Starbucks Requests Gun Owners to Stop Openly Carrying in Stores

It was bound to happen, Starbucks has put out an official request that gun owners no longer openly carry firearms into its stores:

Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.

As usual this decision has ignited very strong emotions on both sides of the gun debate. Many gun owners, at least on my social media feeds, are very upset and some have even begun to call for a boycott of Starbucks. Gun control advocates are cheering this as a success because they believe they have convinced Starbucks to ban firearms from their stores. I think both of these reactions are out of proportion.

Starbucks hasn’t banned firearms from its stores, it has merely requested that gun owners no longer openly carry firearms into its stores. The second to final paragraph makes this clear:

I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.

I’m not upset at this request. After all, openly carrying rifles into Starbucks was bound to turn sour. Political debates are lose-lose scenarios for businesses. No matter what side of a debate a business supports it runs the risk of alienating a portion of its customer base. That’s why most businesses make no statements regarding a political debate unless the issue stands to cause direct harm to its bottom line.

People often allow their personal bias to color their judgement. Some gun rights activists and gun control advocates saw Starbucks’ neutrality as a pro-gun stance. This incorrect judgement lead gun rights activists to hold Starbucks Appreciation Day and gun control advocates to hold Skip Starbucks Day. Both sides turned neutral Starbucks into a political battlefield and, as the company’s request makes clear, that was not a position it wanted to be in:

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.

In other words, Starbucks feels as though both sides have been acting like assholes and interfering with its simple desire to just sell some fucking coffee. Now, unfortunately, some gun rights activists and gun control activists are probably going to take Starbucks’ neutrality as an anti-gun stance and continue pushing political agendas in its stores.

I will close by saying this: if a person or organization doesn’t want to involve itself in a political debate then that wish should be respected. Neither side of the gun debate should demand boycotts of Starbucks or host political demonstrations on Starbucks’ property. Starbucks hasn’t prohibited carry in its stores so those wanting to open carry while getting a cup of coffee may still do so. Just be respectful of Starbucks’ neutrality. Don’t make a public spectacle of yourself. Those of you who fall on the anti-gun side should do the same. Be respectful of Starbucks’ neutrality and don’t start yelling at people carrying guns. If you mind your and we mind our business everybody sitting in Starbucks’ who doesn’t give a shit about either of our causes will be happier.

We’re Here to Help

What happens with private a private organization uses unmanned aerial vehicles to map a disaster area in order to help with recover efforts? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) steps in and stops them:

Friday saw a reprieve in the weather and we are able to get a perfect flight off in the town of Longmont to capture aerial imagery for damage assesment at the intersection of the overflowing St Vrain river and equally inundated Left Hand Creek. In less than an hour the imagery was processed and provided to the Boulder EOC. Just as Falcon UAV was off to another damage assessment in Lyons, Colorado we were requested to standdown for National Guard helicopters now supporting evacuation efforts.

Enter FEMA…….

Early Saturday morning Falcon UAV was heading up to Lyons to complete a damage assessment mapping flight when we received a call from our Boulder EOC point of contact who notified us that FEMA had taken over operations and our request to fly drones was not only denied but more specifically we were told by FEMA that anyone flying drones would be arrested. Not being one to bow to federal bureaucrats we still went up to Lyons to do a site survey for how we can conduct a mission in the near future to provide an adequate damage assessment to this storm raveged community.

People mistakenly believe that government is necessary to help people when natural disasters strike. In truth the state more often hinders efforts to assist those afflicted than it does to help them. As this story demonstrates, private individuals are more than willing to rise to the call of their fellow human beings in need. It’s just difficult to rise to such an event when the state continuously stomps on your head to keep you down.

Speeding Tickets are for Little People

It must be nice being a member of the privileged political class. You get to set your own hours, give yourself a raise whenever you want, take other people’s money by decree, and be immune from the very laws your cohorts created. Legislators in Washington are enjoying the freedom of immunity from speeding tickets:

A spokesman for WSP says Washington lawmakers are constitutionally protected from receiving noncriminal traffic tickets during a legislative session, as well as 15 days before. A spokeswoman says The Tacoma Police Department abides by a similar policy.

State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins says the privilege not only applies to moving violations near the state Capitol in Olympia, but potentially anywhere in the state.

The logic? Detaining lawmakers on the road — even for the time it takes to issue them a speeding ticket — may delay them from getting to the Capitol to vote.

Being able to arrive at the marble building in time to say “yea” or “nay” to a decree written by one of my buddies is absolutely critical to the safety of the state. At least I assume as much since we, the little people, are constantly bombarded with propaganda that speeding is super dangerous and is responsible for killing billions of people every year (I may have exaggerated slightly). Either passing legislation is more important than the lives of fellow drivers or the propaganda regarding the dangers of speeding is complete bullshit. Either way, the lawmakers once again enjoy special privileges that us little people don’t.

The Legal Issue Regarding Fingerprints

I have mixed feelings about the iPhone 5S’s fingerprint reader. On the one hand I believe it would encourage users to enable the security features on their phones. On the other hand it makes things easier for law enforcement because forcing somebody’s finger onto a reader is much easier than coercing their password out of them. As it turns out there may be additional legal issues regarding Apple’s fingerprint reader:

Courts have given mixed messages about whether Americans are protected from being forced to divulge passwords or decrypt information for law enforcement officials. Civil liberties advocates argue defendants shouldn’t have to unlock their own computers for the cops. The logic: Under the Fifth Amendment, Police can’t force you to self-incriminate by testifying, or divulging something in your mind.

It’s unclear if that same protection applies if the password is your fingerprint.

“A fingerprint is entitled to less constitutional protection than a password known in your mind,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco. “If police arrest you and ask you for a password, you could refuse and they’d be hard pressed to force you to divulge the password.”

Of course, police already collect fingerprints after booking a suspect. And the Supreme Court has also held that police don’t need a search warrant to collect fingerprints.

The combination of being able to collect fingerprints without a search warrant and the east of which a person’s finger can be forced onto a scanner creates a dangerous legal environment. It’s not stretch of the imagination to think of a situation where a police officer forces a suspects finger onto their phone’s scanner, finds incriminating evidence, and makes an arrest based on that evidence. During the court battle the office would argue that he is allowed to collect fingerprints without a search warrant, which is what he did.

The Shooting in Washington DC

You’ve all heard about the shooting at the naval yard in Washington DC. The shooting, at with all shootings was a tragedy. Fortunately the shooter was considerate enough to perform his vile act on a Monday. Now we get to enjoy a whole week of wall-to-wall coverage based entirely on speculation, fabrication, and whatever else can be made in order to grab ratings. We’ve all been through this before. The media has no time for fact checking in its hopeless fight to remain relevant in a society where information gathering and dissemination has become decentralized. Rating for news channels are in the toilet. Those companies need ratings and they need them now. This means that they will exploit this tragedy by plaster our screens will crap coverage before any facts can be determined.

No facts, besides the name of a suspect, have come forth. Until those facts are determined I’m not planning to spend much time discussing this event. There’s enough shit to talk about without having to make things up.

More Irresponsible Cops

Most advocates of gun control that I’ve encountered aren’t gun control advocates, they’re advocates of a two class society. The two classes they’re interested in creating are the armed and the unarmed. In their fantasy world the armed class, made up exclusively of government agents such as police officers, would exist to rule over the unarmed class, made up of everybody else. For some reason these gun control advocates believe that a badge and costume are the only things that can prevent an otherwise rational and peaceful human being from turning into a bloodthirsty murderer when given possession of a firearm. Those of us who keep tabs on how the police handle firearms known the truth: most police officers are woefully inadequate when it comes to handling firearm. This, couple with the near immunity from responsibility, make incidents like this alarmingly common:

Officers fired three shots at 35-year-old Glenn Broadnax in the Saturday night confrontation a block west of the famous tourist district, hitting two women on a nearby corner in the process, a police statement said Sunday. Broadnax was walking into traffic in front of the Port Authority bus terminal, apparently trying to be hit by cars, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.

He dodged police who tried to take him into custody, then mimicked shooting a gun at officers, prompting the officers to return fire with real bullets, Kelly said.

“At some time he reached into his pocket, took out his hand and simulated as if he was shooting at them,” Kelly told reporters late Saturday.

Two officers fired three shots before the unarmed Broadnax was brought down with a Taser, the NYPD said. He has been charged with menacing, obstructing governmental administration, riot, criminal possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, the NYPD said in a statement issued Sunday morning. Those charges may change once he goes to court, however.

A 54-year-old woman was shot in the knee and a 37-year-old was grazed in the buttocks, police said. Earlier, they had said the younger victim was 35.

Let’s consider this story for a second. First, the police officers claim that the suspect mimicked firing a gun at them is quite likely spurious. Unless the officers involved can show some concrete proof of their claim I’m apt to believe their story is a fabrication meant to absolve them of responsibility for shooting two innocent bystanders. Second, the involved police officers have an odd continuum of force. They deployed lethal force before deploying less-likely-to-be-lethal force, which brought down the suspect. Third, the officers had a hit percentage of zero. They fired three rounds, all of which missed the target and two of which hit innocent bystanders. Had I, or any other non-state agent who legally carries a firearm, done such an act I would be facing prison time.

That brings us to the biggest problem with a two class society. In a society where one class is armed and the other unarmed the former cannot be held accountable for their misdeeds. Today non-state agents who legally carry firearms are held legally responsible for any rounds they discharge, which is the way it should be. State agents enjoy legal protects from being held responsible. When you are not held responsible for your actions you become much more willing to act recklessly. If gun control advocates actually wanted to reduce violent crime they would be focusing their efforts on disarming legally privileged police officers instead of non-state agents who are held legally responsible for their actions.

General Alexander’s High-Budget B-Rated Starship Enterprise

If ever there was a reason to think Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency (NSA), was insane the recently leaked photographs of his Information Dominance Center (yes, that’s its actual name) would be it:

It has been previously reported that the mentality of NSA chief Gen. Keith Alexander is captured by his motto “Collect it All”. It’s a get-everything approach he pioneered first when aimed at an enemy population in the middle of a war zone in Iraq, one he has now imported onto US soil, aimed at the domestic population and everyone else.

But a perhaps even more disturbing and revealing vignette into the spy chief’s mind comes from a new Foreign Policy article describing what the journal calls his “all-out, barely-legal drive to build the ultimate spy machine”. The article describes how even his NSA peers see him as a “cowboy” willing to play fast and loose with legal limits in order to construct a system of ubiquitous surveillance. But the personality driving all of this – not just Alexander’s but much of Washington’s – is perhaps best captured by this one passage, highlighted by PBS’ News Hour in a post entitled: “NSA director modeled war room after Star Trek’s Enterprise”.

BRB Going to Space 1

BRB Going to Space 2

That thing looks like a Bollywood ripoff of the Starship Enterprise’s deck. I half expect several prominent Indian actors to appear periodically to perform random musical numbers and the crew to engage men wearing green rubber masks in an attempt to pass themselves off as aliens. What makes this depressing is that the Information Dominance Center looks Bollywood but has a cost that more accurate reflects Hollywood. It’s like somebody was given a massive budget and ended up turning out a shitty movie. I wonder if Kevin Costner is part of General Alexander’s command.

Perhaps it’s time to fun the construction of a great spaceship for Mr. Alexander. Even I would support such a project because it would give Mr. Alexander the spaceship he wants and get him off of my planet. That’s a win-win scenario if there ever was one.

Monday Metal: The Great Gathering by Battlelore

Do you like melodic death metal? Do you like the Lord of the Rings? If you’ve answered yes to both you’ll like this weeks entry. If you’ve answered no to either then you should give serious consideration to rethinking your life. Battlelore is a band that, sadly, is currently on a creative break. But the music they’ve already released is badass and their lyrics are always inspired by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s Middle-erath:

AgoraFest 2013

As some of you have probably guessed, I’ve been rather busy with side projects as of late. While I apologize for the lower than usual number of posts I am happy to reveal one of the projects I’ve been involved with: AgoraFest 2013.

It may surprise many people to hear that Minnesota, especially the Twin Cities, has a thriving anarchist communit. Some of Minnesota’s anarchists are socialist, some are capitalists (Yeah, yeah. Anarcho-capitalists aren’t “real” anarchists. Whatever. I don’t give a shit), and some of us are agorists. Those of us who have gone the agorist way have been looking for a way to promote agorism to, hopefully, give people who have become disenfranchised with the political means an alternative way to fight for freedom.

I’ve taken it upon myself to give several presentations on computer security. Keeping with the spirit of things I have dubbed these tracks the crypto-anarchy tracks. In addition to my presentation there will be presentation on starting agorist businesses, making fermented foods, and a presentation by our keynote speakers: Catherine Bleish and John Bush. If you don’t know Catherine she has the honor of being on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of evil terrorists. John Bush writes about anti-statism on websites such as the Foundation for a Free Society. We’re honored as heck to have both of them. And in addition to the currently scheduled events the floor is open to anybody who wants to give a presentation.

When is this gathering of freedom lovers? September 20th through the 22nd. Where will it be? You’ll have to sign up to find out. How can you get an invite code to sign up? E-mail me and we can talk. Due to the fact that this is our first year (and hopefully not our last) we’re trying to keep attendance at a certain level. To ensure people interested in agorism have a guaranteed ticket we’re giving priority to those who are known within the local agorist community.

Please note that if you want to attend to promote some political bullshit we’ll probably have you hang out in the violent speech zone. This isn’t a political event, it’s an anti-political event. AgoraFest is for people interested in taking direct action against statism by participating in mutually beneficial, voluntary interactions with your fellow human being.

3D Printed Pepperbox Handgun

3D printed guns are all the rage today. Those of us who believe in the free flow of information, advancing technology is beneficial, and gun rights are cheering the continuous advancement of these infinitely replicable pistols. The other side of the table, the Luddites who believe modern technology must be wiped from the face of the planet, are being hysterical. I’m happy to say that my side is winning. What’s interesting is that the advancement of 3D printed handguns is starting to take a similar path as the original advancement of handguns. The currently limitation, besides the ones caused by the nature of the materials being used, has been an inability for 3D printed firearms to fire more than one round at a time. That problem has been solved with the introduction of a 3D printed pepperbox handgun:

Consider, for example, the Hexen pepperbox, which has stainless steel liners for its six barrels and is undergoing constant strengthening and improvement as discussed over in the DefCad forum. The video below shows the Hexen successfully fired (actually, it appears to be a related five-shot model), using 6mm Flobert (low-powered .22) ammunition.

The designer, Franco, even printed ammunition holders for the pepperbox, along with a tool for ejecting expended cases (both pictured above).

At this rate I’m beginning to think we’ll see functional 3D printed semi-automatic pistols later this year or early next year. Reality isn’t kind to those who try to suppress the advancement of technology. Every law put into place to stop people from acquiring guns will be rendered meaningless once 3D printers become more widespread and 3D printable firearms become reliable. Technology has a way of overcoming state barriers. Anybody who thinks they can use the state to stop technology is a deluded fool.