MonthMay 2018

They’re Modest Because They Don’t Work

Oh look! One of the NYT writers put together a listicle of “modest” gun control proposals that will reduce “gun deaths.” Let’s see what brilliance has been spewed this time. Original text in italics.

1. Require universal background checks to see if a purchaser is a felon or a threat to others. The latest study finds that 22 percent of guns are obtained in the U.S. without a background check, and polls find that more than 90 percent of the public supports making these checks universal. Yet the federal government balks.

Let’s be charitable and say that the study is correct and that 22% of guns are purchased without background checks. It says nothing about how many of those are used in a crime. Moreover, as much as they keep repeating the 90% line, when the universal background check proposals hit the ballots, they fail or just barely pass – no where near this mythical 90%.

2. Improve background checks by allowing the federal government adequate time to perform them. At the moment, if the authorities have not completed the check within three business days, the buyer can get the gun. More than 90 percent of checks are completed within minutes, but a small number require investigation. The shooter who killed nine people at an African-American church in Charleston, S.C., in 2015 should not have been able to purchase a weapon because of a drug history, but the background check was not finished in three days — so he was able to buy it.

Except the vast majority of these flags are false positives, which means that you are keeping the gun out of the hand of someone who should have it and may need it right fucking now. And considering how often the NICS system isn’t assigned enough personnel now, I’m hesitant to trust the federal government to properly staff it to investigate all the flags. Further, if you want to improve the system, let’s make sure all the fucking records are there.

3. Pass “red flag laws” that allow a judge to order the temporary removal of a gun from people who are a threat to themselves or others. Connecticut enacted the first of these laws back in 1999, and Indiana, California, Washington, Oregon and Florida have passed similar laws since. The idea is that if friends hear someone threaten suicide or mumble about attacking a school, the authorities can remove a gun. A hearing is later held with due process protections.

Yes, let’s deprive a person of their property without due process, and on the basis of unverifiable “whispers.” Nope, that won’t be abused. And do you really think that the police will return the individual’s property when it is determined (s)he is not a danger to the community? I mean, it’s not like they’ve refused to do so in the past or made the process so expensive most people walk away from their property.

4. Get guns out of the hands of domestic abusers. Nearly half of women murdered in America are killed by a present or past lover, yet the existing laws in this area are full of loopholes.

Do you even know the fucking laws? People convicted of domestic abuse (even misdemeanor domestic abuse) are prohibited persons. That means they can’t legally purchase a gun. So, what are these loopholes? You mean like when a woman won’t press charges, and therefore the man is not convicted? That fucking sucks, but it’s not a loophole. Because we can’t deprive someone of their rights based on allegations.

5. Require safe storage of guns, preferably in a safe or at least with a trigger lock. One study found that only a minority of gun owners in the U.S. keep all their guns secure. When guns aren’t stored safely, it is easier for children to find them and play with them, for teenagers to use them for suicides, or for burglars to steal them. Some 300,000 guns are stolen each year in the United States.

Let’s start out with some real common sense. It is a good idea to keep your weapons secured and/or under your direct control. The devil is in the details – such as what happened in Heller. One other minor thing, accidental deaths by firearms (even among children) are at their lowest point – even with more guns in circulation.

6. Make serial numbers harder to file off, and require microstamping, so that cartridges can be traced back to the gun that fired the bullets.

Except that microstamping doesn’t work and increases the cost of the guns. Something that puts them out of the reach of people who actually need them for self defense. And how the fuck do serial numbers prevent “gun deaths?”

7. Invest in “smart guns” that require a PIN, fingerprint or nearby bracelet to fire. It’s outrageous that someone who steals my iPhone is foiled by my PIN, but stolen guns can be immediately fired. Smart guns shouldn’t be obligatory, but they should be an option. The way forward is probably for a police force to experiment with smart guns, giving them credibility with the public.

When the police or military start actually using them, I’ll start to these guns seriously. When they start actually using them and not disabling the smart devices, I may actually considering purchasing one. Guess what I will never do – support all guns be smart guns. Why? One becuse they significantly increase the cost and decrease the effectiveness of the gun. Two things that should never happen for items used for self defense.

Let’s take the smartphone example, since those are common items that have some sort of ID system. How often does your fingerprint scan fail to unlock your phone? Do you think it would be improved by hands coated in sweat – or blood? How often do you accidentally hit the wrong pin and have to re-enter? Do you think that would increase under stress – like fighting for your life? Do you want to waste a precious second of that fight unlocking your most effective means of protecting your life? And let’s not forget that criminals are already very good at bypassing current “smart” systems.

8. Support community anti-violence programs, like Cure Violence and Becoming a Man, that work with at-risk young people and show excellent success in reducing shootings. One study showed each dollar invested resulted in at least $5 in savings from reduced crime.

Stopped clocks and all that. Finally, something that might actually work because it gets to the real cause of “gun deaths” – people. Removing or restricting guns does not remove or restrict the violent tendencies of people born or bred into a criminal life. Those you need to either change through social and/or psychological programs. Or remove those people from general society if they are unable or unwilling to change.

9. Limit buyers in most cases to one or two gun purchases a month, to reduce gun trafficking.

Where has this worked? Virginia got rid of theirs because it was doing more to inconvenience lawful purchasers and doing nothing to stop the mostly mythical “iron pipeline.”

10. Invest in gun buybacks. Since 1994, Americans have acquired an additional 100 million guns. The average gun-owning household now has eight firearms, and as owners die there should be a big push to acquire these guns.

Again, another proposal shown not to fucking work. It’s a waste of public resources so that politicians can say they’ve “done something.” Although, it does give me a chance to pick up some guns on the cheap.

So, out of ten proposals, only one might work, and the rest are ineffective at best and cause deprivation of life and liberty at worst.

My Message To Publix

I am getting so tired of everything must be dragged into the political. If anything doesn’t toe the party line exactly, it must be destroyed. Publix recently got dragged into this when one side got mad about the company’s donations to a Republican politician, and then the other side got mad because Publix decided the backlash was enough to kill all of its political contributions.

I’m fucking tired of it. Here’s the message I sent to Publix:

I am sorry to see Publix being dragged through the mud by both sides in this latest flare up. I fully support Public’s right to contribute to causes and persons it chooses. I also support Publix’s decision to no longer contribute.

I have been a lifelong Publix customer and will continue to be so. I have joked with coworkers about refusing to move to any place that doesn’t have a Publix. For all the talk of boycotts, please know there are plenty of us who will continue to patronize your stores. Because Publix means high quality, excellent prices, and outstanding staff. As long as those continue to be core pillars for Publix, you will have my business.

Metal Tuesday- Classical Month- Mussorgsky- Pictures at an Exhibition

This is a long one, but well worth the time.

Ineffectual Responses to Tragedy

Last week, a young mother and her child were killed because some young punks decided to go racing down Bayshore Boulevard. For those of you outside of Tampa, Bayshore is a street known for having significant pedestrian traffic. According to one of the local news stations, the punks were going in excess of 60 mph when they murdered the mother and child.

What was the city’s response? Was it to add additional patrols to stop racers before they caused problems? Nope. Was it to dedicate funding to modify Bayshore to make it safer for both pedestrians and drivers? No. Was it to reduce the speed limit from 40 mph to 35?

The City of Tampa said that the change was already planned for October, but this tragedy made them implement it now. So, because of the actions of three people already breaking the law – and supposedly aimed at a group already known for flouting the law – the City of Tampa is going to put restrictions on the rest of the drivers.

Where have I heard this before?

Friday Quote – Mark Twain

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

Let’s just say this came up this week.

It’s Never Too Early To Review Preps

According to the researchers, 2018 is expected to have a busier than average hurricane season. Tampa has a lower than average hit rate, mostly due to Tampa Bay. That doesn’t mean we don’t get hit, as was demonstrated by Hurricane Irma last year.

What I learned from last year is that anything above a Category 1 (maybe 2) will mean I’m evacuating. Most likely over to my brother’s place. His place is better situated and I’m pretty sure we could ride out a Cat 3. Maybe down to the girlfriend’s. Higher than a Cat 3, and we’re all heading north. Which is why I’m glad I have the truck.

So, it’s time to start reviewing both the bug-in and the bug-out supplies. Food (human and cat), water, batteries, paper products, ammo, etc. All the fun stuff.

The good news is that after last year, I have stuff to make evacuation easier. Particularly for moving the important electronics and my cats. More importantly, my brother and I have a plan for taking stuff down, packing it up, and moving to another location.

Toastmasters Conference AAR

Disclaimer – I am not currently a Tosstmasters member. This will most likely change before the end of this year. Many of these observations are from an outsider observing a major event for a specific group with its own lingo and speak.

So, how did I end up attending a conference? The Girlfriend is an officer in the district, and since we only see each other on the weekends at the moment, she asked if I’d be interested. Plus, I can always use advice on polishing my “stage” persona and writing.

Toastmasters, just like any organization, has its own lingo. Since this was a big conference for the organization, it’s to be expected that they would use their acronyms and phrases fast and furious. Sometimes I could pick up through context. Others I just needed to ask The Girlfriend.

The workshops were hit and miss (mostly miss), but I did pick up some ideas for improvement on my speaking. Most of my public speaking is providing training or performance reporting, so it was nice seeing other types of speeches.

The contests were entertaining, although one part was more entertaining for me than the conference. Toastmaster protocol is when a constestant is introduced it is “Contestant, Speech Title, pause, Speech Title, Contestant.” And every time they did that, I flashed back to Hot Fuzz and the clerk at the grocery store.

Overall, I enjoyed myself and will probably enjoy it more next year when I attend as a Toastmaster and not just as a guest.

Metal Tuesday – Five Finger Death Punch – Burn MF

You ever have those days when you’re done with humanity, but you still need to stay in the office to finish a task? Yeah. That’s when this song comes out.

City States

Listening to the Squirrel Report podcast, the proposal to break California cane up. Alan said that if California broke up, we might see a rash of states breaking up, particularly where one city or small, densely populated geographic area is essentially dictating to the rest of the state.

This gave rise to my latest brilliant idea. Federal city-states. If a city has a population of at least one million in its incorporated or traditional boundaries, it could become a city-state. A city-state would keep proportional representation in the House, but only one Senator.

Here’s the kicker of my most brilliant plan. Either the city can petition Congress to secede from the state to become a federal city-state or the rest of the state can petition Congress to kick the city out.

I know this is a brilliant idea because it came to me at oh dark early when making a bathroom run. All the great ideas happen then.

Tab Clearing

I’m borrowing Tam’s title and clearing out articles that I meant to do full posts on.

Teaching Situational Awareness to Kids – Because I have two in my life, and I’d kinda like to keep them out of danger.

The Economist saying how wonderful universal health care is for all nations. This was one I wanted to fisk, but I’d recommend reading it to understand how the proponents think.

Syrian Metal Is War – Yeah, like I could scroll past that article.

[Finland ends its universal basic income experiment.( I like the concept of a basic income that replaces all other welfare programs. It just doesn’t seem viable in the real world.

Start-ups make an alternative for braces, and the dental groups rent seek. – I hate when businesses use the violence of government to keep others out of the market.

The Volokh Conspiracy has an excellent column on not supporting laws you wouldn’t kill someone to enforce. Honestly, that would be an interesting bit of mandatory language in any law that assesses a criminal or civil penalty. Make the legislators affirm that this is important enough to possibly kill someone over.

A surprising column from The Atlantic on cultural appropriation. I swear to FSM that I would laugh in the face of any person foolish enough to accuse me of that. Or denigrate.

That’s all for now. I’ll probably need to do this again.

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