I found out through this post at Cryptic Subterranean that Sgt. Walter Gaya – of the Gun Guy’s Walter and Adam fund, is having some problems with the Dept. of Immigration (or whatever the hell it’s called now.) Jay Mac links to this ABC News piece that reports:

The Argentina-born immigrant, who moved to the United States as a child, was injured just eight days before he was to be sworn in as a U.S. citizen in a ceremony in Iraq.

Now, he’s in a bureaucratic black hole: Federal immigration officials wouldn’t renew his permanent resident card or tell him when he could reschedule the swearing-in ceremony. No one at the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office could tell him what to do next to get his citizenship papers, or even how to renew his immigration documents.

Freelance reporter Michael Yon mentioned Gaya in one of his dispatches about the group of soldiers sworn in at the ceremony Gaya missed. Yon was embedded with the Deuce-Four, Gaya’s unit, when Gaya was wounded by an IED. His friend Adam Plumondore, the other member of the Gun Guy’s fund, was killed by an IED in February.


Six months after 9/11, Immigration informed a flight school that two of the hijackers, Mohammed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi had been approved for student visas, and Walter Gaya – a serving non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Army can’t get sworn in as a citizen?

Someone’s head should roll. SondraK has taken up the drumbeat. Write your Congressweasles. Post this information far and wide. Get pissed off. Outrage seems to be the only thing that gets anybody’s attention any more.

UPDATE: Add Thus Spracht ME and Stop the ACLU to the list.

UPDATE 10/31: David Codrea links to Cryptic Subterranian‘s piece with Thank You for Your Service, Now Get Out. Harsh, but not excessive.

UPDATE 11/1: SondraK relays this Michael Yon report“I spoke with Walt today, and the citizenship matter is under control. I will speak with him tomorrow and ask him about his camera. I can tell you now that he will be very heartened to hear that so many people actually care so much.”


Department of Our Collapsinged Schools, Michigan Division.

From the website:

The United States Constitution as a Living Document

This unit builds the constitutional foundation for the study of nineteenth century American history. Students examine the structure and functioning of the United States government under the Constitution through the principles of checks and balances, separation of powers, federalism, limited government, and popular sovereignty. In exploring what life would be like without government, students learn about the purposes of government, the social contract theory of government, and the meaning of a constitutional form of government. They examine primary and secondary sources to understand the problems faced by the new nation under the Articles of Confederation. After constructing and debating possible changes to the Articles of Confederation, students simulate a constitutional convention to work out the various compromises achieved by the framers. They then investigate each branch of government with particular focus on the powers, limits, structure, and function of each using both current and historical examples. Through an interpretation of its text as well as historical events and court cases students analyze how the Constitution fulfills the purposes for which it was created. In examining the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights and the purposes for its inclusion in the Constitution, students explore its place in their daily lives. They explore situations in which the principles of the rule of law and limited government operate to protect individual rights and serve the common good. The unit culminates with a discussion of why the Constitution is considered a “living document.”

AAAARRRRGGHHH!!! This from the “sample core curriculum for Michigan schools.”

Considered by whom??? What about those of us who DON’T consider it to be a “living document”? I guess all that twaddle about “diversity of opinions” and “tolerance for the beliefs of others” is just that – twaddle? Nope, let’s continue the brainwashing of young skulls full of mush, and if they show any signs of a personality, then dope them with Ritalin or some other mood-altering chemical.

Long – very long post coming, I think.

Meirs Who? Kozinski for SCOTUS

Via the Geek with a .45 I found this article from the December ’95/January ’96 issue of the late, unlamented political magazine George on my favorite Appeals Court judge, Alex Kozinski – he who wrote the most eloquent dissent to the Silveira v. Lockyer decision not to re-hear en banc. (Warning, it’s a PDF file of scanned pages, and it’s SLOW to load.) Here are some highlights from the piece (with my commentary.)

After graduating first in his law school class in 1975, Kozinski clerked at the U.S. Court of Appeals and then for Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. He was made chief judge of the U.S. Claims Court at age 32 and a Ninth Circuit Federal appeals judge at 35, which made him the youngest person appointed to the federal bench in this century. During the Reagan-Bush years, it was an open secret that Kozinski was being groomed for the Supreme Court – an appointment many think will occur if a Republican wins the White House next November.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen, but now is the perfect time to nominate him for O’Connor’s seat.

Unlike recent Supreme Court nominees, Kozinski doesn’t hesitate to trumpet his judicial agenda: “I want to change the face of American jurisprudence,” he has declared.

Which is why, I beleive neither he nor Janice Rogers Brown will be offered the seat. Bush wants to avoid conflict at home.

But it’s time and past time for that conflict, IMHO. It’s time to drag out the Left and make them expose themselves completely to the general public.

Note these comments:

The conservative judge Richard Posner calls him “one of the best and smartest judges in the country,” and Harvard constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe considers him “on of the few genuinely interesting minds in the Federal Judiciary.”

Note the author while he pointed out Posner’s political leanings, he didn’t mention that Lawrence Tribe is (accurately) a self-described liberal – one, I will note, who seems remarkably intellectually honest.

Clint Bolick, the litigation director for the Institute of Justice… says if he were “advising a president on the Supreme Court, Alex would be on the top of my list.”

“Alex is one of the true conservative libertarians in public life today,” says Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz.

Dershowitz is an überliberal – also un-noted.

“He shakes his finger at fellow conservatives and tells them to scrutinize government at all levels, not just where it helps their wallets.”

Regardless of this praise, I imagine few on the Left would be pleased with him. For example:

“Kozinski gets away with a lot because he is so funny and charming,” says Nan Aron, president of the liberal Alliance for Justice.

Given the two earlier examples, if the author concluded that noting the Alliance for Justice is “liberal” was required, it must be damned near Stalinist. Continuing:

“But he is also very dangerous, especially with regard to the rights of immigrants, workers, and the poor. Property rights always trump human rights for him.”

Someone should inform Ms. Aron that property rights are human rights – the human right to acquire and keep property. That’s how the poor stop being poor.

Fellow Ninth Circuit judge Stephen Reinhardt, a passionate liberal and close friend of Kozinski’s, is also one of his harshest critics. “What do I think of his views? Not much,” he says bluntly. “Alex is one of the brightest of the right wing, but he focuses too narrowly on property and is terrible on affirmative action and other civil rights. I would hate to see him on the Supreme Court, where he could do some really serious damage.”

Instead of on the Ninth Circuit, where he is overwhelmed by the majority of liberals who keep him from correcting any of the damage they continue to do. Reinhardt wrote the original 69 page Silveira decision that Kozinski, in his dissent to the denial to hear an en banc appeal characterized thus:

The sheer ponderousness of the panel’s opinion—the mountain of verbiage it must deploy to explain away these fourteen short words of constitutional text—refutes its thesis far more convincingly than anything I might say. The panel’s labored effort to smother the Second Amendment by sheer body weight has all the grace of a sumo wrestler trying to kill a rattlesnake by sitting on it – and is just as likely to succeed.

Those “fourteen short words” being the Second Amendment. And yet, they’re friends. Unless and until Kozinski is in a position to make a real difference. I guess then you find out who your true friends are.

This was fascinating, too:

Kozinski was born in Bucharest on July 23, 1950. His father, Moses, spent most of World War II in the Transnistria concentration camp, where inmates were systematically worked to death.

A weaver by trade, and a Communist agitator in his youth, Moses was made vice-president of a textile factory when the Soviet-backed government took over after the war.

Life in postwar Romania was not easy for the Kozinskis, even with Moses’s party credentials. Nor was the gulf between communism’s theory and its reality lost on Alex: At age eight, the boy got his father into trouble by publicly asking him how a government with so many political prisoners could possibly publish a newspaper called Free Romania.

Well, we already knew he was smart.

After emigrating to the U.S. in 1961, Alex embraced being an American.

“One taste of chocolate and bubble gum and I was a capitalist,” remembers Kozinski. “I spent the first several years glued to the television, sucking up American culture.”

It’s a wonder his mind survived it, but it was the early sixties. I shudder to think what happens to our kids today who “suck up American culture” via the boob tube.

After a probably less-than-stellar academic achievement in primary school, Kozinski began attending UCLA in the late sixties, studying engineering – poorly. But he also studied the anti-war movement, then in full swing, and commented on it:

Kozinski, who had just become a naturalized citizen, chafed at his fellow students’ politics. “Most of the protests were really about people justifying the fact that they were chicken,” he says. “Students were seduced by all the anti-American rhetoric. They hadn’t lived under a truly repressive regime.”

Nor do they now.

So outraged by anti-American sentiments was Kozinski that he boycotted (and still refuses to see) Jane Fonda movies – a stance about which he has only one regret: “I wish I had seen Barbarella,” he says wistfully. “Maybe one day I’ll watch the video – if someone else pays for it.”

Don’t bother, Judge. She doesn’t really look any better than most of the exposed actress flesh displayed today.

Kozinski then switched his major to law, barely squeaking in, and after reading that only the top 10% of law school graduates had much of a chance at financial success, he set out with the intention of graduating at the top of his class. The very top, not second or third place. And he did.

So now that we’ve established his bona fides let’s consider Kozinski’s “judicial philosophy,” in his own words:

“Look, we have to realize that ideas have consequences, and legal ideas have more serious consequences for society than most.” The law, in his view, has an ineradicable moral dimension that we ignore at our peril. When, for example, “courts tell us that someone else is always to blame for whatever misfortune happens to befall us, pretty soon we start to believe it” – a denial of personal responsibility that Kozinski derides with his Toyota Principle (named for the company’s “You asked for it, you got it” ad campaign). Lawyers must see the law as “a method for resolving legitimate disputes, rather than a means of extortion.”

His remedy for “hate crimes” exemplifies this anti-litigious, communitarian approach. “Our focus on punishing the speaker diverts attention from … the things we can do to repair the damage,” he argues. Society’s first responsibility, Kozinski says, is to reassure victims of their rightful place in the community, to tell them that, despite the wrong suffered, they are not outcasts.

This part particularly got my attention:

Kozinski is not shy about bringing his experiences to bear on his legal formulations. He particularly attributes his sensitivity to free speech and defendant’s rights to his time in Romania. “I know what it means for police to really run amok,” he says. “Seeing people hauled away in their pajamas in the middle of the night stays with you.”

Yes, I imagine it does. And it reminds you that it can still happen today, here.

Although Kozinski brings a certain informality to the courtroom, his constitutional philosophy – the compass guiding his vast array of decisions – is anything but lax. It revolves, he explains, around three principles: textual fidelity (interpretations should be grounded in the actual words of the Constitution), completeness (provisions in the Constitution should not be ignored or emasculated), and consistency (similar phrases should be construed in similar ways). “The Constitution is a complicated, old and multilayered document that is meant to have some play in the joints,” he says. “But it must have limits to its interpretation or else you are simply taking advantage of its flexibility for your own purposes. You can’t just find in it anything you want to find in it.”

And he lives this philosophy. From the aforementioned dissent in Silveira:

Judges know very well how to read the Constitution broadly when they are sympathetic to the right being asserted. We have held, without much ado, that “speech, or . . . the press” also means the Internet…and that “persons, houses, papers, and effects” also means public telephone booths….When a particular right comports especially well with our notions of good social policy, we build magnificent legal edifices on elliptical constitutional phrases – or even the white spaces between lines of constitutional text. But, as the panel amply demonstrates, when we’re none too keen on a particular constitutional guarantee, we can be equally ingenious in burying language that is incontrovertibly there.

It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us. As guardians of the Constitution, we must be consistent in interpreting its provisions. If we adopt a jurisprudence sympathetic to individual rights, we must give broad compass to all constitutional provisions that protect individuals from tyranny. If we take a more statist approach, we must give all such provisions narrow scope. Expanding some to gargantuan proportions while discarding others like a crumpled gum wrapper is not faithfully applying the Constitution; it’s using our power as federal judges to constitutionalize our personal preferences.

Of course, again some on the Left have a problem with this:

“I don’t think it is possible to have such a strict theory of constitutional interpretation,” says University of Southern California law professor Erwin Chemerinski. “Kozinski follows his theories in some areas and not in others. His opinions involving the takings clause (the portion of the Fifth Amendment that requires the citizens to be compensated when the government “takes” or reduces the value of their property), for instance, tend to be very broad and don’t square at all with his decisions involving criminal law.”

Given the recent Supreme Court Kelo decision, I am personally very happy to hear that. Chemerinski, another far Left-liberal, does not rank high in my esteem as I’ve previously noted. (Chemerinski is a regular on Hugh Hewitt’s afternoon radio show, and I have heard him defend the Kelo decision on the air.) That Chemerinski dislikes Kozinski’s judicial philosophy is mere icing on the cake, for me.

And this observation cements Kozinski’s appeal:

(Kozinski’s) nomination would prove a dilemma for the Republicans: Kozinski’s passionate defense of First and Fourth Amendment rights would give the far right reason to pause. “He’s too unpredictable, he isn’t a Scalia or a Thomas,” says New York University law professor Stephen Gillers. “Kozinski is a truly independent thinker, and we are at a point where presidents only want sure things.”

That would, I submit, make him more like Thomas, not less. We’ve learned a lot about Thomas in the intervening ten years, and he is, currently, my favorite sitting Justice. I think he, Scalia, and Kozinski would make a perfect set. Not mentioned in the piece was Kozinski’s strong support for the individual rights view of the Second Amendment. He has several very eloquent dissents on the topic, and his position has been commented on by other Ninth Circuit judges in their decisions.

But the “sure thing” comment is entirely correct. I think the reaction to Miers surprised Bush, and as I said, I don’t think he has the stomach for a fight.

But one can dream.

UPDATE, 10/29: Both Instapundit and David Bernstein of the Volokh Conspiracy think Kozinski is a great choice.

He hasn’t got a chance in hell…

Further update: David Hardy has details of most if not all of Kozinski’s decisions relating to the Second Amendment, and other things near and dear to our hearts.

Think “snowball in hell.” But Hardy notes that there is an email address, [email protected], and notes:

I’d assume somebody counts the number of emails on a given subject and reports that. If we all sent email entitled, say “please nominate Judge Kozinski,” it might just get someone’s attention. They may be a bit jumpy about the internet and blogs just now (grin).

Perhaps. I think I’ll jot them a note. Kozinski or Janice Rogers Brown. Either would please me.

UPDATE 10/31: It’s Alito, sometimes referred to as “Scalito.” I can live with that.

England, Gun Controllers, and the “Aggressive Edge”

Just a quick one, as this has been making the rounds of the gun blogs. It seems that the producers have chosen Daniel Craig as the next Bond; James Bond. IMDB’s bio says:

Daniel Craig was born in 1968 in Chester, England. He grew up in Liverpool, England and moved to London, England when he was 16. Here, he trained at the National Youth Theatre and graduated from the prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama (early 1990s). He made his film debut with The Power of One (1992) in 1992 as Sergeant Botha.

Quote from The Power of One attributed to the character of Sgt. Botha:

I was branded an idiot by everyone I knew!

How… poetic.

It seems that Mr. Craig is not likely to actually receive a “License to Kill” since he hates firearms:

New Bond: I hate guns
By This is London
25 October 2005

Daniel Craig will have a problem playing the new James Bond – because he hates guns.

The actor will wield 007’s famous Walther PPK in the movie Casino Royale.

But he revealed in OK! magazine: “I hate handguns. Handguns are used to shoot people and as long as they are around, people will shoot each other.

“That’s a simple fact. I’ve seen a bullet wound and it was a mess. It was on a shoot and it scared me. Bullets have a nasty habit of finding their target and that’s what’s scary about them.”

He should see what a shotgun can do.

However, this reminded me of an earlier piece I wrote, Americans, Gun Controllers, and the “Aggressive Edge” which discussed the making of – and the casting for – the movie Aliens:

The first (special feature) section on pre-production talked about the fact that the film was shot in England, mostly at Pinewood Studios, but this little bit piqued my interest:

Mary Selway, UK casting for Aliens:

“It was INCREDIBLY hard to do, because, um, James kept saying, ‘State of the art firepower. They’ve got to be incredibly, sort of on the cutting edge of American military…’

“So, what often happens here when American actors come to live in England, they become a bit Anglicized, and they don’t… they lose that really, sort of aggressive edge if you like, that this sort casting required.”

She said it, I didn’t.

Immediately after Ms. Selway’s piece:

Gale Anne Hurd – producer.

“I think we probably went through 3,000 people before we could even consider bringing anyone over from the United States.”

Hmmm… They went through 3,000 “Anglicized” people and couldn’t get enough aggressive ones?

I have to believe that there are more than 3,000 British actors they could have gone through, but I guess casting an American in the role of James Bond just wouldn’t have been cricket.

But at least then they could have found one that wasn’t a GFW.

It Hasn’t Happened Anywhere Else, But…

Owen at Boots and Sabers links to a quite good piece in the Wisconsin State Journal on concealed-carry. Wisconsin is currently debating legislation that would overturn its 133 year-old prohibition against concealed-carry, with the standard opposition meme of “more guns = more death.” However, this piece is, in my opinion, quite fair, and pretty thorough. Entitled, Guns can save your life or get you sent to prison, it explains the realities of concealed-carry well. Read the whole thing, but here are some excerpts:

I had spent most of the previous day with certified firearms instructor Gene German, seeking to learn what sort of training might be required here if the Legislature overturns Wisconsin’s 133-year ban on carrying concealed weapons.

German, an affable and enthusiastic backer of the measure, was invited to offer the training (for a $150 fee) to lawmakers, their staffs and media people by the bill’s chief sponsor in the state Senate, Sen. Dave Zien, R-Eau Claire.

About a dozen of us attended the day of classroom instruction at the state Capitol, while I and Nathan Berken, an aide to Rep. Gabe Loeffelholz, R- Platteville, completed the required coursework at a shooting range in Deerfield.

Interesting idea, inviting legislators and their staffs to actually sit through a class. Disappointing that so few actually did.

(W)hether you’re pro or con, it’s reassuring to know that the only path to a permit (with some exceptions) is through a class like German’s.

The first thing you learn: Marksmanship isn’t the half of it.

Outside of the sterile environment of the shooting range, in the messy, real world, here’s how my confrontation with the green guy would have gone: Stabbing fear would close around me, leaving me with tunnel vision. My strength would increase exponentially, but my dexterity – my ability to deftly aim the weapon, pull the trigger and hit the target instead of a bystander – would drop. Time would slow down.

My ability to endure pain would increase dramatically, but so would my attacker’s. And, unlike in the movies, he likely wouldn’t fall over with the first shot, or even the first several. Even after a shot to the heart, a person can have full “voluntary function” of his or her faculties for 10 to 15 seconds, enough to do me serious harm.

“Pain is irrelevant to survival,” German said.

But the story of that confrontation starts even before that point, with the decision to strap on a gun at all.

Something you hardly ever hear in the media.

If conflict finds you, four things must be true before you can legally even pull out a gun:

You must be a reluctant participant. Walking into a bar fight to break it up or chasing after a mugger doesn’t count.

You must reasonably believe you’re in immediate danger of death or great bodily harm. If a mean-looking dude simply demands your wallet, you’re better off handing it over; if he’s got a weapon, it’s a different story.

No lesser force will do. Can you resolve the situation by calling 911, fending off blows with your arms or fighting back? You must eliminate those options before reaching for your gun.

Retreat is not practical.

Weighing those questions in the safety of a jury room is difficult enough; staying lucid enough to do so in the heat of a violent attack is perilous.

“You do it wrong, you go to prison,” German said. “These are high stakes.”

The circumstances get even muddier when you decide to intervene on someone else’s behalf.

Thus the anti-gun force’s conniption-fit over Florida’s recent “no duty to retreat” law. Retreat in Florida need not be practical.

Even a justified shooting will have lifelong consequences, German said. First, you’ll almost certainly spend some time in jail until the police can sort out what happened. You may have to defend the shooting in a criminal or civil trial.

Simply unholstering your gun in a confrontation could cost you $10,000 in lawyer fees, German said – and that’s in a state where carrying concealed handguns is allowed.

This is something I think far too few people actually grasp – choosing to be armed can be quite expensive.

But here are the excerpts from the piece that got my attention:

Doubt doesn’t begin to describe the ambivalence I feel about taking on this awful responsibility. I consider myself normally level-headed, but I don’t trust myself to make the right decision when seconds can mean the difference between life and death.

“I don’t trust myself….” That’s fine with me, you can choose to be a victim, but my problem is when people extend their personal distrust of themselves to others, and use that personal distrust to prevent others from protecting themselves. Phil Brinkman, the writer, thankfully addresses this:

But that’s me. To German and thousands of others like him – people who are far more familiar with guns, train regularly and consider violent crime a very real possibility – those doubts are surmountable, and carrying a gun in public is an undisputed right, recognized in 46 states.

“I have the right to be my own first responder,” German likes to say.

They call themselves the “good guys,” responsible gun owners, the ones most likely to apply for permits. The certifiable bad guys – the felons, the drug addicts, the ones with a history of mental illness – aren’t eligible for a permit under Minnesota’s law, or the proposed Wisconsin law.

Good on ya, Phil.

But here’s the kicker – not for what’s said, but for what’s not said:

Others say that whatever the merits of the training it will never make up for the increased risk they see of more people being hurt or killed by guns, including their own.

“I understand there are people who are really trying to get the message out that there needs to be restraint and you must be responsible. That’s a good thing,” said Jeri Bonavia, executive director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, which opposes concealed carry. “And yet, I’m just so alarmed about the bill as a whole.”

Bonavia agreed that “a lot of the people who get permits are good guys.” But the often middle-aged, middle-class permit holders are usually also at low risk of being victims of crime, she said. She said she feared that giving them licenses might embolden some to walk into dangerous situations.

What wasn’t said? Well, it’s time for that map again:

There are now 35 “shall issue” states, nine “may issue” states, and two with unrestricted concealed-carry and there has been not one state that has passed concealed-carry legislation in which gun violence went up. But that’s the fear that is pushed each and every time another state considers the legislation – “blood in the streets.”

Not one. But Wisconsin will be the first?

Another Example of “…But Not THAT!
Or, “The People Have Spoken, the Bastards.”

Reuters reports that Brazil’s referendum on banning gun sales has gone down in flaming defeat:

Brazilian voters strongly reject gun ban

24 Oct 2005 00:31:51 GMT
Source: Reuters
(Updates vote count, adds interviews)

By Terry Wade and Todd Benson

SAO PAULO, Brazil, Oct 23 (Reuters) – From sprawling cities plagued by violence to the backwaters of the Amazon, Brazilians voted decisively on Sunday to keep gun sales legal in the country with the world’s highest death toll from firearms.

About 64 percent rejected banning arms sales in the nationwide referendum, the electoral court said, with more than 90 percent of the expected 122 million votes counted.

Only 36 percent supported the ban, even though some 36,000 people were killed by guns last year in Latin America’s largest country. Full results were expected on Monday.

“We didn’t lose because Brazilians like guns. We lost because people don’t have confidence in the government or the police,” said Denis Mizne of anti-violence group Sou da Paz.

Many voters had expressed concern before the vote that a ban would leave them defenseless against heavily armed criminals. Public confidence is low in a police force widely seen as inefficient, abusive and corrupt.

“This referendum … is not going to end violence,” said Assis Augusto Pires, 60, who voted against the ban in Sao Paulo’s wealthy Jardim Paulistano district, where high walls, electrified fences and private guards protect residents.

In Rio de Janeiro’s Rocinha shantytown, scene of a raging gangland turf war, Carlos Eduardo Ferreira, a 40-year-old electrician, said he was voting for the ban.

“I am for the ban; I am for life. I’ve already seen kids hit by bullets here,” he said.

Spotlighting the issue, a young girl was wounded by a stray bullet as police clashed with drug traffickers in Rio de Janeiro’s Dende slum on Saturday night, police said.

In Minas Gerais state, a supporter of gun sales shot and wounded a ban backer during a bar argument on Friday.

The ban failed in all 26 states and the federal district of Brasilia. Rural areas rejected it overwhelmingly.

“This region is very isolated. If you don’t have a gun here you don’t have protection,” said Igor Dedea, a logger in the rainforest state of Para.

There’s more. Read the whole thing. The Brady Campaign and other gun ban control safety organizations were hoping this law would pass so that Brazil could serve as a shining beacon of how gun ban control safety laws make societies safer. The ballot question read: “Should the sale of firearms and munitions be prohibited in Brazil?” Apparently the gun ban control safety organizations have conveniently forgotten about the UK, where the law regarding legal gun and ammunition possession is quite draconian, yet violent crime – including murder – has increased since the banning of full-auto weapons, semi-auto weapons, and finally all handguns.

I’d really like to read the entire content of this Financial Times piece from prior to the vote, but the opening paragraphs are just too rich to pass up:

As an exercise in participative democracy, it seems badly flawed. Brazilians will vote in a mandatory referendum tomorrow to decide the question, “Should the sale of firearms and ammunition be prohibited in Brazil?”

There should be little doubt about the answer. Gunshot wounds kill more than 107 Brazilians every day, more than traffic accidents and fewer only than heart and brain disorders.

“You shouldn’t dare ask the peons what they think! We, their betters, should dictate to them that only we should be allowed to have arms! (After all, it is through our leadership that they’ve gotten to this state!)”

What hubris.

A point I was previously unaware of, voting in Brazil is mandatory for those between the ages of 18 and 70. This isn’t a matter of a small turnout dominated by Brazilian equivalent of NRA members – it’s a poll of the opinion of the entire nation, and nearly two thirds understand that disarming the law-abiding won’t make the country safer.

This is yet another example of public reaction to misguided philosophies. Yes, I’m certain that Brazilians want their nation to be a safer place, but when presented with a law like this, their reaction, like the reaction of voters here in America is, understandably, “Not THAT!

I wonder if my Brazilian commenter “Tupiniquim” is still reading TSM and what he thinks of the vote.

Words Mean Things…

You want to know one reason Chicago keeps trading places with Washington D.C. for “murder capital of the U.S.”? Reader Fabio from England emailed me this link to the City of Chicago’s Gun Safety/Violence Reduction page, and here is what it says:

The principal cause of violent crime in the City of Chicago is the use of firearms by criminal street gangs. Although Chicago has among the toughest gun control laws in the country, street gangs have been able to arm themselves with increasingly deadly firearms with little apparent problem. Although Congress and the Administration appear unwilling to make further gun safety legislation a high priority, the City urges increased attention to these issues in Washington.

The City remains deeply concerned about a last minute provision enacted as part of the FY03 Omnibus Appropriations bill that derailed the City’s Supreme Court argument regarding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) restricting the availability of public information for litigation purposes. Furthermore, Congress has included other last minute provisions in the FY04 Omnibus Appropriations bill that put in place additional limitations on BATF’s accountability for, and ability to collect and distribute, what should otherwise be public information on firearms purchases. In addition, Congress is considering legislation to provide unprecedented limits on liability focused solely on the firearms industry. These enormously misguided efforts are a direct threat to general public safety and will greatly undermine the efforts of state and local governments to combat illegal firearms trafficking.

Let’s parse this, shall we?

The principal cause of violent crime in the City of Chicago is the use of firearms by criminal street gangs.

Bang! (No pun intended.) Right out of the gate we have an outright falsehood. The principal cause of violent crime is the use of firearms. Um, what?

No, the principal crime IS the improper, illegal use of firearms. (Since the City of Chicago prohibits the use of firearms for legitimate self-defense, that’s about the only kind of firearm use you’re going to see there.) The CAUSE of this is something else entirely. But I have absolutely no doubt that the powers-that-be see the situation precisely as that first sentence is written. The cause to them is the “use of firearms.” That makes the solution simple, no?

Eliminate the firearms and the “cause” is eliminated.

And here we have a textbook example of my favorite gun-control meme, “cognitive dissonance” – described most eloquently by Steven Den Beste:

When someone tries to use a strategy which is dictated by their ideology, and that strategy doesn’t seem to work, then they are caught in something of a cognitive bind. If they acknowledge the failure of the strategy, then they would be forced to question their ideology. If questioning the ideology is unthinkable, then the only possible conclusion is that the strategy failed because it wasn’t executed sufficiently well. They respond by turning up the power, rather than by considering alternatives. (This is sometimes referred to as “escalation of failure”.)

Or as I put it, “Do it again, only harder! To wit:

Although Chicago has among the toughest gun control laws in the country, street gangs have been able to arm themselves with increasingly deadly firearms with little apparent problem.

In other words, “Our efforts to control the cause of violent crime, have failed. But the ideology cannot be wrong! The only possible conclusion is that the strategy failed because it wasn’t executed sufficiently well, so…”

Although Congress and the Administration appear unwilling to make further gun safety legislation a high priority, the City urges increased attention to these issues in Washington.

“We must try again only harder!” (And note the use of the phrase “gun safety” and not “gun control” – though we are told endlessly that “gun safety” isn’t “gun control.”) And since they cannot acheive the ends their philosophy dictates through legislation, they must then pursue it through the courts:

The City remains deeply concerned about a last minute provision enacted as part of the FY03 Omnibus Appropriations bill that derailed the City’s Supreme Court argument regarding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) restricting the availability of public information for litigation purposes.

I’ll bet the City of Chicago will be joining the Brady Center in its legal challenge to the recently passed Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, since it shuts down the nuisance lawsuits Chicago and other cities have been pursuing. They say as much in the last two sentences:

In addition, Congress is considering legislation to provide unprecedented limits on liability focused solely on the firearms industry. These enormously misguided efforts are a direct threat to general public safety and will greatly undermine the efforts of state and local governments to combat illegal firearms trafficking.

Efforts pursued thorough tort law, not legislation. But on top of that, read this again:

Furthermore, Congress has included other last minute provisions in the FY04 Omnibus Appropriations bill that put in place additional limitations on BATF’s accountability for, and ability to collect and distribute, what should otherwise be public information on firearms purchases.

No, I don’t think so. While the BATF has been moved from the Treasury Department to the Department of Justice, the BATF is still a tax collection agency. The information the BATF gathers isn’t “public information,” it’s protected tax information, as the state of California recently learned to its displeasure when charges against licensed FFL dealer Andy Sun were thrown out when the judge determined the search warrant was obtained based on “protected information” obtained from the BATF:

(Judge Frank P.) Briseno ruled that the search warrant was based on mandatory information Sun was required to submit to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives during an administrative inspection.

Not public information – protected information.

So it appears that the City of Chicago is quite willing to break Federal law to achieve its ends. My only question is this: Why doesn’t Chicago look around the rest of the country and figure out why its violent crime rate is so much higher than other cities of similar size that don’t have “the toughest gun control laws in the country”?

Oh, right. Because the philosophy cannot be wrong!

Fabio concluded in his email to me, “They don’t get it and never will.” Sadly, I’m pretty sure he’s right.

What a GREAT DAY!.

First, Gunny Burghardt is back in action:

Defiant Marine back disposing of bombs


RAMADI, Iraq – The sight of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Michael Burghardt scrambling and poking through a dirt mound searching for explosives drew smiles Tuesday from Sgt. Joe Dunlap of Lincoln and other Nebraska Army National Guard soldiers.

A month ago today, Dunlap had driven to Burghardt’s aid after the Marine explosives expert wasn’t able to disarm the last of three improvised explosive devices.

Two things amazed those who were there that day:

• Burghardt survived the explosion and would return to duty in less than a month.

• A World-Herald photograph showing Burghardt standing on his own two feet, pants cut off, legs bandaged and directing a single-digit salute of defiance at his attackers, has transformed him into one of the most famous Marines of the Iraq war.

The photo appeared on numerous Marine-related Internet weblogs. Burghardt received more than 100 e-mails within days of the picture’s publication. It has become a screensaver on soldiers’ and Marines’ computers across Iraq.

“I don’t know how my anger turned into a motivational picture,” Burghardt said.

Dunlap and the others with the 1st Platoon, Troop A of Nebraska Guard’s 167th Cavalry didn’t think about motivation when the IED exploded, engulfing Burghardt in debris, shrapnel and dirt.

“I thought he bought it,” Dunlap said. “Then I saw his legs kicking.”

When Dunlap reached Burghardt, the wounded Marine kept saying, “Just tell me I’m all right.”

Don’t lie, Burghardt told Dunlap, “Just tell me I’m all right.”

The Marine Explosive Ordnance Disposal units are assigned to locate, identify, disarm and dispose of IEDs, which have become a favored weapon of the Iraqi insurgents. The Nebraskans accompanying those units provide security at the scene, guarding the perimeter while the EOD teams work.

Even wounded, the one thing Burghardt made sure he kept in his possession was his special-issue EOD unit Shrade knife with its 7-inch blade. He has carried it since 1994.

The knife came out of its sheath again Tuesday, as Burghardt searched in vain for a wire or explosives in a dirt pile previously used as a hiding place for bombs.

His first day back out was Oct. 13. But Tuesday was his most active, handling three missions with the CAV’s 1st Platoon.

Burghardt said the three-plus weeks he spent recuperating at his unit’s headquarters, unable to go on missions, were among the most difficult of his career. However, he joked that he did enjoy going to the base medical center to have his bandages around his thighs and wounds to his rear attended.

Sitting remains a problem, and his calves occasionally are sore. But Burghardt’s not looking for a ticket out of Iraq. This is his third deployment to the country, and he expects more.

The 35-year-old Burghardt, of Huntington Beach, Calif., has been in the Marine Corps for 18 years, the last 15 in bomb disposal.

He’s not looking to put in 20 years and then move into a lucrative civilian job, either.

“I’ll do 30 years, as long as I’m having fun,” Burghardt said. “Unless I die.”

Burghardt was having fun just before dusk Tuesday, during his third mission with the CAV’s 1st Platoon. They were called out onto the main highway east of Ramadi because of a suspicious inner tube spotted alongside a bridge.

“Gunny,” as everyone calls Burghardt, moved off the highway and onto a berm, where he found a wire. The scissors came off the front of his body armor, and he snipped the wire.

That did not mean all was safe.

There were dangers of a booby trap or an alternate detonation source. So the EOD unit used a robot to check it out. It found two large artillery shells bound up in the inner tube.

Burghardt and his men removed the shells, which were large enough to destroy a Bradley Fighting Vehicle or Abrams tank. The shells were safely taken to a nearby field and detonated, sending debris skyward.

Just the kind of end to a day that Gunny Burghardt likes.

Second, the House has passed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, and President Bush has said he’d sign it.

Third, David Hardy reports that Michael Barnes, president of the Brady Center has resigned citing the stress of losses – like the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

Ah, what a great day!