Marion Hammer on NPR

She declined an interview, so they played some past interviews. Says the Brady representative Brian Malte:

Marion Hammer and the NRA are the masterminds of a dangerous, paranoid mentality that got Trayvon Martin killed, the mentality that’s responsible for endangering all of our lives. It’s based on a lie that you need to be armed to the teeth anywhere you go.

Get that? Paranoid mentality. Looks like the Brady folks are adopting the CSGV technique of moving forward by demonizing gun owners. I predict this will ultimately prove to be no more successful than the moderate path under Helmke.

Bloomberg Going After Stand Your Ground

Not surprising he’d target it. One clarification on New York law. New York does have the common law duty to retreat from an affray, but under New York Law you’re permitted to use deadly force, with no duty to retreat, to prevent the commission of a forcible felony. Nonetheless, if Martin was on top of Zimmerman, duty to retreat doesn’t play into this case.

Bleeding Money

All the expensive roosters I’ve been putting off for so long because of financial uncertainty seem to be coming home to roost all at once. I need several expensive home repairs, a root canal (to be performed Monday. Oh, the joys), and there’s a few things wrong on both our cars I’ve been putting off. To top off the whole bowl of ice cream, last night I hear water running in my office. Not unusual, because the laundry room with all the appliances is on the other side in the unfinished part of the basement, and the laundry drains into the utility sink. But then I realized I had been hearing it for half an hour. So I go look and there’s water gushing out of my hot water heater. No damage, because it goes right into the sump pit, but now I need a new water heater.

So the question is, do I replace the tank or go tankless? My utility space is really cramped. I have no room to work. I can’t work on my electrical panel. It’s obviously not code. A tankless unit would fix all that. The problem is they are like twice as expensive as the old tank heaters. To top it off, the amount of work to put in a tankless is a lot more, as I’d have to make a wall penetration out the side of my house.

Anyone out there have experience with tankless hot water heaters? What’s your opinion? I’ve never owned one and never installed one.

The Netherlands Outlaws IPSC By Ministry Fiat

From a poorly translated (by Google) release:

In the preamble of the agreement also outlines a number of measures that the Minister of Justice & Safety will take. The Minister has decided that the practice of disciplines in which a marksman moves and there is a continuous timekeeping as part of the scoring process and where the marksman in different positions, either behind obstacles on targets shoot, no longer permitted . The Minister thus refers in particular to the practice of dynamic disciplines Trail Shooting Rifle and Pistol, as regulated by the NPSA and the practice of Dynamic Service Rifle, as regulated by the APS.

The KNSA Board expressed its deep disappointment at this decision. The KNSA Board believes that, under strict conditions of security and exclusivity for participants in these disciplines, they are not prohibited would have to be. Prolonged and frequent consultation on the Minister has unfortunately not in other thoughts, and he announced a few things in regulation will capture. The board of the KNSA has finally filed to this decision and will take responsibility in this matter.

I could really use someone who speaks Dutch to translate this properly. Trail Shooting seems to be watch the dutch call IPSC stages. This basically outlaws any dynamic shooting that’s timed. I think it’s funny that in some European nations, that things can be made illegal just because a bureaucrat doesn’t like it.

Then again, it honestly isn’t much better here these days.

Police Procedure

An excellent article about what the police procedures generally are in a case like the Martin shooting, written by a cop turned lawyer:

Here’s the deal: They might have had probable cause to arrest but did they have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of Zimmerman’s guilt? It is very common for police to wait until the investigation is complete before making any arrests. There were still some things they didn’t know that night.

Indications are that the police did not identify Trayvon until the next morning. Without his identity they had no way to check for a criminal record. Toxicology reports won’t be available for a few days either. What if the police arrested Zimmerman and then discovered that Trayvon was a known gang-member who was high on cocaine when he was killed?

Actually, the toxicology report may be the only interesting thing to come out of the autopsy. We know he was shot and who shot him. The CPR attempt would have really messed-up any forensic evidence on the skin and clothing. If the toxicology report shows drugs or alcohol in Trayvon’s system that will help Zimmerman.

If I was the defense investigator I would want to know a lot more about Trayvon. Where was he staying? When did he leave the house? Where did he go? Is the place he was killed between those two points? I once won a case where a girl said my client and another boy tried to rape her on the way home from school. One problem with her story was that the place she said it happened was the opposite direction from her home. That’s why you check these things out.

The media says he walked to 7-11 to buy an iced tea and some skittles. According to Google the nearest 7-11 is almost two miles away and it was dark and raining. My kids wouldn’t walk next door on a rainy night, but then I’m from California. What time did he arrive at 7-11? There should be a register receipt showing a purchase of an iced tea and Skittles with a time and date stamped on it.

Read the whole thing. Life isn’t like CSI, and despite what our opponents have been saying, there’s not much that’s remarkable about this case in terms of the law.

Hunting With Suppressors Legal in TX

Good news for Texans, and yet one more step in mainstreaming the use of suppressors to protect hearing and be polite to neighbors.

UPDATE: Apparently a hunter suppressor law was just signed by Gov. Brewer in Arizona too.

And Now For Something Completely Different: Exoplanets

Instapundit links to an interesting article discussing how many potential planets there are in our galaxy, suggesting that as many as “40% of red dwarf stars may have Earth-sized planets orbiting them that have the right conditions for life.” This strikes me as awful premature, given that I don’t think our species are experts on what constitutes “the right conditions for life.” Most of what we believe about how exactly life came about, why, and under what conditions, is speculation, backed by some experiments that show you can synthesize complex organic molecules in laboratory conditions that mimic the early earth.

In fact, if I had to wager, I’d say that Earth-sized planets that orbit in the habitable zone of stars are remarkably common, but that life is comparatively rare, and intelligent life is extremely rare. Professor Reynolds concludes with one of his trademark “We need interstellar travel. Faster, please!” and I tend to agree we need to figure it out fast, but I’ve always been skeptical of the possibility of this, despite the fact that it’s necessary for man’s long term survival.

For one, there’s an intergalactic speed limit, which is the speed of light. Sure, you can speculate about being able to warp space and time, but even if it’s theoretically possible, we have no idea how to even go about it. That leaves us with traveling at sub-light speeds absent discovery of some new physics we don’t understand currently. The nearest star to ours is about 4 light years. There are about 50 stars within about 16 light years of us. Most of them different types of stars from the sun. The fastest you could reasonably move a craft with foreseeable technology would be about 5 to 10% of the speed of light, making a trip to the nearest star take 40-80 years. You don’t get serious time dilation until you get up to 70% or 80% light speed, and at those speeds, we have no idea how we’d make a ship survive even a micro meteorite collision, let alone how to make the crew survive the radiation they’d be plowing through on their way across the galaxy. The amount of energy involved is also unimaginable. We’re talking exajoules to get to the nearest star, even at a pretty modest speed of 5 to 6% c.

So I’m afraid unless we have a lot of breakthroughs in the next 50 years, we’re hundreds of years away from visiting a nearby star system. I think the only way we’ll even accomplish it is either to figure out how to move our consciousnesses to machines, or alter our genetic makeup to live longer, and be adapted for the high radiation environment of space. If we do make the trip, it’s likely going to be one way, which means we’ll need to improve our ability to observe and analyze exoplanets from here in our solar system, so that if we aim for a target, we know we’ll hit something that supports human life.

And that’s not even mentioning what the life there would do to us once we get there. It’s a tough, tough problem, and I’m just not sure humans are smart enough to pull it off at this point in our evolution.

Victory in North Carolina!

I think Glenn Reynolds picks out the operative quote from the opinion in Bateman v. Perdue. This was the case about North Carolina’s emergency powers provision. This was a case done by Grassroots North Carolina, with Alan Gura as the attorney. You can read the opinion here. I’ll read it myself in more detail when I have time.

On the Self-Defense Priesthood

Bill Quick over at Daily Pundit has been blogging for as long as I can remember. He’s a clear thinker, so when he offers a criticism, it’s something I take seriously, such as this:

OTOH, your personal approach gives you no standing to trash those who take a different approach. At least Sebastian is willing to admit he might have been a bit…ah…premature. Good on him!

If George Zimmerman were the only one on trial, I might be more forgiving of him taking a different approach. But anyone who holds a permit or straps on a firearm for self-defense is now on trial, as are the laws we’ve advocated to support that endeavor. Because of that, I think advocating smart practices in this area is important. Certainly I’m not going to come be anyone’s mommy, and follow them around to make sure they always do the smart thing, nor am I going to advocate laws that could punish someone for not adhering to best practices. But I am definitely going to advocate for those practices as others have advocated them to me.

Jeff Cooper’s advocacy of four simple rules for gun handling, which were spread by folks like gospel through advocacy, have reduced shooting accidents substantially over the past several decades. Shooting accidents are now a far weaker argument for the opponents of gun ownership now than they were in the 1970s, thanks to Cooper and a lot of evangelism for a culture of safety in the shooting sports. I believe in that kind of advocacy, and the Zimmerman case has been useful in pointing out mistakes he made and talking about smarter practices. I don’t think it’s so much a priesthood of self-defense, so much as the fact most of us realize we all have to be evangelists for what the community generally accepts as smart practices that will keep people out of trouble.

I think most of us understand that self-defense situations are not cut and dry, and real life situations are always a lot more complex than the classroom or shooting range. I think we’ve all been willing to give Zimmerman the benefit of doubt on his self-defense claim, even while simultaneously being critical of him for failing to practice avoidance.

The one conclusion I’ll admit was premature on my part was concluding his motivations for finding Matin suspicious were racial, and couldn’t have been objective. Now that more information is coming out that Martin may have been involved with drugs, if he was on drugs that night, that could have provided an objective basis for Zimmerman’s suspicion. But I stand by my assertion that this killing was unnecessary. Had Martin been approached by someone in uniform, it’s likely we never would have heard about this, and both Zimmerman and Martin could have their respective lives back. But whether it was unnecessary or not is a completely different matter than whether it’s legally self-defense. I’ve never been willing to convict Zimmerman on that count, and believe his claim is plausible based on the evidence we’ve seen in the public. But I don’t think it’s wrong or elitist to advocate for smart practices that are taught by most self-defense instructors around the country, especially when the consequences of not advocating good practices is that we all risk getting put on trial.

New Video Appears in Zimmerman Case

From ABC News. Forgive the waste of taxpayer money that appears at the beginning of this video (looks like only the one on the ABC site has the Obamacare is great ad):

A few thoughts. People looking to jump to conclusions are saying this video shows that Zimmerman was uninjured. I don’t think it shows that at all. It shows he’s not badly injured, for sure, but the law doesn’t require you to get to the point you’re badly injured before defending yourself with deadly force. You just have to be in reasonable fear of grave bodily injury or death, and typically, getting your head beat into a pavement would qualify.

Now, back to what’s on the video. I think I notice a bandage on his nose, and what looks like a minor laceration on the back of his head. It’s hard to tell because they blur his face when it comes into view. It also looks like they blurred the back of his head for a second. But I agree with folks who note he’s steady on his feet. That would tend to indicate he didn’t receive major head trauma. But this does not negate his self-defense claim, unless the video shows he is totally uninjured. I don’t think it conclusively does.

Thirdly, if you’re ever involved in a self-defense situation where you’re even remotely injured, ask the police to take you to the hospital. Get examined by a doctor. Thanks to the wonders of malpractice suits, Doctors are far more careful than first responders, in terms of “Well, you know, he could have a concussion, we’d better keep him.” It’s also going to look far better, if this hits the paper, to be “released from the hospital” rather than “treated at the scene.” Doctors are also going to be more credible at characterizing your injuries, and can then testify on your behalf in court. It also buys you time for your lawyer to get down there.