Friday, January 25, 2013

Hello Kitty AR-15

Does the US Constitution Protect Privately Owned Warships?

I hadn't thought about it before, but Doug Loss commented on a Bridget Johnson column over at Pajamas Media that:
In point of fact, the Constitution tacitly condones the private ownership of warships, in Article I, Section 8, where Congress is given authority to grant letters of marque and reprisal, which means deputizing private warships into government service.
It seems to me that while not explicitly protecting privately owned warships as a right, it is a reasonable conclusion that it does. It certainly assumes that there will be privately owned warships.

So: naval guns, ship-to-air missiles, torpedoes, all sorts of cool toys.

"The Congress shall have Power To...declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;"

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke to Citizens: Arm Yourselves

According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has aired a radio spot urging Milwaukeeans to arm themselves:
You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back."

Clarke urges listeners to take a firearm safety course and handle a firearm "so you can defend yourself until we get there."

"You have a duty to protect yourself and your family.
Predictably enough, commenters are derisive: "Sheriff Clarke is a psycho...Moronic... insecure...irresponsible ...totally reprehensible and irresponsible...pile of cow dung...."

To which I could not help replying: "I hope that decent, thoughtful people can at least agree that it is better to be raped, and strangled with your own panty hose rather than run any risks."

UPDATED version here, with a new set of comments.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Corruption in Mingo County, West Virginia

I went to West Virginia in 1980 to help get the Libertarian Party and its Ed Clark for President campaign on the ballot. One of the places I had a local libertarian to collect signatures on ballot forms was Williamson, Mingo County, way down in the SW corner. Hatfield & McCoy territory.

My local libertarian had to get a permit to gather signatures from the county clerk, and when we went in to get it we didn't have to say anything: she knew who we were and what we wanted. She said "Wait right here" and disappeared. About 15 seconds later the County Sheriff walked in, stuck his face about 12 inches from the poor guy and said "What you are doing is REAL unhealthy." He had the guts to get his permit anyway, but I don't know that he got many signatures.

I put an ad in the local paper and hired several people to collect signatures, giving each a clipboard, forms, and pens, and sent them out into the town. One of the few who came back in the afternoon threw down his clip board and said "I recommend you find some other place to get on the ballot. It's too dangerous here: The first house I went to sicked a dawg on me, and the second place run me off with a shotgun. You should just leave this county. It ain't healthy." Most of the people I hired didn't come back at all, so they got to keep the clipboards.

That night I got on the highway to drive back to Charleston. When I was way out in the light-less countryside a car zoomed up behind me, hung about 4 feet off the rear bumper for several minutes, then pulled out and passed me. County sheriff car. Lucky for me, after it passed me I wondered if a second set of lights a hundred yards back might be another sheriff, double teaming me, maybe trying to push me over the limit so they would have a 'reason' to stop me and dump my soon to be moldering body in the adjacent river. I hung in right under the limit, and sure enough, after a few more minutes it closed fast, then pulled out and passed me, too. Another county sheriff car. They followed me for about 15 miles but never did anything.

A few years later I saw a little article in the paper which as I recall said pretty nearly everyone in the Mingo county government including the sheriffs, the prosecutors, and the judges had been indicted for running a drug ring, the cops murdering rival drug dealers, the prosecutor presenting 'evidence' to the judge that this was justified killing in self defense, and the judge says "Why, yes, indeedy. You are so right. Justifiable homicide of drug dealing scum. Case closed."

Anyway, I just came across an old People Magazine article about it. It doesn't say anything about murders, but 69 people were indicted, 69 convicted. The fire department was an arson ring, the police and sheriffs were drug dealers, and the president of the school board was bribing jurors. The Sheriff paid the local power broker about $100,000 for his job. One couple was pretty bitter about their convictions: they had been paying off the proper authorities since 1957.

UPDATE: It turns out that in 1988 there was a fair bit of news coverage of corruption in Mingo County. Here is a sample from the LA Times.

If interested in more coverage, try Googling "Mingo County corruption".

UPDATE March 2016: Here's some more on current Mingo County corruption. I can see why some WV sheriffs opposed going to permitless concealed carry of handguns regime this month: Criminals don't like armed victims. Here.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Herding Cats

Anyone who has taken kindergartners on a field trip should appreciate this:

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Gun Show Loophole

According to information provided by Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's Fact Checker, the importance of the so-called gun show loophole which supposedly allows criminals across the country to get guns at shows without getting a background check is a bit overstated:
Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, will report data from a 2004 survey of inmates in state prisons in a chapter in a book titled “Reducing Gun Violence in America,” to be published Jan. 28 by Johns Hopkins Press.

The offenders were incarcerated from (sic) crimes committed with handguns, and this is how they reported how they obtained the guns:

Licensed gun dealer: 11 percent
Friends or family: 39.5 percent
“The street:” 37.5 percent
Stolen gun: 9.9 percent
Gun show/Flea market: 1.7 percent
Licensed dealers, by the way, are required to perform background checks whether they are selling at their store or at a gun show. Only private individuals who are disposing of some of their own guns, i.e. not dealers, can sell at a show without performing a background check.

So, all this hullabaloo about loopholes, and bad guys get only 1.7 percent of their guns there. I suspect that any self-respecting violent criminal could think of ways to make up 1.7 percent if they wanted a gun.

It does not matter at all how many people get guns without background checks. The only thing which matters is how many criminals do so, and the number doing so because of the so-called gun show loophole is trivial. Just as TSA brags about how many "weapons" they have confiscated from airline passengers, when the only meaningful number would be how many weapons they have confiscated from hijackers and bombers. They don't tell us that number, do they? Could that be because the number is zero?

This is a bit like the attack on so called assault rifles, when only 323 deaths by all types of rifles combined occurred in 2011. It's a bit like fraud.

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