:
    More innocent people will be killed in pointless escalation of petty arguments and personal grudges is what it means. More people will be inexperienced and untrained and gung ho. More criminals will shoot first before they can be shot at – even if their mental profile would have made likelihood of actual gun use minimal in regular circumstances. Guns will breed violence by definition. They don’t make anything safer.

    Where I live (The Republic of Colombia) there are DRACONIAN firearms laws, and the place has the 4th highest murder rate in the world, and has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for many, many years. The leading cause of death for males 18-40 is homicide, mostly by firearm. Only criminals, with or without uniforms (or suits) have access to firearms here.

  71. What I find funny about this whole situation is that there’s really not much chance of Obama making any significant moves on gun control. He wants to push through his economic and health care policies, both of which are going to take vast amounts of his political capital, and going after guns would be an expensive distraction from all that.

    Still, lots of law-abiding citizens rushing to buy guns isn’t anything to complain about. One side-effect that I haven’t seen mentioned: more money going to gun makers means that they have more money to defend themselves from restrictive regulations. Smith and Wesson alone makes almost 100 million dollars per year, and all the gun makers have a vested interest in people being able to buy guns.

  72. Touching on information concealment:

    I think the point of concealed carry is that people don’t know you’re carrying. That tactical element of surprise may be important.

    Publicly announcing that A) you’ve got death threats and B) that you’re going to concealed carry means that you’re giving up that tactical advantage for as long as the announcement remains visible/in memory. You may have traded that tactical advantage in for deterrence, but if you wanted deterrence, why buy a concealed carry weapon in the first place, given the handgun you already own?

    EG, given who we both know, why not contact them personally for recommendations, rather than broadcast on the internet?

    This, Eric, is part of a pattern of behavior that leads me to believe that you have a blind spot when it comes to information concealment. It’s not a willful blind spot, nor do you get dogmatic about it, and you DO listen when people point out that you’re telling more than you should for your own best interests.

    But on your thought process prioritization list, “Do I give up an advantage by giving this information out?” is somewhere below “Has my cat been reminded that she is the center of the universe in the last four hours?” :)

  73. I agree that there isn’t much chance of a major gun-grabbing law NOW. However, this rush began when it became clear that Oneterma would be elected, and *at the time* this was a quite reasonable assumption. And then, of course, you had the Democrats picking up 9 seats in the Senate, and Holder making noises about what has since been termed the “Mexican gun canard” (in which he stated the lie that 90% of the guns in Mexican crimes have come from US gun shows), and calling for the “Assault Weapons Ban” to be restored and made permanent.

    It wasn’t until polls showed a huge drop in support for gun control, and until the sagging economy imperiled the rest of Oneterma’s agenda, that things started looking good for gun owners once again.

  74. Stephen: The run on .223 supplies and firearms is especially interesting, in that it’s not a self-defense/carry caliber. To me, that seems to indicate a profound mistrust of the Obama administration, to the extent of arming for rebellion.
    No, I don’t think you can read that into it. There’s another explanation that doesn’t require the same intellectual stretch on the part of the public: The last time the gun grabbers got their way, AR-15s and their ammo went dramatically up in price since they were the gun grabbers’ primary target, and are the stated target this time too.

    Arming for rebellion requires, first, that the purchaser be seriously considering that rebellion is a significant possibility, and I don’t think the public has, by and large, made that leap.

  75. Couple comments.

    First, I do not think that the majority of those purchasing firearms at this time are seriously arming for a rebellion. Some people who may believe that “When the Shit Hits the Fan” is closer in time, rather than further away than what most folks believe, and that relatively small number of folks are the ones following the delivery trucks to the Evil Empire, er, Wal Mart stores, and cleaning them out each week.

    Second, the shortage of AR-15′s is likely due to them being on the “Assault Weapons” list; most black rifles have been in short supply for a while now, but my local dealer now has many in stock (at outrageous prices, IMO). Ammo is another story; what I have been told is that the foreign entanglements we are currently engaged in are tying up the vast majority of .223/5.56 ammunition manufacturing capacity, and is responsible for the shortages in the brass and power and primer markets as well. Should the US disentangle itself sooner, rather than later, from these engagements, the ammunition situation should stabilize.

    Finally, I don’t think ESR is unaware that his information concealment is low with respect to his personal defense; I suspect personally (an not expecting him to comment at all on this comment/matter) that there’s a lot being done by him or on his behalf he’s not saying. Anyone familiar with his blog and previous (and current) writings is almost certainly aware of his firearms views, and would reasonably suppose that he’d take the prudent course and arm himself (and family) for defense, so nothing is being given away in that respect.

  76. @esr – I like your answer! And not having the information about the pattern of intimidation, I’ll defer to your own experts. (Ken – I don’t think Eric is concealing his weapon as part of an element of surprise, he’s doing it to stop other people freaking out.)

  77. The last time the gun grabbers got their way, AR-15s and their ammo went dramatically up in price since they were the gun grabbers’ primary target, and are the stated target this time too.

    “The last time the gun grabbers got their way” was presumably the Clinton years, during which the Waco siege did indeed put the lunatic right into arm-for-rebellion mode.

  78. ESR,

    Lately, I’ve been thinking of buying a shotgun. I’ve never fired one, and only fired a pistol and rifle on two occasions each — both were lots of fun. The reason I want a shotgun rather than pistol is that pistol carry permits are nearly impossible to get in NJ, and a shotgun will suffice for defense of my wife and child in the home, plus I’d like to get into hunting.

    The thing is, I know almost nothing about guns. None of my friends do, either. Do you have a good place for me to start looking for both training and gun info?

    As far as my ability to digest technical information: I’m a pretty hardcore nerd. I’ve actually met you when you spoke at NJIT a few years back.

  79. Hi, here again from Spain, here carrying firearms is banned.

    There are consequences to this:
    +There are a minority of leftist independents in the north of Spain (bask country) ETA(esquerra ta askatasuna) that feel they can do whatever they want because they can use violence and the others not. Politics and a lot of people think that the solution is to surrender an “talk”, “dialogue” with them.
    As an example, when ETA assassinated Miguel Angel Blanco, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miguel_%C3%81ngel_Blanco, a lot of people congregated and said things like “ETA, escucha, aquí tienes mi nuca”(ETA, listen, here you have mi neck” They are used to murder in the back or putting bombs.

    Police in Bask country used to “get late” when someone was firing buses or houses with Molotov cocktails or broking shop windows. Now that local gobermment has changed police people said they received clear orders from upstream.

    +With Franco(a lot of people had guns from civil war) if someone entered your house without your permission(e.g for stealing) you had the right to defend yourself and kill him in what was called “defensa propia”, with democracy things changed, now if you kill him, you go to jail. A lot of criminal people from the east of Europe came here because they feel empowered.

    + In the media, people that use arms are called “los violentos” (the violent people) as if normal people were not as much violent if they want. They talk about “human rights” of criminals, and families of terrorist as “victims of the conflict”.

    If someone comes to your house and tries to sodomize you, you know your life is much important that those “outdated” concepts like honor and dignity. It’s interesting but in Cervantes books(15xx) a lot of people are portrait dying for this abstract concepts.

  80. I’m curious about the concept that higher levels of concealed carrying of firearms reduces crime rates.

    Anyone got good numbers to back this up?

    It’s a non-issue where I come from because private ownership of handguns that are stored outside of gun clubs is either very, very difficult or criminal, the majority of firearms in the hands of criminals tend to be long guns from what I’ve seen.

  81. >Lately, I’ve been thinking of buying a shotgun.

    An excellent choice for home defense – you don’t have to precision-aim it (which can be difficult under stress) and the shot has low penetration so it will mess up what you’re aiming at without going through a wall and injuring someone on the other side. I have a shotgun myself, a Mossberg 500-series (don’t remember the exact variant, think it may be a 580).

    >Do you have a good place for me to start looking for both training and gun info?

    In NJ, no. I can tell you where you can find out, though; your nearest range or gun store. Usually it’s very easy to find a qualified instructor through those places; ask a clerk or look at the bulletin board if they have one.

  82. While I think you are essentially correct on a national basis, could your analysis be more acute in Pennsylvania, where rural influence in the legislature is waning, the suburbs are trending Democratic (Bobos in Paradise called out Wayne), and Gov Rendell’s hostility to RKBA is well-known, and with the loss of the budget for growing services expenditures that leaves the government to other initiatives.

  83. Al said:

    I’m curious about the concept that higher levels of concealed carrying of firearms reduces crime rates.

    During the 1990s (and continuing this decade), something like 30 states adopted what is called “shall issue” Concealed Weapon Carry permits – the state had to show cause to deny issuing the permit. Both crime in general and firearms related death and injury declined.

    The best that you can say as an anti-gun advocate is that higher levels of concealed carry do not increase crime. There’s a quite good discussion on gun crime statistics (and the way people misuse them) here.

    Stephen said:

    The run on .223 supplies and firearms is especially interesting, in that it’s not a self-defense/carry caliber.

    We had an interesting experience the last time we were at the range (a month ago). The missus decided that she wanted to shoot a Winchester 1894 (if you don’t know what this is, think “cowboy rifle”) because it’s fun fun fun (my range has guns that you can rent, to try out). There was no .30-.30 ammunition to be had. In June – not hunting season.

    I’m speculating (betraying my ignorance, really), but it may be that .30-.30 uses the same center fire primers as 9mm, .45 ACP, and .223. If so, you don’t need a conspiracy; if the primer factories are running three shifts a day, but not adding new machinery, then ammo shortages would cross caliber lines because of a shortage of common components.

    Also, an open invitation to any commenters (or readers) in the Boston area: if you’ve never shot, and would like to try it out, email be at borepatch at gmail dot com, and I’d be happy to take you to the range. I’ll cover range, firearm, and ammo fees, I’ll give you safety training (I’m actually a bit of a safety Nazi), and we’ll shoot a selection of firearms to give you a feel for what’s involved.

    If you’re anti-gun, I’m not trying to convert you. What I would like to do is give you a context that will de-mystify a lot of the bunk that you’ve been fed by a press that’s astonishingly ignorant (example: “Assault weapons are unusually powerful”; they’re absolutely not).

    This applies double to readers from overseas; if you’re in Boston for a conference and would like to see what the big deal is with all this firearm stuff, drop me a line.

    ObDisclaimer: Convicted felons or mentally unstable (have you been involuntarily hospitalized) need not apply.

  84. Jeff: “The last time the gun grabbers got their way” was presumably the Clinton years, during which the Waco siege did indeed put the lunatic right into arm-for-rebellion mode.
    Even if “the lunatic right” were in arm-for-rebellion mode, that would not come anywhere close to explaining the widespread firearms purchasing that’s going on now. It’s a much broader phenomenon than “the lunatic right” this time.

  85. Hmmm…..I was kinda hoping that esr’s blog would be a refuge from the simple-minded “leftright” blather. Oh well.

  86. Morgan Greywolf Says:

    > … you have to learn how to load the ammunition …

    Unless you mean how to load the cylinder / magazine and chamber a round, I beg to differ. The typical shootist today does not need to load ammunition. Atypical examples notwithstanding (skeet and trap enthusiasts who will break 100+ targets daily can save a couple of dollars a day; bench rest marksmen who count grains of powder to increase their accuracy at 1000 yards; varmint hunters who seem to love wildcat rounds), most can get by with commercial loads. As billg said, ’230 grains at 880fps should be enough for anyone’ ;-)

  87. “””
    An excellent choice for home defense – you don’t have to precision-aim it (which can be difficult under stress) and the shot has low penetration so it will mess up what you’re aiming at without going through a wall and injuring someone on the other side. I have a shotgun myself, a Mossberg 500-series (don’t remember the exact variant, think it may be a 580).
    “””

    Mossberg has a 500 and a 590 “Milspec”. For the casual home user either is fine.

    A pump 12 gauge is NOT the optimal home defense solution for someone who does not shoot pump shotguns a lot.

    First off, let’s dispose of the “precision-aim” argument. From memory the “spread” on a standard (open) choke shotgun is about 1 inch every 10 yards.

    This means across a normal sized room you’re going to get about a 1-1.5 inch “pattern”.

    You’re still going to have to point that thing pretty well.

    What you do get on the other end is severe trauma. You will be replacing the carpet. Seriously. People get shot all the time with pistols and don’t even bother to have the courtesy of falling down, much less dying on the spot. With a shotgun they may not die right away, but they will fall down. Which is what you want.

    Now, the pump shotgun. A pump shotgun, in the hands of a practiced user is a devastating weapon. It puts out a lot of pain in a very short period of time. However it is not easy to use under stress. You have to get the timing of the stroke and the pulling (errr.. get your minds out of hte gutter) of the trigger right, you can’t short stroke it or you can wind up with a misfeed etc.

    This isn’t hard to learn, but it requires somewhat routine practice (get it right, then go shoot every 2-3 months etc.)

    And the 12 gauge does kick a bit more than optimal.

    Another solution is a semi-auto, like the Remington 1170 or the Mossberg 930. This comes with a simpler manual of arms, reduced recoil, the ability to run one handed (think pulling a child or spouse out of the way while covering the door etc.)

    I hadn’t seen the 930 Tactical before. Last time I looked at Mossberg’s site it was the 9200 series.

    Oh, and on the “used gun” front, if you can find a *real* Mossberg Jungle Gun *THAT* is the ticket.

    Oh, and don’t overlook the Saiga 12–it’s a 12 gauge semiauto based on the AK-47. 10 rounds of 12 gauge in a removable magazine. Just in case the first 10 rounds aren’t enough.

    Of course, if you can’t solve the problem with 10 rounds of 00 tactical, you’re having a really bad day.

  88. I can’t help but notice that two pro-gun control commenters (Merv and Andrew) were vehemently denounced by esr for “profound ignorance”, yet the blatantly racist fringe asshole Scott got nary a rebuke.

    ESR says: Blatant racism is pretty much self-rebuking these days. Not that Scott actually uttered any, unless you think “Muslim” is a race..

  89. Richard Gadsden says “Handguns, rifles and even pump-action shotguns are basically reserved for the military, the small fraction of police that are armed and, of course, criminals.”

    Why do you let your criminals have guns?

  90. Borepatch says “ObDisclaimer: Convicted felons or mentally unstable (have you been involuntarily hospitalized) need not apply.”

    Aren’t all gun-banners mentally unstable?

    Ba-dum-ching! I’ll be here all week, folks!

  91. You say that firearms can’t be injection molded, but the Cavalry Arms lower receiver was exactly that – molded in two halves, then sonic welded together. Legally, each lower receiver is a “firearm”, even though you need to add another $500 worth of upper receiver to make it shoot.

    Kind of makes me wonder if the legal hassles that they were subjected to recently were entirely coincidental – but that way madness lies.

  92. ObDisclaimer: Convicted felons or mentally unstable (have you been involuntarily hospitalized) need not apply.

    Do you have some way to check?

  93. @amos – I think esr was really referring to the more sophisticated working innards of a firearm. The ‘plastic gun’ fantasy of Hollywood dunces has yet to materialize.

  94. Amos,

    There is always one piece which is the firearm. The rest are all just accessories. It’s to avoid the whole “at what point does this pile of parts become a firearm” argument.

  95. Jay Maynard: Arming for rebellion requires, first, that the purchaser be seriously considering that rebellion is a significant possibility, and I don’t think the public has, by and large, made that leap.

    Well, a few of them have. And hey, they’ve acted as “lone wolves”, in true individualist fashion. It’s all very libertarian.

    esr: Blatant racism is pretty much self-rebuking these days. Not that Scott actually uttered any, unless you think “Muslim” is a race..

    “Muslim” is frequently used where the speaker means “Arab”, “Arab non-Christian” or something like that. Similarly, people interested in hating on Jews will say “Jew” where they’d say “Ashkenazim” if they were interested in being semantically correct. But this is a silly argument to have–disputing the precise flavor of bigotry involved is a weak, nitpicking attempt to evade the point, which I notice you’re not disputing.

  96. Our government is out of control.

    @Scott: Our government was out of control decades before Barack Hussein Obama II became the 44th President of the United States.

  97. This always happens when a Democrat goes to Washington, because Americans are conditioned to believe that the two viable parties are somehow fundamentally different. The reality is that they’re fundamentally the same (both are composed of nothing but corporate shills) but they practice different strategies to variously win over the socially liberal or conservative sheeple.

    Part of that strategy for the Republicans is to convince the conservative sheeple that the Democrats are “socialists” (as if “socialism” meant “welfare”), a word which conjures up images of gulags in their brainwashed, post-Cold War minds; and big government (as if Republicans aren’t); and gun-grabbers (as if Republicans are in favor of the kind of gun rights intended by the 2nd amendment; that is, the gear of an infantryman, which means removing the barriers and hoops that make ownership of e.g. M16s and AK-47s next to impossible).

    For the Democrats the strategy entails convincing the liberal sheeple that the Republicans are “fascists” (as if they’d be able to suggest such a thing under actual fascism — although, to be fair, aside from the social freedoms the U.S. is pretty close, as far as the government being run by and for the big corporations); and anti-progressive (as if “conservative” today doesn’t represent a position beyond the wildest dreams of progressives of the past).

    So, the sheeple get all fired up come election time, like it’s the Superbowl — which is about the extent of the significance of our elections, which are little more than a game played by big corporations and their shills for our entertainment. Much hand wringing ensues, as each team promises that if they lose, it’ll be Armageddon. Little do they know that it’s all a charade, that there are options beyond the two wings of the corporate party. When a social liberal “wins,” the conservatives prepare for their Armageddon and stock up on legal pea-shooters, cursing “their” Republican candidate for putting them in such a predicament, as though s/he would have made any substantive changes to loosen the gun laws. And when a social conservative “wins,” the liberals begin their wailing and gnashing of teeth, as though women were soon to become forced incubators for the children of rapists, and the schools were on the verge of dispensing with Darwin in favor of the Pope.

    It’s a giant farce and much ado about nothing.

    (Now comes the part where Eric leaps to the defense of corporate America, exposing his true colors and the true motivation of his “libertarianism.” I’ve seen it a thousand times from a thousand of his kind. They talk a good game about leveling the playing field, but display a predictable instinct for playing the bulldog to the Kings of Big Business, whom they secretly admire. Either that or he’ll just not approve this comment and avoid having to choose between exposure or lying.)

  98. “Muslim” is frequently used where the speaker means “Arab”, “Arab non-Christian” or something like that. Similarly, people interested in hating on Jews will say “Jew” where they’d say “Ashkenazim” if they were interested in being semantically correct. But this is a silly argument to have–disputing the precise flavor of bigotry involved is a weak, nitpicking attempt to evade the point, which I notice you’re not disputing.

    Keep in mind that esr isn’t Christian. He’s neo-pagan. So unless I’m completely off-base, I think he’s coming from the more or less same viewpoint that I am, being neo-pagan myself: there isn’t much difference between the various Abrahamic religions, especially amongst the more conservative, or “fundamentalist” sects.

    Religious fundamentalism of all sorts is what leads to the most bloody wars in human history.

  99. >(Now comes the part where Eric leaps to the defense of corporate America, exposing his true colors and the true motivation of his “libertarianism.

    Only in your drug dreams, fool. Here’s a sample of my attitude towards corporations.

  100. Richard Gadsden says “Handguns, rifles and even pump-action shotguns are basically reserved for the military, the small fraction of police that are armed and, of course, criminals.”

    Why do you let your criminals have guns?

    I was, of course, referring to the old NRA slogan that “if you make guns criminal then only criminals will have guns”.

    Preventing criminals from getting hold of guns is almost impossible.

  101. Religious fundamentalism of all sorts is what leads to the most bloody wars in human history.

    Morgan, that is an easily proven falsehood, and I think you know it. It’s always trotted out by the anti-religion crowd as a justification for hating on religion. And it simply isn’t true. You’re not going to win converts by lying. Watch some of the commercials that New York runs for their anti-smoking campaign, and tell me you don’t wanna have a smoke just to spite them for it.

    Saymole isn’t trying hard enough. He’s also got the power arrangement backwards. Yes, we live in a quasi-fascist society, but it is not the corporations calling the tune. It is the government. The corporations are simply another tool of the nanny-state to tell us how to best live our lives because we’re too blinkered to figure it out for ourselves.

  102. @saymole:

    While I agree that there isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats (both are extremely statist), I don’t think that given our current system as it is today, that if anybody else were up there in Washington anything would be any different.

    The bottom line is that as long as the means exists for big corporations and the super-rich to game the system, they will. Hell, you would, too.

    But all of that was discussed on this thread about ironclad laws in politcal economics. The bottom line is that in order to keep the pigs from eating at the trough you’ve got either A) elminate the trough or B) make eating from the trough taste very bad.

  103. Morgan, that is an easily proven falsehood, and I think you know it. It’s always trotted out by the anti-religion crowd as a justification for hating on religion. And it simply isn’t true.

    Is it? How are the Crusaders of Christianity’s past, bent on “winning back” the “Holy Land” from the “infidel” different from the terrorist jihadists of today?

  104. “@Scott: Our government was out of control decades before Barack Hussein Obama II became the 44th President of the United States.”

    I Agree.

  105. Brain said “yet the blatantly racist fringe asshole Scott got nary a rebuke.”

    I thought I might be a racist at first for not liking a black man becoming president. But at the end of the day I’m fine with a black leader of our country. But I don’t like Obama as our president. A few things I like about him, but for the most part I dislike Obama.

    Racism is ignorance! I know when I say I distrust Muslims that lumping the whole good and bad together is wrong. But on my end the bad Muslims outweigh the good. So I’m sticking with my distrust of Muslims. Nor do I believe distrust is racist.

    This will make your blood boil. I’ve used the “N” word before. In high school walking with my best black gay friend I called him the “N” word. He and I were so startled it came out of my mouth that we had a good laugh over it. Then he told me to repeat it cause no one said it better than white folks. I’ve even called white folks the “N” word. I’m so tired of the “N” word that I declare it dead!!!!

    Now back to the topic of guns. A armed citizen is a good citizen. If you are not a armed United States citizen then I say “Your weak.”

  106. Hello Richard,

    I hope you’re still following along. I’m a little late to the party but happy to answer questions.

    Just to give you background, I’m a Canadian living in the USA. So I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing both the American system of firearms regulation and a more British model as enacted in Canada. While I’ve never owned a gun in Canada, I have friends who do. So I have some familiarity with the differences. Canada is not draconian but it is strict and probably similar to what Britain had before it went down the road of mistrusting its citizenry. A process started back in the 20s and finally brought to fruition in the 90s after Dunblane.

    I tend to think of firearms as being a lot like motor vehicles – potentially very dangerous if misused, but really valuable and popular. My inclination would be for a licensing system much like the vehicular one, where you need to pass a (routine) test to ensure that you understand how to be safe and the licence can be taken away if you use the firearm in an unsafe way.

    Can people with a bit more knowledge comment on whether that’s a sensible mental model, or whether I’m talking out of my behind?

    You’re not talking out of your behind. It’s a model that has been suggested here by anti-rights/anti-gun people but only ever gained traction to implementation in a few localities. New York City, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts. As others have pointed out, you don’t license rights.

    But I understand why you ask since from a Briton’s point of view, the American system must appear crazy. What you probably aren’t aware is there is considerable regulation regarding the purchase of a firearm. You must pass a government background check for every purchase before you bring it home. Some states have waiting periods after that before you can take possession just to insure you aren’t looking to commit a crime on the spur of the moment. But for most places, you wait for the FBI to give a “approve” answer and you take your gun home.

    To address your specific concern, well, that requires a shift in worldview that took me years to come to living here in the USA. Fundamentally, the American system presumes you’re an adult. We don’t punish “what ifs?”. If you own a gun, the assumption is you will behave responsibly with it and the system will only react if you don’t. Another cornerstone of the American experience “innocent until proven guilty”. That bedrock goes far deeper than the justice system. It is a fundamental attitude towards how we live our lives here.

    The presumption is towards individual liberty despite the best efforts of politicians and others to dictate otherwise. Your experience, I would gather, is much different.

    Firearms can be dangerous when mixed with ammunition. So can cars when mixed with alcohol. But unless you misuse either one, we’ll pretty much leave you alone.

    From what I can pick up, it seems that the lower the population density, the more popular the legal status of firearms is. I guess urbanites are more likely to think of firearms as being used for shooting people and ruralites to think of hunting or self-defense against animals. Shooting governments is only something that the small minority who pay serious attention to politics ever consider outside of a revolution.

    Fair point. My concern is that there are people who really shouldn’t have guns (e.g. me; I barely know one end from the other, and I wouldn’t know where to start looking for the safety). Perhaps the solution is to allow private institutions to administer the test. If the NRA was doing the testing, I think we’d all feel confident that it was a gun-safety check and not a method for keeping guns from people.

    Ignorance should not be a justification for deriving someone of a lawful activity much less a right. Trust me, it isn’t hard, as others have said, to acquire basic firearms proficiency. Only a small number of controls and four simple rules to remember. If you follow them religiously you’ll never have an issue. While it make take time to acquire target hitting ability consistently with a pistol, rifle skills are easily learned.

    Most gun owners do seek out instructions of some sort. Often though, it isn’t formal. Friends who shoot can do a fine job. The NRA does do proficiency testing since many states use them as the standard for issuing concealed carry licenses. But that is for carrying of a firearm in a public place. Just like the licensing you suggest. Which is what it is. But for general, private ownership, no. Not necessary. If there was a gun safety problem in this country we would have seen it by now. 80,000,000 gun owners holding around 300,000,000 firearms. Trust me, you’d know if there was an issue. There isn’t.

    I have no idea. I have never seen a real gun other than once seeing one holstered on an Italian policeman’s belt.

    I’m a British citizen who grew up in and has always lived in a city. Our police are not normally trusted with firearms, and they are banned for civilians (especially urban civilians). The only way I would be able to work out what to do with a gun is from Hollywood, and given my experience with how accurate Hollywood is on subjects I do know about, I don’t trust that “knowledge”.

    I really am that naive. So are lots of other Europeans. So, I suspect, are lots of American urbanites – though I wouldn’t know for sure. At the very least, US police carry firearms.

    Don’t use Hollywood as a guide. The same urbanites you mention here are often the ones doing the portraying of firearms in those movies and they get it mostly wrong. People here, by the way, do often take Hollywood as gospel on how to handle a gun and are shocked that it isn’t the way it looks in the movies. I know from personal experience having a new shooter be shocked he couldn’t hit a target with a pistol 50 feet away with every shot, accurately by just pointing and shooting. Yes, it does require practice. So you are good to discount Hollywood.

    I won’t hold naivete against you. You are correct. A lot of urban Americans have never held or fired a gun. The problem is because they haven’t and have no personal knowledge of why that skill or desire might be useful, they jump on bandwagons to try and pass laws that you shouldn’t be allowed to have one. Understand the bulk of their gun exposure comes from negative examples of drug shootings, drive bys, etc from the media with very little to no counterexamples. All they see is “bad” gun use and assume all guns must be bad.

    I live in a suburban area. There hasn’t been a serious crime in my neighborhood in 20 odd years. So why would I “need” a gun? I’d argue I’m probably the most heavily armed household in the area. But you’ll find once you get to know a few people who have guns suddenly you learn they’re normal folks just like you.

    People fear what they do not understand. Or they act of our ignorance and demand “something” be done. Some people want to control other people. I am of the opinion a lot of anti-gun sentiment follows that belief. Doesn’t make it right or correct though.

    I have always assumed that learning to use a firearm safely and effectively is a lengthy and challenging process. I guess I thought that was what boot camp was, though a little thought (which I have never applied to the subject until challenged today) makes me realise that boot camp has many other purposes. Our armed police go through long and intensive training courses. I suppose that’s because they are the equivalents of SWAT in the US (normal police only carry a truncheon and possibly mace or a taser).

    Incorrect. If we can teach a teenage cadet the basics of firearms in an hour, you can learn it too. I make a standing offer to any interested party on my blog and I will make it to you: Should you ever find yourself stateside around Washington DC, drop me an e-mail. I will be happy to take you to the range and teach you firearms basics over an hour or two. You will get to shoot stuff that is commonplace here but horrifies the world that mere citizens can possess (semi-auto FN FAL, AR-15, AK knockoffs, CETME/G3, pistols, etc). And I will pay for it all, provide the safety equipment, range time and ammunition.

    Authorities want to make things to appear complicated/dangerous/special training to maintain their own control. Police might be well-trained to British standards but American police, for the most part, are lousy shots. Most serious gun owners I know are much better shots. In fact, the best shooters I’ve ever met are guys who shoot Civil War era black powder muskets competitively. 50 and 100 yard shots into a 2 inch square or circle with a lead ball, standing. If that sounds impressive, it is. Likewise for target shooters who can park a round at 1000 yards or pistol shooters at 25 yards. That level of skill is far more common here among civilians than 90+ percent of law enforcement.

    I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. If you have any specific questions, feel free to send an e-mail to armedcdn – at – gmail dot com. I’ll be happy to answer any of your questions.

  107. >I thought I might be a racist at first for not liking a black man becoming president.

    Scott, you are obviously unaware of what the word “racist” means in 2009. Nowadays you are a “racist” if you hold any political positions a left-winger or self-described “progressive” disagrees with. Restricting the term to people who have actual racial prejudices is so old-fashioned, don’t you know? By yelling “racist” at every real or imagined transgression against political correctness, one can establish one’s bona-fides as a sensitive, caring individual and bien pensant and get hit on by chicks with piercings and odd-colored hair. It’s a win all around!

  108. Scott, you are obviously unaware of what the word “racist” means in 2009. Nowadays you are a “racist” if you hold any political positions a left-winger or self-described “progressive” disagrees with. Restricting the term to people who have actual racial prejudices is so old-fashioned, don’t you know?

    Actually, racism is a bit beyond just ‘racial prejudice’. It’s a belief that people of different races have inherent or intrinsic differences and, usually, that one’s own race is intrinsically superior to other races. Note that by that definition, you don’t need to a member of the majority race to be a racist at all. There are plenty of ethnic minorities who are racists.

    Oh, that and getting hit on by chicks with piercings and odd-colored hair only requires being “goth” and/or “pagan,” having long hair and wearing lots of black, dripping with silver pentacles. Not that I would know anything about that… ;)

    ESR says: Fixed your typo. Personally, I find that one pentagram, tastefully displayed, is quite sufficient.

  109. Morgan, neither the Crusades nor the Muslim expansion are the bloodiest wars in history. Of course which wars are the bloodiest depends on how you define war. If you include civilian terrors, where the government is basically making war on an unarmed populace, I would have to say that the Marxists have fought the bloodiest wars in history, with somewhere around 100 million killed. WWII was pretty bad, at 60 million killed. The Taiping rebellion in China weighs in at 30 million. WWI comes in around 10 million. I’m not noticing any religious fundamentalism with those. What I’m noticing is an oft repeated bit of ridiculous hyperbole about religious fundamentalism from you. Just because it is said often does not make it true.

    Yours,
    3om

  110. Morgan -

    What Tom said. The Crusades were defensive and/or retributive wars with a thin sheen of religious approval painted over top. They were in response to nearly 500 years of wars of Islamic conquest, which were likewise coated in a thin sheen of religious approval.

    Makes more sense when you think of both Islam and Catholicism as political systems rather than religions.

  111. Adrian said:

    ObDisclaimer: Convicted felons or mentally unstable (have you been involuntarily hospitalized) need not apply.

    Do you have some way to check?

    I do not. However, the range makes you fill out a form where you state that you are not either of these. That may or may not make sense, but that is an example of gun control laws in general.

  112. Obama may yet follow somewhat in Taft’s footsteps -the man is a constitutional scholar, after all. Taft, POTUS 27, CJ 10; Obama POTUS 44, AJ >98…?

  113. @Tom and @Brian: Now, specifically regarding the Crusades: I suggest you read about Richard the Lionheart, in particular.

  114. The crusades were about religion for some of those involved, and not about religion for many others. However the Crusades were just one of hundreds of conflicts (big and small) going on in the world during that time period. Probably the most significant conflicts of the Middle Ages (in terms of depopulation) were the Mongol invasions.

    With regard to WWII, Hitler seemed to be a sort of cross between a Christian (maybe) and a German pagan. He referred to God numerous times in Mein Kampf and in his speeches. However, he declared Nazism the state religion and the Bible was replaced by Mein Kampf in the schools. He can be quoted both to support Christianity and to hate it’s institutions. I believe that he was an opportunist as far as what he said to the public and that his true religion (if it could be called that) was German nationalism. I don’t think religion (as we think of it conventionally) played much of a role in his (or Japan’s) militaristic aggression. While Japanese worshiped the God Emperor, the country itself was almost entirely in the hands of the Generals who perpetuated the war for their own Nationalistic reasons. However, the Emperor did play a significant role in ending the war when many of his generals wanted to fight to the death.

  115. To put the Crusades in perspective, imagine we are fighting a war with China, and Russia in the year 2020. During the war, Mexican forces take us by surprise and overrun the National Guard in New Mexico. They say they are taking back New Mexico for the Mexicans to whom it originally belonged. However, by 2020, New Mexico is barely under federal control anyway and we are not too concerned since the Mexican army seems content to stay put in Mexico and bicker amongst themselves. Finally in 2050, we get around to sending an army to drive out the entrenched Mexican army.
    In this analogy, the Egypt is the US, the Turks are China the Persians are Russia. The crusaders are Mexico.

  116. As far as the Armenian Genocide is concerned, I’m not familiar enough with the history to take a strong stand. However, based on the little I’ve read, I suspect there was a lot more to it then just a different religion. I think many Turks (not just the fundamentalists) blamed the Armenians (who had sided with Russia during WWI) and other Christian minorities for the dissolution of the empire and subsequent humiliation. I think they were looking for a scapegoat (much like the German people were after WWI) and conveniently found one. I think when looking for a scapegoat, any difference will do, different color, different ethnic group or different religion.

  117. @Chris Green: So you’re suggesting that the wars in the Middle Ages between the Persians and the Turks had absolutely nothing to do with religious differences (i.e., Shia vs. Sunni Islam)? And that these conflicts betweeen the Jews, various Muslim sects, and the (at the time) two main Christian sections (Catholic and Orthodox) had absolutely nothing to do with religion? And that the conflicts that exist today aren’t, in fact, rooted in this history?

    I think perhaps you have a bit of a modernist perspective in regards to history. You need to take of your 21st century glasses and see these wars through the perspective of someone living them.

    It was always all about religious and cultural differences. And in many respects, it still is.

  118. I don’t really have a horse in this “religious bloodbath” debate, but I would suggest that only focusing on ‘wars’ as loci of slaughter is somewhat shortsighted. The death toll ‘in the name of God’ has been rather continual throughout time, with localized spikes during formalized conflicts.

    I also happen to think there are more religions than those associated with ‘deities’ – Communism can be viewed as a ‘statist religion’, where man is subordinated to the will of the state, rather than ‘God’…..to defy the state is ‘blasphemy’.

    Between all these forms of ‘religion’ the carnage is staggering.

  119. >Chris Green: So you’re suggesting that the wars in the Middle Ages between the Persians and the Turks had absolutely nothing to do with religious differences

    What I am saying is that the vast majority of wars and killing throughout the middle ages would have taken place irrespective of religion. This is difficult to debate without going through every war and period of civil unrest throughout from the Conquests of the Franks to the discovery of the New World. It is also difficult to debate because the wars from the middle ages that tend to be embedded in popular coconsciousness (like the crusades) tend to be wars which had at least partial religious motivation. If someone hasn’t studied the middle ages, he/she is probably not familiar with the numerous bloody wars between England and France, England and Wales, France and Germany, Germany and Italy, one Italian City state versus another Italian City State, Mongols versus Chinese, Turks versus Arabs, Normans versus English and so on and so forth.

    To answer your original question, I believe Turks (Ottomans) and Persians would have fought even if they had both been Sunni Muslims. They were aggressively expansionist and didn’t seem to have a problem conquering their fellow Sunnis in Arabia (1514) and Egypt (1516).

  120. Dan, you can define ‘communism’ as a religion and that is fine. You have to realize, however, that most religionists would disagree with you about that definition. That is not to say that your definition isn’t interesting.

  121. I have studied the Middle Ages, of course (what self-respecting neo-pagan hasn’t? :-P)

    I agree that many of those wars you mentioned were over territorial disputes, yes, but bear in mind the period: kings were said to have ruled by divine right. So when someone like a William the Conqueror comes along and takes over someone else’s empire, it’s because A) the king himself often believed that he was acting with orders from on-high, and B) the king’s subjects definitely believed that they were acting with orders from on-high (because anything the King said was from on-high.) Although, admittedly, this is a bit different from religious fundamentalism, of course.

    At the end of the day, while I’ll agree that there were many bloody wars that were not about religious differences, I still don’t agree that the Crusades that weren’t about religious fanaticism, at least on some level. Yes, the Turks were expansionists, but before the First Crusade, I think it’s safe to say that most Europeans had never encountered them.

  122. @ChrisGreen – Heck, most _people_ disagree with me about most everything ;) Doesn’t bother me.

    I guess I am abstracting the concept of ‘religion’ a bit too far for most folks’ tastes (‘religion’ is a dogma based on one or more preemptive irrational axioms – “there is a god”, “the state is supreme” etc)

  123. Do you have data supporting claim #2? Specifically,

    2. More firearms in civilian hands means more people carrying concealed, depressing crime rates.

  124. @esr: I’m not sure what qualifies as “blatant racism” in your book, but I think most people would agree that discomfort at the thought of a black president is obviously racist. Discomfort at the thought of any particular black president may or may not be, of course. I agree that racism charges are tossed about too casually, but if the above is not actual racism, I’m not sure what is. It may not be the worst form of racism imaginable, but racist it is.

    It was uncharacteristically uncivil of me to refer to someone (Scott, in this case) as a “racist fringe asshole,” but man I’m tired of the “Obama is a Muslim!!!111″ canard. Also, way to assume that I’m a lefty/progressive just crying “racist!” because someone said something that offended my political sensibilities. I don’t see much difference between that sort of intellectual laziness and the laziness that underlies overuse of the “racist!” charge.

    Finally, the fear that Obama will take away your guns is totally irrational (and I note that you do not dispute this). Even granting for the sake of argument that he wants to take away your guns, he doesn’t have the political capital to do so. Unemployment is projected to stay around 10% until late 2010, and that will slowly eat away at his popularity; battles over health care and cap-and-trade will likely eat up any remaining political capital in his first term.

  125. @rrenaud – See John Lott’s research, rather than demanding people rehash it ad nauseum.

  126. @Brian

    “I think most people would agree that discomfort at the thought of a black president is obviously racist”

    I suspect you are right, yet ‘most people’ could simply be wrong.

    I am not comfortable at the thought of a black president. Not because of his ‘race’ per se, but because of the opening his election represents to the seething racial grievance industry.

  127. Morgan, I don’t disagree with you about the Crusades. There were certainly many other bloody conflicts clearly caused by religious differences in Europe, especially in the 16th and 17th centuries.

  128. The Crusades are often discussed as if the Muslims were innocent victims of the Christian invaders, when in actuality they were triggered by Muslim acts–specifically Seljuq Turk actions. The stage was set when the Turks overran Anatolia after the Battle of Manzikert (in 1071? I think). This in itself would probably have been sufficient reason for a Christian counterattack; the Arabs hadn’t been especially active on that front for three hundred years, and the Seljuqs represented a new, vigorous threat. Even so, the specific cause for the Crusades was not just the Seljuqs’ Islamic resurgence; it was the attacks on Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, whom the Arabs had allowed to travel unmolested.

    So basically the Crusades’ justification was a combination of grand strategy and response to a provocation.

  129. bringing this comment over from the 1911s thread …

    at the moment, i’m trying to get my hands on a springfield M1A … and let me tell you, it’s not easy. one local dealer quoted me a 12-month wait time, while no other shop would even speculate. a salesman at a good-sized range-and-retail said it had been eight months since the store had received any rifles from springfield, and the only dealer within my actual city limits virtually refused to take a deposit on the specific model i want, citing the unpredictablity of delivery times. he sent me to gunbroker.com or auctionarms.com.

    it looks like either there’s a serious and ongoing manufacturing-capacity problem at the springfield plant, or it’s not just AR-pattern rifles that are in high demand.

  130. @strongpoint – the weird thing is that I’m not seeing the same pressure on class 3 weapons. I guess they’ve always been under pressure since 1986…

  131. @dan — i would expect the pool of class 3 buyers to be small and restricted in scope, with highly compressed supply and demand issues. isn’t it a very different market from the general pool of would-be semiautomatic-rifle purchasers?

  132. @Ken: Even so, the specific cause for the Crusades was not just the Seljuqs’ Islamic resurgence; it was the attacks on Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, whom the Arabs had allowed to travel unmolested.

    Now there’s an untrue statement if I ever saw one. The Christian pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land were attacked by far more than the Turks. It was just that the Turks often got blamed for those attacks, which were done by random bandits and highwaymen, some of them Turk, some of them Arab, and some may have even been Persian. Most were not acting on orders from Turkish generals, but were simply opportunists looking to score some loot.

  133. isn’t it a very different market from the general pool of would-be semiautomatic-rifle purchasers?

    Yes, it is. Class 3 purchasers are often collectors who have no intention of ever selling them, so the weapons are scarce and very expensive. Unless one has lots of cash, one will be seldom be able to purchase these weapons.

  134. @strongpoint/greywolf

    Indeed, that was kinda my point. There’s no mad rush for class 3 weapons that I can see (I’m trawling the market myself) driving that marketplace to the same degree as the ‘regular’ semi-auto black rifle market. I was making a point regarding the behavior of agents in the marketplace, not the marketplace itself – which has finite supply (pre-1986).

    Prices are ‘high’ depending on your financial perspective. There are many collectors trading older weapons, but there’s also a healthy market for more modern militia arms. You can get more modern weapons for $3.5k – $8k. Of course, there are also lots of weapons in excess of $20k ;)

    It’s ironic that all this congressional frothing over ‘assault weapons’ has never resulted in them ever legislating against any actual assault weapons….

  135. It’s ironic that all this congressional frothing over ‘assault weapons’ has never resulted in them ever legislating against any actual assault weapons….

    What do you mean by that, exactly? Fully-automatic weapons were banned in 1986 and kits to upgrade an otherwise-legal semi-automatic to fully-automatic were also subsequently banned. That leaves semi-automatics (guns with a clip), revolvers and shotguns (in terms of modern weaponry). Or am I missing something?

  136. “What do you mean by that, exactly?”
    Given that the correct definition of an “assault weapon” is one that is capable of ‘select fire’ (typically safe|semi|auto, although some have an additional 3-shot burst setting), the original Clintonian AWB did nothing to outlaw any such weapon. Even today, murmurings of a new AWB similarly do not address _actual_ assault weapons – merely weapons that are cosmetically similar, but otherwise no different from any semi-auto rifle.

    “Class 3″ weapons cover a range (destructive devices, machine guns, short barrels etc) of weapons. Full-auto weapons are only legal to own if the _lower_ (the actual internal machine gun mechanism) was registered before 1986. For this reason it is popular to make ‘new’ machine guns from legal pre-86 lowers – just dressing them up in new uppers. Rebuilding a Mac 10 9mm is a great way to own a very potent assault weapon (similar utility to an Uzi or MP5).

    People holding FFLs and SOTs of a certain level can make/own/import modern machine guns. Incorporation can make transfer of pre-86 machine guns easier too.

  137. Wait, wait…. Okay, so I did some googling and came up with <a href=”http://www.ar15.com/content/legal/preORpost.htmlthis, which includes the following criteria:

    So what, you say, is a “Semiautomatic Assault Weapon”? The law (Section 921 (a) (30), Title 18 U.S.C.) defines it as so:

    1. Any of the firearms, or copies or duplicates of the firearms in any caliber, known as;
    * Norinco, Mitchell, Poly Technologies, Avtomat Kalashinikovs.
    * Action Arms Israeli Military Industries UZI, Galil.
    * Beretta Ar70 (SC-70).
    * Colt AR-15
    * Fabrique National FN/FAL, FN/LAR, FNC.
    * SWD M-10, M-11, M-11-9, M-12.
    * Steyr AUG.
    * Intratec TEC-9, TEC-DC9, TEC-22.
    * Revolving cylinder shotguns, such as (or similar to) the Street Sweeper and Striker 12.
    2. Any semiautomatic rifle that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of the following features:
    * a folding or telescoping stock.
    * a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
    * a bayonet mount.
    * a flash suppressor or a threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor.
    * a grenade launcher.
    3. A semiautomatic pistol that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of the following features:
    * an ammunition magazine that attaches to the pistol outside of the pistol grip.
    * a threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip or silencer.
    * a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned.
    * a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded.
    * a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.
    4. A semiautomatic shotgun that has at least 2 of the following features:
    * a folding or telescoping stock.
    * a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.
    * a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 5 rounds.
    * an ability to accept a detachable magazine.

    Okay so as long as it doesn’t look like any weapon in 1, and it only has 1 of the features in 2, 3, or 4 (as appropriate), it’s perfectly legal?

    If that’s really the case, then you are 100% correct: there is no assault weapon ban.

  138. You’re almost there…you’ve just quoted part of the Clintonian AWB (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Assault_Weapons_Ban). It expired in 2004 and is no longer law.

    One of the many problems with it, is that it coined the term “Semiautomatic Assault Weapon” and shrouded it in law. Thankfully that law is now gone, but confusion over the term still lingers.

    The label that some legalese applies to something need not have any bearing in reality (there was a recent attempt to pass a law that would have defined ordinary semi-auto handguns as machine guns!), and this was the case with the rather oxymoronic “semiautomatic assault weapon”.

    Nobody knowledgeable in firearm technology would classify a semi-auto as an “assault weapon”. To be able to effectively launch an assault, you need select fire capability to enable soldiers to perform their various tactical functions. By definition, a [semi-auto _only_] weapon is _not_ an assault weapon.

    The 94 AWB fraudulently lodged a misleading term in legalese for its political effect, nothing more. The substance of the AWB is a laundry list of cosmetic features.

    Even though the law you referenced is no longer in effect, my point was that _in actuality_ it didn’t relate to any _real_ assault weapons. When the law was in effect, I could still own a full-auto Uzi or Vietnam-era M16.

  139. (not the same as Brian, btw)

    Dan:

    I am not comfortable at the thought of a black president. Not because of his ‘race’ per se, but because of the opening his election represents to the seething racial grievance industry.

    See, I think this is 180 degrees wrong. The election of a black president forces the racial grievance industry to show itself for what it has always been – dedicated to the continued appearance of oppression of racial minorities for the purpose of keeping political power.

    What’s doubly interesting is that now we see competing racial grievance groups fighting for who is the more “oppressed”. Now that “The Man” is black, does that mean that the Hispanics are the aggrieved minority? Obama’s certainly acting that way.

  140. @brian – I don’t see why you think it’s “180 degrees wrong” (to imply one is a negation of the other). I think that you are also correct. The two observations can be concurrent methinks ;)

    Obama’s election, along with the sycophantic democrat majority in Congress, present a golden opportunity for all manner of racial bullshit. We may observe the spectacle of the racial grievance whores falling over themselves clamoring for ‘rights’ and ‘justice’ against whitey, and the pained looks of the guilty white liberals that have fed & fueled this resentment for decades, now realizing they may have to actually follow through on their racist lies.

    Between the black whiners and the liberal plantation-owners, they’ve acquired both a metaphorical barrel of thermite and a road flare….hilarity should ensue. I’ve got my popcorn ready.

  141. Between the black whiners and the liberal plantation-owners, they’ve
    acquired both a metaphorical barrel of thermite and a road
    flare….hilarity should ensue. I’ve got my popcorn ready.

    And beer! Don’t forget the beer!

  142. Hear hear.

    If we have a black president, how can the Al Sharptons of the world continue to insist this is such a racist country?

    Of course he and Jesse Jackson and all the rest will continue doing what they have always done. But their credibility should be waning.

  143. @marko,

    We don’t have a two party system, we have a one-party system with two brand names. Obama’s continuation of all of Bush’s disastrous policies should have shown you this.

  144. We don’t have a two party system, we have a one-party system with two brand names. Obama’s continuation of all of Bush’s disastrous policies should have shown you this.

    +1, Insightful.

  145. It’s true that both parties don’t seem very far apart from an extreme libertarian (or green party) perspective. When you are far enough away, two dots that are kind of close tend to merge together. I’ve become somewhat reconciled to what I see as the ‘Coming Disaster’.

    The world has experimented with direct democracy, monarchy, extreme enforced communalism (communism) and militant nationalism and didn’t like it any of it. Now the West is experimenting with a sort of less rigid enforced communalism combined with extreme multi-cultureless. It bet that, in the end, it won’t like that either. In the mean time, all I can do is stock up on food storage, learn some practical survival skills, and try to do as much good as I can to people I have direct personal contact with.

    I’m also kind of hoping that won’t have mined out all the easy to get metal so that when we start over again, we will have at least some iron, copper and aluminum at hand.

  146. @ChrisGreen: Interesting. So we see things the same way, but perhaps coming from different perspectives. I see a total collapse of the system, at least in the West, coming soon. Real soon. The current economic crisis is, as I see it, symptomatic of the problem, but it is yet the tip of the iceberg.

    Has anyone else looked into seasteading? There are some guys out there that want to be a libertarian paradise out at sea. I’d be especially interested in hearing what esr and several of the regulars around here have to say about it.

  147. @Greywolf – I really don’t see how such a ‘seasteading’ effort could be sustainable. I think you’d always end up being a sea-faring itinerant salesman, trading whatever you can for food, fuel and textiles. You’re also completly vulnerable at sea….you’d need one helluva good array of defensive arms platforms. It’s a nice romantic idea though.

    I’ve always favored the idea of establishing a colony in Africa. There are plenty of countries there that are ruled by an iron fist, with a bullied populace that may embrace the idea of a non-authoritarian bunch of mercenaries killing the hell out of the thugs and saying “OK folks, you’re on your own now”, then setting up a colony/economy.

  148. If we have a black president, how can the Al Sharptons of the world continue to insist this is such a racist country?

    Obama’s not really culturally “black” in many ways – he’s assimilated, unashamed of his white heritage, the descendant of a black immigrant as opposed to slaves. And he’s gone out of his way to reassure most white folks (if not some people here) that he doesn’t intend to stick it to whitey to pay for slavery. He is, however, going to stick it to everybody to pay for the bank bailouts.

    Slavery might turn out to have been cheaper.

  149. He does his very best to establish his ‘black credentials’ by adopting a ‘negro cadence’ to his speech. As for being “unashamed of his white heritage” – what was all that “typical white person” stuff all about? Not to mention the hackneyed ‘whitey’ rhetoric in his shitty books….

    I agree that he’s not going to ‘stick it to whitey’, but not because he necessarily finds it objectionable…but because he understands it’s a fucking stupid idea :) Remember though, that it’s not the President that crafts these proposals, it’s Congress’ job. With the kind of racial lamers we currently have in the majority, I doubt Obama would have the courage to veto any such legislation.

    The folks that originally argued for the repatriation of slaves (after the States’ War) may have had a good point after all…

  150. The folks that originally argued for the repatriation of slaves (after the States’ War) may have had a good point after all…

    States’ War? I hadn’t heard that one before. Up North, we always called it “the U.S. Civil War”, and down here in the Deep South (I live in Florida) they seem to call it “the War of Northern Aggression.”

    No matter what you call it, it’s gotta be the most mistunderstood war of all time.

  151. Greywolf and Eric are Neopagans, or so I read them claim, I think. Anyway, does that mean Wicca? I know there are some other forms of neo-paganism so I don’t want to assume anything. Who knows when this would have been the subject of a post so I’m bringing it up now since I’m curious.

    Oh yeah, very hard to buy ammo right now, yes, of course, ahem….

  152. Yeah, if they weren’t so long, I would be tempted to recommend Shelby Foot’s trilogy on the Civil War as required reading for high school students. The American Civil War was immense, complex, and considering the influence of the US in the last 50 years, world changing. The leaders and generals were larger then life. Some were so humble and self-sacrificing you are amazed and inspired. Many others were bent on their own path of self aggrandizement and glory (often at the expense of their own men), but even in their disgusting vanity they loomed large. Others were simply forces of nature (Stonewall Jackson). My dad put it best when he said, “I can’t believe people aren’t talking about this all the time!”

    On a side note, if you could recommend 3 books that were required reading for every high school student, what would they be? I know this is off topic, but the comments are kind of slowing down (and wandering around) anyway so I thought it wouldn’t hurt.

  153. Not necessarily, no. :) I know ESR at least used to be involved with Blue Star, which is a large British Traditional Wicca group. For all I know, he may still be, but I guess I should just let him speak for himself. ;)

    I’m …. ummm… eclectic…no that’s not quite right. I’m initiated into Georgian Wicca (Not putting a link, google it), but that doesn’t paint a complete picture, really. Like a lot of neopagans, I also do a lot of Eastern stuff (Buddhism, Zen in particular) as well, with some shamanism thrown in there for good measure. A one-line summary of my concept of divinity would or what some might call my ‘theological beliefs’ (which is what most people are interested in) would be a belief in some higher power, but basically agnostic as to form, since my ideas seem to shift on this topic from time to time. OTOH, I do not believe in an omnipotent, omniscient being pulling the strings of humanity in the traditional fashion which most people in the West seem to think is required for a belief in “God.”

    Oh, BTW, you should probably never ask a neopagan geek what his “beliefs” mean because he’s likely to give you as long and convoluted an answer as I gave you.

  154. To be able to effectively launch an assault, you need select fire capability to enable soldiers to perform their various tactical functions. By definition, a [semi-auto _only_] weapon is _not_ an assault weapon.

    Only people who can’t perform headshots @ 600m assert this type of crap.

  155. Ammo is another story; what I have been told is that the foreign entanglements we are currently engaged in are tying up the vast majority of .223/5.56 ammunition manufacturing capacity, and is responsible for the shortages in the brass and power and primer markets as well.

    Ammunition is not made of wishes and unicorn droppings. It must be manufactured. That said, all of the US Military is supplied by Federal in Lake City, MO and General Dynamics in FL. The rest of the demand is partially additional buying by police departments and otherwise panic buying by that portion of America who fear the effects of the most recent election.

    Think of it this way, if you’re a normal Joe, and you buy perhaps 100 rounds per month. In fear of Obama, you now decide to buy two cases, “just in case”. You have just bought more ammunition in one drop than you would normally buy in nearly two years. Think about that for a second, and then multiply over several million shooters suddenly buying way outside their normal pattern.

    As for the reason why you can’t get, for example, .30-.30 (or .380) right now. At most manufacturers, the machinery used to load .30-30 (which uses different “dies” to load different calibers) is only used for that purpose for a small portion of the year; the rest of the time it’s used to load more high volume calibers, such as 9mmx19mm.

    There is more demand for 9mm, and .223, so the amount of ‘die time’ available for .30-30 has taken a hit.

    Alas, a firearm is not an injection-molded gewgaw; they have to be made from high-quality metal machined to fairly close tolerances

    You’ve obviously never looked closely at an AK. (Don’t bother, they’re crap.)

    Also, you might want to look into metal injection molding.

    Common parts in firearms made with MIM include rifle trigger guards, floorplates, bolt sleeves, shell lifters and telescopic sight bases. On handguns, you will find MIM hammers, sears, slide stops, magazine catches, sights and safety levers.

    Nearly all modern firearms manufacturers use MIM in their completed firearms.

    Parts that are structural, or load bearing, in nature are still machined.

  156. Common parts in firearms made with MIM include rifle trigger guards, floorplates, bolt sleeves, shell lifters and telescopic sight bases. On handguns, you will find MIM hammers, sears, slide stops, magazine catches, sights and safety levers.

    I’m not surprised at all. But I think the point of poster you quoted is that guns cannot be manufactured as quickly and easily as something like a USB memory stick or an iPod.

  157. This is off topic, but I was wondering what ESR (and everyone else) thinks about the Google Chrome OS?

    It is supposed to be the Linux kernel combined with the Chrome browser, and totally integrated with the web. It has been described as the anti-os. An OS that looks and feels like a browser. To me, this sounds pretty exciting, if only because Google has the reputation and cash to really promote this thing.

    Could this work? Could Google finally make Linux succeed on the desktop?

    At the very least they might make Microsoft sweat a little.

  158. “States’ War? I hadn’t heard that one before.”
    It’s supposed to be neutrally descriptive, straddling that middle ground between the two alternatives you noted ;)

    It sure as heck wasn’t a “civil war”….not by any definition I’m aware of……seems almost Orwellian to describe it as such.

    Misunderstood indeed!

  159. “I’m not surprised at all. But I think the point of poster you quoted is that guns cannot be manufactured as quickly and easily as something like a USB memory stick or an iPod.”
    ….and even molded parts can need machining/tooling to finish them….

  160. This is off topic, but I was wondering what ESR (and everyone else) thinks about the Google Chrome OS?

    How can anyone comment on an OS that’s not even released yet?

  161. “Religion is delusion, no matter the title..”
    “Only people who can’t perform headshots @ 600m assert this type of crap.”

    Coming in a little hot there, aren’t ya bud? ;)

    600m eh? No….I reckon I’d only be consistently good out to 300ish. Maybe a bit more on a good day minus coffee ;)

    An effective infantry cannot sniper its way to victory (all the time). You need to be able to lay down a variety of fire….including suppressive auto. It’s part of the toolkit. Anyway, that wasn’t the point….the point was to highlight a definitive characteristic of an ‘assault’ weapon – selective auto capability being part of that.

  162. “How can anyone comment on an OS that’s not even released yet?”

    True. I can comment on what they’ve _told_ us though ;) It sounds a little like the ‘duplo toy’ of OS’s.

    I’m far more excited about Maemo on the n810

  163. “Could Google finally make Linux succeed on the desktop? ”

    I recall reading an article about how Google were a little disconcerted that some netbook mfrs were using Chrome – which Google thought was a misapplication. But hey, that’s the open source world for you! Unexpected uses turn up!

  164. Scratch that last post….I obviously completely mis-recalled the article – Chrome is _all about_ netbooks!

    D’Oh

  165. I think I have my head straight now ;)

    Substitute “Android” for “Chrome” in my 09:02 post and it makes more sense. Google would much rather they use Chrome….

    That’s enough thread pollution….I’ll shut up now.

  166. This is off topic, but I was wondering what ESR (and everyone else) thinks about the Google Chrome OS?

    It is supposed to be the Linux kernel combined with the Chrome browser, and totally integrated with the web. [Snip]

    Could this work? Could Google finally make Linux succeed on the desktop?

    After watching the number of full netbook Linux installs drop over the beginning of the year (not the actual percentage, but the number of actual installs), I still ask the same questions:

    1) Can I run Word, PowerPoint and Excel on it?

    2) Can I run game XYZ on it?

    3) I know Windows. Will I have to spend any time figuring out where crap is?

    Cutting the tangent off at the path:

    1) Yes, I’m aware of Open Office. I’m also aware of just how much it falls short of interoperability.

    2) Yes, I’m aware that netbooks aren’t gaming machines for modern games. Lots of older games will run just fine on them.

    3) You’d be amazed at how much of a barrier to entry this one is among people who haven’t learned multiple Windowing/GUI frameworks.

  167. > and even molded parts can need machining/tooling to finish them….

    ‘can’, but most often do not. Address your ignorance.

  168. > I’m far more excited about Maemo on the n810

    you must be over 35.

  169. > 1) Yes, I’m aware of Open Office. I’m also aware of just how much it falls short of interoperability.

    Google Docs is even lower in terms of interoperability, but there is nothing to install, and it makes sharing/re-visioning such docs trivial.

    > 2) Yes, I’m aware that netbooks aren’t gaming machines for modern games. Lots of older games will run just fine on them.

    You may be un-aware of this: http://code.google.com/p/nativeclient/

    > 3) You’d be amazed at how much of a barrier to entry this one is among people who haven’t learned multiple Windowing/GUI frameworks.

    You’d be amazed at how close many of the browsers are in terms of HCI.

  170. > 600m eh? No….I reckon I’d only be consistently good out to 300ish. Maybe a bit more on a good day minus
    > coffee ;)

    Many people shoot “service rifles” in these matches. These are neutered ‘assault weapons’ (AR-15s, M1As, or even M1 Garands (shudder, a bayonet mount!) in NRA high power matches.

    There are 4 strings of fire in a standard NRA High Power match

    1. Slow Fire, standing – 10 rounds @ 200 yards in 10 minutes.
    2. Rapid Fire, sitting or kneeling @ 10 rounds at 200 yards in 60 seconds.
    3. Rapid Fire, 10 rounds prone @ 300 yards in 70 seconds.
    4. Slow Fire, 10 rounds prone @ 600 yards in 10 minutes.

    The National Match Course is:
    10 rounds slow fire standing @ 200; 10 rounds rapid fire sitting or kneeling @ 200; 10 rounds rapid fire prone @ 300 and 20 rounds slow fire prone @ 600 yards. The rapid fire strings require 1 reload during the period (typically two followed by 8 for service rifles.)

    So, we’ll start at 1000 yards separation and see who dies.

  171. “So, we’ll start at 1000 yards separation and see who dies.”

    What the holy hell are you talking about? I think you must have some very expensive ‘issues’.

    Grow up kid.

  172. I’m far more excited about Maemo on the n810

    Don’t be. The N810 is a toy for nerds. (I’m a nerd, so of course I have one.) Anything it can do, the iPhone can do much better. Plus the iPhone is, you know, a phone.

    Chrome-the-OS has got nothing for it except trade-rag hype, just like Chrome-the-browser. 90% of the people out there still use IE. The Linux crowd have got a severe case of not getting it. Ken Burnside has nicely elucidated the only salient criteria for desktop OS adoption.

  173. > 90% of the people out there still use IE.

    Huh? IE’s market share is about 67%. Chrome’s is about 5.5%, with Firefox and its family eating up most of the remainder.

  174. “Don’t be. The N810 is a toy for nerds. (I’m a nerd, so of course I have one.) ”
    :) ditto

    “Anything it can do, the iPhone can do much better”
    Really? In what sense ‘better’? I know very little about its OS. Do you know what the development experience is like on one?

    “Plus the iPhone is, you know, a phone.”
    I expect there will be no such distinction to be made in the near future. Plus, I’m not actually interested in owning a cellphone….unlike the chuntering masses ;) Honestly, I am amazed at the vast amount of bandwidth being consumed by people with nothing interesting to say. “Have phone, will talk”, I guess.

  175. After a quick sprint through the Apple developer resources, I’ve concluded that you have to be a chains’n’locks loving madman to want to get sucked into the Apple iPhone development world.

    Yuk. No way in hell.

    I want an open nix platform on hardware that gives me an appreciable ‘computer’ feel (bigger screen, keyboard etc – I do dig the iPhone expressive multi-touch interface, however). The n810 satisfies these reqs….although I am intrigued to see what its successor will be like, given the leaked info so far….

  176. >>> > 90% of the people out there still use IE.

    Huh? IE’s market share is about 67%. Chrome’s is about 5.5%, with Firefox and its family eating up most of the remainder.

    You know, I knew this figure, but still find it hard to believe. It seems like everyone I know uses Firefox. The whole surfing experience just seems to go smoother than with IE. But people’s machine come with IE, so that’s what they use.

    On a different note, who here is actually using Linux and not Windows? I will admit I am using XP on my laptop, but I just put together a new desktop and am going to make it a dual boot machine.

    And if you are using Linux, what is your preferred distro? I am partial to Fedora myself.

  177. The angle I was wondering about with Google Chrome is that it’s a big open source project that isn’t entirely coming from open source culture. Is this new? Does it make a difference?

    In re Obama and racism: I think his election indicates less racism, but it also took quite an unpopular administration and an economic crisis to make it happen. Afaik, the war on drugs still bears a lot harder on black people than white, and this doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon.

  178. In re Obama and racism: I think his election indicates less racism, but it also took quite an unpopular administration and an economic crisis to make it happen.

    I’m wondering: do you really think the unpopular administration played that much of a role? I don’t think anyone really thought that John McCain was going to be Bush III. This is what I think happened:

    For better or worse, the mainstream media managed to paint Sarah Palin as a whack job. (To be fair, I think there’s a fair chance that she is a whack job.) At the very least, prior to the election, the voting public outside of Alaska didn’t really know anything about Sarah Palin and you know how well unknowns do in an election.
    John McCain is a man in his 70s, and he was poised to become to the oldest man elected to the position. So, literally, Palin is a heartbeat (or lack thereof) away from the presidency. I think this just didn’t sit well with a lot of Americans.
    The voting public in general got caught up with the idea of having a black man in the White House. In particular, you knew that black America was going to vote for him, and you knew that the guilt-ridden white suburbanites were going to vote for him.
    At the end of the day, in an election without popular third-party candidate, it isn’t the folks on the left or the folks on the right that decide an election. It’s the swing voters. The logic goes like this: the folks who always vote for the Republican and the folks that always vote for the Democrat are about the same in numbers. The states that are usually red and usually blue have roughly the same number of electoral votes. The undecided folks somewhere in the middle (something like 10% of the voters) in certain key swing states (Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oregon, etc.) are the ones that will decide the candidates. Absent a popular third party candidate (i.e., Ross Perot), people voting Libertarian, Green, etc. are pretty much not going to count for anything. Sorry, Libertarians and Nader fans. :)

  179. I’m wondering: do you really think the unpopular administration played that much of a role? I don’t think anyone really thought that John McCain was going to be Bush III,

    I tend to hang out in venues which are considerably to the left of this blog, and I can tell you that there were a lot of people who didn’t want another impulsive president. And more than a few who wanted to punish the Republican party.

    I don’t know how typical they were of the electorate, and I suspect that there’s the same question about the people you know.

    It’s plausible that Palin was the last straw for a lot of people. I think it also mattered that McCain admitted (much to his credit) that he didn’t know much about economics….and then the economy tanked.

  180. “I can tell you that there were a lot of people who didn’t want another impulsive president”

    …and now they have Obama. That’s some seriously black humor there ;)

    “And more than a few who wanted to punish the Republican party.”

    …and boy o boy did/do the Republicans deserve to be punished. And how.

    Outside of Alaska and the millions of NRA/pro gun folks out there, Palin was an unknown. Since these constituencies are heavily Republican, it was hardly surprising to me how she ‘lit up’ the base. Without her, there would be a McCain-shaped crater in Arizona ;)

  181. > Huh? IE’s market share is about 67%. Chrome’s is about 5.5%, with Firefox and its family
    > eating up most of the remainder.

    Usage share of web browsers.
    Source: Net Applications[1]
    Internet Explorer (65.50%; Usage by version number)
    Mozilla Firefox (22.51%)
    Safari (8.43%)
    Google Chrome (1.80%)
    Opera (0.72%)
    Other (1.04%)

    [1] http://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=0

  182. “More innocent people will be killed in pointless escalation of petty arguments and personal grudges is what it means.”

    If you criminalize firearms only criminals will carry them. If you’re already involved in a “pointless escalation of petty arguments” a hammer, potato peeler or basebal bat will do — you don’t have to go upstairs, open the gun box etc.

    Just my .02$

  183. @rav – Indeed. Not to mention the simple fact that _every_ time there is a push to move ‘gun laws’ in a more Constitutional direction, the same hackneyed alarmism gets trotted out – and has _never_ been demonstrated to be true. It is astonishing that such a faction (anti-gun), with such a disgraceful track record of being _wrong_ about _everything_, has such little shame in its evident idiocy that it continues to show its face.

    America doesn’t have a ‘gun culture’ problem – never has. We have a ‘thug culture’ problem, most prevalent among certain minority demographics.

  184. >a hammer, potato peeler or basebal bat will do

    Don’t forget the common house cat. You pump one of those things with epinephrine and launch it at someone’s jugular . . . not pretty. You don’t even want to know what a parakeet is capable of.

  185. @Jake Fischer up a few posts:

    I work a lot in a web browser. My browser of choice is Google Chrome. I use Firefox with NoScript to scout out web sites, if NoScript doesn’t flag them with something serious, I visit them in Chrome.

    Neither Open Office or Google Docs meet my needs for what I have to get done. Of the two, Open Office sucks less.

    And, having had to explain changes in metaphors to people going from Windows to Mac, or Windows to Ubuntu, being able to find things where you expect them to be is important.

    I think that Google is making a gamble that the ‘network computer’ (AKA ‘dumb terminal’) will be viable in the netbook space. We’ll see; I have my doubts.

    Though the Native Client thing is pretty spiff. :)

  186. “The two-party system is a consequence of the plurality-wins system.”

    No, it is the consequence of the, well, I don’t know the official name of the system, but I call it the voting-for-individuals system. In all countries where you can only vote for individuals, like, US, UK, France, there is a two-party system. The reason is that people don’t want their vote to be lost, they want to vote for a candidate that has a good chance of winning, so they always choose the lesser of the two evils. The fix is, of course, is to vote not only on candidates but on parties too.

    The usual solution in some other countries is that half of the representative mandates are from voting for individuals and the other half is from voting for party lists. Plain simply, if there are 200 places in the House (Senate/Congress/Parliament/whatever), 100 are filled in the usual US/UK/France way, and another 100 are filled by voting on party lists, where you don’t choose an individual candidate, you choose a party. And the parties get mandates relative to the number of votes they get.

    Thus, in a US/UK/France system, a party which has 10% popularity in all counties, gets 0% of the places. In this mixes system, they get 5% of the places: 0% from those half of the mandates that are elected individually, but they get 10% of the other half, the party lists, which translates to 5% of the total places. Thus it is more representative.

    The problem with the vote-for-individuals system is the two-party system.

    The problem with party lists is that representatives getting elected on party lists have pretty much no loyalty to voters, only to their party: even if in a small party of 10% popularity, if you are the third one on the party list, you are guaranteed to get a mandate. Thus, for party lists, the very terms “representative” and “democracy” are a bit dubious: the guy gets a guaranteed mandate, which is unrelated to his personality or performance, only related to his loyalty to the party (which is how he gets the third place) and the popularity of the party at large. This is quite a perversion of the idea of representative democracy. But it mirrors the popularity of parties better.

    Both are have disadvantages and advantages, thus, it’s probably good to mix them.

    Does anyone know why wasn’t it ever considered in the US, UK or France?

  187. @Shenpen – how about _not_ having elections…..or governments…..that would seem to solve the problem ;)

    Seems to me that a significant part of our tragic condition is that we, as a species, do not seem to have evolved out of the “follow the leader” mentality.

  188. “Seems to me that a significant part of our tragic condition is that we, as a species, do not seem to have evolved out of the “follow the leader” mentality.”

    That wouldn’t, in itself, be a problem. You can observe that even in anarchistic and egalitarian projects by highly intelligent people (i.e. Linux hackers) some people naturally float into positions that cannot really be described by any other way than leadership. Such leadership is obviously not oppressive and they really have to take care not to play boss as nobody tolerates that there, but still, it’s only a matter of style and degree. All sorts of people need leaders, it’s just that different people need different kinds and styles of leadership. Meaning: leadership in itself is not a bad thing.

    (At this moment I had a sudden insight: could even genetic, evolutionary software algorithms be made more efficient by incorporating leadership i.e. each member of a generation with a high fitness rating could influence other members with lower fitness to imitate their genom to some extent in the next generation?)

    The problem I see with representative democracy in general is two special kinds of leader-figures or archetypes. One is the Generous Daddy kind, the kind who promises you more wealth (by taking yours away, somehow magically multiplying it and giving it back). The other is the Valiant Protector type, who defends you from, uh, whatever, drugs, or porn or greedy corporations or your own mistakes or whatever. Generally the problem is that albeit such roles of leadership are actually necessary (wealth-generators and sheepdogs), central government is about the worst place to exercise these personality traits. Thus, the general problem is not leadership and not even these specific leadership roles, but rather that plain simply politics – in the sense of central governmental politics – overtakes leadership roles that should belong to other segments, other institutions of society.

    Janos Kadar, who was the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Hungary back in the Commie system, had this motto: “Everything that affects many people is a political question.” This ur-fallacy, which was the root of much evil, interestingly enough, seems to be the driving force behind the politics of Western liberal democracies too.

  189. @shenpen

    “The two-party system is a consequence of the plurality-wins system.”

    No, it is the consequence of the, well, I don’t know the official name of the system, but I call it the voting-for-individuals system. In all countries where you can only vote for individuals, like, US, UK, France, there is a two-party system. The reason is that people don’t want their vote to be lost, they want to vote for a candidate that has a good chance of winning, so they always choose the lesser of the two evils. The fix is, of course, is to vote not only on candidates but on parties too.

    That’s what is often meant by ‘plurality voting’. The other solution is called ‘instant run-off voting‘. In IRV, a person ranks their preference for president among all the possible candidates. Then the vote is tallied by ranking according to placement on the list. If there are, say, 10 candidates listed on a ballot, the top candidate gets 10 points and the bottom candidate gets 1 point. (The points would be weighted for the total number of candidates, obviously, and some ballots will only list 1 candidate, but will still get only 10 points.) Candidates not listed get 0. The candidates with the least amount of total points across all ballots are dropped off, lather, rinse, repeat until only on candidate remains. In this way, you vote for more than one. I’m probably not explaining it 100% correctly, so check the Wikipedia link, as it has a fairly complete description. Maybe not everyone’s top candidate gets in, but for most people, it will a candidate at or near the top of the list.

  190. @Dear Mr. Raymond, supporter of freedom and free speech:

    There’s a Hunger Strike in Support of the Iranian People and for the Release of Political Prisoners, going on in front of the U.N from 22nd to 24th July. there has been considerable number of supports and attendance by various celebs and intellectuals around the world: Robert Redford, Noam Chomsky, Sean Penn … (just to name a few). We will be proud and thankful if you do a favor and release a letter as a sign of support for this ongoing event.

    sources:

    1)http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/8231

    2)http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&ct2=us%2F0_0_s_2_0_t&usg=AFQjCNHhHppRvEYmu2n7ijWw_QrxZHgrmg&cid=0&ei=ajJnSvD0PKOkM9mB2f8B&rt=SEARCH&vm=STANDARD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.examiner.com%2Fx-6568-San-Jose-Persian-Community-Examiner~y2009m7d21-Come-out-for-Iran

    3)http://televisionwashington.com/floater_article1.aspx?lang=en&t=1&id=12282

    4)http://televisionwashington.com/floater_article1.aspx?lang=en&t=2&id=12325

    5)http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&ct2=us%2F0_0_s_6_0_t&usg=AFQjCNHp44R0BdFOwnG6_wi_duG5F8P4Mg&cid=1271360255&ei=ajJnSvD0PKOkM9mB2f8B&rt=SEARCH&vm=STANDARD&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.examiner.com%2Fx-6568-San-Jose-Persian-Community-Examiner~y2009m7d1-Hunger-strike-San-Jose

  191. >We will be proud and thankful if you do a favor and release a letter as a sign of support for this ongoing event.

    I cannot personally in conscience ally myself with any organization that is opposed to both sanctions and military intervention. With those options off the table, the rest of the world would have essentially no way to exert pressure on the mullahs.

  192. “The other solution is called ‘instant run-off voting‘. In IRV, a person ranks their preference for president among all the possible candidates.”

    I think I didn’t express myself really clearly. The whole point of other system I was talking about (which is a simple, tried and working system in many countries, unlike IRV) that you aren’t voting for individual candidates _at_ _all_. Instead you vote on a party, as a whole, not on a candidate.

  193. As far as i know they have instant runoff voting in Austrailia. But, in a very real sense plurality voting systems which tend to become two party systems and party-list systems which tend to become multi-party systems both end up using similar solutions to the same problem – how do you form a coalition to win victory. In plurality systems you end up with a coalition of voters, in party-list systems you end up with a coalition of parties. Both frustrate purists.

    Yours,
    3om
    Tom Degisi

  194. “More innocent people will be killed in pointless escalation of petty arguments and personal grudges is what it means. More people will be inexperienced and untrained and gung ho. More criminals will shoot first before they can be shot at – even if their mental profile would have made likelihood of actual gun use minimal in regular circumstances. Guns will breed violence by definition. They don’t make anything safer.

    ESR says: This is profound ignorance talking. Worse, it’s ignorance that thinks it’s wise.”

    Why? Instead of condescending ad hominem attack, why don’t you state a reasonable case, with supporting evidence, to contradict him?

    I’m not saying you are wrong, necessarily. But you look rather intellectually lazy, bitter, and insecure, when you do that.

    But to offer evidence in support of his post, 2 years ago on the street I live on, a few houses down, a teenager accidently shot himself in the head, when showing off to his girlfriend, using his Dad’s gun, which was locked away, with bullets locked in a different location, both of which he easily got to.

    On another note, this whole anti-Obama vitriol in general, and the stance that he’s out to get your guns, is laughably stupid (and again, without basis in reasonable argument or supporting evidence). Sure, one can reasonable assume, based on his past recond in office and past statements, that Obama favors some level of gun control. But to the level that tin-foil hat crowd is saying? err …. no. Obama is smart enough, even assuming he totally wants to take away all your guns (again, a laughable paranoid fantasy), to realize that he doesn’t have a prayer in accomplishing such an end. At most, he’ll push for stricter regs, like tighter background checks, some sort of licensing program, and the like (which I’m sure you’ll hate, but oh well). He knows that going all out on trying to ban guns, or taking them away from you, is political suicide.

    Finally, your deflecting racism attacks are probably sincere and well founded. But it seems that the level of vitriol, hatred, rhetoric, etc, directed at Obama has gone well beyond what I see with other (white) Democrats with similar policy stances. I’m sure it’s mere coincidence that Obama is (half) black, and has a funny, middle eastern sounding, name. But still, if it quacks like a duck …

    Just word of advice – to more successfully thwart racism attacks, it’s probably more effective to make negative attacks on Obama’s policies, with supporting evidence (i.e. “I’m against policy A, because of X, Y, and Z”), rather than “Obama is a liar”, or, more specifically “Because though Barack Obama worked hard at it, he didn’t lie convincingly enough to cover his record of hostility to civilian firearms and Second Amendment rights”. Sorry, but that is vitriolic stuff beyond any semblance of reasonability.

    And the only reason I bother to post about this is, as a regular user of Linux and other FOSS, I’ve become quite familiar with your writings and talks. In particular your “Art of Unix Programming” was particularly good – very well researched, informative, reasonable, lots of good technical facts, and an enjoyable read (for a techie). Thus, Eric, you come as a very reasonable, well thought out, man. But apparently, when it comes to subjects like Obama and guns, that obvious intelligence seems to take a vacation, and the Sean Hannity clone comes to the fore, Jeckyl and Hyde style.

    Eric, you’re better than that.

  195. >Why? Instead of condescending ad hominem attack, why don’t you state a reasonable case, with supporting evidence, to contradict him?

    Because my experience is that people like that don’t listen to reason. Engaging them on that level is thus usually a waste of time.

    >anti-Obama vitriol in general, and the stance that he’s out to get your guns is laughably stupid

    Let’s untangle some issues here. I reject the charge that I’ve engaged in “anti-Obama vitriol”. The nastiest things I’ve ever said about him is that (a) he looks unnervingly like a latter-day Manchurian candidate, and (b) that he lies unconvincingly about his actual position on guns. Brother, if you think that’s “vitriol”, you need to get out more – compared to the things actual conservatives say about Obama, my comments have been tantamount to pelting him with rose petals.

    Actions speak louder than words. Obama’s eight years on the board of the Joyce Foundation tell me everything I need to know about his position on gun rights – namely, that he is implacably hostile to them and will be restrained from efforts to effectively nullify them only by tactical considerations. Of course he lies in order to make his position look more palatable; gun-banners always do, claiming to be for only “reasonable” restrictions, or even to support the Second Amendment, in order to give themselves political room to enact yet another incremental restriction, yet another tax, yet another regulation. Their grand strategy is, and always has been, salami-slicing.

    As for looking like a latter-day Manchurian Candiate – the dude has already turned General Motors into Government Motors, effectively seized control of the banks, and is bare-facedly attempting to socialize another seventh of the U.S. economy. Hanlon’s Razor aside, sufficently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice; Obama has passed that point already.

  196. jeff_s,

    If what Eric said was anti-Obama vitriol, then your comment was anti-Eric vitriol, especially the racism bits. I will say that accusing a politician of unconvincing deceit is a bit insulting. For one thing, don’t most politicians who practice deceit at least try to be convincing? ;)

    Yours,
    3om
    Tom DeGisi

  197. “Because my experience is that people like that don’t listen to reason. Engaging them on that level is thus usually a waste of time.”

    It’s quite easy to say “people like that” (categorize them because of a statement they made), and to assume “people like that” can’t have reasoned discourse. You’re assumptions might be right, they might be wrong. Regardless, there is nothing to lose if you engage them reasonably. At worst, they turn out to be an unreasonable jerk, in which case, who cares? At least you gave ‘em something to chew on. But, they might turn out to be somewhat reasonable, in which case your reasoned response gave them something to think about. That’s a good thing.

    But a simple ad hominem attack is a wasted opportunity. Now the guy’s take away is “gee, what a wacko crack-pot”.

    “Actions speak louder than words. Obama’s eight years on the board of the Joyce Foundation tell me everything I need to know about his position on gun rights – namely, that he is implacably hostile to them and will be restrained from efforts to effectively nullify them only by tactical considerations.”

    Again, taking anti-gun actions to the extreme that you assume Obama will would be political suicide. it was safer as a Senator, not so safe as the POTUS. So, no need to get your boxers in a bunch. Obama ain’t stupid, no matter how much you might dislike him.

    “Of course he lies in order to make his position look more palatable;”

    What specific “lies” has he told? What specific statements has he made that were contradictory to a material fact – that is, not based on an assumption (i.e. “he’s gonna do blah blah blah, based on blah blah blah, therefore blah blah blah statement is a lie)? Where’s the beef? Anyway, most (if not all) politicians lie … err … stretch the truth, or spin, if you will, for their own political gain. I take everything Obama says, indeed what any politician says, with a huge grain of salt. Just recognize them for what they are.

    “the dude has already turned General Motors into Government Motors”

    Obama has said, and I seriously believe it’s the truth due to pragmatic reasons, that partial government ownership is only temporary. I seriously doubt Obama desires the long term headaches. The plan is only to keep GM solvent until it can pull itself up by it’s own bootstraps, then sell of the assests.

    “effectively seized control of the banks”

    Well, the banks were doing such a bang up job on their own, right?

    “and is bare-facedly attempting to socialize another seventh of the U.S. economy”

    huh? Specifics?

    Well, as a libertarian I’m sure you’re against any kind of regs or government control. I respect that position and even share a lot of it. But there was/is a mess to be cleaned up, and normal market forces were failing to do the job, at least to the degree that is required.

  198. “If what Eric said was anti-Obama vitriol, then your comment was anti-Eric vitriol,”

    Really? Did you not read the part where I was highly complementary of his writings/talks? As a user of Linux and FOSS, I’m an admirer of Eric, to a degree. That’s why I visit this site. His politics aside (some of which I agree with, some not), I find the guy to be very intelligent and interesting. No anti-Eric vitriol here.

    Since Eric is a hardcore Libertarian, I understand and respect (and agree with to a degree) his point of view, and expect him to not like any big-gov Dem policies. I get that. But the anti Obama vitriol just seems more intense than it was with Clinton, Gore, Kerry, or others. Maybe not Eric specifically, but with conservatives/libertarians in general.

  199. >But the anti Obama vitriol just seems more intense than it was with Clinton, Gore, Kerry, or others. Maybe not Eric specifically, but with conservatives/libertarians in general.

    For what it’s worth, I think that conservatives especially are attacking Obama more than the usual because he was considered to be such a godsend by the Left; they see him as a greater threat than Clinton, Gore, Kerry, etc.

  200. “a teenager accidently shot himself in the head, when showing off to his girlfriend, using his Dad’s gun, which was locked away, with bullets locked in a different location, both of which he easily got to.”

    So we have a case of two gun safes failing? I don’t believe we can classify this case as “locked” gun and ammo.

    Stupidity sounds more like it. Dad left gun and ammo in unsecure location and never taught his son proper safety of firearms. That’s why gun safety should be mandatory in grade school.

  201. “For what it’s worth, I think that conservatives especially are attacking Obama more than the usual because he was considered to be such a godsend by the Left; they see him as a greater threat than Clinton, Gore, Kerry, etc.”

    Probably true. And think a lot of the gushing from the left came from so many people being fed up with Bush. It was like “hey, we have a viable candidate that doesn’t have the personality of a constipated toad (read Gore, Kerry), with a great chance to win!”

    Plus, being the first African American president is pretty fickin’ huge.

  202. Guys, I’m starting to realize something (which won’t really look like big news to you but consider my “outsider” position… ): when Americans in 2009 say “conservative” they really and even _exclusively_ mean folks like Sean Hannity.

    My problem is that I use the same label but in a VERY different sense: when I say I’m conservative I mean it in the sense, that (let’s set intellectuals aside for a moment and focus on politcians, even though I’m an intellectual, something sort of a philosopher, and I dislike more or less all politicians, but sometimes you need to make choices…) goes from Edmund Burke through Benjamin Disraeli to Barry Goldwater. This is my meaning of conservatism.

    Of course these two meanings of conservatism are very, very different.

    Here in Europe & UK we generally tend to use the term conservatism in my sense. And up to, say, 1970 or so it was used in my sense in America too. I would say my sense of conservatism is historically more correct.

    But not today. The meaning of conservatism have changed in America, but over here it did not.

    Now, another thing: despite that about 1 billion people speak reasonably good English, for some reason (which is a very interesting and probably an important question in itself) 80% of the people contributing to discussions in the Internet about political thinking tend to be Americans, and I’m getting really tired about always having to explain I’m conservative but not in the Sean Hannity sense of the word.

    I suppose, just like Old Liberals had to give up the label for Progressive Liberals and adopt a new label (Libertarian), sooner or later I will have to give up the Conservative label for the Hannity types (I mean when I write in in English, of course not in other languages), instead of always having to explain stuff, and I’ll need to find a new one.

    But I really don’t want to. Conservative means Burkean. I’m Burkean. These guys are not. I’m using the label right. They don’t. Why should I let them have it? Why should I let such idiots bring down a good, intelligent, well-established brand name?

    But I suppose I have to, just like the Old Liberals had to. Sometimes you have no choice.

    So if I have to find a new label, just what should this new label be?

  203. >Maybe not Eric specifically, but with conservatives/libertarians in general.

    You know, I don’t really even think that’s true. I think people who believe it are forgetting how intense conservative rancor against Clinton was.

    I wasn’t part of that, either. I was less offended by Clinton’s policies than by his smarmy, narcisisstic, lying style. IMO, he was, and still is, a high-functioning sociopath with no conscience and no honor.

  204. Note: just to make something clear: I was well aware of these two different senses of this label, and the popularity of this “wrong” (Hannity) sense of it in today’s America even years ago, it’s not really news even to me.

    What is news (and surprising) to me is that even you, intelligent and well-read folks, accept this “wrong” (Hannity) definition of conservatism! This is what I haven’t really expected, I assumed smart folks like you understand conservative = Burkean and != Fundiediot.

  205. >What specific “lies” has he told?

    Obama has publicly claimed to concur with the Heller ruling that the right to bear arms truly is an individual right and not a historical anachronism or nebulously “collective” right. This claim is not consistent with his statements or actions prior to running for President, and I judge it to be a lie.

    You are probably right that if Obama attempted to implement his views all in one go it would be political suicide. That constraint doesn’t make his views different than what they are or any more excusable, it just means he’ll seek more devious ways to implement them. Like packing courts with anti-Second-Amendement judges, for example.

    >huh? Specifics?

    The one-seventh of the economy I’m referring to is, of course, the health-care industry and its dedicated supply chains.

  206. > Well, the banks were doing such a bang up job on their own, right?
    Here is why I almost agree with Jeff about the banks. Banks and investment firms perform 3 services.

    First, they return your money with interest.

    Second, they lend money to people and business who need it to make large purchases or maintain cash flow.

    Third, (and most importantly) they get capital to people with ideas who use that money to innovate, build, and create new jobs and better products.

    I normally oppose a lot of regulation because it drives up costs and stifles innovation. However, I can’t think of a single new principle or mechanism that the financial sector has come up with in the last 40 years to do any of their 3 jobs better. The PC and the internet have certainly made it easier to do research and contact potential entrepreneurs. However, the financial sector did not create these innovations. They simply implemented them at same time every other business implemented them.

    The ever more complex securities sold by investment firms and banks are not innovations in the way a cheaper hard drive or a new medicine are innovations. They are simply convoluted ways of betting on the stock/bond/currency market, and, as far as I know, have not provided any substantial benefit to the average investor or the economy. In fact, their complexity has made it harder for investors to make informed, rational, decisions. In that sense, the financial sector is de-innovating. On top of that, studies have shown that even mutual funds do no better, on average, then an equally large group of randomly selected stocks. For these reasons, I find it hard to care if executive compensation is cut in half or if most forms of exotic securities are outlawed altogether.

    The only thing that makes me nervous about government involvement with banks and investment firms is that many in government would (if given half a chance) put themselves in a position where they start choosing which companies get capital and which don’t based on political considerations.

  207. The principal reason I have come to find ESR’s blog such a refreshing place is that he adamantly eschews the usual hackneyed political labels – like ‘conservative’, ‘liberal’ etc. These balkanizing terms have become so hopelessly polluted that I can hardly believe that there are humans stupid enough to bother self-applying them. Yet I am eternally disappointed.

    Shenpen’s confusion over the terminology is merely a recent highlight of this…..not that I am slighting Shenpen, of course – I thoroughly enjoy and value his intelligent contributions to this blog :)

    Personally, I am nothing. I cannot bring myself to announce an allegiance to any cleverly-named political movement, because I have very little faith in the homo sapien ability to do good. Of all the ‘movements’ out there, I have the kindest affection for the pure anarchists.

  208. “The one-seventh of the economy I’m referring to is, of course, the health-care industry and its dedicated supply chains.”

    Yes, health care is extremely expensive.

    My stance is the current system needs fixing – it keeps getting more expensive, for less services. Insurance costs are out of control, the cost of health care is prohibitively expensive for businesses to provide to employees, too many people have no health care coverage (and subsequently go to ERs, slowing down efficiency, and driving up cost of insurance for others). The only people who like the current system are health care insurance providers.

    It’s f&%$ed up.

    And I look at Canada, with it’s full government provided system, where everyone gets coverage, but often people wait months to get non-critical stuff, and many of the better health care pros go south of the border for the better money to be made.

    I don’t want that system either.

    Perhaps a hybrid solution could work. Have the government provided coverage compete with private providers.

    Regardless, I don’t entirely agree with everything Obama wants with health care, but he is trying to fix a broken system. Perhaps the Reeps and more moderate Dems can water it down to something more palatable for the rest of us.

  209. “Obama has publicly claimed to concur with the Heller ruling that the right to bear arms truly is an individual right and not a historical anachronism or nebulously “collective” right. This claim is not consistent with his statements or actions prior to running for President, and I judge it to be a lie.”

    Well, that could be a lie, or a misrepresentation of his true feelings. But what were his statements or actions, regarding gun control, prior to running for President, exactly?

    I have not researched this myself, but it appears that you have. Can you provide me with this information? I want to know, at the very least out of pure curiosity.

    And, not trying to be an apologist, it is possible for a politician to change his/her stance on issues, and it would be okay in certain situations. No, I don’t like waffling, but I also don’t like a politician that will stick to their guns, no matter how obvious their folly is (Dubya). It’s a good thing to learn from mistakes, and make corrective action. Good programmers do it. It’s good for a politician to debug their own code (policies). ;-) And I’m not talking about Clinton-esque waffling and poll whoring. Just good corrective action, or change of heart based on evidence or results.

    I used to be a pretty staunch gun control guy myself. For me, it was not “guns are evil”, but simply a numbers game. The more stringent gun control, I figured, the fewer overall guns their will be in society, and thus less gun violence. But then I look at stuff like prohibition, which was such an obvious, colossal failure, and I decided banning guns could never work. I also became more sympathetic, ironically due to Michael Moore’s “Bowling for Columbine”, which you would think would be very pro gun control. But it wasn’t. It’s stance was that gun violence, or violence in general, is more of a cultural problem, not a gun problem. It brought on the example of Canada, which has less gun control then we do, but a lower murder rate and lower rate of gun violence. Then it talked about our culture of fear – if it bleeds, it leads, here in the U.S.

    Anyway, my opinion gradually changed, not because of rhetoric from the NRA, but logic, evidence, and solid arguments, from others, and looking at historical precedent (prohibition). I am pro second amendment, but I’m not against stuff like background checks, or some sort of licensing program.

    So, if my opinion gradually morphed, why can’t Obama’s?

    But then again, after my long winded post, maybe he has lied. But I’m not joining you in assuming that that is definitely the case.

  210. “it just means he’ll seek more devious ways to implement them.”

    Obama = Darth Sidious ;-)

    How about this – give him the benefit of the doubt now, then if he does those things you fear, give him hell at that point.

  211. >Perhaps a hybrid solution could work. Have the government provided coverage compete with private providers

    That would lead to the worst of both worlds – the private plans would cream-skim the young and healthy and rich, while the government collected the poor and old and sick. We’d get bureaucratic treatment rationing for the latter and ever-higher costs for the former.

  212. >But what were his statements or actions, regarding gun control, prior to running for President, exactly?

    As a board member of the Joyce Foundation, Obama wrote checks for millions of dollars to anti-gun groups who engaged in tactics ranging from astroturfing to the subsidy of fraudulent legal “research” that attempted to gaslight the Second Amendment out of existence.

    While a state senator, Obama voted for a bill that would ban nearly every hunting rifle, shotgun and target rifle owned by Illinois citizens. That same bill would authorize the state police to raid homes of gun owners to forcibly confiscate banned guns. Obama supported a bill that would shut down law-abiding firearm manufacturers including Springfield Armory, Armalite, Rock River Arms and Les Baer. Obama also voted for a bill that would prohibit law-abiding citizens from purchasing more than one gun per month. (From here.)

    More here:

    • 1996 – Obama supported a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.
    • 1999 – Obama proposed a 500 percent increase in the excise taxes on firearms and ammunition. This tax would effectively punish gun owners for buying guns and ammunition.
    • 2003 – Obama voted in support of legislation that would have banned privately owned hunting shotguns, target rifles and black powder rifles in Illinois.
    • 2004 – Obama voted against legislation intended to protect homeowners from prosecution in cases where they used a firearm to halt a home invasion.

    From here:

    On 1996 Questionnaire, Obama Answered “Yes” To Question About His Support For Legislation To “Ban The Manufacture, Sale And Possession Of Handguns.” Question: “Do you support state legislation to … ban the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns? [Obama's Response:] Yes.” (Independent Voters Of Illinois Independent Precinct Organization 1996 General Candidate Questionnaire, Barack Obama Responses, 9/10/96)

    Scholar John Lott Recalls Obama Stating: “I Don’t Believe That People Should Be Able To Own Guns.” John Lott: “In fact, I knew Obama during the mid-1990s, and his answers to IVI’s question on guns fit well with the Obama that I knew. Indeed, the first time I introduced myself to him he said ‘Oh, you are the gun guy.’ I responded ‘Yes, I guess so.’ He simply responded that ‘I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns.’” (John R. Lott Jr., “Obama And Guns: Two Different Views,” Fox News, http://www.foxnews.com, 4/7/08)

    None of this is any secret; Google “obama gun control history” for much. much more.

  213. Another angle I have on the whole ‘gun debate’ goes beyond the RKBA and self-defense arguments.

    Simply consider that humans have evolved into technology-using creatures. This alone places us in an almost godlike position in contrast to the other members of the animal kingdom.

    We have the brilliance to create technology to improve our lives.

    Now come along some people that claim they and their mob have the inherent right/authority to dictate the forms of technology that other humans may avail themselves of. They are implementing a society of superior and inferior individuals. Masters and slaves. The former actively deny access to technology to the latter.

    Once upon a time, the ‘master race’ (of royalty and church) denied access to other technologies – like reading, writing and mathematics – giving us (in part) that glorious episode of history generally known as “the dark ages”.

    This mentality is irreconcilable with a free, egalitarian society. It is fascism.

  214. Very informative post ESR. That proves one of the following:

    1. He’s completely lying.
    2. He’s not being completely forthcoming about his true feelings (a lie of omission)
    3. He’s adjusting his stance as POTUS, for political expediency
    4. He has had a gradual change of heart.

    I lean towards a combination of all 4. I know you think it’s absolutely 1, since you’re so passionate about guns.

    But I’m glad I pushed you to this. I learned something, and you put forth reasoned arguments, rather than Obama hate.

    Regardless, I still stand by the idea that you have nothing to really worry about. Even with a Dem majority in both House and Senate, there are enough Reeps and moderate Dems to thwart any all out attempt at banning. The worse case scenario, for you, is that a few more stringent regs get passed, but no more.

    Also remember that for a politician, one can take more polarizing stances as a Senator or Representative, then one can take as an executive. With the former, one is part of a crowd. With the latter, one is the head-honcho, and needs to build consensus in order to get anything done.

  215. >I know you think it’s absolutely 1, since you’re so passionate about guns.

    It’s not so much my “passion” that motivates me here, it’s a heuristic that assuming the most negative possible explanation of a politician’s behavior is usually the way to generate the best predictions of future behavior.

  216. “It’s not so much my “passion” that motivates me here, it’s a heuristic that assuming the most negative possible explanation of a politician’s behavior is usually the way to generate the best predictions of future behavior.”

    Well, at least that way you won’t be disappointed. ;-)

    Expect the worse, and you can never be let down.

  217. “Expect the worse, and you can never be let down.”

    Every day I dodge death is awesome ;)

  218. If we can have people ‘salami slice’ property and self determination rights, what can we do in counter-mode to salami slice the wellfare state and other apparatuses of government grown amok?

    Keep in mind – Eric and I would mildly to strongly disagree on where to stop the salami slicing if this were possible.

  219. Really? Did you not read the part where I was highly complementary of his writings/talks?

    Yes. And yes. My point was that Eric’s criticism of Obama was no more vitriolic than your criticism was of Eric. You asked for specifics from Eric about Obama’s behavior. Did you give specifics about his anti-Obama vitriol? If not, is your lack of specifics about Eric vitriol?

    Probably the biggest problem with the word vitriol is it describes the speaker’s tone of voice, facial expression. But I don’t know your tone of voice and facial expression from your words about Eric and you don’t know his tone of voice and facial expression from his words about Obama. When we hear Michael Savage ranting on the radio, it’s vitroil. But if Savage bemusedly wonders if Obama was really a Manchurian candidate, it isn’t vitroil. (I much as I often dislike Savage’s ranting, his bemusement is often quite refreshing. He has a lot of emotional range on the radio.)

    If we can have people ’salami slice’ property and self determination rights, what can we do in counter-mode to salami slice the wellfare state and other apparatuses of government grown amok?

    Sometimes you can pit one level of government against the others.

    Yours,
    3om
    Tom DeGisi

  220. It’s not so much my “passion” that motivates me here, it’s a heuristic that assuming the most negative possible explanation of a politician’s behavior is usually the way to generate the best predictions of future behavior.

    Q: how can you tell when a politician is lying?
    A: his lips are moving.

  221. The “TWO” Party system in the USA is like voting for Coke or Pepsi. The soft drinks market is a two brand market: Coke vs Pepsi.

  222. That would lead to the worst of both worlds – the private plans would cream-skim the young and healthy and rich, while the government collected the poor and old and sick. We’d get bureaucratic treatment rationing for the latter and ever-higher costs for the former.

    The Germans have combined the two approaches successfully. Healthcare is free in Germany but the government only supplies the money; providers compete aggressively for that money. The same with education (up to university level).

  223. Oh yes, and private healthcare is an option for Germans but only 10% of them ever exercise it.

  224. @Jeff Read:
    So in Germany, is the money supplied to the patients who then choose where to go, or what?

  225. “Healthcare is free in Germany”
    —-
    Sure it’s free, once you dismiss the costs.

  226. It’s not so much my “passion” that motivates me here, it’s a heuristic that assuming the most negative possible explanation of a politician’s behavior is usually the way to generate the best predictions of future behavior.

    In this, we think a lot alike. :)

  227. Apparently it’s paid out by the government through the various physicians’ associations.

    This article explains it. The money shot:

    The real contrast is not between public and private, but monopoly and competition. Some workplaces make it hard for even well-motivated employees to give of their best, and some make it easy. Can anyone honestly say that the NHS brings out the best in people? Morale is low, recruitment is now reliant on people from overseas, and retention of experienced staff increasingly difficult. We need to learn from other European countries where public sector workers do not have the same ideological hang-ups.

  228. We are so easily swept up into discussions of ‘what can work’ or ‘how the system can be improved’, yet I rarely hear people ask ‘is this even a legitimate aspect of government?’

    ‘Healthcare’ is such an illegitimate aspect.

    It is a service industry. Nothing more. We have no more ‘right’ to it than we do to an oil change & brake inspection.

  229. Dan, you are arguing from libertarian theoretical axioms. Start with facts. Americans spend more, and get less, from private healthcare than do Germans or British or Japanese from public healthcare.

    Shenpen, you’ve linked me to that in the past. All it shows is that German scholars concede that their healthcare system has flaws that need to be addressed. The German system still achieves its goals much better than, say, the NHS (commonly cited as a failure of public healthcare by American conservatives) and certainly the American system (which is referenced in the paper you linked as a failure mode of healthcare systems in general: the rich get the best care, the poor get nothing).

  230. “Dan, you are arguing from libertarian theoretical axioms.”

    I am? If you say so. I thought I was reasoning from first principles – the FP in question being the concept of a ‘right’, and that healthcare does not qualify. Therefore, any attempt to impose it as a ‘right’ is fraudulent.

    “Start with facts.”

    If you can discern them from among the political dishonesty ;)

    “Americans spend more, and get less, from private healthcare than do Germans or British or Japanese from public healthcare.”

    That’s a ridiculously simplistic non-sequitur.

  231. PS. Then there’s the whole “10th Amendment” hurdle to overcome….

  232. PS. Then there’s the whole “10th Amendment” hurdle to overcome….

    What Tenth Amendment hurdle? If you had a national socialized medicine program (a huge mistake if I ever saw one), you would simply have what you have today, with some part of the program run by and provided for by the states, and some part of the program run by and provided for by the federal government.

    Not that I’m in favor of any such system.

  233. During a recent visit to a gun shop, it noticed a poster of Barack Obama on the wall with the caption, “Salesman of the Month.”

  234. Well, we jumped on the bandwagon early. Spring of 2008, we saw the writing on the wall and got out carry permits. We began buying firearms and ammo. So now, over a year later, we feel we’re set. Though we’re always on the lookout for a decent price on ammo. In our area, gun shows seem to be best for that — but go early LOL!

  235. *Exactly*, Morgan…..exactly ;)

    Ditto education, FCC, FDA……it all violates the 10th and should be abolished.

  236. The specific brand I elected on was produced for accuracy.At first I wanted to build up my own AR15. I’ve owned numerous various types of firearms. Recently I decided to get an AR-15.After much research I finally decided on Rock River Arms. But after a little looking around I concluded that a build for a first time AR-15 user was a little overwhelming. I have already aquired my Rock River Arms from a vendor on the internet. It was easier than I thought. Local criminal check was smooth and saving $250.00 on the rifle was even far better. From the way stuff went I will probably get the upper from them also.The Varmint rifle was .223. That was about a year or so ago. Now I think it is time to get into a more tactical model and I have been searching into stripped receivers. Again, I seem to go to RRA. I have already purchased my lower from a dealer on the internet. From the way things went I will very likely get the upper from them also.

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