On Returning to California

I grew up in California. The suburbs of San Francisco, to be precise.
My parents live there. Many of my friends from both child- and adulthood live there. I have lots of memories of growing up there — it’s a wonderful area with wonderful people. Lots of history in San Francisco.
Rarely does a week go by when I’m asked “Hey, Pete…when are you moving back?”
And every time, my answer is “Never, if I can avoid it.”
Don’t get me wrong — I’ll come back and visit frequently. After all, I have friends and family there. It’s only a 2 hour flight or about a 12 hour drive. Not bad at all. If I had the money, I’d come back to visit all the time. I miss my family and friends dearly, and I miss the salt air of the Bay Area (Arizona has very little moisture in the air). I miss the diverse restaurants, the people, and sitting on a pier watching the ships go by. There’s a lot I miss about California, particularly San Francisco.
But unless something big changes, I won’t move back there.
I see no reason why I should live in (and by means of taxes, support) a state that restricts, regulates, and taxes every conceivable aspect of my life. Whether it’s small issues or big ones, California and I disagree on just about everything. For example:

  • I cannot register my car for more than one year in California. In Arizona, I can register it for several years and can do this simply and easily from my home.
  • California requires a special California-only blend of gasoline to be sold in the state. This, combined with high taxes on gasoline, makes gasoline extremely expensive. (The state, which doesn’t contribute anything to the production of gasoline, makes more money from the sale of a gallon of gasoline than the oil companies who actually do all the work.)
  • Outrageous gun laws (registration, licensing, no private transfers, restrictions on guns with certain cosmetic features, no .50 BMG, right-to-carry is highly restricted and “may issue” [read: “won’t issue”, no NFA [I’d have to sell my silencer and abandon my plans to buy a machine gun. Not gonna happen., etc.]).
  • Outrageous cost of living. A 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo in a nice Phoenix suburb costs about $165,000 (my girlfriend bought one about two years ago). That same condo in the SF Bay Area costs about $800,000 last time I checked. No f***ing way is it worth that much.
  • Outrageously high taxes. I don’t have a problem with reasonable taxes (maintaining roads, police, fire, etc.), but California takes it way too far. I could find far better and more productive uses for the 20%-30% of my income that California would otherwise take.
  • California is filled with people that believe government is the solution to, rather than the source of, most problems.
  • The state government doesn’t know how to budget their own money, and is billions of dollars in debt. Why should I trust them with my own money?
  • Not-insignificant risk of major earthquake. Arizona is one of the safest states to live in terms of disasters…all that happens here is that it gets really hot during the summer, and there’s a few months of heavy rain. No hurricanes, no earthquakes, no tornadoes…just heat and rain. No big deal.

In short, California doesn’t trust me to be a responsible individual, and thinks that it knows how to run my life better than I do.
Until that changes, I’m not even going to consider moving back.
I’d much rather live in a state where it’s affordable to live, doesn’t place nonsensical restrictions on the types of guns I own, how I store them, or where I carry them, doesn’t care what kind of vehicle I drive (so long as it’s not a grossly polluting vehicle), and generally keeps its nose out of my business.

AZCDL Update

HB 2629, an AzCDL requested bill that clarifies when a defensive display of a firearm is justified, passed in the Senate Third Read on Monday, May 12, 2008 by a vote of 19-7 with 4 Senators not voting. From here, HB 2629 will go back to the House for concurrence before being sent to the Governor.

Having clarification on such an issue is important. My compliments to the AZCDL for their hard work.

Number Of Guns

I came to a troubling realization today: I lost track of how many guns I own.
It’s not that I own a huge amount (it turns out to be 7 guns and a silencer), but just that I don’t really think of them as individual items. They’re “my guns”, and I’ll use them more or less interchangeably as my fancy strikes.
Clearly, the solution is to buy more guns until I truly am unable to remember how many I own. 🙂

Should Doctors Have Guns?

JC, MD asks that very question.
My response: “Of course.”
Every person has a right to life, which implies that every person has a right to defend his or her life from harm.
One of the principles of a physician is “first, do no harm“. In my (non-medical) opinion, this is limited to the context of practicing medicine. A doctor should not perform treatment that harms his patients. Seems clear enough.
Outside the practice of medicine, this does not apply — a doctor (like anyone else) would be justified in causing harm (by means of the lawful use of force) in legitimate self-defense
I have no problems with doctors possessing guns, as they have just as much right to protect themselves as does anyone else. In fact, I don’t see why this question should be raised at all, as it’s answer is so self-evident.
The only concerns I might have would be technical ones, like having a gun too near an MRI machine
(PDF), resting on a hot autoclave, or other such things. Of course, incidents of that nature are extremely rare (even with non-gun objects), so it’s quite unlikely that it would occur with guns.

Range Visit: Elsy Pearson

Last weekend I took part in a Fark Party, an event where members of the website Fark.com get together in person.
In this case, we decided to visit the Elsy Pearson range in Casa Grande, AZ. The aerial photograph is a little old, as there is now a range in the upper left where there appears to be cars parked, as well as a range in the lower-right. There’s also a chain-link fence. According to the range description on file with the NRA, it has a 250 yard rifle and pistol line. I eyeballed our range at 150 yards, but I could be mistaken. There was a few other ranges in the complex that may have been longer, but we left to get food before I could investigate further. There was also a shorter (maybe 50 yard) range where a bunch of NFA folks were shooting.
It’s an unsupervised range, with no safety officers. The rules are printed on a big metal sign — there was about six rules, all basically saying “be safe, don’t be an idiot”.
The range is run by the Casa Grande Parks & Recreation Department and is free for public use (having grown up in the San Francisco suburbs, this is nearly unheard of for me!). There’s a nearby range for police use only, but it was much the same as the public range. There is also the Casa Grande Trap Club about a quarter-mile north, for those who prefer shotguns.
The public rifle range is simple and spartan (metal roof, concrete benches, and not much else), but well-maintained. Large berms serve as backstops, and there’s a Big Honking Hill beyond the berms to catch any stray bullets. Unfortunately, air moving down the hill created some gusty winds at times, but not much cross breezes, so it didn’t really affect accuracy.
I didn’t look closely, but the range doesn’t seem to have any “facilities” — no bathrooms, no soda machines, etc. I don’t know if the range even has electricity running to it, but I doubt it.
There doesn’t appear to be any restrictions on the type of firearms used (though I wouldn’t be surprised if they restricted tracers and incendiary rounds for obvious fire safety reasons) — there was a bunch of folks with full-auto at range just north of us. From the look of things, it was a bunch of NFA owners having fun on a Sunday afternoon, rather than a match. No police cars were evident and a variety of guns (from heavy machine guns to MP5SDs) were being fired, so it didn’t seem to be cops either. It was refreshing to see so many NFA owners out there.
It’s a bit out of the way, but if you go South on South Isom Road from the intersection of West Arcia Road for about a half mile, it’ll be on your left. The Google Maps are accurate, as was the GPS (Garmin StreetPilot c330 — a device worth its weight in gold!) directions taking me to that intersection. Both Isom and Arcia are unpaved roads, but are smooth and well-maintained. My Toyota Camry had no trouble, nor did the Toyota Yaris and Hyundai Tiburon belonging to other members of the party.
If you find yourself in the vicinity of Casa Grande, the Elsy Pearson range is a well-maintained, clean, and free place to shoot. It’s nothing fancy, but ranges don’t need to be.

Philadelphia vs. Pennsylvania

Look, idiot, here in central Pennsylvania, we have lots and lots of guns, and very little crime, absolutely none compared to you. Why is that? Don?t try to answer: That?s what is known as a rhetorical question.
Here?s why. We. Don?t. Tolerate. Crimimals.

Go read the whole thing. RWP sums up the difference between crime-ridden Pennsylvania and the relatively peaceful rest of the state…and it has nothing to do with who owns more guns.

NRA and Brady Finances

Sebastian analyzes the difference in donations and spending between the NRA Political Victory Fund and Brady Campaign “Voter Education Fund”.
Here’s a brief summary:
Total Receipts
Brady: $73
NRA: $8.4 million
Total Spent
Brady: $3,000
NRA: $3.7 million
Total Contributed to Federal Candidates
Brady: $500
NRA: $413,000
Total Received From Individual Donors >$200
Brady: $0
NRA: $205,000
It sure looks like the pro-rights side is actually composed of real people.
And people why the NRA (and by extension the pro-rights side) has so much clout with legislators…

PA Gov. Rendell Stays Classy

From KYW Radio:

Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell made another pitch for gun control legislation outside the state capitol on Monday, during the annual ceremony honoring falling police officers.
Rendell says the gun that cut down Sgt. Stephen Liczbinski (see related story) was a Chinese assault weapon, and he says that there used to be a ban on importing assault weapons:
?And yet in 2004, the Congress of the United States — often some of the very same congressmen who would come and attend ceremonies like this — let the assault weapons ban lapse.?

The governor acknowledged that the gun that killed Liczbinski was brought into the country ?well before that action,? but says it?s symptomatic of the refusal of lawmakers to provide ?maximum protection? to law enforcement:

Emphasis mine. Basically, he’s saying that the 1994-2004 “assault weapons ban” would have had no effect whatsoever on this particular incident.

?If we really want to pay honor and tribute to the memory of those 703 police officers who have given their lives, we will suck it in, do the right thing, and pass laws that would give our police officers out on the street, protecting us every day, the maximum amount of protection we can.?

I know several police officers, and have nothing but the highest respect for officers who risk their lives each day to keep the peace and maintain public order.
I want them to to have the resources they need to stay safe and be able to do their job, and for the most part, the public has agreed: modern police have high-quality firearms and ammunition, body armor, tasers, batons, pepper spray, radios, in-car wireless data terminals, and a whole host of other equipment, training, and resources to help them be safer and more effective.
Even so, police work is not risk-free. When your job requires that you interact with the scum of the earth on a daily basis, there’s a not-insignificant probability that you will be involved in a violent confrontation. It’s just part of the job — no amount of laws or equipment can remove that risk entirely.
So-called “assault weapons” are common firearms that have simple cosmetic differences from more “traditional” looking, non-banned firearms. They are identical in nearly all functional aspects, and differ only in appearance. Many features on such guns exist for ergonomics and safety, but have no effect on lethality. Restricting guns with such features from ownership by lawful citizenry from 1994-2004 had essentially no effect on crime or their use in police shootings. Their use in crime is statistically insignificant.
Renewing an ineffective law is foolish. Doing so when it significantly restricts the rights of law-abiding, honest folks is malicious. Dancing in the blood of a murdered cop to push for such a renewal is abhorrent.
Hat tip to Sebastian for the link to the news article.