RIP, Airboss.

I received a sad email this morning from Connie du Toit. Steve Harod, otherwise known as Airboss, has died of a heart attack. I only met Steve and his wife Elaine once, when I visited Kim & Connie for the Sept. 11 memorial at their home, but Steve was an interesting and intelligent guy. He often sent links around to us gunbloggers that he found interesting, and I suggested to him once that he ought to have his own blog. His response:

Most of you know each other, all of you know me.
I don’t have a blog, couldn’t write one if I had it.
I do have guns/ammunition and a willingness to stand with you all.
Can’t write, can shoot
Stephen E. Herod

That’s Steve.

Jim at Smoke on the Water has an excellent eulogy up. He knew Stephen much better than I. Go read.


For any of you gun-nuts out there who haven’t seen the cruelly short-lived Fox sci-fi series Firefly – let me recommend that you spend the necessary thirty-five bucks and pick up the entire thing on DVD. WELL worth the time & money. I don’t know why Fox had a bug up its bum, but it did everything it could, apparently, to make sure Firefly didn’t get an audience.

Well, it sure as hell developed one after cancellation. I bought the DVD set on the strength of recommendations from posters at, and it’s great! Great writing, great acting, great guns and great shootouts.

So now there’s a feature film coming out in September that I will be lining up for, and if you have Apple’s Quicktime installed, you can watch a helluva trailer for the film.

I just hope they bring it back to TV. I can’t wait.

Troll Gigging.

I get so few trolls here that I think other bloggers are taking pity on me and are now offering me theirs. Gunscribe from From The Heartland wrote a post on the recently concluded Operation Falcon back on tax Buy a Gun Day that I found interesting enough to leave a comment on. The whole post is good, but this is the money quote:

The most suprising statistic is that with all of the drugs that were found and arrests that were made, especially among the gang bangers and homicide warrants, there was only 243 firearms seized. This is in no way making light of the hard work that these dedicated men and women performed, they did their jobs with the utmost professionalism. It would seem however that based on the terrible information that the Brady Bunch and the Million Commie Mommies have been promulgating for years that there should have been more guns recovered.

Sarah where were the guns
We have been led to believe for years that guns need to be controlled, registered and/or banned to keep them from the hands of the criminal elite. Well last week an untold number of America’a dedicated Law Enforcement elite from all over the country engaged the enemy and only two percent of the criminals had guns. Even that number may be misleading in that more than one or even multiple firearms may have been seized from one location.

It would seem that the mythical “Gunshow Loop hole” is not what it is cracked up to be.

The comment I left:

Don’t you see? This just proves that “nobody needs a concealed weapon” because only 2% of criminals have guns!

Trust me, the “million commie mommies,” the VPC, et al. can find some way to twist the facts to fit.

Gunscribe replied, but there was a troll! (Anonymous, of course.)

Despite your assertion that only “Commies” would question the wisdom of unregulated firearms, I have to question some of your claims here.

The fact that one manhunt resulted in a relatively small amount of firearms does not mean that only 2% of criminals have guns, nor that gun control is unnecessary. The data here is far too limited to make a conclusion like that. It also doesn’t take into account any firearms the apprehended may have had elsewhere or in the past.

Since there ARE gun control regulations in place, currently, if you DO choose to consider the results of Operation Falcon indicitive of gun issues as a whole, it isn’t much of a reach to say that maybe gun control is working.

The “gun show loop hole,” for instance; of course it isn’t what it’s cracked up to be- it doesn’t exist anymore. There’s been gun control legislation passed to eliminate it. Maybe that helps to explain the low number of guns found during Operation Falcon.

Between 1993 and 2001, the average annual number of “violent victimizations” involving firearms was 847,000. You can check this with the U.S. Department of Justice- it’s from their statistics. I’m curious who it is providing information that makes the DoJ’s look “terrible.”

I thought that it might be useful for understanding this issue if I presented an alternate view on the subject…. Though, really, I expect this post to be deleted fairly quickly.
Northeastern Liberal Elitist

With Gunscribe’s permission, let me reply to “Northeastern Liberal Elitist.”

No one said “only commies would question the wisdom of unregulated firearms.” Mere socialists, pacifists, and other Leftists do, too!

Actually, I love the “all-or-nothing” strawman, where the opposition to most gun control laws is therefore unequivocal opposition to all gun control laws. Really, NELE, you ought to try harder.

The fact that one manhunt resulted in a relatively small amount of firearms does not mean that only 2% of criminals have guns, nor that gun control is unnecessary. The data here is far too limited to make a conclusion like that. It also doesn’t take into account any firearms the apprehended may have had elsewhere or in the past.

The point – which you so obviously missed – is that the gun control groups take whatever data they can get and twist it however necessary to support their pre-determined conclusions. (Guns’r bad, mmmkay?) Didn’t you feel the breeze as that point parted your hair? No?

Since there ARE gun control regulations in place, currently, if you DO choose to consider the results of Operation Falcon indicitive of gun issues as a whole, it isn’t much of a reach to say that maybe gun control is working.

(Case in point…) Oh, really? Someone should inform the National Academies of Science. They just did a detailed study of all the gun control research done to date. Their conclusion:

The committee was broadly charged with providing an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing social science data and research on firearms. Although there is a large body of empirical research on firearms and violence, there is little agreement on even the basic facts regarding important policy issues related to firearms. The committee’s report deals with what current research can and cannot tell us about the role of firearms in violence. The report does not address specific firearms policies, such as the issue of gun control. Rather, its recommendations address how to improve the empirical foundation for future discussions about firearms policy.

Over the past few decades, there have been many studies of the relationship between violence and access to firearms; family and community factors that influence lethal behavior; the extent and value of defensive firearm use; the operation of legal and illegal gun markets; and the effectiveness of efforts to reduce the harms from or to increase the benefits associated with gun use. Our task was to evaluate these studies and the data on which they are based.

The committee looked at many interventions to reduce violence and suicide. Here, I must emphasize that even if it were shown that firearms clearly cause lethal violence, it would still be difficult to develop successful programs to reduce this violence. That’s because interventions would have to address other factors in addition to gun use. The intent of the people involved, the nature of their interactions and relationships, their access to firearms, and the level of law enforcement are critical in explaining when and why firearm violence occurs. Without attention to this complexity, it’s hard to understand the role that firearms play in violence.

Firearms are bought and sold in formal markets such as gun shops, and informal ones such as gun shows. Market-based interventions aimed at limiting access to guns for certain groups, such as convicted felons or juveniles, include restrictions on who can purchase guns and limits on the number of firearms that can be purchased in a given period. Arguments for and against these approaches are largely based on speculation — not on scientific evidence. Data on gun markets are only now beginning to emerge. We believe that greater attention should be paid to research design and data needs regarding gun pipelines. More studies also should be done on potential links between firearms policies and suicide rates.

In other words, “The data didn’t tell us anything.” Especially it didn’t tell the committee that “maybe gun control is working.” Which is interesting, since a similar study done some twenty years previously at the behest of the Carter administration produced essentially the exact same result. That report, published in 1983 as Under the Gun: Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America, came to this conclusion:

Should regulations restrict who may possess firearms? Should there be restrictions on the number or types of guns that can be purchased? Should safety locks be required? Answers to these questions involve issues that go beyond research on firearm violence.

These policy questions cannot be informed by current studies. Available data are too weak to support strong conclusions. Therefore, we believe that one of the most pressing needs is to pursue the data and research that are needed to fill knowledge gaps and, in turn, inform debate in this important policy area. Our committee identified key approaches to strengthen the research base on firearms and violence. We also believe that the federal government should support a rigorous research program in this area.

Research linking firearms to criminal violence and suicide is limited by a lack of credible data on firearm ownership (including possession and access) and individuals’ encounters with violence. The committee found that the existing data on gun ownership and use are the biggest barriers to better understanding gun violence. Without better data, many basic questions cannot be answered. Such data will not solve all problems of methodology. However, the almost complete absence of this information from the scientific literature makes it extremely difficult to understand the complex interpersonal, social, and other factors that determine whether or not a firearm will be used to commit a violent act.

Twenty-two years of gun control legislation and research later, and they still can’t find any evidence that “gun control works.” Even the New York Times mentioned in a piece last week about the most recent effort at gun control, the federal “Assault Weapon Ban”:

…a study for the National Institute of Justice said that it could not “clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.”

Decades of gun control laws, decades of research, no positive proof that the laws have affected gun crime. None. Don’t you think that if “gun control is working” we’d have conclusive evidence of it by now?

The “gun show loop hole,” for instance; of course it isn’t what it’s cracked up to be- it doesn’t exist anymore. There’s been gun control legislation passed to eliminate it. Maybe that helps to explain the low number of guns found during Operation Falcon.


The “gun show loophole” is no such thing, and your ignorance is showing. The “gun show loophole” is known as “private party sales” and they go on all over the country, not just at gun shows. And where has legislation been passed? Nowhere major, to my knowledge. Private sales are still legal in most of the country, as they’ve always been. “It doesn’t exist anymore?” Since when? Give me a date. Quote me the law(s).

Between 1993 and 2001, the average annual number of “violent victimizations” involving firearms was 847,000. You can check this with the U.S. Department of Justice- it’s from their statistics. I’m curious who it is providing information that makes the DoJ’s look “terrible.”

And from where did this non sequitur come? For one thing, who said anything about DoJ looking “terrible.” I didn’t see reference one to them. Gunscribe attributed the “terrible” information to the Brady Bunch, et al. What you neglect in your little factoid is the data that illustrates that in each of the years from 1994 to 2001, the number of annual “violent victimizations” has been declining – and without any evidence that any “gun control” law has been responsible for the decline. Here’s the Bureau of Justice Statistics chart

A decline from 5120 violent crimes per 100,000 population in 1994 to 2230 per 100,000 in 2003. That’s a decline of more than 56%. Gun-involved violent crime has fallen right along with it:

The average might be 847,000 per annum, but the range is from 1,060,800 in 1994 to 366,840 in 2003. That’s a 65% reduction.

And remember, the study done by the National Academies of Science could not link gun control laws to this decline. The only gun control law that passed since 1994 was the “Assault Weapon Ban,” and the National Institute of Justice study couldn’t even link that law to the reduction in “assault weapon” useage in crime.

But you know what has passed since 1994?

“Shall-issue” concealed-carry legislation. Four states in 1994. Seven more in 1995. Three more in 1996. Here’s the map, just for your own edification:

But the studies haven’t shown “right to carry” to decrease violent crime either.

No, all the dire predictions of “blood in the streets!” never came true. The worst thing you can say about CCW is that it might not have contributed to the drop in violent crime nationwide.

Imagine that.

“Alternate views” are welcome, so long as they are informed and not ignorant. Or if they’re ignorant, as long as the presenter is willing to be educated. And speaking for both Gunscribe and myself, we don’t delete the comments of our opposition. We use them.

It’s much more educational that way.

Another Example of How the Law Doesn’t Disarm Assailants.

From the BBC. Apparently the “yob culture” of violent youth gangs is really taking off (or it’s just the “flavor of the month” for the British mainstream media.)

Shopkeeper killed by teenage gang

A shopkeeper was murdered in a “horrific and frenzied” attack in a shopping precinct by more than 20 armed teenagers, police say.

Mi Gao Huang Chen, 41, was battered to death in front of his girlfriend with a spade, tree branch and metal pipes in Scholes, Wigan, on Saturday night.

Police have arrested 17 teenagers on suspicion of assault and violent disorder, including a girl of 14.

Mr Huang Chen, known locally as Michael, ran the Superb Hut takeaway.

Residents say a gang of teenagers have plagued their community with anti-social behaviour.

I love that expression: “Anti-social behavior.” It sounds like they’re just being rude. More of that British stiff-upper-lip understatement, when what it really means is homicidal.

Mr Huang Chen, who was from China, lived at Towcester Close in the Ancoats area of Manchester.

Police say the attack on him lasted up to 15 minutes. He suffered massive head injuries and died in Hope Hospital, Salford, on Thursday.

Det Ch Insp Steve Crimmins, leading the investigation, said: “It is quite frightening really, it was a frenzied attack. It was horrific and sickening.

“There have been ongoing problems in the area. There was a heightened police presence prior to the incident.

Police don’t say, or at least aren’t quoted in this piece, as to why if “there was a heightened police presence prior to the incident” their response time was apparently in excess of the fifteen minutes the assault took.

“There’s been general nuisance that you associate with large groups of youths, in essence rowdiness and criminal damage.

“For some reason it has escalated out of all proportion and a man has lost his life.”

Might I suggest that one reason it “has escalated out of all proportion” is because the “large groups of youths” don’t fear either the police or their victims? I wonder if any of the assailants recorded video of the assault on their cell-phones?

More than TWENTY attackers, all minors. An assault that lasted fifteen minutes. And no one could intervene without risk of getting killed or severely injured themselves.

A question: What would have happened if a large adult man had waded into that melee with, say, an axe-handle and prevented Mr. Chen’s death by inflicting some serious injuries on Mr. Chen’s assailants? Would the charge be attempted murder or merely assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm?

When will people wake up to the fact that the world can be a dangerous place, and the government is not responsible for your protection?

UPDATE, 4/30: Apparently this piece caught the attention of a UK message board. (Welcome, y’all!) But this comment absolutely floored me:

This is yet another example of how people think of tackling things the wrong way. If Mr Chen or some other random passer-by had been carrying a gun, you would have 17 dead teenagers rather than one dead shopkeeper. Yes, they were in the wrong but that’s no reason to kill them.

At least one of the posters felt the same:

X, that is perhaps one of the most naive posts to ever come from your keyboard. No offense mate, but you’ve seen too many movies.

“X” seems to miss the point that, had a defender been armed with a firearm chances are good that NO ONE would have been killed. The twenty-plus attackers would have been quelled.

I’m not much for Hollywood’s interpretation of defensive gun use, but “No, Ace. Just you.” comes immediately to mind. And better one or two of them dead (and the rest running) than the shop keeper, IMHO.

I noticed also that, as of this posting, no one has addressed my question concerning a defender armed with an axe-handle. I wonder why that is? Is contemplation of that question uncomfortable?

Just How Good Are Those British Crime Statistics?.

(h/t to Lurch at Gun Culture)

From the Sunday Telegraph:

When the crime is to speak out
By Daniel Foggo
(Filed: 24/04/2005)

Picture this: you are a retired senior policeman who has information that gun crimes are going unreported because some of your former colleagues are not registering them. You report what you know to a Sunday newspaper, and the next day two detectives knock on your door.

At first you might be impressed by their prompt reaction. But then you discover that your visitors are from the “professional standards” unit (the subdivision of every force that polices its own officers) and have no interest in the truth of your claim. What they want to know is which serving policemen have spoken to you.

They are not concerned that shootings are spiralling out of control while being deliberately unrecorded in order not to spoil the crime figures: no, they want to discipline the officers for speaking out of turn.

This is what happened to former Detective Superintendent Peter Coles last Monday. The day before he had been quoted in this newspaper saying that gun crime in Nottinghamshire, where he was once head of the CID, was under-reported. Criminals turning up in hospital with gunshot wounds were often reluctant to involve the police, which led officers to treat the incidents as “no crimes”, Mr Coles said.

One of the few things that will make police forces stir these days, as Mr Coles discovered, is the slightest hint that their officers are talking to outsiders about embarrassing matters. Going “off-message” is now as much frowned upon by the police as it is by their New Labour paymasters.

Take the crime statistics. Under Labour, they are used to convey an expedient message of the rosiest hue. It would not help senior officers’ careers if they were to speak out about the glaring gaps in the Government’s compiling methods. So the prevailing face of most forces is one of sanguine denial.

Nottinghamshire police’s particular problem is that when their primary dissenter broke ranks last month it turned out to be their own Chief Constable, Steve Green. He admitted to me that his force was reeling under the murder rate and was going to have to “farm out” inquiries to other forces.

His reaction when we published the story was stupefying and gives great insight into the fear that going “off-message” engenders even in chief constables. His press office, who had helped arrange the interview with me and agreed the areas that Mr Green would discuss, announced that the Chief Constable had been “blackmailed” into giving the interview. This was utterly untrue and inherently preposterous. Yet in making the claim, the police tried to deflect attention away from the significance of what Mr Green had actually admitted – that his force could not cope with the slaughter on its streets – by suggesting that the more important issue was that he had been compelled against his will into saying what he did.

I have since been informed that Nottinghamshire police’s professional standards team has been trying to access my phone records and those of a colleague to find out which officers may have spoken out. This kind of behaviour is not unusual. Police forces now consider whistleblowing as a form of corruption that should be rooted out. The officers concerned may be revealing matters that are in the public interest, but this is not a consideration.

Three days after the knock on Mr Coles’s door, Nottinghamshire police revealed their latest crime figures, which showed a more than 10 per cent drop over the year. Naysayers, such as Mr Coles, who claim that the statistics are inaccurate, are not appreciated at such a time. As he is retired, the force cannot touch him but they can, and will, pursue anyone who might have given him information.

Getting to the truth behind the statistics and spin of crime figures is becoming increasingly difficult. Rare chinks of clarity, such as Mr Green’s interview, are quickly covered over. A fortnight after talking to The Telegraph Mr Green admitted that his interview “was not my finest hour”.

I beg to differ. It was probably his most conspicuous act of public service.

But crime is going down in England and Wales! Really!

A Columnist Who Gets It.

Jeffry Gardner, Albuquerque Tribune

Save us from us

Self-indulgent nation needs to steer away from moral relativism

During the 1992 presidential debates, there was a moment of absurdity that so defied the laws of absurdity that even today when I recall it, I just shake my head.

It was during the town hall “debate” in Richmond, Va., between the first President Bush and contenders Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

A grown man – a baby boomer – took the microphone from the moderator, Carol Simpson of ABC News, and said, in a fashion: You’re the president, so you’re like our father, and we’re your children.

See? My head’s shaking already. Where did that come from? Would a grown man have told a president something like that 100 years ago – or 50?

We’ve got our wires crossed, and our ability to accept responsibility for our lives – once so ingrained in our American nature that President Kennedy felt comfortable telling us to “ask not what your country can do for you” – has been short-circuited. We’ve slouched en masse into an almost-childlike outlook: You’re the president, so you’re like our father.

The fact that an adult – on national television, no less – would say this and later be interviewed as though he’d spoken some profound truth struck me then, as now, as more than a little absurd. It was alarming.

That attitude certainly hasn’t abated over the past 12 years. In fact, that helpless, innocent-child routine has crept into nearly all aspects of our culture. It’s played a significant role, I believe, in moving us toward what newly elected Pope Benedict XVI called a “dictatorship of relativism.”

Relativism, Benedict explained, is a world view “which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.”

Anyone who has ever set foot in a toy store with a 6-year-old understands where I’m heading with this. At 6, it’s only natural to view the world as a place created to meet your wants. As adults, though, we’re expected to grow up.

In the process, we’re not only asked to accept self-restraint, but we’re also supposed to recognize that boundaries – moral absolutes, if you will – work for the betterment of our society. With maturity comes discipline, charity and sanity.

An ideological fissure is racing like splintering ice on a frozen lake, dividing progressives and conservatives today. Conservatives say progressives have lifted the “if it feels good, do it” mantra into an ideology worth defending at the polls and in the courts – and damn the social consequences.

There’s an AIDS epidemic, but we’ll fight to keep the bathhouses open. We support the First Amendment, but we’ll shred the Boy Scouts’ right to free association. We oppose the war but support the troops, and on and on.

These dissonant ideas are held together by moral relativism, a dangerous ideology that should come with a label: Warning! Total self-indulgence may be harmful to your society.


(Hat tip to Jerry Scharf at Common Sense and Wonder)

Why You Won’t See Advertising On The Smallest Minority.

I got an interesting invitation from Henry Copeland, the guy who runs the Blogads business. I was suggested to him by a much bigger blogger (and I appreciate the thought, I really do) but I had to decline. This is what I told Henry:

Thanks for the offer, but I must decline. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to make some cash, but the nature of my blog. I republish copyrighted content; newspaper and magazine articles (often in their entirety), cartoons, photos, etc. and do commentary on them. I consider this “fair use” under Title 17, U.S. Code Section 107, but only so long as I am not using this material to make a profit. I even have a legal statement to that effect at the bottom of the page. Therefore I don’t have advertising, nor even a tipjar (and it’s one more reason I’m on Blogger – it’s free.) If someone wants to come after me for copyright violation, not having any income generated by the site makes their job more difficult.

A couple of posts below is a good example. I’ve excerpted entire news stories from a couple of British web sites. To me, this is “fair use,” but if I was running a money-making enterprise here, I would be using someone else’s intellectual property to make a profit.

I’m not making a dime. In fact, I spend a little on an upgraded Haloscan comment account and an upgraded Photobucket account for what graphics I run. This thing costs me, but I do it because I want to, not because I want to make a business out of it.

Some people argue that you can run ads to support your bandwidth charges and donate any overages to charity to maintain a “non-profit” status, but by not having any income at all, I think I run a reduced risk of having any corporate lawyers thinking they could successfully sue me for copyright infringement.

I could be deluding myself, but it doesn’t matter. No ads will be run by me here. Ever.

Meme Participation, By Request.

Mostly Cajun asked me to participate in this blogmeme, so I will indulge him. There aren’t too many of us industrial power guys blogging that I’m aware of, and I like the guy. Besides, he writes very well.

The deal is as follows:

Following there is a list of different occupations. You must select at least five of them. You may add more if you like to your list before you pass it on (after you select five of the items as it was passed to you).

Of the five you selected, you are to finish each phrase with what you would do as a member of that profession. Then pass it on to three other suckers bloggers.

Here’s the list:

  • If I could be a scientist…
  • If I could be a farmer…
  • If I could be a musician…
  • If I could be a doctor…
  • If I could be a painter…
  • If I could be a gardener…
  • If I could be a missionary…
  • If I could be a chef…
  • If I could be an architect…
  • If I could be a linguist…
  • If I could be a psychologist…
  • If I could be a librarian…
  • If I could be an athlete…
  • If I could be a lawyer…
  • If I could be an innkeeper…
  • If I could be a professor…
  • If I could be a writer…
  • If I could be a backup dancer…
  • If I could be a llama-rider…
  • If I could be a bonnie pirate…
  • If I could be a midget stripper…
  • If I could be a proctologist…
  • If I could be a TV-Chat show host…
  • If I could be an actor…
  • If I could be a judge…

OK, here we go.

If I could be a scientist, I’d like to study the TOE, the “Theory of Everything.” This is an effort to find one grand, unified theory of physics that melds Einsteinian relativity theory to Quantum Mechanics to, well, everything. I’m not that bright, though, and I know it. Somewhere along about my Junior year in college it became blindingly apparent to me that I was qualified for no more than a Master’s degree in Physics, and that would qualify me to be a junior test-tube washer in a laboratory somewhere. Which is why I’m an engineer.

If I could be a musician, I’d like to be a vocal artist. Unfortunately I’ve got a face perfectly suited for radio, and a voice perfectly suited for the print media. But I’ve always appreciated people with real vocal talent. It would be nice to be a virtuoso on the guitar like Eric Clapton, too, but given my druthers, I’d like to actually enjoy singing in the shower.

If I could be a chef, I’d specialize in baked goods. I love breads and pastries. I do, from time to time, make my own french bread from scratch, and I am pining away for the day that Beyond Bread opens a franchise on the Northwest side of Tucson. Just, damn!

If I could be an athlete, I’d be a professional shooter, of course! My preference would be speed shooting, I think, like the Bianchi Cup and IPSC guys – Rob Leatham, Brian Enos, Doug Koenig, and the rest.

If I could be a professor, I’d like to teach American History with a strong emphasis on philosophy. I’d also like to teach an electives course in the politics and philosophy of gun control. Hell, as much time as I’ve spent studying the topic, I ought to get an honorary Ph.D. from some school.

OK, for my invites I’d like to hear from Sarah at Carnaby Fudge, Ravenwood of Ravenwood’s Universe, and Mike of Feces Flinging Monkey.

UPDATE, 5/1: Sarah has responded.