I guess “gun free” zones don’t work…

A 22-year-old Phoenix man shot three people yesterday. Fortunately, nobody was killed and the three victims were hospitalized with non-life-threatening wounds.
The incident took place at the South Mountain Community College, a “gun free zone”.
When will people wake up and realize that laws, rules, and regulations proclaiming an area to be a “gun free zone” are barely worth the paper they’re printed on?
The only people guaranteed to be at the scene of a violent crime are the perpetrator(s) and the victim(s). Since the criminals seem to have no qualms with breaking various serious laws (for example, attempted murder) and surely would have no problem with violating a relatively minor law (for example, a prohibition against possessing guns in a certain place), it only makes sense that potential victims of crime should be allowed to possess the means to effectively defend themselves.
Of course, society should seek out and address the root causes of violent crime and work to rectify them, but that’s a long-term, utopian goal that provides little comfort or relief to someone being confronted by a violent criminal right now.
As they say, “when seconds count, the police are only minutes away”.
Hat tip to the AZCDL.

Who Not To Vote For

I’m an NRA Life Member. As such, I can vote for members of the Board of Directors.
Oftentimes, I find it challenging to find someone (let alone 23 someones) who I feel really good about voting for — they’re normally all quite pro-gun folks, have a long history of supporting individual liberties, etc. Nearly all would make excellent board members.
Well, this year it got a bit easier. There’s one person who I definitely will not be voting for: Pat Wray.
Here’s why.

232

Today, our great republic turns 232 years old.
To many in Europe and other parts of the world, this is not a very long time at all: the Chinese Zhou dynasty was in power for 829 years, and was one of many dynasties in power in China since the bronze age. European countries have histories stretching into early history, with stable forms of government existing for hundreds of years.
Even so, republics and other forms of representational government are quite rare. While I’m not a historical scholar (focusing instead on science, specifically physics and astrophysics), I have read a fair bit about history, and I’m not aware of any nation in all history where the citizenry lived in such freedom, with a government so accountable to the people.
Now, that’s not to say that our republic is perfect — far from it. This nation has made its share of mistakes, some from the very beginning: the terrible institution of slavery being the most serious in my opinion. More recent intrusions on liberty are more subtle, I think, and pose serious long-term issues to this country.
This country has been through times both wonderful and trying. From great wars and economic depression to the height of scientific achievement and putting men on the moon, this country and her people have so far gotten through more or less unscathed. There’s been a few times — including recently — where liberty has taken a bit of a hit, but she keeps getting back up again.
I’ve travelled to dozens of states and even more countries, and every trip I take gives me a new perspective back at the USA and how good we have it. Even the darkest days of our nation’s history are often better than ordinary days in many places in the world, both past and present.
Truly, the United States of America is an incredible country, made up of diverse and wonderful people, and spans some of the most beautiful lands on earth. The founding fathers were learned men of reason, and I am deeply in their debt for instituting such an excellent form of goverment. I am grateful to be alive at this point in history, and hope that this republic continues to prosper in the future.
And now, I think it’s time to celebrate this nation’s history by going out and exploding a small part of it.

Heller Affirmed!

From the opinion:

The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
[…]
The Amendment?s prefatory clause announces a purpose, but does not limit or expand the scope of the second part, the operative clause. The operative clause?s text and history demonstrate that it connotes an individual right to keep and bear arms.

Woot. This is Big News(tm). Big enough, in fact, for CNN to run a front-page story on their website. The BBC has the story front-page on their international news page.
The Brady Campaign site is amusing yet sad…the decision is reached, and they immediately start begging for money. The NRA, on the other hand, is business as usual, and has a one-line mention of the ruling in the “NRA Top News Stories” category on their home page.
I’m still reading the opinion, so I’ll post more later when I’ve read it. Other blogs I read (see the blogroll on the right) have a considerable amount of material on the subject, so check them out!
I’d have a celebratory day at the range, but I’m in San Francisco after a multi-week vacation to Europe so all my guns are in the safe in Arizona. I may have to talk to some of my California friends to see about celebrating.

I don’t get it…

While eating dinner with neighbors Thursday evening, we observed numerous Tucson police cars driving by with lights and sirens going. After we left, we observed the SWAT van rolling in the same direction, followed shortly thereafter by a couple more police cars and what appeared to be a mobile command unit. Since I’m no longer getting paid to run toward dangerous situations (and as our apartments are located in the opposite direction), we didn’t personally investigate the situation.
According to the Tucson Citizen, the TPD SWAT’s M113 armored personnel carrier was also summoned.
Why, you might ask?
Well, from what I can make out (information is spotty, as the police have cordoned off a large area, and won’t allow anyone, including journalists, in or out), one guy has holed up in a house. He claims to be armed, and he is known to be a “prohibited person” and is prohibited by law from owning guns. The reason for his prohibition is not yet known, nor is the reason why he decided to hole up. No shots have yet been fired.
This whole situation seems a bit unusual to me. Here’s what puzzles me:

  • It’s one guy, alone, in a town house. Why, exactly, do we need a brazillion cops, SWAT, and an APC? (One of the pictures at the Citizen shows an unhelmeted, regular cop standing in front of the APC, presumably directing its driver. SWAT officers are shown standing on top of it. Clearly, they’re not advancing under withering incoming fire.) Is this guy some sort of bionic superman?
  • Why not just surround the building, turn off the power, water, and gas and wait a few hours for him to get bored of sitting in the dark? Maybe toss in a telephone or something so he can announce when he’s ready to surrender.
  • Why are the SWAT guys wearing woodland camo uniforms? There are no forests for some distance from here, and certainly none in the middle of Tucson. Level IV armor over regular police uniforms should be perfectly suitable, if not fancy. Cheaper, too.
  • Why does TPD have an APC? It doesn’t really hold any tactical purpose, except to be a bullet magnet (and anyone shooting at it can be nailed by a police marksman) and look cool on TV. While the cops distract the bad guys up front, can’t SWAT come in from the side or back doors?

After a few years in the military, I can’t really imagine any sort of realistic (or even semi-realistic) scenario where an APC would be required by police anywhere. The only remotely possible situation that comes to mind is a rare scenario like the LA riots where an APC could provide mobile shelter for riot police, mobile storage for munitions (tear gas, rubber bullets, etc.) and supplies, and a mobile strongpoint for police to rally around as they disperse the mobs of people. Somehow, I don’t really see that happening here in Tucson…or if it did, just call in the National Guard.
Honestly, I don’t get it. The whole situation seems like a huge overreaction, particularly with the APC involved. What could an individual possible do that would warrant such a massive response?
Hopefully more information will be available on Friday.
UPDATE: According to the police (as reported by the Citizen), the suspect had a record of drugs and weapons offenses. He was evidently also a heavy meth user. The police showed up to arrest him when he barricaded himself inside. The suspect killed himself early this morning.

NRA and Politics

The NRA is often accused of being “a wing of the Republican party”.
What utter bollocks. The NRA’s political wing cares about one thing: the right to keep and bear arms.
The NRA has supported reasonably-electable candidates from any party, so long as they support the RKBA. The NRA frequently endorses Republicans and Democrats. I believe they’ve also endorsed several third-party candidates over the years.
The fact that the NRA often endorses more Republicans than Democrats reflects more on the anti-gun position of many Democrats rather than the purported right-wing leanings of the NRA.

Valuing All Rights and Liberties

When I peruse (and occasionally take part in) discussion board threads relating to various firearm-related issues, one of the things that often gets mentioned by a non-gunny person is some version of the following:

Gun owners only care about the Second Amendment, but don’t give a damn about any other rights.

While my own observations may be only anecdotal, all of the gun owners I know are deeply concerned about rights and liberties. I’m not aware of any gun owners who are not concerned about other rights.
Most gun owners I know are not noisy, boisterous people. They tend not to bother other people, mind their own business, and expect the same courtesy in return. They express their political opinions by means of letters written to politicians and by voting at the polls rather than staging noisy protests in the streets. Thus, they sort of “fall off the radar” of non-gunny folks.
Not being visibly active on other fronts does not mean that gunny folks aren’t active at all.
I myself am actively involved in issues relating to the First and Fourth Amendments, particularly those related to communications (free speech, net neutrality, etc.) and privacy. I write letters, I vote, and I politely encourage others to do the same.
To non-gunny folks, gun owners can often been seen as single-issue voters, and for good reason: a politician’s stand on gun ownership is generally an excellent litmus test for how they think of their citizens.
To quote Dr. Suzanna Gratia Hupp,

How a politician stands on the Second Amendment tells you how he or she views you as an individual? as a trustworthy and productive citizen, or as part of an unruly crowd that needs to be lorded over, controlled, supervised, and taken care of.

I’m not aware of any other issue that can so instantly and accurately show the true position of a politician. That’s why even the most anti-gun (and by extension, anti-rights) politicians fall over themselves to appear to be pro-gun: look at Kerry, Clinton (both Bill and Hillary), Obama, and others. Their claims to “support the Second Amendment” can be shown to be demonstrably false by looking at their voting records, yet they keep repeating the same thing over and over in order to distract and fool voters as to where their true position lies.

Dumb Politicians

A week or two ago, I wrote to Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the federal representative for my district, to politely express displeasure at his support of HR 1022.
I mentioned that the 1994-2004 ban had essentially no effect on crime or protecting police officers, yet seriously infringed upon the rights of the law-abiding.
I received his response today:

You will be pleased to know that I am already a cosponsor of H.R. 1022, Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007. Rest assured that as it moves forward in Congress, my staff and I will be monitoring it closely.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over? He thinks I’m pleased?
Is he (or his staff) so seriously deluded that they think that someone writing in to complain about his co-sponsoring a bill actually supports that action? Is this how he justifies his actions, by magically converting complaints into praise?
Yes, I know it’s just a form letter, but they could still have prepared a suitable response for people opposing his actions rather than assuming that everyone supports his actions.
Also, every legislator I’ve written to replies with a different subject than the one I submitted. For example, I wrote in with “Oppose HR 1022” as the subject. His response was “In Response to Your Message”. I’m sorry…which message? There’s a reason they invented subject lines.

Goverment Silliness

Some days, I wonder about the sanity of government workers.
First off, there’s the whole silliness about the “economic stimulus” program (giving taxpayers their own money, yet somehow thinking this will make the economy better)…that’s enough for an entirely separate post.
The thing that really confuses me is all the mail they keep sending out about it. They sent me (and presumably all other eligible recipients) a letter a few months ago saying “We’re going to pay you!”, then they paid me (via direct deposit), then they sent out another letter saying “Look! We paid you!”
Duh. I know. There’s no need to waste more of my own money on postage, knuckleheads. I shudder to think how much money was spent on postage alone.
Here’s a suggestion: Instead of spending money letting me know you already gave me money (I can read my bank statement, after all), why not use it to pay down the National Debt?

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.