A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Tossing Aside the Unwritten Rules

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I’m currently reading The Storm Before the Storm by Mike Duncan, which covers the period preceding the fall of the Roman Republic. It’s a fascinating book that covers a period of Roman history that doesn’t get enough attention. One of the reoccurring themes in the book is how long established unwritten rules were being continuously violated by ambitious politicos.

Political debate here in the United States is experiencing a similar trend. Although political matters here haven’t quite devolved to the point where politically ambitious individuals are able to raise a street gang to murder their opposition, plenty of other unwritten rules are being violated. For example, at one point there was an unwritten rule against using children as political pawns. That rule has been violated numerous times already but even by past standards the gun control advocates are being extremely blatant:

We’re seeking wisdom from the mouths of babes, these days. So I asked my 12-year-old son if the country would be a better, safer place if the government tried to disarm some or all Americans to reduce violent crime.

“I think that would have the opposite effect,” he said. “The fewer people who are armed, the fewer people there would be to fight against criminals.”

So there we have it: the launch of Pre-Teens Against Infringements of the Right to Self-Defense, right here in my living room.

If you’re less than bowled over by my son’s insights, you’re forgiven. He’s short on experience and incompletely developed in his analytic skills. He also is one person, offering an opinion heavily colored by his parents’ views and the particular American subculture in which he’s raised.

There’s no logical reason why his participation in the discussion—which his mother and I encourage as a stepping stone to full engagement in the world around him—would be more convincing than the arguments of pundits, criminologists, and philosophers, just as there’s no logical reason to pay special attention to the teens now calling for more-restrictive gun laws in the wake of the Parkland shooting. There’s no logical reason that is—but we keep conscripting the tykes into political disputes in an effort to end debate, not advance it.

It’s rather ironic that gun control advocates are, on the one hand, claiming that 18-year-olds aren’t mature enough to own a firearm but people much younger than that are mature enough to be taken with the same seriousness as adults in political debates.

My point in this post isn’t that kids should be ignored during political debates. Different people mature at different rates. Some people are incredibly mature at a young age whereas others seem to never mature. Some kids certainly do have the maturity and intelligence to discuss political matters whereas some adults do not. However, most of the gun control advocates aren’t genuinely listening to what the kids are saying. They’re using the kids as political pawns. Their participation is being pushed so their parents can claim that anybody who opposes gun control hates children. Of course, this is how children are always used in political debates, which is why there was an unwritten rule against using children in political debates.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that the United States is the same as the twilight years of the Roman Republic. History doesn’t repeat itself. It does rhyme though. And there are a lot of things that rhyme between the United States and the Roman Republic during its twilight years.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 23rd, 2018 at 11:00 am

Fifteen Dimensional Chess

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A lot of Trump supporters said that his announcement to push for a ban on bumpfire stocks was really just a game of four dimensional chess. In that case this must be a game of fifteen dimensional chess:

At the same time, Trump made clear Thursday that he will urge several new gun law restrictions — including raising the age for purchasing firearms, something sources said he was considering.

“I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health,” Trump tweeted Thursday. “Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue—I hope!”

I should be surprised by how well Trump, a man with a history of supporting gun control, managed to convince so many gun rights activists that he was really a supporter of gun rights. But I’m not surprise. Politically involved individuals tend to be especially gullible. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be involved in politics.

Gun control advocates should be cheering Trump right now because he’s playing their game of incrementalism. Outright banning firearms has been made difficult by various court rulings. But the courts have also supported banning classes of individuals from owning firearms. Gun control advocates have latched onto this fact and have been pushing to expand the number of classes that can be prohibited. One of the classes they’re currently working to add to the prohibited list is people between the ages of 18 and 20. Of course, none of them seem to want to prohibit 18-year-olds from joining the military so I’m not convinced that they actually believe people that young are too immature to possess a firearm. But it would remove gun ownership privileges from a lot of people and that’s their goal.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 23rd, 2018 at 10:30 am

Don’t Hire Government Amateurs

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Yesterday it was revealed that the school in Parkland, Florida had an armed guard. However, the guard was a government amateur so, as is so often the case with law enforcers who have no actual duty to protect you, when he was needed most he abandoned his post:

An armed security officer on campus where a gunman killed 17 people never went inside the high school or tried to engage the gunman during the attack, a Florida sheriff said Thursday.

That officer has now resigned.

“I think he remained outside for upwards of four minutes,” Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said during a news conference Thursday afternoon.

Scot Peterson, a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school, “was absolutely on campus through this entire event. He was armed, he was in uniform,” Israel said.

If you want quality security, hire private professionals who have a vested interest in keeping you, their paying client, safe.

This revelation also, quite obviously, spits in the face of gun control advocates who believe law enforcers are sufficient protection for everybody. As it turns out, government agents aren’t terribly motivated to protect you since they tend to get paid no matter what happens. If you fail to protect yourself, you end up severely injured or dead. If a private security provider fails to protect you, they no longer have a source of income (and may even face a lawsuit for breach of contract). If a government agency fails to protect you, everybody still pays their taxes to fund that agency.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 23rd, 2018 at 10:00 am

How Compromises Work

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In the aftermath of every mass shooting perpetrated by a nongovernmental individual, gun control advocates demand new restrictions be placed on gun owners. When gun rights activists refuse to roll over, gun control advocates claim that the gun rights activists are unwilling to compromise. I’m left to believe that the gun control advocates making that claim don’t understand what the word compromise means.

According to the dictionary, compromise means, “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.” A good example of a compromise is when one company sues another company for violating its patents and both sides resolve the dispute by agreeing to license each other patents. The suing company concedes its patents but in turn the sued company also concedes its patents. Both sides have given something up to get something.

Gun control advocates demand that gun rights activists make concessions but offer no concessions of their own so there is nothing to compromise over.

However, gun control advocates might convince a lot of gun rights activists to compromise if something were offered in return. For example, I know a lot of gun rights advocates who have stated that they would accept universal background checks if the Hughes Amendment was repealed in return. I also know gun rights advocates who would likely accept raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm if suppressors were removed from the National Firearms Act in return.

Instead of offering nothing and then complaining that gun rights advocates are unwilling to compromise, gun control advocates should state what they’re willing to concede in return for what they want. If they did that, negotiations could begin.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 11:00 am

Everybody I Don’t Like Is a Russian Bot

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What are American’s preferred form of political discourse? Character assassination! You don’t support gun control? You want children to die! You disagree with my liberal views? You are a conservative! You disagree with my conservative views? You are a liberal! You don’t support my agenda? You’re a Russian bot!

When somebody doesn’t agree with you, at least online, you just have to call them a Russian bot and you can take a victory lap. I just saw one of my friends, who was debating an issue with somebody else, get accused of being a Russian bot when the other person was no longer able to make an argument. If that person had a microphone, they probably dropped it too.

My friend’s case isn’t an isolated one. I’ve seen countless Internet arguments end in one side accusing the other of being a Russian bot. That doesn’t actually surprise me. Russian bots are the current media fabricated crisis. What also doesn’t surprise but should is that so many people treat such accusations as a trump card. Just because somebody “hates children,” “is a liberal,” or “is a Russian bot” doesn’t automatically make them wrong. Throwing out such an accusation should be seen as meaningless because it doesn’t address the actual issue being discussed. But political discourse here in the United States has hit rock bottom so accusing another person of being something bad is seen as an automatic win. Unfortunately, that also means that finding any middle ground is basically impossible because nobody is discussing the actual issues, they’re just throwing shit.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:30 am

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The Minneapolis Police Department’s Useless Body Cameras

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The City of Minneapolis spent $4 million to equip its law enforcers with body cameras. You might think that Minneapolis invested that money to hold its officers accountable but you would be wrong:

The Minneapolis Police Department is not tracking whether all officers are routinely activating body cameras and has not fully staffed the office tasked with reviewing body camera footage, despite the City Council’s directing it to do so last fall.

[…]

Deputy Chief Henry Halvorson told the council last week that such a comprehensive report would be too labor-intensive. Someone has to check several databases and watch the video to decide whether each officer followed department policy, he said. Instead, Halvorson said, the police will analyze 2 percent of officers’ body camera usage for each quarterly audit starting in the second quarter.

Mr. Halvorson’s excuse is pathetic. There is no need to manually watch all of the footage collected by an officer’s body camera to know whether or not they used it. The camera should create a record every time it is turned on or off. If the records shows that an officer didn’t turn their body camera on or turned it off during their shift, inquiries should be made. The technical solution is dead simple and requires almost no additional manual labor.

But body cameras aren’t about holding law enforcers accountable. If that were the case, Bob Kroll and his police union buddies would stopped their adoption. What body cameras are about is collecting evidence that a law enforcer can use against you in court. Since nobody is reprimanding officers for failing to keep their body camera on, they can turn it off while they’re executing an unarmed black man then turn it back on when they’re arresting somebody for possession of pot.

Minneapolis’ body camera program demonstrates once again that any solution offered by a government body will only benefit that body.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 22nd, 2018 at 10:00 am

Another Day, Another Cop Escaping Punishment

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A couple of years ago there was some controversy in Minneapolis when a police officer responding to a brawl opened fire on a car full of innocent people. Fortunately, nobody was killed but one cannot let an entirely reckless act like that go without some amount of punishment, right? Apparently you can if the reckless shooter is a cop:

After a gray sedan collided with his Minneapolis police SUV amid the downtown chaos, officer Efrem Hamilton figured it was the same car used in an earlier shooting and went into defense mode.

What he didn’t realize was that the carful of late-night partyers was trying to get away from the scene he was racing toward. The BMW’s 23-year-old driver testified in court that she never even saw the officer’s flashing lights.

But because Hamilton, 43, was reacting to a perceived threat in the moment, a Hennepin County jury on Tuesday cleared him of any wrongdoing for firing the single shot at the vehicle during the melee two years ago.

Imagine if a citizen without a badge had done the same thing. They almost certainly would have had a list of charges brought against them including a charge for unlawfully discharging a firearm within city limits.

According to the founding mythology of the United States, everybody is supposed to be equal under the law. However, agents of the government tend to be more equal than others. Laws that apply to us nongovernmental individuals often don’t apply to them. Spending a few moments pondering this state of affairs will probably lead one to the realization that this environment attracts the power hungry. If I want the hold power over others without suffering consequences, I will seek a position that grants me power over others and doesn’t hold me accountable.

People often ask how modern law enforcement got to the point its at. I’m not entirely sure but I think the lack of accountability has played a significant role since it likely attracted power hungry individuals. While the officer in question in the story may not have been a power hungry individual, the fact that he avoided punishment for something most nongovernmental individuals would be punished for sets another precedence for law enforcers being above the law.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 21st, 2018 at 11:00 am

Buzzkills

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The Ministry of Culture in China must be similar to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives here in the United States in that it tries to identify and ban any kind of fun that individuals are having:

China has launched its latest crackdown against a phenomenon which just won’t seem to die in rural areas – funeral strippers.

The Ministry of Culture said last month that it was targeting “striptease” and other “obscene, pornographic, and vulgar performances” at funerals, weddings and traditional Chinese New Year public gatherings.

The war on strippers at funerals has been a long one for China. Authorities first began clamping down on “obscene” performances in 2006 and launched a second campaign in 2015.

What is even the point of a funeral without strippers?

Socialists of most varieties tend to consider themselves progressives. However, oftentimes when socialists obtain power they act very conservative. China’s Ministry of Culture is a good example of this. The agency, from what I can find, seems to focus on preserving many traditional Chinese values. The Soviet Union also had a Ministry of Culture that often tried to enforce many traditional Russian values. I don’t begrudge individuals who hold traditional values and wish to see others voluntarily adopt those values but I do have a problem when government agencies try to enforce traditional values at the point of a gun, which is what self-proclaimed progressive socialist governments often do.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 21st, 2018 at 10:30 am

Never Trust a Popularis

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If somebody asked me to describe Trump’s politics, I would label him a popularis. By that I don’t mean he favors the poor but favors the masses specifically because he believes doing so will grant him political power. The problem with populares is that you can never been sure which direction they’re going to go on any given issue at any point in time. Take the issue of gun control. A principled individual, whether they favor gun control or gun rights, will take a predictable stance on the issue. A popularis, on the other hand, will change their stance depending on the direction of the wind. One moment they might be attending a National Rifle Association (NRA) meeting to garner support from gun owners, the next they might be pushing gun control:

In the wake of last week’s shooting Parkland Florida—which left 17 people dead—President Donald Trump announced his intention to ban bump stocks.

“Just a few moments ago I signed a memo directing the attorney general to propose regulations that ban all devices that turn legal weapons into machine guns,” said Trump in a public address Tuesday afternoon, “I expect these regulations to be finalized, Jeff, very soon” addressing Attorney General Jeff Sessions directly.

The President’s memo demands that the Department of Justice complete an ongoing review of whether bump stocks—a device which greatly increases the rate of fire of a semi-automatic weapon—are currently prohibited by current federal laws restricting machine guns.

I think my favorite claim about this announcement is that Trump is playing four dimensional chess. Such claims give Trump far too much credit. He knows that gun control is being demanded by a lot of people as it always is after a mass shooting. As a popularis, he wants to please those individuals so he’s giving them some gun control. However, he also doesn’t want to upset gun owners so he’s trying to give gun control advocates just enough to take the edge off of their hunger without angering gun owners too much.

Whether he’s playing four dimensional chess or being a popularis I will take this moment to mention that I pointed out that Trump wasn’t a staunch believer in gun rights when so many others, including the NRA, claimed he was.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 21st, 2018 at 10:00 am

Laws Are Irrelevant

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When you allow yourself to succumb to magical thinking, such as believing that society is a thing in of itself, you leave yourself vulnerable to other magical thoughts such as believing that laws are what establish safety and stability.

Whenever an act of violence makes it to the front pages of news sites, a lot of people start demanding laws be passed to protect people. When I see such demands being made in comment sections on the websites I frequent, I like to point out that laws are just words on pieces of paper and have no power to protect anybody. The believers in law then point out, as if I was unaware, that my argument should apply to all laws. They mistakenly believe that I’m only talking about whatever law they’re proposing but their rebuttal is correct, as I point out, I am talking about all laws. After that the believers in law tend to have a psychological breakdown and start screaming about how laws are what makes society possible.

Laws are not what make society possible. First of all, society isn’t an actual thing, it’s an abstraction that lives entirely in our imaginations. What most people commonly refer to as society is actually a complex collection of human interactions. And therein lies the truth of the matter. Laws aren’t what make those interactions possible. The will of the individuals is. The reason these complex collections of human interactions don’t regularly devolve into mass murder is because the individuals will it not to. It is you and your neighbor deciding not to kill each other that prevents either from being murdered at the hands of the other.

The impotency of laws is demonstrated every time a murder is committed. Murder has been declared illegal in pretty much every nation on Earth. But words on pieces of paper can’t interfere with an individual’s will. If an individual wills an act of murder, a murder will be attempted. I say attempted because realizing on a subconscious level that the law is incapable of protecting them the intended murder victim will likely attempt to defend themselves. Again, the law doesn’t offer them protection, their will to act does.

Even if every law were repealed tomorrow, people would still choose to act against those who act against them or others. That is what establishes safety and stability.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 11:00 am