Friday Quote – Benson E. Legg

“A citizen may not be required to offer ‘good and substantial reason’ why he should be permitted to exercise his rights. The right’s existence is all the reason he needs.”

U.S. District Court Judge Benson E. Legg, Wollard v. Sheridan, 2012.

This quote originally came to my attention back in March when the decision was handed down. The case surrounds the state of Maryland requiring a “good and substantial” reason before it would even consider issuing a person a concealed weapons permit.

This is one of the best legal statements that I’ve seen. Moreover, although it is relating directly to a RKBA case, it perfectly encapsulates the basic theory behind many of the libertarian positions. As human beings, we have natural rights. We do not require permission from the state to exercise those rights. When (if) the population starts retaking the freedoms surrendered by previous generations, this idea must be central. We don’t need permission from the state for our activities – the state needs permission from us for theirs.

Thoughts On the Aurora, CO, Mass Murder – 7/21/12

Like the rest of our nation, and probably most of the world, my heart and my condolences go out to the injured, their families, and the families of the slain. For them, this isn’t a spectacular news event that will keep the public’s attention for a few days or a couple of weeks. This is a personal tragedy that many will spend years, if not lifetimes, dealing with. They have my sympathies.

We have already seen that this tragedy is being picked up by the politicians and the “chattering class” of commentators and anti-rights activists as the latest example of the need to restrict firearms. Why is it that firearms imbue the public with collective guilt? One of the reasons that I became an atheist was because I refused to believe that I was guilty of some crime that was committed by a fictional character and had to atone for it. I have enough mistakes of my own, I don’t need to feel guilty about the actions of others I had no control over. In regards to this shooting, I didn’t murder anyone. I have not used my firearms in an irresponsible manner. Why should I be punished for the actions of someone I wasn’t even aware of, much less controlled?

The answer might be that guns are specifically designed to kill and therefore must be treated with different rules. This is a fallacy. First, guns are inanimate objects. Despite urban legends, firearms can’t discharge on unless a human being loads a bullet into the firing chamber and engages the trigger. That being said, guns are potentially dangerous items. This is why we teach children to respect them, just like we do with other potentially dangerous items like lawn mowers, gasoline, and household chemicals. Firearms can’t kill a human being unless the operator is careless or malicious, just as gasoline can’t burn down a house unless the user is careless or malicious. If we don’t punish the general populace when an arsonist uses a Molotov cocktail to burn down a house by taking away their access to gasoline, then why should we restrict access to firearms because one individual commits a heinous act?

Could this particular incident been avoided? Perhaps, but trying to ascertain that less than 36 hours after the incident is premature. The perpetrator probably is mentally ill, but that may or may not have been an indicator that he was planning this type of crime. We Don’t Know. This kind of event is something that we ultimately can’t prevent, anymore than we can prevent a hurricane or tornado. There will always be someone out there who will slip through any preventive measure, exploit the weaknesses in our culture and institutions, and wreak unimaginable carnage. It Will Happen. Unlike natural disasters, society may be able to limit the frequency of these events, but we will not be able to eliminate them.

I’ve seen a few blogs that have made the point that this crime is an example of why the authors carry a gun. I agree with Linoge from Walls of the City that this isn’t a very strong argument. From the preliminary reports, the murderer was wearing some sort of body armor. I very much doubt that the 9 mm I regularly carry would penetrate. We could speculate on the use of a head-shot, but I don’t think the run-of-the-mill concealed carrier would be able to make such a shot under the conditions (darkened theater, panicking people, some sort of gas canister going off, being fired at by a murderer). Fighting at that point means either getting a rifle (probably not realistic) or closing with the murderer and physically removing him as a threat (e.g., Tuscon shooting). Could I do it? I would hope I have enough courage and ability, but I honestly don’t know. I know when I go into a place, including a movie theater, I try to know my environment. Now, I have one more thing to add to my threat assessment. I will let those more knowledgeable then me do the full analysis, and I will try to incorporate the lessons learned.

Gun Rights Policy Conference 2012

The Second Amendment Foundation wisely decided to hold the GRPC this year in Orlando. Details here. I will definitely be attending on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 29 & 30). Friday may be more problematic because it’s the last day of the fiscal year. Right now, I’m still planning to be there. To say that I’m excited to be going is kind of like saying the Mongols dabbled in real estate.

Verbal De-Escalaltion and the Concealed Carry Holder

When I look at the differences of how I handled situations before I started carrying and now, the biggest is that I let some annoyances slide. Things that would have before got me into a rage, I just ignore or shrug off. Why? Because now I can’t afford to let things escalate into a confrontation that might become physical. Among the gun blogs, it’s often speculated on why anti-gunners seem prone to threaten or commit violence against their opponents. One theory is that they aren’t regularly carrying something that can cause immediate and irrevocable harm to another, and therefore, have lost respect for the power of violence. I refuse to engage in petty arguments not because I have a gun and can make anyone back down with my violence, but because if I have to do violence, it will not end well for anyone, including myself (see: Zimmerman, George).

The most recent Practical Defense, one of the myriad of podcasts I listen to regularly, was on verbal deescalation. Please give it a listen. The normal host, Alex Haddox, was “rebroadcasting” a podcast from Britain by Iain Abernathy. Being able to stop an altercation from becoming physical – and possibly lethal – should be extremely important to anyone who regularly carries a firearm.

Somethings I picked up from the podcast:

  1. Some situations can’t be verbally deescalated. Criminals and non-reasoning individuals (such as those under the influence and belligerent) should be dealt with by retreat or defense. Keeping your situational awareness may help in avoiding and/or recognizing these individuals.
  2. LEAPS – Listen, Empathize, Ask, Paraphrase, and Summarize; this was surprisingly similar to what I was taught at McDonald’s to “recover” a customer who had a bad experience. Make sure to use “I” statements instead of “You” statement (i.e., “I’m sorry, I’m having a hard time understanding what you just said.” instead, “You’re not making yourself clear.”)
  3. Even when deescalating, be prepared for violence. Even after everything seems resolved don’t let your guard down.

If you listen to podcasts, I highly recommend Practical Defense. If you don’t learn something new with each podcast, then you should go back and re-listen because you missed something. Even on subjects I thought I was proficient, Alex still manages to give me either new techniques or new perspectives.

Friday Quote – Napoleon Bonaparte

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Napoleon Bonaparte Emperor of France (1805-1814)

Although this quote is in reference to military matters, it also has its uses in arguing a position. As hard as it may be, sometimes it’s best just to let someone ramble while making all sorts of logical fallacies. Your opponent may just show exactly how much of a fool they are or at least let you demolish most of their strong arguments before they can start moving the goal posts further or start switching their attack vectors.

Friday Quote – Thomas Paine

“To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”

Thomas Paine American Founding Father and author of the Revolutionary-era pamphlet Common Sense.

Common sense tells us to pick our battles. There is little point in arguing with zealots because they are unfazed by the use of logical arguments. It is highly unlikely that anything said will make them stop and re-evaluate their beliefs. FSM knows I used to be like that when I was gripped in the throes of the conservative political dogma.

The only time I know to engage the zealot is when there is a third-party that can be swayed. In one of the great scenes from the movie Thank You For Smoking, the protagonist, Nick is explaining his job as a lobbyist to his son, Joey.

Nick: Okay, let's say that you're defending chocolate and I'm defending vanilla. Now, if I were to say to you, "Vanilla's the best flavor ice cream", you'd say …?
Joey: "No, chocolate is."
Nick: Exactly. But you can't win that argument. So, I'll ask you: So you think chocolate is the end-all and be-all of ice cream, do you?
Joey: It's the best ice cream; I wouldn't order any other.
Nick: Oh. So it's all chocolate for you, is it?
Joey: Yes, chocolate is all I need.
Nick: Well, I need more than chocolate. And for that matter, I need more than vanilla. I believe that we need freedom and choice when it comes to our ice cream, and that, Joey Naylor, that is the definition of liberty.
Joey: But that's not what we're talking about.
Nick: Ah, but that's what I'm talking about.
Joey: But … you didn't prove that vanilla's the best.
Nick: I didn't have to. I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong, I'm right.
Joey: But you still didn't convince me.
Nick: Because I'm not after you. I'm after them. (Pointing to by-standers)

We’re not trying to convince the zealots, we’re trying to convince them. The by-standers that will listen to reasoned arguments against the rhetoric. Those who can be swayed.

Awesome Ad Convergence

So I have the apps for a couple of the local news channels just to keep abreast of local news. I popped open one and noticed that the advertisement at the bottom was for Remington’s response to NBC’s hit-piece.

Granted, the ads are in rotation from a 3rd party (I believe it was AdChoice) and the station probably has little input as to what ads are posted. Still it was neat to see the ad on a news app. It would’ve been sweeter if it had been on the app for the NBC affiliate.