Election 2016

Well, that was interesting. I, for one, was not expecting that result.

The Republicans had been on the defensive for much of the Obama presidency, often (and usually correctly) used as scapegoats for various gridlock and other problems, and so I was expecting Trump to lose the race for the presidency and his loss to affect the down-ballot results as well. Specifically, I expected the GOP to keep the House (barely) and lose the Senate due to Trump’s antics and the fact that the Republicans were playing defense this time around.

I was feeling very uncomfortable about the future of the Supreme Court, and was thinking that maybe, perhaps, the Senate Republicans should consider confirming Judge Garland to the Supreme Court to cut our losses and prevent Clinton from (immediately) nominating a more extreme candidate.

My fears were reasonable: all the polls, all the analyses, even predictions with solid models and non-delusional (looking at you, Huffington Post, with your 343-215 prediction in Clinton’s favor) thinking from groups like FiveThirtyEight (302-235, for Clinton) all predicted an almost-certain Clinton win and the Dems being likely to pick up the Senate and maybe flip the House. I could only base my fears on what seemed to be solid, time-tested analyses and projections.

I was wrong. Mea culpa.

Instead, the Republicans swept the presidency, the Senate (barely), and the House. Wow.

The only asterisk on this sweep was Trump losing the popular vote by ~0.2%, which a lot of protestors and others have latched onto. Meh. It happens sometimes and it’s no fun for the losing side, but that’s the system for you.

Anyway, I expected the gun-control groups to all be highly energized by the (assumed) Clinton win and do their damnedest to push their agenda. Frighteningly enough, anti-rights folks would have had a pretty good shot with Clinton at the helm, a D-controlled Senate, and at least one Supreme Court nomination.

While I’m not a Republican, not a fan of Trump, and don’t support many of his policies, insofar as gun rights go I’m pleased that he and the Republicans won big. At the very least, the 5-4 balance in the Supreme Court will be restored and Heller should be reasonably safe for the foreseeable future. If other justices leave the court and are replaced during the Trump administration, gun rights should be even more solid at the Supreme Court level.

Now, let’s see what the Republicans can do while they hold the House, Senate, and Presidency. Trump promised to undo the Obama executive orders on guns. Will he? I hope so. Will the Hearing Protection Act remove suppressors from the NFA? During a Clinton presidency, no way in hell. During the Trump presidency, assuming the Republicans get their collective heads out of their collective asses, quite possibly (and that’s amazing).

Trump and the Republicans pulled off a hell of a long shot with their victory this year, so forgive me for indulging in a bit of fantasy, but I’d love to see them pass national CCW reciprocity and repeal the Hughes Amendment. I have some hope for the former but very little for the latter. However, I was surprised by the election, so I’m willing to entertain them both as possible medium and long shots.

So long as Trump doesn’t make a total ass out of himself (at least try, man) and the Republicans don’t do something completely outrageous and alienating to a lot of moderates like trying to ban abortion or gay marriage in some spasm of political delirium, I have high hopes for them keeping the legislature in the next mid-term election and possibly the presidency in 2020. We shall see.

Yet another host move, this time to self-hosted.

The web host that was hosting this site is shutting down its US hosting facility at the end of the year, so I decided to move things from that host to a system I control (a Raspberry Pi 3 by my desk at home).

For testing, I may switch between using Cloudflare to proxy elements of the site for speed and security or allowing direct connections. Right now, I’m preferring direct connections.

Naturally, SSL/TLS (this time via Let’s Encrypt) and DNSSEC are enabled. Please feel free to use the TLS-encrypted version of this site in your feed reader, browser, etc. In fact, I prefer if you use the encrypted version for your own privacy.

I’ve also taken the opportunity to do some much-needed miscellaneous housekeeping around the blog, updated the theme somewhat, etc.

From what I can tell, the transfer seems to have gone off without a hitch. If you run into any issues, please let me know.

Quote of the Day

Despite having a ridiculous amount of firearms, Americans kill Americans at a higher rate with methods OTHER THAN A FIREARM than citizens in most European countries do. Think maybe it might be more complex than guns?

Maybe a lack of social safety net, an utterly underfunded mental health system, a culture of violence, a crippling cycle of poverty and lack of options for an underclass of Americans, and the failed war on drugs might have something to do with it.

– User “Statistical”, in a comment on Ars Technica.

You think? No, it clearly must be the guns…

I’m shocked: NPR runs reasonably-balanced article about AR-15s

The media seems to be going into spasms of anti-gun hysteria, all focused on the AR-15. I wouldn’t be surprised if they started claiming that AR-15s are responsible for nails in your tires, cracks in the wall, mosquito bites, and that annoying itch on your nose that only starts once you’ve picked up something heavy.

Imagine my shock when I saw an article at NPR saying, in essence, AR-15s and similar rifles are pretty ordinary, common guns that average people own for normal, non-mass-shooty things.

They seem to love quoting anti-gun UCLA professor Adam Winkler, but even he had this to say:

“These are widely available in gun stores all across America. They’re incredibly popular firearms among hobbyists and gun enthusiasts…They’ve really caught on, just because of their military styling and because of their ease of use and customization. They’re very highly customizable. You can put on your own component parts to it, take things out and easily put new things in. So some people have likened it to the iPhone of guns.”

[…]

Despite its popularity, the AR-15 is not widely used in violent crimes. The rifle’s size makes it difficult to conceal, so most criminals tend to choose something smaller, like a handgun, Winkler says. Even most mass killings are carried out using other types of weapons such as handguns, he says.

Wow. They even quoted the Gun Owners of America website about why people like such guns.

Of course, they couldn’t help quoting the anti-gun tabloid New York Daily News, nor the ambulance-chasing attorney representing Sandy Hook parents in their lawsuit against gun manufacturers, but the bulk of the article is talking about how modern firearms are popular and normal.

Did I roll out of bed and find myself in some sort of bizarro opposite world?

Weapons of War

Of the myriad firearms I own, exactly two are “weapons of war”: a Korean-war-era M1 Garand and a Swiss K31.

I don’t know the history of the former, but the latter was definitely issued to a soldier (from Canton Glarus) and not just stored in an armory somewhere.

At the time they were issued, they were both standard equipment for their respective militaries, and guns similar to my M1 were used to kill vast numbers of armed, dangerous men. Today, they’re considered “safe”, “traditional” guns that aren’t considered to be particularly dangerous.

My AR-15s, on the other hand, have never been issued to any military anywhere on earth. They were made specifically for the commercial market. Yet, somehow they’re considered “weapons of war”, too dangerous for ordinary people to own (cops are ok, though!), and should — in the eyes of some craven politicians — be banned from private possession.

Strange, that.

Nobody wants to take for your guns…

…until someone does something bad, they they drop the pretense and start talking about “banning weapons of war”, confiscating them, and instituting more gun control policies that wouldn’t do a thing to prevent criminals from getting or using guns.

So, yeah. They do want to take your guns. Quelle surprise.

Maybe they don’t plan on coming to your house and directly taking them from you now, but they’re willing to play the long game and plan on taking them eventually (particularly with the no-grandfather clauses that don’t let you pass your guns on when you die or the no-sale clauses that prohibit you from selling or transferring your guns to others).

Everyone’s an Expert

It’s amazing how many people I know that are experts in firearms, legal policy, comparative religion, hostage rescue tactics, and anti-terrorism.

Here I was thinking they were ordinary people at ordinary jobs, but after a terrible event they all seem to declare knowledge such things.

Go figure.

Shooting at gun-free, campus-carry-free UCLA

What appears to have been a tragic murder-suicide took place yesterday at UCLA.  Terrible. I can particularly relate, as I myself am involved in academia, am a father, and am only a few years younger than the victim.

As you likely know, California has some of the strictest gun control in the nation, concealed carry permits are rarely issued in Los Angeles, campus carry is strictly forbidden, and UCLA is a gun-free zone. Once again, it turns out that declaring a place to be “gun-free” doesn’t accomplish anything, since bad people doing bad things will simply ignore those policies. Big surprise.

Instead, the whole campus goes into lockdown only to discover that many of the doors don’t actually lock from the inside. Worse, many of the doors open outwards, making it difficult for the students to barricade them: several news reports show students using electrical cords to tie doors to chairs and tables that are bolted to the floor, using belts to secure hydraulic door closers, etc.

While I applaud the ingenuity of the students solving a problem under pressure, the fact that the doors can’t be locked from the inside is absurd.

Next, some minor criticism of the cops and their response. I don’t mean to armchair quarterback, but, to use a biology reference, the response of the cops seems more along the lines of an allergic reaction rather than a beneficial immune system response. Tons of local and federal (federal agents as first responders at a state university? That seems a bit odd to me.) SWATed-up cops swarmed the campus. They did door-to-door checks of rooms on campus to ensure they were secure, but it seems that they failed to announce themselves as police first, to the terror of students and staff in the rooms who only saw unknown heavily-armed men jiggling door handles trying to get into room. When you have overwhelming force, it can’t hurt to be polite and at least announce yourself as police.

When the police make students line up on their knees with their hands on their heads before being searched and allowed to leave may be practical from a safety standpoint, but it presents a chilling, disturbing image that sits very poorly with me.

Anti-gun folks are already using this incident as an example of the risks of campus carry. On the contrary, this is an example of the folly of gun-free zones and the benefits of campus carry.

One of the commonly-expressed concerns about campus carry is that a student upset about a particular topic or grade will threaten or shoot a professor: it’s clear that this can happen regardless of state, local, or campus rules prohibiting guns on campus or in certain areas, let alone laws against assault, threats, murder, etc. It should be evident that such policies serve only to leave ordinary, non-criminal people defenseless in the face of violent criminals.

Still, carrying is not a panacea: it’s certainly possible for a bad guy with the element of surprise to get the drop on someone, but after that things become much harder for the bad guy if they are intent on causing mass casualties  — instead of potential victims hiding helplessly in rooms, they can arm themselves and present a much more effective defense in the event they’re attacked. Why anyone would be opposed to this is beyond me.

Lastly, anti-gun folks often say that “guns don’t belong on campus”, that somehow the presence of concealed firearms carried by “good guys with guns” will upset some campus-specific qi and make the campus more hostile, and that guns won’t solve anything. If guns in the hands of good guys aren’t a good thing or if guns don’t solve anything, why call for armed police in such a situation? Guns are already present on campus — whether lawfully carried by campus police officers for purposes of good, illegally carried by criminals for nefarious purposes, or by honest-but-technically-law-breaking people unwilling to risk their safety by going unarmed — and barring the occasional act of criminal violence, the academic environment seems to handle it just fine.

This incident should be a call for action in support of campus carry and the removal of useless, dangerous gun-free zones. Call your legislator today.