More Gun Banner Doublespeak

The Washington Times reports on Maryland’s current attempt to expand its own “Assault Weapons Ban.” Let’s see how many mischaracterizations and logical disconnects we can find, eh?

Two Maryland lawmakers want rifles like the one used in the sniper attacks last year added to a statewide ban on assault weapons, as the federal restriction on such weapons expires next year.
Sen. Rob Garagiola of Montgomery County and Delegate Neil F. Quinter of Howard County, both Democrats, are sponsoring the “assault weapons-ban bill” in their respective legislative chambers for the second year in preparation for the lifting of the federal ban on assault weapons in September next year.
Mr. Quinter said he is pessimistic that Congress will extend the ban. “I hope that they do, but I think realistically speaking, it is not very likely the Republican-controlled House and Senate will,” he said.

(Aside: Halleluja! End aside.)

Mr. Garagiola said he believes the Bushmaster rifle should be included in the ban. Police said the two suspects in the sniper attacks last fall used a Bushmaster rifle in the random shootings that left 10 persons dead and three injured in the Washington metropolitan area.

Yes, once again the eeeeevil Bushmaster rifle is at fault for the shootings, not Muhammed and Malvo.

“I am not looking to take away legitimate hunting rifles and handguns,” he said. “I am looking to maintain and strengthen a federal ban at the state level.”

That’s what we always hear. It’s what the English were told, too. First they lost their semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, then all handguns. And the current red tape and bullshit required to have and keep the few firearms still allowed them has reduced the number of legitimate gun owners to an all time low. And gun crime is at an all-time high in England. (New York smokers should be used to this rhetoric. They were told “We don’t want to ban smoking!” Riiiight.)

Second, if Muhammed and Malvo – who fired one shot at each victim – had actually used a “legitimate hunting rifle,” say, a Remington 700 chambered in 7mm Remington Magnum, would he be fighting to have that rifle banned? (Oh, right, that’s a “long range sniper rifle.”) And what about “legitimate handguns?” Maryland Attorney General Joseph Curran has made it perfectly clear that he is in favor of doing anything and everything to get handguns banned (and if you read between the lines, any other firearm not in the hands of government) in his manifesto “A Farewell to Arms.”

Chris W. Cox, chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association (NRA), disagreed with the bill. Mr. Cox said the federal ban’s intention was to study whether the restriction decreased crime, which it didn’t.
“I guess the question is why do the politicians want to keep ineffective laws on the book?” Mr. Cox said. “They’re playing on the emotions of voters and abusing the general public on a very complex and technical debate, and it’s all to chip away at the rights of law-abiding gun owners by incrementally banning more guns.”

Which is why, as Mr. Cox is well aware, they want to keep an ineffective law on the books. It’s far easier to modify an existing law than to pass a new one.

Maryland banned a number of military-style assault pistols about 10 years ago but allows the sale of 45 models of semiautomatic assault weapons if a buyer passes a criminal background check and agrees to a seven-day waiting period.
The federal law prohibits the sale of those guns that have two or more characteristics of an assault weapon, like a forward pistol grip and a grenade launcher. There are 19 weapons banned under the law.
The proposed bill would list all the banned weapons and outlaw the sale of 45 models of assault rifles and shotguns. Mr. Garagiola said the bill also would stop manufacturers from simply changing the name and altering a few characteristics of a gun to bypass the law.
Mr. Quinter and Mr. Garagiola — who last year failed to get the weapons-ban bill to the floor — now have the support of Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley and Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s chief rivals in state politics.

You remember Governor Erlich, right? He’s the guy who beat gun-control enthusiast Kathleen Kennedy Townsend after the “DC Snipers” were caught.

During his campaign for governor last fall, Mr. Ehrlich questioned the effectiveness of many gun-control laws in Maryland and said he would review the laws if elected.
Mr. Garagiola said he doesn’t see this as a Democrat vs. Republican issue.
“I can’t see how or why anyone can make an argument to have these weapons back on the street,” he said.
Mr. Garagiola said five other states have imposed such firearm restrictions. He said Connecticut and Kentucky are considering similar bans.
“They were originally banned [by the federal government] because police were being outgunned,” he said. “It does not make sense to allow these guns back on the street.”

Now, which is it, Mr. Garagiola? Was the law effective at keeping the guns off the street, or wasn’t it? If it wasn’t, then letting the ban die won’t put them “back on the street” will it? You’re arguing that the manufactures “bypassed the law” by “changing the name and altering a few characteristics of a gun.” Therefore the law didn’t “keep them off the streets,” did it? And what did crime do over the period from 1994 until 2003? It WENT DOWN didn’t it? All those evil, renamed, slightly modified “assault weapons” that the law didn’t stop from hitting “the streets,” and crime went down anyway.

It’s not about guns. It’s about CONTROL.

If Not Now, When? If Not Silveira, Who?

Publicola does an excellent job in his dissertation on Dave Kopel’s recent National Review Online articles Secret Weapon: Some 2nd Amendment lawyers help the gun-ban side, and The Silveira Threat: How long will the Second Amendment live?. He makes the points I was thinking when I read the pieces.

Kopel makes a compelling argument for manipulating the system to achieve the (eventually, someday, maybe) goal of legally restoring the intent of the Second Amendment, and of the risk being taken by pursuing Silveira v. Lockyer before a hostile or at least intellectually dishonest Supreme Court. Yes, the risk that SCOTUS might finally come out and rule that the right to bear arms isn’t an individual right is real. In fact, I wouldn’t be all that surprised, given the level of Statism our government has reached. In fact, I believe that, should the Court declare that the Second Amendment is meaningless, it might (finally!) wake up the majority of gun owners and make them politically active.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway, read Publicola’s peice. It’s worth your time.

Suuuuure it’s the Depleted Uranium

Via Clayton Cramer’s blog comes this New York Times story about intermarriage in Iraq. (Registration required.)

Iraqi Family Ties Complicate American Efforts for Change

Iqbal Muhammad does not recall her first glimpse of her future husband, because they were both newborns at the time, but she remembers precisely when she knew he was the one. It was the afternoon her uncle walked over from his house next door and proposed that she marry his son Muhammad.

“I was a little surprised, but I knew right away it was a wise choice,” she said, recalling that afternoon nine years ago, when she and Muhammad were 22. “It is safer to marry a cousin than a stranger.”

Her reaction was typical in a country where nearly half of marriages are between first or second cousins, a statistic that is one of the more important and least understood differences between Iraq and America. The extraordinarily strong family bonds complicate virtually everything Americans are trying to do here, from finding Saddam Hussein to changing women’s status to creating a liberal democracy.”

Clayton comments:

We’ve heard a lot for several years from the leftist Hussein apologists about horrifying birth defects in Iraq, supposedly caused by use of depleted uranium shells during Gulf War I. I wonder: is the birth defect rate in Iraq unusually high because of too much in-breeding?

Good question. But if you’re interested in seeing some of the Depleted Uranium hysteria, try these sites:

Extreme Birth Deformities

Common Dreams


Hell, just do a Google search on (Iraq “birth defects” “Depleted Uranium”)

Then go read the FACTS on Depleted Uranium, which is no more dangerous than lead, just denser.

Federation of American Scientists

World Health Organization

Or, if you want it explained to you clearly, Steven Den Beste does a good job in this piece.

I noted several articles that claimed a significant increase in birth defects after the 1991 Gulf War. Two questions:

1) How do we know for sure that there really was an increase (totalitarian regimes tend to use whatever propaganda they can,) and

2) Aren’t some chemical weapons teratogenic?

But I think Clayton’s on to something.

What Clayton didn’t comment on was the last couple of paragraphs in the NYT story which illustrates the level of trust in Iraq.

Sheik Yousif and his sons said they put no faith in American promises of democracy — or any other promises, for that matter.

“Do you know why Saddam Hussein has not been captured?” asked Saleh, the oldest son of Sheik Yousif. “Because his own family will never turn him in, and no one else trusts the Americans to pay the reward.” Saleh dismissed the reports that Americans had given $30 million and safe passage out of Iraq to the informant who turned in Mr. Hussein’s sons.

“I assure you that never happened,” Saleh said. “The American soldiers brought out a camera and gave him the money in front of a witness, and then they took him toward the Turkish border. Near the border they killed him and buried him in a valley. They wanted the money for their own families.”

Culture clash. “We behave this way, so everybody behaves this way.”

We’ve got a long way to go over there.

Secondhand Lions

My wife and I went to see this film last Wednesday, but I wanted to wait until I had a chance to peruse the “critical” reviews before I opined myself. The critics were, as I suspected, critical. Most were pretty mild, objecting to Haley Joel Osmet’s performance (which I considered excellent) or script weakness (“…those who can’t teach, criticise.”) but some, unsurprisingly, were just WAY off the mark.

Warning: This contains spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the film, STOP READING NOW

Consider, for example, Wesley Morris’s Boston Globe review:

The film reenacts these episodes as cartoonish cliffhangers, with a young Hub and Garth foiling anonymous but craven Moroccans. Written and directed by Tim McCanlies, “Secondhand Lions” is made from a child’s perspective, but its point of view has a glass eye. While handsome Americans come to the rescue of a beautiful Moroccan damsel, the Moroccan men are presented as swarthy caricatures of Arab danger.

That’s uncomfortably retrograde. Fine, the flashbacks are set in the silent era, but must the movie’s mind-set follow suit? Kids might not ask if all Arabs clean their teeth with machetes, but it’s a parent’s duty to inform them that given the option most would probably choose a toothbrush. The movie tries to clear things up with a conversation in the final minutes that involves Josh Lucas playing a grown-up Walter, but it’s the images that linger.

In your mind maybe. Uh, Wesley? The story is being told to a fifteen year-old boy. Those images are IN HIS HEAD. You expect anything other than cartoonish stereotypes? Wesley’s problem is that this piece isn’t PC enough for him.

Steven D. Greydanus of said this:

There’s a key scene in Lions in which Walter tells Uncle Hub that he doesn’t know what to believe any more and wants the truth. Here is Uncle Hub’s regrettably quotable response: “If you want to believe in something, then believe in it! Just because something isn’t true, that’s no reason you can’t believe in it!” Uncle Hub then goes on to list some ideals he thinks are worth believing in whether they’re true or not: that honor and virtue, not money and power, are what really matter; that good always triumphs over evil; that true love never dies.

Now, the fact is that there is truth to all these propositions, depending on how they are understood. I can even appreciate, in a sense, someone like Uncle Hub having the will to recognize the value of these ideals despite not being in an epistemological position to affirm their truth.

Nevertheless, expressed this way, this is bogus sentimentality, not belief or faith — and this notion casts a long shadow over the rest of the film. Even a revelation that goes some way toward mitigating potentially problematic implications in this regard feels less than entirely earned, like more sentimentality on the part of the filmmaker. Like Hub, McCanlies’s heart is in the right place, but his head could use a little straightening out.

Earth to Greydanus: That was Hub explaining the “Hub Philosophy of Life,” not the Greydanus philosophy of life. I didn’t expect the man to be Plato, and the movie wasn’t about the “rightness” of the way Hub and Garth lead their lives.

The one thing I was surprised to see was no mass condemnation of the massive use of firearms in the film – especially the scene where Haley Joel Osmet’s character is in the cornfield with the lion, and Hub, Garth, four teenaged boys, and the despised relatives – including the children – all come out of the house armed to the teeth to “save” him.

Anyway, I greatly enjoyed the film but will admit that it was not as good as it might have been. Highly recommended, though. Especially if you’ve never gone fishing with a 12-gauge.

(Disclosure: I worked in a movie theater in high school, and ever since I’ve really enjoyed the movies and the big-screen theater experience. Consequently, I see probably thirty or so first-run movies a year, and go to enjoy them not criticise them.)

An Excellent Gift Idea

Dale Amon over at Samizdata posts about the recent interest in the close approach of Mars, and links to artist Kim Poor’s “University of Mars” t-shirt.

Kim’s art gallery is in Tucson, and I’ve got several prints from that gallery in my house.

The sad news is that Kim has a degenerative nerve disease that has progressed to the point that he can no longer paint.

If you care for art with a space theme at all, go visit his site. His gallery carries works by all the major artists in the genre. My collection includes Joe Tucciarone’s Chiron’s Passage and The Pegasus Nebula, Bob Eggleton’s, Blues for Neptune, Kim’s Jupiter from Io, a signed copy of Alan Bean’s Conrad, Gordon and Bean and a few others.

I also like to send his Christmas cards out, and that season is fast approaching.

Give it a look.

Last One for Tonight – The “F-Word”

Via The Everlasting Phelps, the Smoking Gun has an absolutely hilarious motion to dismiss that is a must read. The introduction to the piece begins:

Yes, five months remain in the year, but we’re ready to announce the winner of the prestigious 2003 Legal Document of the Year award. The below motion was filed earlier this month in connection with a criminal charge filed against a Colorado teenager. The boy’s troubles started when he was confronted at school by a vice principal who suspected that he had been smoking in the boys bathroom. When presented to the principal, the kid exploded, cursing the administrator with some variants of the “F” word. For his outburst, the boy was hit with a disorderly conduct rap, which was eventually amended to interfering with the staff, faculty, or students of an educational institutional. Faced with what he thought was a speech crime, Eric Vanatta, the teen’s public defender, drafted the below motion to dismiss the misdemeanor charge. The District Court document is an amusing and profane look at the world’s favorite four-letter word, from its origins in 1500 to today’s frequent use of the term by Eminem, Chris Rock, and Lenny Kravitz.

Go read it. Damn, that’s funny!


New Addition to the Blogroll

The Everlasting Phelps

Anybody who writes lines like these:

I hate it when someone uses footnotes on a “study” that doesn’t actually follow logic. I would rather read straight bullshit than well-documented bullshit.

Face it. Men are pigs. We like farting, and we are secretly proud of our stripes. I would still be making stripes if I didn’t like having my kibbles and bits swinging around when I walk. At least our underwear doesn’t look like we decided to steal them from a crime scene, and we don’t leave them soaking in the bathroom sink all the time.

As a white man, I am not allowed to have an opinion that is at odds with acquiescence to a minority, or I am a bully. By having white skin and a couple of testicles, I am presumed to not be capable of understanding the position of people who lack one of those two qualifications.

With news that it is up to the Controversial 9th Circuit to judge recall, my first reaction was, “well, if there is a way for them to sway it towards Bustamonte, they will.”

That is real discouraging for me, and not because of I am anti-Democrat. The discouragment comes from realising that I have no expectation of the application of law from the 9th circuit. None. The 9th is so activist, so interventionist, and so partisain that it is a mockery of what the Judicial branch is supposed to represent. They are supposed to be the brake on the engine of government. Instead, the 9th has ventured so far into judicial activism that they are not slowing the engine, but instead speeding it along.

If someone doesn’t clean out or clean up the Ninth Circuit pretty soon, we are going to have a real honest-to-goodness constitutional crisis out of that court.

deserves to be read.

And get this: He’s a lawyer! Spoons has some competition.

Welcome to my blogroll, Phelps.

UPDATE: Ok, he’s not a lawyer. For some strange reason, I feel better.

Interesting Development in the Silveira Case

Regardless of how “dangerous” some feel it is, the Supreme Court has just issued a “Request for Response” to the State of California on why the Supreme Court should or should not hear the case. California previously waived the right of response, but now SCOTUS has (ahem) requested it to respond.

Which, in my mind anyway, means the possibility of SCOTUS granting cert. just went up.

I’m still not betting on which way they might decide. I don’t know how intellectually honest five of them might be.