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Archive for the ‘Constitution’ Category

It’s easy to get discouraged if you believe in small government and individual liberty.

It seems that the burden of the public sector is always expanding and that politicians and bureaucrats are always figuring out new ways to restrict our freedoms.

But let’s not lose hope.

We still have a lot of economic liberty, particularly if you count non-fiscal policy factors.

And we still have the Second Amendment.

Heck, we don’t just have the right to keep and bear arms, we exercise that right in massive numbers.

Take a look at this impressive graphic. We’re #1 in some bad ways, but it seems we’re also #1 in a very good way.

Make sure to share this graphic with your statist friends and colleagues. It’s guaranteed to put them in a glum mood for the rest of the day!

And when you share this with your misguided acquaintances, ask them why guns don’t cause murder in nations such as Switzerland and Finland. Maybe you’ll have a breakthrough and they’ll confess that gun control isn’t the solution.

Incidentally, in addition to having lots of guns in America, we also are quite ready to defy the government if politicians try to take them away.

What’s happening in Connecticut is merely one example of this wonderful form of civil disobedience.

Since we’re on the topic of gun ownership vs. gun control, here’s another image that will cause heartburn for your leftist friends.

Schindler guns

Same theme as the 4th image in this post.

And let’s not forget the best-ever poster on gun control.

Last but not least, here’s a poster sent to me by the PotL.

photo1

It’s the same message found at the top of this post and at the bottom of this post.

If you want more info – both serious and humorous – on gun control, click here.

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I’ve already explained why leftists must be depressed about their failure to restrict private gun ownership.

They’ve suffered brutal electoral setbacks in Colorado, and more and more states have strengthened the right to keep and bear arms.

Moreover, it’s hard for them to claim their agenda is about safer streets when cops overwhelmingly reject the premises of the anti-gun zealots.

And they also have to deal with something very troubling that further undermines their campaign against the Second Amendment.

That troubling thing is facts and data.

Because the more information that we learn, the more evidence we have – as John Lott often reminds us – that more guns equal less crime.

Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Jason Riley peruses some new data from the FBI. Here are some key excerpts.

A new FBI report says that violent crime continues to fall nationwide, which might annoy liberals because gun purchases continue to rise. In the first six months of 2013, murders fell by nearly 7 percent, compared with the same period in 2012. Aggravated assaults fell by 6.6 percent, and robberies are down 1.8 percent. “All of the offenses in the violent crime category—murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, aggravated assault, and robbery—showed decreases when data from the first six months of 2013 were compared with data from the first six months of 2012,” according to the FBI. Overall, violent crime in the U.S. fell by 5.4 percent. …The left likes to link violent crime to the proliferation of guns in the country, so it’s worth noting that the crime reductions described in the FBI report correlate with a steady increase in firearm sales.

But that’s not all.

It’s also worth noting that gun-ownership rates in the Midwest (39 percent) and South (50 percent) far exceed gun-ownership rates in the Northeast (22 percent), yet violent crime is down more in the Midwest and South than it is in the Northeast, according to the FBI statistics. And rural areas, where gun-ownership rates also are higher than average, saw a larger reduction in violent crime that metropolitan areas, where gun-ownership rates are lower than average. Not that gun-control zealots, who are so certain of a causal link between firearms and violent crime rates, care about such details.

Gee, what a surprise.

When more law-abiding people have guns, the bad guys are more skittish.

Hmmm…sounds like someone took the IQ test I devised for criminals and liberals.

But we have more good news.

It seems that Americans are not sheep meekly waiting to be fleeced of their constitutional freedom and liberties.

In Connecticut, where reprehensible politicians exploited a school shooting to impose restrictions on the Second Amendment, it appears that many citizens are – in effect – telling them to bugger off.

Here are some excerpts from a story in the Hartford Courant.

Everyone knew there would be some gun owners flouting the law that legislators hurriedly passed last April, requiring residents to register all military-style rifles with state police by Dec. 31. But few thought the figures would be this bad. By the end of 2013, state police had received 47,916 applications for assault weapons certificates, Lt. Paul Vance said. An additional 2,100 that were incomplete could still come in. That 50,000 figure could be as little as 15 percent of the rifles classified as assault weapons owned by Connecticut residents, according to estimates by people in the industry… And that means as of Jan. 1, Connecticut has very likely created tens of thousands of newly minted criminals — perhaps 100,000 people…who have broken no other laws.

This story makes me proud to be an American.

We’ve seen some polling data that shows there would be widespread civil disobedience if politicians tried to confiscate guns, but I wondered whether people would be more willing to acquiesce to preliminary steps such as the Connecticut registration plan.

So it’s great to see that tens of thousands of them are resisting.

P.S. As I’ve noted before, anyone who cares about this issue should read these observations from a genuine firearms expert.

And if you have left-wing friends, there are two posts that may convince them to be rational about guns. Justin Cronin explains here that restrictions on gun ownership undermined his ability to protect his family. And Jeffrey Goldberg looked at the evidence and concluded that guns make people safer.

P.P.S. If you simply want a laugh or two,  this funny video shows that our left-wing friends are incapable of understanding this topic.

For more gun control humor, check out this joke comparing California with other parts of America, this interview with a general is worth sharing (presumably an urban legend, but could be true), and here’s a t-shirt that I’m putting on my Christmas list.

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Let’s start this post with some cheerful news.

The statists face a huge uphill battle if their campaign to undermine our rights to keep and bear arms. If you want evidence, just look at last year’s special election defeats of two anti-Second Amendment politicians in Colorado (followed by the resignation of another state senator who feared a recall). Or remind yourself about the utter failure of President Obama’s cynical attempt to get more gun control by exploiting the murder of children in Newtown, Connecticut.

And check out these two maps to see how we’re making progress at the state level.

But this doesn’t mean we can relax our vigil. Showing contempt for America’s separation-of-powers system, the President repeatedly has asserted that he has the power to unilaterally change government policy. And just as he arbitrarily rewrites Obamacare, he claims he can impose more gun control.

But that only allows him to nudge policy in the wrong direction since the courts have been reasonably helpful on the Second Amendment in recent years.

Moreover, the real constraint on the statists is the wonderful fact that the American people would respond with massive civil disobedience if politicians ever tried to take our guns. Heck, even some very admirable government officials already are engaging in civil disobedience.

So let’s maintain our momentum by doing everything we can to educate others about the folly of gun control. Here are a handful of images that help make the case for the the Second Amendment.

Though I fear our left-wing friends will misinterpret this one and demand to regulate box cutters (just as some left-wing Brits have advocated knife control).

Gun Control Jan 2014 2

Here’s one that reminds me that teachers in places such as Israel and Texas have the right to be armed.

Gun Control Jan 2014 1

Though I wonder whether that would be comfortable. Perhaps this Alabama woman has a better idea.

Here’s an image with the same message found at the top of this post and at the bottom of this post. (and if you want to see a t-shirt that shows the left’s “morally superior” approach, click here).

Gun Control Jan 2014 3

Needless to say, my daughter has been raised with the right understanding of this issue.

Here’s a poignant reminder that gun control often is a tool of totalitarian regimes.

Gun Control Jan 2014 4

Which is why I’ve always thought this poster is the most powerful argument against gun control.

Last but not least, here’s a reminder that bad people don’t like private gun ownership.

Gun Control Jan 2014 5

Sort of the same message I had in my IQ test for criminals and liberals. In simpler terms, would you go looting in the neighborhood pictured at the end of this post?

Let’s close this post with links to a couple of articles that also are worth sharing. If you have left-wing friends, there are two posts that may convince them to be rational about guns. Justin Cronin explains here that restrictions on gun ownership undermined his ability to protect his family. And Jeffrey Goldberg looked at the evidence and concluded that guns make people safer.

And for your analytically minded friends, this Larry Correia piece is must reading for anyone who wants to understand about magazine limits and so-called assault weapons.

P.S. Fee free to vote in my poll asking the most important reason to oppose gun control.

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Like all advocates of freedom, I normally despair about the future. Whether we’re measuring the ever-growing burden of government or the erosion of key forms of social capital such as self-reliance and the work ethic, it seems that the world is heading in the wrong direction.

But, at least for today, I want to be optimistic. At least on the issue of guns.

Cabo Abir

Mexico isn’t a tax haven, but Cabo is still much better than DC

My good cheer may simply be a function of the holiday season. Or maybe my optimism is merely an illogical side-effect of having just enjoyed a couple of days of warm sunshine.

But I don’t think so. I actually think we’re winning the battle to preserve the Second Amendment.

And Colorado is Ground Zero in this battle. In an unprecedented move, two state senators – including the Senate President – were kicked out of office earlier this year because voters were upset that they voted to undermine the right to keep and bear arms.

Then, more recently, another state senator in Colorado resigned her seat rather than face a similar recall election.

Those political results were impressive, but it’s even more surprising that we’re now we’re seeing some very admirable forms of civil disobedience. But what’s amazing isn’t that citizens are refusing to obey tyrannical and unjust law.

That’s inspiring, of course, but we’ve now reached the point where even law enforcement is refusing to comply.

Here are some encouraging excerpts from a report in the New York Times about how Colorado sheriffs are openly stating that they have no intention of carrying out the misguided dictates of the political class.

When Sheriff John Cooke of Weld County explains in speeches why he is not enforcing the state’s new gun laws, he holds up two 30-round magazines. One, he says, he had before July 1, when the law banning the possession, sale or transfer of the large-capacity magazines went into effect. The other, he “maybe” obtained afterward. He shuffles the magazines, which look identical, and then challenges the audience to tell the difference. “How is a deputy or an officer supposed to know which is which?” he asks.

It’s not just Sheriff Cooke.

…if Sheriff Cooke and a majority of the other county sheriffs in Colorado offer any indication, the new laws — which mandate background checks for private gun transfers and outlaw magazines over 15 rounds — may prove nearly irrelevant across much of the state’s rural regions. Some sheriffs, like Sheriff Cooke, are refusing to enforce the laws, saying that they are too vague and violate Second Amendment rights. Many more say that enforcement will be “a very low priority,” as several sheriffs put it. All but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed on in May to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.

Even the Sheriffs on the wrong side of the lawsuit aren’t necessarily on the wrong side of the issue.

Even Sheriff W. Pete Palmer of Chaffee County, one of the seven sheriffs who declined to join the federal lawsuit because he felt duty-bound to carry out the laws, said he was unlikely to aggressively enforce them. He said enforcement poses “huge practical difficulties,” and besides, he has neither the resources nor the pressure from his constituents to make active enforcement a high priority. Violations of the laws are misdemeanors. “All law enforcement agencies consider the community standards — what is it that our community wishes us to focus on — and I can tell you our community is not worried one whit about background checks or high-capacity magazines,” he said.

We’re seeing healthy resistance in other states as well.

The resistance of sheriffs in Colorado is playing out in other states. …In New York State, where Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed one of the toughest gun law packages in the nation last January, two sheriffs have said publicly they would not enforce the laws — inaction that Mr. Cuomo said would set “a dangerous and frightening precedent.” …In Liberty County, Fla., a jury in October acquitted a sheriff who had been suspended and charged with misconduct after he released a man arrested by a deputy on charges of carrying a concealed firearm. The sheriff, who was immediately reinstated by the governor, said he was protecting the man’s Second Amendment rights. …“Our way of life means nothing to these politicians, and our interests are not being promoted in the legislative halls of Sacramento or Washington, D.C.,” said Jon E. Lopey, the sheriff of Siskiyou County, Calif.

By the way, Governor Cuomo is half-right about “a dangerous and frightening precedent.” He’s just oblivious to the fact that this phrase applies to his policies, not to the Sheriffs who are obeying the Constitution and common sense.

For more information on the Second Amendment and the folly of gun control, here are some great videos.

P.S. Andrew Cuomo was Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Clinton years when the so-called affordable lending requirements were dramatically expanded, thus helping to pave the way for the housing and financial crisis.

P.P.S. Another way of protecting the Second Amendment is for juries to engage in nullification and to refuse to convict people for peaceably owning and bearing arms.

P.P.P.S. My fourth, sixth, and ninth most viewed posts are about gun control and the Second Amendment, so this obviously is an issue people care about.

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Citing polling data with poorly (or dishonestly) worded questions, anti-Second Amendment ideologues often argue that gun control is popular.

The real test, though, is what happens on election day. That’s why it was such big news when two incumbent Democrats from Colorado’s State Senate were defeated in a recall election.

They both represented districts that had voted for Obama, yet they were easily tossed out of office after voting for legislation to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Well, as Yogi Berra would say, it’s deja vu all over again. Another statist politician has been forced out of a job in Colorado. Here are some details from a local news report.

Sen Evie Hudak

Political thug gives up her seat after undermining constitutional freedoms

State Sen. Evie Hudak has decided to resign rather than risk facing a recall election… Hudak, D-Westminster, could have been the third Democratic lawmaker to face a recall over a package of gun control bills they helped pass earlier this year. Sens. John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, both decided to fight recall elections against them, but were ousted in September in favor of Republican replacements.

So why is she throwing in the towel? Because she thinks she will lose and that would give the GOP control of the State Senate.

Hudak is playing it safe. By resigning before the signatures are turned in, she assures that a Democratic vacancy committee will appoint her replacement, keeping the seat — and the senate — in the party’s hands, at least through November, when her successor will be forced to win reelection.

It’s almost a shame that there won’t be a recall election. Not because I care about whether Republicans take over the State Senate, but rather because I would like to see the outgoing Napoleonic Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, squander more of his fortune on another Colorado contest. He blew a lot of money on the earlier gun-related recall elections, and he also dropped a lot of cash on a failed effort to replace the state’s flat tax with a so-called progressive scheme that would set Colorado on a path to becoming another California.

But I won’t let that little detail reduce the happiness I feel that a political thug has been forced to resign. Particularly since that sends a signal to other politicians all across the nation.

Since we’re on the topic of gun control, this is a great opportunity to call attention to a powerful column by Stephen Halbrook. He explains how the Nazis used gun control to advance their totalitarian and murderous agenda.

Historians have documented most everything about it except what made it so easy to attack the defenseless Jews without fear of resistance. Their guns were registered and thus easily confiscated.

He provides some of the sordid history of the period.

The Nazis immediately used the firearms-registration records to identify, disarm and attack “enemies of the state,” a euphemism for Social Democrats and other political opponents of all types. …The Gestapo cautioned the police that it would endanger public safety to issue gun permits to Jews. …By fall of 1938, the Nazis were ratcheting up measures to expropriate the assets of Jews. To ensure that they had no means of resistance, the Jews were ordered to surrender their firearms. …This scenario took place all over Germany — firearms were confiscated from all Jews registered as gun owners. …Under the pretense of searching for weapons, Jewish homes were vandalized, businesses ransacked and synagogues burned. Jews were terrorized, beaten and killed. Orders were sent to shoot anyone who resisted. SS head Heinrich Himmler decreed that possession of a gun by a Jew was punishable by 20 years in a concentration camp.

So what’s the message. Halbrook puts it in very stark terms.

Today, gun control, registration and prohibition are depicted as benign and progressive. Government should register gun owners and ban any guns it wishes, Americans are told, because government is inherently good and trustworthy. The experiences of Hitler’s Germany and, for that matter, Stalin’s Russia and Pol Pot’s Cambodia, are beneath the realm of possibility in exceptional America. Let’s hope so.

Most people assume that such awful things could never happen in America.

And maybe they’re right. But when you look at very grim numbers showing that the United States is headed for a fiscal collapse, and when you consider that there already has been rioting in Europe as the welfare state implodes, it doesn’t require a very vivid imagination to think that America could face some very tough times in the not-too-distant future.

That’s why I argued, in this interview with NRA TV, that gun ownership is very important in the event of societal breakdown.

Let’s conclude with a bit of gun control satire.

My fourth-most viewed post is a montage of dictators who supported gun control. But some dictators are worse than others.

And the former head of the National Socialists definitely is in that category.

So, given the wise words we just read from Stephen Halbrook, let’s all keep in mind this very powerful message from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.

Hitler gun control

P.S. If you want more information on gun control, I strongly recommend this analysis from an actual firearms expert, as well as remarkable admissions from leftists that can be read here and here.

P.P.S. If you’re interested, my three posts with the most views are the set of cartoons showing why welfare states collapse, a joke about California and Texas, and a story of how you can use beer to explain the tax system.

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I’m more than willing to give credit to leftists who come up with clever political satire.

This cartoon about Fox News, for instance, is rather amusing, and this imagery about the greed of the developed world is effective even though it’s misguided.

I’ve even shared funny videos, cartoons, and images that mock libertarians.

So when Sarah Silverman put together a pro-gun control video mocking the idea of a “black NRA,” I was prepared to laugh.

Having watched it, you can put me in the underwhelmed category. My computer skills are deficient and I only know how to embed YouTube videos, so you’ll have to click here if you want to watch her full video, but here’s a video from Carl Jackson that includes some of what Silverman did along a very effective response.

My reaction, for what it’s worth, is that Silverman is very attractive so it’s a shame she’s a leftist (my attitude about Stephanie Cutter as well). But on a more substantive level,

1. It’s almost laughable that a multi-millionaire like Silverman, who doubtlessly lives in a very safe area and almost surely relies on armed private security, wants to restrict the gun rights of ordinary Americans.

2. Do Silverman and the other characters in the video really think that criminals are impacted by gun control laws? Do they have enough sense to understand that the bad guys prefer when law-abiding people are disarmed?

But enough about my reactions. Here’s a very good video response from PJ Media.

If you want more videos on the general topic of gun control, here are some of my favorites.

And if you want gun control videos that are both funny and on the right side, here’s my collection.

Since this post is about blacks and gun control, let’s close with a link to what Thomas Sowell has to say about the topic.

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There’s an old joke that the definition of quandary is when your mother-in-law drives off a cliff in your new car.

But since I’m not married, I can’t use that joke.

Besides, I’m a policy wonk, so the type of quandary that catches my attention is when the Obama Administration delays big parts of Obamacare (hooray!), but does so by cavalierly deciding to disregard the law (boo!).

Unfortunately, this isn’t a joke.

I wrote about this topic last month and asserted that one of “the defining characteristics of a civilized government is adherence to the rule of law.”

Why is this important? Here’s some of George Will’s analysis of how Obama is subverting the law.

President Obama’s increasingly grandiose claims for presidential power are inversely proportional to his shriveling presidency. …at last week’s news conference he offered inconvenience as a justification for illegality. …Serving as props in the scripted charade of White House news conferences, journalists did not ask the pertinent question: “Where does the Constitution confer upon presidents the ‘executive authority’ to ignore the separation of powers by revising laws?” The question could have elicited an Obama rarity: brevity. Because there is no such authority.

Will then cites the infamous example of Nixon arguing that, “when the president does it, that means it is not illegal” and compares that to Obama’s lawlessness.

Nixon’s claim, although constitutionally grotesque, was less so than the claim implicit in Obama’s actions regarding the ACA. Nixon’s claim was confined to matters of national security or (he said to Frost) “a threat to internal peace and order of significant magnitude.” Obama’s audacity is more spacious; it encompasses a right to disregard any portion of any law pertaining to any subject at any time when the political “environment” is difficult.

And he also dings Obama for creating – out of thin air – a special handout for members of Congress and their staffs.

…his complicity in effectively rewriting the ACA for the financial advantage of self-dealing members of Congress and their staffs.  …Obama directed the Office of Personnel Management, which has no power to do this, to authorize for the political class special subsidies unavailable for less privileged and less affluent citizens. If the president does it, it’s legal? “Exactly, exactly.”

Charles Krauthammer is equally uncomfortable with the erosion of the rule of law. His column includes a good summary of how Obamacare is being arbitrarily enforced. Or, to be more accurate, how it’s not being enforced.

…the administration…unilaterally waived Obamacare’s cap on a patient’s annual out-of-pocket expenses — a one-year exemption for selected health insurers that is nowhere permitted in the law. It was simply decreed by an obscure Labor Department regulation. Which followed a presidentially directed 70-plus percent subsidy for the insurance premiums paid by congressmen and their personal staffs — under a law that denies subsidies for anyone that well-off. Which came just a month after the administration’s equally lawless suspension of one of the cornerstones of Obamacare: the employer mandate. Which followed hundreds of Obamacare waivers granted by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to selected businesses, unions and other well-lobbied, very special interests.

He then accurately explains that we are entering an unpleasant world where the law is not what’s written, but whatever politicians arbitrarily decide on any given day.

The point is whether a president, charged with faithfully executing the laws that Congress enacts, may create, ignore, suspend and/or amend the law at will. …Such gross executive usurpation disdains the Constitution. It mocks the separation of powers. And most consequentially, it introduces a fatal instability into law itself. If the law is not what is plainly written, but is whatever the president and his agents decide, what’s left of the law? The problem is not just uncertain enforcement but the undermining of the very creation of new law. What’s the point of the whole legislative process — of crafting various provisions through give-and-take negotiation — if you cannot rely on the fixity of the final product, on the assurance that the provisions bargained for by both sides will be carried out?

He closes by noting that Obama seems quite proud of his illegal behavior and he warns that America is becoming a banana republic.

…this president is not only untroubled by what he’s doing, but open and rather proud. As he tells cheering crowds on his never-ending campaign-style tours: I am going to do X — and I’m not going to wait for Congress. That’s caudillo talk. That’s banana republic stuff. In this country, the president is required to win the consent of Congress first. At stake is not some constitutional curlicue. At stake is whether the laws are the law. And whether presidents get to write their own.

This is a very troubling issue, so let’s enjoy some gallows humor with some cartoons about Obama’s lawlessness.

Those of you who read Orwell’s Animal Farm will agree that this Eric Allie cartoon is especially insightful.

Banana Republic Cartoon 5

Here’s a Chip Bok cartoon about The One deciding which laws to enforce. Sort of reminds me of this joke about his approach to the Constitution.

Banana Republic Cartoon 3

Not surprisingly, disregard of the law even extends to the President’s top legal appointee. Michael Ramirez shows how the Attorney General decides which laws to enforce.

Banana Republic Cartoon 2

And Lisa Benson has the same theme in a cartoon that includes other Cabinet officials.

Banana Republic Cartoon 1

Here’s another Chip Bok cartoon, this one focusing on the illegal decision to grant subsidies to politicians and their staff.

Banana Republic Cartoon 6

And since we’re making fun of self dealing for the political class, let’s look at a couple of cartoons that focus on Obama’s arbitrary gift for Capitol Hill.

Banana Republic Cartoon 4

By the way, I like the Steve Kelley cartoon because he echoes my comments about “brain drain.”

Last but not least, here’s Ken Catalino making fun of Washington’s gilded class putting themselves first.

Banana Republic Cartoon 7

Let’s close with a final serious point.

Here’s some of what I wrote a couple of years ago to describe the banana republic of Argentina.

…the problem is crony capitalism. Argentina’s economy, for all intents and purposes, is one giant Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac/Obamacare/General Motors/Goldman Sachs Obamaesque dystopia. Government has enormous influence over every major economic decision. It’s like being in the middle of Atlas Shrugged, as political connections are the way to get rich. This type of approach is far worse than the Scandinavian welfare state. Yes, the official size of government is bigger in places such as Sweden, but the negative role of government intervention is far more pervasive in Argentina.

But I actually understated the problem.

Much of what I wrote was a critique of interventionism and the corruption that is facilitated by big government.

That’s part of what defines a banana republic (with Obamacare being a perfect example), but arbitrary law is another characteristic.

And that’s what’s so worrisome about what the Obama Administration is doing.

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Fifty years from now (assuming we haven’t suffered a Greek-style fiscal collapse), will we still enjoy our constitutional freedom of private gun ownership?

Sometimes I’m pessimistic about what will happen because politically correct educators are brainwashing our kids. We’ve even gotten to the point where a deaf kid can’t use sign language if his fingers somehow resemble a gun! And if you think that’s bizarre, check out these other horror stories of anti-gun hysteria in government schools.

And even though there’s currently a majority on the Supreme Court in favor of the Second Amendment, it’s only a one-vote margin. That doesn’t give me much comfort, particularly since we’ve seen examples of Justices ignoring their oath when subjected to political pressure.

Moreover, it’s difficult to be optimistic when a local government imposes a $1,000 fine on a man who uses an unregistered gun (gasp!) to save a child’s life.

On the other hand, I’m somewhat optimistic because gun owners and defenders of the Constitution have done a remarkable job in expanding and extending our Second Amendment rights at the state level.

For instance, check out this map of concealed-carry laws in the United States. The first thing to notice is that every single state allows citizens to carry, with the only real difference being whether the law is “shall issue” or “may issue.”

Concealed Carry Laws of US

I’m a bit mystified, for what it’s worth, that Alabama has a relatively weak “may issue” law. Do they really want to be in the same anemic category as California?!?

Now let’s look at this map of stand-your-ground laws. The right of self-defense is not as ubiquitous as the right of concealed-carry, but the trend is very positive with more states moving from blue to red over time.

Stand your ground laws US

I’m puzzled why Nebraska and Missouri have weak New York-style laws, but I imagine those colors will change in a couple of years.

By the way, state legislatures are not the only place where we’re making progress. Thanks to scholars such as John Lott, it’s increasingly clear that social science research leans in favor of private gun ownership.

And I challenge anyone to defend gun control after reading this Larry Correia article.

But the biggest sign of progress may be that honest leftists are beginning to acknowledge the benefits of the Second Amendment. If you have squeamish friends and colleagues who favor gun control, show them this article from The Atlantic and this column from the New York Times.

I’m also encouraged by polling data that shows cops overwhelmingly reject the gun control agenda.

So what does all this mean? To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure. It does appear, however, that the political elite is moving in the wrong direction on the Second Amendment and the American people are moving in the right direction.

I don’t know what side will win, but it’s a safe bet that we’ll have some major political battles in the future.

P.S. If you enjoy anti-gun control humor, here are some amusing videos.

And you can find lots of additional anti-gun control humor at this link.

P.P.S. If you outlaw tanks, only outlaws will have tanks.

P.P.P.S. Feel free to add your vote to my poll on the most important reason to defend the Second Amendment.

P.P.P.P.S. Last but not least, here are some serious videos on the folly of gun control

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If a bad person robs a bank and then uses a Chevrolet to make his getaway, do we blame General Motors?

Of course not.

If a pilot suffers some sort of medical incident, loses control of her plane, and injures people on the ground during the crash, do we blame Cessna?

No, that would be silly.

If a con artist tricks a consumer into sending money, do we blame the bank where the fraudster has an account?

Logically, the answer is no, but thanks to money laundering laws, the government actually does expect banks to know if customers are misbehaving. But that’s why experts think those laws are absurdly unworkable and expensive.

I’m asking these rhetorical questions because a couple of professors, in a New York Times op-ed, claim that gun manufacturers and gun owners should be subject to special taxes. Why? Well, because some people deliberately or accidentally cause damage with guns.

Gun manufacturers have gone to great lengths to avoid any moral responsibility or legal accountability for the social costs of gun violence… But there is a simple and direct way to make them accountable for the harm their products cause. For every gun sold, those who manufacture or import it should pay a tax. The money should then be used to create a compensation fund for innocent victims of gun violence.

They justify their plan with economics. Or, to be more accurate, they use economic terminology to sell their scheme.

This proposal is based on a fundamentally conservative principle — that those who cause injury should be made to “internalize” the cost of their activity by paying for it. …it makes sense to tax gun manufacturers directly. The result would be that those who derive a benefit from guns — for hunting, target practice, self-defense or simply for collecting — would shoulder some of the social costs of their choice as manufacturers pass along the cost of the tax to them. Such a tax might also exert at least some economic pressure on manufacturers to market especially lethal guns less aggressively, or to implement safer gun technologies, like “smart guns” that could be used only by the registered owner. Right now, they have no such incentive — they’re immune from most lawsuits, and guns are expressly exempt from regulation by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is supposed to protect the public from unreasonable risks from consumer products.

There are lots of reasons why I disagree with this column, but my main objection – as suggested by the rhetorical questions above – is that the professors want to improperly redistribute risk and blame.

A gun is not inherently dangerous. Indeed, gun ownership is associated with lower crime rates, so it’s more accurate to say they are inherently safety enhancing. Cops, for instance, overwhelmingly think gun control is either futile or counterproductive.

That being said, what’s the best way to deal with those individuals who deliberately or accidentally use guns in an unsafe manner?

The answer is simple. There should be criminal penalties imposed on those who engage in deliberate wrongdoing and we should rely on insurance and/or the tort system (properly focused)  for accidental misuse.

Will that system be perfect? Of course not. Criminals will always exist. All we can do is to make crime less attractive. And accidents will always happen, even if we have a good system of insurance and torts.

Let’s conclude with a statement of the obvious. I’m 99 percent certain that the professors are completely unserious about modifying how we insure against gun-related damage. They’re simply using the terminology to impose a policy that is best characterized as back-door gun control.

Which makes me all the more appreciative of the message on this young lady’s t-shirt.

I’m tired of statists, most of whom (like Rosie O’Donnell)  live very comfortable lives in safe neighborhoods, trying to tell the rest of us how to live.

P.S. Sloppy and flawed analysis seems to be a specialty at the New York Times.

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When I was became interested in public policy, I thought Jimmy Carter was the epitome of a bad President. But as I began to learn economics, I realized that Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson also were terrible and belong in the Hall of Fame of bad Presidents.

Presidential Hall of ShameAnd the more I studied economics and public policy, I learned that Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt were two peas in a failed big-government pod and deserve membership in that Hall of Fame.

Or I guess we should call it a Hall of Shame (you can click on the image to see my selections).

Whatever we call it, I’m now at the point where I realize that Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt are the charter members. Why? Well, because they were the first Presidents to reflect the progressive ideology.

More specifically, they shared the ideology of the progressive movement, which saw a powerful and activist central government as a force for good – a radical departure from the views of America’s Founding Fathers, who hoped that the Constitution would protect people by keeping government very small.

Not surprisingly, Barack Obama is in that “progressive” tradition, even to the point of attacking the views of the Founding Fathers in a recent speech at Ohio State University.

I commented on this issue in this Fox News segment.

That short clip only scratches the surface.

For more detail, here are some excerpts from a column by Andrew Napolitano. Like me, he isn’t impressed by the President’s statolatry.

It should come as no surprise that President Obama told Ohio State students at graduation ceremonies last week that they should not question authority… And he blasted those who incessantly warn of government tyranny. Yet, mistrust of government is as old as America itself. America was born out of mistrust of government. …Thomas Jefferson…warned that it is the nature of government over time to increase and of liberty to decrease. And that’s why we should not trust government. In the same era, James Madison himself agreed when he wrote, “All men having power should be distrusted to a certain degree.” …The reason Obama likes government and the reason it is “a dangerous fire,” as George Washington warned, and the reason I have been warning against government tyranny in my public work is all the same: The government rejects the natural law because it is an obstacle to its control over us. …Because the tyranny of the majority can be as dangerous to freedom as the tyranny of a madman, all use of governmental power should be challenged and questioned. Government is essentially the negation of liberty.

Napolitano also warns against majoritarianism in his column, which is music to my ears.

Though I’m not sure our battle today is with majoritarianism or the progressive ideology.

Our real challenge is redistributionism. Far too many people think it is okay to use the coercive power of government to obtain unearned benefits. And that’s true whether the benefits are food stamps or bailouts.

Welfare State Wagon CartoonsAnd as we travel farther and farther down this path, it leads to ever-greater levels of dependency and ever-higher levels of taxation. But that simply means more people decide it makes more sense to ride in the wagon rather than pull the wagon.

Somehow, we have to reverse this downward spiral.

Unless we want America to become Greece or France, at which point productive people may be forced to emigrate – assuming there are still some sensible nations left in the world.

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I’ve shared some great videos on the Second Amendment and the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Here’s another video for the collection. If I was in high school, I’d ask this young lady to be my girlfriend.*

And since I’m sharing videos against gun control, let’s close with some humorous examples.

Joe Biden, needless to say, was unintentionally funny.

*Full disclaimer: Given my lack of success in high school, I would have asked any young lady to be my girlfriend.

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Citing the analysis of America’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, I wrote last year about a treaty being concocted at the United Nations that would threaten our right to keep and bear arms.

Well, with the aid of the Obama Administration, this new treaty has been approved. Fortunately, there probably are not 67 votes in the Senate to ratify the measure.

And that’s a good thing. The Wall Street Journal has a column by John Bolton and John Yoo explaining why the new U.N . treaty is so misguided and dangerous.

…the new treaty also demands domestic regulation of “small arms and light weapons.” The treaty’s Article 5 requires nations to “establish and maintain a national control system,” including a “national control list.” …Gun-control advocates will use these provisions to argue that the U.S. must enact measures such as a national gun registry, licenses for guns and ammunition sales, universal background checks, and even a ban of certain weapons. The treaty thus provides the Obama administration with an end-run around Congress to reach these gun-control holy grails.

But doesn’t the Second Amendment protect our rights, regardless?

Unfortunately, that’s not clearly the case, as Bolton and Yoo note.

The Constitution establishes treaties in Article II (which sets out the president’s executive powers), rather than in Article I (which defines the legislature’s authority)—so treaties therefore aren’t textually subject to the limits on Congress’s power. Treaties still receive the force of law under the Supremacy Clause, which declares that “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land.” …this difference in language between laws and treaties allows the latter to sweep more broadly than the former.

One thing we can state with certainty is that opponents of individual rights will use the treaty to push an anti-gun agenda inside the United States. And since the Supreme Court has upheld the Second Amendment by only one vote, I’m not overly confident that we can rely on the judiciary anyhow.

Ultimately, our fundamental rights to protect ourselves and our families only exist because politicians are scared of getting voted out of office and losing the best job most of them will ever have.

And remember that the “slippery slope” is a very relevant concern. Many anti-gun activists think only government should have the right to possess guns, and they view incremental gun control measures as building blocks to that ultimate goal.

Even though government monopolies on gun possession have been associated with some of the world’s most brutal dictatorships!

I’m not worried that the United States is going to turn into some Venezuelan-style anti-gun totalitarian regime, so I actually disagree with the results of my poll on the biggest reason to oppose gun control.

If I was asked to give my worst-case scenario for why we need private gun ownership, it would involve fiscal and societal breakdown because of an ever-growing welfare state.

But regardless of why you believe in the Second Amendment, this U.N. treaty would be a very bad development.

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Since I shared a pro-Second Amendment t-shirt the other day, let’s have an encore and enjoy this poster on gun control.

Gun Control Poster Buy One

I’m not sure, though, whether it’s the most compelling message in the world. I remember years ago being a spectator to an abortion argument, with the pro-choice person asserting that “if you don’t like an abortion, don’t have one,” which seemed somewhat persuasive, but then the pro-life person countered by asking whether it would make sense to assert “if you don’t like robbery, don’t commit one.”

But I almost never venture into the abortion debate (the only exceptions being here and here), and I’m not going to change my pattern today.

My only point is that the poster is snarky and mocking, which is the type of humor I often enjoy, so I had to share it.

We do have a second image, and this one is unambiguously clever and compelling.

Very similar message to the first image in this post.

Gun Control Poster Drugs

And if these two images don’t give you enough anti-gun control humor, feel free to click hereherehereherehere, here, herehere, here, here, and here.

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I’ve shared some powerful (and amusing) pro-Second Amendment posters herehereherehere, here, here, and here. And some clever  images of t-shirts and bumper stickers on gun control herehere, here, here, and here.

Here’s another good one for the collection, and I gather you can actually buy one for yourself if this website is legit.

Bullets First t-shirt

Here are some additional examples of Second Amendment humor, and you can enjoy some Chuck Asay cartoons here and here.

By the way, if you want some practical information on gun control, I strongly recommend the famous Larry Correia article. And for wisdom on the issue of so-called assault weapons, John Lott is the oracle.

And you can read the confessions of two honest liberals here and here.

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Late last year, I shared a very powerful article by an admitted liberal who concluded that gun control was impractical and illogical.

Now I want to share a New York Times column from another leftist. Justin Cronin also supports the right of gun ownership, but he offers a more personal reason for his support of the Second Amendment.

Here are some of the key excerpts from his column.

I am a New England liberal, born and bred. I have lived most of my life in the Northeast — Boston, New York and Philadelphia — and my politics are devoutly Democratic. I am also a Texas resident and a gun owner. I have half a dozen pistols in my safe, all semiautomatics, the largest capable of holding 20 rounds. …I’m currently shopping for a shotgun, either a Remington 870 Express Tactical or a Mossberg 500 Flex with a pistol grip and adjustable stock. …I am my family’s last line of defense. I have chosen to meet this responsibility, in part, by being armed. It wasn’t a choice I made lightly.

A “pistol grip”? A gun that holds “20 rounds”? An “adjustable stock”? Gasp, the horror! I imagine Obama is probably sending the BATF after this guy. Heck, maybe even target him with a drone.

So why does this self-described leftist own guns and believe in the right to self-defense? The answer is common sense, based in part on what happened when Hurricane Rita was heading toward Houston.

My wife and I arranged to stay at a friend’s house in Austin, packed up the kids and dog, and headed out of town — or tried to. As many as 3.7 million people had the same idea, making Rita one of the largest evacuations in history, with predictable results. By 2 in the morning, after six hours on the road, we had made it all of 50 miles. The scene was like a snapshot from the Apocalypse: crowds milling restlessly, gas stations and mini-marts picked clean and heaped with trash, families sleeping by the side of the road. The situation had the hopped-up feel of barely bottled chaos. After Katrina, nobody had any illusions that help was on its way. It also occurred to me that there were probably a lot of guns out there… Here I was with two tiny children, a couple of thousand dollars in cash, a late-model S.U.V. with half a tank of gas and not so much as a heavy book to throw. …Rita made a last-minute turn away from Houston. But what if it hadn’t? I believe people are basically good, but not all of them and not all the time. Like most citizens of our modern, technological world, I am wholly reliant upon a fragile web of services to meet my most basic needs. What would happen if those services collapsed? Chaos, that’s what.

We’ve already witnessed real-world examples of societal breakdown caused by government incompetence and failure.

Armed Koreans Disarmed TurksI wrote two years ago to celebrate the superiority of the American system, which allowed Korean shopowners to protect themselves during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, and the British system, which left immigrant shopowners vulnerable and defenseless to rampaging mobs.

That argument gets more relevant and powerful every year. Indeed, there have been riots all over Europe, and I suspect that we’ll see more chaos and social disarray as the welfare state continues to collapse. And as I discuss in this NRA-TV interview, only a fool (or a victim of bad government) is unarmed when the you-know-what hits the fan.

Simply stated, would you want to leave your family vulnerable, and rely on the callow and feckless political class for their safety? I hope not, which is why I’m surprised that “protection during a societal breakdown” only got about 13 percent of the vote in my poll asking the most important reason to oppose gun control.

Let’s return to the NYT column. Our liberal columnist naively wishes guns didn’t exist (as if a pack of young, male thugs need weapons to terrorize a family), but at least he recognizes that his anti-gun leftist friends don’t know what they’re talking about.

…in the weeks since Newtown, I’ve watched my Facebook feed, which is dominated by my coastal friends, fill up with anti-gun dispatches that seemed divorced from reality. I agree it would be nice if the world had exactly zero guns in it. But I don’t see that happening, and calling gun owners “a bunch of inbred rednecks” doesn’t do much to advance rational discussion. Thus, my secret life — though I guess it’s not such a secret anymore.

Here’s a final excerpt that is very heartwarming, and this picture reveals that I obviously share the same sentiments.

My wife is afraid of my guns (though she also says she’s glad I have them). My 16-year-old daughter is a different story. …she asked to take a pistol lesson. …the instructor ran her through the basics, demonstrating with a Glock 9-millimeter: how to hold it, load it, pull back the slide. “You’ll probably have trouble with that part,” he said. “A lot of the women do.” “Oh really?” my daughter replied, and with a cagey smile proceeded to rack her weapon with such authority you could have heard it in the parking lot. A proud-papa moment? I confess it was.

If you want more practical information on gun control, I strongly recommend the famous Larry Correia article. And for wisdom on the issue of so-called assault weapons, John Lott is the oracle.

And if you want to laugh at the dishonest (or naive) liberals, watch this amusing video to see how they think gun control works in their fantasy world.

Then give your leftist friends this IQ test on gun control and see if they can figure out the right answer.

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I mostly approach the gun control debate from a moral and practical perspective.

Morally, I think there is a presumption that free people should have the means to protect themselves. It doesn’t matter if they want to guard against crime, whether they’re worried about social breakdown (my concern, as I explain in this NRA-TV interview), or if they fear government tyranny (the most common answer in this poll).

The practical argument against gun control is best explained in this article by a liberal and this article by a conservative.

But let’s not forget that there’s also a constitutional argument against gun control, as explained in today’s Wall Street Journal by David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman.

…the debate over guns, as is the case with many other contentious issues in American history, cannot be intelligently pursued without recognizing its constitutional dimensions. The Supreme Court’s 2008 decision in Heller v. District of Columbia confirmed that the Second Amendment means what it says: “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” After Heller and its follow-on case, McDonald v. Chicago, which applied the Second Amendment rights to the states, what government cannot do is deny the individual interest in self-defense. As a legal matter, that debate is settled.

The authors then look at some of the anti-gun laws being considered at the state level.

Several states…are considering gun-insurance mandates modeled after those for automobile insurance. There is no conceivable public-safety benefit: Insurance policies cover accidents, not intentional crimes, and criminals with illegal guns will just evade the requirement. The real purpose is to make guns less affordable for law-abiding citizens and thereby reduce private gun ownership. Identical constitutionally suspect logic explains proposals to tax the sale of bullets at excessive rates. The courts, however, are no more likely to allow government to undermine the Second Amendment than to undermine the First. A state cannot circumvent the right to a free press by requiring that an unfriendly newspaper carry millions in libel insurance or pay a thousand-dollar tax on barrels of ink—the real motive, in either case, would be transparent and the regulation struck down. How could the result be any different for the right to keep and bear arms?

Rivkin and Grossman also explain why the President’s plan is empty posturing.

The same constitutional infirmity plagues the president’s plan. Consider his proposal for a new “assault weapons” ban, targeting a class of weapons distinguished by their cosmetic features, such as a pistol grip or threaded barrel. These guns may look sinister, but they don’t differ from other common weapons in any relevant respect—firing mechanism, ammunition, magazine size—and so present no greater threat to public safety. Needless to say, the government has no legitimate interest in banning guns that gun-controllers simply do not like and would not, themselves, care to own.

That last sentence is worth emphasizing. There are many types of cars I find distasteful. And there are many clothing styles I would never wear. But those cars and clothes serve the same functions as my car and clothes.

That’s why the attacks against so-called assault rifles are nonsensical. Those weapons are identical to guns that don’t look “scary.” Indeed, they’re usually less powerful.

One final point, albeit a depressing one. Contrary to what Rivkin and Grossman wrote, the constitutional issue is not settled. The Supreme Court correctly decided both the Heller and McDonald cases, but only by 5-4 margins.

All it takes is one untimely death or retirement and Obama surely would appoint some ideologue who will disregard the Second Amendment (in the same way Justices routinely disregard Article I, Section VIII, and other sections of the Constitution).

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I’ve shared some very powerful videos that help explain why we should respect and celebrate the individual right to keep and bear arms.

Here’s one that’s worth sharing just for entertainment value. It shows a British import desperately trying to gain visibility and ratings by engaging in a series of gun control debates.

I can’t vouch for the veracity of what’s being said by Ventura, Pratt, et al, but they obviously win the overall arguments about the right to self defense, the fight against crime, and having the means to resist tyranny and oppression.

But as much as I like all of these videos, the best arguments for the Second Amendment come from this conservative and this liberal.

Actually, I don’t even know if the author of the first article is a conservative. Or even libertarian. He just makes so much sense that I assume he’s on the side of freedom instead of the state.

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I’m not a big gun owner and I’m not part of the gun culture. So why, then, do I frequently post about the issue of gun control?

Mostly because I believe in freedom and the Constitution.

But I also appreciate facts and analysis and I know that law-abiding citizens are safer and criminals face greater obstacles when good people have the right of self defense.

Last but not least, I think there’s a non-trivial possibility that the United States will suffer some sort of social chaos and/or breakdown of law and order because of the damage caused by reckless fiscal and monetary policies. As I explain in this interview on NRA-TV, that’s when firearms ownership can mean the difference between life an death.

But now it’s time to get some analysis from Larry Correia, a real expert. Here’s some of his background, which may help explain why his article has been viewed more than 1,000,000 times and attracted about 2,500 comments.

I owned a gun store. …that means lots and lots of government inspections and compliance paperwork. This means that I had to be exceedingly familiar with federal gun laws, and there are a lot of them. …When I hear people tell me the gun industry is unregulated, I have to resist the urge to laugh in their face. I was also a Utah Concealed Weapons instructor, and was one of the busiest instructors in the state. That required me to learn a lot about self-defense laws… I have certified thousands of people to carry guns.

Here’s what he has to say about stopping massacres. In this section, he’s specifically talking about the value of armed teachers, but the message obviously applies more broadly.

The single best way to respond to a mass shooter is with an immediate, violent response. The vast majority of the time, as soon as a mass shooter meets serious resistance, it bursts their fantasy world bubble. Then they kill themselves or surrender. This has happened over and over again. Police are awesome. I love working with cops. However any honest cop will tell you that when seconds count they are only minutes away. …cops can’t be everywhere. There are at best only a couple hundred thousand on duty at any given time patrolling the entire country. Excellent response time is in the three-five minute range. We’ve seen what bad guys can do in three minutes, but sometimes it is far worse. …So in some cases that means the bad guys can have ten, fifteen, even twenty minutes to do horrible things with nobody effectively fighting back. So if we can’t have cops there, what can we do? The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by law enforcement: 14. The average number of people shot in a mass shooting event when the shooter is stopped by civilians: 2.5. The reason is simple. The armed civilians are there when it started.

In this passage, you can see that he’s not overly impressed by “gun-free zones.”

Gun Free Zones are hunting preserves for innocent people. Period. Think about it. You are a violent, homicidal madman, looking to make a statement and hoping to go from disaffected loser to most famous person in the world. The best way to accomplish your goals is to kill a whole bunch of people. So where’s the best place to go shoot all these people? Obviously, it is someplace where nobody can shoot back.

Sort of the same message as this humorous video.

In all honesty, I have no respect for anybody who believes Gun Free Zones actually work. You are going to commit several hundred felonies, up to and including mass murder, and you are going to refrain because there is a sign? That No Guns Allowed sign is not a cross that wards off vampires. It is wishful thinking, and really pathetic wishful thinking at that.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the Aurora theatre was a gun-free zone.

The man that attacked the midnight showing of Batman didn’t attack just any theater. There were like ten to choose from. He didn’t attack the closest. It wasn’t about biggest or smallest. He attacked the one that was posted NO GUNS ALLOWED. …Over the last fifty years, with only one single exception (Gabby Giffords), every single mass shooting event with more than four casualties has taken place in a place where guns were supposedly not allowed.

He then deals with the issue of “semi-automatic” weapons. He first explains that these weapons are not machine guns, notwithstanding the inane/biased commentary in the press.

Semi-automatic means that each time you pull the trigger the action cycles and loads another round. This is the single most common type of gun, not just in America, but in the whole world. Almost all handguns are semi-automatic. The vast majority of weapons used for self-defense are semi-automatic, as are almost all the weapons used by police officers.  It is the most common because it is normally the most effective.

Anti-gun zealots often use “assault rifle” as a pejorative, and they probably are similarly clueless in thinking that such weapons are machine guns. Correia addresses some of the specific issues of these weapons.

…real assault rifles in the US have been heavily regulated since before they were invented. The thing that the media and politicians like to refer to as assault rifles is basically a catch all term for any gun which looks scary. …The US banned assault rifles once before for a decade and the law did absolutely nothing. I mean, it was totally, literally pointless. …And the reason was that since assault weapon is a nonsense term, they just came up with a list of arbitrary features which made a gun into an assault weapon. Problem was, none of these features actually made the gun functionally any different or somehow more lethal or better from any other run of the mill firearm. Most of the criteria were so silly that they became a huge joke to gun owners, except of course, for that part where many law abiding citizens accidentally became instant felons because one of their guns had some cosmetic feature which was now illegal.

Here are a couple of examples he discusses.

Does this make a gun more dangerous?

For example, flash hiders sound dangerous. …Problem is flash hiders don’t do much. They screw onto the end of your muzzle and divert the flash off to the side instead of straight up so it isn’t as annoying when you shoot. It doesn’t actually hide the flash from anybody else. …Barrel shrouds were listed.Barrel shrouds are basically useless, cosmetic pieces of metal that go over the barrel so you don’t accidentally touch it and burn your hand. But they became an instantaneous felony too. Collapsible stocks make it so you can adjust your rifle to different size shooters, that way a tall guy and his short wife can shoot the same gun. …Now are you starting to see why “assault weapons” is a pointless term? They aren’t functionally any more powerful or deadly than any normal gun. In fact the cartridges they normally fire are far less powerful than your average deer hunting rifle.

One of the big issues in the gun-control debate is whether there should be limits on the number of rounds in a magazines.

…why do gun owners want magazines that hold more rounds? Because sometimes you miss. Because usually—contrary to the movies—you have to hit an opponent multiple times in order to make them stop. Because sometimes you may have multiple assailants. We don’t have more rounds in the magazine so we can shoot more, we have more rounds in the magazine so we are forced to manipulate our gun less if we have to shoot more. …ten rounds sucks when you take a wound ballistics class like I have and go over case after case after case after case of enraged, drug addled, prison hardened, perpetrators who soaked up five, seven, nine, even fifteen bullets and still walked under their own power to the ambulance. That isn’t uncommon at all. …Also, you’re going to miss. It is going to happen. If you can shoot pretty little groups at the range, those groups are going to expand dramatically under the stress and adrenalin. …or the bad guy may end up hiding behind something which your bullets don’t penetrate. Nobody has ever survived a gunfight and then said afterwards, “Darn, I wish I hadn’t brought all that extra ammo.” So having more rounds in the gun is a good thing for self-defense use.

He then responds to the assertion that magazine limits will make life more difficult for bad guys.

…he’s not going to walk up right next to you while he reloads anyway. Unlike the CCW holder who gets attacked and has to defend himself in whatever crappy situation he finds himself in, the mass shooter is the aggressor. He’s picked the engagement range. They are cowards who are murdering running and hiding children, but don’t for a second make the mistake of thinking they are dumb. Many of these scumbags are actually very intelligent. They’re just broken and evil. In the cases that I’m aware of where the shooter had guns that held fewer rounds they just positioned themselves back a bit while firing or they brought more guns, and simply switched guns and kept on shooting, and then reloaded before they moved to the next planned firing position. Unless you are a fumble fingered idiot, anybody who practices in front of a mirror a few dozen times can get to where they can insert a new magazine into a gun in a few seconds.

So what will happen if the government imposes a new magazine restriction?

Magazines are cheap and basic. Most of them are pieces of sheet metal with some wire. That’s it. Magazines are considered disposable so most gun people accumulate a ton of them. All [the 10-round limit] did was make magazines more expensive, ticked off law abiding citizens, and didn’t so much as inconvenience a single criminal. …So you can ban this stuff, but it won’t actually do anything to the crimes you want to stop.

Correia closes with some remarks on the importance of self defense.

…the vast majority of the time when a gun is produced in a legal self-defense situation no shots are fired. The mere presence of the gun is enough to cause the criminal to stop. Clint Smith once said if you look like food, you will be eaten. Criminals are looking for prey. They are looking for easy victims. If they wanted to work hard for a living they’d get a job. So when you pull a gun, you are no longer prey, you are work, so they are going to go find somebody else to pick on.

Which then brings us back to the key question: If gun control does nothing to stop bad guys, and it makes life more dangerous for good people, why do so many politicians want to undermine our constitutional rights?

I don’t think American politicians have the same evil motives as some of the world’s most reprehensible dictators, all of whom supported gun control as a way of controlling – and in many cases slaughtering – their people.

Indeed, I suspect some of them simply are unaware of the facts that Mr. Correia provides in the article.

Last month, I posted an article by a leftist who openly admitted that gun control was impractical. Our goal should be to help more people on the left reach this logical conclusion.

But since life shouldn’t be totally serious, here’s some gun control humor – including links to several additional jokes about the issue.

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A lot of big-city police chiefs are political appointees who promote gun control, presumably to please their political masters.

911 Response TimeThey tell citizens that they should passively rely on government rather than take personal responsibility for self defense.

I have no idea if the numbers in this image are correct, but there’s no doubt that a gun is a lot quicker than the cops. Heck, just watch this video and ask yourself whether you would want your daughter armed.

And the cops I know – the ones who actually interact with the public and fight crime – are supportive of the Second Amendment, precisely because they realize they can’t be everywhere and they know there are bad people in the world.

But not all police chiefs and senior cops are mindless bureaucrats. In this video, the Sheriff of Milwaukee County not only acknowledges the right of self defense, but he’s also is willing to help train citizens to resist crime.

This doesn’t necessarily make him a libertarian hero. Indeed, his comments about layoffs and furloughs indicate that he’s also interested in maximizing the size of his staff.

And even though cops are probably my favorite government employees (at least when they’re fighting crime rather than giving me ridiculous traffic tickets), that doesn’t mean we should have too many of them or pay them too much (though, to be fair, they’re presumably not paid as much as cops in Oakland).

But I’ll forgive Sheriff Clarke for pursuing the interests of his staff, even if that conflicts with the interests of taxpayers.

P.S. Here’s a very good joke about what to say when you call 911.

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I periodically share public opinion data, either because I’m encouraged by the results or because I think that the research helps show how to frame issues.

Examples include polling data on personal retirement accounts, the dangers of big government, support for spending caps, and viability of class warfare tax policy.

But I’ve been very narrowly focused. Just about all the polls I’ve shared have been about some aspect of fiscal policy.

So I was very interested to see a new poll about issues related to the Second Amendment, and I was particularly gratified to see that an overwhelming majority of gun owners would not surrender their constitutional rights if the jackals in Washington approved a gun ban.

Second Amendment Poll Defy Govt

For more information, here’s part of a Washington Times report on the new polling data.

Question 46 in the wide-ranging survey of more than 1,000 registered voters asks if there is a gun in the household. Overall, 52 percent of the respondents said yes, someone in their home owned a gun. That number included 65 percent of Republicans, 59 percent of conservatives, 38 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of liberals. But on to Question 47, addressed to those with a gun in their home: “If the government passed a law to take your guns, would you give up your guns or defy the law and keep your guns?” The response: 65 percent reported they would “defy the law.” That includes 70 percent of Republicans, 68 percent of conservatives, 52 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of liberals.

These results don’t tell us why people would defy the government, but the poll I conducted suggests that a plurality of Americans support the Second Amendment because they want the ability to resist tyranny.

I’m also happy to see that most Americans understand that gun bans are a very ineffective way of fighting crime. Heck, they realize that we need more guns in the hands of law-abiding people.

Second Amendment Poll Reduce Crime

In other words, ordinary Americans have a lot more common sense than the buffoons in the media. They know that you get less crime when you increase the expected cost of criminal behavior.

P.S. If you want to enjoy some good gun control cartoons, click here, here, and here.

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I’ve shared several satirical signs, posters, videos, and bumper stickers on the topic of gun control, but surprisingly few political cartoons.

If my aging memory is correct, I’ve only posted a couple of Chuck Asay cartoons on concealed carry (here and here) and one Steve Kelley cartoon mocking the leftist tendency to focus on inanimate objects when a bad guy uses a gun.

So it’s time to correct this oversight.

Let’s start with this comparison of liberals and conservatives. As you can see, it’s sort of what you get when you mix this joke with this poster.

Rape Kit Cartoon

No wonder liberals and conservatives are contemplating divorce.

And with Obama proposing a bunch of executive orders on guns, this Scott Stantis cartoon is very timely.

Executive Order Cartoon

After all, who cares about the Constitution and the democratic process!

And here’s a cartoon with the same theme found in this poster.

Secret Service Cartoon

Now let’s shift to a couple of cartoons that look at causes of death, starting with one from Michael Ramirez that shows that so-called “assault rifles” are a statistical asterisk (and no more dangerous than other types of guns).

Causes of death cartoon

And here’s a specific comparison for 2011. Obviously we need hammer control.

Hammer Rifle Cartoon

While all these cartoons are amusing, the attack on our Second Amendment rights is not funny.

In my poll on protecting the right to keep and bear arms, a plurality of respondents said the Second Amendment was worth preserving so people had some ability to resist tyranny.

I personally think that the risk of societal breakdown is a more pressing concern, as I explained in this interview on NRA TV.

But all that really matters is that we all agree that freedom is worth defending. So let’s close with this inspirational powerpoint presentation on the Second Amendment.

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Back in the early days of this blog, I shared a very amusing anti-gun control message on the back of a vehicle.

It made a good point about the fallacy of gun control (sort of like this photo as well), while also mocking a well-known opponent of the Second Amendment.

Now we have another photo, which also shows the back of a vehicle. It’s not directly on the topic of gun control, but I somehow suspect the driver is not a proponent of disarming innocent people.

Warning Shot

And it does provide a lesson in the economics of crime. Let’s imagine you’re a thief. Not the kind that wields power in Washington, just a run-of-the-mill street thief. If you’re thinking about doing a bit of carjacking, would you be more likely or less likely to go after this vehicle?

Yes, this is like the IQ test that I posted for liberals and criminals. The answer should be obvious.

Sort of like whether you would go looting in the neighborhood pictured at the end of this post.

P.S. You can  see additional pro-Second Amendment posters herehereherehere, here, here, and here. And some amusing images of t-shirts and bumper stickers on gun control herehere, and here.

P.P.S. You can still cast a vote in the online poll to identify the most important reason to defend the Second Amendment.

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I asked yesterday for readers to weigh in on why they support (or don’t support) the Second Amendment. The poll is getting lots of responses, though some folks have complained that I should have included more answers, such as “To protect the rights of hunters.”

Gun Control cartoon club knifeAnd I even had a few left-wing friends tell me I should have included more options for them, such as “The Second Amendment doesn’t mean military-style weapons” or “The Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee individual gun ownership.”

Speaking of our friends on the left, Vice President Joe Biden is overseeing an Administration effort to concoct new gun laws. In the interests of being helpful, I suggest the Veep’s team look at these four videos.

We also have a brand new video from the folks at Reason TV. It provides five facts for Biden and his task force.

For some reason, I won’t be surprised if the Vice President doesn’t see this new video. Or any of the others.

Yes, you can call me a pessimist, but I think Biden’s task force has no interest in doing real research.

Their goal is to figure out (from the left’s perspective) politically feasible ways of undermining the Constitution.

So let’s gird our loins, which sounds like it might be fun, but it simply means prepare for a fight.

But, unlike the statists, we’re not humorless drones. So let’s enjoy some humorous gun control videos to put ourselves in the right frame of mind.

P.S. Don’t forget you can still cast a vote to explain why you support the Second Amendment.

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I assume that most readers are sympathetic to free markets and small government.

But that doesn’t mean there’s universal agreement about how we solve various problems created by excessive government.

Last year, for instance, survey questions that I included with two posts generated very interesting results.

  • In August, I reported on a guy who got pissed at the cops for screwing up his life with a marijuana arrest, so he responded by crushing some empty police cars with a tractor. I gave people four possible ways of responding to this story, and the results (based on my arbitrary division) showed a 60-40 split in favor of libertarianism.
  • In November, I asked which candidate readers preferred. I was somewhat surprised by the results. Not only did Romney get nearly 70 percent of the total, but Obama wasn’t that far behind Gary Johnson. I’m not sure how to interpret those results, but they definitely suggest that anti-Obamaism was more powerful than pro-liberatarianism.

So now I’d like to get a sense of how readers view gun control.  Here’s a poll with five possible answers. Feel free to share it widely so we can get the broadest possible set of responses.

I’m not going to say how I would vote, but this interview with NRA-TV may give you a hint.

But I don’t include that link to sway the vote. I genuinely am curious about why people support (or don’t support) the Second Amendment.

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Last year, I shared this heartwarming holiday adoption video.

Keeping with that tradition, here’s a Christmas greeting to warm your heart…and offend the delicate sensibilities of statists.

The extra flash at the end is a nice touch. Sort of reminds me of this joke about the difference between conservatives, liberals, and Texans.

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Last weekend, I wrote a post entitled “An Honest Liberal Writes about Gun Control.” The article was very powerful because the person didn’t like guns, but admitted that more guns in the hands of law-abiding people might be the best way to reduce crime.

Now we have a perfect follow-up article to analyze. It’s from the Wall Street Journal and it’s authored by David Kopel of the Independence Institute. He starts by acknowledging that random shootings have increased, but notes that these killing sprees were almost non-existent when we had no anti-gun laws.

Why the increase? It cannot be because gun-control laws have become more lax. Before the 1968 Gun Control Act, there were almost no federal gun-control laws. …Nor are magazines holding more than 10 rounds something new. They were invented decades ago and have long been standard for many handguns. Police officers carry them for the same reason that civilians do: Especially if a person is attacked by multiple assailants, there is no guarantee that a 10-round magazine will end the assault. The 1980s were much worse than today in terms of overall violent crime, including gun homicide, but they were much better than today in terms of mass random shootings. The difference wasn’t that the 1980s had tougher controls on so-called “assault weapons.” No assault weapons law existed in the U.S. until California passed a ban in 1989. Connecticut followed in 1993. None of the guns that the Newtown murderer used was an assault weapon under Connecticut law.

Kopel then makes the key points that there is no meaningful definition of an “assault weapon.” Oh, in case any morons from the media are reading this, it’s also worth noting that a “semi-automatic” is not a machine gun.

This illustrates the uselessness of bans on so-called assault weapons, since those bans concentrate on guns’ cosmetics, such as whether the gun has a bayonet lug, rather than their function. What some people call “assault weapons” function like every other normal firearm—they fire only one bullet each time the trigger is pressed. Unlike automatics (machine guns), they do not fire continuously as long as the trigger is held. They are “semi-automatic” because they eject the empty shell case and load the next round into the firing chamber.

Since gun controls have become more ubiquitous over time, what could account for the increase in random shootings? In addition to de-institutionalization of the mentally ill, Kopel suspects the media plays a role.

Since gun controls today are far stricter than at the time when “active shooters” were rare, what can account for the increase in these shootings? One plausible answer is the media. Cable TV in the 1990s, and the Internet today, greatly magnify the instant celebrity that a mass killer can achieve. We know that many would-be mass killers obsessively study their predecessors.

This doesn’t mean it’s the fault of the media, and it certainly doesn’t mean that we should undermine the First Amendment right of an unfettered press, but at least it helps to understand what could be causing some of these nutjobs to go on killing sprees.

The most important part of the column is his analysis of how “gun-free zones” are downright idiotic. The Chuck Asay cartoons here and here make the same point, as does this satirical video, but Kopel’s analysis provides substance.

Finally, it must be acknowledged that many of these attacks today unfortunately take place in pretend “gun-free zones,” such as schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. According to Ron Borsch’s study for the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, active shooters are different from the gangsters and other street toughs whom a police officer might engage in a gunfight. They are predominantly weaklings and cowards who crumble easily as soon as an armed person shows up. The problem is that by the time the police arrive, lots of people are already dead. So when armed citizens are on the scene, many lives are saved. The media rarely mention the mass murders that were thwarted by armed citizens at the Shoney’s Restaurant in Anniston, Ala. (1991), the high school in Pearl, Miss. (1997), the middle-school dance in Edinboro, Penn. (1998), and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. (2007), among others. At the Clackamas Mall in Oregon last week, an active shooter murdered two people and then saw that a shopper, who had a handgun carry permit, had drawn a gun and was aiming at him. The murderer’s next shot was to kill himself. Real gun-free zones are a wonderful idea, but they are only real if they are created by metal detectors backed up by armed guards. Pretend gun-free zones, where law-abiding adults (who pass a fingerprint-based background check and a safety training class) are still disarmed, are magnets for evildoers who know they will be able to murder at will with little threat of being fired upon.

Amen. I offered an IQ test on the issue for liberals and criminals, and this set of cartoons and posters takes an amusing look at the issue of gun-free zones.

But as much as I enjoy political humor, this is not a laughing matter. It appears Obama is trying to lay some groundwork for a new assault on the Second Amendment.

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I wrote earlier this month about an honest liberal who acknowledged the problems created by government dependency. Well, it happened again.

First, some background.

Like every other decent person, I was horrified and nauseated by the school shootings in Newton, Connecticut.

Part of me wishes the guy hadn’t killed himself so that he could be slowly fed into a meat grinder.

And my friends on the left will be happy to know that part of me, when I first learned about the murders, thought the world might be a better place if guns had never been invented.

Sort of like my gut reaction about cigarettes when I find out that somebody I know is dying of a smoking-related illness or how I feel about gambling when I read about a family being ruined because some jerk thought it would be a good idea to use the mortgage money at a casino.

But there’s a reason why it’s generally not a good idea to make impulsive decisions based on immediate reactions. In the case of gun control, it can lead to policies that don’t work. Or perhaps even make a bad situation worse.

I’ve certainly made these points when writing and pontificating about gun control. But I’m a libertarian, so that’s hardly a surprise. We’re people who instinctively are skeptical of giving government power over individuals.

But when someone on the left reaches the same conclusion, that’s perhaps more significant. Especially when you get the feeling that they would like ban private gun ownership in their version of a perfect world.

That’s why I heartily recommend Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in The Atlantic.

Here are some of the most profound passages in the article, beginning with a common-sense observation that there’s no way for the government to end private gun ownership.

According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 47 percent of American adults keep at least one gun at home or on their property, and many of these gun owners are absolutists opposed to any government regulation of firearms. According to the same poll, only 26 percent of Americans support a ban on handguns. …There are ways, of course, to make it at least marginally more difficult for the criminally minded, for the dangerously mentally ill, and for the suicidal to buy guns and ammunition. …But these gun-control efforts, while noble, would only have a modest impact on the rate of gun violence in America. Why? Because it’s too late. There are an estimated 280 million to 300 million guns in private hands in America—many legally owned, many not. Each year, more than 4 million new guns enter the market. …America’s level of gun ownership means that even if the Supreme Court—which ruled in 2008 that the Second Amendment gives citizens the individual right to own firearms, as gun advocates have long insisted—suddenly reversed itself and ruled that the individual ownership of handguns was illegal, there would be no practical way for a democratic country to locate and seize those guns.

Which is why prohibition was a flop. Which is why the current War on Drugs is so misguided. And so on and so on.

The author then wonders whether the best way of protecting public safety is to have more gun ownership.

Which raises a question: When even anti-gun activists believe that the debate over private gun ownership is closed; when it is too late to reduce the number of guns in private hands—and since only the naive think that legislation will prevent more than a modest number of the criminally minded, and the mentally deranged, from acquiring a gun in a country absolutely inundated with weapons—could it be that an effective way to combat guns is with more guns? Today, more than 8 million vetted and (depending on the state) trained law-abiding citizens possess state-issued “concealed carry” handgun permits, which allow them to carry a concealed handgun or other weapon in public. Anti-gun activists believe the expansion of concealed-carry permits represents a serious threat to public order. But what if, in fact, the reverse is true? Mightn’t allowing more law-abiding private citizens to carry concealed weapons—when combined with other forms of stringent gun regulation—actually reduce gun violence?

He cites examples where armed citizens stopped mass killings.

In 1997, a disturbed high-school student named Luke Woodham stabbed his mother and then shot and killed two people at Pearl High School in Pearl, Mississippi. He then began driving toward a nearby junior high to continue his shooting spree, but the assistant principal of the high school, Joel Myrick, aimed a pistol he kept in his truck at Woodham, causing him to veer off the road. Myrick then put his pistol to Woodham’s neck and disarmed him. On January 16, 2002, a disgruntled former student at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, had killed three people, including the school’s dean, when two students, both off-duty law-enforcement officers, retrieved their weapons and pointed them at the shooter, who ended his killing spree and surrendered. In December 2007, a man armed with a semiautomatic rifle and two pistols entered the New Life Church in Colorado Springs and killed two teenage girls before a church member, Jeanne Assam—a former Minneapolis police officer and a volunteer church security guard—shot and wounded the gunman, who then killed himself.

The author also punctures the left’s mythology about concealed carry laws.

In 2003, John Gilchrist, the legislative counsel for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, testified, “If 200,000 to 300,000 citizens begin carrying a concealed weapon, common sense tells us that accidents will become a daily event.” When I called Gilchrist recently, he told me that events since the state’s concealed-carry law took effect have proved his point. …Gilchrist’s argument would be convincing but for one thing: the firearm crime rate in Ohio remained steady after the concealed-carry law passed in 2004.

Goldberg elaborates.

Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades—less than half what it was 20 years ago. (The number of people allowed to carry concealed weapons is actually considerably higher than 8 million, because residents of Vermont, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, and parts of Montana do not need government permission to carry their personal firearms. These states have what Second Amendment absolutists refer to as “constitutional carry,” meaning, in essence, that the Second Amendment is their permit.) Many gun-rights advocates see a link between an increasingly armed public and a decreasing crime rate. “I think effective law enforcement has had the biggest impact on crime rates, but I think concealed carry has something to do with it. We’ve seen an explosion in the number of people licensed to carry,” Lott told me. “You can deter criminality through longer sentencing, and you deter criminality by making it riskier for people to commit crimes. And one way to make it riskier is to create the impression among the criminal population that the law-abiding citizen they want to target may have a gun.” Crime statistics in Britain, where guns are much scarcer, bear this out. Gary Kleck, a criminologist at Florida State University, wrote in his 1991 book, Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, that only 13 percent of burglaries in America occur when the occupant is home. In Britain, so-called hot burglaries account for about 45 percent of all break-ins. Kleck and others attribute America’s low rate of occupied-home burglaries to fear among criminals that homeowners might be armed. (A survey of almost 2,000 convicted U.S. felons, conducted by the criminologists Peter Rossi and James D. Wright in the late ’80s, concluded that burglars are more afraid of armed homeowners than they are of arrest by the police.)

That last bit of info is very powerful. The bad guys are more afraid of armed homeowners than the police. Surely, as I explained here, that tells us that gun ownership lowers crime.

Here’s another no-sh*t-Sherlock observation from the article.

It is also illogical for campuses to advertise themselves as “gun-free.” Someone bent on murder is not usually dissuaded by posted anti-gun regulations. Quite the opposite—publicly describing your property as gun-free is analogous to posting a notice on your front door saying your home has no burglar alarm. As it happens, the company that owns the Century 16 Cineplex in Aurora had declared the property a gun-free zone.

I recently mocked the idea of gun-free zones with several amusing posters. It’s unbelievable that some people think that killers care about such rules.

One place that isn’t likely to see any massacres is Colorado State University.

For much of the population of a typical campus, concealed-carry permitting is not an issue. Most states that issue permits will grant them only to people who are at least 21 years old. But the crime-rate statistics at universities that do allow permit holders on campus with their weapons are instructive. An hour north of Boulder, in Fort Collins, sits Colorado State University. Concealed carry has been allowed at CSU since 2003, and according to James Alderden, the former sheriff of Larimer County, which encompasses Fort Collins, violent crime at Colorado State has dropped since then.

I also recommend this video, which makes fun of those who support gun-free zones.

Here is Goldberg’s conclusion.

But I am sympathetic to the idea of armed self-defense, because it does often work, because encouraging learned helplessness is morally corrupt, and because, however much I might wish it, the United States is not going to become Canada. Guns are with us, whether we like it or not. Maybe this is tragic, but it is also reality. So Americans who are qualified to possess firearms shouldn’t be denied the right to participate in their own defense. And it is empirically true that the great majority of America’s tens of millions of law-abiding gun owners have not created chaos in society.

Goldberg’s article, by the way, doesn’t even mention the value of private gun ownership when government fails to maintain public order, as occurred after Hurricane Sandy and during last year’s British riots.

I have a couple of final things to share, including this this video about a woman who lost her parents because she decided to obey a bad government law. And here’s a great study from Cato about individuals using guns to protect themselves.

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If you read through Article I, Section VIII, of the Constitution, it says nothing about Congress having the power to subsidize or pay for disaster relief.

But I realize very few people care about the Constitution, so I’m going to make a utilitarian argument against Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other forms of federal involvement in natural disasters.

Best of all, I don’t really need to do any heavy lifting. Someone else already has put together a very strong indictment, using Dauphin Island in Alabama as a case study.

Here are some excerpts from a great bit of reporting and analysis in the Austin Statesman, except in the second sentence I would replace “inertia” with “stupidity.”

Congratulations, you’re subsidizing the luxury vacation homes of the rich

Even in the off season, the pastel beach houses lining a skinny strip of sand here are a testament to the good life. They are also a monument to the generosity, and perhaps to the inertia, of the federal government… The western end of this Gulf Coast island has proved to be one of the most hazardous places in the country for waterfront property. Since 1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and knocked down houses, chewed up sewers and water pipes and hurled sand onto the roads. Yet time and again, checks from Washington have allowed the town to put itself back together. Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas. If history is any guide, a large fraction of the federal money allotted to New York, New Jersey and other states recovering from Hurricane Sandy — an amount that could exceed $30 billion — will be used the same way. Tax money will go toward putting things back as they were, essentially duplicating the vulnerability laid bare by the hurricane.  …Like many other beachfront towns, [Dauphin Island] has benefited from the Stafford Act, a federal law that taps the U.S. Treasury for 75 percent or more of the cost of fixing storm-damaged infrastructure, like roads and utilities. At least $80 million, adjusted for inflation, has gone into patching up this one island since 1979 — more than $60,000 for every permanent resident. That does not include payments of $72 million to homeowners from the highly subsidized federal flood insurance program.

Conservatives often complain about welfare programs that pay single mothers to have children out of wedlock. That’s a legitimate complaint since the welfare state has failed both poor people and taxpayers. But they should apply the same analysis and apply even more moral outrage to handouts that encourage rich people to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas.

And there’s no question that federal handouts and giveaways are a driving force. You also won’t be surprised that one of America’s worst Presidents also has a role in this story.

Dauphin Island is a case study in the way the federal subsidies have enabled repetitive risk taking. Orrin Pilkey, an emeritus professor at Duke University who is renowned for his research in coastal zones, described the situation there as a “scandal.” The island, four miles off the Alabama coast, was for centuries the site of a small fishing and farming village reachable only by boat. But in the 1950s, the Chamber of Commerce in nearby Mobile decided to link it to the mainland by bridge and sell lots for vacation homes. Then Hurricane Frederic struck in 1979, ravaging the island and destroying the bridge. President Jimmy Carter flew over to inspect the damage. Rex Rainer, the Alabama highway director at the time, recalled several years later that the president “told us to build everything back just like it was and send him the bill.” With $33 million of federal money, local leaders built a fancier, higher bridge that encouraged more development in the 1980s. Much of that construction occurred on the island’s western end, a long, narrow sand bar sitting only a few feet above the Gulf of Mexico. “You can always look back and say, ‘Maybe we shouldn’t have done that,’ ” said Mayor Jeff Collier, who noted that many of the decisions were made before he took office more than a decade ago. “But we can’t turn the clock back.”

I have just one message for Mayor Collier. I don’t care about your damn clock. Your people should be free to rebuild, but don’t ask me to pay for it.

We do have a tiny bit of good news to report, thanks to libertarians and some of their allies.

A coalition in Washington called SmarterSafer.org, made up of environmentalists, libertarians and budget watchdogs, contends that the subsidies have essentially become a destructive, unaffordable entitlement. …This argument might be gaining some traction. Earlier this year, Congress passed changes to the federal flood insurance program that are supposed to raise historically low premiums and reduce homeowner incentives for rebuilding in the most hazardous areas.

But we need to do more than get rid of federal flood insurance subsidies.

Less widely known about than flood insurance are the subsidies from the Stafford Act, the federal law governing the response to emergencies like hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes. It kicks in when the president declares a federal disaster that exceeds the response capacity of state and local governments. Experts say the law is at least as important as the flood program in motivating reconstruction after storms. In the same way flood insurance shields families from the financial consequences of rebuilding in risky areas, the Stafford Act shields local and state governments from the full implications of their decisions on land use. Under the law, the federal government committed more than $80 billion to disaster recovery from 2004 to 2011, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office. While billions of dollars went to relieve immediate suffering, including cash payments to families left homeless by storms, nearly half of the money was spent helping state and local governments clean and restore damaged areas and rebuild infrastructure.

Finally, I can’t resist sharing this one last excerpt from the story.

People here have formed strong emotional attachments to their island. “There’s a lot of wildlife and a lot of bird life, and it’s just a great place to relax,” said Jay Minus, a lawyer in Mobile who owns two homes on the western end. “You can sit on the porch and watch the dolphins swim past your house.”

Gee, I’m overjoyed that Mr. Minus has a nice view of dolphins. But it strikes me as very perverse that ordinary taxpayers around America are getting raped so this representative of the top 1 percent can enjoy nice views.

This is obviously a perfect example of where my ethical bleeding heart rule should apply.

So what’s the answer? Simple, end the federal government’s role, including getting rid of FEMA. Shikha Dalmia of the Reason Foundation explains why in the Washington Examiner.

A New York Times editorial declared that the impending storm proved that the country needs FEMA-style “Big Government” solutions more than ever. Salon, New Republic and other liberal outfits heartily agreed. Why do liberals love FEMA so much? Certainly not for its glorious track record. Rather, FEMA has been a great vehicle for expanding the welfare state. …So how did the new and improved FEMA perform post-Sandy, a storm for which it had lots of advance warning? Not so well. It didn’t set up its first relief center until four days after Sandy hit — only to run out of drinking water on the same day. It couldn’t put sufficient boots on the ground to protect Queens residents from roving looters. The Red Cross — on whom FEMA depends for delivering basic goods — left Staten Island stranded for nearly a week, prompting borough President Jim Molinaro to fume that America was not a Third World country. But FEMA’s most egregious gaffe was that it arranged for 24 million gallons of free gas for Sandy’s victims, but most of them couldn’t lay their hands on it.

What’s most amazing is that FEMA doesn’t even play a role in emergency response, even though the politicians and bureaucrats always imply that the Agency exists to be a rapid-relief “first responder.”

But if you think FEMA’s inability to provide rapid relief subverts the core reason for its existence, think again. A few days after the Times’ valentine, FEMA head W. Craig Fugate told the newspaper that the agency’s rapid response role is really a fallacy. “The general public assumes we are part of the response team that will be there the first couple of days,” he said. But it is really designed to deal with disasters several days after the fact. How does FEMA do that? By indiscriminately writing checks — a task at which it evidently excels.

Yes, we finally find something FEMA does with considerable skill. It can waste money.

FEMA administrator Elizabeth Zimmerman testified before Congress last year that between 2005 and 2009, 14.5 percent of the agency’s $10 billion-plus disaster aid budget was handed to people who didn’t qualify. The agency tried to get 154,000 of these people to return the money (on average, each had received about $5,000), but they filed a class action lawsuit forcing FEMA to pay them a multimillion settlement. And it forgave the debt of every one with an income below $90,000. …The bigger problem is not with who gets FEMA money, but why. Less than a sixth of Alabama’s $566 million allotment after Katrina financed legitimate government functions such as debris removal, repairing damaged infrastructure and restoring public utilities. The rest was all handouts: food stamps, subsidies for trailer homes and low-interest loans for small businesses. The FEMA website is already advertising goodies for Sandy victims, including 26 weeks of unemployment benefits and up to $200,000 worth of low-interest loans for home repairs not covered by insurance. In addition, it wants to hand out $2 million loans to small businesses and nonprofits (of all sizes) experiencing “cash flow problems.” Farmers and ranchers could likewise qualify for $500,000 in loans to cover production and property losses. Anyone in Sandy’s path can latch on to the FEMA teat. This is not disaster relief but disaster socialism. It is one thing for the government to provide emergency housing, health care and food; it is quite another to compensate victims for every loss. If people knocked down by a storm deserve such federal largesse, why not open the coffers to anyone who suffers a car crash, a death in the family or a broken heart?

Or what if your house burns down? We instinctively know it would be stupid for the government to pay people to rebuild their houses after a fire because then they’ll decide it no longer makes sense to be responsible.

So why, then, does it make sense to subsidize irresponsibility on a broader scale? Particularly when it encourages people to make decisions that could place their lives in danger.

The bottom line is that the federal government shouldn’t take over roles that are better handled by the private sector (such as market-priced homeowner’s insurance) or state and local government (such as emergency response and infrastructure repair and maintenance).

FEMA does more harm than good. It encourages passivity on the part of both people in the private sector and state and local government officials. It’s damaging to the national character when people learn an entitlement mentality and sit around waiting for the federal government to give them freebies.

And how can anyone forget the spectacular incompetence of Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin during and after Katrina in 2005. Both of them seemed to think it was appropriate to curl up in fetal positions and let Uncle Sam do their jobs.

P.S. I can think of two exceptions to the notion that there should be no federal involvement in disaster relief. First, Washington has a legitimate role in disasters resulting from foreign attack. So some sort of involvement after the 9-11 attacks was appropriate. Second, even a curmudgeon like me wouldn’t get bent out of shape about short-run emergency response. FEMA obviously doesn’t do that, so I’m thinking hypothetically. Perhaps if a hurricane hit a community and a nearby military base had heavy equipment that could help with the immediate clean-up.

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Last month, I shared some very amusing images and signs mocking the concept of gun-free zones.

A couple of days later, I followed up with two amusing posters about the pro-gun control mindset.

Well, there seems to be a never-ending supply of good material supporting the Second Amendment. Let’s start with this set of dueling signs. You may notice a common theme between the thinking of the guy on the right and the thinking of the guy who owns this vehicle.

What’s the opposite of a gun-free zone? Well, it’s a place that thugs and crazies avoid when deciding to go on a killing spree.

Last but not least, ask yourself what you would prefer if one of your kids was trapped in a building with a nutcase. I’ll take the option on the top of this image.

Very similar to the message in these two signs and the upper image in this post.

To wrap things up, here’s my favorite poster on gun control, and here’s my favorite video on the Second Amendment.

P.S. I was disappointed but not surprised by Obama’s rabid response and Romney’s milquetoast response to the question about “assault weapons” in the last debate. John Lott is the go-to guy on that issue, as you can from this analysis.

P.P.S. People also like this powerpoint presentation on the 2nd Amendment. Feel free to share all this material.

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I did a post two days ago with a series of signs and images making fun of gun-free zones.

I’m personally more partial to t-shirts and bumper stickers, such as the ones you can view here, here, and here, but folks seem to really enjoy the posters. Indeed, here are two more that were shared by readers.

The first one is self-explanatory.

Though I suppose the message in the poster is not completely accurate. As an economist, I do think laws – on the margin – can discourage both gun ownership and pot smoking. It’s simply a matter of the likelihood of getting caught and the severity of the punishment (which was the theory behind the famous $1 million fine for speeding in Sweden).

That being said, it’s foolish to have bad laws – such as ones that restrict the freedom of people to engage in peaceful behavior that doesn’t infringe on the rights of others.

Speaking of laws, I think the message in this poster is perfect.

Indeed, this is a pretty good way of looking at much of what the government does.

Anti-money laundering laws, for instance, require banks (at great expense) to snoop on the financial transactions of customers in the theory that a few bad guys might get caught. As even the World Bank has noted, totally innocent poor people are some of the biggest victims of this policy.

Just an law-abiding people are the ones most hurt by gun control laws.

By the way, if you can’t get enough anti-gun control info, here are some videos I’ve posted over the past couple of years.

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