Details on the Denver Shootout

More details are in about the recent shootout in Denver.

Ivan Moreno, who has some clue when it comes to firearms, writes for the November 16 Rocky Mountain News, “Police said the suspect, 26-year-old Phuong Van Dang, walked from table to table at the Ha Noi restaurant, masked and carrying [a] black 12-gauge shotgun and a duffel.”

So the criminal carried a shotgun, not a rifle, as I’d thought previously. And the three customers were shot by the officers.

Police Chief Gerry Whitman defended the officers’ actions, notes Moreno: “They had to do something. It wasn’t a situation were they could say, ‘Stop! Police!’ because it could turn into a hostage situation. They’re trained to stop a threat, and they did exactly that.”

However, some of the details of the story raise questions about the officers’ training:

The detectives were about 12 to 15 feet from the suspect when each fired six shots, hitting Dang five times, said Division Chief David Fisher. Four of those bullets passed through Dang’s body, according to the preliminary investigation, Fisher said.

A couple and their son, who were behind Dang, were each shot once by the detectives’ gunfire. One was shot in the ankle, and another on the side. A bullet grazed the third’s leg.

So, at twelve to fifteen feet, the officers hit a large target five of twelve rounds. That’s not so unusual; police officers generally miss most of the time at close range in a real shootout. It’s harder than most people imagine to shoot accurately in a high-stress situation. Still, you don’t want seven bullets flying off-target in a restaurant. Did each officer empty his gun?

I wonder what sort of ammunition the officers were carrying. Given that four of five rounds passed through the suspect’s body, I have to wonder if the bullets were fully jacketed. If so, I’d be interested to hear the rationale for carrying jacketed rounds as opposed to hollow-points (which tend to mushroom on impact, slowing their progression). Of course, it may have been better for the bystanders to be hit with jacketed bullets, but it’s better yet for bystanders not to be hit.

To me, this is the big point: one of the officers hit a bystander in the ankle. What that suggests is that the officer may have had his finger on the trigger as he pulled his gun from the holster, causing him to shoot prematurely toward the ground. If this was the case, then that reflects poor training. Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to shoot.

I’m no expert in this, but I’d like to hear a discussion about whether it’s a good idea to drop as quickly as possible to a knee when firing at an armed criminal in a crowded area. My reasoning is that, if bystanders drop to the ground, and responsive fire is headed upward, bystanders are less likely to be hit. Of course, dropping to a knee might also limit mobility.

Still, given the details that have so far emerged, the officers deserve the benefit of the doubt. I wasn’t there, so I don’t know the demeanor and actions of the criminal. It seems likely, though, that the officers seriously believed that the armed criminal posed a substantial threat to their own lives and the lives of others. It is fortunate that no innocent person was killed.

In general, people carrying concealed guns, whether they are officers or civilians, have a responsibility to draw and fire only if somebody’s life is in real danger. Civilians have more of an incentive to fire in fewer situations — and to shoot more accurately — because officers generally are protected from both criminal and civil action. If police officers get sued, ultimately tax payers pick up the tab. If a civilian fires irresponsibly, he or she can get into big trouble.

Nevertheless, in this case, a masked, armed robber obviously poses a serious threat to the lives of others. The ultimate responsibility for the injuries to the bystanders rests with the criminal.

Cofree Update: Ingraham, Corporate Welfare

New from the Colorado Freedom Report:

Laura Ingraham Supports Iraq War, Religious Values

… After urging Republicans to offer a populist message to appeal to “the little person,” Ingraham promoted religious values. She worried that people are “numb and dumb to the pornification of our culture.” She said that, without virtue, “you can kiss the free market goodbye.” Unfortunately, the “free love generation” continues to influence the culture, she said.

Ingraham suggested that Republicans can win in 2008 with five issues: restraining taxes, fighting terrorism, promoting ethics, fighting illegal immigration, and promoting “life,” by which she meant opposing abortion.

Ingraham said that religious practice is paramount. She quoted George Washington to the effect that religion is necessary to the nation’s morality. …

New administration promotes same old corporate welfare

… To fund corporate welfare, politicians and the bureaucrats they empower take money by force from some people in order to give the money to others who have not earned it. The practice is immoral because people have the right to decide how to spend their own resources. You have the right to spend your income with the business of your choice, rather than the business that politicians force you to subsidize. Each taxpayer is made a bit worse off so that the favored few can collect the extorted wealth. …

Get Ready for Forced "Energy Efficiency"

P. Solomon Banda writes for the AP: “Despite Colorado’s drive to develop renewable energy, the state will still need the equivalent of 13 new 350-megawatt plants to satisfy its power needs by 2025, according to a report by… [the] Colorado Energy Forum.”

The article reports that “Matt Baker, executive director of Environment Colorado,” said, “We don’t believe we will need that much electricity. We think it’s totally doable to meet the (new) demand through an investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

As noted previously, new plants powered by coal or nuclear reaction are unlikely in this state. “Renewable energy” is not going to close the gap. So we are left with “investment in energy efficiency.” What does that mean? It means that we’re going to have to spend more resources (time included) to use less electricity. And the amount of energy that we’re able to use will be determined by what Matt Baker and his ilk deem that we “need.”

False Definition of ‘Personhood’

Electa Draper writes for The Denver Post today:

The Colorado Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the go-ahead to proponents of a ballot initiative seeking to amend the state constitution in 2008 to define personhood as a fertilized egg. …

The amendment, if approved by voters, would extend constitutional protections from the moment of conception, guaranteeing every fertilized egg the right to life, liberty, equality of justice and due process of law.

Kathryn Wittenben, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, argued that the measure is misleading, reports Draper: “Proponents of this initiative have publicly stated that the goal is to make all abortion illegal, but nothing in the language of the initiative or its title even mentions abortion.”

But the “initiative’s 20-year-old proponent, Kristi Burton, founder of Colorado for Equal Rights,” was undeterred: “This is a very simple petition. That’s all we need… The people of Colorado will support protecting human life at every stage. More than that, we have God. And he is enough.”

And Dinesh D’Souza wonders why atheists bother to criticize Christianity and its politics?

Diana Hsieh points out the inevitable consequences, should the measure pass (which is highly unlikely). Hsieh mentions a “horrifying story of a woman allowed to die of a totally non-viable ectopic pregnancy due to Nigaragua’s strict anti-abortion law.”

Here is a summary from the original article:

Two weeks after Olga Reyes danced at her wedding, her bloated and disfigured body was laid to rest in an open coffin — the victim, her husband and some experts say, of Nicaragua’s new no-exceptions ban on abortion.

Reyes, a 22-year-old law student, suffered an ectopic pregnancy. The fetus develops outside the uterus, cannot survive and causes bleeding that endangers the mother. But doctors seemed afraid to treat her because of the anti-abortion law, said husband Agustin Perez. By the time they took action, it was too late.

And this is what is called the “culture of life.”

Is More Government the Answer to Global Warming?

John Stossel points out that central economic controls don’t work.

There are good reasons to begin with a presumption against government action. As coercive monopolies that spend other people’s money taken by force, governments are uniquely unqualified to solve problems. They are riddled by ignorance, perverse incentives, incompetence and self-serving. The synthetic-fuels program during the Carter years consumed billions of dollars and was finally disbanded as a failure. The push for ethanol today is more driven by special interests than good sense — it’s boosting food prices while producing a fuel of dubious environmental quality. …

[E]ven drastic plans to cut the use of carbon-based energy would make only a negligible difference. As John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a member of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal:

“Suppose you are very serious about making a dent in carbon emissions and could replace about 10 percent of the world’s energy sources with non-CO2-emitting nuclear power by 2020 — roughly equivalent to halving U.S. emissions. Based on IPCC-like projections, the required 1,000 new nuclear power plants would slow the warming by about 0.2 degrees Fahrenheit per century. It’s a dent.”

Bill Ritter wants to reduce Colorado’s emissions by 20 percent by 2020. True, he also wants to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050, but there are four main problems with his “plan.” First, Ritter’s plan is fantasy. Neither he nor any of his advisers have the faintest idea of how that goal might be achieved. Second, if Ritter’s plan results in merely pushing people out of Colorado to avoid the high taxes and expenses, Ritter won’t have accomplished much by way of “solving” global warming. Third, Colorado contains a tiny fraction of the world’s population. Fourth, even if Ritter could seriously reduce emissions through political controls, the benefits would be miniscule, while the costs would be astronomical.

Welfare for All

One might think that the welfare state started out soaking the rich in order to subsidize the poor. Yet the Social Security payroll tax, a regressive tax in its collection, has always redistributed wealth from the young to the elderly, regardless of income, though the distribution does favor the poor somewhat. Increasingly, the welfare state is about soaking the middle class in order to subsidize the middle class.

Ernest Istook of the Heritage Foundation provided some scary numbers in a recent editorial. He writes, “Today, almost half of America’s children — 45 percent — have their health care paid for by taxpayers. The children’s health bill (SCHIP) now before Congress would boost this to 55 percent.” SCHIP stands for “State Children’s Health Insurance Program,” which is (obviously) mostly funded by federal tax dollars, Istook notes. Istook calls the jump from 45 to 55 percent “the tipping point.” However, not only could SCHIP put most children in government-run health care, it could increase tax-funding of all health care from “almost half” to “the majority of all health care.” Istook predicts, “Eventually, the whole country would be under Washington-run health care, using tax dollars to pay the bills.”

The SCHIP bill claims to cover kids in families earning three times the level of poverty — $62,000 for a family of four — but it goes further, because states are free to disregard huge chunks of income to make more people eligible. This “free” health care for the middle class mostly substitutes government coverage for existing private insurance, because more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the kids who would be newly eligible are already covered by private policies.

Yes, SCHIP would redistribute wealth from from those with more money to those with less — on average. However, SCHIP would also redistribute more money from people like my wife and me, who have put off having children because of our insane tax burden, to people who choose to have children but not financially support them. The main problem with the welfare state is not that it punishes productivity to reward poverty. Its problem is that it punishes the responsible in order to reward the irresponsible.

Let me say this. It is likely that, when my wife and I finally manage to crawl our way out of debt despite handing over many thousands of dollars every year in taxes, we will make less than $62,000 per year as a household, primarily because we’ve decided to raise our (potential) children ourselves, rather than let government employees raise them. All of you pathetic vote buyers and faux social do-gooders can keep your goddamn “socialism for the children.” We want no part of it. We don’t want the government to force other people to pay for the health care of our children. No self-respecting parent wants that. But, as the welfare state expands, our culture does not value self-respecting parents; it values political nannies.

We ask for only one thing. We ask for you to leave us the hell alone. If you’d just leave us alone — leave us alone, for Christ’s sake! — we’d have no problem affording children or their health care.

The Morality of Force

Yesterday I discussed Governor Bill Ritter’s plans to ask for more tax dollars — for a goal yet to be decided.

The Rocky Mountain News article that I cited contains another telling line:

Ritter appeared before the committee to present his first proposed budget, which was received warmly, signaling it has a good chance of being adopted mostly intact.

Ritter told the committee that his “moral document” would boost funding for higher education and children’s health care…

In other words, Ritter believes that it is moral to take wealth by force from some people in order to give it to others. Thus, it is no surprise that Ritter wants to increase tax spending even more than it has already been increased in recent years. Yesterday I asked, “And how much will he ask for?” The answer is, “As much as he can get away with.” That is, as much as Coloradans will tolerate. According to Ritter’s explicit moral premises, there is no “moral” limit to increases in tax spending, so long as some people have wealth that other people “need.” According to Ritter’s philosophy, people who earn wealth have no right to it. In times past, Ritter’s “moral” philosophy at its most consistent was summed up by the principle, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

Yet Ritter is not content merely to forcibly transfer wealth and allow the recipients to define their needs. Instead, he wants to tell people what they need, then redistribute wealth accordingly. For example, Ritter’s administration thinks that children “need” to be taught more rigorously how to be good little environmentalists — at taxpayer’s expense, of course. As David Harsanyi writes for The Denver Post:

Not long ago, Ritter assembled the P-20 Education Coordinating Council to foster a “seamless education system from pre-school to grad- school.”

Nowhere in the literature of the P-20 Education Coordinating Council — and I’ve looked far and wide — does it mention anything about the educational system being used to politically indoctrinate children.

Yet, the Climate Action Plan [proposed by Ritter] says that “the state will work through the Governor’s P-20 Education Council and others to make sustainability curricula become standard fare in K-12 classrooms throughout the state.”

Why doesn’t Ritter “think big” and “be bold” and propose using the tax-funded “seamless education system from pre-school to grad-school” to teach endless classes on the theme, “Why Politicians Should Run Your Life?”

Ritter the Leader

Chris Barge wrote an amusing article November 8 for the Rocky Mountain News. He reports:

Gov. Bill Ritter said Thursday he may ask voters to approve a tax increase next year to pay for either health care, transportation or higher education.

But he emphasized that while all three priorities need extra funding, only one of them should wind up on the ballot. Colorado voters are too fiscally conservative to approve more than one tax increase at a time, he said.

Barge reports that Ritter told the Joint Budget Committee, “I don’t think we can go for all three. That would be unfair to voters and would demonstrate a lack of leadership on my part and on the part of the legislature.”

We wouldn’t want a lack of leadership! Because, you know, promoting a tax increase for an unspecified goal, that’s real leadership. Especially when we’re still in the initial phase of the spending hikes from Referendum C. And, assuming that Ritter can figure out which tax hike to promote next year, when can we expect requests for the other two items? And how much will he ask for? The “208” Commission promotes health controls that will cost over a billion dollars of new taxes every year (and those are according to the figures bought by the Commission). Is that the end of the list? Even if Ritter got more tax dollars for health care, transportation, and higher education, would he be satisfied, or would he ask for still more?

Apparently, Ritter thinks that leadership consists of expanding the power, scope, and spending of government. The particulars of how that happens are of secondary concern.

Sure-Fire Plan to Reduce Emissions by 80 Percent

Vincent Carroll wrote a very nice critique of Bill Ritter’s “Climate Action Plan.”

[F]rom Page 20: “We are not prepared today to address what the state’s position should be with respect to permitting new conventional coal-fired power plants that would serve Colorado consumers.” But they promise a verdict within 12 months.

Permit me to puncture the suspense: Under this administration, the state’s position will be to oppose the permitting of any new conventional coal-fired power plants — or to impose so many conditions that the end result is the same.

Carroll also notes that the plan discusses the possibility of nuclear power, though the “plan seems to dismiss current technology as inadequate while implying that it’s unsafe.” Carroll notes that nuclear plants successfully provide large amounts of electricity in many regions of the world.

What future awaits us if Colorado politicians prevent the building of new electrical plants? Kevin R. Collins, “president and CEO of Evergreen Energy Inc., a Denver-based refined coal producer,” rushes to assure readers that he’s on the side of fighting global warming in an article for the Rocky Mountain News. Yet he offers an uncomfortable warning: “Yale professor Charles Perrow, who follows power-supply shortfalls, says ‘I’m prepared to see many more blackouts occurring. … it’s really going to be a freight train running into disaster’.”

But then it struck me: there is a sure-fire way to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses in Colorado by 80 percent! If the state’s politicians keep jacking up taxes, putting the screws to business owners, and imposing higher costs through economic controls, they might eventually succeed in driving out 80 percent of the state’s population. Then emissions will go down by 80 percent! Problem solved.

Colorado has been a growth state. One government agency predicts that the state’s population will increase to 6.3 million by 2025 — around a 35 percent increase. So we’re supposed to increase population by 35 percent and reduce emissions by over 20 percent. Obviously, something’s got to give here.

“Freedom Has Failed”

This quote from Atlas Shrugged, from the villain Wesley Mouch, chilled me. The context is that Mouch and his gang have passed directive after directive, slowly strangling the economy. Mouch is considering the imposition of new, more expansive controls:

Freedom has been given a chance and has failed. Therefore, more stringent controls are necessary. Since men are unable and unwilling to solve their problems voluntarily, they must be forced to do it. (page 503, 35th Anniversary Edition)

This quote immediately made me think of the health-policy debate in Colorado. How many times have “reformers” blamed the allegedly “free market” in medicine — for the problems caused by decades of federal and state political controls? Since men are unable and unwilling to purchase “comprehensive” health insurance “voluntarily,” they must be forced to do it.