On Religion

As many readers may know, I’m not religious. Of course, as one who values liberty, I have no issues with other people being religious and expressing their beliefs.
That said, I have to wonder why companies do stuff like this. Sure, it’s subtle and not many people would notice it, but what’s the point? Does it bring anyone to the faith (( A question I want to ask to the guy who stands around on the street corner with a “Jesus Is Lord” sign — are his daily sign-holding efforts paying off? Has his work changed the mind of anyone? ))? If not, why bother?
Similarly, I don’t really get why companies like Interstate Batteries (( “Mission: To glorify God as we supply our customers worldwide with top quality, value-priced batteries…” )) and Hogdon Powder (( “Our mission is to provide quality propellants, other products, and services to sportsmen, governing units, and other businesses in a manner which enhances the quality of life for our stockholders, employees, customers, associates, and suppliers. In doing so, we will deal with integrity and honesty, reflecting that people are more important than dollars and that our purpose is to bring credit to our Lord Jesus Christ.” )) bother to bring up the owner’s respective deity on their company literature. They’re selling batteries and gunpowder, not religion-related items, so it just seems out of place. Same thing with In-N-Out Burger’s subtle bible citations on cups and burger wrappers, and Alaska Airline’s bible verse sheet with food.
Surely such large and diverse companies employ and sell products/services to non-Christians. Why risk offending employees and customers and, in the case of Trijicon, causing media commotion? Is putting those markings or making those statements worth the potential trouble?
I, for one, don’t see what real benefits such actions might have. Then again, I don’t associate my religious beliefs (or, more precisely, the lack thereof) deeply with my personal identity, and have no desire to discuss such my lack of religious beliefs in day-to-day discussion (I only bring it up here so one can further understand my viewpoint).? I certainly wouldn’t go about inscribing quotations about my non-religious stance (if I can be said to have such a stance; I don’t consider a lack of a specific belief to be a “stance”) on products that I sell to the public.
At the risk of sparking a religious flamewar, I’m curious to hear possible explanations as to why people do such things. I can’t seem to wrap my mind around it. As religion-related topics seem to be a surefire way to summon the Drama Llama in other internet forums, I’d like to preemptively remind people to keep things civil. No doubt such an admonition is unnecessary.

Guns on Campus

As of the beginning of the month, it’s legal to store firearms inside locked vehicles in the parking lots of universities in Arizona.
Naturally, there’s been a small, but relatively minor, amount of PSH about this whole issue. One of the comments submitted to the Daily Wildcat — the University of Arizona’s daily newspaper — was from Brett Wolgemuth, a systems engineering graduate student who was an undergrad at Virginia Tech on that fateful day in April in 2007.
I’ve commented on a few of his sentences below:

Allowing firearms on campus under any condition is a recipe for disaster.

Oh? Care to cite historical data that would back this claim up? Police carry guns on campus all the time without any problems, and citizens in several other states (such as Utah, among others) have carried concealed firearms on campuses for some time without issues.

It only takes one incident in a parking lot, or near a car for someone to go off.

I don’t disagree. However, this is exceedingly unlikely — there’s a vast number of firearms owners in this country, and only the tiniest number of them just “go off” every year. I’d be far more concerned with someone getting mugged, assaulted, or raped in a campus parking lot.

Yes, I do have faith in my fellow man, but I?m not willing to bet my life on it.

Same here. That’s why I carry nearly everywhere I’m not legally forbidden to do so, but I digress.

The law not only allows people to conceal guns in their cars, but they do not have to have a concealed weapons permit to do it. Correct me if I?m wrong, but that would mean that anyone with a gun could come onto campus and have it concealed in his car.

That is, as best as I understand the law, correct. Considering that one can openly carry firearms just about anywhere in Arizona without any permits or background checks at all and there’s essentially no incidents of misbehavior by such people, I hardly see what the problem is. While concealed weapons permits are available to those wishing to carry discreetly, the law does not require such a permit to transport or store a firearm, even a loaded one, in a vehicle’s storage compartments so long as it’s in a holster or other similar case (so as to prevent accidential discharge).
What’s the problem?

Some of you may say that this would act as a deterrent. You make one critical assumption, you assume that a majority of people have a firearm, have brought it on campus, and are willing to use it in case they need to defend themselves.

I think that Mr. Wolgemuth is somewhat confused: the purpose of allowing the storage of arms in cars is not for self-defense on campus. Nobody is thinking that, in the event of a violent crime, they’ll be able to flee the building, run to the parking lot (almost always located around the perimeter of campus), retrieve their personal firearm, then return to be a Big Damn Hero(tm).
Rather, it’s for people who legally carry their firearms while not on campus — if the university prohibits the storage of arms in private vehicles on campus, that infringes on the rights of people who commute to school and wish to carry while traveling to and from the university.

Also, if you believe that you need to bring a gun on campus to feel safe, why would you go to a school where you don?t feel safe?

Feeling safe has nothing to do with actually being safe, as has been tragically demonstrated in various places in the last few years: Luby’s Cafeteria, Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc. The University of Arizona has even had a similar violent incident in its past. Clearly it’s been demonstrated that violent acts can occur anywhere, regardless of how safe one feels.

There is a reason we have a dedicated police department.

So did Virginia Tech. Fat lot of good it did them.
So does Tucson, but there’s still a substantial number of victims of violent crimes. I bet they “felt safe” prior to being victimized.
The police can’t be everywhere at once, nor can they respond instantly. Indeed, the courts have ruled that the police have no duty to protect someone from harm.

Although this is not a response to gun control, it inevitably comes back to it.

He’s right — gun control doesn’t work. It didn’t work at Columbine, it didn’t work at Virginia Tech, and it didn’t work at the University of Arizona’s nursing school. What makes one think that repealing a useless prohibition on storing firearms in a locked vehicle on campus will have any bearing on increased rates of violent crime?

As much as I believe that people have a right to defend themselves, I hope that people realize what this law means and take steps to rectify this in the future.

Indeed, it means that people who can legally defend themselves off-campus while in transit to and from the university can now legally store their firearms in their locked vehicles while parked on campus. No more, no less.
I’m curious what Mr. Wolgemuth has against such people, and why he wants to “rectify” this legal change when it would strip rights from law-abiding people?
Indeed, Mr. Wolgemuth’s comments make a pretty solid case for allowing people to legally carry concealed on campus — no place, even a “weapon-free zone” like a university campus, can be completely safe from crime. I, like Mr. Wolgemuth, think that the average person is decent and honest, but not everyone is, and I’m not willing to bet my life on it. There’s plenty of violent crime on college campuses, why not allow law-abiding people to have the ability to protect themselves?

Does Arizona have an image problem?

That’s the question asked by the Arizona Republic in this article.
Let’s go through their article, shall we?
First off, this picture:

Jack Kurtz/The Arizona Republic
Jack Kurtz/The Arizona Republic

What’s with the media and not including actual pictures of Chris? It’s almost as if they don’t want to reveal the fact that he’s a well-dressed, tie-wearing, bespectacled black man, not some frothing-at-the-mouth nutjob. Of course, the color of one’s skin is irrelevant, but I can’t help but suspect that the media isn’t showing those pictures because it might cause some people to reconsider their worldview.

Just as local and state tourism officials tried to shed Phoenix’s unbecoming title as the “kidnapping capital of America,” another national moniker has emerged: gun-crazy.

I’m not sure that Phoenix was ever labeled the “kidnapping capital of the world” — maybe in the US, and maybe if you’re involved in the illicit narcotics trade, but certainly not for everyday persons.

As for the “gun-crazy” thing, says who?

A man carrying a pistol and semiautomatic rifle outside the Phoenix hall where President Barack Obama spoke this month ignited a media firestorm, reinforcing the stereotype of the Grand Canyon State as a gun-loving vestige of the Wild West.

Being a “gun-loving vestige of the Wild West” is a bad thing…why, exactly? The Old West was not nearly as “Wild” as movies make it out to be.

The firearms display, later revealed to be a publicity stunt, was legal under an Arizona law that allows most citizens to openly carry guns in public without a permit.

ZOMG! People can lawfully carry arms, and some choose to do so openly!
While this may come as a shock to some people, particularly urban New Englanders, almost every state in the union allows their citizens to carry arms, mostly concealed. Several states, including Arizona, don’t prohibit the open carriage of arms so long as the gun itself is not concealed (e.g. secured in a holster on the waist).

But the spotlight cast by cable-news pundits, newspaper editorials and blogs – including censure from a world-renowned travel writer – raised questions about whether Arizona’s lax gun laws make it safe to travel and do business in the state.

I can’t imagine how having law-abiding persons carrying arms makes the state any less safe.

“We’re an urban city, and there are individuals trying to hold on to the old ways of the Wild West,” said Phoenix Councilman Michael Nowakowski, himself a gun owner. “We’re going to lose a lot of conventions because of one knucklehead.”

While I admit that carrying a rifle to a public event may not be in the best of taste, what’s the big deal? Rifle or pistol, a huge number of Arizonans — many in Phoenix — carry arms on a regular basis.
I seriously doubt that Phoenix will lose many conventions or tourism: unless one is an activist or enthusiast of some sort, a state’s gun laws are not likely to enter into one’s thoughts when planning a convention. I’d suspect that location, number of nearby hotels, proximity to an airport, cost, and city life will be much higher priorities for convention planners and goers.

Before the gun stunt, tales of Mexican drug cartels abducting rival smugglers and immigrants and holding them for ransom in Valley homes had already painted Phoenix as a city under siege.

See, those are criminals. Chris, and others like him, are law-abiding citizens. Big difference.

The most visible [armed protester -AZR] was Phoenix resident Christopher Broughton, who verbally sparred with Obama supporters and gave media interviews with an AR-15 rifle strapped to his back and a pistol holstered at his side. A libertarian radio host, also sporting a pistol, said later that he and others cooked up the media stunt to draw attention to Second Amendment rights and Arizona’s open-carry law.

While I’ve said that such a stunt is probably not in the best of taste, what’s the big deal?

National news outlets, however, portrayed it as a disturbing trend, given America’s history of presidential assassinations.

Obama was inside the convention center, surrounded by a veritable army of Secret Service agents and police, behind a cordon of metal detectors and x-ray machines. I sincerely doubt that anyone meaning the president harm would be able to get within visual range of him. Chris, and the other protesters, were outside, on a public street, with a few cops and a Secret Service agent in the immediate vicinity.

“It is hard to know what is more shocking: the sight of a dozen Americans showing up to flaunt guns outside the venue for President Obama’s speech in Phoenix on Monday, or the fact that the swaggering display was completely legal,” the New York Times wrote Aug. 20.

How is any of this shocking? Outside of New York, there’s a (mostly) free country.
Don’t get me wrong — I’ve visited New York (both the City and the State) several times and enjoyed my visits, but urban New Yorkers tend to be rather insular and unaware of the goings-on in much of the rest of the country. I’d imagine that for someone who was born and raised in a highly-urbanized area where restrictive gun-control has been the norm for several generations, the sight of ordinary citizens with guns could be shocking…but so what?

Founder of the Frommer’s series of travel guidebooks, Frommer wrote that he would no longer visit Arizona, fearing for his personal safety after reading accounts of protesters carrying loaded weapons on the streets of Phoenix.

Frommer’s an idiot.

Frommer, who sold his company decades ago, was unavailable for comment. But he told NPR last weekend he was disturbed police officers stood around “like scared rabbits” while armed protesters tried to “threaten” and “intimidate” Obama supporters.

Fortunately Frommer doesn’t speak for the company that bears his name, so I’ll have no problem purchasing their excellent travel guides.
The police were certainly not “scared rabbits” — they were there to ensure the public order. Since the armed protesters previously informed the police that they’d be showing up, so as not to needlessly surprise and alarm the police, and were peaceable and law-abiding at all times, it’s hardly an issue.
I’ve seen videos of the event, and I can’t find a single example of armed protesters threatening or intimidating anyone. Anyone care to provide such evidence?

“Open-carry laws have to take second place to public order and to life,” said Frommer, a New York Democrat and Obama campaign contributor.

The lawful carriage of arms, including doing so openly, can help preserve and defend life.

When NPR host Guy Raz suggested Frommer was making Arizona sound like war-torn Mogadishu, Frommer responded: “Well, it’s getting that way. . . . The number of guns that are now being carried by citizens in Arizona is becoming frightening.”

Really? Law-abiding people carrying legal guns in a safe, legal manner is somehow “frightening”?
To quote Sgt. Hulka from Stripes, “Lighten up, Francis.”

Mayor Gordon has pointed out that Arizona is just one of 11 states where citizens don’t need a license to carry a firearm in public as long as it is visible. In fact, there are only seven states where openly carrying guns is unlawful.

In short, the majority of states allow open carry. Hardly a big deal then. Why, then, is this a huge news story?

But this year, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law three major bills that expanded gun rights, a step proponents said makes the state a safer place. Beginning Sept. 30, one of those laws will allow people with a concealed-weapons permit to carry guns into restaurants and bars, though they can’t pack heat while consuming alcohol.

Sounds good to me.

Another new law will restrict property and business owners from banning guns from parking areas so long as the weapons are kept out of sight in locked vehicles. A third allows gun owners to display their weapon when they feel threatened by unlawful force.

Again, a step in the right direction. The law that clarified when it was legal to display firearms in self-defense was a big deal.

“Every time we loosen gun laws to make it easier for citizens to carry guns in Arizona, we see a drop in the crime rate,” said Tucson resident Todd Rathner, a lobbyist for the National Rifle Association. “These people have to get over the emotional, ignorant and insane reaction to law-abiding citizens with firearms.”

Well-said, sir.
If Mr. Rathner wishes to contact me, I’d be glad to buy him a drink of his choosing. (Within reason, of course. My budget is not unlimited.)

Tourism officials said crime has already been on the wane.
The number of violent crimes across the Valley fell in 2008 to 16,832, a 6 percent drop over the previous two years, according to FBI statistics.

The number of law-abiding persons carrying arms is increasing, yet crime is dropping? Shocking.
According to that link, there was an 18.4% increase in the number of permits issued from 2007 to 2008 and a 16.4% increase from 2006 to 2007. From 2006 to the present, there’s been a 58.9% increase in the number of concealed carry permits issued.
Basically, there’s no direct correlation between the number of law-abiding people with guns and the amount of crime? (If there was, you’d see crime numbers increasing as the number of law-abiding armed citizens increases.)
Awesome.

“We have a great, positive story to tell,” said Arizona Tourism Office Director Sherry Henry, who took part in last week’s meeting. “We just need to reassure the general public that loves Arizona and is interested in Arizona that it is safe to be here, that it is beautiful.”

Arizona is indeed a safe, beautiful state. I highly encourage people to come visit and explore.
If you choose to visit and lawfully openly carry a firearm whilst exploring this great state, more power to you.
Isn’t freedom grand?

Note to the Media

Many of you are reporting about a man in Phoenix who was openly carrying a rifle near a venue where President Obama was speaking.
Please note that the firearm carried was an AR-15 variant (it’s not possible to know the exact details without examining the specific rifle). It was not an M-16. It’s also not an “assault rifle” nor an “assault weapon”.
The “AR” part of the name comes from the original name of the rifle, the “Armalite model 15” — “Armalite” was the manufacturer.
While certain states, such as California and Massachusetts may define AR-15 variants as “assault weapons” and regulate their possession, such classifications have no legal meaning or standing outside of those states.
In Arizona, as well as most other states, AR-15 variants are considered to be ordinary, semi-automatic rifles. Indeed, they’re some of the most popular rifles owned by Americans due to their accuracy, ease of customization (a large aftermarket exists to supply a vast variety of parts and accessories), and the fact that the similar-looking M-16 is used by the military of the US and many other foreign nations.
It would be appropriate to refer to an AR-15 rifle in the media as “a rifle” if one doesn’t wish to describe the details (e.g. “a semi-automatic rifle”). As the AR-15 is neither an “assault rifle” nor an “assault weapon”, it is inappropriate to describe it as such.
As an analogy, my Toyota Camry can be referred to as an “automobile”, “car”, “vehicle”, “sedan”, and so on. It would be inappropriate to refer to it as a “sports car”, a “high-powered racing car”, “truck”, etc. even though it may have superficial similarities (e.g. four wheels, engine, etc.) to such vehicles.
Using such terminology reflects poorly on your reputation to provide accurate, truthful, and unbiased news.
I would again like to repeat my previous offer to the media: feel free to contact me with questions regarding firearms and I will, at no cost, provide accurate, reliable, and verifiable information relating to firearms, firearm-related terminology, and so forth. In the event that I am personally unable to do so I will, to the best of my ability, direct you to others who can.

Fisking the Daily Star

The Arizona Daily Star published an article in their Sunday Edition that stood out to me when I was grocery shopping today: it had a large, above-the-fold headline entitled, “US makes it easy for gun traffickers.”
While their article is long and makes a weak attempt at appearing balanced, it has some absurdities that I really must point out. I’ve made a few statements in my response that are likely to be common knowledge to gunny folks, though I’d appreciate it if readers could point out where I might find good sources for such statements so I can cite them properly.
Also, I wrote this post rather late at night, so I’m likely to have a few spelling or grammar mistakes. Mea cupla. Continue reading “Fisking the Daily Star”

What media bias?

unixronin takes the media to task in an interesting comparison between MSNBC and CNN. A brief exerpt:

Q:? How do you know when your news media is blowing smoke up your ass?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Barack Obama, reported by CNN:

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) — Reviving a ban on assault weapons and more strictly enforcing existing gun laws could help tamp down drug violence that has run rampant on the U.S.-Mexican border, President Obama said Thursday.
Speaking alongside Mexican President Felipe Calder?n, Obama said he has ?not backed off at all? on a campaign pledge to try to restore the ban.? It was instituted under President Clinton and allowed to lapse by President George W. Bush.
?I continue to believe that we can respect and honor the Second Amendment right in our Constitution — the rights of sportsmen and hunters and homeowners that want to keep their families safe — to lawfully bear arms, while dealing with assault weapons that, as we know here in Mexico, are used to fuel violence,? Obama said.


No, those dates are not typos.? These are two diametrically opposite spins from two different news organizations, on the same day, about the same event.

…A:? Their lips move.

Sorry for any weird formatting. The LJ–>WordPress transition is interesting, to say the least.
He also discusses Obama’s discussion of the Tiahrt Amendment and ballistic fingerprinting:

The last point I would make is that there are going to be some opportunities where I think we can build some strong consensus.? I?ll give you one example, and that is the issue of gun tracing.? The tracing of bullets and ballistics and gun information that have been used in major crimes — that?s information that we are still not giving to law enforcement, as a consequence of provisions that have been blocked in the United States Congress, and those are the areas where I think that we can make some significant progress early.

It?s pretty clear here, if you?re familiar with the issues in question, that this is apparently referring to two things ? the Tiahrt Amendment, and ballistic fingerprinting.? Let?s look at those a moment separately.
First, the Tiahrt Amendment.? The Obama/Brady/Schumer/Feinstein/VPC/Bloomberg/etc position is that the Tiahrt Amendment prevents law enforcement from getting access to BATFE firearm trace information.? And this, bluntly, is a bald-faced lie.? Existing law, including Tiahrt, allows full access to firearm trace information to any law enforcement agency conducting any investigation for which it is relevant. If you have a legitimate need for the information, you can get it.
What the Tiahrt Amendment prohibits is non-law-enforcement organizations or individuals getting access to trace data in order to trawl it and use it for purposes for which it wasn?t ever intended and for which it isn?t meaningful. And that?s the part Feinstein, Bloomberg, Schumer, the Violence Policy Center and their ilk hate ? because that?s what they want to be able to do.? It?s irrelevant to them whether the data actually means anything when used as they want to use it.? For example, they take it as a given that the existence of BATFE trace data on a firearm means that firearm has been used in a gun crime.? But that?s not so.? Just as a single example ? how do you think police find the legal owners of stolen weapons?? …Exactly.? They request a BATFE trace.? Police bust a fence and find 20 or 30 guns in his stash?? How did he get them?? Trace time, baby.

I suspect that the next attacks on gun rights might come, not in the form of an outright ban, but perhaps in a “compromise” (( There is no “compromise” here. It’s an infringement of rights, period. )) on certain types of guns, or by attacking the Tiahrt Amendment. These attacks on our rights are subtle and often misundertsood. Keep alert.

Front Sight on Fark

As is my habit, I was perusing Fark.com this morning. For some reason, I had Adblock Plus turned off and so ads were visible.
Imagine my surprise when I saw an ad for Front Sight appear on Fark:

(No, I didn’t have a stroke while drawing the red circle. Do you have any idea how difficult it is to draw a consistent, mostly-circular line using a laptop touchpad?)
Fark is known for its snarky headlines and goofy comment threads (if you don’t get your newsNot News from Fark, you’re missing out), so I was a bit surprised to see Front Sight ads running in the Google Ad panel there. Very cool.
I think that such ads going out to the general public is a good thing: if it helps get one person trained, and saves one life (astute readers will see what I did there), then it’s worth it. I’ve been to Front Sight, and while their “Front Sight Family” stuff was a bit odd and there’s accusations about various financial-related issues, the training was solid.
I’d like to see more gunny companies advertising to the general public. I see ads for “$NAME Ford Dealership” on TV at my girlfriend’s (I don’t own a TV, nor have time for it), why can’t I see ads for “$NAME Gun Shop” or ads for Bushmaster and Remington firearms? I wonder what Glock could do in a TV ad. 🙂