A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Using Government Programs Against Themselves for Fun and Profit

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I always enjoy it when government agencies give us little people enough rope to hang them with. In the pursuit of disarming as many people as possible, many police departments throughout the country host gun “buy back” (I’m putting the term in quotes because one cannot buy back something that they didn’t previously own, which makes the term utter nonsense) programs where people are offered a pittance in exchange for any firearms. Oftentimes these “buy backs” are done in a no questions asked manner, which means a murderer could turn in a firearm they used to murder somebody and not only would the evidence be destroyed by the police but the murderer would also receive some amount of payment. Win-win!

Fortunately, gun owners have identified a fatal flaw in this “buy backs.” Since the law enforces hosting these events will pay for any firearm, “buy backs” are great places to turn broken or cheap homemade firearms into cash for other uses:

GRAND CROSSING — A gun rights group plans to use its profits from a Chicago Police “gun buyback” event to send children aged 10 to 16 to a shooting camp hosted by the National Rifle Association.

[…]

Gun turn-ins are joint efforts between the Chicago Police Department and community organizations and are intended to be used to “get guns off the street,” said Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago Police spokesman. Community members can bring in guns and give them to the police in exchange for $100.

The guns Boch turns in at the events are “mostly scrap,” he said: They’re usually old and unusable, but even the newer ones that the Guns Save Life members turned in were all “broken down, all non-firing, missing parts and pieces.” Some appeared to have been through fires or rusted beyond use, he said.

[…]

Boch said his organization’s members have gone to buybacks in and around the city for years. He estimates they’ve made about $12,000 from various buybacks over the years, and he dismissed the trade-in events as “symbolism over substance.”

I love the fact that money donated by a gun control organization is being used to teach children how to shoot firearms. That’s adding insult to injury.

Gun control advocates will, of course, flip out about this and claim that gun owners are interfering with programs to make communities safer by getting dangerous guns off of the streets. To that I will say two things. First, “buy backs” don’t get dangerous guns off of the street. Dangerous guns are those in the hands of people who would use them against other humans beings outside of self-defense. No criminal is going to turn their primary source of income in for a measly $100 and no law enforcer is going to turn in their guns to the very program that they’re running. Second, if your tactic is so poorly thought out that it can be exploited this easily, it should exploited. It’s foolish to think that your opponent is going subsidize you by not exploiting your stupidity and poor planning.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 21st, 2018 at 11:00 am

A Proper Response

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I’m of the opinion that everybody should have the best means available to them to defend themselves. I believe having the best means of self-defense available is especially important for those who may face violence because of who they are. People who fall under the LGBT label, for example, have a higher chance of being attacked, which is why stories like this warm my heart:

“I don’t want to get beaten to death, stabbed and burnt alive,” a slight woman with long blond hair and a checked shirt says. “I want a gun to feel equal.”

She is a member of one of the United States’ fastest-growing gun clubs, the jauntily named Pink Pistols.

Two years after the massacre at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, gay, lesbian and transgender Americans are nervous. According to the Human Rights Center (HRC), a US LGBTI advocacy group, 52 gay people were murdered in the US last year because of their sexuality, and 28 transgender people met the same fate.

Of course, gun control advocates will say that these individuals shouldn’t need a means of self-defense. I do agree with that sentiment. However, I don’t believe that people should operate under ideas of what they believe should or shouldn’t be the case, they should operate under what is the case. What is the case is that there are people who will attack and even murder individuals for their sexuality and gender identity. Furthermore, if individuals who fall under the LGBT umbrella continue to arm themselves, they will likely create an environment where they are less likely to be attacked.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 21st, 2018 at 10:30 am

The Absurdity Continues

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After a tremendous amount of public outrage, Trump finally relented and decided to end the policy of separating children from their parents. All is well again, right? As this is a post about a political solution to a political problem, you know that the answer is no. The executive order signed by Trump didn’t really improve the situation:

President Trump caved to enormous political pressure on Wednesday and signed an executive order that ends the separation of families by indefinitely detaining parents and children together at the border.

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Mr. Trump’s executive order directed the government’s lawyers to ask for a modification of an existing 1997 consent decree, known as the Flores settlement, that currently prohibits the federal government from keeping children in immigration detention — even if they are with their parents — for more than 20 days.

But it is unclear whether the court will agree to that request. If not, the president is likely to face an immediate legal challenge from immigration activists on behalf of families that are detained in makeshift facilities.

If Trump’s request is granted, children won’t be separated from their parents but will instead be detained potentially forever alongside their parents. This raises a lot of questions about ethics. For example, what happens if a child is illegally brought into the United States with their parents when they are young but they come of age during a lengthy detainment? The child didn’t choose to cross the border illegally, they were brought by their parents. However, they’re now adults and in the country illegally. Are they prosecuted even if the reason they’re in the country and legally considered an adult is because they were detained by law enforcers?

What is happening now is what inevitably happens whenever a zero tolerance policy is implemented. The flexibility that allows absurd situations to be avoided is gone so now the absurd situations come into existence. Unless the zero tolerance policy currently in place is removed, we’re going to be seeing a lot of absurd situations crop up and, in this case, those situations are going to involved complex ethical questions.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 21st, 2018 at 10:00 am

Points for Honesty

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The United States has announced its departure from the United Nations Human Rights Council:

After more than a year of complaints and warnings — some subtle and others a little less so — the Trump administration has announced that the United States is withdrawing from the United Nations Human Rights Council. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced the decision in a joint statement Tuesday.

As a violator of human rights, it’s nice to see the United States being a bit more honest about itself.

Seriously though, the Human Rights Council has been and remains a joke. The best punchline of this joke in recent years was the appointment of Saudi Arabia to a major panel. While the United States commonly violates what many consider to be basic human rights, Saudi Arabia takes matters to a whole new level. But what can anybody expect from a government made up exclusively of other governments?

What will be the aftermath of this decision? In all likelihood, nothing. What modern human rights abuses that have been perpetrated by the United States have been done during its council membership. When one considers that and considers many of the other nations that are allowed membership to the council, one can only assume that being a member doesn’t require abiding by any of the council’s decision. The council, like the United Nations in general, is toothless. Since it’s toothless, continued membership wouldn’t dissuade the United States from perpetrating additional human rights abuses even if it remained on the council.

This decision is so inconsequential that it shoudn’t even be newsworthy.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 20th, 2018 at 11:00 am

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Living in an Idiocracy

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Sometimes I consider renaming my blog to Living in an Idiocracy. I continue to be amazed, or really dismayed, at the lack of basic intelligence held by my fellow Americans. The problem is that the idiocy doens’t stop at inconsequential matters, it involves matters of significant consequence as well:

The most important safety feature on your car isn’t its airbag or even the seat belts—it’s the tires. This should be obvious; those four round black things are the only part of the vehicle to actually touch the road, after all. Sadly, most American drivers fail to take care of their tires, with 35 percent of drivers not able to tell if their tires are bald. When you consider that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that vehicles with worn out tires were three times more likely to end up in a crash, you can see the problem.

Checking to see if your tires have a safe amount of tread on them isn’t difficult. Tires include a convenient built-in mechanism to determining your tires’ tread depth. Tread depth gauges can also be acquired for a song and if even that is too expensive for you, you can use something like a coin to determine if your tires need to be replaced.

The fact that motorists can get a license without learning that their tires need to be replaced periodically is astounding to me. How can somebody get through 16 years of their life without having known somebody who got the tires on their vehicle replaced and at least developed the curiosity to ask why they replaced their tires? The level of ignorance seems to require a willful commitment.

Honestly, if advocates of mass transit want a catchphrase for their campaigns they could do worse than, “Mass transit. Because you’re too stupid to be trusted with your own vehicle.”

Written by Christopher Burg

June 20th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Prison Nations Are Expensive

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The concept of justice in this country doesn’t involve trying to make victims as whole as possible, it involves locking offenders in secure storage faculties for arbitrarily defined spans of time. Seeing justice in this way has numerous downsides. One of those downsides is that the justice system becomes expensive. Couple the expense of a storage-based justice system with a list of laws so long that no single individual can ever hope to memorize it entirely and you end up with a financial crisis:

Gov. Jerry Brown’s spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates.

[…]

The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase.

The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard.

If California wants to spend billions of dollars for nothing of value, I can think of some alternatives that would at least have some kind of positive quality.

The only positive thing that I can say about a storage-based justice system is that it eventually bankrupts any government that implements it. Unfortunately, the bankruptcy doesn’t happen until a lot of misery has been created both in the victims because no real attempt has been made to make them whole again and the prisoners who spend years sitting in a cage doing nothing of value to anybody.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 20th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Civitates Foederatae Americae Delendae Sunt

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Since I’m on the topic of perspective, let’s take a moment to consider the current crisis, immigrant children being held in concentration camps:

Reporters and Democratic lawmakers have been allowed inside a detention centre that lies at the heart of a growing storm over a new US policy separating migrant children from their parents.

Authorities did not allow photos or videos to be taken inside the centre, but US Customs and Border Protection later released several images. Former First Lady Laura Bush has compared it to the internment camps used for Japanese-Americans during World War Two. A Democratic congressman who visited the site said it was “nothing short of a prison”.

If you listen to many partisans, you may be lead to believe that Trump is personally kidnapping these children to put them in concentration camps. The first red flag in this article should be that photos were not allowed. Why should that be a read flag? Because it raises an awkward question, from where have all of the pictures of these concentration camps come? Awkward questions often have awkward answers:

There’s also precedent for warehousing immigrant children at military bases. In 2014, Obama temporarily held kids at an emergency shelter at Lackland AFB in San Antonio — a development that Ted Cruz and Greg Abbott were appalled by at the time. The photo at the top of this story — of Central American kids at a Border Patrol processing center — has been repeatedly mistaken as a recent, Trump-era image. In fact, it’s from 2014, during the Central American refugee surge.

Many of the pictures being passed around supposedly from current concentration camps full of children are actually from concentration camps full of children that existed under the previous president. Yes, you read correctly, concentration camps that existed under Obama.

If it wasn’t for humanity’s wonderful feature referred to as cognitive dissonance, this news might shake some partisain’s political faith in their party. Fortunately for them, cognitive dissonance will guard most of them from having to accept this difficult information. However, all of us should keep in mind that human rights abuse is nothing new for the United States of America.

From kidnapping Native American children and forcing them to abandon their heritage and language under the guide of civilizing and educating them to interring Japanese Americans during World War II for no other reason than their descent to the continuous abuse of black individuals from slavery to Jim Crow laws to the drug war, there hasn’t been a single instance in the United States’ history where the federal government wasn’t abusing large swaths of people.

None of the human rights abuses being perpetrated under Trump are new or without precedence. Moreover, if voting could fix this, as most partisans either outright claim or imply, this issue would have been fixed already.

If you’re actually looking for a solution to the human rights abuses perpetrated by the United States government, there is only one solution.

Civitates Foederatae Americae delendae sunt!

Written by Christopher Burg

June 19th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Romanes Eunt Domus

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A United States court decided that one cannot consent to a cop who is conversing with you through a commonly unserviceable translation utility:

Imagine you’re driving in a foreign country and a police officer stops you on the road. You don’t speak the cop’s language and they don’t speak yours, so a halting exchange ensues using a laptop and Google Translate. You’re not always sure what the officer is asking, and you end up agreeing to something you didn’t quite understand, and are arrested.

Translating human language is difficult, which is why it still remains a common target for satire. Anybody who has used Google Translate for a language about which they’re even moderately knowledgeable knows that it has severe limitations. While it can oftentimes provide you the gist of whatever is being translated, it’s a far cry from accurate. If you want to see this in action, translate something from one language to another then take the result and translate it back to the original language. The meaning may be preserved the first time, although even that’s unlikely, but if you keep doing this for a few iterations you’ll end up with some hilarious nonsensical arrangement of letters.

Needless to say, if a cop is using Google Translate to communicate that they’re arresting you, you have abundant evidence with which to argue that you had no idea what the officer was trying to communicate to you.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 19th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Perspective

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I’m of the opinion that you can despise somebody but not despise everything single thing that they do. For example, I despise Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler drank water. Does that mean I despise drinking water? Of course not. Likewise, I despise Donald Trump. Donald Trump is making inroads with North Korea that could lead to a reduction in hostilities if not outright peace. Does that mean I despise peace? Of course not.

Unfortunately, this attitude, albeit quite simple, still qualifies as rather nuanced by modern standards. Many people, especially those who have given themselves over entirely to a binary political spectrum, are unable to deal with even minor nuances so even some former peaceniks have begun screaming about the evils of making peace with North Korea for the sole reason of who is making that peace. This has lead to some rather unexpected propaganda. Case in point, Engadget, a website that posts articles almost exclusively about technology products, felt the need to pen an article that can be summed up as, “North Korea is evil! It cannot be trusted! We can’t make peace with it!” The argument put forward by the article, like the attitude that lead to the writing of the article, is built on the lack of being able to understand nuance.

The first part I’m going to pick out isn’t an argument but an attempt to frame North Korea as an evil nation who did terrible things to Americans. What it fails to do is take perspective into account:

North and South Korea have been divided since 1945; for a short period Russia occupied the North while the US occupied the south; during the war, China aided the north and the US aided the south (we lost 54,246 lives, and 7,704 American soldiers are still unaccounted for). The Korean War ended with an armistice agreement but no peace settlement, so technically the war has never ended. American military remains in the south as part of a mutual defense treaty.

North Korea killed 54,246 Americans! See how evil it is! What’s missing is the other side of the equation. You see, the Korean War was, as the name implies, a war. In war soldiers on both sides tend to die. As it turns out, a lot of North Koreans died:

In a 1984 interview, Air Force General Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, claimed U.S. bombs “killed off 20 percent of the population” and “targeted everything that moved in North Korea.” These acts, largely ignored by the U.S. collective memory, have deeply contributed to Pyongyang’s contempt for the U.S. and especially its ongoing military presence on the Korean Peninsula.

If an estimated 20 percent of the North Korean population wasn’t enough, many North Korean cities, including Pyongyang, ceased to exist.

I don’t say this to give North Korea a pass on the regime’s abuses. The North Korean government is an absolutely brutal one. However, to only give one side of the story is propaganda, not accurate history. Understanding the conflict requires analyzing all sides of the war, not just the American side.

Now that the outright propaganda of the article has been addressed, let’s consider the argument against making peace with North Korea:

Fast forward to 1963, and the world finds out that the North has begun building a nuclear reactor. Then a nuclear weapons program in the 1980s. The first time North Korea committed to denuclearization was 1992’s Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula — though historically, nuclear inspectors have been barred from surveying North Korean facilities.

North Korea entered the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization and failed to abide by the agreement! How can we trust a regime that has broken its promises in the past? But why did North Korea fail to abide by its side of the agreement? Fortunately, I’ve read The Dead Hand by David Hoffman. Part of it touched on the history of nuclear weapons in North Korea and the agreement that was made between it and the United States. As with any agreement, this agreement involved concessions from both sides. One of the concessions made by the United Stats was a commitment to provide North Korea with two light water nuclear reactors. However, after the agreement was made, as is so often the case in the United States, the rules changed:

Soon after the agreement was signed, U.S. Congress control changed to the Republican Party, who did not support the agreement.[19][20] Some Republican Senators were strongly against the agreement, regarding it as appeasement.[21][22] Initially, U.S. Department of Defense emergency funds not under Congress’ control were used to fund the transitional oil supplies under the agreement,[23] together with international funding. From 1996 Congress provided funding, though not always sufficient amounts.

The United States didn’t abide by its part of the agreement. Normally when one side fails to uphold its end of an agreement, the other side is not expected to uphold its part. Apparently North Korea was supposed to uphold its end even though it didn’t receive what was promised to it.

Once again the issue wasn’t the upstanding United States being snuffed by wicked North Korea. The issue was two belligerents continuing to be belligerent. This is not to say that North Korea was the good guy or an innocent victim, it’s to point out that the United States wasn’t an angel.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 19th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Monday Metal: Morgana by Lord of the Lost

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Written by Christopher Burg

June 18th, 2018 at 10:00 am

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