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Thinking About Safe Storage Laws

Police are charging the New Jersey woman who lost a child when her older child accidentally shot the other one playing with mom’s pistol. In her case, she was keeping the pistol illegally. Safe storage laws are meant to punish parents who do things like this. Any time a law is proposed to deal with a social issue it’s worth asking:

  • Is justice served by this law? This woman already lost one kid. If she goes to jail the other kids ends up in the state foster care system. Now in this case, given the criminal history of this woman, maybe the kids are better off in state care. But is that always the case? Is the behavior in question so bad that it’s worth breaking up families over?
  • Is the law going to deter the irresponsible behavior? I’ve often argued that in most cases when it comes to accidental shootings (which are actually pretty rare) the kinds of people who need to be deterred are the kinds that won’t be deterred. The fact is that most of the people reading this don’t need a law to tell them to do what is necessary to keep firearms secured from kiddies and other irresponsible persons. It’s difficult for me to believe that the potential loss of a child is not more of a deterrent than the law.
  • Is the law enforceable? As with most laws regulating personal behavior in the home, enforcement is only going to occur when the police become aware of a violation, which is only going to happen after an accidental shooting, the very thing the law is meant to deter.

Generally speaking, I’m skeptical of any law that controls people’s behavior in their own homes. My issue with safe storage laws in general has been:

  • They usually apply a one-size-fits all solution. There are a lot of ways to secure firearms. Some solutions, like trigger locks, are outright dangerous for someone who is uneducated on how to use one.
  • They usually don’t exempt households without children. I have no kids, and while I have a safe to secure my firearms from burglars, when I’m home we have unsecured firearms, and there’s no risk to either of us with that.
  • They are not enforceable, and the people they will be enforced against are already dealing with the loss of a child. When a child is accidentally poisoned (which happens far far more often than firearms accidents), we don’t generally charge the parent for leaving prescription drugs, drain cleaner, etc unsecured. We don’t charge pool owners for accidental drownings (also happens far more often than firearms accidents) if they left the gate open.

I think incidents like these are best left as torts when multiple parties are involved, and something for child services to investigate, and dealt with through family court if necessary. I’m not sure charging a mom who just lost a kid with a felony is really justice.

Illegal Immigrant Attempts To Kill Trump

Probably not the nationality you’d expect though. Several reports say he attempted to grab a police officer’s handgun that was not secured, but initial reports are often full of unsubstantiated details.

OF course, this was a nominally gun-free zone, and the guy’s plan relied on the fact that it was being enforced by people with guns…

(My local media are playing up the fact that the attempted shooter was a resident of Hoboken for a while. Why that has any relevance, I’m not sure).

Turning Point: Election 2016

Despite Sebastian’s early read that, as an unambiguously terroristic act, the massacre in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando would not cause the same level of blame as Sandy Hook, my Facebook feed this AM tends to disagree. While that’s a pile of anecdotes rather than data, the blood was still warm when the dance started, and it started with the old classic tune of “This Was The NRA’s Fault,” and the chorus is “AR-15s should be banned and all other firearms strictly restricted, because nothing less will work.” They’re either attacking the BG check system because the shooter was allegedly a wife-beater and mentally unstable and still was able to get a firearm, or ignoring that he passed a BG check in the first place. And pointing out that he was investigated by the FBI for terroristic ties (without mentioning that the investigation was dropped for lack of evidence).

(All are ignoring that he passed separate BG checks to become a licensed armed security guard – a BG check that should have been more in-depth than the NICS check, I would expect. OTOH, I don’t know FL law and company policy there; perhaps all they do is a NICS-equivalent check. Which seems sloppy).

The result is that the Democratic Party has increased their bet on “gun control is a winner!” By doing so, they’ve put defenders of the Second Amendment on deadly ground. My gut read is that Trump’s chances just got better.

Terror Attack in Florida

Last report I saw was more than 50 dead. Being that this is unambiguously a terrorist attack, we’re probably not going to suffer being blamed the same as after Sandy Hook. People view terrorism differently than random attacks. It would appear the shooter was a “known wolf,” and had previously been under FBI investigation. Early on I was wondering why the police took so long to go in. After Columbine, the doctrine stopped being “wait for the SWAT guys to show up.” It appears in this case he may have been wearing a suicide vest or facsimile.

Meanwhile, in LA, “terrorist,” or “careful when you leave America?” Indiana plates with a trunk full of guns and tannerite? Sounds like the latter to me.

We will undoubtedly fall under attack and get the finger pointed at us for this. The media is already doing it. The obvious threat coming is the “terror watch list” bill, because it would be most relevant to this case. Make no mistake, they will attempt to blame us for this and get whatever they think they can get, but “terror watch list” is the obvious line of attack. Remember, the courts don’t think this is a right, and will likely ignore the serious due process issues with denying people fundamental constitutional rights based on being on a secret government list. We’ll have to fight. Don’t depend on the courts to save us here.

Local Good Guy with a Gun

An armed robber who had a shotgun and zip ties targeted a local pharmacy this morning. Fortunately, the owner takes security seriously and has a video surveillance system that allowed him to see the shotgun before the robber got into the store. The owner also had a gun that he pulled, and he fired at the surprised bad guy.

I think the best part of this encounter is that the owner quickly called the police who could catch the getaway driver who was still waiting outside since he figured his buddy would be a while – trying to clear out the entire pharmacy after at least taking the owner hostage, if not killing him. Easy arrest, and hopefully easy clean-up inside.

UPDATE: And our really, really local outlet reports that the van was stolen out of New Jersey.

UPDATE II: And now we have the folks coming out that says the shotgun-toting robber with zip ties was engaged in a non-violent offense and didn’t deserve to be shot despite his willingness to shoot his victim. When I looked at the rest of the page, it didn’t appear to be a parody account. He seems to really believe that the pharmacist defending his own life committed murder.


And for the record, my right to bare arms is my right to wear sleeveless shirts and dresses. My right to bear arms, however, protects my right to defend myself from armed robbers ready to kill over access to drugs.

UPDATE III: And this is why I voted for our DA:

District Attorney David Heckler wholeheartedly agreed.

“There is no thought that we would prosecute the shooter in this case. He was entirely justified in his conduct, and frankly should be commended,” Heckler said.

“From what I can see, he performed a public service in taking out this fella,” Heckler continued. “The fella asked for what he got and he got it.”

UPDATE IV: And, it gets even better. The getaway driver admits he’s a criminal on probation – driving a stolen car to an armed robbery. It will be curious to see how long his record is back in New Jersey, as well as that of the dead thief who has yet to be identified.

Begun, These Ice Cream Wars Have

When Sebastian was telling me the tales of different types of ice cream trucks he had available to him growing up based on whether he was at home or visiting an aunt or grandmother, I joked that there were ice cream truck turf wars that kept those boundaries in line.

I was joking because in America the idea that one would get violent over ice cream – especially when trucks often sell different types of ice cream novelties and cones – is just completely absurd. It’s insane.

But, apparently, the NYT reports that it’s the typical business model in New York City. It started out with trademark infringement that resulted in more than $765,000 in legal awards (that haven’t been paid by the offender), but then it elevated to surrounding competing trucks and beating on them. A driver for New York Ice Cream, the offending company, admits that they get physical with other drivers in an effort to enforce “turf” illegally. There’s apparently a decades-long history of violence among other companies, too. One driver in 1969 was kidnapped and had his truck blown up. More recently, a couple was beaten to critical condition with a wrench.

Talk about New York Values. It’s amazing that the city wants to leave the victims unable to defend themselves. Well, it’s not shocking since we’re not talking about America here.

SAFE Act Not Accomplishing Much

There have been a few media stories going around showing that SAFE Act prosecutions have been on the rise, but a local NBC affiliate takes a look at the actual numbers, and it turns out most of the prosecutions are in New York City, and are for unlicensed handgun possession, a crime before the SAFE Act but which the SAFE Act raised from a misdemeanor to a felony.

There have been only 31 cases prosecuted in the entire state of New York for possession of an illegal assault weapon, and only 8 people charged with failure to register.

Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, said her organization believes the statistics show the SAFE Act is being enforced uniformly, despite some of the charges being rarely used.

“You’re not going to have the State Police going door to door seeing if you have an AR-15 and if it’s registered,” Barrett said. “I don’t know, maybe that will start to happen, particularly if there’s a massacre using one of these weapons in the state.”

Don’t for a minute believe these people aren’t in favor of a pervasive police state in order to accomplish their goals. The SAFE Act was never about public safety at all. It was about expressing disapproval for “those kinds of people,” and making them uncomfortable such that they’ll either move elsewhere, or become “better” people, you know, like downstate elites.

Criminals don’t bother with “assault weapons,” which is reflected in the fact that they are very very seldom used in crimes, and now reflected in the paltry number of cases prosecuted under New York State’s enhanced ban.

Private Transfer Bans and Murder Rates

Clayton Cramer has this video outlining his study on the effects of private transfer bans on murder rates:

I think it would probably make sense to control with states that didn’t pass private transfer bans. If murder rates are declining generally (as they were in the mid to late 1990s), or rising generally (as they were in the late 1960s), it would mask the true effect. I think it would be more accurate to say that, for instance, California’s murder rate increased faster than states that didn’t pass such a ban. Maryland and Pennsylvania are both listed as success stories, but during those periods in question, murder was falling generally.

Facts Worth Spreading: It Doesn’t Happen in Other Countries Edition

France has suffered more casualties from mass public shootings in 2015 than the US has suffered during Obama’s entire presidency (508 to 424).

Most of that is because of the Paris attacks, and the previous Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Also the death rate from public mass shootings between the US and Europe puts the US in the middle of those figures.

Remember, the United States has a population nearly the size of Europe, and because the US is a single huge media market (because we all speak the same language) it seems like it happens here more often. Once you run the numbers, it’s just not true that we’re exceptional in this regard.

Quote of the Day: Definition of Mass Shooting

From Tam:

Remember: New definition of “mass shooting” is “four or more people hit by bullets”. Remember that when they trot the totals out. If JJ shoots Pookie, Ice Dog, and Ray-Ray, and one of them manages to wing him back with return fire, that’s a “mass shooting”.
(They’re counting the Virginia News Crew as a mass shooting because white reporters count as two ordinary people.)

Hopefully Tam won’t mind if you borrow that argument for all your lefty friends who are posting this crap on Facebook about 355 mass shootings this year.

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