A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for July, 2012

Failing to Grasp History

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One thing is certain, a large number of people fail to learn from history. A letter printed in the Star Tribune demonstrates this fact:

After 9/11, it became much tougher to fly, with new bans and restrictions on what you could bring onto any commercial airliner, all in the name of safety, protecting us from people bent on mass killing. The rules may not be perfect, but they seem to work very well.

The big problem here is that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has failed to catch a single terrorist. In fact the shoe bomber, plot involving liquid-based bombs, and the underwear bomber all have two things in common; they happened after 9/11 and the implements meant to destroy the planes managed to get on the planes.

Those of us who pay attention to security-related news have a term for the new practices implemented since 9/11, security theater. The so-called security measures are nothing more than a show meant to make you feel safer but fail to actually make you safer. They’re expensive boondoggles that waste valuable resources on unproductive failures.

When the manufacturing of methamphetamine spiraled out of control, limits and actual databases were created to block the staggering amount of head-cold products being used to make meth. Not perfect, but working pretty well, according to recent statistics.

I’m guessing the author is referring to the restrictions on pseudoephedrine. You know, those restrictions that have failed to curb meth production and have added $1.5 billion to the actual cost of medicines containing pseudoephedrine? In fact this point ties in with the author’s previous point because the TSA have been caught assisting drug dealers in smuggling methamphetamine.

The author is correct about one thing, the laws aren’t perfect, in fact they abysmal failures that waste valuable resources that could be productively used elsewhere.

When drunken driving became an epidemic in this country, we cracked down and made the penalties much harsher. Not perfect by any means, but much better than it was.

I’m sure the author isn’t referring to civil rights violations like sobriety checkpoints that usually failed to catch any drunk drivers. Perhaps he was referring to Prohibition, which lead to a massive spike in the rate of violent crime. Interesting, according to that study, not only did Prohibition lead to a spike in violent crime but so did the war on drugs. Once again the author is correct, the means are not perfect, in fact they are likely worse than the problem they were supposed to fix.

When psychotic people, intent on killing as many people as possible, can buy unlimited ammunition, riot gear, assault weapons and bomb material with a simple driver’s license, a 30-minute background check (as in Colorado) and free shipping through the Internet, I have to question anyone who doesn’t support fair, equitable, common-sense decisions limiting how and what can be purchased.

And those of us who pay attention to history must question you for suggesting we implement policies that have been shown to fail. In fact the government itself admitted that the deceptively named assault weapon ban “has failed to reduce the average number of victims per gun murder incident or multiple gunshot wound victims.” On top of that, so-called assault weapons are rarely used in crimes [PDF]:

Proponents of renewing the ban claim that assault weapons are currently used in two-thirds fewer crimes than before the AWB,76 but other empirical evidence suggests that “assault weapons. . . are rarely used in crimes.”77 Fewer than ten percent of all murders and manslaughters involved long guns (of which semiautomatic rifles are a small subset).78 Contrary to the common perception, assault weapons are used in only about one percent of all police gun murders.79 The Justice Department study mandated by the AWB80 was also equivocal: noting that assault weapons are not commonly used in crimes and that Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) tracing statistics were down since the AWB, but that there were generally more weapons available to the public which could possibly reach criminal hands.81

Do note that the research paper wasn’t written by a pro-gun organization but by an individual that was hoping to find publicly acceptable forms of gun control. When those in favor of gun control fail to make an argument for banning so-called assault weapons then the cause can’t be considered anything but pointless.

Limiting purchases and monitoring through a database may never be perfect, but it certainly could reduce the carnage we witness over and over in this country.

JEFF HEIMER, Blaine

Except we already tried a ban on so-called assault weapons and, as I’ve shown, it didn’t reduce violent crime. Trying something that failed again, only harder, isn’t going to make it work. We have to face the fact that crazy violent people will do crazy violent things. No amount of legislation, restrictions, or other controls can change that. The only thing we can do is allow individuals to equip themselves to best deal with such situations when they arise.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 25th, 2012 at 10:00 am

The Dying Art of Craftsmanship

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The New York Times has an article up that states something I’ve been griping about for a while, the dying art of craftsmanship in the United States:

THE scene inside the Home Depot on Weyman Avenue here would give the old-time American craftsman pause.

In Aisle 34 is precut vinyl flooring, the glue already in place. In Aisle 26 are prefab windows. Stacked near the checkout counters, and as colorful as a Fisher-Price toy, is a not-so-serious-looking power tool: a battery-operated saw-and-drill combo. And if you don’t want to be your own handyman, head to Aisle 23 or Aisle 35, where a help desk will arrange for an installer.

[…]

This isn’t a lament — or not merely a lament — for bygone times. It’s a social and cultural issue, as well as an economic one. The Home Depot approach to craftsmanship — simplify it, dumb it down, hire a contractor — is one signal that mastering tools and working with one’s hands is receding in America as a hobby, as a valued skill, as a cultural influence that shaped thinking and behavior in vast sections of the country.

Among my friends I’m a fairly rare bird, I have a toolbox with a vast selection of tools and the knowledge required to use them. When something of mine breaks my first reaction isn’t to take it in for repair, instead I attempt to repair it myself. I perform all of the maintenance on my mountain bike even though such things are still covered for another six months (my reasoning is that I can learn to do it now and not have to worry about it in the future). When the derailleurs need to be adjusted I adjust them, when a new brake cable needs to be installed I install it, and when the chain needs to be cleaned and oiled I clean and oil it. Most of my friends who have bicycles choose to take their bikes in for every minor repair. The same goes for automobiles. My father is a top-notch mechanic and has been running his own shop for decades. While I’m nowhere near as skilled as my father I am skilled enough to perform most of the required maintenance on my truck, which I do.

Being able to work with your hands is incredibly valuable. The amount of money you can save by fixing your own equipment is well worth the time required to learn the necessary skills in my opinion. Such knowledge also grows rapidly because things you learn to do one task make it easier to learn another (many things become intuitive).

It’s an interesting article that is worth a read through.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2012 at 11:30 am

The Media’s Lies

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There’s no question about whether or not the media lacks honesty. As soon as any tragedy happens the media swoops in and attempts politicize it. Reason has a nice list of politicizing attempts made by the media regarding the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado. If we were to believe everything the media has said so far the shooter was a occupying member of the Tea Party who was bullied for playing video games and liking Star Trek.

These attempts to politicize the shooting are blatant attempts at getting ratings (and the networks know they are guaranteed rating when covering this). What was the motive of the shooter? In all likelihood he’s just crazy and no rational person will be able to make sense of any justification given by him. People don’t like hearing that though, they want closure, they want something they can understand. The media understands this and exploits it for ratings. Media companies that traditionally align with the left will attempt to blame the shooting on the right while media companies that traditionally align with the right will attempt to blame the shooting on the left. One side will try to connect the shooter with the Tea Party movement while the other side will attempt to connect the shooter with the Occupy movement. Those who align themselves with the left will latch onto accusations that the shooter was aligned with the right in an attempt to justify their own political views and vise versa.

In the end people don’t want to hear he was merely crazy. We can’t deal with crazy, we can legislate it away, we can’t predict who is going to go crazy and stop them beforehand, and that’s the opposite of what most people want to hear.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2012 at 11:00 am

The Most Frightening People

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I’ve been reading through R. J. Rummel’s Death by Government, which is honestly the best argument against the state ever written. A common theme runs through the book, the most dangerous individuals are those who are so sure of their ideology that they’re willing to kill others in its name.

The Soviet Union, Maoist China, and Nazi Germany (among many others) shared a common trait, any dissidence was punished severely. One of the examples noted in the book is the fact that an individual could find himself in a forced labor camp for disrespecting Mao’s Little Red Book. That book was treated like a religious text, which is funny in a rather twisted way because Communism claims to be an atheistic philosophy (which isn’t true, they merely replace the god(s) of religion with the god of the state). Mao was so sure of his ideology that merely disrespecting the book he wrote was a punishable offense.

Statism is frightening because it gives these people a platform from which to inflict their beliefs on others. Let’s look at the healthcare debate (no, I’m not claiming that debate is anywhere near the scale of the atrocities inflicted on the people of the above mentioned countries so don’t bother making such a claim). Proponents of the Affordable Healthcare Act and universal healthcare are absolutely sure that their solution is the correct one. They’re so sure of their belief that they’re willing to use the state’s gun to inflict it on the entire population of the United States. Just look at the consequences laid out in the Affordable Healthcare Act for those who don’t buy health insurances, they’re taxed (or fined, use whatever word you want as they all mean the same thing). As with any tax, the tax collected for not buying health insurance isn’t voluntary, not paying it will result is punishment (in all likelihood the state will steal actual assets from you).

Gun control is another example of an ideological belief whose proponents are so sure of that they’re willing to use physical force to make others comply. When somebody advocates for gun control what they’re really demanding is the state inflicting punishments on anybody who owns or manufactures a firearm. Once again the gun control advocates are demanding the deceptively named assault weapon ban be reinstated. What would that actually do? It would mean the state would punish, primarily through kidnapping and imprisonment, anybody in possession of a firearm that met the criteria set forth by the state to qualify as an assault weapon. Those who refused to comply with their kidnappers would find themselves at the receiving end of physical force; they may even find themselves shot dead by the state’s agents. According to the ideology of gun control I should be subjected to violence for merely owning an AR-15 even though I’ve never used it to commit an act of violence.

Individuals wanting to prohibit same sex marriages are also so sure of their ideology that they’re willing to use physical force to inflict it on others. The United States government grants married individuals benefits that single individuals do not get. What happens when two men or two women claim themselves to be married and file for taxes and benefits accordingly? In the case of taxes they’ll find themselves at the wrong end of an Internal Revenue Service (revenuers) audit and forced collection. In the case of other benefits they will likely find themselves facing charges of fraud. Both cases result in the state’s gun being pointed at the individuals.

What happened in the Soviet Union, Maoist China, and Nazi Germany was the epitome of statism. All three states claimed total dominion over the lives of those living within their borders and all three states were willing to inflict physical violence on dissidents. When somebody demands the state regulate the healthcare market, prohibit individuals from owning firearms, or ban same sex marriages they’re demanding the state claim more power and, as Death by Government demonstrates, the more power a state has the more people it will kill.

My opposition of the state stems from my fear of individuals who are so sure of their ideology that they’re willing to kill for them. The state not only gives these individuals a weapon to use but also masks them so that they can use the weapon anonymously and thus avoid repercussions. Nothing is as dangerous as a man on a crusade who has been availed of any consequences.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2012 at 10:30 am

The Rhetoric Currently Being Used by Gun Control Advocates

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I’ve been searching around to see what the gun control advocates are currently saying and I came across some rather questionable content on Joan Peterson’s blog (she’s a Minnesotan who keeps trying to squash gun rights). What I found most interesting was the picture she included in her article to show the equipment used by the Aurora, Colorado shooter:

I recognized that guy from somewhere and after some digging I found him:

It would seem that the shooter in Colorado had access to military equipment that the military itself doesn’t have access to yet. In fact I believe I found the source image and where it was obtained from:

I wonder why they photoshopped his gun out of the picture. Oh, yeah, because that gun is a nonexistent prototype just like the armor but is far more obvious. It would behoove the gun control advocates to do a little research before Googling “scary looking guy in body armor” and using the first picture that appears (in all fairness I had to Google “future warrior 2020” to get the picture because “scary looking guy in body armor” turned up nothing close).

So we have proof that the gun control crowd are circulating pictures of, at best, prototype equipment and passing it off as the equipment used by the shooter in Colorado. The remainder of Joan’s article is nonsensical, mostly accusing the National Rifle Association (NRA) of, well, all of the world’s problems. I’m not sure how the NRA comes into this because they certainly do not advocate the use of firearms to commit massacres. In fact they advocate firearm safety and even host firearm safety training seminars. She also fails to provide citations for any of the numbers she uses. Considering the picture she used to demonstrate the equipment used by the shooter I’m not surprised she failed to provide citations for any of the numbers she use. When you’re stretching the truth or simply making things up it’s difficult to find citations.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 24th, 2012 at 10:00 am

Perhaps I Have Some Influence

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Walter Block said the pen is mightier than the sword because the pen is used to direct the sword. Part of the reason I write is to be another voice in the crowd. When there is one person exclaiming an idea it’s easy to claim that person is a kook but if there are hundreds or thousands of people exclaiming an idea others are more apt to listen. I consider myself another voice in support of gun rights and market anarchism, in effect I’m trying to help direct the hypothetical “sword” (which is really public opinion) against gun control and the state. It appears as though I’m having some minor influence on those around me because I’ve seen a few friends who I don’t believe were previously in support of (or, more accurately, aware of) market anarchism sharing the following picture:


Image obtained from Stateless Sweets Facebook page

Perhaps I’m having some influence.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 23rd, 2012 at 11:30 am

The Cost of Political Conventions

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Previously on Politics: The Reality Television Show for Suckers supporters of Ron Paul’s campaign sued the Republican National Convention (RNC) for helping Romney in his quest to get the presidential nomination. Paul’s supporters claim that the RNC’s rules requiring delegates to sign pledges to support certain candidates violates federal election rules. Paul’s opponents claim that the RNC is able to run elections however the please because the RNC is a private organization. Clearly both sides cannot be right.

In today’s episode of Politics questions about the RNC’s status as a private organization are raised as they receive money from the state for their nomination process:

Congress has given Tampa — and Charlotte, the location of the Democratic National Convention — $50 million each in taxpayer money to try to ensure everyone is safe for the political gatherings that crown each party’s presidential candidate every four years.

Tax victims are wondering how an organization can claim to be private and still receive state funds. They are also left wondering why the presidential nomination process costs so much money. Will the RNC respond to the tax victim’s concerns? Will the state’s courts side with the Paul supporters or the RNC? Join us next episode to find out!

EDIT: 2012-07-23: 13:23: Apparently I can’t use words as Bruce pointed out in the comments. I mean to say “violates federal election rules.” not “violents federal election rules.” I’ve correct this mistake and my compliments go to Bruce for pointing it out.

The Right to Own Guns

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After the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado the gun control advocates are, as many of us on the gun rights community like to say, dancing in the blood. I don’t have much to say about the incident itself, it was a tragedy that likely couldn’t be avoided. With that said I believe it is a good time to explain why individuals have the right to own firearms since many people on the gun rights fence are currently asking themselves that very question.

When asked why individuals should have the right to own firearms many members of the gun rights community will point to the Second Amendment which states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Advocates of gun control like to point to the part that talks about “A well regulated militia” while gun rights advocates like to point to the part that says “Shall not be infringed.” If you look at the history of this country it’s clear that the founders, by and large, believed individuals should be armed. One flaw in pointing to the Second Amendment is that, while it addresses the legal aspect of gun ownership, it doesn’t address the reason it can be called a right (unless you believe rights are granted by the state).

How can proponents of gun rights claim gun ownership is a right? To answer that we must first answer another question, who owns you? Any of my friends on the left (namely anarcho-communists) will say that you can’t own yourself because you are yourself. If that’s what you believe then this post isn’t for you and you can stop reading now (you can also continue but doing so may not be good for your blood pressure). On the other hand if you believe ownership is merely an extension of self you can safely continue reading without concerns for your blood pressure. Ownership, under libertarian philosophy, generally means having exclusive control over something. Most rights of ownership can be transfered from one individual to another but the right of self ownership cannot for pragmatic reasons. An individual is unable to surrender exclusive control of themselves. Even in a state of slavery, where one person is said to be owned by another, the “owned” individual has the ability to disobey his master. He can refuse to work, attempt to escape, or even attempt to kill his master.

Due to the nontransferable nature of self-ownership one is also the owner of his or her own labor. Labor can be used to produce goods or exchange for other goods. Being a producer means you take resources and alter them in such a way that other people find them useful. Since your labor created the goods they are owned by you and since you can surrender exclusive control over them they are transferable. This is the basis of economics, individuals trading goods for other goods. Usually individuals trade their goods in exchange for money.

A job is nothing more than an agreement where a laborer trades his or her labor to an employer in exchange for other goods (generally money). When you work for $10.00 an hour you’re really trading an hour of your labor to your employer in exchange for $10.00. We must now briefly address what money is.

Money is a medium to facilitate trade. Without money we are left with a barter economy. Barter economies are incredibly inefficient because they rely on double coincidences. Let’s say we have Murray, Ludwig, and Hans. Murray produces eggs, Ludwig produces shoes, and Hans breeds horses. What does Murray do if he wants a pair of shoes? In a barter economy he needs to trade his eggs for shoes. If Ludwig wants eggs this isn’t a problem, but if he doesn’t want eggs this is a problem. What if Ludwig wants a horse? Murray may be able to trade his eggs for a horse and then trade his horse for shoes. This only works if Hans wants eggs though. Money is nothing more than the most salable good. It’s a mechanism to eliminate the problem of double coincidences that make barter economies inefficient. Once money has been adopted Murray can trade his eggs to anybody wanting eggs in exchange for money and trade some of that money to Ludwig for shoes. When we trade our labor for money we’re really trading our labor for the most salable good so we can buy other goods. If you trade your labor for money then the money becomes an indirect product of your labor and thus you have exclusive ownership over it.

Some of your a probably wondering what this has to do with the right to own firearms. Under libertarian philosophy it has everything to do with the right to own firearms. If you are the exclusive owner of your labor and trade it in exchange for money then you are the exclusive owner of that money. As the exclusive owner of that money you can exchange it for other goods, say a firearm. If somebody uses their labor to produce a firearm then they are the exclusive owner of that firearm. Being the exclusive owner of that firearm they may trade it to another. Since you’re the exclusive owner of some money you can exchange that money to gain exclusive ownership of a firearm.

What do gun control advocates want? They want to prevent individuals from using their labor to produce or exchange for firearms. How can one do this? There are only two ways, by having ownership over another or coercion.

If you are the owner of an individual you have exclusive control. In such a case you also own the product of that individual’s labor and therefore can exchange that labor for whatever you desire. If you want to prevent that individual from obtaining a firearm you can simply refuse to allow that individual to exchange your labor (it’s not his labor since you own him) for a firearm. In effect you can only prevent another from using their labor to produce or exchange for a firearm if you have ownership over that individual. Of course, as explained earlier, such a claim is absurd because one cannot surrender exclusive control over themselves to another. That leaves the second option, coercion.

Coercion is nothing more than using the threat of or actual force to persuade or dissuade another. This is the means gun control advocates generally use. When a gun control advocate demands the state pass legislation to control firearms they are really demanding the state use the threat of or actual violence to prevent individuals from producing or obtaining firearms. The incorrectly named assault weapon ban was one of these threats. While this law was in place individuals purchasing or manufacturing new firearms that met the state’s criteria for assault weapons would be kidnapped and held in a cage. If that individual refused to comply with his kidnappers (the police) they would use physical force, even going so far as the murder that individual if he should resist sufficiently. Many gun control advocates claim they support gun control because they oppose violence but this is patently false because coercion is violence and that is the tool gun control advocates most often employ.

Gun control is an absurd idea because it either requires the ability to own another human being or coercion. Under libertarian philosophy one cannot own another for pragmatic reasons. Under United States law one cannot legally own another because the Thirteenth Amendment prohibits slavery. This means gun control can only be implemented through coercion, which makes advocates of gun control who claim to oppose violence hypocrites and their philosophy paradoxical.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 23rd, 2012 at 10:30 am

Monday Metal: The Lord of Wolves by Pathfinder

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This week’s song demonstrates why power metal would be more appropriately named nerd metal. The Lord of Wolves has everything you need to make a fantasy movie including castles, sorceresses, and a wolf running around killing knights. Needless to say it’s pretty epic:

Written by Christopher Burg

July 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 am

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Why I Ignore “No Guns Allowed” Signs at Movie Theaters

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Many of the movie theaters in the Twin Cities area are posted. Thankfully those signs have very little legal weight in Minnesota, they basically tell patrons if their gun is spotted they’ll be asked to leave and if they refuse to leave the police will be called and the gun carrier will be cited for trespassing, because I ignore them. Why? Because of horrible situations like this:

A lone gunman dressed in riot gear burst into a movie theater in Aurora, Colo., at a midnight showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” and methodically began shooting patrons, killing at least 12 people and injuring at least 50.

The suspect, James Holmes, 24, of Aurora, was caught by police in the parking lot of the Century 16 Movie Theaters, nine miles outside Denver, after police began receiving dozens of 911 calls at 12:39 a.m. MT. Police said the man appeared to have acted alone.

Witnesses in the movie theater said Holmes crashed into the auditorium through an emergency exit about 30 minutes into the film, set off a smoke bomb, and began shooting. Holmes stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape, witnesses said.

[…]

Holmes was wearing a bullet-proof vest and riot helmet and carrying a gas mask, rifle, and handgun, when he was apprehended, according to police. Holmes mentioned having explosives stored, leading police to evacuate his entire North Aurora apartment complex and search the buildings early this morning.

A body armor clad individual tossed a smoke bomb (which is later referred to as tear gas) into a crowded theater and walked the isles picking off panicing people. It was basically the worst scenario one could think up whether you carry a gun or not. Getting a clean shot off at the bad guy in a smoke filled theater with panicing people isn’t an ideal situation. On top of that the guy was wearing body armor and most of us carry handguns which aren’t known for their stellar ability to penetrate body armor. Of course there is always the possibility that the shooter would do the common act of suicide upon meeting armed resistance but I wouldn’t want to bet on it. Still, I’d rather be armed in a situation like that than unarmed. The scenario that played out at that theater sucked but it would suck a whole lot more if one was unarmed.

Either way I’m sure we’ll see gun control advocates dancing in the blood soon enough. Nothing gives a gun control advocate a hardon like dead people. They’ll probably be pounding the war drums trying to get gun control, body armor control, and tear gas control legislation out of this tragedy. Fortunately people don’t seem to listen to the gun control crowd anymore so they’ll huff and puff but likely accomplish nothing.

Let me conclude by saying my heart goes out to the patrons of that theater and their families. We live in a messed up world where boogeymen do exist. They’re, thankfully, rare but almost always come out of nowhere when you least expect it.

Written by Christopher Burg

July 20th, 2012 at 12:00 pm