Hysteria

23 03 2009

I go away for a week, and the Aluminum-Foil Deflector-Beanie crowd suddenly experiences a resurgence of purpose. I hope there isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship there.

As reported on FARK and Fox news (among other places), something called the “Missouri Information Analysis Center” (MIAC) issued a document to be used in training Missouri police officers and state troopers in detecting domestic terrorists. Assuming your brain cells do not require long-distance phone service to communicate, following the link above will probably cause you physical pain, so I will summarize:

ZOMG! The New World Order is a-comin’, and the Blue Helmets are gonna getcha!”

I’m only slightly kidding. The sheer hysteria in the linked article and the comments thereon would be funny if it weren’t so painfully real.

I have read the actual document from this MIAC organization, and there are some Constitutional issues with it- most notably the training of police officers to use political opinions (in the form of bumper stickers) outside the two primary parties as evidence of Militia involvement (and therefore domestic terrorism). I’m pretty sure the First Amendment to the US Constitution was intended to prevent this sort of crap, but I could be wrong. You be the judge:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Maybe it’s just me, but those bits about “Free Speech” and “Peaceable Assembly” and “Petition for Redress of Grievances” seem to forbid this sort of Byzantine exercise of police power. I think that any police department arresting or even mildly inconveniencing citizens under the auspices of this training will quickly find itself sued to smithereens under the First Amendment.

Not that you could prove anything of the sort by the histrionics on the linked website. According to Prison Planet, the document in question actually states that any American who talks about his or her Constitutional rights, owns a gun, flies an American flag, or attends any sort of protest is suspected of being a Domestic Terrorist.The fact that little of this is evident in the actual documents appears to have no effect upon the hysteria.Reading some of the comments on Prison Planet’s website is revealing- a large number of them apparently believe that 9-11 was an inside job by the Gummint. Hysteria and paranoia are not a good combination.

In a similar vein, a great many people all over the country are apparently buying firearms and ammunition in anticipation of wholesale gun bans and possibly even confiscation by the Gummint. The net result of this panic is the steep rise in the prices of firearms and ammunition- to the point where manufacturers are having trouble keeping up with the demand. If you enjoy shooting the most common types of ammunition, count on it costing a Hell of a lot more than it used to- assuming you can find it at all. Forget about buying the more popular firearms of whatever sort- there’s a waiting list almost everywhere. If you have your heart set on a so-called “assault weapon” (a nebulous term that essentially means any weapon whose cosmetic appearance makes gun-haters swoon with fear), count on a long wait and a vastly inflated price. All because of raw stupidity feeding hysteria and panic. Mob mentality.

I approve of honest citizens availing themselves of their Second Amendment rights for defense of themselves and their neighbors. As a gun owner, I take the responsibilities inherent in those rights very seriously. That said, far too many of the people buying firearms  these days appear to be panic-stricken fools. I am not getting a warm fuzzy feeling about the probability of all of these people being responsible gun owners.  The possibility that this spike in firearms sales will result in tragedy (and therefore more ammunition for gun-haters to further restrict my liberties) worries me greatly.

Hysteria is never useful and panic is always stupid. In this case, it is also counter-productive.

Current status: Awestruck at the stupidity of my fellow Americans

Current music: Space Lord by Monster Magnet





Re-visiting the Police State

29 07 2008

Metaphorically, anyway. I have no desire to subject myself to the perils in the Logic-Free Zone.

In my last rant, I implied that the City government of DC was in a persistent vegetative state. This was an inaccurate statement, which I will now clarify: The City government of the nation’s capitol is composed of one-third (more or less) morons, one-third (more or less) imbeciles, one-third (more or less) criminals, and three-thirds (more or less) poltroons.

Allow me to demonstrate. In the wake of the Heller Decision, the DC City Gummint changed the rules to permit residents to legally own handguns- supposedly in order to comply with the Supreme Court decision. In stark refutation of the clear language of that decision, they proceeded to make the process for registering a handgun in the city so burdensome as to discourage anyone from trying. Worse, and still in defiance of the Heller Decision, the city imposed such strict requirements for using a handgun in self-defense that such use would almost certainly be either impossible or ruled illegal after the fact.

According to the new regulations, a citizen can own a handgun (except auto-loading weapons- more on this later) and keep it at home, but it would have to be kept unloaded or disassembled and locked up until it was needed. In other words, if a burglar was breaking into a home in DC, the resident would have to discover the threat, unlock the gun safe or similar “approved” locking device, load or assemble the weapon, and then (and only then) would he or she be permitted the luxury of self-defense. Have you ever seen the 1973 version of The Three Musketeers? There’s a scene where the Cardinal’s Guards arrest Raquel Welch in her home, and her husband dutifully tries to defend her with a pistol- which he has to first find and load. It’s a very funny scene in the movie, but not one that any law-abiding citizen should be forced to endure in a real-world life-or-death situation.

For those of you playing at home, the DC police and City Gummint are the Cardinal’s Guards- the bad guys in the film (but not the book, which I highly recommend).

Now let us examine the requirements for registering a firearm in DC. First and foremost, no weapon which can fire more than 12 rounds- or could possibly be modified to fire more than 12 rounds- without reloading is classified as a “machine gun” by the City. “Machine guns” are specifically outlawed by the new DC ordinance, making legal ownership of “the most common weapon used by Americans for self-defense” (quoted from the Heller Decision) impossible. In fact, Dick Heller- the man who fought the City’s unconstitutional handgun ban to the Supreme Court- cannot register his five-shot pistol because it “could possibly be modified” to fire more than 12 rounds without reloading.

In addition to outlawing an entire class of otherwise commonly-legal firearms, the DC registration process requires that would-be registrants take their firearm to the police station, where they will be fingerprinted and a background check will be initiated. The firearm will be confiscated and tested by the police to ensure that the weapon has not been associated with any crimes and to determine its “ballistic fingerprint” (which may or may not be based on valid science). This process could take several weeks, and the police department has issued several different estimates of approval time, indicating that the time for approval is basically open-ended.

As expected, several people (including Dick Heller) have filed new lawsuits against the City, claiming that the new regulations are violating their individual right to own and bear arms. Having read some of these regulations, I tend to agree.

What really gets me hopping mad is the fact that the City expected to get sued over their new registration process. They knew in advance that they were deliberately violating the Supreme Court’s ruling against them. Worse, they’re counting on the fact that it will take years for the various appeals to work through the courts- during which time they will continue to capriciously and arbitrarily deny residents of the City their Constitutional right. By the way, your tax dollars will be paying for all of this.

The DC police and government seem to be Hell-bent on wasting the taxpayers’ money fighting justifiable lawsuits over deliberate violations of Constitutional law because they don’t want American citizens to own firearms. I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV, but that sounds suspiciously like fraud. Perhaps the FBI should take an interest in the activities of the City’s Gummint. Also, since some residents of DC are already using the 3rd box against the City, the rest of the citizens should start using the first two boxes. Vote these numb-skulls out of office! Forever.

Current status: Outraged

Current music: Safety Dance by Men Without Hats





Carry On

22 07 2008

By now, everybody not in a persistent vegetative state (like the District of Columbia) should be aware that the Supremes have finally given judicial notice to the existence of an individual right to keep and bear arms. To those somnambulists not familiar with this ruling, I invite you to read the decision in it’s entirety here. Briefly, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down the draconian prohibition of handguns in the nation’s capitol. In doing so, Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, emphatically affirmed that self-defense (whether against Gummint intrusion or merely lesser predators such as robbers and murderers) is an inherent right of all Americans which predates the Constitution.

While I am pleased by this ruling, I am somewhat less than pleased by Scalia’s none-too-subtle swipes at the minority opinions of the Court- especially at Justice Stevens. Stevens may or may not be an idiot, but the ruling as written certainly gives the impression that Scalia considers him so. This sort of unprofessionalism is not a good idea, and might serve to further divide the Court along the lines of partisan politics. Not a good thing coming from the final arbiters of what is or is not Constitutional.

In the aftermath of this decision, a group of people from an organization called Open Carry have started a “public-awareness” campaign to demystify firearms in general and handguns in particular. These folks wear their weapons openly and proudly in an attempt to wean their fellow citizens away from the visceral panic attacks which invariably result at the sight of a firearm these days.

So far, so good. I have no problem with the organization’s stated aims. I do have a problem with the implementation of those aims.

As with any group- however noble in intent- a small but vocal minority of the Open Carry organization are apparently unhappy with the low-key and non-confrontational tactics of their fellows. This fringe group seems to enjoy confrontations with police, and go out of their way to be “in your face” about their right to bear arms. They boast about confrontations with police and ideological opponents, where their fellows would have been content with education and awareness.

I own firearms, and I have a permit to carry concealed weapons. I also live in an “open carry” state, where the right to bear arms openly is written into law. That said, I do not wear my pistol openly in order to avoid the sort of confrontation some of the “Open Carry” members seem to enjoy. In my opinion, going out of one’s way to get into a confrontation with the police is not only stupid, it is working directly against Open Carry’s stated purpose. The major media outlets may or may not be biased toward liberal issues, but they are absolutely biased toward sensationalism. Loudmouthed imbeciles with guns who boast about causing friction with the police will quickly and permanently drown out the message they are supposed to be presenting- that firearms are not bad in and of themselves. The public will only see the confrontational ass-hats, and their opinion of all guns and gun owners will be colored by this flawed impression.

Sanctimonious and self-important ass-hats are intensely irritating, no matter which side of the issue I happen to be on. If anything, the sanctimonious and self-important whackjobs on my side are more irritating than anyone else, because they tend to make me look bad by association. Also, people who seem to go out of their way to defeat their own purpose are not folks I think I can rely on.

I don’t know about you, but the idea of unreliable people with weapons bothers me. I’m willing to put up with it as part of the price for the freedoms we all enjoy, but I don’t have to like it.

 

Current status: Concerned

Current music: Roll the Bones by Rush








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