A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘News You Need to Know’ Category

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

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

Investigating Potential Mass Murderers Isn’t Profitable

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One of the thing we learned about the shooter in Florida is that he was brought to the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ (FBI) attention but the agency did nothing:

The F.B.I. received a tip last month from someone close to Nikolas Cruz that he owned a gun and had talked of committing a school shooting, the bureau revealed Friday, but it acknowledged that it had failed to investigate.

The tipster, who called an F.B.I. hotline on Jan. 5, told the bureau that Mr. Cruz had a “desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts,” the F.B.I. said.

The information should have been assessed and forwarded to the Miami F.B.I. field office, the bureau said. But that never happened. On Wednesday, Mr. Cruz, 19, killed 17 students and teachers at his former high school in Parkland, Fla., law enforcement officials said.

Several theories to explain the FBI’s lack of followup have been put forward. Most of the theories, in my opinion, give the FBI too much credit by either coloring the agency as a bumbling fool or the perpetrator of a sinister conspiracy. I’m guessing the FBI’s failure to followup was about money. Murder isn’t a crime that allows an agency to rake in cash through civil forfeiture. If somebody had called in a tip claiming that the shooter was in possession of a great deal of heroine, the FBI would have probably been kicking the guys door in at oh dark thirty and executed any pets in the household. Why? Because drug crimes are profitable to enforce since they allow an agency to seize property without even having to prove the suspect guilty in court.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 20th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Statements of Fact Versus Statements of Opinion

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“You can’t be neutral!”

“You can’t be indifferent!”

“You can’t be apolitical!”

How many times have you heard somebody say a variation of these statements? I’ve heard these phrases quite a few times and the frequency seems to be increasing. However, anybody making such a statement is wrong. Why? Because you can be neutral, indifferent, apolitical, or any combination of those things.

People making such statements are mistaking their personal beliefs for facts. Most of the people who say you can’t be neutral, indifferent, or apolitical are really saying that since you disagree with them on something they view you as being in league with their enemy. For example, let’s pretend that legislation that would establish a government healthcare system has been introduced into Congress. Supporters of the legislation are making the same tired arguments that anybody who opposes it hate poor people, etc. You have been practicing medical tourism to gain access to cheaper and better healthcare and plan to continue doing so whether the legislation passes or not and therefore don’t have a preference on the legislation. If you declare your neutrality, a supporter of the legislation will likely respond by saying that neutrality is tacit opposition to the legislation and you are therefore not neutral but against it. Are you actually against it?

The problem with their assertion is that it’s based on their personal beliefs and personal beliefs are entirely subjective. There may be no such thing as neutrality in their little reality tunnel but your reality tunnel may be advanced enough to include such a concept. So what they’re really saying is that based on their personal beliefs you are their enemy.

Statements of fact can be objectively verified. For example, the top speed of a car can be measured with instruments. It doesn’t matter if you think the top speed of a car is 120 miles per hour if instruments consistently measure its top speed at 100 miles per hour. Saying that the top speed of the car is 100 miles per hour is an objective statement since it can be independently verified by others through experimentation. Abstract concepts such as neutrality, indifference, and lack of political opinions cannot be objectively verified. There is no way to objectively state that somebody cannot be neutral or that neutrality is tacit support or opposition.

The widespread lack of understanding of the difference between objective and subjective statements is, to me, one of the most aggravating characteristics of modern discourse. When somebody is stating their opinion as fact, that is to say when they are framing the debate in such a way that only their opinion is deemed valid, the debate can’t move in any constructive direction.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 14th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Large Free Library

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Here in the Twin Cities quite a few houses have little free libraries (as opposed to Little Free Libraries, which are specifically sanctioned by some 501 nonprofit organization that thinks it owns that term), which are small boxes filled with books. Anybody can take a book and it’s expected that anybody taking a book should also leave a book.

Little free libraries are a neat concept but some garbage collectors in Turkey decided to go bigger:

Turkish garbage collectors in the country’s capital city of Ankara have opened a public library that is full of books that were originally destined to be put into landfill. The workers began collecting discarded books and opened the new library in the Çankaya district of Ankara. News of the library has spread and now people have begun donating books directly to the library, rather than throwing them away.


The library now has over 6,000 fiction and non-fiction books and includes a children’s section, an area dedicated to scientific research books, and a number of English and French language books for those who are bilingual.

I would love to see this become a trend here in the United States. Although there are a lot of opportunities here to either donate unwanted books or sell them, I know a lot of books still end up in a landfill. Those books are effectively free inventory for anybody who wants to start a library of any size.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 14th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Quick! While National Attention is Elsewhere!

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The Super Bowl has left Minneapolis. Its departure was joined by a fleet of private jets and the nation’s interest in this part of flyover country. Now that the nation’s attention is elsewhere, Minnesota officials can move onto other pressing matters such as ensuring a grand jury doesn’t see fit to charge Office Noor for the death of Justine Ruszczyk:

If he pursues manslaughter charges under Minnesota law, it would require him to prove that Noor’s actions the night he shot and killed Ruszczyk Damond were, in legal terms, “culpably negligent.” And to prove that, Freeman needs to prove that Noor’s actions were, again in legal terms, “objectively unreasonable.”

And that’s a high bar for him to clear, said former Ramsey County Attorney Susan Gaertner.

“The law does not require that an officer’s decision was the best one, it just requires that it was a reasonable one,” Gaertner said. “Officers are given a great deal of latitude under the law to respond to danger that they perceive is present.”

I think the story really would benefit from a footnote noting that in order to prove the charges against Noor, Freeman has to actually want to see Noor charged. Seeing as Freeman went so far as to break his pledge to no longer use grand juries to determine whether officers will be charged, I would argue that this is cause to believe that Freeman doesn’t want to see Noor charged.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 7th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Brining Back the Glory of Rome

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In Ancient Rome it was customary to throw a triumph for military commanders who achieved great victories. These triumphs were massive parades where the military commander, legionaries, and spoils of war were paraded through the city. Since the United States has ripped off so much from Ancient Rome it only makes sense that it hosts periodic triumphs from time to time:

President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.

Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.

Of course, the Romans only threw a triumph when they actually achieved military victory. The United States hasn’t won a war in decades so this kind of military parade is little more than a display of military hardware. I guess it can also reassure a commander in chief who is feeling particularly insecure because he hasn’t actually won a war.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 7th, 2018 at 10:00 am

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Plebeians Need Not Apply

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Being within the blast radius of the Super Bowl this year, I’ve had an opportunity to get an up close and personal view of this yearly religious festival. What continues to fascinate me is how much the plebeians love this event even though it’s obviously not for them.

As more than 1,000 Super Bowl ticket holders descend on the Twin Cities in their private jets to attend a game that costs a median of $5,000 to attend the plebeians are expressing some outrage over the inevitable price increases:

From $65 parking to $1,000 caviar or $800 for a night in a Shakopee hotel, the laws of supply and demand are kicking into high gear around the Twin Cities as a crush of visitors descends on the region. Locals may not be willing to pay the eye-popping prices, but businesses are counting on some fervent football fans opening their wallets and purses.

One downtown restaurant, Ike’s Food and Cocktails, caused an internet uproar Monday when word leaked of a $36 guacamole and chips on its Super Bowl menu — alongside $72 beef skewers and other pricey items. A manager said the guacamole should have said $12, and the regular menu would still be available, but the restaurant is now offering a free order of guacamole to people who order something else and mention “Guac-Gate 2018.”

Some restaurants are rolling out special menus with offerings tailored to the high rollers. The Oceanaire’s Super Bowl night menu includes $1,000 Iranian gold caviar, $72 for arctic char or $99 for 24 ounces of lobster tail. Penny pinchers may want to stick to the $14 side of creamed corn.

I don’t blame these businesses. If I had a restaurant near the US Bank Stadium, I’d be jacking up my prices as well. When there is a huge influx of cash into your area, you should try to grab some of it.

However, there is some cosmic karma at work here. A lot of plebeians cheered when it was announced that the new US Bank Stadium would be built… and they would pay for it. Now that the stadium is built and hosting the biggest game of the year, they can’t afford to attend it. Not only that but they also can’t get reservations at the restaurants they like, park in the parking spots they like, or ride the government choo choo that they paid for on game day. They’re getting what they wanted and they’re getting to good and hard and I couldn’t be happier.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 1st, 2018 at 10:30 am

Drugs are Bad, M’kay

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What would happen to you if law enforcers discovered that you were distributing a lot of opioids in your area? The most likely outcome would involve a SWAT team storming into your home at oh dark thirty, shooting your dog, and holding your family at gunpoint until they become bored with tossing your joint and decide to kidnap you so they can go home. You would receive this treatment because of a combination of two factors. First, the government had decided that there is an opioid epidemic that it needs to fight. Second, you’re not a sanctioned opioid dealer.

But things are different for sanctioned opioid dealers:

Drug companies hosed tiny towns in West Virginia with a deluge of addictive and deadly opioid pills over the last decade, according to an ongoing investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

For instance, drug companies collectively poured 20.8 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into the small city of Williamson, West Virginia, between 2006 and 2016, according to a set of letters the committee released Tuesday. Williamson’s population was just 3,191 in 2010, according to US Census data.

When you’ve received a government sanction to deal drugs you don’t end up looking down the barrel of a SWAT team gun in the middle of the night. Instead some letters of inquiry are sent to you and various oversight boards. You might be dragged in front of Congress to testify on C-SPAN so the country can see that their politicians are doing something. After being grilled by two or three members of Congress you will be allowed to return home and that’s where your hardship will likely end.

Situations like this really illustrate that the war on drugs isn’t about safety, it’s about the government ensuring it and its cronies get a cut. After all, if the government was actually concerned about the opioid epidemic that it claims to be fighting, opioids wouldn’t be legally available at all or, at the very least, situations like this would result in immediate arrests.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 31st, 2018 at 10:30 am

The Freest Country on Earth

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Where else besides the freest country on Earth can a sporting event turn an entire city into an open-ended military presence:

With Super Bowl festivities swinging into full gear, so have the massive security measures that have lent downtown Minneapolis a distinctly military ambience.

Police officers with bomb-sniffing dogs patrol skyways and downtown streets. Rifle-toting deputies in Army fatigues and helmets stand watch over Nicollet Mall, which has been swamped with visitors to the Super Bowl Live event. Video feeds from 2,000 cameras are monitored in a law-enforcement command center near U.S. Bank Stadium.


In the time it took Lisa Cook to walk across the Hennepin Avenue Bridge to her job downtown, she had counted two “convoys” consisting of three “armored vehicles and a variety of marked and unmarked vans and trucks,” along with dozens of officers from departments around the metro, she said.


There are unseen elements, too: snipers perched on rooftops and in buildings in strategic places around downtown and plainclothes officers blending into crowds. A reporter visiting Nicollet Mall on Monday was approached by a plainclothes officer identifying himself as “NFL security,” who asked why the reporter was taking photographs and asked to see his media credentials.

It’s rather fascinating to me that so many people living here in the United States still consider themselves among the freest people on Earth. While the Bill of Rights; with its guarantee of press freedoms, free speech, the right to bear arms, etc.; certainly looks impressive, it is little more than a fiction. All of the so-called rights describe in that document can be revoked by the government at its whim. Consider the reported mentioned in the above excerpt. What if he didn’t have press credentials? My guess would be that he would have been removed. I’m also fairly certain that your right to free speech is pretty limited in Minneapolis at the moment, especially around the building hosting official Super Bowl events. Your right to bear arms isn’t going to get past the military goon squads that have setup the various checkpoints.

I’m fond of saying that your rights end where a politician’s perception of safety begins. An addendum to that is that your rights also end when a multibillion dollar organization decides to host an event in your area.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 31st, 2018 at 10:00 am