April 28, 2013
“Attack Countermeasures” Video Shows How Not to Be a Victim
May 2, 2013
Pope Absurdly Blames Unemployment on Profit
May 5, 2013
Penny Nance’s Strange Bedfellows
(No, the Enlightenment did not cause the Holocaust.)
April 28, 2013
“Attack Countermeasures” Video Shows How Not to Be a Victim
May 2, 2013
Pope Absurdly Blames Unemployment on Profit
May 5, 2013
Penny Nance’s Strange Bedfellows
(No, the Enlightenment did not cause the Holocaust.)
The school board of Dove Creek, Colorado, has taken the safety of its students seriously by allowing school administrators to carry defensive guns.
Nancy Lofholm reports for today’s Denver Post:
In a first-of-its-kind move in Colorado, a rural school board has given two of its top administrators new job titles—security officer. The new titles make it possible to bypass state gun laws and carry guns in schools. . . . Their security officer contracts were approved by the board at a February meeting. Each will be paid $1 a year for their officer duties to make the deal legitimate.
I wrote about this possibility late last year:
Colorado law already allows schools to invite those with lawfully permitted concealed handguns into their halls—if schools do it the right way. . . .
Colorado law allows “public” schools to bring in “security officers” “retained by contract” by the district. The law is non-specific as to how much a security officer must be paid. So my plan is simply for a school to hire 40 (or so) concealed-carry permit holders—parents, retired police officers, military veterans, etc.—at a dollar each per year, to take shifts patrolling the school. . . .
[O]bviously willing and trained teachers and administrators could be declared “security officers” as well.
Hopefully other school districts will follow the same sensible policy—and hopefully those officials carrying guns will get top-notch training in using a firearm in emergency situations.
April 14, 2013
3D Metal Printing Revolution Makes Possible the “Impossible”
April 24, 2013
“There Are no Values” through Islam
April 1, 2013
Bionic Eye—Not a Miracle
April 4, 2013
Stockton Ain’t All that’s Bankrupt
April 9, 2013
Margaret Thatcher: Warrior for Liberty
April 11, 2013
States Pass Rights-Violating Abortion Restrictions
The Objective Standard published two of my pieces in the Spring 2013 issue (not counting my blog posts).
The first in an interview: “Robert G. Natelson on State-Driven Amendments to Restrain Federal Spending.” (Elsewhere I published a series of videos of Natelson speaking on the same subject.)
Natelson summarizes the issue at hand:
Essentially, though, there are two ways to propose amendments for ratification or rejection by the states. One is for Congress to propose; the other is for two-thirds of the state legislatures to require Congress, through resolutions called “applications,” to call a “convention for proposing amendments.” A convention for proposing amendments is essentially a meeting of delegations sent by the state legislatures themselves, organized on a one-state, one-vote basis. In lieu of Congress, the convention decides whether to propose one or more amendments for ratification or rejection.
My second piece is a book review of Beyond Politics. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good book about “public choice” economics, but it has some serious problems. I conclude:
Despite its serious theoretical problems—problems shared by most economic texts today—Beyond Politics offers a powerful critique of many types of government economic controls. Those who read it carefully will better understand the common rationale for government intervention in the economy—and the “public choice” criticisms of such intervention. Although Simmons does not offer anything like a complete case for capitalism that integrates morality and economics, he offers some important economic tools useful in building or fortifying such a case.
You can read the complete articles—and all the other great content in the Spring issue—over at The Objective Standard.
The gun laws recently proposed (or passed) in Colorado and at the national level will not reduce violent crime. Something that will reduce the number and destructiveness of mass murders is citizens preparing for such attacks and responding appropriately.
Of course, your chances of ever finding yourself in the middle of a situation like that at the Aurora theater or the school in Newtown are extremely low. A tiny fraction of homicides are mass murders, and a tiny fraction of mass murders are the random and large-scale events that generate international headlines for months on end. You’re far more likely to die in a car crash than to die at the hands of a mass murderer.
Still, there is some chance, however slight, that you will find yourself confronted by a mass murderer, so it is worth some time thinking and planning how to respond. Perhaps surprisingly, even the New York Times picked up on this theme in an April 6 story written by Erica Goode. Following are some of the highlights from that article:
The speed and deadliness of recent high-profile shootings have prompted police departments to recommend fleeing, hiding or fighting in the event of a mass attack, instead of remaining passive and waiting for help. . . .
Research on mass shootings over the last decade has bolstered the idea that people at the scene of an attack have a better chance of survival if they take an active stance rather than waiting to be rescued by the police, who in many cases cannot get there fast enough to prevent the loss of life. . . .
In the absence of a police presence, how victims responded often made the difference between life and death, Dr. Blair said.
In 16 of the attacks studied by the researchers [at Texas State University], civilians were able to stop the perpetrator, subduing him in 13 cases and shooting him in 3 cases. In other attacks, civilians have obstructed or delayed the gunman until the police arrived. . . .
“The take-home message is that you’re not helpless and the actions you take matter,” Dr. [J. Pete] Blair [of the university] said. “You can help yourself and certainly buy time for the police to get there.”
Here is the video from the Houston’s Office of Public Safety mentioned in the article:
I’ve produced two videos and an interview on the matter.
The interview (with my father), available at TOS Blog, is “Linn Armstrong on Self-Defense and Guns.”
I also conducted another interview on video with my dad:
And I conducted an interview with Alon Stivi (with whom my father has worked), who developed a program for Attack Countermeasures Training.
So don’t be paranoid, but do be prepared.
March 3, 2013
The Fruits of Capitalism Are All Around Us
March 7, 2013
Minimum Wage Laws: Economically Harmful Because Immoral
March 11, 2013
Judge Properly Tosses New York City Soda Ban
March 12, 2013
Guns: Legislation Should be Based on Individual Rights, not Group Averages
March 16, 2013
Thomas Friedman Embraces Keystone Extortion
March 20, 2013
Cyprus Rejects One Form of Theft, Leaves Others Intact
March 22, 2013
The Real Purpose of Central Banks
March 28, 2013
What’s Wrong with Stomping on “Jesus”?
March 30, 2013
As Some Filipinos Try to Die, One Tries to Live
Constitutional scholar Robert Natelson recently spoke in Grand Junction on the Second Amendment. He explained the historical roots of the amendment and its meaning in the modern world. He also harshly criticized anti-gun legislation of Colorado’s majority of Democrats.
Constitutional scholar Robert Natelson spoke at a Pro Second Amendment Committee banquet in Grand Junction March 23. I’ll release his entire speech soon. In this segment, Natelson compares the right to have sex with the right to keep and bear arms—and he points out that the majority of Colorado’s Democrats hypocritically protect the former while infringing the latter.
Ask yourself, what would be the reaction of the Colorado legislature’s majority to a proposal requiring a background check before anyone could exercise the Constitutional right of nonmarital sex?
What would be the reaction to a bill saying that the eager couple even had to pay the fee for the background check?
What would be the reaction of Speaker Ferrandino or Senate President Morse to a bill stating that the eager couple was limited to “fifteen rounds,” so to speak?
Absurd, our legislative leaders might say? Indeed not. Natelson points out that the annual number of deaths due to sexually transmitted diseases is comparable to the number of violent deaths involving firearms.
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Alon Stivi, CEO of Direct Measures International, recently attended an event in Grand Junction, where he agreed to a short interview. Stivi developed a certification program in Attack Countermeasures Training to help school administrators, teachers, and office personnel effectively respond to active shooters and terrorist attacks.
One of the points Stivi makes is that renewed military action in the Middle East (which seems very likely to me within the next few months) could spur terrorist organizations to step up their attacks on American and other western targets. And “we need to be prepared,” he points out.
Colorado’s Republican leaders fought valiantly against the anti-gun bills promoted by the Democrats. And yet, as angry as I am with the Democrats—including Governor Hickenlooper, who just this morning signed into law the ambiguously drafted, rights-violating gun magazine restrictions and the registration requirement for all gun purchases—the simple fact is that Republicans bear much of the responsibility for the passage of these bills.
By promoting rights-violating policies of their own, Republicans did two things that brought about passage of the anti-gun laws. First, they handed Democrats all the arguments used to restrict gun sales and use. Second, they handed Democrats control over every branch of Colorado government by alienating most Interior West voters.
When Democrats pass anti-gun bills, that’s just Democrats being Democrats. As State Senator Evie Hudak made clear, Democrats think that individuals are too stupid and irresponsible to make their own decisions and lead their own lives, so therefore Democrats must step in and control people’s lives for them. No surprise there. So it is the Republicans, who very often pretend to champion individual liberty and free markets, who are the real disappointment. Consider some examples.
The Drug War
We know that Democrats want to outlaw so-called “high-capacity gun magazines,” however defined. But Republicans hardly put themselves in a position to complain.
Last fall, Colorado voters approved Amendment 64, allowing possession of low-capicity bags of marijuana. Many Republicans fought against not only high-capacity bags of marijuana, but low-capacity bags as well. Why? Like their ideological brothers in the Democratic Party, these Republicans think that individuals are just too stupid and irresponsible to make their own decisions and lead their own lives, so therefore politicians and bureaucrats must tell people what to do—and throw them in jail if they stray from that path.
And yet let’s compare the two items. If someone consumes marijuana, about the worst thing he’s likely to do is sit on the couch and munch Doritos. Sure, he’d endanger others by driving or operating other heavy machinery, but the same goes for alcohol. On the other hand, a criminal who obtains a gun magazine actually can kill a lot of people with it. So when Republicans advocate the prohibition of high-capacity and low-capacity bags of marijuana, but say they’re all for “high-capicity” gun magazines, their arguments ring hollow with hypocrisy.
Amendment 64 also legalized hemp under Colorado law. Why have Republicans opposed the legalization of hemp? Quite simply because the hemp plant looks like the type of marijuana plant that contains the drug TCH. The party that wants to ban the sale and possession of plants based on what they look like, is hardly in a position to offer any serious protest when Democrats want to ban so-called “assault weapons” based on what they look like.
Likewise, the party that wants to throw my wife in prison for seeking an abortion—even in cases of rape and risks to her health—for buying the “wrong” sorts of birth control, and for seeking the “wrong” sorts of fertility treatments, is hardly in a position to complain when the Democrats want to throw my wife (and me) in jail for trading the “wrong” gun magazines.
The Democrats honed their strategy of attacking Republicans as waging a “war on women” right here in Colorado, starting with Ken Buck, the U.S. Senate candidate who endorsed the anti-abortion “personhood” measure before backing away from it. Colorado now has three sitting members of Congress who have supported the same nonsense. And even now Rand Paul is floating a nationwide “personhood” measure (although not consistently).
Not only are anti-abortion Republicans wrong in the issue, they have destroyed the dominance once held by Republicans in this state.
Republicans who oppose equal protection under the law for gay couples, hardly can seriously complain when Democrats deny gun owners equal protection under the law.
As a political strategy, nothing could have been stupider than for the GOP to agitate wealthy, technologically savvy gay men—Jared Polis is worth $160 million, while Tim Gill is worth $400 million. And these men have helped bankroll the Democratic takeover of Colorado.
And look how Republicans handle arguments about things like gay marriage and civil unions. Colorado’s gay speaker of the house, Mark Ferrandino, said the civil unions bill is “about love, it’s about family, and it’s about equality under the law.” What did the Republicans argue? Rep. Lori Saine, R-Dacono said, “What this bill is about, really, is the Bible. Is it right or wrong?”
In other words, one side makes plausible moral arguments and argues equality under the law; the other side invoked ancient mythology and ghost stories. (Some Republicans did support the bill; they’re excluded from the criticisms of this section. Please note that I don’t support every aspect of the bill, although I do support gay marriage.)
The Democrats have proudly assumed the mantle of the party of reason, while the Republicans have proudly surrendered that mantle. So, when the Democrats pretend that all they want are “reasonable, common-sense gun restrictions,” their claims have a superficial plausibility, thanks to the faith-based claims typical of Republicans.
Many Republicans support federal background checks for employment. Can they seriously oppose federal background checks for gun sales? Such Republicans are ridiculous.
Many Republicans openly and loudly endorse government action to blatantly violate the rights of business owners to freely negotiate labor contracts. The injustices of such Republican policies dwarf the rights violations of the Democrats with respect to gun sales.
The Republicans tell business owners, “You may not hire undocumented Mexicans to manufacture large gun magazines.” The Democrats merely add, “You may not hire Americans, either.”
* * *
As I tell my friends, Democrats have not won a single important election in Colorado in many years. The trouble is that Republicans find a way to lose every important election (a few safe seats aside). How do Republicans manage this?
To a large degree, the Colorado GOP has been the party that wants to throw women in prison for controlling their own bodies, the party that’s hostile to homosexuals, and party that’s hostile to immigrants.
Colorado Republicans have developed a reputation—largely earned—for being the anti-gay, anti-immigration, anti-women party, and then Republicans stand around after getting their asses kicked, election after election, scratching their heads and wondering what happened.
So, yes, the Democrats deserve blame and condemnation for ramming through the anti-gun laws. But, really, they’re just following in Republican footsteps. Perhaps this loss will serve as a wake-up call for Republicans to change their path.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
February 20, 2013
The Importance of Protocols for Living Well and Avoiding Problems
February 22, 2013
Is Africa the Next Beneficiary of the Industrial Revolution?
February 25, 2013
Anne Hathaway’s Hard Work is No Sacrifice
March 1, 2013
Don’t Expand Sales Taxes, Abolish Them
Even if every legal gun sale could be approved and tracked by the federal government, that would have practically no impact on crime. What it would do is redirect limited police resources away from tracking and catching criminals, toward tracking peaceable citizens and harassing them over paperwork errors and violations.
People who commit crimes with guns usually fall into two categories. Either they are one-time killers, in which case a background check will not stop them from legally buying a gun first, or they are career criminals, in which case they are experts at acquiring black market items. In either case, a background check does no good.
That said, in a tiny fraction of cases, a background check might delay a criminal’s plans by pushing him into the black market. In any case, no self-respecting gun owner wants to sell a gun to someone who, due to past criminal violence, cannot legally possess one. So is there a way to set up background checks that do not violate the rights of gun owners or misdirect police resources? I think there might be.
Notice than any possible background check system must employ a “no buy” list, a list of people who may not legally buy a gun. The problem with the existing background check system (and proposed extensions of it) is that it also creates a “buy” list, a list of noncriminals who purchase a gun.
Today’s background check system is a system of gun-owner registration. No, these records are not kept in a central database; instead, they are kept by gun sellers, and they are open to inspection by federal agents at the discretion of those federal agents. Those records could become part of a central database by political fiat. The problem with the federal government registering gun owners (beyond the fact that it’s properly none of the damn business of federal bureaucrats) is that registration can lead to gun confiscation and has already done so in various regions of Europe and the United States.
My modest proposal, then, is to replace the current background check system with one that uses only a “no buy” list. By saying a person with a criminal record cannot legally buy a gun, we are in effect giving that person a sort of extended probation. (The method by which that should be declared is beyond the scope of this article.) Rather than keep its list of criminals to itself, the government could simply publish that list on the internet, along with the photographs of the criminals. Then, if a gun owner wanted to sell a gun to someone, he could check the I.D. and likeness of the buyer against the alphabetized list of criminals. At no point would the gun owner even need to type in the name of the buyer.
Incidentally, employers, dating services, and so on could use the same list for their own purposes.
How would this be enforced? Selling a gun to a known criminal without bothering to check the database would become a tort. If necessary, lawmakers could remove any limitations of liability for those who fail to check the database when selling a gun. Or lawmakers could impose a criminal penalty for selling a gun without checking the database, although this could open the door to abusive enforcement. (It’s already a crime to knowingly sell a gun to someone legally barred from buying one.)
Such a system would have its limitations (as does the current system). Someone with criminal intent but without a criminal record would show up clean. And someone could fake an I.D. But if a criminal has the time and resources to fake an I.D., he’s already able to buy a gun illegally, anyway.
The larger problem with the list is the loss of privacy of those on it. However, if someone goes to the effort of imposing criminal harm on others, I don’t see that loss of privacy as a big deal legally or morally. Moreover, people on the “no buy” list would properly have expedited legal recourse for getting their names removed if appropriate.
Such a list would have a hard time accommodating those declared mentally incompetent to buy a gun. However, I don’t regard that as an overwhelming objection. If someone is so obviously mentally ill that he’s a threat to himself or others, he needs a lot closer attention than simply to be placed on a list. The way to handle such problems is to address them directly, not harass and intimidate millions of American gun owners for the sake of a tiny population of those with severe mental illness.
Regarding those who have some other flag in the background check system but no criminal record, I uphold the view—apparently out of fashion with today’s Democrats—that an individual should be presumed innocent until found guilty by a jury of his peers. If someone poses an objective threat to others, police may detain or observe him. Nevertheless, I’d rather see an openly published list of those with flags, than a system of gun-owner registration.
Obviously, the long-term goal of those who created the existing background check system is to open the door to a system of universal gun-owner registration. If such is ever achieved, the gun banners will fight relentlessly for the universal confiscation of guns, starting with the ones most useful for self-defense.
A possible alternative is for the government to publish and maintain the “no buy” list of convicted criminals (and possibly others) who may not legally buy a gun. If the goal were really to reduce crime, rather than to register peaceable gun owners, that is the plan that politicians would consider.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
February 4, 2013
To Curse Machines is to Curse the Mind
February 5, 2013
The Burgeoning Micro-Production Revolution
February 10, 2013
Interview: Linda Cordair on the Importance of Art in the Workplace
February 12, 2013
The State of Obama
January 22, 2013
Obama’s Second Inaugural Address vs. What Made America Great
January 25, 2013
America’s Suicidal Foreign Policy
January 25, 2013
Anti-Abortion Crusade is Anti-Life, Anti-Rights, Anti-Reason
January 29, 2013
Condemn Rights-Violating Policies, Not Garlic Smugglers
I read in the January 25 Westsider that the Westminster City Council is considering eliminating run-off elections for mayor:
If the top candidate does not receive 40 percent [under the current system], the top two candidates face off against each other during a run-off election. This process requires a second election, costing about $100,000. . . . Resident Tim Kauffman told council [at a January 14 meeting] the run-off election is important because the mayor position needs widespread community support.
The council will decide the measure to eliminate the run-off election on January 28, the paper reports.
Here’s how it would work. For the mayor’s election, voters would see all the candidates’ names on the ballot. Voters could vote for one or more of these candidates—as many as they “approved” of. Then the candidate with the highest vote total wins.
This guarantees that the winner has broad support, yet it saves the cost and hassle of a run-off election. What’s not to like?
The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times. Never has it been amended by state-initiated conventions. Robert Natelson, a law professor for 25 years who now works with the Independence Institute of Denver, hopes to change that. Specifically, he hopes to help persuade state legislatures to initiate and then ratify one or more amendments to restrain federal spending. With a national debt of $16.4 trillion and growing, that may be the only hope for fiscal sanity.
Natelson explained the history and purpose of Article V at Liberty On the Rocks, Flatirons, on January 14. Here is his main presentation.
Natelson also answered a variety of questions about Article V amendments. Here he addresses the problem of state dependence on federal funding, generating grassroots support, passing state measures close enough in wording to trigger a convention, the myth of the “runaway convention,” and the need for “eternal vigilance.”
Does the U.S. Constitution allow for secession? No, argues Natelson:
Natelson argues the Supreme court of the late 1930s and 1940s largely failed to uphold the U.S. Constitution:
Would an Article V convention “run away” into an unrestrained effort to rewrite the Constitution? Did the participants in the Constitutional Convention act within their established authority? Natelson addresses both questions:
Natelson addressed one final question. What were the reasons for the adoption of the Seventeenth Amendment, which allowed for the direct election of U.S. Senators? There were real problems with the old system, Natelson argues.
Image: Independence Institute
I think it was a moral crime for Cinemark to create a “fake gun free zone” at its Aurora theater, prohibiting law-abiding patrons from carrying defensive guns while doing nothing to stop armed aggressors. But not everything that is morally wrong should be legally prohibited or even legally disfavored.
Still, a Colorado bill sponsored by Kent Lambert—S. B. 13-062—is not nearly as bad as the Denver Post led me to believe. The Post wrongly claims the bill “would require business owners to allow concealed-carry permit holders to pack heat or else provide one security officer for every 50 customers and face increased liability.”
That newspaper description is not quite right (or at least it’s ambiguous). The bill would render a private business “liable for damages in any civil action” if the business forbids lawful concealed carry while failing to provide at least one armed security officer per 50 people present.
Still, the bill is pretty bad, and its effect would be to strong-arm businesses into allowing concealed carry.
Colorado is a “shall issue” concealed-carry state, meaning that any non-probited person can apply for a permit and be assured of receiving one. However, Colorado law has always recognized the right of business owners to set their own policy.
The legal rules of liability have long been established, and the Colorado legislature has no legitimate business expanding liability in this case.
In the Aurora case, the business clearly posted that it prohibited the lawful carry of firearms. Any patron could plainly see that the theater offered no security and thereby created a “fake gun free zone.” But they chose to go there anyway. This was a matter of free and voluntary association.
If Republicans start the game of expanding liability for its pet causes, the Democrats will no doubt follow suit. Remember, the Democrats have the trial lawyers on their team (for the most part). I’m sure they could think up reams of statutes expanding liability for law-abiding gun owners, gun stores, tobacco stores, liquor stores, and so on. The list is potentially endless.
Vincent Carroll offers some good reasons why Cinemark should not be held liable for its failure to provide security. To me the most compelling reason is that the risk of an event like that is extraordinarily low. We cannot justly hold someone liable for an event that they could not reasonably have predicted.
That said, I think Cinemark richly deserves public condemnation for creating a “fake gun free zone,” thereby helping to provide crowds of defenseless victims for a mass murderer.
As the Denver Post apparently has declined to publish my reply to its hysterical and misleading op-ed of January 10, I reproduce it here:
Contrary to the claims of the Denver Post‘s Jan. 10 editorial, many millions of Americans own semi-automatic rifles demonized as “assault weapons,” as well as semi-automatic handguns with factory-standard magazines between 11 and 20 rounds, for self-defense. Such guns and magazines are common not only for personal protection but for every-day police work.
The laws the Post endorses would divert limited police resources to harassing and registering millions of peaceable gun owners, while doing nothing to limit the ability of criminals to obtain guns or commit crimes.
People have a moral right to defend themselves and their families from violent aggressors, and they have a moral right to buy and own the tools making that possible.
I appreciate the Post publishing other letters favorable to gun rights. Just today the newspaper published a letter from Paul Hsieh critical of “universal background checks.” Hsieh writes, ” If a law-abiding gun owner sells his used rifle via private sale to another law-abiding gun owner without a background check, there is no victim and no harm. . . . [M]andatory background checks for private firearms purchases merely impose unnecessary new burdens on the law-abiding, but will not stop the bad guys.”
So, although the paper’s editorial board has consistently come out for more infringements on the right to bear arms, it does allow for some alternative commentary.
Image: Wikimedia Commons