Monthly Archives: April 2007

The W-88? That’s perfect for home defense.

Often when I discuss victim disarmament gun control with its supporters, I am confronted with the question. “Do you think we should allow people to own machine guns, F-16’s or even nuclear weapons?”

I always answer “Yes, of course”. To me, the question is not how deadly the weapon, but how its owner wishes to use it. If someone wants to waste their time and money building a superweapon that they will then use peaceably, or just admire in a glass case, it is no skin off my nose. After all, so long as they don’t attack other people with them or damage other people’s property, they have a perfect right to enjoy themselves however they wish.

Are there people who wish to own F-16’s and nuclear weapons so that they can kill people? Definitely – members of the Armed Services Committees in Congress, for example. But, without tax-payer funds how many of them could really afford to commission such weapons? Even with economies of scale, an F-16 costs something like $10,000,000 to build and about $5,000 per hour in fuel and maintenance to fly. Additionally, firing the weapons systems can cost up to $1,000,000 per sortie. If forced to work productively to earn their keep, how many of people would have the free time to design, build and practice with such weapons? How many of them would settle for the reduced mayhem of a cruise missile when they can kill a larger number of people with a cheaper and more reliable low-tech truck-bomb made out of fertilizer?

Let us be realistic: without government demand for them, I don’t think nuclear weapons or even F-16’s would exist. They are expensive to build, and of limited use. They require a significant amount of industrial infrastructure, including hundreds of factories,hundreds of engineers, and thousands of workers to build, maintain and support them. In the absence of significant consumer demand for these superweapons, all those resources would be invested in other more profitable ventures, like the flying cars we were supposed to get by the year 2000.

I honestly think the legality of the ownership of squad weapons or fighter jets or ICBMs is irrelevant. A dedicated, would-be mass murderer will have an easier time killing a bunch of people with rifles, hand-guns or homemade bombs than with an F-16. It is far better that we allow these weapons to fail on the market place than to outlaw their ownership.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

Montana Says No To Real ID

Earlier this week, Montana became the latest state to say no to Real ID:

HELENA – Gov. Brian Schweitzer said “no, nope, no way, hell no” Tuesday to national driver’s licenses, signing into law a bill supporters say is one of the strongest rejections to the federal plan.

The move means the state won’t comply with the Real ID Act, a federal law that sets a national standard for driver’s licenses and requires states to link their record-keeping systems to national databases.

Though several states have either passed or are considering resolutions or bills against the act, Montana is the first state to outright deny its implementation, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“This is the first one saying, ‘We’re not doing it,’ ” said Scott Crichton of the Montana ACLU.

Good for them. Similar rumblings of revolt have been heard from Maine, Arizona, Idaho, and Missouri.

Where does your state stand ?

Venezuela Launches Surveillance Blimps

The British have cameras, the Venezuelans have $465K dirigibles to do their surveillance:

Venezuela launched a Zeppelin on Thursday to patrol Caracas, seeking to fight crime in one of Latin America’s most dangerous cities but also raising fears that President Hugo Chavez could be turning into Big Brother.

Around the hot-dog stalls of the run-down suburb where the airship took its first flight, most people felt the unmanned eye-in-the-sky could help counter routine hold-ups, shootings and carjackings.

In the refined cafes of east Caracas, there was more cynicism, condemning the blimps as a waste of money that would not work in bad weather or at night, when Caracas is at its most risky, resembling a shuttered-up ghost town.

You know, it doesn’t take socialists to conduct surveillance on citizens, governments around the world have done so. But it’s only an oil-rich socialist who’s going to drop $465K a pop on surveillance blimps.

Hat Tip: Reason

Why Gun Control Isn’t The Answer

In today’s Los Angeles Times, James Q. Wilson takes on the Europeans who have responded to the Virginia Tech Tragedy by attacking America’s gun control laws:

There is no doubt that the existence of some 260 million guns (of which perhaps 60 million are handguns) increases the death rate in this country. We do not have drive-by poisonings or drive-by knifings, but we do have drive-by shootings. Easy access to guns makes deadly violence more common in drug deals, gang fights and street corner brawls.

However, there is no way to extinguish this supply of guns. It would be constitutionally suspect and politically impossible to confiscate hundreds of millions of weapons. You can declare a place gun-free, as Virginia Tech had done, and guns will still be brought there.

If we want to guess by how much the U.S. murder rate would fall if civilians had no guns, we should begin by realizing — as criminologists Franklin Zimring and Gordon Hawkins have shown — that the non-gun homicide rate in this country is three times higher than the non-gun homicide rate in England. For historical and cultural reasons, Americans are a more violent people than the English, even when they can’t use a gun. This fact sets a floor below which the murder rate won’t be reduced even if, by some constitutional or political miracle, we became gun-free.

Banning guns (and confiscating the millions that are out there if that was even possible) may reduce the murder rate by some amount, but it won’t, by itself, make up for the differences between American and European culture. And, while, were on that subject, Wilson also sites this interesting fact:

In 2000, the rate at which people were robbed or assaulted was higher in England, Scotland, Finland, Poland, Denmark and Sweden than it was in the United States. The assault rate in England was twice that in the United States. In the decade since England banned all private possession of handguns, the BBC reported that the number of gun crimes has gone up sharply.

So, the existence of strong gun control laws, or even the banning of private ownership of weapons, won’t necessarily do anything to contribute to a general drop in the crime rate. If England’s experience is any indication, it may actually increase the crime rate.

As Wilson points out, there is one lesson to draw from the Virgina Tech tragedy and those that have preceded it. We aren’t doing a very good job of identifying and coping with people such as Cho Seung-Hui, Dylan Klebold, and Eric Harris, who have such severe personality disorders that they are capable of committing crimes that shock the conscience of the world.

Until we figure out how to do that, the next massacre by a madman may be just around the corner.

Tribute to the Fallen

The video I have chosen for this post is but one of many tributes for the fallen students and faculty at Virginia Tech. The tragic events brought about by a very disturbed individual have raised many critical issues which need careful consideration. Having said that, it is also important to remember the victims of this horrific event. The killer who has received the media attention he so hoped for has had his moment to be immortalized by the media; those whose lives were unjustly taken deserve to have their moment to be remembered.

Did They Just Say That?!

Last night I was listening to XM Radio online, Channel 47 (Ethel). I’m not sure of the exact time, but I was up reading until the wee hours, so it was probably already well after midnight. I heard a little promo (they don’t have commercials, but they do occasionally have segues), and it took my attention away from the book.

Ethel Channel 47: Delightful tunes, even if you’re stoned.

All of a sudden the statist brainwashing I got in public schools kicked in… “Are they really allowed to say that?!” Then I realized it’s XM, but I was still surprised they had the cojones. Of course, then as I started to settle back into my lawless personality, I was pretty impressed… Even if they’re not allowed to say it, good for them! After all, when the FEC was considering regulating blogs under campaign finance rules, I pledged that regardless of what laws and regulations they imposed, I wouldn’t stop blogging. If they wanted to come after me, they could come after me.

But I thought about it a second… XM radio, along with the internet, and the rest of the “new media”, is a sign that they’re losing control. Not XM, of course, but the FCC and regulatory establishment. They can do all they want to punish Viacom for letting a breast be shown on national TV, and they can fine Howard Stern, and 15 years ago, that would have been enough to actually put a stop to a lot of that activity. But now, they’ve been outflanked, and people are getting used to having the ability to choose for themselves what to listen to and read.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s a dangerous thing for the government to accept. And they’re not going to take it lying down. They’re going to try as hard as they can to get their regulatory hands into the new media. But I think the arguments they used back in the days when they were regulating TV and radio won’t work. People aren’t as willing to submit to the government as they once were. The regulators can’t claim that bandwidth is limited on the internet. And there are too many voices out here that are willing to be loud and fight.

So to answer my original question, “Did they just say that?!” Yeah they did, and what the hell are you going to do about it, bureaucrat?

“That Was the Desk I Chose to Die Under”

Read this compilation of first person accounts of the VT shooting from the Post. Then try and tell me that, with very few exceptions, we have a severe cultural problem when it comes to self defense in America.

I should be clear: I am in no way trying to blame the victims. As I said in a comment to Doug’s post, this isn’t about this individual shooting. 999 times out of 1,000, this is going to be the reaction students would have to a shooting. And that’s the problem. This isn’t about individual students and their actions; it’s about a culture that utterly failed to prepare them for the possibility of violence and evil.

That said, it might be instructive to go back and refresh your memory with some of the very basic easily taught defense tactics that I lay out in my post here so you can consider how they might have been applied in these situations if the students had been prepared and how that might have changed things.

It appears that in most cases, when the gunman was shooting a classroom, he entered the room and moved methodically around the room, confronting people face to face at short range, as close as three feet (in all of the following block quotes, emphasis is mine):

The first shot hit Librescu in the head, killing him. Webster ducked to the floor and tucked himself into a ball. He shut his eyes and listened as the gunman walked to the back of the classroom. Two other students were huddled by the wall. He shot a girl, and she cried out. Now the shooter was three feet away, pointing his gun right at Webster.

“I felt something hit my head, but I was still conscious,” Webster recalled. The bullet had grazed his hairline, then ricocheted through his upper right arm. He played dead. “I lay there and let him think he had done his job. I wasn’t moving at all, hoping he wouldn’t come back.” The gunman left the room as suddenly as he had come in.

In some of the rooms, it seems that the gunman actually circled around again shooting the wounded:

Violand, feeling panicky, pointed at her and said, “Put that desk in front of the door, now!” She did, and then someone called 911. The desk could not hold back the push from outside. The first thing Violand saw was a gun, then the gunman. “I quickly dove under a desk,” he recalled. “That was the desk I chose to die under.”

He listened as the gunman began “methodically and calmly” shooting people. “It sounded rhythmic-like. He took his time between each shot and kept up the pace, moving from person to person.” After every shot, Violand thought, “Okay, the next one is me.” But shot after shot, and he felt nothing. He played dead.

“The room was silent except for the haunting sound of moans, some quiet crying, and someone muttering: ‘It’s okay. It’s going to be okay. They will be here soon,’ ” he recalled. The gunman circled again and seemed to be unloading a second round into the wounded. Violand thought he heard the gunman reload three times. He could not hold back odd thoughts: “I wonder what a gun wound feels like. I hope it doesn’t hurt. I wonder if I’ll die slow or fast.” He made eye contact with a girl, also still alive. They stared at each other until the gunman left.

It all comes down to reaction time:

In Jamie Bishop’s German class, they could hear the popping sounds. What was that? Some kind of joke? Construction noises? More pops. Someone suggested that Bishop should place something in front of the classroom door, just in case. The words were no sooner uttered than the door opened and a shooter stepped in. He was holding guns in both hands. Bishop was hit first, a bullet slicing into the side of his head. All the students saw it, an unbelievable horror. The gunman had a serious but calm look on his face. Almost no expression. He stood in the front and kept firing, barely moving. People scrambled out of the line of fire. Trey Perkins knocked over a couple of desks and tried to take cover. No way I can survive this, he thought. His mind raced to his mother and what she would go through when she heard he was dead. Shouts, cries, sobs, more shots, maybe 30 in all. Someone threw up. There was blood everywhere. It took about a minute and a half, and then the gunman left the room.

There were some that ran to the sound of guns, but their actions were the exception rather than the rule:

Kevin Granata had heard the commotion in his third-floor office and ran downstairs. He was a military veteran, very protective of his students. He was gunned down trying to confront the shooter.

< ...>

One student, Zach Petkowicz, was near the lectern “cowering behind it,” he would later say, when he realized that the door was vulnerable. There was a heavy rectangular table in the class, and he and two other students pushed it against the door. No sooner had they fixed it in place than someone pushed hard from the outside. It was the gunman. He forced it open about six inches, but no farther. Petkowicz and his classmates pushed back, not letting up. The gunman fired two shots through the door. One hit the lectern and sent wood scraps and metal flying. Neither hit any of the students. They could hear a clip dropping, the distinct, awful sound of reloading. And, again, the gunman moved on.

< ...>

Room 204, Professor Librescu’s class, seems to have been the gunman’s last stop on the second floor. The teacher and his dozen students had heard too much, though they had not seen anything yet. They had heard a girl’s piercing scream in the hallway. They had heard the pops and more pops. By the time the gunman reached the room, many of the students were on the window ledge. There was grass below, not concrete, and even some shrubs. The old professor was at the door, which would not lock, pushing against it, when the gunman pushed from the other side. Some of the students jumped, others prepared to jump until Librescu could hold the door no longer and the gunman forced his way inside.

Of course, one has to ask: why was a brave old Holocaust survivor left to hold the door by himself? Why did only one person even attempt to confront the shooter? I think we know the answer to that.

h/t: The CDR.

Another Reason Why John McCain Should Not Be President

I’ll let the video speak for itself.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

House Passes D.C. Vote Bill

Not surprisingly, the House of Representatives today passed a bill that would give the District of Columbia voting representation in Congress:

The House today passed legislation to give the District a full seat in Congress, marking the biggest victory in nearly three decades in the city’s quest for voting rights.

Members voted 241 to 177 for the measure, a political compromise that would add two seats to the House: one for the heavily Democratic District, and the other for the state next in line for an additional representative. Currently, that state is Republican-leaning Utah. Later, in a companion bill, they voted 216 to 203 to pay for creation of the two seats.

“This legislation corrects a serious flaw in our democracy,” declared House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Democrats managed to steer through the bill a month after having to suddenly pull it from the floor. Last month, House Republicans tried to attach language overturning the District’s strict anti-gun laws, forcing Democrats into retreat. This time, the Democrats fashioned the bill in a way to prevent the Republicans from offering similar amendments.

The legislation still faces major hurdles. Democrats do not appear to have enough votes to avoid a filibuster in the Senate. And, if it clears that chamber, the White House has threatened a veto.

With the exception of persons such as Tom Davis, my Congressman I am embarressed to admit, who not only voted for the bill but was it’s chief sponsor, the GOP leadership fought the good fight on this one:

The House Republican leadership strongly opposed the bill, saying it violates the constitutional requirement that representatives come from states. “This legislation was constitutionally suspect last month, and it is constitutionally suspect today,” said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

Many Republicans said they were not against voting rights for D.C. residents but believed that the best way to provide them was through a constitutional amendment or by ceding much of the District back to Maryland.

“There are ways these individuals can receive representation without trampling on the Constitution,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).

Some Republicans have also charged that Democrats will use it as a mechanism to eventually gain two D.C. Senate seats.

And we all know that this is the next step.

My opposition to this bill has been for one simple reason —- Davis, the Democrats, and the District are all ignoring the Constitution and trying to use this legislation as a means to circumvent the Amendment process, where they know they could not succeed. The bill is unconstitutional on its face, and Davis and the Democrats deserve condemnation for even proposing it.

Hopefully, it will die in the Senate or, if not there, on the President’s desk.

Cross-Posted at Below The Beltway

Previous Posts:

White House Opposes D.C. Vote Bill
Congress Ignoring The Constitution Again
George Will On The D.C. Vote Bill

Have We Created A Nation Of Wimps ?

Stephen and Mike have both written excellent posts this week which basically ask why someone at Virginia Tech didn’t try to stop Cho Seung Hui during his killing rampage. Mark Steyn has an interesting piece at National Review Online where he basically argues that part of the problem is that we’ve created a nation of wimps:

I haven’t weighed in yet on Virginia Tech — mainly because, in a saner world, it would not be the kind of incident one needed to have a partisan opinion on. But I was giving a couple of speeches in Minnesota yesterday and I was asked about it and found myself more and more disturbed by the tone of the coverage. I’m not sure I’m ready to go the full Derb but I think he’s closer to the reality of the situation than most. On Monday night, Geraldo was all over Fox News saying we have to accept that, in this horrible world we live in, our “children” need to be “protected.”

They’re not “children.” The students at Virginia Tech were grown women and — if you’ll forgive the expression — men. They would be regarded as adults by any other society in the history of our planet. Granted, we live in a selectively infantilized culture where twentysomethings are “children” if they’re serving in the Third Infantry Division in Ramadi but grown-ups making rational choices if they drop to the broadloom in President Clinton’s Oval Office. Nonetheless, it’s deeply damaging to portray fit fully formed adults as children who need to be protected. We should be raising them to understand that there will be moments in life when you need to protect yourself — and, in a “horrible” world, there may come moments when you have to choose between protecting yourself or others. It is a poor reflection on us that, in those first critical seconds where one has to make a decision, only an elderly Holocaust survivor, Professor Librescu, understood instinctively the obligation to act.

(…)

We do our children a disservice to raise them to entrust all to officialdom’s security blanket. Geraldo-like “protection” is a delusion: when something goes awry — whether on a September morning flight out of Logan or on a peaceful college campus — the state won’t be there to protect you.

Steyn does have a point here. Up until Flight 93 crashed into a Pennsylvania field, the government told citizens to remain passive during a hijacking and not to try to be a hero. The terrorists used that ingrained passivity to  great effect on 9/11, allowing them to cause more death and destruction than all the airline hijackes in history put together.

In the case of Virginia Tech, the students had an overwhelming strength of numbers against one madman with a gun. Surely, you might think, enough people acting together could’ve done something. And yet, apparently, nobody even tried.

Now let me say I find it difficult to write this now, only four days after the massacre. First of all, we really don’t know enough about what happened in Norris Hall to know if there was even time for Cho to be stopped. Second, there is a part of me that feels like even questioning the fact that nobody acted is treading far closer to blaming the victim than I am comfortable being. Third, even if they didn’t try to stop their killer, none of those people deserved to die.

And, yet, it’s clear that nobody even tried anything and I think that maybe Steyn does have a point and that we need to think carefully about whether our continued belief in a state that will protect you from cradle to grave is really preparing students and young adults for the harsh reality of the world.

Save The Planet! Oppose Ethanol!

Environmental science is one of those fields that I’ve always looked at with a fair amount of distrust. The planet’s ecosystem is an incredibly complex system, with a lot of inputs and outputs that we neither understand nor really predict. That’s why we went from 1970, when everyone was scared about global cooling, to 2004, when everyone was scared about global warming, to our current situation, where the shift is now to be scared of “global climate change”, because change is bad… (Odd that it’s the conservatives who accept that the climate changes, and it’s the “liberals” who are scared of that change, huh?)

So we hear all their prescriptions for a “problem” that they can’t even agree is occurring and can be fixed. We decide to move away from oil in favor of ethanol, which has all sorts of unintended consequences I described yesterday. Now we go one step farther. The magazine Scientific American reports that ethanol will actually cause more pollution than gasoline!

Environmental engineer Mark Jacobson of Stanford University used a computer model to assess how the air pollution in the U.S. would react if vehicles remained primarily fueled by gasoline in 2020 or if the fleet transferred to a fuel that was a blend of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline, so-called E85. Under the latter scenario, levels of the cancer-causing agents benzene and butadiene dropped while those of formaldehyde and acetaldehyde rose: In other words, a wash.

Because burning ethanol can potentially add more smog-forming pollution to the atmosphere, however, it can also exacerbate the ill effects of such air pollution. According to Jacobson, burning ethanol adds 22 percent more hydrocarbons to the atmosphere than burning gasoline and this would lead to a nearly 2 parts-per-billion increase in ozone. This ozone, which has been linked to inflamed lungs, impaired immune systems and heart disease by prior research, would in turn lead to a 4 percent increase in the number of ground level ozone-related deaths, or roughly 200 extra deaths a year. “Due to its ozone effects, future E85 may be a greater overall public health risk than gasoline,” Jacobson writes in the study published in Environmental Science & Technology. “It can be concluded with confidence only that E85 is unlikely to improve air quality over future gasoline vehicles.”

So let’s see where our ethanol mandate has gotten us. Higher price for tortillas? Check. Higher price and less supply of meat? Check. Higher milk prices? Check. More air pollution? Check!

Of course, perhaps this is what we should expect when we decide to elect a bunch of lawyers (no offense, Doug) to Congress to create regulations on environmental science, economics, technology, and all the other things they’ve stuck their grubby fingers into. As Walter says in The Big Lebowski, “You’re out of your element.”

Walter Shapiro Attacks The Bill Of Rights

Today at Salon, Walter Shapiro calls for the repeal of the Second Amendment, which has been part of the Constitution for 216 years:

April 18, 2007 | WASHINGTON — Fifteen unambiguous words are all that would be required to quell the American-as-apple-pie cycle of gun violence that has now tearfully enshrined Virginia Tech in the record book of mass murder. Here are the 15 words that would deliver a mortal wound to our bang-bang culture of death: “The second article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States is hereby repealed.”

Let’s address the practical aspects of this first. First, it’s unlikely that a Constitutional Amendment to repeal the Second Amendment would ever make its way through the 38 states needed to ratify and amendment to the Constitution. Maybe it would succeed in the Northeast and the Pacific Coast states (principally California), but there’s simply no way it would make it through any state South of the Mason-Dixon line, or any of the states in the Far West. Second, Shapiro’s assertion that more gun control could’ve stopped the Virginia Tech massacre isn’t supported by the evidence; just look at New York City and Washington, D.C. — both have very strict gun control laws, and both still have high rates of gun crime. Heck, on the same day that we were mourning the massacre in Blacksburg, the mayor of a Japanese city was shot dead, and Japan has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world. Criminals always have and always will find a way to get guns.

What’s interesting is that, in Shapiro, we finally have an intellectual honest opponent of the Right to Keep And Bear Arms. For years, gun control advocates have tried to ignore the Second Amendment, or to argue that it merely protects the right of states to have a militia like the National Guard.

All of these arguments are, of course, nonsense. The history of the American Revolution and the drafting of the Constitution make it clear that the Second Amendment was intended to protect an individual right to keep and bear arms. For a long time, that right was not fully recognized by the Courts. Now, though, thanks to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Parker v. District of Columbia, we seem to be on the verge of what would clearly be a monumental change in Second Amendment case law.

And Shapiro at least recognizes it. Thanks to Parker, gun control  advocates know that the Second Amendment stands in the way of their efforts to disarm the American public. And that is exactly what the Founding Fathers intended.

The Politico Interviews Ron Paul

The Politico has an interview of Texas Congressman Ron Paul up today.

A few excerpts:

WHY HE’S RUNNING:

I am arguing that (Republicans) have lost their way. Right now, on the surface, a lot of Republicans in Washington will be critical of my positions, saying “I don’t support the president or the party,” but if you look at our platform, our state platforms, our policy positions, I would say we have lost our way. And quite frankly, I have not seen anybody running for the presidency on the Republican ticket that’s actually offering to stand up and stand for the principals the Republican Party has been built on.

In the past six years, when the foreign policy really changed, when we accepted the notion of pre-emptive war, a strong violation of our personal civil liberties, (we) at the same time (became) the party of entitlements, doubling the size of the Department of Education, McCain-Feingold. These are all things that Republicans used to criticize and not support, and all of a sudden we accept them. In essence, we have accepted what has traditionally been the Democratic platform — increase entitlements and foreign intervention, getting involved in quagmires abroad.

(…)

SPENDING:

I don’t think there is one single budget you can’t cut. Politically, the easiest budget to cut is the overseas expenditures. And then you deal with other problems as time goes on. I certainly would not be signing a bill that would double the size of the DOE or increase the size of the entitlement system or a drug company-promoted prescription drug program. That’s where we as Republicans have fallen down, and that is the reason our base was very unhappy last September.

TAXES:

We lived in this country a long time without income tax, but then we had limited government. I don’t think we need an income tax. I promised my people I would do anything and everything I can to get rid of the income tax, to repeal the 16th Amendment, never vote to raise taxes and always vote to lower taxes. And it’s been a popular position. My slogan at home has always been “the taxpayers’ best friend,” and most people like that regardless of what party they are in.

Once again, Congressman Paul shows that he’s the only Republican in the race who even comes close to the ideas of limited government and liberty that the Constitution is based upon. He’s not perfect, but he’s a darn sight better than anyone in the race right now.

In Defense of Self-Defense, part II

This started as a comment in response to Stephen’s post, but I decided it was big enough to warrant its own post. In the comment section to the afore mentioned post, there’s a discussion going on about exactly what, if anything, the VT students could have done to act in their own self defense.

First, I’d like to say that I feel that Stephen is right on about being bombarded with anti self-defense messages, ranging from being taught to “turn the other cheek” in preschool to the advice we get from law enforcement to simply give muggers and carjackers whatever they want. A lot of people in this country lack the capacity for any kind of violence, even in self defense.

That said, here’s a few thoughts I have on the matter…

The first thing is that the shock factor is the biggest one thing to overcome in a situation like this. The only way to overcome that is to think about it ahead of time. Run through scenarios in your head, always be prepared to take action…sort of what I described here.

As for options, I’ll simply discuss non-carrying options, because I think introducing a carrying student into the scenario simplifies things considerably. In any case, I was thinking about this in my night class tonight. It takes place in a relatively small classroom (20-30 people) in an engineering building with long straight hallways.

First, a caveat…the following makes the assumption that it would be, at most, one or two people acting at once. The likelihood of several people taking action is, at this point in time, highly unlikely due to the culture of non-violence that Stephen discussed.

If all the gunman does is stick his head in a room, shoots through one or two magazines, and then leaves, your only realistic option would be to wait for a mag change and then be prepared to close the distance between you and him quickly, preferebly throwing stuff, making noise, trying to appear as aggressive as possible. However, as tarran points out, if he is managing his ammunition and mag changes appropriately, the opportunity for this would be so slim as to be impossible.

If he does enter the classroom, your options improve slightly, as it gives you more angles at which to approach the gunman and a shorter distance to cover. However, the advantage is still definitely with the shooter.

The only way the advantage lies with the unarmed student(s) is if you are alert enough to realize that a shooting is going on prior to the gunman entering the room and you barricade the door. If the gunman does somehow manage to get through the barricade, 2-3 people (at least) should be waiting beside the door ready to jump him when he comes through. In this case the unarmed students have both surprise and numbers on their side.

Now, if we move out of a classroom and into a lecture hall, but still assume a very small number of people will be reacting offensively to the shooting (2 or 3 at most), the options improve slightly again for the unarmed student(s) but are still not good. Once the shooting starts most people will engage their flight response. You can use that to your advantage by staying with the crowd as long as possible before breaking out to attack the shooter. Once you break out, the above stated actions such as throwing objects, yelling, and appearing as aggressive as possible still apply.

The above discussion was all based on the premise that, at most, 2 or 3 people would be reacting aggressively to counter the gunman. This is pretty realistic given the culture of anti self-defense that Stephen discussed in his post. However, what if we were able to change that culture? Would things be any different?

Most definitely. First, we would be a lot more accepting of common sense defense measures to violence such as this. Schools have fire alarm systems, but God forbid we allow armed guards into the school or armed students onto the campus. We have fire drills, why not have intruder drills that actually involve pro-active action instead of turning off the ligths and hiding under desks waiting for someone else to take care of the problem? As Stephen says, establish the mentality that almost anything can be used as a weapon. Teach that if the entire class begins throwing things and charges the shooter, he can’t get you all and in fact is probably going to react with some surprise and alarm to actually see a large group of people fighting back. Most importantly, make people face the fact that, like fire, violence happens. Simply pretending it doesn’t exist is a recipe for disaster. If we get people to face that one fact, it would do more for decreasing crime and increasing overall safety in this country than increasing our police forces ten fold. If a gunman was able to get through our increased precautionary measures, he would face a much more menacing pack instead of a herd.

You’ll notice I left one scenario out of my discussion. I didn’t discuss if/how someone could chase down and ambush the shooter after he has left the immediate area. The reason is that the chances of anyone doing this unarmed are extremely slim. It would take a true sheepdog to undertake action of that magnitude. The likelihood of such an action succeeding is dependent on a lot of things, several of them intangibles, and has moved from simple self-defense to offensive assault. I’d like to say I’d be able to do such a thing, but I don’t think anyone can say until they’re put into that situation.

All we can do is prepare ourselves physically and mentally and hope we never have to face that moment of truth, but be prepared to do so in an instant.

Anarcho-whatism?

I want to thank Brad and the other contributors for inviting me to join their revolution. It is my hope to co-opt their broadly-based revolution so that I can impose my vision of an anarchic paradise, kind of like Castro and the Ayatollah Khomeini, but without the murders, beatings and prison camps. Essentially, I seek to convince everyone that freedom is a good idea, and that central planning or coercive imposed monopolies are bad ones.

Often when I tell someone for the first time that I am an anarchist, they get this scared look. I routinely have to explain that I am not one of those anarchists who march down streets waving paper-mache puppets, smashing store front windows and throwing home-made bombs while demanding free health care.

So what is anarcho-capitalism? It is a form of extremism. Walter Block describes the heart of free-market anarchism as the principle of “free trade between consenting adults”. I actually prefer the term free-market anarchism because the word “capitalism” was coined by Marx to denigrate free trade. Essentially, the free-market anarchist believes that society should be organized such that the peaceful use of one’s property, and the peaceful interactions between people should not be interfered with.

Why is it anarchic? Because the state is, at its heart, incompatible with this principle. The tax collector gets his money not by persuading a person to give it to him of their own free will, but by threat of violence. The state also quashes competition callling it “invasion” or “vigilantism” depending on the character of the competition.

There is a large body of work available on the web which discusses and describes the various flavors free-market anarchism. I particularly recommend praxeology.net. In the coming months, will be discussing some of those essays, as well as the free-market anarchist’s perspective on current events.

As to myself, I am nearly 37 years old. I am married with two children who are 6 and 2 years old. I am a computer programmer who is trying to start his own consulting business. I live just west of Boston.

I have an unusual history: I was born in Turkey to an American mother and Turkish father. When I was 7 years old, my father sent the rest of our family to the U.S. while he worked to purge the Grey Wolves (a fascist paramilitary group) from his university.

I grew up a few miles away from Lexington green, steeped in the culture of the American Revolution. I was a computer and science nerd growing up, but had a classical education rammed down my throat, including 7 years of Latin. My teenage years were spent reading Heinlein, Niven, Livy, Julius Caesar, Horace, Pliny, Herodotus et al.

I spent 5 years in the U.S. Navy, most of them as an nuclear propulsion officer on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln.

I am an anarcho-capitalist living just west of Boston Massachussetts. I am married, have two children, and am trying to start my own computer consulting company.

One Stupid Policy, A Plethora Of Bad Effects

It’s just one in a long line (H/T: Reason):

With milk already averaging more than $3 a gallon nationally, economists say the price could rise more than 30 cents this year.

Shoppers in the region, though, can take some consolation that local milk prices in recent years have been among the lowest among cities surveyed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture – sitting more than 30 cents a gallon under the national average. Nonetheless, the local average price for both 2 percent and whole milk in March was $2.92, up 10 percent from a year ago.

Fuel costs, plus higher prices for feed corn and silage, are pushing dairy farmers’ production costs up. With more corn being used to make ethanol, the increased demand is pushing up feed prices, Smith said.

So let’s think about this. The government set a target of x percent of energy from ethanol in y number of years. Yet at the same time, they put huge unnecessary tariffs on imported sugar, ensuring that all that ethanol would have to come from American corn.

Now, in itself, that may seem like a worthwhile goal. After all, we’re trying to cut our dependence on foreign oil. Plus, if we create an artificial demand for our corn, we help our farmers by increasing prices without actually actively subsidizing them!

But let’s look at what’s happened. First, we started hurting poor Mexicans by threatening their access to affordable corn tortillas, a staple of the diet for the impoverished in that country. Then, it was found that the high cost of feed corn for animals will end up resulting in high costs and lower supply of meat. And now, it’s spreading to milk. You know, full of calcium, the stuff we tell children will give them strong bones? Great work, Congress!

So now our government is in a quandary. If they take a staple like milk, and let the price increases factor into CPI, it will start showing inflation. And they can’t allow inflation to appear, so look for milk to be unweighted slightly in the CPI (much like ground beef was substituted for steak). And if they do start accepting the price increases, they’re going to have to explain how these increases are all due to the high cost of oil and transport.

Simply put, look at how the cost of government is affecting your food. In addition to all the farm subsidies, price supports, and all the other nonsense, they decided to make a completely separate mandate regarding ethanol in the energy supply. What happens? Your cost of living goes up, and your standard of living goes down. And all this won’t really change much in the price of oil, due to the necessities of a global market.

We spent all weekend discussing the nastiness of taxes, but it’s important to remember that the costs you pay due to government don’t stop there. Can you really afford to let your government do this to you?

The Dual Threat To Liberty

Columnist Ron Hart explains why libertarians have such a hard time finding a home in either party:

Democrats realize that they are a utopian theoretical party that is more about making people feel good – most importantly, themselves. They tax and vilify the most productive members of society and go through the motions of redistributing wealth. They are beholden to an odd collection of interests that most Americans do not like.

The bad news for us is that liberal Democrats take money from the most productive part of society and, after they take their cut, distribute a fraction of it to its least productive members. By doing so, they validate this part of societys’ lethargy and allows them to continue to further wallow in their victimhood. The more they convince folks they are victims, the better voting bloc the Democrats have. Clearly, Democrats do not want people to succeed, because they then become Republicans.

But that doesn’t mean the Republicans are any better:

After their third bourbon, Republicans will tell you that George Bush has set the party back 20 years. He did so by going against the very fundamental beliefs of the GOP: limited government, less spending, privacy and individual rights. Bush has blurred the line between church and state, folding to the religious right faster than a British soldier in Iran. He has us in what can only be viewed as a religious war and it is increasingly apparent that he spun intelligence to get us in this mess. He also signed into law a non-market-driven prescription drug bill that is the second largest entitlement in history.

The traditional minimal government conservatives such as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan have been replaced by a new breed of big government “conservatives,” entrenched Republicans who seek to use their power to reshape citizens thinking toward their own religious and world views. They do not heed Goldwater’s maxim that legislators should consider before any decision is made whether they are “maximizing freedom.”

The only Republican in office that I’m aware of that does that on a consistent basis is Ron Paul. And he is far from being the mainstream of his party.

The truth is that, in both parties, politicians say what they think they need to say to appease their supporters. In the Democratic Party, those supporters are typically union leaders and other activists of a decidedly socialist bent. Thus you get the disaster that is Democratic economic policy. In the Republicans case, politicians pander to the social conservatives and thus pending more time worrying about who’s sleeping with who than about taking control of the out-of-control ship that is the Government of the United States.

It’s possible things will change, but I don’t see it happening soon.

H/T: Hit & Run

In Defense of Self-Defense

So much has already been written here at The Liberty Papers about the Virginia Tech massacre and how gun control laws may have contributed leaving law abiding citizens defenseless. The fact that this disturbed individual was the only person on campus with a firearm is completely inexcusable and unacceptable. While I wholeheartedly agree with my co-contributors on the gun issue, I think there is something more that needs to be considered…

Consider this:

-There was 1 gunman with 2 semi-automatic handguns.

-Assuming that each clip had 10 rounds, the gunman would have started with only 20 rounds.

-According to reports, a total of 33 people were killed (including the gunman) and 20 or so others were injured (some with multiple gunshot wounds). This means that at some point, the gunman would have had to reload to continue his rampage.

-Though the students and faculty were unarmed, they easily had an advantage in numbers.

Why is this important? This is important because despite several opportunities to prevent the gunman from continuing his suicide mission, no one (apparently) tried to stop him. Please don’t misunderstand; I’m not trying to blame the victims of this tragedy for not “doing more” (It’s difficult to know for sure how one would react in the same situation until one is in that situation). I think the problem is much deeper. The problem as I see it is there seems to be a lack of the basic survival instincts of self preservation.

The two most common survival responses to threatening situations is fight or flight. Those who were fortunate enough to get away unharmed wisely used their flight instinct and got the hell out of there. But those who were cornered and had nowhere to run failed to use the fight response. I cannot help but wonder why this is, but I have a theory. My theory: our culture has ingrained in us this notion that violence is always wrong, even in a self-defense situation.

I am not too much older than these students so I have some idea of the anti self-defense messages they have been taught since preschool. They have been taught this bogus philosophy of “turn the other cheek” or “violence hasn’t ever solved anything.” If your government school student gets attacked on the playground and does anything to defend himself, he is treated the same as the aggressor thanks to these idiotic “zero tolerance” policies.

As these students graduate high school and enter college, they are bombarded with the bumper sticker logic of the “peace at any price” Left. As Doug pointed out, some of these peace protesters have adopted the philosophy of Ghandi; a man who once criticized the Jews for fighting back against the Nazis! These students also likely have paid at least some attention to how the world treats international bullies like Kim Jong Il and other despots. They no doubt saw the world wide condemnation of Israel last summer for using “disproportionate response” against Hezbollah (who were the aggressors). Given all of this, its not too hard to imagine why the students failed to defend themselves.

What would have happened if these students would have been taught that it is perfectly okay to defend themselves? What if Virginia Tech encouraged students to take self defense classes? I am not a self-defense expert by any stretch but it seems to me that certain measures could have been taken to stop the massacre from continuing. The most obvious defense measure would be to run around. A moving target is much more difficult to hit than one that is stationary. Given that the gunman was at a disadvantage as far as numbers are concerned, if even two or three people rushed him, he would likely have been taken down and disarmed. If even one person were able to take him to the ground, the crowd would have likely jumped in to help.

The reason I’m pointing these things out is because this will not be the last time; that’s for certain. There is nothing we can do about what already happened but we can hopefully learn from what happened in this tragedy. Its incumbent upon all of us to think about self-defense before something like this happens again. Wherever we are whether at work, at school, or anywhere else, we should take inventory of objects that can be used as a weapon (almost anything can be a weapon). We should also know where exits are and think of ways to flee a bad situation. We must never assume that the police will be there in time to save us; we must not be afraid to act. Most importantly, realize that you have an absolute right to use deadly force if your life or anyone else’s life is in clear and present danger. Period.

Welcoming A New Contributor

I’d like to give a hearty welcome to tarran, our newest contributor.

As the site has expanded, we have realized that we’d like to offer content from the full spectrum of the pro-liberty movement. On the upper bound, this would be the libertarians who simply believe that our federal government is too large and want to return to a Constitutional, federalist system. There are several contributors here who head up to the upper bound of that spectrum. On the absolute lowest bound is anarcho-capitalism, and we have had no contributor that officially takes that title. Tarran is a self-described anarcho-capitalist, and will offer that point of view.

When the time comes that we start really getting into the Point/Counterpoint debates, and in general, this could lead to some rather interesting discussions. So say welcome to our newest contributor, tarran, who will be putting up his introductory post shortly.

The Supreme Court’s Abortion Decision And Federal Power

Today, the Supreme Court upheld a nationwide ban on the controversial abortion procedure that has come to be called “partial birth” abortion:

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure Wednesday, handing abortion opponents the long-awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench.

The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and President Bush signed into law in 2003 does not violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

The opponents of the act “have not demonstrated that the Act would be unconstitutional in a large fraction of relevant cases,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion.

The ruling is narrow, and it is significant in that it is the first Supreme Court ruling that deviated significantly from the precedent set in Roe v. Wade.

Now, I’m not writing here to debate whether the Court was right or not, or whether this particular abortion procedure is right or now. What I find interesting is the one question that the Court did not touch on — what authority does the United States Congress have to regulate a medical procedure ?

Congressional authority derives solely from the power granted by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. Nowhere in there, of course, will you find a provision that gives Congress the authority to regulate the practice of medicine. So where, you might ask,  does Congress claim the authority to regulate an abortion procedure ? From these words:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Yes, the Commerce Clause, which the Supreme Court has interpreted so loosely that it has gone far beyond the point where it actually imposed any limits on Congressional authority. For example, in 1942, in Wickard v. Filburn, the Supreme Court ruled that a farmer who grew wheat on his own land for his own consumption affected interstate commerce and was therefore subject to the regulations of Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. Once that happened, the door was open to allow Congress to use the Commerce Clause to justify extensions of Federal power into areas that the Founding Fathers would never have conceived it would be exercised.

The post-Wickard history of the Commerce Clause has been one of expanding federal power and increasing regulation of activities that have only a tangential relationship to interstate commerce. But there have been some bright spots recently.

» Read more

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