Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Eyes up during reloads

Here is why they tell you to keep your eyes up and looking around while you reload your gun.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


My posts about gun safety draw only small numbers of readers, though the topic is among the most important I write about here. I suppose that people see a title about rules of gun safety and figure they know all about that. It is apparent, though, that not everyone does know, as witnessed by the gun accidents we read about in the news. If everyone really knew about safety such news stories would cease, or be so exceedingly rare as to be remarkable man-bites-dog stories.

I want to challenge my readers to do something today or this week to promote gun safety, but be warned. There is some chance that you will be ignored. Order some pamphlets. Distribute my safety screeds, or someone else's if you prefer them, or have a frank talk with a shooting buddy. The gun safety problem won't go away until we recognize that it is a problem that belongs to all of us.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Gun rights: the more things change...

Gun rights advocates always find themselves plowing ground that has been gone over before. Consider the following passage from a very old book. Though from the eighteenth century, it presents a line of reasoning highly relevant to gun control arguments in our time.

     A principal source of errors and injustice are false ideas of utility. For example: that legislator has false ideas of utility who considers particular more than general conveniences, who had rather command the sentiments of mankind than excite them, who dares say to reason, ‘Be thou a slave;’ who would sacrifice a thousand real advantages to the fear of an imaginary or trifling inconvenience; who would deprive men of the use of fire for fear of their being burnt, and of water for fear of their being drowned; and who knows of no means of preventing evil but by destroying it.
     The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? and does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons.

That is from Cesare Beccaria, in his book Of Crimes and Punishment, published in 1764. Human nature has not changed sufficiently to make his conclusion false in our day; it is still true. The crooks who carry guns don't ask for permits. Indeed, to do so would tip off the cops, and so they never will. On the other hand, hampering the law abiding when they feel it wise to  go armed does nothing to prevent crime. The longer I think about the matter, the more sense I see in constitutional carry. That kind of law is probably a bit much to push for in some states, at present, but it may be the best answer in the long term.

As a sidelight on this, we know that Thomas Jefferson was a Beccaria fan. We also know that he had some rather good pocket pistols, screw-barrel types; a museum has one of the pair but the other is lost. There was no one to write him a permit, either. To whom would he have applied? King George?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

King George's Revenge

Among the complaints lodged against King George in the Declaration of Independence, we find this one:
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

We are no longer ruled by England, but we have managed to institute new swarms of officials using home grown replacements. The government in Washington feels no motivation to limit the numbers of public employees, but the reverse. The millions of positions in government service, overseeing regulations that in some cases we do not need, comprise a reliable voting bloc for the status quo. Big government makes out their paychecks. Why would they ever feel that big government could be a problem?

The Constitution is a brief and fairly straightforward document, thus its requirements could be met with fewer than the millions of workers, more numerous than all of our military, now employed at the task. At that, much of the citizenry feels that "government worker" is an oxymoron. Viewing the question in light of the country's economic vigor they are right, since the positions are not productive.

The bureaucrat is a taker, not a maker. Sometimes he has a doubly negative effect, firstly by drawing a salary and producing nothing, secondly when some rule or regulation he enforces has a negative effect on business. There are many rules and regulations like that, not all of them necessary, and some which are open to capricious enforcement.

Of course there are some useful roles for government employees. The trouble is we have more employees than those roles require. Doubtless there are instances when having a government enforced rule contributes to everyone's health, safety and economic security, such as rules about dangerous pollutants, highway design and honest banking, to name a few. The trouble comes when every need, real or imagined, is copiously covered by rulebooks for all occasions.

It is often better if the people are left free to work out innovative solutions when they encounter a problem, rather than having their actions dictated by a bureaucrat with a book. Of course when the people work out their own answers there will be good answers and bad ones, but sensible people will imitate the good solutions that innovative people come up with and discard the bad solutions, leading to progress in how we understand and deal with various problems.

The broad and general principle here, a very reliable one, is that distributed thinking is smarter than central decision making. If you have millions of people thinking about a problem you have millions of opportunities for a good call when the situation is new and offers new challenges. Get away from that and what you are left with is the best judgment of a panel of bureaucrats, and their best is often none too good.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Decline of America

America's dream of prosperity is now unsalvageable. The country will continue down the rabbit hole of economic folly. Instead of learning from Europe's mistakes we are repeating them.  The situation is unsalvageable because so many voters and politicians see our present course as a good one. When moral inversion sets in, a culture is doomed to play out the result. By moral inversion I mean calling things good that are actually bad.

The government in Washington occupies itself with everything but solving the country's central financial problem, which is parasitism by the public sector upon the private sector. There are too many takers, not enough makers. The political will to tackle that is not to be found in Washington. Too many citizens like and support the idea of a giving government. They always vote for the giveaways to continue and increase.

What we have today is, obviously, a vote buying scheme. Political support is secured by promising government largess to this group or that. Unfortunately it is the one promise that politicians always keep. Some of the groups are poor, some are rich, but all are able somehow to benefit the politicians. The trend is impossible to reverse because our politicians are not statesmen. Clawing back the benefits would be disastrous to their chances of reelection.  So it is best from Washington's point of view if the government continues to grow.

Of course the scheme will collapse of its own absurdity. When you say "to each according to his needs" you find that everyone has needs. When you say "from each according to his abilities," people's abilities flag. The imbalance between makers making and takers taking can only increase over time until the situation turns either farcical or deadly.

When the government practices folly and the people heartily approve, there really isn't anything to do but tighten your seat belt and hang on for the ride. For things to get better before they get worse would require a moral renaissance, and I don't see anything like that happening. If anything, our civic morals are going from bad to worse.

I will still be posting here, just not as often

Some other writing opportunities have presented themselves and I am following up on them. That is going to mean less gun blogging, but never fear. If you will scroll down and look over to your left you will see my blogroll, which is a selection of the very best blogs about guns, shooting, law and politics. I find it yields several good reads every day.

See ya at the range.