Sunday, December 31, 2006

Brazenly Passing the Buck

If you think the country's going to hell in a handbasket, and you wonder just why that is, then look no further than the attitudes expressed in this op-ed piece in today's Chron...

The nonstory of 2006 was also the nonstory of 2005. It is a nonstory every year going back decades. Yet the number of people who die in car crashes in the United States is staggering, even if it is absent from the agenda of most public officials and largely ignored by the public.


Elected officeholders naturally take the path of least resistance. They are well aware that significantly reducing deaths on the roads requires radical solutions in the form of regulation, investment and enforcement. Roads need to be made safer, for example, by extending guardrails and medians to every mile of busy highways. Speeding and aggressive driving need to be much more rigorously controlled. Trucks need to be separated from automobiles wherever possible. And cars need to be built slower and stronger.

But every solution is readily opposed by someone: manufacturers, industrial unions, truckers, consumers, taxpayers — though all are potential victims themselves. The public is not to blame. It is hemmed in on every side by mind-numbing advertising and shouted stories of the moment. Apparently no medium is willing to bludgeon people — as they need to be — with statistics and trends on the dangers facing them every time they set out in their automobiles.

"The public is not to blame" for the fact that so many people in that aforementioned public lose their lives each year. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over? Just who does this character think is doing the driving here? Who's made the conscious choice to develop the bad driving habits that cause that high number of fatalities? Talking on the cell phone while you drive? Putting on makeup? Eating? Fiddling with the cd player? (And the list goes on...) Not the public's fault, my ass. It would seem that common sense has gone right out the window. Call me crazy, but even before I took any kind of physics class I had a pretty good idea, for example, that if I drove too fast in the rain or if I smacked into an 18-wheeler head on, bad things would happen, especially in the latter case if I was driving anything smaller than an 18-wheeler myself. I guess not everyone has the intuition to figure things like this out for themselves, but this absolving people of personal responsibility has got to stop. Lack of government regulation isn't the problem. People making bad decisions and developing bad habits is the problem. If people die for their bad habits and decisions, then so be it. They are the ones responsible for that. Period. Full Stop. End Of Story. The road this professor is leading us down is the road to a European socialist nanny-state.
"But if it saves one life, it's worth it..."
No. No it isn't. Not if the cost of saving that one life is even an iota more of our freedom and self-determination as a people. True freedom includes the freedom to make bad choices, and the responsibility to own up to them. You forfeit the responsibility, you forfeit the freedom...and you do it as an individual, not as a collective. That is the only way our free society will be able to sustain itself.
Hey, there's an idea for our New Year's resolution as a people...resolve to take individual responsibility for our choices and not pass the buck. What a radical concept!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Refreshing Article from the Chron

Interesting article in this morning's Chronicle...

After more than 20 years of writing crime and other stories for the Houston Chronicle, I was accustomed to holding nothing more lethal than a pen.

I never shot a gun or contemplated aiming at a human target. But now I like to jestingly suggest that I'm due some sort of combat pay after taking a bullet, albeit a plastic one, at the Harris County sheriff's firearms training complex. I was there to learn how deputies make split-second decisions on the use of deadly force.

I would now tend to take exception to English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton's famous quotation about the pen being mightier than the sword, or in this case, a semiautomatic Glock loaded with a 9 mm plastic bullet. It travels at 375 feet per second and can hurt. If it had been a real bullet, it could have had permanent consequences.

I actually heard only one of the two shots fired at me during the training exercise in which a KPRC (Channel 2) reporter and I searched a mock trailer for a possible intruder. But I couldn't miss the sting in my leg muscle when the bullet hit. It left an instantaneous knot that soon developed into a softball-sized, rainbow-colored bruise just below my knee — and a lasting impression that one who hesitates is lost.

During one moment of hesitation, I stood passively as my partner was fatally stabbed by a vagrant who had been rousted from a park bench. In my other two confrontations, I failed to fire in one instance and my shots only hit a concrete wall in the other. The criminals were more accurate, and I would have been killed.

The trainer scolded me for freezing, "If someone has a knife and is 21 feet away, you don't have time to pull your weapon from its holster to fire before you're stabbed."

But somehow I had anticipated having dialogue and then some sort of negotiations.

I think it would be very interesting to see how many laypeople out there -- defined as those who have no experience with guns and don't ponder the ins and outs of armed confrontation -- anticipate the same thing, or that they won't be fast enough, or actually believe the anti-gun-bigot propaganda that "your opponent will just take your gun and use it against you." In any event, I thought it was great to see an article such as this in a media outlet like the Chronicle. Refreshingly free of bias, and an honest look at how real confrontations go down, in a split-second with justthatmuchtime to think about and do what you're going to do, a piece that drives home the truism that you have to know how to actually use your gun -- you have to have the combat mindset -- if it's going to do you any good. Perhaps a few more people who harshly judge good men and women who carry -- and, God forbid, sometimes have to use their weapon -- will now think twice before Monday morning quarterbacking and second-guessing those who defend themselves with firepower. Kudos to the Chronicle and Cindy Horswell for this article.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Scratching the 1911 Itch, Again...

Somebody said once that 1911s were like "gun crack," and they weren't kiddin', you buy one, then you gotta have another, then another and before you know it your safe's full of 'em. Not that that's a bad thing, of course!
I've been lusting after one of the Springfield Loaded 1911s for a while, I guess ever since I decided that I wanted a 1911 about a year ago. Couldn't find one through my dealer, so I took his GI and it's been a great gun, one I'll never part with, but I'd look at this one from time to time on the Springfield website, the parkerized Custom Loaded, and think, aahhh, but I'd love to have one of those. So a couple of weeks ago I went to my dealer and told him, "See if you can find me one of the Springer Loaded models with the parked finish." A few days later he told me he'd found one, and then a week ago yesterday, I went and picked her up. A few days ago, I went out and picked up a set of Hogue rubber wraparounds to put on her, and, well, here she is...

And another view...

Skeletonized hammer & adjustable trigger, fixed night sights, ambi safety, which is good, because I am a lefty. I was surprised it came with an unramped barrel, but then the 1911 has survived this long without it, so it's no big deal. We'll see how she runs with hollow points later on. She runs with ball pretty good, though. Went to the range last Wednesday with 100 rounds of 230-grainers, very accurate and nary a malfunction, although I had just the standard grips on her at the time and with no front checkering, the grip can get a little slick. But I'm not a fan of any kind of checkering anyway, as it can get pretty abrasive after a while, and I had planned to get the Hogues anyway. We'll be making another trip this weekend, and I am looking forward to it.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yes, Many Of Us Knew This, But...

it's still good to see it in print.
From today's Beaumont Enterprise:

Guns used in violent crimes - like the seven shootings in the past 30 days in Beaumont and Port Arthur - rarely are obtained legitimately.
The majority are stolen from homes and peddled in clandestine transactions for a song, said Bart Mora, Beaumont agent in charge with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
"A gun stolen out of your nightstand that you paid $400 for, might sell for $25 or $30 on the street corner," Mora said.
Criminals also barter favors and drugs for firearms, he said.
Burglaries at sporting goods stores, pawn shops and gun stores also supply illicit firearms, said Lt. Pat Powell who leads the Port Arthur police gang unit.
"(Those licensed to sell firearms) are very rarely the problem," Mora said. "They tend to be a strongly self-policing group, and we'll get called if one of them is selling guns without doing background checks."

Rememeber that the next time you hear one of the various Chicken Little gun bigots talking about manufacturers and dealers "flooding our streets with guns," as Chicago mayor Richard Daley so artfully put it once. Various surveys and statistics all point to the very same conclusion, that is, that the manufacturers and dealers are not the problem, but the criminals themselves.
And here's something to remember the next time you hear one of these nanny-staters bleating about the so-called "lax gun laws" we operate under:

Powell agreed that gun laws are not behind the never-ending supply of street guns.
"I'm in favor of an armed populace. We're not afraid of a good guy with a gun," he said. "It's just that you have people that all they, 24 hours a day, is commit crimes."

Straight from the horse's mouth, folks, there you have it -- from someone who deals with crime perpetrated with guns on a daily basis, the gun laws aren't the problem.
Of course, once again we already knew this, but it's good to see it acknowledged by someone on the front lines...

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yes, I Am Still Here!

Where have I been, you ask? ;-) Well...
Long weekend.
Much partying.
Very little sleep. Must catch up.
More bloggage to come for you fine people in the next couple of days...thank you for checking in!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Another Brady Lie? Say It Isn't So!

Via THR, once again comes this article, with this whopper of a fabrication from HCI spokesperson Jennifer Bishop:

A gun rights group says the victims of Friday's tragic Loop shooting rampage might still be alive if law abiding citizens were allowed to carry concealed weapons. Richard Pearson of the Illinois State Rifle Association believes armed office workers, might have stopped it.
"If a person had concealed carry, a lot of people might be around that would be near enough to prevent such a thing," Pearson said.
Pearson says the three men who died Friday were shot like "fish in a barrel."
"Which means the fish don't have a chance, because those workers were absolutely defenseless," he said.
Pearson's group proposes an Illinois concealed carry law that would allow people to carry guns after they undergo firearms training, and pass an FBI background check. Then they would get a state license to be armed at all times.
The Illinois group says with more guns, crime would go down. It has happened, they say, in other states.
But a member of the gun control group, The Brady Campaign, disagrees.
"In all those places where we've seen this, we've seen concealed carry permit holders that have become criminals because they act on impulse," said Jennifer Bishop.

This is an out-and-out lie, and these people know it. I know well that they will resort to just about anything to demonize those of us who advocate the right to carry arms, but this is beyond the pale. And what's worse, the reporter seens to let this brazen lie go virtually unchallenged. I am once again flabbergasted that there are still people out there who do not think that the Brady Campaign is all about banning all guns and banning gun ownership, and that they are just as extremist as Josh Sugarmann and his hysterical gang at the Violence Policy Center. And what's even more maddening is the fact that they make such patently false, unsupported statements with nothing to back them up, and they're never called on it by the supposed watchdogs. Sickening, just absolutely sickening.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

More Gasoline on the Fire

Via Firehand, who's now saying Kathryn Johnston was murdered, and I can't say I disagree with his assessment, comes this...

Police were led to the home of Kathryn Johnston, the elderly Atlanta woman killed by officers in a drug raid, by a man who was arrested only three hours earlier for allegedly selling marijuana, according to a police report.
He told police there was a kilogram of cocaine in Johnston's home, according to the report, which was made public Thursday.


Markel Hutchins, an activist who has become a spokesman for Johnston's family, said the family "vehemently denies" knowing Sheats.
"They have no clue who he is. Never heard of him at all. This is yet another story that comes out of the Atlanta Police Department," Hutchins said. "The reality, there was no cocaine found there. This whole notion that there were drugs in her house is wrong."

Most of the time I am loath to believe the word of some aggrieved activist over the word of the authorities, but with all that's gone on in Atlanta with Kathryn Johnston, well, I'm just not so sure anymore. The fate this woman suffered would have been horrifyingly unjust even without everything that's come out about this case, but this just makes it that much worse. Heads should roll and certain, ahem, policies should be re-evaluated, but we all know they won't be because drugs 'r' bad, m'kay? And if it saves just one life, it's worth it, m'kay, and Kathryn Johnston shouldn't have had that gun anyway, m'kay?, As nonsensical as that sounds, we all know there are far too many people who believe it, far too many of whom are in some position of authority. Incidentally, it would have been very interesting indeed to see what Mayor Richard Daley's reaction (and that of his puppet down in Springfield) would have been had this happened in Chicago, where Kathryn Johnston's revolver would been yet another "illegal" gun...

"...Is the best of the free life behind us now, and are the good times really over for good?"

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Must-See Video

Via Michael Bane and Beth over at My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, we have this. Enjoy! I know I did.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tragedy in East Texas

From this morning's Houston Chronicle:

She did not reciprocate his romantic affections, but Sam Houston State University cheerleader Rachel Pendray never turned away from Jake Taylor.
When Taylor, 24, tried to kill himself with sleeping pills last month, she called medical help to his home in time to save his life. And when Taylor showed up at Pendray's Huntsville apartment late Sunday, she let him in.
After the two spoke alone in a bedroom for a while, Pendray's roommates heard gunfire. Police later forced their way into the locked bedroom to find Taylor had shot Pendray to death before turning a gun on himself.

I've always hated to see things like this, but even more so since I became a gun owner and, if you will, more aware of the fact that evil walks among us. After things like this, I always wonder how long it'll take until the various and sundry gun-grabbers out there will latch on to them and call for ever more restrictions on the people least likely to do things like this. The article says the murderer tried to kill himself with sleeping pills twice, and that he suffered from depression after he was dropped from the baseball team at Spring Woods High School. Whatever the case may be, the ball was dropped somewhere along the line, and there was arguably little that could have been done to stop this from happening once this guy walked through her door. If it hadn't been with a gun, it would have been with a knife, or perhaps even a blunt object like an iron pipe or a baseball bat. Of course, I suppose many of you who read my ramblings are well aware of all this, and of the fact that if Rachel Pendray had a gun and had the knowledge and willingness to use it, it might well have been just Jake Taylor with the bullet in him, instead of both of them. Many people talk of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, but if we're really going to make any headway reducing violent acts like this one, there's going to have to be a massive paradigm shift among the American public, one that calls for arming and training the good people so they can defend themselves against the bad people. And there were signs that Taylor had malevolent intentions...

The young woman's roommates, all members of Zeta Tau Alpha, told university life personnel that Taylor's interest in Pendray "was an obsession-type thing," said Sam Houston State's director of public relations, Frank Krystyniak.
Many became unnerved by Taylor's interest in Pendray. Jesse Chambers, who lives in the apartment complex where the shooting occurred, said one of Pendray's roommates thought Taylor was starting to act somewhat like a stalker.

...and furthermore, Pendray was prohibited by federal law from arming herself. Per the Gun Control Act of 1968, she would have to have been 21 to buy a firearm from a federally licensed dealer. Perhaps that option crossed her mind, but now we'll never know. It's too late for Rachel Pendray, but if there's anyone out there reading this who has little girls, I beg of you...teach them the dangers of this world and how to defend themselves. If not for you, if not for them, then do it for Rachel Pendray and all those like her who remained too unaware...