A surprisingly balanced article on gun control

At the Roanoke Times.

About 30 years ago as a young reporter in Florida, I was assigned a series on gun control in response to gun violence, which had peaked in the U.S. in 1980.

I began the series with profiles of three gun users, including a woman who had killed her would-be rapist, the owner of a sport shooting club and a convicted murderer on death row at the Florida State Prison in Starke.

Most dramatic was the woman, who was attacked as she entered her apartment after work one evening. She had just moved in and boxes were stacked floor-to-ceiling, nary a broom nor a pot to use in self-defense.

In her panic, she suddenly remembered the small derringer in her purse, which still hung over her shoulder. Already, the man had her pinned against the wall. Reaching into her bag, she grabbed the gun, pressed it to his side and, boom! He died instantly. To my question, she replied: “Hell, yes, I’d do it again in a New York minute.”

Or words to that effect.

Most chilling was the murderer, whose name I no longer recall. I do remember that his fingertips were oddly flared and he pressed them together, expanding and contracting his hands like a bellows. No doubt aware that I was nervous, he seemed amused by my questions.

“Sure,” he chuckled. “I’m all for gun control. Because that means you won’t have a gun. And I will always have a gun.” [Emphasis added - Jake]

I may not agree entirely with the author, but it’s at least a balanced and fair article, without the normal heavily anti-gun bias the Roanoke Times usually publishes. Go read the whole thing. It’s worth it.

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[Source: Roanoke Times article, retrieved 9/20/13]

A Friendly Reminder

As more information comes out about the Colorado theater shooter, please keep in mind these two things:

  1. The Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect – The media will freely spout off on subjects they know nothing about, and without doing even basic research. You know this, and you see it anytime you read an article about a subject you have personal knowledge about. Why would you assume they suddenly know what they’re talking about on a subject you don’t have personal knowledge about?
  2. The media lies – Good grief, just look at how they’ve handled the Trayvon Martin shooting, or anything to do with gun control? Whether it’s to further a political agenda, or simply to draw in readers by stirring up controversy, they are perfectly willing to deliberately and blatantly lie. DON’T TRUST THEM.

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The Media Lies: Part II – The Dowdification of George Zimmerman

Les Jones did a post based on a comment I made at Weer’d’s blog, and I thought I should probably do my own post on it as a follow-up to yesterday’s post. It’s a contemporary and easily verified example of the media lying by misquoting, in what can only be a deliberately misleading and malicious attempt by MSNBC to paint George Zimmerman as an unapologetic and open racist.

“This guy looks like he’s up to no good … he looks black,” Zimmerman told a police dispatcher from his car.

The thing is, that’s not really what he said. If you look at the transcript of the 911 call, or listen to the recording, you can easily see that for yourself. And while the words MSNBC published did come from Zimmerman, you’ll see that an important part of that conversation is missing. A part that makes what he actually said incredibly different.

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: Okay, is this guy, is he white, black, or hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

That paints an entirely different picture, doesn’t it? One that’s far less damning to Zimmerman in the court of public opinion.

If they’re going to lie that brazenly about something that’s so easily verifiable, what else are they lying about, in this case and in others? I and others pointed out the problem with their quote in comments at their site four days ago, but it has not been changed and no retraction or correction has been published that I am aware of. This means it can only have been deliberate.

Do not trust the news media. Whether it’s to boost their ratings, to advance their political agenda, or simply because they’re too lazy to learn the truth, they cannot be trusted.

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[Source: U.S. News on MSNBC.com article, retrieved 3/23/12 (for my comment at Weer'd World) and again on 3/27/12]
[Source: Examiner.com transcription of George Zimmerman's 911 call, retrieved 3/23/12 (for my comment at Weer'd World) and again on 3/27/12]

(h/t SayUncle)

Remember, the news media lies

… and sometimes we don’t learn about it until 40 years later.

Kitty Genovese was beaten, stabbed, raped, and killed in full view of dozens of New Yorkers on March 13, 1964. It became an infamous case, an example of urban disinterest and apathy. Nobody called the cops. Nobody cared. She was horribly killed in front of people who just didn’t want to get involved.

[...]

Or is that really how it really went? Again, not exactly.

Most of the basic elements of the story are accurate. Miss Genovese was stabbed to death while crying “help me!” by apartments containing 38 people. One witness later on admitted that he “didn’t want to get involved.” But here’s the rest of the story.

See, it turns out that the attack happened at 3am, only one person was woken up to witness it, she was only attacked twice, and one of those attacks was in a secluded location where nobody could see it.

Go. Read. Learn.

And remember how the media lies. Remember that story (any story) you saw on a subject you know about, and how they got easily researched information totally wrong? Why do you then trust them to get the details right on the very next story? This is known to many as the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect.

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Remember all this when you hear all the news media reporting about how the “racist monster” Zimmerman “stalked and chased down” Treyvon Martin and “killed him in cold blood”. When you go and look at the verifiable facts (police reports, 911 tapes, etc.) and compare them to what is being reported by the media, two things become apparent.

  1. The media is lying through it’s teeth, by omission, by malicious misquoting, and by the use of images designed to prompt specific reactions and biases.
  2. What actually happened is not as clear-cut as most people believe.

I think Tam has the best summary of what is known.

An honest assessment would say that this is what we know:

  1. Zimmerman was out doing his neighborhood watch thing and saw Martin.
  2. He called 911 and followed Martin in his vehicle.
  3. When Martin walked someplace that Zimmerman couldn’t follow in his vehicle, he got out of his vehicle and followed on foot.
  4. ???
  5. In the process of getting his ass beaten, Zimmerman busts a cap in Martin.

The entire case turns on what happened in the ???, but don’t tell that to the media, the folks playing poker with a deck full of race cards, the victim disarmament crowd, or apparently the frickin’ President of the United States of America.

Note that the police and prosecutors are saying that they are not releasing all the evidence in order to protect the investigation and prosecution. This is normal procedure in any investigation where there is a possibility of charges being filed. So, how about everybody drink a big glass of calm the frell down and wait until all of the real facts are known before calling for Zimmerman’s public lynching? And while you’re at it try and remember how our legal system is supposed to work, too – they have to be able to prove that Zimmerman did something to nullify his self-defense claims, not just say “no it wasn’t”.

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[Source: Word Around the Net blog, retrieved 3/26/12]
[Source: Seeker Blog, retrieved 3/26/12]
[Source: View From The Porch, retrieved 3/26/12]

(h/t Firehand)

Broken thought process

Courtesy of GayCynic, we see an example at the Seattle Times of the broken thought processes of the Anti-Rights crowd.

An 8-year-old Bremerton girl was shot and seriously injured at her elementary school. Separately, an unloaded handgun was found in the backpack of a Seattle middle-school student.

In the Bremerton case, police believe a 9-year-old classmate got the handgun during a visit with his mother, a felon whose right to own a firearm has been revoked. The gun was in his backpack when it accidentally discharged.

Guns are already banned at school. But it is appalling that a third-grader was able to get the gun at his mother’s house. Safe gun storage might have prevented it.

The quoted editorial article is calling for the Washington state legislature to enact a trigger lock law.

Now, ignoring the inherent stupidity of trigger locks for a moment, how on earth do they reconcile “the mother broke the law against felons possessing a firearm” and “the mother would have obeyed a safe storage law”? While they are not really mutually exclusive, they are pretty contradictory. If she’s breaking the law by having the gun in the first place, why would she care about obeying a law regarding how it should be stored? There’s been a significant failure in their critical thinking process.

Criminals who are actively breaking laws tend to not worry about any other laws they might be breaking at the same time. Duh.

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[Source: Seattle Times editorial, retrieved 3/9/12]

(h/t – GayCynic at FreeThinker)

Emily gets her ammunition.

Emily Miller has successfully navigated that labyrinthine laws regarding how to legally purchase ammunition in Washington, D.C. The trick is that you can’t. You have to go somewhere else.

The guide says the sale and transfer of ammo is prohibited unless the seller is a licensed firearms dealer. Well, there’s only one legal gun dealer in the District, Charles Sykes, and he doesn’t sell ammo. He just transfers guns.

[...]

The registration packet does not mention the possibility of ordering ammo online. When I explored that route, I found many big retailers don’t ship to the District. [...] It’s not against the law for retailers to send ammunition through the mail to D.C. residents*, but it seems these stores are all afraid of running afoul of the jurisdictions with the stiffest gun-control laws.

Mere possession of a single round of ammunition for a gun you are not registered to own is punishable by up to a year in jail. This has nothing to do with public safety or crime prevention. As Emily says, “What’s the worst I could do with ammo, but no gun? Throw it hard and knock a tooth out?”

Also note how the DC Police feed her misinformation about Virginia’s gun laws. I am convinced that it is done deliberately. They don’t want the peasants to have guns, so they make the process of legally owning one as onerous and fraught with peril as possible.

The other big trick is lawfully possessing and transporting the ammunition.

In Washington, D.C., it is illegal to posses ammunition if you don’t have a gun registered. It is also unlawful to have ammo that is not in the same caliber or gauge as your legal gun. The penalty for holding a round of the wrong caliber is up to a year in jail — as stiff as the punishment for illegal gun possession.

[...]

Officer Harper told me that ammunition had to be transported in a separate container than locked gun and out of reach of the passenger seat. I put the ammo in a bag in the way back of my SUV.I was still concerned about correctly following D.C. laws, but I needed to save a few rounds to take home so that my gun was no longer just an expensive paper weight.

Check out her whole series, “Emily Gets Her Gun“, if you haven’t already. She illustrates just how the gun laws in our nation’s capital are ridiculously restrictive, and place an onerous burden on the exercise of a Constitutional Right.  They need to be abolished.

* One commenter at the article points out DC Code Title 7 Chapter 2502.02, under which it is probably is illegal, but there is the question of whether this DC law can be applied to an out of state retailer. I can understand why the retailers don’t want to find out.

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[Source: Washington Times article by Emily Miller, retrieved 2/28/12]

Point, Counterpoint – One Gun a Month

Update the second @ 1245hrs: Well, so far we have:

  • One assertion of facts by the aforementioned Andy Goddard (that “After “1 handgun a month” was introduced, a study showed that the number of guns found in other states and traced back to original purchase in VA decreased”) with no identification of or link to the study in question supporting his claim;
  • One appeal to emotion with no factual or logical assertions whatsoever; and
  • One statement that “people in VA who claim their needs for safety require them to purchase multiple handguns per month are just doing so to turn around and sell them illegally online,” linking to a news story about a “study” by Mayors Against Illegal Guns claiming people sold guns to them when they claimed they couldn’t pass a background check, which doesn’t provide any actual evidence to support the statement and is irrelevant to the question at hand.

So, out of three responses in four hours, not one has provided any actual evidence that “one gun a month” restrictions are effective in reducing straw purchases. Not even the one from the Chairman of the Board of an organization dedicated to gun control!

Update: Oooh! Andy Goddard has jumped in! This ought to get entertaining!

Our local paper, The Roanoke Times, recently started an editorial feature called “Point / Counterpoint”, where they ask a question and have two people on opposite sides of the issue write a short piece on the topic. Each person is then given the opportunity to read the other’s column and write a rebuttal. Both the columns and rebuttals are posted at the paper’s Round Table Blog and opened for comments.

This week’s topic is Virginia’s One Gun a Month law, and the push to repeal it. The points made by both sides are pretty standard, and there are no comments posted as of 0915 this morning, but here’s what I said.

Those who oppose repealing the “one gun a month” restriction advocate continuing a restriction on the behaviour of the law abiding with no evidence to support their assertion that such a restriction accomplishes its stated purpose.

Let me repeat that. Despite it being in effect for nearly 20 years, and having the ability to compare data over that time period to other states that do not have such a restriction, supporters of “one gun a month” cannot present any evidence that it works.

If you want to continue to restrict my actions in an effort to reduce crime, show me evidence that the restriction actually reduces crime. Otherwise, step aside and allow the restriction to be ended.

And that about sums it up, for any law. If it restricts the freedom of the people, it can only be justified if it can be shown to actually accomplish its stated purpose*. Otherwise, it’s nothing more than authoritarian oppression.

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* Among other requirements. But this is one of the absolute requirements.

Breaking News: An odd and developing situation

In Roanoke, Virginia.

From the WDBJ7 website:

The Roanoke Police Department is monitoring a situation on Wyoming Avenue.

The department’s spokesperson, Aisha Johnson, says there was a report of a man outside of that property with a firearm, and that he has since gone inside his home.

Johnson also says there is no information at this time that he has threatened anyone. [...]

The SWAT team is on site.

and from the Roanoke Times:

Updated 4:30 p.m.

Roanoke police were called to Wyoming Avenue this afternoon after a man was spotted with a gun outside a house, spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said.

When officers arrived, he went back into the house, she said.

The police department’s new SWAT vehicle is now parked in front of a house on Wyoming with its blue lights flashing, and police are using the vehicle’s loudspeaker to communicate with someone inside the house, including providing a phone number for the person to call.

“You gotta call the number or come out with your hands up,” an officer said over the loudspeaker.

If all he did was step outside carrying a firearm, and then go back inside when the police showed up, then he doesn’t appear to have broken any laws. If that’s the case, then this would appear to be a massive overreaction on the part of the police.

It sounds to me like the police have some information they’re not releasing. If not, then the only call the gentleman should be making is to an attorney, because there is no cause for the police to hold him under siege, and no reason to bring out the SWAT toys.

In this case, I trust the police more than the media (and I believe the proper term for that statement is “damning with faint praise”). It will be interesting to see what the real story turns out to be. Is it “SWAT out of control”, or “media idiocy”?

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Update: From WDBJ7.

UPDATED 4:48 p.m.: One person has been taken out of the house.

Police are still on scene trying to get another person to come out of the house.

[Source: WDBJ7 News website, retrieved 11/16/11]
[Source: Roanoke Times website, retrieved 11/16/11]

(Note: Most of the category tags for this post are speculative. I don’t know what’s really going on at this point, and the people who do aren’t talking right now.)

Somebody tell the devil to check the pilot light

Because it’s getting a bit chilly down there.

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS — Let us begin by confessing that, if Sarah Palin surfaced to say something intelligent and wise and fresh about the present American condition, many of us would fail to hear it.

That’s right, the New York Times has actually printed a column praising Sarah Palin. Go check it out, it’s actually a worthwhile read.

I’m pretty sure that its mere existence violates a couple of fundamental laws of physics. Maybe somebody should double check that whole perpetual motion deal to see if that’s changed, too.

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(h/t Confederate Yankee)

Personal finance: Ur doin’ it rong

I stumbled on this article today, and the sheer lack of intelligence behind the central premise just struck me.

The problem, though, is that cappuccino is not a line item in our family budget. We don’t make room for such things when deciding how to spread our dollars. Last year, Joe asked me if I wanted to add it, cautioning me that I’d need to cut out another cost.

[...]

The truth is: When it comes to small indulgences — fancy espresso drinks, tubes of drugstore lipstick — I see the budget as an aspiration. Like a diet, it’s something to respect and work toward.

What follows is basically a series of irrational rationalizations and excuses for busting their budget to the tune of $1000 a year, while essentially saying “I shouldn’t have to reduce what I spend on other things because it’s an indulgence!” The article culminates in this gem of pseudo-wisdom.

To my mind, a few out-of-budget small purchases aren’t going to break us.

If you think that, then you don’t understand what “out-of-budget” means.

The worst part? This is an article from the Wall Street Journal. How did this drivel even make it into publication?

If this is what passes for modern financial wisdom, no wonder our economy is going into the toilet.

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[Source: Wall Street Journal article on Yahoo! Finance, retrieved 4/24/11]

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