How Did You Get Involved?

Jeff points out the story of how Sandra Froman became involved in the gun issue.  How did you become involved?   I’ll tell my story.  There are a few things that might be surprising, or maybe not:

  1. I grew up in a household without guns.  My mother would not have allowed a gun in the house.
  2. I did not own my own firearm until I was 25 years old.
  3. My first firearm was an Romanian AK-47 variant.
  4. I wasn’t all that into shooting when I bought the gun.  I bought it because politicians kept saying I shouldn’t have one.   Yeah, I’m like that.

I did have exposure to firearms growing up.   While my father and mother were not gun owners, nor were they reflexively anti-gun.  They did not indoctrinate me with anti-gun and anti-freedom values, and did make the mistake of letting me spend a lot of time around my uncle, who got into them when I was a teenager.  I can remember going to my first gun show before Papa Bush’s import ban went into effect, and seeing tables with Norincos on it.  I would have been around 14 or so at the time I suppose.  My uncle owned a few M1 Carbines, a pistol or two, and a few BB guns and air rifles, which we were allowed to shoot targets and run around the woods behind his house with unsupervised (the horror!).  I had a lot of fun shooting at targets, cans, various glassware and other such things.  It was a lot of fun!  At this point, I was only vaguely aware of gun control as an issue.  I knew some people wanted background checks.  This never really seemed to be unreasonable to me as a kid.  I was aware there were constitutional protections for firearms ownership, and never really considered that there might be people out there who disagreed with this in a serious way.

After I entered high school, and later college, I got away from shooting, and forgot about the fun I used to have.  Probably the first thing that made me stand up and pay attention to the issue was Papa Bush’s assault weapons ban, which he did using an executive order under his powers authorized by the Gun Control Act of 1968’s “sporting purposes” clause.  Now, at this point, I understood the differences between a machine gun, and a semi-automatic gun that looked like a machine gun, so I realized for the first time that people were willing to ban semi-automatic firearms based on looks.

The thing that really turned me into a serious opponent of the gun-ban lobby was when I was a sophomore in college and Clinton passed the 1994 Crime Bill which basically put a ban on an entire class of firearms.  At the time, I didn’t realize just how silly the drafting was, so I actually thought it more like California’s ban, rather than just a ban on bayonet lugs and flash hiders.  I still thought it was unconstitutional.  I never really thought much about the ban on actual machine guns.   That happened when I was a kid.   I knew you could get them, but that it was difficult.  I didn’t know, at the time, exactly how the law worked.

I stayed out of shooting until just before 2000, my friend Jason, who you all remember as the guy who had the Calico M950 blow up in his face (he finally had the fragments removed the other day, BTW), took me to shoot his Calico M100 and Beretta Tomcat .32 at the Bucks County PGC shooting range (now closed).  I remembered how much I used to like shooting when I was a kid; it had been the first time I shot a gun since I was a teenager.  A month or so later, Jason informed me that a gun shop in Feasterville was selling Romanian AK-47 variants for about 300 bucks.  I was shocked to find out they actually weren’t covered by the ban, and given the fact that I knew the current administration would disapprove, I jumped at the chance.   The first shot out of my SAR-1 was the first center fire rifle cartridge I had ever fired in my life.   It was downhill from there.

A few weeks after aquiring the AK-47, I decided to join the NRA.   Shortly after I also joined the SAF.   I got into reading blogs in 2002.  The first blog was Reason’s Hit & Run.   Early blogs after that were Volokh, Insty, Vodkapundit, Steven Den Beste, and The Belmont Club.   The first gun blog I became aware of was Kim’s Nation of Riflemen.  From there I became aware of SayUncle, Bitter, and Jeff Soyer.   The rest of them all came later.

Of course, I started my own blog to impress Bitter, and convince her to go on a date with me.   You can read about the rest on my about page.  So what’s your story?

Some Dialog

It looks like one of the blogs I linked to earlier in the day has decided to engage me in some dialog:

So I was a little surprised to see that I was branded as an anti-gun misanthrope simply for posting about an article on Gun Guys; here’s my response

I didn’t say misanthrope. I did say anti-gun, which was a bit of an assumption on my part, I will admit. But is it accurate?:

First, you’re right; I do not like guns although I was raised even as a little girl to know how to handle them and to shoot. But not liking is rather different from “anti-gun”.

I respect anyone’s right to not like guns. I will fully admit they aren’t for everyone. I should probably clarify terms of art here. On our blogosphere community, “anti-gun” is synonymous with “pro-gun control”, and yeah, we tend to fairly broadly apply it.

Second, while I am strongly FOR gun education and safety, I do not campaign against guns or likewise. To some degree, adults should be able to choose their particular interests without having the feds in your face all the time.

Does this include my interest in shooting .50 BMG caliber rifles, AR-15 rifles and Glock pistol? I would hope someone who eschews the label “anti-gun” would agree that law abiding adults should be free to shoot the firearms they are most comfortable with, and enjoy shooting. If you support banning these, then you support taking away the guns I enjoy shooting, which, at least in my book, would qualify as “anti-gun”.

Third, as part of item two, I support intelligent gun laws that allow those who want to shoot as a passtime (or use for protection). I just happen to prefer not to use, see, or even have brought into my home or office a handgun or anything larger.

And I would agree that’s totally within your rights to not want a gun or to want one in your home. It’s “intelligent gun laws” that I expect would be the point of contention between us. What might be intelligent to you, probably isn’t to me. I’m not saying you’re unintelligent, just that the label is very subjective.

Fourth – and here’s probably the biggest gap between us – while some may call it issue advocacy at The Gun Guys, I find them a good place to start for information on an issue that I can then research through other means. After checking out several items, I find GunGuys generally less invested in spin than many of the sites that promote the “give every American a gun” ideals.

As someone who knows just about all the federal, and many state gun laws, and knows quite a bit about firearms mechanically, and the various shooting sports out there, I can tell you with some authority the Gun Guys are pretty much full of crap. You can choose not to believe that if you want, but it’s true. We tend to ignore them in the gun blogosphere, because they are generally so far off base as to not add much serious to the conversation. Even Paul Helmke, President of the Brady Campaign, we dignify with more thoughtful responses.

Since this post mentions the need for education, I say hell yes! We can start with a better reading of the 2nd amendment as to what it DOES say, rather than what some wish to infer.

I know what it says, I’ve spent a fairly large amount of time researching what it means aside from the plain words. I’ve also researched a number of state constitutional provisions, many of which are much more clear about protecting an individual rights. Lately, even the liberal constitutional scholars like Larry Tribe and Stanford Levinson have embraced the view that it protects an individual right. The legal academy has generally come to accept the individual rights view.

Now how the scope of this right will be constructed, or should be constructed, by the courts is up for debate, but all we generally ask is that the right to keep and bear arms be held in the same regard as other constitutional rights.

Quote of the Day

Via Bruce, who links to this fine article:

When the state crosses that line and begins protecting adults from themselves, the people have lost their authority over the state. At once, there is no decision the state may not make regarding an individual’s personal behavior. The people have conceded that power, and it is no longer theirs.

Nebraskans Need to Call Governor

Hopefully Governor Heineman can be convinced to veto the expansion of  “gun free” zones in Nebraska to include universities and hospitals.  Off limits places in Nebraska are already a mile long, and adding to them seems to be rather pointless.

“I’m not intending to anger the NRA,” the Wilber senator said, “but why on earth would you need a concealed weapon in a hospital?”

Is there a chance Grandma will pull her IV out and try to stab someone with it?

Might there be a doctor lurking about with a sharp scalpel?

Karpisek made his comments as senators voted to add hospitals and college campuses to the list of places at which concealed weapons are banned by law.

Because there’s absolutely no good reason to bar people from carrying in hospitals.  People have to get to and from hospitals too, and how many city hospitals are in atrocious neighborhoods?  Ever visited Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia?  Go visit, and tell me if you wouldn’t feel safer with a gun or an armed escort.  These arguments could be used for any number of places, and they are not serious arguments.  How well did Virginia Tech’s gun ban work for them?   These are feel good measures.  It’s not serious policy.

A little bit about the NRA’s role here.  The NRA has seemingly not produced any alert on the issue.  It looks to me like someone is dropping the ball here.   The NRA state affiliate in Nebraska doesn’t even seem to have a web site, so it’s possible Nebraska isn’t a strong state for them.  The state organizations are important, because the national NRA are often a lumbering bureaucracy, and are slower to act.

It looks like they tried to have the hospital language pulled from the bill, but it doesn’t look like they were successful.   If you read the final version of the bill, the language is still in there.  Some are condeming this deal attempt at selling out.   I certainly understand where this view comes from, because it sucks to lose ground.

Sometimes in the political process you’re just going to lose, and there’s not much you can do.  In that case you have a choice, you can either shout into the wind and have a really awful bill pass, or you can try to cut a deal and have a less awful bill pass.  Sometimes the choice isn’t between winning and losing, but between losing and losing badly.  This, pretty clearly, would be one of those cases.   The NRA tried to broker a deal to get the hospital language removed, and the legislature snubbed them and passed the bill as is.  Even with a deal attempt, we still lost badly.  Maybe it would be better not to do these kinds of things.  It would certainly feel better.   But I’m not sure, from a practical point of view, it makes sense to take two steps backwards when it could be reduced to only one.

I won’t excuse the NRA for failing to rally the grass roots in Nebraska, without so much as even an e-mail alert.  If the Governor does veto this measure, it will be because of the hard work of gun owners and bloggers in Nebraska and out who self-organized to apply pressure to Heineman’s office.  I certainly hope they are successful.

Via David Codrea

More Anti-Gun Blogs

You know you’re in need of some educating on the gun issue when you’re using The Gun Guys as an authoritative source. Most of us have better things to do than comment on anti-gun blogs, but sometimes it’s good to talk to the other side. You’ll probably never change the blogger’s mind, but for the sake of people who might stumble across the post, it’s important to point out errors and ignorance. Most people say they support gun control because most people have no idea what the gun laws currently are, and don’t know anything about them mechanically, their use in sport, self-defense, or other places.

It’s important to educate. It’s really the best way to help the cause.

City Council Promotes Junk Science

If it wasn’t for the Philadelphia City Council, and the cities inept media culture that doesn’t do it’s research and ask the hard questions, I wouldn’t have nearly as much to write about. Today’s stupidity is centered around amalgam fillings:

The City Council committee okayed a bill requiring dentists to inform patients when fillings contain mercury, and to buy devices that dispose of mercury from recovered fillings. The measure goes to the full Council.

I’m glad they didn’t go as far as banning them, but I’m not in favor of forcing dentists to tell people the fillings contain mercury with the idea that amalgam fillings are not safe. This will likely scare people into unnecessarily getting the more expensive composite fillings, and many people who live in the city could use the savings.

Amalgam fillings have been in use for more than a century, and study after study have shown them to be safe. Here’s what the ADA has to say:

Dental amalgam is a stable alloy made by combining elemental mercury, silver, tin, copper and possibly other metallic elements. Although dental amalgam continues to be a safe, commonly used restorative material, some concern has been raised because of its mercury content. However, the mercury in amalgam combines with other metals to render it stable and safe for use in filling teeth.

While questions have arisen about the safety of dental amalgam relating to its mercury content, the major U.S. and international scientific and health bodies, including the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Public Health Service, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization, among others have been satisfied that dental amalgam is a safe, reliable and effective restorative material.

That’s good enough for me. We have laws being passed by City Council based on junk science and anecdotal evidence. Maybe they should hire a few fortune tellers and astrologers to advise on further laws.

Anti-Gun = Don’t know crap about the issue

You know it’s a slow day when I’m linking to anti-gun blogs, which, I have to say, are few and far between, and as best I can tell, mostly unread.  Let’s start fisking:

The Virginia Tech shooting – 33 dead, 25 wounded – was another spark for the gun control debate in the United States. The National Rifle Association continues its campaign on the erroneous belief that the 2nd Amendment confers individual gun rights, and gun control advocates fight a rearguard action against some of the more heinous assault weapons (the linked gun can empty its 30-round magazine in 3 seconds).

Well, it does protect an individual right.  Even the liberal constitutional scholars think so.  The assault weapon you linked to has been illegal to import into the United States since 1968, as has any other foreign made rifle capable of fully automatic fire.  Domestically made full-autos have been illegal to manufacture for civilian use since 1986.  Possession of fully automatic firearms has been tightly regulated since 1934.  You really don’t have any idea what an “assault weapon” is do you?

  1. If gun control doesn’t help reduce violence, then why was the Irish Republican Army asked to destroy its weapon caches as part of the peace process in Northern Ireland?
  2. If gun control doesn’t help reduce violence, then why has the United States insisted that the Iraqi Prime Minister disarm the militias?

The IRA is a terrorist organization.   Terrorist organizations agreeing to lay down arms, we all agree, is a good thing.  But the IRA agreed to renounce violence and disarm itself.  If the IRA had wished to keep murdering people and being terrorists, can you explain how they would have been stopped?  The UK has had very strict gun control laws since the 1950s.  How did the IRA get their guns in the first place?

Second, in regards to Iraq, we allow families to keep fully automatic weapons in their homes for self-protection.   Yes, we’re trying to disband the militias who are fighting the elected government of Iraq, but gun control isn’t the primary method we’re using.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that guns are not a social good, lobbying groups like the NRA continue to advocate for “right to carry” or “concealed carry” legislation. While such legislation is unrelated to higher gun ownership rates, it also has no deterrent effect on crime.

What overwhelming evidence?  Studies show that guns are used in self-defense from anywhere from 800,000 to 2 million times a year?  And it’s also shown that concealed carry liberalizaion has had no effect in terms of increasing crime either.   So, living in a free society as we do, the burden is on you to show why the law restricting people’s right to defend themselves is necessary.

The facts show that gun ownership is correlated with gun crime, homicide, suicide, and violent deaths of children.

No, it doesn’t.  Stating it doesn’t make it so.

OK, so it’s a really slow day.  Hopefully I can find some better stuff to blog about.

Flower Pictures

If Professor Althouse can post beautiful pictures of flowers, then so can I:
Except Bitter’s camera doesn’t quite have the focus, and I don’t quite have the eye, that Ann Althouse has.

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I thought the poppies turned out kind of nice though.  I’m assuming these are garden poppies, or something, and not the kind you grow to make heroin.

These were our pictures from our weekend at Montecello.  Jefferson was quoted as saying “to be independent for the comforts of life, we must fabricate them ourselves”, which sounds like he had a bit of a survivalist streak in him.   I’m pretty sure this statement, combined with the fact that he was a strong believer in constitutional rights, and that his estate is growing poppies, would surely make him a terrorist in the eyes of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.