Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Armed Citizen

While she was taking groceries to her car, a man approached an 82-year-old woman and said something horrible to her: "This is your day. You are too old to be alive anyway." According to police, he then grabbed the woman's cane and beat her. Despite the savage assault, the elderly woman managed to reach into her purse, draw her gun and fire a shot. The man fled and, upon haring the shot, store employees quickly came to the woman's aid. The self-proclaimed "stubborn, old broad" is badly bruised but will fully recover. "If I go naturally or to a sickness or something, fine," she said. "I'm read to go, but I'm not ready to let some idiot like that take me out." (KVOA-TV, Tucson, AZ, 03/15/2010)


Daniel Kaplan was parked in front of his business when two men sprinted toward his vehicle. One of them reached inside, punched Kaplan three times in the face and stuck a gun to Kaplan's head. Then Kaplan's instincts kicked in. Police say he grabbed the suspect's gun with his left hand and kicked open the car door into his assailant. Kaplan then reached under the seat and grabbed his .45-cal. Glock pistol. "I got five shots off as quickly as I could," he recalls. "I was fighting for my life." At least one of the suspects was shot. Both fled the scene and are being sought by police. "I'm happy to be here," said a relieved Kaplan. (Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Columbus, GA, 03/04/2010)

A crazed, knife-wielding man attempted to stab people at random in a convenience store parking lot. Police say he'd already chased a delivery driver and others when he ran down a car leaving the lot. He lunged at the car's driver with the knife, wounding him. That's when the driver, whose two young stepdaughters were in the vehicle, produced a handgun and fired about six shots, killing the attacker. The driver will recover from his injuries. "You've got to protect yourself," said witness Byron Cook. "He had his two kids in the car, and they were terrified." (WREG-TV, Memphis, TN, 03/05/2010)

Maureen Cassidy awoke to a loud noise and got up to investigate. To her horror, a man with a knife had forced his way into her home. She hurried back to the bedroom and woke her husband, who got his Smith & Wesson 9mm handgun. The husband stood in the doorway and yelled to the intruder that he had a gun. Inexplicably undeterred, the intruder advanced toward the husband, who fired a shot. The wounded intruder fled the home. Police found him hiding in the bushes next door. A second person was also arrested in connection with the invasion. (The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, FL, 03/13/2010)

Police said that early one morning an armed suspect burst into a home office in an area described by one resident as "a quiet neighborhood." Hearing the burglar, the resident quickly armed himself with a firearm. When the burglar approached, the resident feared for his life and shot the suspect, killing him. "I'm not for someone being shot," said Nora Dietz, a concerned neighbor, "but you have to protect yourself." (The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore, MD, 03/29/2010)

Raymond Michel and his wife, Dawn, returned home with their grandson when the 9-year-old noticed a suspicious light in a downstairs bedroom. Dawn investigated and found a few items in disarray. Then she found a garbage bag outside with money and jewelry in it, and a window screen was damaged. She ran to tell her husband that someone had been--or still was--in the house. Michel got his handgun and walked upstairs. Items were strewn about the floor and a bathroom door was shut that the Michels always keep open. Michel kicked the door open and it struck the intruder. The suspect began to aim a rifle at the homeowner, who quickly fired his handgun, shattering the door and narrowly missing the intruder. The suspect laid on the ground as everyone waited for the police. (The Bakersfield Californian, Bakersfield, CA, 03/04/2010)
A man wasn't home when an alarm indicated a possible break-in. He quickly called his neighbor, Gaylon Crawford, and asked him to check on the house. The neighbor noticed a door was forced open and the lights were on. Once inside he found two men wearing dark clothing. Police said the men claimed they were retrieving their tools, but Crawford didn't buy it. He drew his handgun and told the men to put their hands up and wait for the police. Instead, one of the men charged Crawford, who shot him. The suspects fled. The wounded man was arrested when he sought treatment for a gunshot wound at the hospital. His accomplice is still at large. (White Mountain Independent, Show Low, AZ, 03/09/2010)

Want even more stories? Visit The Armed Citizen blog.

Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
Shopkeeper Defends Himself and Employees,
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
Armed Student Saves 10 People,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,
Crime Spree Stopped with the Simple Presentation of a Firearm.

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work
Scotland holds a Summit on their Failed Gun Policies, Chicago's gun ban continues to fail
Real Women's Rights (This one includes one of my favorite personal accounts)
Opposition to CA AB 2062
Knife Control?!
Protecting Children through Gun Control?
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy
A Contrast to VA Tech

Thoughts just prior to the release of DC v. Heller, with one of the best appellate court quotations ever.

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

Carrying a firearm is an inherently civilized act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Surface RT is simply a very bad product

The title of this post is the title of an article Mark found.  Let me link that:  The Surface RT is simply a very bad product  The writer's post is great, so read it.  Mind that there is a bit of profanity so if you find that offensive this one would be okay to skip, too. 

Some highlights:
[The Surface RT] was so horrible that I simply put it away. Several months, I only used it for Skype, and that was it. It just was not a usable device.

But! There was a glimmer of hope rising on the horizon. A new version of Windows which would take us poor Surface RT owners by the hand and guide us to the promised land of smooth performance, great applications, no more crashes, no more hangs, no more unresponsiveness. It would be glorious, like a glitter-covered unicorn riding a rainbow made it out of tequila shots and Hello Kitty images, guided by the sound of Australian laughter..

Windows RT 8.1 did not revive my Surface RT. It's still the same useless piece of crap that it was when it ran Windows RT 8. Other than Microsoft's own applications, there have been no application updates. 'Window' resizing is still slow with black screens and application logos (if the application even supports it, which most do not). Typing still has input lag. The keyboard still often will not pop up when you tap an input field, forcing you to tap it multiple times. It's still unresponsive. It's still laggy. Applications still crash and hang. The embedded browser view is still awful to the point of uselessness. The list just goes on and on.

About 30 minutes ago, after using it intensively for a week, giving it yet another set of chances, I have decided to give up on my Surface RT, and by extension, Windows 8 and Metro. The Surface RT is simply a very bad product, barely worthy of the 'alpha' label, and while throwing more computing power at Windows RT might alleviate some of the performance issues, it will do little to address the endless list of other problems.
I'm pretty sold on Android as the leader of the pack for mobile products.  Mark suggested that might be simply this generation, but I don't think so.  The Windows OS for tablets takes up much of the onboard storage.  I don't see them overcoming that soon if at all, because the problem is an old structural one.  Microsoft is used to producing, bloated buggy software and people just having to eat their crap because they're essentially a giant monopoly.  That approach isn't going to work in the tabloid and phone market, but their failure to recognize that despite the massive resources they had to use on the problem is a bad omen.

Microsoft in the 90's and early 2000's really had the resources to go line by line and clean up their desktop OS and make it something amazing.  They didn't.  People had little choice, so Microsoft kept serving crap.  If they can't overcome that mentality before their resources dwindle, as shocking as it is Microsoft may not have a future, or may be a small, niche company catering to the few remaining users of desktop computers, though desktop users at that point might be smarter just to switch to user-friendly versions of Linux.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A common misconception about police shootings

The San Francisco Chronicle did a write up on a story I'm following about the fatal shooting of a 13 year old boy in Santa Rosa.  Here's the story:  Friends question shooting of boy with fake rifle

Let me start with a bit of advice, then talk about the issue that compelled me to write this.  If you are in a situation where police order you to do something, do it.  Police are trained to prevent harm to themselves and others with deadly force if necessary.  If they give you an order, you comply.  Work out the lawfulness of the order with an attorney later.  That doesn't mean confess to something you didn't do (in fact, I recommend you don't speak to police officers about a crime).  Do comply with any order they give you in a confrontational situation.

The quotation that I thought was critical to address is this one:
"He was a great boy and I treated him like he was my son," family friend Alma Galvan said through tears, after visiting Andy's family. "Why couldn't the police just shoot him in the hand or at least in the leg? Why did they have to kill him?"
This displays a fundamental misunderstanding about pistols and the use of deadly force.   Going by most television involving the use of guns, anyone can pick up a pistol and shoot a gnat off a fencepost at 100 yards in the near dark, or hit a pinpoint target in a moving vehicle while driving a vehicle.  The truth is entirely different.  Hitting what you want to with a pistol can be incredibly difficult.  Hitting a moving target with a pistol is even more difficult.  Most police qualify with their weapons, but they aren't constantly on the range practicing scenarios and sharp shooting with them.  Like most firearms users, they probably couldn't aim for a hand or even a leg and in a stressful situation and hit it.

Even if the officer were capable of hitting a small target like a specific body part in an emergency situation, it would be unwise to try it.  If you use deadly force, you're in a situation where you believe you need to stop someone or something about to cause severe bodily injury or death to you or others around you.  That is the only reason to shoot someone or something*.  In that situation, it doesn't make sense to try to shoot to disable a body part.  You're shooting to end the threat.  A determined person with one hand disabled can shoot with the other hand.  A determined person shot in the leg can shoot from the ground.  You shoot for center of mass, and you shoot until you are no longer in fear of your life or of great bodily injury. 

So, whether the police should have recognized the realistic toys the boy was carrying were toys is something lawyers will have to decide.  Once they believed they were facing real guns, however, they weren't going to try trick shooting to resolve the situation.  If they really thought they were facing an assault weapon, they acted appropriately the perceived threat.   I tend to give police the benefit of the doubt, as they're doing a tough and often thankless job.  They aren't perfect, but I don't believe Santa Rosa police knew the young man was toting a toy when they opened fire.  If they hadn't believed the threat was real, they'd never have shot him.

*By "something," I mean an attacking animal like a dog, though I fully support firing on marauding extraterrestrials or zombies.

On Vaccines

I heard another interesting story today that I thought I'd share.  The Forbes write up is here (linked).  The flu shot could reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.

The most relevant bit:
According to a new study out in the Journal of the American Medical Association, though the flu vaccine had previously been linked to reduced incidence of cardiac events, the evidence has been somewhat murky. The new analysis, however, gathered data from a number of high-quality trials spanning several decades. And the results suggest that, especially for people who are already at higher risk of heart problems, the flu vaccine may well protect against heart attack, stroke, and possibly even death.

The researchers combed studies from the 1940s through the present, selecting only those that were well-designed, randomized, and controlled. Some participants received the flu vaccine, and others placebo. The “end point” for each of the 6735 participants was whether or not they experienced a major adverse cardiovascular event – death from heart disease, hospitalization for heart attack, heart failure, unstable angina, stroke, and urgent coronary revascularization. The risk of experiencing one of these events was compared for those who’d received the flu shot and those who’d gotten placebo.

As it turned out, people who’d had the flu shot were at a much lower risk of heart disease, stroke, and death: about 36% reduced risk.  People who’d recently had a heart attack were 55% less likely to have another cardiac event if they’d gotten the shot.
Naturally a discussion of vaccines brought up the now thoroughly debunked hypothesis that autism and vaccines are linked.  If you weren't already aware, they're really, really not.  National Geographic did a great brief write up related to Jenny McCarthy helping to host the view.  Full article linked here, most relevant bits below:
The original research began to be discredited as early as 1999, when two studies commissioned by the U.K. Department of Health found no evidence that immunizations were associated with autism. In 2001, a panel of 15 experts from the Institute of Medicine, which advises Congress, found no connection between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. In 2004, a comprehensive review by the Institute of Medicine found no causal relationship between vaccines and autism.

But it would take almost another decade for the furor to even begin to die down. A study this year in The Journal of Pediatrics may at last put the final nail in the coffin of the discredited research. In April, researchers published a study that looked at nearly 1,000 children and concluded that exposure to vaccines during the first two years of life was not associated with an increased risk of developing autism.
So, really, seriously if your friends are still spouting the link between vaccines and autism, it's time to put that to rest.  There is no link.  In addition, it looks like getting your flu shot this season could have very positive benefits for your cardiovascular health.

Sleep may help Prevent Brain Disorders

This isn't politics, it's science.  We may need sleep more than we thought before.  Here's (linked) the article in the BBC.  The key bit:
The brain uses sleep to wash away the waste toxins built up during a hard day's thinking, researchers have shown.

The US team believe the "waste removal system" is one of the fundamental reasons for sleep.

Their study, in the journal Science, showed brain cells shrink during sleep to open up the gaps between neurons and allow fluid to wash the brain clean.

They also suggest that failing to clear away some toxic proteins may play a role in brain disorders.
If you enjoy reading science/health stories, have a look at the complete article.

Obamacare will cause fewer Americans to have insurance

Here's the story:
House Speaker John A. Boehner predicted Wednesday that by the end of the month, more Americans will have lost their insurance by being kicked off existing health plans than the number who were able to sign up in the flawed online website.

And the early numbers may back him up.

Kaiser Health News reported this week that hundreds of thousands of Americans have received notices from their insurers canceling their policies: 300,000 from Florida Blue and 160,000 from Kaiser Permanente in California.

One industry analyst told Kaiser Health News the moves may be a way of insurers ridding their own rolls of costly consumers they don’t want, and pushing those people onto the federal health exchanges.
From the Washington Times.

I heard a radio news report that those signing up through to date seem to be largely people who didn't know they qualified for Medicare, so they're not the young, healthy demographic needed to support the program. 

I've always thought the intent was to collapse the private insurance market and force single payer on the U.S.  Many of my friends on the Left agree, and believe the ACA (Obamacare) is brilliantly designed to fail and bring about that result.  That seems to be the direction we're headed at present.

Women in Combat

This has been a contentious issue in the past.  In the Marine Corps, they're doing it right:
The women, who are shouldering the same packs and wearing the same combat uniforms as the men, are barely distinguishable from the men as they trudge in the darkness.

"We treat everyone the same," said Staff Sgt. Billy Shinault, a Marine instructor who chatted while working a bolt of chewing tobacco after the hike. "We would be doing them a disservice to lower the standards."
From this (linked) USA Today article.

In combat, gender really doesn't matter.  The only thing that matters is the answer to the question, "Can you  carry the gear and do the job?"

When it comes to infantry of any sort, if the answer is "no" then standards should not be lowered.  That person should not endanger the rest of the unit by insisting on participating.  If the answer is "yes" then it really doesn't matter what person's gender is.  They can do the job, so they're in.

Note that they routinely carry 85 pound packs, and sometimes carry extra temporary loads, like ammunition or mortar rounds for other units.  Not all men can do that.  Not all women can do that.  The Marines are smart.  They're accepting anybody who can do it and wants to do it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Armed Citizen

When he was awakened by his home security system, NRA Endowment member Steve Bason prepared for the worst--he got his Benelli M1 12-gauge shotgun, while his wife, Beth, an NRA Life member, grabbed her Glock 9mm pistol. "At first we figured it was just another false alarm," Bason told the editor of the "Armed Citizen," "Then a light came on in our barn and I thought, "My goodness, this is real!" Police say the couple cautiously approached the barn. They peered inside and found a man standing next to Bason's truck with the door open. "There was some yelling and we probably said some words that aren't fit for print," Bason recalled. The suspect quickly found himself staring down the barrels of two different guns and waited patiently for police. (The Express, Lock Haven, PA, 02/02/2010)

The incessant ringing of the doorbell woke a woman from her sleep. She looked through the front door peephole and saw someone in a hooded sweatshirt outside continuing to ring the bell. Police say the woman ran to the bedroom, got her handgun and dialed 9-1-1. As she returned to the front door, a second hooded suspect emerged, sprinted to the door and kicked it. His foot broke a hole in the door, knocking down the woman. She looked through the hole and saw the suspect preparing to run and kick the door again, so she stuck the barrel of her handgun out the hole and fired two shots. The suspects fled the scene and are being sought by police. (KNXV-TV, Phoenix, AZ, 02/11/2010)

Some twisted individual broke into a rural home, tied up a woman and her mother and sexually assaulted the younger woman, according to police. The older woman managed to send a cell phone text message to her neighbor. The neighbor's boyfriend, Sonny Osborn, ran to the scene, saw what was occurring and ran to get his gun. He returned and shot the attacker three times. The suspect was treated at a hospital and taken to jail. Incredibly, the police and the attacker agree Osborn did the right thing. "[The suspect] even looked at Sonny and said, 'I have no hard feelings, man. You done what you were supposed to do,'" said Sheriff's Department Sgt. Bill Snead. "He said, 'you just protected these people.'" (WTHR-13, Indianapolis, IN, 02/24/2010)

This story exposes a sad truth about many sex offenders. They aren't curable. They often know their actions are wrong and feel so compelled to offend they can't resist it. Life in prison without the possibility of parole is safer for society and more humane to such offenders than releasing them after a number of years, and nobody has to shoot them at a later date.

Richard Evans didn't feel safe in his own home the day after four teens broke into the house and stole guns and electronics. Unfortunately for all concerned, the teens returned. Police believe they were intent on stealing Evans' four-wheel-drive vehicle, for which they'd stolen the keys in the prior burglary. The teens wore masks and climbed Evans' fence. He shouted at them to get off his property, but they did not comply. Fearing the teens were carrying guns, Evans grabbed his shotgun and opened fire. All four teens were wounded and taken to the hospital. Police plan to charge them with armed burglary and grand theft. (Florida Today, Melbourne, FL, 02/02/2010)

Michael Hommes' German shepherd was strangely upset in the middle of the night, running frantically to various windows in the home. Trusting his dog's intuition, Hommes released it outside. The German shepherd likely saw the prowler in the yard. The next thing Hommes heard was his dog being shot. He ran back into the home and grabbed a pistol. By the time he returned to the front door, the prowler had already forced his way inside. Hommes shot at the armed intruder, causing him to flee the home. Hommes' loyal dog was treated by a veterinarian for its injuries and will survive. An investigation is under way. (Star-Beacon, Ashtabula, OH, 02/16/2010)

A group of armed men allegedly concocted an elaborate robbery ploy. The first step in their scheme was to break into an unoccupied home. Then they used a phone book to call electricians to the house so they could rob them. According to police, when the first electrician arrived, the robbers ambushed him. One of the robbers shot him in the leg and tied him up in another room. Shortly thereafter a second electrician arrived, who was also promptly shot in the leg. This electrician, however, turned out to be an armed citizen with a concealed-carry permit, and he was in no mood to become a victim. He drew a handgun and shot one of the robbers, likely saving his own life and that of his fellow electrician. The wounded robber was taken to the hospital. His accomplices fled and are still being sought. (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, GA, 02/12/2010)

Want even more stories? Visit The Armed Citizen blog.

Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
Shopkeeper Defends Himself and Employees,
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
Armed Student Saves 10 People,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,
Crime Spree Stopped with the Simple Presentation of a Firearm.

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work
Scotland holds a Summit on their Failed Gun Policies, Chicago's gun ban continues to fail
Real Women's Rights (This one includes one of my favorite personal accounts)
Opposition to CA AB 2062
Knife Control?!
Protecting Children through Gun Control?
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy
A Contrast to VA Tech

Thoughts just prior to the release of DC v. Heller, with one of the best appellate court quotations ever.

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

Carrying a firearm is an inherently civilized act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Former NHS director dies after operation is cancelled four times at her own hospital

Former NHS director dies after operation is cancelled four times at her own hospital 

No commentary is really required, but here's a bit more from the column:
A former NHS director died after waiting for nine months for an operation - at her own hospital.

Margaret Hutchon, a former mayor, had been waiting since last June for a follow-up stomach operation at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex.

But her appointments to go under the knife were cancelled four times and she barely regained consciousness after finally having surgery.

The former mayor remained at the hospital for months but her family feared she was becoming institutionalised and decided to bring her home until an operation was a certainty.
The relevance to U.S. readers is that the ACA is designed to fail and take private insurance with it, leaving us with no option but to move to a system like the NHS, where long waits are a way of managing cost but may result in your premature death.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Armed Citizen

Robert Cole and his wife, Pam, had just started to doze off one evening when they heard breaking glass and their motion detector alarm as it went off. Then Cole heard someone in the living room. "I woke my wife up and told her we had someone in the house, and she told me to grab the shotgun," he remembered. Police said he peered out the bedroom door and saw a man in the living room holding a fire extinguisher. "I was worried he was going to hurt me or my wife so I [fired] one round of No. 6 shot," Cole said. Police arrested the wounded suspect and an alleged accomplice nearby. This wasn't Cole's first act of armed citizenry. He was involved in an incident that appeared in this column in December 2004. (North Channel Sentinel, Pasadena, TX, 01/07/2004)

Through the magic of the internet, here's that incident:

Robert Cole, a former sheriff's deputy and current NRA member, knew that senior citizens are a prime target for theft, so he was always prepared for the worst. He and his wife, Pamela, had just pulled into a parking spot at the local grocery store one day when an unknown man approached them. As Cole walked to the passenger side of the truck to open the door for his wife, the man came closer and demanded his wallet. "It looked like he had a sawed-off shotgun underneath a towel," said Cole. "I reached in my back pocket to make it seem like I was getting my wallet, but I pulled out a handgun and threatened to shoot him." At that point, said Cole, the suspect pulled the towel off, revealing not a sawed-off shotgun, but two locking pliers positioned to look like a shotgun. The suspect then claimed he was a police officer, but he and his driver eventually fled the scene. Cole said that this was not the first time he and his wife were almost robbed and that they 'wanted to warn senior citizens' of what can happen. (The Sentinel, Houston, TX, 07/22/2004)

A man allegedly burglarized a vending machine and fled from police in his vehicle. The suspect cracked his axle but continued to drive away. He stashed the car near an elementary school, which was placed on lockdown as police scoured the area. "As they were searching the area, they heard a pop," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson. The sound they heard was the report of a nearby homeowner's shotgun. The suspect entered the home and demanded money and car keys. In fear of his life, the homeowner fired his shotgun, killing the suspect. (The Arizona Republic, Phoenix, AZ, 01/27/2010)

Police said that shortly after midnight three men broke into a home seeking money and drugs. There were no drugs in the home, but there was a .22-cal rifle-and an 11-year-old boy trained in its use. The boy leapt to the defense of his mother and sister. One of the intruders shot the boy, slightly injuring him. The boy returned fire, seriously wounding a suspect and causing the men to flee the home. Police found all three intruders nearby. The wounded man was airlifted to a hospital and will be charged after his release. (San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, TX, 01/20/2010)

Anti-gun activists would have you believe any children in a home with guns will find the firearms and kill themselves or friends with them. Children trained in responsible use of firearms don't seem to do that. This boy also demonstrates an important principle of ownership and use of guns: learn how to aim or what you have is an expensive club.
Early one morning, a Ventura, California man dialed 9-1-1 after spotting two alleged prowlers in his backyard. Unfortunately for the homeowner-but perhaps more unfortunately for the two prowlers-the suspects forced open a locked door and entered the home before police arrived. The homeowner, armed with a handgun, fired upon the suspects. They fled the home. Police apprehended one of the suspects in the driveway suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The other suspect, also believed to be wounded, was still being sought at press time. (Associated Press, 01/26/2010)

When a neighbor knocked on Lawrence Sanderson's door and informed him someone was trying to steal Sanderson's privately owned fire truck, he phoned police, grabbed his handgun and went to the scene. Meanwhile, police said the intoxicated suspect started the truck, put it in reverse and slammed into the back of the garage, causing an estimated $300 in damage. The truck stalled and the suspect tried to restart it as Sanderson approached. Sanderson ordered the man and gunpoint to get out of the vehicle and lie on the ground. Police arrived and arrested the suspect shortly thereafter. "[Sanderson] holstered his gun as soon as our guys got there," said Montrose, Colorado, Police Cdr. Gene Lillard. (The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, Grand Junction, CO, 01/26/2010)

Michelle Cornelsen was working at her coffee shop when a teenager approached, drew a gun, and demanded money. Cornelsen, a 31-year-old firearm enthusiast who's been hunting since she was a young girl, was confident in her ability to defend herself. When another customer approached, the suspect hid his gun. Cornelsen took advantage of the opening, drawing a 9mm Kel-Tec. She aimed it at the suspect and said, "You leave now." He quickly complied. Cornelsen phoned police, and a deputy who'd coincidentally just bought coffee from her made a quick U-turn and arrested the suspect. (Coeur d'Alene Press, Coeur d'Alene, ID, 12/30/2009)

Two or three men forced their way inside a home. The intruders were wearing ski masks and gloves, leaving little doubt as to their malicious intent. To protect his wife, cousin and 1-year-old daughter, the homeowner quickly retrieved his handgun and opened fire on the intruders, who returned fire. One intruder died after being shot multiple times. At least one accomplice fled the scene and is still being sought. The homeowner was slightly injured in the assault, but will recover. (Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Corpus Christi, TX, 12/31/2009)

Want even more stories? Visit The Armed Citizen blog.

Other accounts of self-defense collected on this blog:
Shopkeeper Defends Himself and Employees,
2nd Amendment Saves a Pregnant Woman,
Armed Student Saves 10 People,
2nd Amendment vs. a Serial Rapist,
Crime Spree Stopped with the Simple Presentation of a Firearm.

Failures of Gun Control:
UK Government under reports gun violence to pretend their policies work
Scotland holds a Summit on their Failed Gun Policies, Chicago's gun ban continues to fail
Real Women's Rights (This one includes one of my favorite personal accounts)
Opposition to CA AB 2062
Knife Control?!
Protecting Children through Gun Control?
Futility of the Gun Banning Philosophy
A Contrast to VA Tech

Thoughts just prior to the release of DC v. Heller, with one of the best appellate court quotations ever.

Thoughts on publicized shootings: Shootings early in 2009, Alabama Shootings, Finland School Shooting. Remember: The only proven method to mitigate the disaster of a rogue criminal shooter is to have more first responders, e.g. CCW permit holders lawfully armed and on scene. These criminals do not respect "gun free" zones, but simply view them as target-rich opposition-free areas in which to slaughter innocents.

Carrying a firearm is an inherently civilized act.

Right to Carry Statistics.

Does Violence Beget Violence?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

California Makes Lead Hunting Ammunition Illegal

Gun owners in California this week breathed a sigh of relief when Governor Brown vetoed some of the most restrictive gun control legislation proposed in the U.S.  It would have banned the sale of any rifle with a detachable magazine, along with several other things.  The bill went too far, as Governor Brown indicated in his veto message:
“The State of California already has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, including bans on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.  While the author’s intent is to strengthen these restrictions, this bill goes much farther by banning any semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine.

“I don’t believe that this bill’s blanket ban on semi-automatic rifles would reduce criminal activity or enhance public safety enough to warrant this infringement on gun owners’ rights."
Governor Brown correctly noted that the law would have banned rifles used in hunting, firearms training and marksmanship.

At the same time, he signed into law something I perversely wanted to see pass.  This is perversity in the classic sense, simple contrariness.  I wanted him to sign it so that the people who come up with these ideas can reap the unintended consequences of their short-sighted activism.  Governor Brown signed into law a ban on lead hunting ammunition.

Note that this ban is something Sacramento's Sheriff and many game wardens came out against.
In a letter to Brown on Thursday, Jones wrote that he was concerned because the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined that most non-lead ammunition meets the criteria for "armor piercing" and thus has banned the manufacturing and sale of such ammunition without special permission.

As a result, Jones argues that non-lead bullets have become scarce in most hunting calibers.
"I believe that this bill, if signed, would enact an undue burden on the entire hunting community, which includes many members of law enforcement," Jones wrote.

In their letter to Brown on Wednesday, the game wardens' association, arguing they are on the front line of enforcing the current ban on lead ammunition for hunting near condors, wrote that "there is insufficient data to justify such a drastic action across the entire state."
So why am I perversely in favor?   Members of law enforcement often back ill-conceived gun control schemes because they're unaffected.  Police always get an exemption.  Now I support our officers in their hard fight against crime, but I also want them to feel some of the burden other lawful citizens endure from these stupid bans that don't make anyone safer.  I want them to experience it in a way that doesn't make their jobs any harder, and this law won't.  Maybe they'll understand our concerns and upset a bit better.  Unfortunately, the ones who most need the lesson probably aren't hunters, so they will continue not to care. 

Further, wrong-headed activists who care less about lead and more about banning all hunting may get a shock.  I've written about the importance of hunting and fishing.  The short version is that most preservation programs rely heavily on income from hunting licenses, hunting tags, and special tax on hunting gear.  Game wardens rely on hunters to help keep animal populations at or below the environment's carrying capacity so there aren't horrific incidents of mass starvation, since there aren't enough predators to do the job.

With no significant number of non-lead hunting rounds available, Governor Brown has largely ended hunting in California.  Hunters will take their business to other states along with all the revenue and game control assistance they were bringing to California before.  California hunters will have to arrange trips to other Western states, while California's wildlife population multiplies unchecked and dies in mass starvation incidents.  It is highly likely an exemption will have to be added for game wardens, who will then have to shoot animals and leave them to rot instead of those same animals being harvested by hunters who would actually have used the meat.

I hate it that animals will suffer, but I do hope some lesson is learned from this.  I suspect my hope is in vain given the California legislature and voting base's history blithely ignoring the consequences of stupid decisions.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Playing Chicken

This isn't my work.  It's a letter written to Jerry Pournelle and housed there.  I'd encourage you to read it.  The post also includes a Rudyard Kipling poem, which I'll copy here.

First, to get you to have a look at the letter:
The thing about playing Chicken is, both drivers get into the contest assuming that the other doesn’t actually want a head-on collision.

The game changes fundamentally if one driver believes he’s immortal and doesn’t really like his old clunker anyway. This by way of introducing a truly disturbing thought about the upcoming debt-limit deadline.
 And now the poem:

The Servant When He Reigneth

"For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear. For a servant when he reigneth, and a fool when he is filled with meat; for an odious woman when she is married, and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress." — PROV. XXX. 21-22-23.
Three things make earth unquiet
And four she cannot brook
The godly Agur counted them
And put them in a book --
Those Four Tremendous Curses
With which mankind is cursed;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Old Agur entered first.
An Handmaid that is Mistress
We need not call upon.
A Fool when he is full of Meat
Will fall asleep anon.
An Odious Woman Married
May bear a babe and mend;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Is Confusion to the end.

His feet are swift to tumult,
His hands are slow to toil,
His ears are deaf to reason,
His lips are loud in broil.
He knows no use for power
Except to show his might.
He gives no heed to judgment
Unless it prove him right.

Because he served a master
Before his Kingship came,
And hid in all disaster
Behind his master's name,
So, when his Folly opens
The unnecessary hells,
A Servant when He Reigneth
Throws the blame on some one else.

His vows are lightly spoken,
His faith is hard to bind,
His trust is easy broken,
He fears his fellow-kind.
The nearest mob will move him
To break the pledge he gave --
Oh, a Servant when he Reigneth
Is more than ever slave!

Rudyard Kipling

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Private Industry Can do Better

Among Libertarians, it's usually assumed that anything government can do, private industry can do better and for less money.  I'm sure there are exceptions, but isn't one of them.  The news has focused on people not being able to get on the site because it wasn't designed for more than a few tens of thousands of users at once (which is ludicrous, given the intended scope of this program).  What we haven't heard as much about is the price tag.

An opinion piece in DigitalTrends makes this painfully obvious.  Read it here:  We paid $634 million for the Obamacare sites and all we got was this lousy 404

Some choice snippets:
The exact cost to build, according to U.S. government records, appears to have been $634,320,919, which we paid to a company you probably never heard of: CGI Federal.  The company originally won the contract back in 2011, but at that time, the cost was expected to run “up to” $93.7 million – still a chunk of change, but nothing near where it apparently ended up.

Given the complicated nature of federal contracts, it’s difficult to make a direct comparison between the cost to develop and the amount of money spent building private online businesses. But for the sake of putting the monstrous amount of money into perspective, here are a few figures to chew on: Facebook, which received its first investment in June 2004, operated for a full six years before surpassing the $600 million mark in June 2010. Twitter, created in 2006, managed to get by with only $360.17 million in total funding until a $400 million boost in 2011. Instagram ginned up just $57.5 million in funding before Facebook bought it for (a staggering) $1 billion last year. And LinkedIn and Spotify, meanwhile, have only raised, respectively, $200 million and $288 million.
If we're going to be socialists (and I don't think there's any going back now), then we need to make this clear to our government:  responsible socialism works a heck of a lot better than profligate socialism.  Paying $634 million for a site that can't handle more than a few tens of thousands of users is a joke.  Any taxpayer should be outraged.  Perhaps next time, Mr. Obama should give Mark Zuckerberg a call before signing any contracts.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Will we default on our debt if the debt ceiling isn't raised?

We don't have to default on our debt if the debt ceiling isn't raised.  We'll just have to make painful cuts.  Imagine that--if you don't have enough money, you have to re-prioritize and spend responsibly instead of profligately. 

From the column I posted Friday:
Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Armed Citizen

Criminal justice instructor Michael Minto was exiting the Kaplan Career Institute when he saw a man being viciously stabbed. According to police, Minto ran onto the scene, drew a handgun for which he has a permit to carry and ordered the attacker to drop the knife. The suspect fled. The victim was treated and released from the hospital. "[If not for Minto], we might be talking about someone who died," said Swatara Township, Pa., Deputy Police Chief Jason Umberger. "There are not many citizens out there that would have the courage to take that action." (The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, PA, 12/08/2009)

Fairfax County, Va., police officer Bud Walker says a resident had time to get his handgun because an armed burglar "was making quite a bit of noise trying to get into the house." The resident made noise as well in an attempt to scare off the suspect. "The burglar...contin­ued to try to get in even though he knew there was someone inside the house. Our experience is that most burglars...tend to target houses that are not occupied." The suspect forced his way into the home and opened fire, wounding the resident, who returned fire and forced the intruder from his home. The resident is expected to recover. (The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., 12/18/2009)

A married couple drove into the cul-de-sac leading to their home and parked in the driveway. They got out of the car and began walking toward their home, when three men sprang out of nowhere and attempted to rob them. The husband was better prepared to defend his life and that of his wife than the men expected. A concealed-carry permit holder, the husband drew a handgun and shot one of the robbers, killing him. The dead suspect's accomplices fled. (The Times­ Picayune, New Orleans, LA, 12/14/2009)

Evil people who would prey on the weaknesses of others may perceive someone like Gary Wroblewski, who uses a wheelchair, as an easy victim. Wroblewski, however, is a man who takes his safety seriously, so when he had a late knock at his door, he grabbed his handgun. "I was suspicious," he recalls. "I didn't really want to open it, but I did." He found the man who knocked, but then a masked man with a history of violent arrests leapt from the bushes and knocked over Wroblewski's chair. "He hit the door and I went tumbling over and just pulled the gun up and started firing," Wroblewski explains. The intruder was killed. His accomplice fled the scene. (WKMG-TV, Orlando, FL, 12/15/2009)


Just as a man was getting ready for church, someone rang his doorbell. As he went to answer the door, he saw someone breaking into his truck. Meanwhile, the man heard the garage door opening and what sounded like someone else trying to gain access to the home. He didn't know how many suspects were present or if they were armed. "I felt like a caged animal backed into a hole and trying to get out," the homeowner said. He got a 12-ga. shot­ gun and fired two shots at one of the assailants. The wounded burglar ran to a nearby car and was joined by a female suspect and fled the garage. They sped away, but the male was arrested when he sought treatment for his wounds. (The Sun-News, Myrtle Beach, SC, 12/08/2009)

Police say a perpetrator knocked on Harold Compenstine's door, announced, "This is a robbery!" and put a shotgun in his face. The homeowner slammed the door on the suspect and yelled for a relative to get his gun. The suspect fled, but decided to risk his luck again. He knocked on the door of another home and again pointed a shotgun at the residents inside. One of the residents ran for his own gun and for the second time in one night the suspect had to run rather than face an armed citizen. The suspect remains at large. No word on whether he's given thought to changing career paths. (Sun-Star, Merced, CA, 12/10/2009)

With a gun to his face, a Pizza Hut cashier stashed several hundred dollars into a bag. Hearing the commotion, police say a deliveryman with a concealed-carry permit crouched in the back of the store. When the robber walked toward him, the deliveryman gave a verbal warning. The robber went for his gun, forcing the deliveryman to draw his 9mm handgun and fire a shot. The robber will be arrested pending his release from the hospital. (The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, IN, 12/24/2009)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Friday, October 4, 2013

Who Shut Down the Government and What We've Learned From It

I'm going to share an article a friend passed along, because it made some clear, thoughtful points and is written by an economist and Harvard grad, Thomas Sowell.  He's also African American, so I'm pretty sure based on the news that if you disagree with him, that makes you a racist.

Here's his article:  Who Shut Down the Government?

Some great points:
There is really nothing complicated about the facts. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted all the money required to keep all government activities going -- except for ObamaCare.
The Senate chose not to vote to authorize that money to be spent, because it did not include money for ObamaCare. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that he wants a "clean" bill from the House of Representatives, and some in the media keep repeating the word "clean" like a mantra. But what is unclean about not giving Harry Reid everything he wants?
...the whole point of having a division of powers within the federal government is that each branch can decide independently what it wants to do or not do, regardless of what the other branches do, when exercising the powers specifically granted to that branch by the Constitution.
If Senator Reid and President Obama refuse to accept the money required to run the government, because it leaves out the money they want to run ObamaCare, that is their right. But that is also their responsibility.  
What about not paying our debts?
Perhaps the biggest of the big lies is that the government will not be able to pay what it owes on the national debt, creating a danger of default. Tax money keeps coming into the Treasury during the shutdown, and it vastly exceeds the interest that has to be paid on the national debt.

Even if the debt ceiling is not lifted, that only means that government is not allowed to run up new debt. But that does not mean that it is unable to pay the interest on existing debt. 
As always, Thomas Sowell thinks and explains clearly.  I've selected a few choice bits and arranged them so they work well here.  You should read his whole column.

Whether or not the majority Republican House of Representatives should be blamed, they have been blamed and that may be a political mistake on their part.  Instead of headlines about the exchanges not working, we're only getting partial government shut down news from the mainstream media.  Then again, they might have chosen not to cover the early failures of the ACA (Obamacare) even if there weren't partial shutdown news.  Despite the potential repercussions from being blamed, I can't help but wonder if they're not doing it because they know that once an entitlement program begins, it never goes away, so this is the last chance to keep the ACA (Obamacare) from being implemented.  The ACA is designed to fail so that private insurance will be gutted and we'll have to move to a single-payer system like the NHS in the U.K.  De-funding prevent implementation may be the only way to stave off that result.  I may be giving them too much credit, though--they may have thought they'd win political points on this.

There's a lot to learn from what's going on, though.  The administration is acting like petulant children at best, nasty bullies at worst.  Remember, government is supposed to exist to serve your needs and help keep you safe so you can go about your daily activities.  Instead, because there's a threat to their usual operation, they're trying to make you suffer and prove you need them, even when it isn't true.  I'll provide three examples.

The first example is the Panda Cam at the national zoo that the news media went crazy about.  I can't think of anything less essential to the running of government, so shutting it down would make sense if it were taxpayer funded.  It's not.
Funding does not appear to be the issue here, because the National Zoo's panda cams are sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund, as part of a two-year, $400,000 grant to study giant panda health. The majority of the grant covers research into disease transmission, but the cameras are factored in.
So, shutting it down was an attempt by the administration to punish you, even though it's not taxpayer funded.

The second example is the World War II memorial that veterans reportedly stormed, going around barricades to get in.  It's really odd that there are barricades, because:
“This is an open-air memorial that the public has 24/7 access to under normal circumstances — even when Park Service personnel aren’t present.  It actually requires more effort and expense to shut out these veterans from their Memorial than it would to simply let them through. My office has been in touch with NPS officials and the Administration to try to resolve this issue.”
Source here.

We're not talking about saving money, then.  We're talking about petulant foot stomping and trying to make you hurt for daring to allow the shut down of about 18% of the federal government.

Need further proof?  Here's the third example:
The National Park Service has ordered the closure of a Virginia park that sits on federal land, even though the government provides no resources for its maintenance or operation.
“You do have to wonder about the wisdom of an organization that would use staff they don’t have the money to pay to evict visitors from a park site that operates without costing them any money,” [said Anna Eberly, managing director of the farm].

The park withstood prior government shutdowns, noting in a news release that the farm will be closed to the public for the first time in 40 years.

“In previous budget dramas, the Farm has always been exempted since the NPS provides no staff or resources to operate the Farm,” Eberly explained in an emailed statement.
None of this malfeasance is simple incompetence.  It's absolutely deliberate.
“It’s a cheap way to deal with the situation,” an angry Park Service ranger in Washington says of the harassment. “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.”
 Source here.

How does that famous text go?  Oh, right (emphasis mine):
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
So, aside from the fact the federal government has become a self-serving beast designed mostly to protect the privileges and excesses of the wealthy political class running it (precisely what the founders wanted to prevent for as long as possible), we've learned a few valuable lessons from this shutdown.

Nick Gillespie does a great job pointing it out in his article:  Shutdown Highlights Basic Fact: Most of Government is “Non-Essential”

That's right.  We don't actually need these employees, yet in a difficult economic time, their temporary layoff is somehow an outrage.  Nick Gillespie phrases it even more incisively:
Nevertheless, the shutdown provides the country with a perfect moment to ask why a federal government whose spending habits are an insult to drunken sailors everywhere is paying above-market compensation to hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” workers.
If we wanted to take the opportunity afforded by the shutdown to question the size, scope, and spending of the federal government, we could start by asking why the 397 national parks, 582 natural landmarks, and 2,461 historical landmarks overseen by the U.S. Park Service aren’t operated instead by state and local governments or nonprofit trusts. Indeed, despite an annual budget north of $2.75 billion plus revenue raised by user fees, there are billions of dollars of backlogged maintenance and upkeep that everyone knows will never get completed.
I encourage you to read his whole article.   Perhaps the deliberate, unnecessary and aggravating closures the government is engaging in are simply to keep you from thinking about these things.  It would behoove you to take a moment to consider them and then perhaps share your thoughts with your senators and congressperson.

The Decline of College

That's Victor Davis Hanson's title for this article.  I've felt for a few years that universities as we know them will largely disappear in my lifetime, probably not before my own children are college-aged (but by then the alternatives will exist).

What surprised me about Hanson's article wasn't the outlook, but the enumeration of failures by the current system.  As a California farmer, he pays special attention to California's education system:

The four-year campus experience is simply vanishing. At the California State University system, the largest university complex in the world, well under 20 percent of students graduate in four years despite massive student aid. Fewer than half graduate in six years.
College acceptance was supposed to be a reward for hard work and proven excellence in high school, not a guaranteed entitlement of open admission. Yet more than half of incoming first-year students require remediation in math and English during, rather than before attending, college. That may explain why six years and hundreds of millions of dollars later, about the same number never graduate.
 Not only does the schools fail in educating the students, they fail in other missions as well:

Tenure — virtual lifelong job security for full-time faculty after six years — was supposed to protect free speech on campus. How, then, did campus ideology become more monotonous than diverse, more intolerant of politically unpopular views than open-minded? Universities have so little job flexibility that campuses cannot fire the incompetent tenured or hire full-time competent newcomers.
 His view of the future matches mine, so I might be biased:
What might we expect in the future? Even more online courses will entice students away from campuses through taped lectures from top teachers, together with interactive follow-ups from teaching assistants — all at a fraction of current tuition costs. Technical schools that dispense with therapeutic, hyphenated “studies” courses will offer students marketable skills far more cheaply and efficiently. Periodic teaching contracts, predicated on meeting teaching and research obligations, will probably replace lifelong tenure.
 This is how we're educating our daughter already in Physics this year.  A DVD-series of lectures, with a good concept-based textbook with accompanying labs, and I can help out if the concepts or application gets too tricky. It can only get better.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown

The federal government shutdown starts today, and you shouldn't worry.  Here's some history on shutdowns:  A Brief History Of Federal Government Shutdowns

The short version is that there have been 17 government shutdowns in the past, the longest lasting 21 days.  Only "nonessential" federal workers are affected, bringing up the question "How is this a shutdown and why would nonessential personnel come back to work anyway?"

The only thing most usual people will notice is that you can't go to a national park.  Great, turn those over to state governments leave the federal government "shut down" and we'll be far closer to the structure outlined by the Constitution.

That won't happen.  Congress is likely to resolve this fast, and if past shutdowns are any guide, will get back pay for the furlough time, so they're getting a paid vacation at your expense.