A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for September, 2012

Making Mountains Out of Mole Hills

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An enterprising individual has decided to open up a gun range with an attached lounge that serves liquor. As you can imagine the anti-gun crowd are up in arms:

WSB-TV reports that Lakeside Guns Shop owner Kristina Brown plans to open the multimillion-dollar indoor range with her husband in Powder Springs. And when it comes to being state of the art, the Governor’s Gun Club will not only have the best technology available to marksmen, it will also have Maker’s Mark.

[…]

However, some residents are skeptical, especially with a housing subdivision being built just 100 yards from the new range.

“I mean, that’s just stupid,” Traci Hart, mother of three, told the station. “We don’t need drunk people running around in and out of the neighborhood.”

Because those individuals couldn’t get drunk at any other bar in the area? Think McFly! Other people are concerned that drunk people will be firing guns at this new range, a worry that is entirely pointless:

Brown sent WSB-TV a statement clarifying that once someone has ordered a drink in the lounge, they will not be permitted to enter the firing range:

“Customers will have to order a drink with their identification card and once the card is accepted, and flagged, they cannot be checked back into the range that day,” the statement reads.

Common sense would lead anybody to realize that the owner of a gun range isn’t going to want drunk people firing guns. Alcohol and firearms are dangerous when combined so anybody who owns a combination firing range and liquor lounge is going to have a vested interest in keeping the customers from the liquor lounge away from the gun range.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2012 at 11:30 am

The State Protects Its Own

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Remember that police officer that decided it would be a jolly good idea to pepper spray some peaceful protesters in the face? What do you think happened to him? If you think he was prosecuted for assault you would be wrong. He was found innocent of all wrongdoing:

The pepper-spraying of students by UC Davis police officers last November was not criminal conduct, Yolo County District Attorney’s office concluded Wednesday following an inquiry into officers’ response to protestors on the campus.

“(V)iewing the incident through the totality of the circumstances, there is insufficient evidence to establish proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the use of force involved in the November 18, 2011, pepper spraying was unlawful and therefore warrants the filing of criminal charges,” officials said in a statement announcing the report’s findings.

What the District Attorney meant to say was, “The officer in question works for the same violent state that I do. In return for lenient treatment by my fellow state employees I’m being lenient on my fellow state employee. After all he only pepper sprayed a stupid serf so nobody important was hurt.”

This just goes to show that allowing the state to both wield force and determine if its wielding of force is warrant is a bad idea. It only ensures that state employees remain free of consequences resulting from their violent behavior.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2012 at 11:00 am

Rocket Scientist of the Year

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There are bad ideas and there is raw utter stupidity. This story is an example of the latter:

According to reports, 26-year-old Brian C. Wayner rented a gun from Don’s Gun and used it at the attached shooting range, burning through three boxes of ammo. Then, Wayner went to the restroom to wash his hands before heading to the counter to ring up the total. Bizarrely, without giving any warning or saying anything, Wayner pulled out the gun that he had rented and opened fire on Ben Chance, the clerk behind the cash register.

Chance did pretty much exactly what you would expect a gun store employee to do: he fired back. Chance proved to be the better shot, though, because the wounds he inflicted ultimately proved fatal for Wayner. Chance was later rushed to a hospital where he was placed in critical condition, but he survived treatment and is currently recovering.

Attempting to shoot up a gun store is right up there with attempting to bungee jump without a bungee cable attached to your person. On the upside Mr. Wayner won’t try that again.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2012 at 10:30 am

Sometimes Juries Pull Through

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Once in a while juries make the right decision. Alvin Schlangen was facing charges for voluntarily trading with fellow individual:

A Hennepin County jury Thursday found a Stearns County farmer not guilty of violating the state’s food safety laws when he distributed raw milk from an Amish farm to Twin Cities customers.

Alvin Schlangen of Freeport was charged with three misdemeanor counts, including selling unpasteurized milk, operating without a food license and handling adulterated or misbranded food. After three days of trial, the jury began deliberating on Wednesday afternoon and resumed deliberations Thursday morning.

Schlangen, an organic egg farmer, doesn’t produce milk himself but operates a private club called Freedom Farms Co-op with roughly 130 members who buy various farm products, including raw milk. Schlangen picks up milk products from an Amish farm and delivers them to members who lease the cows.

Yes a man in Minnesota actually faced charges for selling raw milk. You see raw milk is treated like a radioactive substance by the state. Anybody who comes into contact with raw milk is told to immediately seek medical attention and avoid contact with all other non-medical personell. In reality raw milk isn’t nearly as dangerous as the state makes it out to be and even if it were what you put into your body should be your own business, not the state’s.

I’m glad to hear the jury found an innocent man innocent. Far too often juries allow themselves to be suckered by state prosecutors who claim juries must uphold the letter of the law and should avoid making their decision based on whether or not a law is just.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 21st, 2012 at 10:00 am

Voter ID and Carry Permits

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This election cycle Minnesota’s ballot will have a question asking whether an amendment should be made to the state constitution that would require presenting photo identification when voting (generally referred to as the voter ID amendment). Supporters of the initiative claim the measure is necessary to prevent voter fraud while opponents claim the added hurdle of having to acquire photo identification will disenfranchise the poor and minorities. What’s interesting is the general cognitive dissonance occurring on both sides of this debate.

As with any American political debate the two opposing sides can be generally identified by party lines. Self-identified republicans generally support the amendment while self-identified democrats generally oppose it. Let’s peel back the rhetoric regarding this issue for a second and look at it through another lens, carry permits. Laws requiring individuals to receive a permit to carry a firearm are very similar to laws requiring photo identification to vote. Voting and bearing arms are both Constitutionally guaranteed rights. Both rights are used to wield weaponry (granted the state is a far more dangerous weapon than a firearm but the analogy still holds). Requiring any kind of permitting process to exercise either right adds a barrier to entry that affects poor individuals disproportionally.

In Minnesota one must attend a training class in order to qualify for a permit. Once an individual has successfully passed the required training class they must file for a permit at their local Sheriff’s office. Both the class and filing for the permit cost money. The cost of the class varies but the average price point appears to hover around $100.00 while the cost for apply for a permit is set by the Sheriff’s office but can’t exceed $100.00 (which is the price if you’re living in Hennepin County). An individual wanting to exercise their constitutionally guaranteed right to bear arms in Minnesota is looking at shelling out $200.00 (and the permit is only good for five years, after which you need to go through the whole process again). Needless to say an extremely poor individual who is living from paycheck to paycheck is going to find it very difficult to exercise their right to bear arms.

Voter ID legislation, like laws requiring carry permits to exercise your right to bear arms, adds a barrier to entry for those wanting to vote. While the amendment being presented in Minnesota requires photo identification for the purposes of voting be given out for free an individual still has to invest their time in obtaining identification. As most government offices are only open during normal business hours getting a permit often requires taking time off of work, which is very difficult if you’re living from paycheck to paycheck. It also requires getting to a government office, which can be difficult for poor individuals who cannot afford an automobile or cab fare. Needless to say free photo identification isn’t free.

Laws requiring carry permits to exercise the right to bear arms are similar to voter ID laws in another way, both are supported by fear mongering instead of facts. Supporters of voter ID laws claim that such laws will prevent rampant voter fraud but have no proof that rampant voter fraud is happening. Supporters of carry permit laws claim such restrictions are necessary to prevent violent individual from carrying firearms but have no proof that such restrictions will prevent violent individual from carrying firearms. When the creation of boogeymen is necessary in order to garner support for legislation then you know that legislation is bad.

What’s interesting is that, in general, self-identified republicans oppose restrictions on the right to bear arms while self-identified democrats support restrictions to varying extents. Self-identified republicans will often support so-called constitutional carry laws, laws that abolish any permitting process for individuals wanting to legally carry a firearm, while self-identified democrats will often oppose them. Yet the tables turn when it comes to voter ID legislation. Suddenly self-identified republicans are the ones generally supporting restrictions to the exercise of a right while self-identified democrats are the ones generally opposing restrictions. Consistency and politics seldom go hand in hand.

I oppose voter ID laws and laws requiring carry permits in order to exercise the right to bear arms. Both restrictions exist to disenfranchise individuals from exercising their rights, both restrictions are supported by fear mongering instead of facts, and both restrictions are state grabs for power.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 20th, 2012 at 11:30 am

In Other News the Expected Happened

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Surprising nobody the inspector general of the Department of Justice (DoJ) cleared the head of the DoJ of any wrongdoing:

The Justice Department’s inspector general cleared Attorney General Eric Holder Wednesday of knowing about the gun-walking operation known as Fast and Furious that allowed thousands of weapons to cross into Mexico.

Who would have guessed that a DoJ investigation into the DoJ would result in finding no wrongdoing on behalf of the DoJ? That’s not to say no blame has been found, the inspector general found plenty of other suckers outside of the DoJ to throw under the bus:

The inspector general found fault with the work of the senior ATF leadership, the ATF staff and U.S. attorney’s office in Phoenix and senior officials of Justice’s criminal division in Washington. He also said that poor internal information-gathering and drafting at Justice and ATF caused the department to initially misinform Congress about Fast and Furious.

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While Horowitz heaped most of the blame for Fast and Furious on investigators in Phoenix, one senior official, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, is blamed for not acting to stop the tactics.

I wonder when, or if, anybody will question the wisdom of allowing the DoJ to investigate itself.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 20th, 2012 at 11:00 am

My Hometown’s Finest

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In most towns the police become infamous for beating people but in my hometown of Caledonia, Minnesota the police become infamous for drag racing squad cards down the local airstrip:

Recently the Caledonia, Minn. Police Department took delivery of a new Ford Crown Victoria (curiously, CV production ended in September of 2011) police cruiser. This got the attention of not only the local criminals, but it apparently piqued the interest of the Houston County Sheriff’s Department, too.

Just like in high school, when another kid gets a new car, there’s gonna be talk about whose car is faster. So according to reports, a Caledonia officer and a Houston County deputy lined up on a local airport runway to pit the county’s Dodge Charger against the city’s new Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor. We imagine there were roaring engines, squealing tires and clouds of taxpayer-financed smoke.

Needless to say I called home to get the details. The linked story is incorrect because the Caledonia car was a new Ford Taurus Police Interceptor, not a Crown Victoria as reported. I was also informed that the Charger is faster off of the line by the Taurus ends up winning over the distance.

Honestly I find this story funny. Anybody who has been to Caledonia knows that the local airstrip is seldom used for airplanes. Most of the time it hosts drag races between local high schoolers, drunks, and anybody else who needs a long straight stretch of road. Obviously I’ve never done such a thing… but if I were to have done such a thing in a 1990 blue Plymouth Acclaim I would note that the airstrip is long enough to get that gutless four cylinder engine up to 70 miles per hour. I can only imagine how fast the police got those squad cars up to.

Either way it’s nice knowing that my hometown police are known for drag racing instead of hurting people.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 20th, 2012 at 10:30 am

Sucking Less

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While attending the three-gun competition in Holmen, Wisconsin prevented me from posting updates on Monday I did manage to nab second place in heavy metal division [PDF]. I to suck a little less as shooting every year.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 20th, 2012 at 10:00 am

Posted in Side Notes

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The Difference Between Gun Control Advocates and Gun Rights Advocates

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Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Ownership Violence, wrote an article that demonstrates the difference between advocates of gun control and advocates of gun rights. The primary difference is that advocates of gun rights are generally distrusting of the state while advocates of gun control believe the state is a magical unicorn-like creature that can and will save everybody from ill. Put another way advocates of gun rights are realists while advocates of gun control are delusional.

Horwitz’s current article is worth a read because he claims that advocates of gun rights entirely disregard the Constitution. I find this to generally not be the case as most advocates of gun rights are well versed in the Constitution and believe, if followed, it would ensure a society where tyranny was all but entire nonexistent. I’m not part of this camp, I think the Constitution is a horrible document that exists solely to centralize power in one large federal government. It was written to replace the Articles of Confederation, which left almost all governing matters to the individual states. Under the Articles of Confederation the federal government wasn’t even allowed to tax and had to rely on money given to it by the individual states more or less voluntarily.

Since I’m a rare bird that promotes gun rights and opposes the Constitution I thought it would be fun to address Horwitz’s article. Where else are you going to get an anarchist’s point of view regarding both gun rights and the Constitution (seriously, if there are any other anarchist gun bloggers out there let me know because I’d like to get in touch)?

Pro-gun leaders like NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre would have us believe that “the guys with the guns make the rules” in our democracy. But nothing could be further from the truth. In reality, our Founders ratified the Constitution to obviate the need for political violence.

Horwitz is off to bad start by claiming that the Constitution obviates the need for violence regarding political matters. This is a symptom of gun control advocates’ delusion that the state is wholly good, they can’t even see the state’s gun pointed at their head. The Constitution grants the federal government the power to both create and enforce laws. All laws, whether they’re passed by a dictator or democratically, are ultimately enforced by the threat and use of violence.

Consider the consequences of violating a posted speed limit. If an officer catches you speeding they’re likely to flip on their seizure inducing lights and chase you down. Most people pull over because they know the consequences of not doing so involve the officer pursuing them and using every increasing amounts of force. Officers may attempt to use a PIT maneuver to send the speeder’s car into an uncontrolled spin, they may deploy a spike strip to puncture the speeder’s tires, or they may escalate to the use of firearms. Since most people understand the implied threat of violence they pull over. At that point the officer will likely issue you a citation, which you will either pay or face state violence. Failing to pay a speeding ticket isn’t merely ignored by the state. The state has no problem sending officers to your residence to kidnap you and lock you in a cage and won’t hesitate to kill you if you resist the attempted kidnapping.

Horwitz’s claim that the Constitution obviates the need for violence is laughable and demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of how the political means works.

The very first line of the document reads as follows: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

While the fist line of the document says all those warm and fuzzy things it goes downhill from there. Buried under the cuddly opening statement are clauses that grant the federal government the power to tax and establishes a Supreme Court that has a monopoly on interpreting the Constitution. Since the federal government has a complete monopoly on interpreting the Constitution everything written within is meaningless. If the Supreme Court determines the interstate commerce clause allows the federal government to prohibit individual from growing wheat for their personal consumption then growing wheat for personal consumption is illegal. Because of this monopoly the Constitution should be rewritten to say “This document means whatever the fuck the Supreme Court says it means.”

The Founders were telling the world that this brilliant new system of government — this social compact — would secure individual rights on a scale previously unknown in the civilized world. They protected liberty not by creating a libertarian society where every citizen was in it solely for himself, but by establishing a strong, energetic government and stressing civic responsibility.

Let me get this straight, the Founding Fathers wanted to protect individual rights so they established a strong government that had a monopoly on deciding what rights individuals have? How can you protect individual rights if somebody can decide, on a whim, what those rights are? Let’s consider the Fifth Amendment:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Yet Anwar al-Awalki and his 16 year-old son were assassinated by their government. According to the Constitution the United States isn’t at war since Congress never declared one so it can’t be claimed the assassination was legal due to war time circumstances. The Constitution doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job of protecting individual rights since the executive branch decided it was perfectly find to skip the whole grand jury requirement in the Fifth Amendment and execute two citizens by hellfire missile.

In the face of this history and the plain terms of the Constitution itself, it is amazing to see modern insurrectionists like Judge Roy Moore, the controversial former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, write things like, “Liberty and freedom are gifts of God, and not the government. The means by which we secure those gifts are ultimately in the hands and the ‘arms’ of the people.” It’s as if Moore is totally unaware of all the robust protections for individual rights spelled out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Protections so robust that they’re entirely nonexistent. What Horwitz doesn’t understand is that rights can’t be given by another person, they can only be taken. I enjoy the right to free speech until another person decides to use violence to prohibit my exercise of that right. Even if the Constitution said “Individuals only have the right to say what the state approves of.” I would enjoy the right to free speech until some state goon decide to enforce that clause. While I don’t argue the existence of rights by citing deities the claim that rights are God given is accurate if one believes God created the universe. If God did create the universe he created a natural state where individuals were free to do whatever they wanted unless coerced by another. I can choose to take a leak on a tree and will suffer no consequences until another person decides he doesn’t like me pissing on that tree and attempts to stop me by initiating force.

The statement, “The means by which we secure those gifts are ultimately in the hands and the ‘arms’ of the people.” is entirely true. What if you really want to piss on the previously mentioned tree? Unless you can defend yourself from the other person you’re basically at his mercy. Arms give individuals the ability to better resist an aggressor and therefore allow individuals to protect their rights from third-party infringement. If somebody is willing to use violence to prohibit you from acting then the use of defensive force is the only option an individual has to guarantee their ability to act.

The idea of liberty may be a “gift of God,” but the Framers knew it could only be safeguarded if a robust government was in place to arbitrate private disputes and guarantee that each citizen has an equal voice in the affairs of the nation.

I’m sure the people of medieval Iceland would have loved to know that their history of successful private arbitration without an existing state was impossible. History shows that a robust government is not necessary to arbitrate private disputes.

Furthermore, what spurred the drafting of the Constitution was a fear that “licentiousness” — freedom taken to excess — was the greatest threat to individual liberty!

No, the Constitution was drafted because advocates of powerful central governments were unhappy with the almost powerless federal government that existed under the Articles of Confederation. Wikipedia has a very short summary of the historical context of the Constitutional Convention that spawned the United States Constitution. The primary issues had by the drafters of the Constitution was the federal government’s inability to tax (and thus pay for governmental programs), the inability to enforce states payment of federal taxes, and the fact that any single state could veto changes to the Articles of Confederation. In short the Founders wanted more centralized taxing authority.

In LaPierre’s world, it’s as if the U.S. government never fostered the most powerful economy in the world, or put Neil Armstrong on the moon, or won two world wars, or built a national system of highways, or prevented generations of senior citizens from living out their final years in poverty, etc., etc.

The Soviet Union also spawned a powerful economy, put people into space, won a World War, and built a national transportation system. Nazi Germany developed a powerful economy and built the national highway system that inspired the United State’s national highway system. A nation can achieve great things even without the supposed protections of the United States Constitution. In fact a nation can achieve many great things since it can simply raise the capital required to achieve those things by stealing it from the people through taxation.

I’ll also argue against Horwitz’s claim that the United States government prevented generations of senior citizens from living out their final years in poverty because I know many senior citizens currently living out their final years in poverty.

Perhaps most disturbing are the endless attempts to conflate our constitutional republic with some of the most brutal and inhumane dictatorships in human history (try Googling “gun control Hitler” sometime).

When a certain gun law in the United States is almost direct translations of a Nazi gun control law it’s impossible to avoid the comparison without ignoring reality.

Recently, when my organization, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, asked National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) General Counsel Larry Keane if he felt that individual Americans had a right to shoot and kill government officials in response to what they personally perceived as “tyranny,” Keane tweeted back at us plaintively, “Just like the Jews in the ghettos of Warsaw? The South Sudanese? Kurds? The American colonists?”

Keane makes an important, but unintended, point. Countries that kill their own citizens are not democracies. As political scientist R.J. Rummel noted in his 1997 book, Power Kills: Democracy as a Method of Nonviolence, nations with strong democratic institutions do not murder their own citizens.

Horwitz is misrepresenting what R.J. Rummel has stated. He hasn’t said democracies don’t kill their own citizens, he said the more totalitarian a state is the more of its own citizens it kills. That is to say the more decentralized a state is the less dangerous it tends to be for its citizens. As I stated above the United States government killed two of its citizens not too terribly long ago, which invalidates Horwitz’s claim.

It’s easy to see how gun control advocates come to their conclusions. They believe the state is good and that the state will protect its citizens from all ills. Reality is harsh and people often use escapism to avoid facing it. When you realize that bad people exist you have two options: face that fact and prepare accordingly or refuse to accept that fact and escape to a fantasy land where you can control everything. Advocates of gun control have chosen the latter option while advocates of gun rights have chosen the former. This is why advocates of gun control need to lie, cheap, and misrepresent facts; they are trying to escape to a fantasy land that requires reality be ignored entirely.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 19th, 2012 at 11:30 am

Mother Arrested for Failing to be Authoritarian Enough

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A mother in Texas was arrested because she failed to acclimate her children to the authoritarian state they must live under:

Police arrested a Texas mom for allowing her children to play outside last week, after a neighbor reported to police that the kids were riding scooters around a cul de sac.

Tammy Cooper, who was arrested for child endangerment, insists she was watching her children from a lawn chair in her front yard.

Now, Cooper is suing the La Porte Police Department, the arresting officer and the neighbor who made the call.

A few hours after the neighbor called police, a La Porte policeman showed up to the scene of the “crime” to arrest Cooper.

“I went out there to see what he was here for and he said, ‘Ma’am, we’re here for you.’ I said, ‘Oh really? Why?’ He proceeded to tell me he had received a call from one of my neighbors that my kids were riding their scooters unsupervised”, Cooper told KRPC.

The state likes to recruit individuals to enforce its decrees. Employers are forced to collect the state’s payroll taxes, corporate whistleblowers are encouraged to come forward with any information that paints their employers in a bad light (government whistleblowers are expected to shut the hell up though), and parents are compelled to send their children to state-approved indoctrination centers as well as play the part of Big Brother. The state is coercing parents to keep an eye on their children at all times, which is also a convenient way to convince children that being spied on at all times is normal.

We’re all expected to do our part in this gigantic nanny state we call America.

Written by Christopher Burg

September 19th, 2012 at 11:00 am