Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Minimum wage

So, as most of you probably know, Barack Obama would like to see the minimum wage increase. He says he wants to help the poor, since someone raising a family on minimum wage is below the poverty line. Of course they are. And increasing the minimum wage will absolutely not help them.
If you want to help the working poor, reducing the minimum wage would be a better step. Sure, it sounds good to give them more money, but that will only force companies to cut labor or increase costs, either increasing unemployment or the cost of living, putting even more people below the poverty line.
If minimum wage were lower, the kid working after school could make less money, freeing companies to pay more for their full-time employees, as well as allowing them to lower prices.
Simple economics seem to be a tad out of the realm of a lot of our elected officials, but it still surprises me every time.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Washington universal background checks?

Here in Washington, some lawmakers are trying to pass a bill requiring background checks on private sales. The bill allows for a $20 fee from the local police or sheriff, as well as any amount the feds charge for actually conducting the check.
It sounds like a feel-good measure, requiring background checks. We have to keep guns out of the wrong hands, don't we?
In reality, though, it is both a tax and a registration scheme. Every time you want to give a gun to a family member, sell a gun to a friend, or trade with a fellow shooter, you pay to tell the police who is getting which gun. There is nothing in the bill prohibiting the police from using those applications to form a registry of privately sold firearms, and, further, enforcing it requires a registry. How else do you figure out who has illegally sold firearms?
As usual, the anti-gun crowd offers up a terrible scheme under the guise of safety. As with most laws, it'll only change the habits of the law-abiding, adding a burden to the upstanding citizen without preventing crime.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Confiscation?

Some people assume everyone in the military would refuse the unconstitutional order to confiscate firearms. I, however, am not as confident as some, given the current state of the US military.
Don't get me wrong, most of my readers who have military experience would probably refuse such an order, but you are the sort of military personnel who follow pro-gun blogs.
The military today is not comprised of the country boys who have set aside hunting rifles for military arms. It is comprised mostly of city denizens who haven't handled a firearm outside of military training. They don't necessarily see firearms as the right of the common citizen, and they don't imagine that everyone can be trusted with a firearm.
Add to that the fact that a person can volunteer for the military as a conscientious objector, and you really start to see the problem. Anyone who thinks violence is never necessary has trouble seeing defense as a right.
The founders saw the populace as the defenders of the country. When people say the founders couldn't have foreseen the future, they are right, but in the wrong way. Sure, they didn't know what technology would exist, but they didn't see a standing army, either. Technology would certainly keep progressing, they knew, but they didn't expect a standing army to amass all the power.
The really sad thing is, an armed populace is exactly the thing the founders thought would keep a standing army in check. We gave up the advantage, though, allowing the government to regulate away full-auto and the like. Now, the military has better equipment than we do.
If the military is asked to confiscate firearms, they may not have the experience to disagree with such an order, and they certainly have the technological advantage.
Whatever the case, though, we gun-owners have a numerical advantage. Remember that when anyone proposes a ban or other restriction.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Straw Men

I have seen a lot of debates regarding the Constitution and attempts to chip away at it. The problem is that everyone simplifies the situation, and both sides rail against straw men.
The thing I keep seeing brought up is the Patriot Act. The argument goes a little something like this: you dislike Obama's gun control ideas, but Bush signed the Patriot Act. Well, there are multiple problems with this argument. First, disliking Obama's politics does not mean you liked Bush's politics. Second, most of us dislike the Patriot Act, too. A lot of us dislike anything that chips away at our freedoms.
Our side isn't much better, of course. I've seen people demanding that anyone who might've voted for Obama give up their gun rights, as if every vote for him was specifically a vote against firearms. I don't know about you, but I want everyone to have their rights.
Let's try, if we can, to look at the issues at hand, and debate the merits of ideas, not turn things into an argument about whose side is terrible. Career politicians are all pretty terrible, and our unwillingness to elect someone from outside the two primary parties makes it easier for them to screw the people, so let's try realizing that we, the People, have to keep the government in check, no matter which party is trying to gain more power than they should. Discuss the issues, the politicians' stances on the issues, and how to make the government better, not who voted for the right team.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The roots of violence

There's a lot of talk about violence and how to stop it, but most of the solutions deal with keeping firearms out of the wrong hands. What about the root of the problem? No, not violent movies and games, but the reality beneath the surface of all of this.
There is evil in the world. There has always been evil in the world. There will always be evil in the world. There are also mentally unstable people out there. No law will keep people from being evil. No law will keep people from mental problems. Besides evil and mental issues, there is the drug trade and other criminal enterprise, which may not be evil, but certainly illegal.
What can we do, then? Well, for one, we need to work on our ways of dealing with mental illness. Currently, we stigmatize it, keeping people from seeking help. Then, if help is sought, people look for the simple and easy cure--they take drugs until the symptoms subside (if even that long), and discontinue treatment. Those beyond treatment get committed, but the facilities are both temporary and ineffective, so they end up letting people out without proper care.
Our prison system seems to have trouble deciding whether it is designed to punish or rehabilitate. If it is the former, we offer too many amenities--cable, education, recreation...often better than the working poor. If it is the latter, the recidivism rate indicates we aren't doing it right. Also, if we can trust someone with freedom, why are they still stripped of their rights?
Our war on drugs has been horribly ineffective, and drug peddlers are a major source of violence. We should rethink the whole thing, in my opinion. If we legalized and regulated the drug trade, the criminal drug traffickers would find their business worth a lot less violence.
As for the mass killings, true evil finds a way. A bomb, poison gas, or even a truck could be used to kill a lot of people. Someone who wants to kill will find a way. The best way to stop mass killings is to equip the public with the tools to stop killers. Train high-risk employees in spotting and stopping threats. Arm people in high-risk zones, rather than making them soft targets.
Improve our message to children. Reward them for doing good work, punish them for doing wrong, and stop making excuses. Yes, ADD is a real thing, but it is not an excuse, and not every kid has it. If Johnny acts out, punish him. Beyond that, teach kids to respect and safely handle firearms and how to mediate problems. Basically, make sure they have the tools to deal with their problems constructively.
Don't target the media or the firearms, target the criminals. Know that evil comes in many forms, be it serial killer, dictator, or mass murderer. And we need to be prepared for all of them. Taking away the tools to fight those evils will help no one.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Common-sense proposals.

President Obama gave a speech that has a lot of people talking. Executive orders and a push for Congress to take action...kind of scary to think about the implications of 23 executive orders, even if you aren't pro-gun.
What are his "common-sense proposals," you ask? He wants all gun sales to go through a licensed dealer, ten-round magazine limits, an "assault weapons" ban, a director of the ATF, and more police. Let's examine the amount of common sense in these proposals.
All sales being subject to a background check seems reasonable. Well, until you consider the fact that private individuals own, sell, and trade firearms, as well as firearms being passed down or given as gifts. Not only does such a proposal keep a person from doing as they will with their own property, but it is virtually unenforceable. Sure, gun show entry fees will go up to subsidize the background checks on private sales, but  if someone wants to sell a gun in secret, they won't be stopped. Sadly, I think this is one of the reasons they want this law--if they can't enforce it, they'll push for gun registration to help track whether people are selling privately.
Magazine capacity limits...well, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to protect from tyranny. Besides, more shooting with fewer reloads means that a responsible individual can become more proficient.
So-called "assault weapons" are scary in appearance only. The features, by and large, are either non-functional or helpful to the average shooter. A heat shield is mostly for looks, but does prevent burns by a hot barrel. A collapsible stock allows a gun to properly fit a shooter. A flash hider diffuses muzzle flash, keeping it from impairing the shooter or others. A folding stock makes it easier to store a gun. A pistol grip is easier for many shooters to properly control a firearm.
Approving an ATF Director isn't much, but the agency needs a proper choice. It already has too much power, and the right Director would temper that.
More police, though, may be the scariest. Sure, public safety is the noted goal, but an increased police force costs a lot of money and gives the government more power. I'd prefer to see the existing manpower used more efficiently, instead.
Maybe the pro-freedom crowd should posit some common-sense proposals of our own.
First, civilians should be given access to military weapons and training facilities. After all, how can we fight tyranny without access to the same tools a tyrant would use against us? Given the restrictions of the NFA and the GCA, we are ill-equipped to fight back.
Second, we should add firearms safety to the public school curriculum. Teaching children how to respect and safely use firearms would help prevent many senseless tragedies.
Finally, we should take a good look at the framework of our justice system. Are we trying to punish or rehabilitate criminals? If someone is not to be trusted without their rights, should we trust them with their freedom? Whatever the answers, they require consideration.
Common sense dictates we maintain our freedoms. Common sense requires we prepare to defend those freedoms from tyranny. Common sense turns justice toward criminals, not the law-abiding. Common sense is far from common on the national stage.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Biden's Meetings

With Biden's meetings, he gets to look like he's doing things, while stirring the pot. He talked with "gun rights groups" (and, honestly, they weren't the hardnose gun groups, like the JPFO), "video game industry representatives," and "entertainment industry representatives." The goal, as far as I can tell, is to create tension between these industries. And, of course, it seems to be working. The NRA is quick to blame the media, and the media's quick to blame guns.
Just. Stop. The. Blame. Game. The people who commit the acts are responsible. You might talk about the state of the mental health care system, the lack of parenting, or other such factors, but the goal needs to be stopping criminals, not censoring or banning.
As far as Biden's proposals, the magazine capacity restrictions and assault weapons bans are frustratingly ineffective, but he mentioned something even worse: "smart weapons." He wants biometric technology to keep guns from being used by unauthorized users. Not only would prices jump, but it would become a registry, as one would have to set the gun up, and transferring it to someone would involve a transfer of biometrics.
As a gun owner, gamer, and fan of media, I don't want to see any of them restricted. And, if we want to have allies in the fight for our freedoms, we all need to tell the government to stop legislating away non-problems.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What are rights?

There seems to be a lot of confusion over what constitutes a right, what grants a right, and what it takes to maintain a right. Let's start with what a right actually IS.
A right, contrary to the beliefs of some, is inherent in every human. Unlike a privilege, no one must grant it, and it should not be taken away except under extreme circumstances. The summary of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is fitting. Each individual has the right to live, be free, and strive toward his/her goals.
The Bill of Rights spells out specifics within that basic framework. The First Amendment protects freedom at its most basic levels. The Second protects life, freedom, and property from interfering forces. The Third protects freedom from the troops of the government. The Fourth protects property from unreasonable search and seizure. The Fifth protects life, freedom, and property from government forces. The Sixth and Seventh lay out ways to allow for due process when someone is accused of crimes worthy of stripping them of their rights. The Eighth protects those who've forfeited their rights. The Ninth notes that rights not listed are still not to be stripped away, and the Tenth separates the powers of the States from the Feds.
The Ninth Amendment is important to note, as it specifies that there are rights beyond those listed, and notes that the rights are enumerated, not granted, by the Constitution. The powers of the states and feds, however, are granted by the Constitution, and those not expressly granted to the feds are reserved to the states or the people themselves. This is also important, as a government does not have or grant rights.
But how do we maintain a right? At the most basic levels, we shouldn't have to--they are inherent. However, there are those who would infringe upon the rights of others, be they individuals, corporations, governments, or groups. To protect our rights, there are a variety of safeguards. We have legal protections against many infringements, such as police, civil suits, and criminal courts. We have elections to vote out those who would chip away at our rights. We have the system of checks and balances to keep any branch of government from overstepping their bounds. At the basest, most extreme level, we can protect our rights with force. If someone attacks you, self-defense is the only immediate protection. And, if there comes a time that the government strips us of our rights beyond the point of using the system to stop them, the freedoms of press and arms allow us to alert fellow patriots and defend freedom with force.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Fire in a crowded theater

Some say that banning "assault weapons" is akin to the "restriction" from yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. We already have such restrictions on firearms, knives, cars, and pretty much anything else. How so? Well, let's examine the statement.
First of all, I can think of a couple of circumstances in which it is perfectly acceptable to yell "fire" ina crowded theater. If there is a fire, you would be expected to warn others. If you are an actor, it may well be part of the play. We'll rule those out, though, and imagine you are a part of the crowd and there is no fire.
How do we keep people from yelling "fire," then? With punishments for the trouble caused. We haven't banned the word, as evidenced by the number of times I have used it in this post alone. If you misuse the word in order to cause a panic, you are punished for that.
We have laws against the misuse of anything potentially deadly. If I stab someone, run them over, or shoot them, there are penalties. Much like words, though, we shouldn't ban them due to potential misuse. Yes, guns can be used for evil, as can words, money, people, or anything else. We don't ban words, and we should not ban guns.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

ARs and Price Gouging.

I've heard a lot of people decrying the "price-gouging" happening in the firearm market, and it really makes me wonder about market saturation and people's definition of price-gouging. If it isn't a necessary item, you don't have to buy it. You don't need an AR to survive.
Right now, many people are willing to pay very high prices for anything related to AR-style firearms, and the only way to keep the rifles and accessories available is to charge those high prices.
In the stores maintaining their pricing structure, people practically mob anytime there is a shipment, wiping them out in just minutes. Some of those people are turning around and profiting, others simply getting what they want.
If people are willing to pay those prices in order to avoid the rush, the product must be worth it to them. If it isn't worth your money, that's fine. If it is, that's fine, too.
I have what I need, and am willing to wait for or pay for what I want.

The really bizarre part, to me, is how many ARs are already out there, and how many people suddenly want one. If there's no ban, there's bound to be a lot of cheap ARs to be had.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Allies

A big problem with any political discussion is that no one simply cares about a single issue. Some people want to lump the unrelated issues they care about together, which is natural, but self-defeating. If someone is on your side for one issue, but against you on another, don't keep them from taking your side simply because they don't have all of your beliefs.
A prime example, in my opinion, is the tendency of some pro-gunners to dislike gays. On one forum, I read a post in which someone tried to argue that anyone pro-gun should fight against gay marriage, so as to "keep liberals busy."
There are gays with guns, and others who might get guns if they felt more welcomed by gun owners. I welcome them to our side of this debate. I don't think many gun owners are advocating that gays not be allowed to own guns, but alienating them is a sure way to gain their opposition.
I do not like big government's excess spending, but I'll gladly let someone who is pro-spending help me fight for gun rights. Will I help argue for more government spending? No, but the two issues are not intertwined.
Let each issue stand on its own, and you may find more allies than you would expect. Who knows, you may convince your newfound allies of your valid points on other issues while you're at it.

Fighting Crazy with Crazy

There's a lot of talk back and forth about banning "assault weapons," "high-capacity" magazines, or any number of scary things. The problem right now is that both sides preach to their respective choirs, forgetting that the people who need to be convinced aren't going to be reached by the bickering.
What do I mean, you ask? Well, when the anti-gunners talk about the bannable features, they often depict them as features only intended to maximize death. A pistol grip doesn't give a shooter a secure hold, but makes it easier to sweep an area. Of course, those who aren't even horribly familiar with firearms can often see that an pistol grip makes many guns easier to handle, and therefore safer for some shooters.
Pro-gunners are worse, if only because I agree with them, but get annoyed at their tactics. The knee-jerk response of "hunting rifles will kill you just as dead" makes the case for banning all firearms, not the case against banning some. Also, justifying the use of ARs as hunting/sporting rifles still only feeds the fire, because there are features that aren't necessarily sporting features, and those could seem ban-worthy.
The scariest anti-gunners, in my opinion, are the ones who can convincingly argue against the utility of some features. "Sure, I don't need a barrel shroud," you might think, so you start looking at the hollow victory for the anti-gunners as not being so bad.
Problem is, there's no victory for gun rights in that. Compromise is standing at opposite ends of a room and meeting halfway. Walking halfway across the room while they remain against the other wall is a concession, not a compromise. If they would remove some of the GCA or NFA restrictions, we might gain back some of the ground we've already lost.
The pro-gunners that scare me are the ones who make us all look crazy. I've already mentioned the folks who are quick to point out the killing potential of any firearm. The other notable crazies plan for the "zombie apocalypse." Somehow, this is a major trend, and they either seem like they want to kill mythical monsters or people, neither desire seeming overly sane.
Instead of lumberjack beards or mall-ninja gear, we need more pro-gunners wearing ties and speaking eloquently. Instead of arguing that we can use ARs to hunt, we should point out that we've already given the government an unacceptable monopoly on the tools of war. There is no Constitutional provision for hunting rights. That said, we don't want to discount the hunters, either, as they can be powerful allies, and we certainly need to keep our allies.

With apologies for the long absence

I have been out of the blogging scene for awhile now, partially due to my job, partially due to the fact that there didn't seem to be much to say, but mostly due to some personal stuff. I probably shouldn't be resurrecting this blog, but there's so much going on that I'm eager to write about, and it's already here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Gun Safety

Today, while I was trying to explain that the most important safety is between your ears, a nearby woman exclaimed that she didn't want to hear any of that crap, because she'd had a husband who shot himself in the hand, and he knew about guns. It took 9 surgeries to get his hand fixed, and no matter how safe you are, you need as many safeties as you can get.

I held my tongue, though I wanted to ask her whether he pulled the trigger with the muzzle pointed toward something he wasn't willing to destroy. I knew the answer, of course, and she would not have been pleased to provide it.

How many safety devices would it take to keep that gun from going off? Just one--keeping the finger off the trigger. No grip safety, trigger safety, or manual safety work to prevent misuse.

Sure, buy a gun with several safeties. It won't hurt anything, and you might just feel better. Or buy one without so many extras. It'll work, too. Just remember to point it safely, keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire, etc.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Libertarianism

I don't know why it still surprises me to be met with disdain just about every time I call myself a libertarian. If it weren't for our insistence on sticking with two parties, it might not carry such a stigma, since it's largely comprised of principles almost everyone would like applied to themselves.
Of course, the Republicans think of Libertarians as lost votes, and Democrats see libertarianism as conservatism. Conservatives dislike ideas like drug legalization, and liberals dislike free capitalism.
Oddly, though, I've heard people claim such bizarre things as libertarianism being anti-freedom, which confuses me. Often, people don't understand libertarianism. Here's a very simplistic rundown:

People should be free to do as they wish, so long as they do not hurt others.
People should be allowed to amass as much wealth as they'd like, and they should be allowed to trade it freely.
If someone uses force or threat of force to take from others (be it life, liberty, or property that is being taken), responding with force is justifiable. Otherwise, it is not.

Yeah, I know it's far from thorough, but I'm often made fun of for my somewhat verbose explanations, so I'm going to leave it at that for now. Besides, most of my possible readers are probably familiar with libertarianism.