a welcome breath of fresh air

Any long-time participant in the ongoing debate surrounding "gun control" and the unjust abrogations of our basic, Constitutionally-protected human rights will be familiar with the phrase Reasoned Discourse, but for those newcomers to the field, allow me to give you a short-and-sweet summation of the idea.

Of late, and in the past, "gun control" supporters have been crying that they want to have a "debate" / "conversation" / "discussion" about the future of "gun control" and the best way to proceed with it. Looking past the simple truth that we pro-rights activists have next to nothing to gain from such discussions, and a great deal to lose, those claims of wanting a debate are, in general, false. In truth, and on average, when those who support "gun control" are confronted with dissenting opinions, they resort to blatant censorship, threats and intimidation, "Memory Hole"-ing those threats when called on them, baseless misrepresentations of those dissenting positions (misrepresentations conveniently unfalsifiable by way of deleting the original material), attacking us through our families, and, when they cannot delete our material, deleting their material that started the actual discussion.

In other words, and in general, those cries for a "discussion" invariably resulted in "Reasoned Discourse" – a situation where only if you agree with those who support "gun control" are you allowed to speak your piece, which is hardly a "discussion" at all. If you want to read more about this particular behavior trend, feel free to dig through my archives.

To be fair, those of us who actively defend our rights – myself included – can be rather confrontational and brusque at times, but answer me this simple question: would you or would you not be "confrontational" with someone who wanted to have a discussion about enslaving you? Freedom from slavery and freedom to defend yourself are both basic human rights and Constitutionally-protected to boot; if a bit of an aggressively protective attitude is acceptable, if not encouraged, for one, why not the other?

Now, you will note that in the above paragraphs, I have been adding qualifiers like "in general", and "on average", and so forth. Why is that? Because I recently stumbled across this tweet linking back to this article at the Ruminator. Giving the article a quick skim at the time, I fired off a response tweet indicating that America is, in fact, not a democracy, was specifically designed not to be, and the rest of the article only goes downhill from there. This prompted a surprisingly reasonable conversation between myself and the man behind the twitter account (who, for clarification, is not the man behind the article; that site appears to have quite a few authors), and an invitation to write a guest post rebutting theirs.

At the time I declined, and they invited me to write a comment addressing the post, which I did… and the predictable happened. I got long-winded, the comment got verbose, and it ended up being a guest post anywise.

Take a moment and let that percolate a bit. I am certainly not going to say that the staff at The Ruminator are universally for "gun control" (though given it is a New Zealand-based site and most of the authors hail from there, Australia, or once-Great Britain, it is probably not incorrect to assume some/most of them do support it), much less rabidly so, but rather than nuke the comment from orbit – as other weblogs espousing "gun control" have done in the past – they went and made it a guest post.

Huh. It is almost like they actually want an actual discussion. How bizarre.

And speaking of, given that the author of the original post as well as one of their seemingly-regular commenters have continued that discussion (albeit misconstruing one of my main points), feel free to head on over and offer up your own two cents (though be advised that their system automatically moderates comments if they have too many links, just like mine does; this is not Reasoned Discourse, just good weblog management). However, I would request that you maintain whatever level of decorum you can and try to dial back the attitude a touch, as I did; these are not folks wishing for a missile strike on the NRA Annual Meetings, so please do not treat them like they are.

that ugly "need" hydra

A few months ago, I happened to have a rather… interesting*… conversation with the warped and benighted mind behind the Twitter account of @1StopCity. A recurring theme in this particular conversation is that unless you have a particular "need" for something or to do something, you have absolutely no right to that thing or to do that thing, or, in his very own words, "Odds against you "needing" a gun negate your right to own one."

Oh, the places you could go with that kind of "logic". Obviously it is inherently and intrinsically incorrect – rights exist independent of any arbitrarily-defined concept of "need", and, furthermore, who is someone else to define what I need? – but let us examine its actual underpinnings for a moment.

In 2001, arguably our worst year for such things, 2926 people were killed due to terrorist’s actions, and at the time, there were 285,081,556 people living in the country. While not entirely accurate, one can therefore say you had about a 0.001026% chance of being killed by a terrorist or terrorist actions in 2001.

However, on the basis of that one-thousandth-of-a-percent chance, over the past 11 years, America has wasted in excess of sixty billion dollars (yes, with a "b") on a program that has never once caught a terrorist, has failed more times than we care to count, and is responsible for sexually assaulting and invading the privacy of millions of travelers a year… all in the names of "safety" and "security".

On the other hand, in 2001, 1,436,611 people were the victims of violent crimes – murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, so, again, while this is not entirely accurate, you can say you had about a 0.5039% chance of being the victim of a violent crime.

In other words, you were, more or less, five hundred times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than of terrorism.

So if the Thousands of Sexual Assaulters are the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread(TM) (and I am, admittedly, assuming 1StopCity would hold to that belief), then the notion of "self-defense" is a Totally Awesome and Earth-Shatteringly Necessary Thing, and, furthermore, the United States Government should subsidize it somewhere on the order of $30,000,000,000,000.

By my calculations, that works out to somewhere around one Glock 17, one middlingly-good AR-15, one tricked out Remington 870, and somewhere around 180,000 rounds of mixed ammunition for all three for every man, woman, and child in the country. I could live with that.

And this is why "gun control" extremists like 1StopCity have failed in the past, are failing today, and will invariably fail in the future – once you take apart their "logic" (and I use that term very loosely) and examine it for what it is, it dissolves like the Wicked Witch of the West swan-diving into the Pacific. Even looking past the disturbing and inherently flawed notion that you have no rights if he decides you do not "need" them, his position falls apart as soon as you consider it in light of actual, honest-to-God facts and figures, much less apply his "reasoning" to other concepts.

Of course, this is the same person who, in the same conversation, informed me that "There are no absolutes" so something tells me he would pull the standard anti-rights cultist tactic of wishing those facts away…

(* – "Interesting" because in response to the question, "would majority-approved slavery infringe on people’s rights?", his response was, and I quote, "As no one has any inherent rights, no, their rights wouldn’t be infringed. Would it be horrible? Yes."** This was the culmination of the above "you only have the rights the majority approves" conversation; at that point, I figured the discussion was over – how do you actually hold a conversation with someone with such a radically totalitarian position? – which is just as well, since he ended up blocking me for daring to have the gall to quote his own words back to him. Joe tried to continue the debate, but given that they were coming from such disparate starting points, it did not get far.

** – Speaking more specifically, this concept still befuddles me. If an action does not abridge a person’s rights, why or how could it be "horrible"? How do you determine the "horrible" nature of an action without some way of measuring – or even determining – if harm has been done to a person? After all, if a person has no right to be free of slavery, then slavery does not harm them, does it?)

how to fail at a debate, courtesy of will spencer

Just take a look at this conversation:

image@willspencer: Most "Libertarians" want Obama to win, because they are angry at America. @RedheadAndRight @glennmw @KurtSchlichter @tnacgal

Image@linoge_wotc: I assume this was sarcasm. RT @willspencer Most "Libertarians" want Obama to win, because they are angry at America.

@willspencer: Unfortunately, no. Instead, it is an honest evaluation of what I am seeing. @linoge_wotc  [Note: Tweet successfully Memory Hole’d. Replicated from memory.]

Image@linoge_wotc: Your perception is wrong. I suspect recursive logical fallacies. RT @willspencer Instead, it is an honest evaluation of what I am seeing.

image@willspencer: What I see are multiple variations of this: Americans [reject|rejected][X|Y|Z], therefore they deserve to suffer under Obama. @linoge_wotc

Image@linoge_wotc: [I’d] love a cite to a libertarian actually saying that. Just love one. RT @willspencer … therefore they deserve to suffer under Obama

image@willspencer: In 2008, every Ron Paul supporter I knew voted for Obama, except for the ones who could not vote because of their citizenship. @linoge_wotc

Image@linoge_wotc: Exactly how big was that sample set? RT @willspencer In 2008, every Ron Paul supporter I knew voted for Obama

image@willspencer: At the time, it was only about a dozen. I normally try to avoid crazy people. @linoge_wotc

Image@linoge_wotc: And you would project the actions of thousands/millions based on that? #sigh RT @willspencer it was only about a dozen.

image@willspencer: But let’s make this personal: Are you a libertarian or a Libertarian? Who are you voting for in 2012? @linoge_wotc

Image@linoge_wotc: Why? You haven’t even bothered to cite your sources yet. RT @willspencer But lets make this personal

image@willspencer: That’s what I’m seeing. If you have variant data, please share. @linoge_wotc

Image@linoge_wotc: @willspencer The burden of proof is yours & thus far you’ve failed to shoulder it.

image@willspencer: You’re free to believe in lizard people. It’s your right. It’s not my job to fix your thinking. @linoge_wotc

Image@linoge_wotc: It’s your job to substantiate your claims w/ these things called facts. Your refusal to do so & use of insults reflects poorly @willspencer

Image@linoge_wotc: Ways to prove your debate skills suck: Delete your side of it when you know you’ve lost. Too bad the internet is forever. @willspencer

image@willspencer: Your closed mind is a loss, not to me, but to yourself. @linoge_wotc

Image@linoge_wotc: Do, please, explain how asking for evidence indicates a closed mind. RT @willspencer Your closed mind is a loss, not to me, but to yourself.

image@willspencer: The conversation was valueless to my readers because you are irrelevant. @linoge_wotc

Image@linoge_wotc: More personal insults but not a single fact to be seen. Projection, methinks. RT @willspencer … because you are irrelevant

Image@linoge_wotc: Blocking someone who merely asked you to substantiate your position is the HEIGHT of close-mindedness. @willspencer #irony #fail

Image@linoge_wotc: Pathetic. @willspencer claims libertarians "want America to suffer under Obama". I ask for a citation showing that. He blocks me. #fail

(I apologize for the visual incongruity of my screencaptures coming from Twitter’s web interface and @willspencer’s screencaptures coming from TweetDeck, and I likewise apologize for not linking to half of the actual tweets blockquoted above. Apparently Will was so very ashamed of his inability to substantiate his opening statement that he went through and Memory Hole‘d his entire side of the conversation. Thankfully for those of us interested in maintaining the continuity of conversations, The Internet Is Forever.)

As I later said on Twitter, I have absolutely no patience for anyone, of any political or social affiliation, who cannot substantiate his or her claims with facts. I am willing to make allowances for religion, so long as they do not attempt to inflict that religion upon anyone who is not amenable, but if you are going to make a claim of, "X said Y", you had better have your sources lined up to point to.

And that is the sad thing of all of this; if Will Spencer had bothered to simply proffer up a good, old-fashioned hyperlink to an actual "libertarian" actually saying America "deserves to suffer under Obama" for rejecting something the libertarian in question held dear – you know, actual proof – then his whole bout of idiocy would have never transpired, and we could have debated the stupidity of the person in question. But he never did. He made some blanket statement, "backed it up" with furious hand-waving, and then acted like a petulant child when called on the carpet for it.

Do not do that.

learning from others

Over a year ago, we had our first documented incident of an open carrier potentially being targeted for a robbery due to his openly carrying a firearm.

Last week provided us the first example of an open carrier probably being killed by his own firearm:

Tyler, a customer at the BP station, was killed about 8:15 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, inside the store. According to court papers, Smith and Hamiel arrived at the BP together on a single scooter and followed Tyler into the store.

Tyler, 48, had a concealed-carry permit, but his handgun was plainly visible that night in his holster, Johnson said.

"The suspects walk in and one immediately reached for Mr. Tyler’s gun," Johnson said. Tyler did not draw his weapon.

According to court papers, Smith took Tyler’s gun during a struggle and shot Tyler in the chest after the victim chased Smith inside the store. Authorities said they could not confirm that Tyler was killed with his own gun until they get the results of forensics testing.

I am not going to discuss the merits of open carry vs. concealed carry or whatever else immediately springs to mind in this particular post, but, suffice to say, if you see this unfortunate incident as a reason to outlaw open carry, or even attempt to socially stigmatize it, you are an idiot.

Instead, I am going to do something that will probably piss off those kind-hearted folks who believe that no ill should ever be spoken of the dead, so if you are one of those people, you should probably skip this post in its entirety. You see, in the course of this disastrous chain of events, Mr. Blaine Tyler made two mistakes, which, when combined together, proved to be fatal.

First, Mr. Tyler failed to maintain situational awareness. From the news report, all indications are that Smith followed Mr. Tyler into the gas station, and thus was behind the open carrier and out of his direct field of vision. However, being the eyes-forward predators we are, nature has gifted us with a remarkably flexible neck, providing us the opportunity to keep an eye on situations to either side of and behind us. Maybe Mr. Tyler was in a hurry. Maybe Mr. Tyler had other things on his mind. But if there is one thing steaming around for a couple of years on the ocean has taught me, it is that a single mistake can kill, and will do so if you give it half a chance.

As people who carry firearms, and especially as people who openly carry firearms, it is incumbent upon us to be mindful of our surroundings and know what is going on around us – the best fights are those you simply avoid, and if you are forced into defending yourself, you want to know what are safe(r) directions to shoot. Typically, if I am openly carrying in public, my head is on a swivel and my arm, or at least my elbow, is resting on the firearm at my hip. Will that be enough to save me? Hard to say. Was Mr. Tyler doing something similar when he was attacked? Again, hard to say. But it is fairly likely he did not see the attack coming, and that is one of the first tenets of self-defense – you actually have to know about the attack in order to successfully defend yourself from it.

Secondly, Mr. Tyler made the inarguably poor decision to pursue the thug who just divested him of his firearm. He knew the criminal was violent, he knew the criminal was armed, and he knew that he was now disarmed, but rather than call the police – people who are paid, sworn, and trained to pursue violent, armed criminals – he decided to take that burden upon himself. Unfortunately for him, this worked out about as well as you might expect. It is entirely likely, and even understandable, that Mr. Tyler felt responsible for the criminal making off with his firearm, or indignant, or angry, or it was simply the reflexive reaction to a person taking something away from another person. However, chasing after an armed-and-dangerous thug while being relatively unarmed yourself, and immediately after an altercation with the thug in question, is pretty much a Very Bad Idea (TM) no matter how you cut it.

Hell, chasing after armed criminals even while being armed is not something we, as private citizens, should be doing (and, no, that is not my way of saying There Ought To Be A Law against such things, just me acknowledging that most non-police individuals lack the training, skillsets, and backup necessary to effectively and safely accomplish that risky task).

Mr. Tyler’s death is unquestionably unfortunate, and the responsibility for that murder rests exclusively and totally with his murderer (in this case, that person is likely to be Toby Smith, but he has not yet been convicted); however, his death provides datapoints we would be fools not to learn from.

hide the goats

Not to toot my own horn too terribly hard, but some of us have been advocating this strategy for a little while now, for exactly the same reasons, but with relatively limited success… I guess folks need to aquire their own experience and come to their own conclusions, but it does amuse me more than a little that so very many people are reaching so very similar of a decision.

*shrugs* This webpage’s terms of use have required a little refining over the years (partially due to this particular troll’s attention-whoring activities), but they have always been as clear as I can make them, and now cover the situation adequately, I believe: all comments to this weblog are welcome, so long as they abide by the commenting policy and maintain the required, and conveniently low, level of propriety (for example, repeatedly making specious accusations against individuals without even the tiniest shred of evidence, despite numerous requests for said evidence, would be below that level). However, this is my webspace, and I pay a not-insignificant amount of money to keep it running each year, and I see absolutely no reason why my money should be used to support, encourage, or otherwise publicize organizations and individuals who are bound and determined to abridge, infringe upon, and limit Constitutionally-protected, naturally-granted civil rights, even if that “support” is nothing more substantial than a single link – as such, this webpage will not link to, or permit linking to, any such organizations or individuals unless no other alternative is available, no matter the linking method (comments, trackbacks, etc.). If you want links, go buy your own webspace and write your own links… until then, you can respectfully piss off.

Interestingly, since implementing this policy about a year ago, the particular troll in question has tried to comment all of once – kind of belies his true motivations, does it not?

At any rate, this all appears instigated by the troll’s continued, childish means of attracting attention – picking fights with pro-rights webloggers – and Breda’s response to it:

Rule #1: Ignore them completely.

Rule #2: If a troll writes a blog post about you, refer to Rule #1.

Rule #3: If a troll comments on your blog, delete the comment as soon as possible* and refer again to Rule #1.

Rule #4: there is no Rule #4

While I understand and appreciate where Breda is coming from, I prefer Joe’s take on the situation, roughly summed up as: “spend your effort doing good for the pro-rights community, but if you want to, challenge the lies/misdirections/etc. of the anti-rights nuts on your own turf, and let those folks rot in their own hellholes”. After all, some of the things they say are emminently entertaining blogfodder, and like I said over at Joe’s, we should be careful of the danger of a repeated lie, and how it can rapidly infect society if not challenged at every available opportunity.

However, when challenging those anti-rights nuts and the nonsense they spew, I wholly agree with Stephen’s addition – provide them no more support, miniscule though it may be, than you absolutely have to.

Weer’d has his own take, along with some serious quote-of-the-day material:

#2. Trolls by nature are losers. They run blogs that no readers (and of that small readership are people simply gawking to see the troll do something self-destructive), and their communication with other trolls is simply to attempt to glean attention from them. And their reason for living is to make a shameful mockery of themselves, as their lives and skills are so boring and insignificant, that that is the ONLY thing they can do to set themselves apart from a random idiot licking the windows of the school bus.

(Emphasis added.)