Zero Percent Failure is the Acceptable Rate for Self Defense

In the President’s speech of January 5th, 2016, one of the items he spoke about taking action on was using federal money to help fund the development of “smart guns” with the following words used as the underlying reasoning:

We need to develop new technologies that make guns safer. If we can set it up so you can’t unlock your phone unless you’ve got the right fingerprint, why can’t we do the same thing for our guns?

If there’s an app that can help us find a missing tablet — which happens to me often, the older I get — if we can do it for your iPad, there’s no reason we can’t do it with a stolen gun. If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should make sure they can’t pull a trigger on a gun.

In answering these (what one can only assume were supposed to be rhetorical) questions, I’d simply point the reader to this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or even this (in the interest of promoting my own writing, and to illustrate the basic reality that when one relies on a software layer to control or access a physical device that can have deadly effects if misused, one better be able to rely on that software 100% of the time, in any and all conditions).

Setting aside my libertarian notions about the lack of need for government funding to develop such technologies as “smart guns” (which would basically consist of a reminder that the market is free to develop any and all solutions they think they can sell, and they don’t need federal funding to do that), the simple reason that the free market has largely not spent much effort trying to fill this niche is because they do not feel that they will be able to move the product.

Yes, it’s more complicated than that in some instances. For example, such technologies have been built. By multiple vendors. And yet the average American citizen buying a firearm for self-defense hasn’t bought them. And every single solution offered can be defeated, circumvented, or utterly obliterated by a dedicated individual intent to do harm. If Criminal A is willing to shoot Target B, do you think he’s not willing to bust out a power drill after searching YouTube for 5 minutes to find a how-to on destroy an RFID sensor in a smart gun? Or, even more likely, won’t he just instead pick up a stolen non-“smart gun”, of which there are already roughly 310-350 MILLION in the US that are currently legally owned?

Moreover, guns, when purchased and employed for self defense, have to be expected to work 100% of the time. Any software or electronic failure could have catastrophic effects. Imagine, if you will, an intruder breaks into your home, and you don’t have a gun of any sort. Imagine your response is to dial 911 to get the cops to come, however fast they might be able to get to where you live, and now imagine your battery is dead, because you forgot to plug that phone in before you went to sleep, after spending the whole day posting cat pictures or gun control pleas to twitter or whatever website you visit most with that phone. 

Sure, you have a charging cable. Sure, it’s right next to where you put the phone on your nightstand. You plug the phone in, and find yourself surprised that it’s going to need to charge for a while before it can even boot up it’s smart phone operating system, which means it’ll be 30 minutes before you’re making that phone call to the police. Now let’s be generous and say the intruder means to do you harm, but they don’t have a gun, either. They only have a knife. How long do you suppose before you bleed out from a knife wound? Probably about 6 minutes. So you die, then your phone finishes charging, and it is entirely too late for anyone to call the police. Or you don’t die, but you’re almost dead, and your fingers are covered in your own blood, such that when you try using your fingerprint to unlock it, you can’t. You can’t slide the emergency call slider, either, for the same reasons. You relied on a complicated hardware/software solution, and something went wrong.

Is it really any surprise that those of us who have actively taken training to defend ourselves and our families with firearms don’t want to make our firearms more like our smart phones?

Pursue Gun Control at your Own Peril

Eric Meyers at the Liberal Gun Club writes:

So yeah, that happened. As many of us who were paying attention knew, the end game here on that particular right is actually confiscation. As I mentioned in my article about comparing Australia to the US, the difference is we actually have the right to keep and bear arms written into the constitution. Not just the federal constitution, but the constitutions of forty-four states. If you really want to change that, then pursue a constitutional amendment. Get two-thirds of the Congress to agree, and three-fourths of the states to buy in on the federal level – and 44 states to buy in on the state level – then you have it done.

Until that point, the current law of the land is that people can own guns. 30+ percent of Dems admit to owning them, and a larger portion of Reps do. Consider when you’re pushing for expanding gun control to an extreme, that losing 30% of your base ensures that we’ll lose elections.  Have we forgotten President Bill Clinton’s famous 2012 warning? And it doesn’t even have to be because they voted for the other party or a third party – creating massive amounts of voter apathy will certainly get the job done just as well.

The rest of his entry is good, as well, and should be read by those who spend their energy pursuing the elimination of Constitutional rights of their fellow Americans, no matter what their reasons are. As a libertarian, I’m not too concerned about helping the Democratic Party win in the next election cycle, nor am I concerned with helping the Republican Party with the same goal. No matter what, I know that no one who represents my views somewhat fully is going to be elected. Worse still, I live in California, so my legislative and executive branch votes are predictably already in the bank for the party currently pursuing my disarmament, which is an entirely depressing separate issue, altogether.

What I do know is that I will not vote for someone who wants to strip rights away from me because they’re scared of something they fail to understand. I also know that I’m not the only one who feels strongly enough about that subject to go out and vote, and that the number of people with strong feelings in a similar vein will, in the end, outnumber those who feel strongly in the opposite direction.

Stop Biting.

The past day or so, “social media” has been abuzz with people offering their opinions about Starbucks’ seasonal cups having been accused of being evidence that “Starbucks hates Jesus”, or other nonsense. The root of all this “furor” is Mr. Joshua Feuerstein, who, despite his “tribe-flavored” name (and no, that’s not an insult; my wife is, in fact, Jewish, as are my in-laws, and a substantial portion of the friends I’ve made throughout life) , describes himself as a “American evangelist, internet and social media personality”. Mr. Feuerstein is a troll. This isn’t his first attempt to troll his way to infamy; it is actually just his latest attempt. And mass media has bitten the troll bait, hook, line, and sinker. As a result, social media has followed the lead of the mass propaganda effort, and immersed themselves in the “controversy”, as well, with every individual feeling the compulsion to condemn the whole idea of Starbucks “removing Christmas” from their seasonal coffee cups as “silly.”

Well, here’s the thing; you’re all still focusing on the words of one man, and worst of all, this one man is an “Internet and social media personality”, which means this is exactly what he wanted out of the deal. Is the underlying issue “silly”? Hell yes, it is. So stop giving him the attention he wanted. Until you do that, you can expect this sort of crap to continue. I get it; you see something stupid, and you feel your own compulsion to hop on your Mighty Horse of Righteous Indignation to proclaim that thing as stupid. Resist the urge.

You’re biting. You’re biting hard. And until you learn to control your urge to bite, you can expect the trolling to continue, unabated. And the cynic in me can’t help but wonder of media complicity, given the actual events going on in the world today that somehow don’t merit the coverage we’ve collectively given Feuerstein’s troll. I mean, it’s not like there’s a growing proxy war in Syria and the Ukraine, is there? Oh wait…

In unrelated news, I need to go wash the stink of having pasted a “The Nation” link in this text box. But they’re not wrong in this case.

The Occasional Victory

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I live in San Francisco, and usually feel as though I’m surrounded by political opponents, which weighs heavy on the head come election day. Still, I vote. I vote, not because I think my vote counts, because usually, it doesn’t. Usually, I’m outnumbered by statist tools, riddled with cultural guilt and reactionist tendencies, voting the opposite of their self-interests. Usually, voting only results in frustration with my fellow San Franciscans. Still, I vote.

I do this because I consider it my civic duty to vote. To not vote would be to let those who wish to impose their will upon me know that they can do whatever they want, and I can’t even be bothered to register my disapproval. Instead, I am compelled to register this disapproval in a formal manner, even though I know I’m not going to get my way. I’m not going to get what I want, and I usually don’t even like the limited options available to me. Yet, there is a write-in option for most positions, which I have used plenty of times.

It is not often that a candidate I support wins an election, either in San Francisco, proper, or in California, as a whole. And as a libertarian (small ‘l’), I am even accustomed to my Presidential choices being negated by a “two party” system which offers little choice, yet so much rhetoric about how voting for a “third party” candidate is tantamount to “throwing [my] vote away”. I’m used to losing. Still, I vote. Again, because it is my duty, as a citizen, to partake in the decision making process of selecting elected representatives to function as government officials. So no matter how many times my candidates are not elected, I shall continue to vote, much the same way as I will show up for jury duty, if selected, and I shall obey the laws of the land I live in, even when I may disagree with the underlying presumptions those laws portend to address.

In the last election, there was a measure called “Proposition E” which proposed a tax be levied on “sugary beverages”, in order to discourage people from drinking them, which it was alleged was in the public’s best health interest. I voted against this measure, because I believe it should be the individual’s choice whether or not to drink these beverages. I believe it is the individual’s right to make choices about what they choose to do with their bodies, and that the state has no business in taking on the responsibility of either encouraging or discouraging individual behavior based on whatever health concerns they have voted to be detrimental. During the run-up to that election, I was told by supporters of the proposition, that I was a “tool of the big beverage industry”. I was told that poor people get diabetes because they’re tricked into drinking soda by advertisements and cultural propaganda. But that measure was defeated, and there was no new tax applied to sugary beverages. It was the rare victory in a series of losses in my voting career as a San Franciscan.

Yesterday, I had another victory. The current acting Sheriff of San Francisco County is Ross Mirkarimi, who has been plagued by scandals and negative PR since he was elected in 2012. In order to dethrone him, I had previously volunteered for the campaign of Vicki Hennessy, and had been encouraged when collecting signatures in the Park Merced area of San Francisco by the amount of public support she had from those I ran into. When we collected signatures in the Castro district, the results were less positive, but it’s a different demographic, and often times the people we’d be asking for support were from out of town, or otherwise unable to vote in San Francisco’s election. Yesterday, I went to my local polling place to vote, which took less than five minutes, and I went home and continued with my day.

Today, I awoke to another victory. Vicki Hennessy took the Sheriff’s election with almost twice the votes Ross Mirkarimi managed to get. While it feels good to have a second win in a second consecutive election cycle, I think what feels better is that San Francisco, come January, will finally have an effective, experienced Sheriff. One who isn’t a career politician, posturing for votes for the next election. One who understands the jobs of those she is in charge of, because she has done each and every one of those jobs in her two-decade career as a Deputy. One who will deliver results, rather than excuses, and accusations that there is a “vast right wing conspiracy” amongst City Hall to discredit her (an accusation, which on its face, is patently absurd, given the complete lack of any “right wing” power in the City and County of San Francisco). And best of all, one who will never be suspended for six months for having been arrested, and convicted, of domestic abuse.

Congratulations to Vicki Hennessy, and congratulations to San Francisco on doing the right thing for once. Today, everybody wins. Well, almost everybody. Mr. Mirkarimi will have to get a real job for the first time in his life, which may be challenging, given his lack of experience in the private sector, but I’m sure he would appreciate, as a good “progressive“, that sometimes the few must suffer for the benefit of the many.

Heads Buried in Sand

Daniel Denvir wrote an article in Salon recently about what he calls the “shocking, Orwellian rise of “school resource officers””, bemoaning his imagined rise of a “police state”. The article, predictably enough for Salon, does its level best to stoke the fires of racial strife, jumping to a series of conclusions without waiting for evidence or context in the heavily circulated video case of school resource officer Ben Fields in South Carolina forcibly removing a student from a chair she apparently refused to vacate when ordered to do so. This article, posing as a piece of journalism, is entirely an advocacy opinion piece of the type one would expect from Salon. If it were journalism, it would be highly irresponsible journalism, as a key element of any work of journalism would be the desire to flesh out any and all pertinent facts before coming to any particular conclusion.

The incident in question happened too recently for anyone in the public to be expected to have all the facts. The investigation, itself, is not complete, though that does not stop opinion “journalists” from using the incident as evidence to support their preconceived ideas; in fact, it serves as a convenient excuse to run such half-baked pieces, in an effort to capitalize on public attention. Further, and to avoid any mincing of words, the financial motivation for publishing these pieces is entirely based on the corporate sponsors’ desire to sell advertisements that surround the prose written by pundits, while the public still cares enough to read about the event, in an environment where the collective attention span is two to three days, maximum.

When you take this incident in the context of school security, you can expand the subject to include school shootings, as well as the significantly less published events wherein school authority figures have been attacked, physically, by students at said facilities. The reality of why there are an increasing number of “school resource officers” is because administrative organizations in charge of schools, and therefore school security, realize there is an increasing problem that they need to address, and that the best way to address these issues is to include the on-campus presence of personnel tasked with, and ideally properly trained for, handling these occurrences.

Denvir decries the response of this SRO as evidence of “racism”, implying that schools are creating a “school to prison pipeline” for certain members of the student body.

“For poor children of color, the mouth of the school-to-prison pipeline is manned by police officers who have in recent decades proliferated in districts nationwide. The mass deployment of schools cops, commonly referred to as “school resource officers,” has been made without careful thought or research. And it has produced horrible outcomes.”

He offers no proof that there has been no “careful thought or research”, nor that it “has produced horrible outcomes”, but he writes both things anyway, which then become claims that other half-assed journalists, or bloggers, will repeat, and if we know anything, we know that repeating half-truths results in lazy readers embracing these half-truths as truths.

Reality, of course, does not care what any number of “journalists” or bloggers believe. And reality is that a small portion of the student body today apparently feels emboldened enough to physically attack staff members of their institutions for whatever reasons they feel aggrieved by. Reality is that an even smaller number of students, for whatever reasons, have felt aggrieved enough to enter schools with weapons, intending to inflict as many casualties as possible, and they’ve gotten away with it far too often, largely because these schools have not had the means to stop them.

School Resource Officers are the actual solution to this problem. And yet, when one suggests that fact to the rabble that comprise the anti-gun movement, the immediate outcry is that this is a “disaster waiting to happen”. They fantasize that the mere presence of trained, armed individuals in a school will result in a non-stop “wild west” shootout. They claim that our schools don’t need armed individuals to defend the unarmed student body, or the unarmed staff of these schools, and they exclaim that they don’t want to live in a world where any of this is necessary.

But they do live in that world. We all live in that world. Their desire to “get rid of all the guns” is unrealistic. There are already 350,000,000 guns, legally owned, in this country. On top of that, there are an unknown number of illegally procured guns. And there are miscreants in this world whose sole purpose, usually in pursuit of notoriety via mass media coverage, is to inflict damage and pain in as large an amount as possible. You may not like the fact that this is your world, but it is your world, regardless.

The analogy that is most apropos is security as it is applied in Israel. Realizing that their schools were a target for miscreants with the intent to do harm, Israel addressed the problem, rather than wishing they didn’t have the problem in the first place. Schools are surrounded by layers of perimeter security, and staffed by trained, armed “school resource officers”. As a result, school shootings in Israel are minimal, in comparison to other nations of similar circumstances. One may argue that the threats faced in Israel are not directly comparable to the threats of maladjusted young adult shooters in the United States, but actually such a comparison is fairly accurate. While the motives behind attacks may differ slightly (eg: religious war vs. maladjusted desire for notoriety), the situations themselves are very similar.

The question, then, is whether we, as a people, are going to continue to deny we have a security issue, or refuse to act because it means accepting the world we live in is not the world we wish we lived in, or whether we will accept that in order to prevent tragedies, we are willing to take the obvious, efficient, and right courses of action in order to prevent them. Will we do what we need to do, or will we bury our heads in the sand, and hope the insanity stops?

What is entirely not useful, however, is posturing political advocacy pieces from the likes of people like Denvir, decrying “racism” or “police brutality” at every corner. Denvir has no solutions. I’m not going try to put myself inside his head to imagine what motivation he may have for wanting things to stay the same, but he has contributed nothing towards building a solution, and is but a roadblock in its path, and, as such, he should be embarrassed for writing what he has written. But I’m sure he won’t be. He works at Salon, after all, and no doubt received more than a few “atta-boys” for restating the Groupthink conclusions they hired him to write. After all, he submitted it on time, and before the Collective Attention Span had averted its eyes to the Next Approved Outrage, so Salon was able to garner plenty of social media traffic, increasing the marketed value of impressions for their brand of web propaganda.

Real talk. Because some of you need to hear it.

So I’ve read three fawning columns in the last 24 hours about how Hillary Clinton “showed those Republicans” during the most recent Benghazi hearing that she won’t be intimidated, and each column drew what they felt was the obvious conclusion; Hillary will be President of the United States. Allow me to hurt your tender feelings for a moment, for your own good; this will not happen. Not only should it not happen (which it most decidedly should not), it actually will not happen, and you’d know this if you had less difficulty sorting out the difference between what you wish would happen, and what will actually happen.

You see, a substantial portion of the media may want this to happen, and the sycophantic halfwits that comprise the cheerleading section for said portions of the media, with the opinions they absorb from their quasi-literate gatekeepers, may also equally desire this outcome, but shit in one hand, and wish in the other, and then see which one fills up first.

Ms. Clinton is untrustworthy. I could point to a plethora of different examples of this, from her recorded laughter with regards to the victim of a rape in rural Arkansas, to her disingenuous and downright shifty choice to do State Department business using her personal email address, including multiple instances of TS/SCI information being present in said emails, on top of her lallygagging response to FBI demands she provide said email, on top of her stalling for an entire year before complying with the Department of State’s own ruling on when she was required to provide all of said email, not just the selections she self-edited to be deemed as pertinent, to her towing of the party line when publicly, and repeatedly, blaming the incident in Benghazi on a stupid Youtube video, despite the record showing she was fully aware that it was, in fact, an Ansar al Sharia attack, not an organic Libyan reaction to a Youtube video, to a large number of other disgraceful incidents which indicate her underlying character problems.

Her cheerleading section can believe that these are all manufactured conspiracies caused by the ever-crafty “vast, right wing conspiracy” which fears the rule of a “strong woman”. It really doesn’t matter if they believe this or not; the end result in the pending election will remain the same; Clinton, if, in fact, she even makes it through the primary, is an impossible candidate in the general election, and here’s why. Too many people hate her. The NRA, whom she has attempted to demonize, comparing them to Iranian terrorists, enjoy greater popular support than does Hillary Clinton. Too many people don’t think that having been married to a former President is a qualification for being President. Too many people just generally have ill will towards her vaguely disguised thirst for power, and too many people have a viscerally negative response to her very existence. And not only do these people outnumber those who support Ms. Clinton, they are sufficiently motivated to use their voting rights to make sure she never becomes President.

When, in the process of posturing to gain primary election support from less than 50% of your base audience, you manage to alienate 54% of the population, your general election result is going to be disastrous. It’s really very simple. The math is the math, and the math says you’re not going to win. Further, being defeated in the general election, as you will be, is going to leave a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth that will prevent you from ever running again in subsequent general elections. Don’t believe me? Where’s Al Gore these days? Yeah, I went there.

So before you break out the champagne and celebrate raw, naked oligarchy, consider the fact that no matter how much you want something, if a larger percentage of the voting population firmly doesn’t want that thing, you might want to adjust to the taste of defeat. Otherwise you’re all going to be crying like little babies the way you were when Bush II was President. For two terms.

Don’t get me wrong; I love to hear you cry. As a libertarian, I’ve gotten used to my candidates not winning the Presidential race. I’ve got no particular dog in this fight. But you’re going to lose, and if you don’t accept that early (and right now you are in denial if you think this outcome is anything other than guaranteed), you’re going to drive yourself nuts for the next 4-8 years with your seething bitterness at having backed a loser. I may enjoy your whining. I may laugh heartily upon reading your impotent blog screeds protesting the unfairness of it all. But you’ll be putting miles on your own collective hearts. And given the obvious weakness of your constitutions, is that really in your best interest?

Ayup.

This is an exceptionally well-written piece about why gun control efforts fail:

http://liberallygeeky.blogspot.com/2015/10/its-not-nra-lobbying-blocking-new-anti.html

I’d only add that the demonization of the NRA on behalf of anti-gun activist is not aided by the inaccuracy of describing them as a “tool of the gun manufacturing lobby”, considering the following:

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It is estimated that somewhere between 7% to 13% of the NRA’s income comes from gun corporations. They predominantly make their money from membership dues (which means individuals who want to join the NRA sign up and pay for that membership) and personal contributions from said members, who willingly donate money to the NRA. And you know why about 5 million people willingly signed up and paid for NRA membership? Because they feel the NRA represents their rights in both Washington DC, and in the individual states in which they live. That’s what a “grass roots” movement looks like, as opposed to organizations like “Everytown for Gun Safety“, funded by millions of “mild billionaire [former] mayor,” Michael Bloomberg’s dollars, which at the end of the day, lacks committed members in its numbers, seemingly operating more akin to an “astroturfed” propaganda agency than a “grass roots” group, despite delusions from Huffington Post bloggers to the contrary.