An embarassment of riches; or links to all over

Quick Link and Open Thread image

There’s so much good stuff out there, I’m just going to spill it all here, a la Instapundit.

Jonathan Tobin doubts that Obama’s upcoming three-week long “Sham-Wow” commercial for ObamaCare will miraculously turn around the public’s perception that the program is a failure and the president a liar.

The success of the president’s snake-oil show is especially doubtful given that the narcissists in the White House are now blaming the public for the website’s manifest failings.

Oh, and Obama junket will also have dubious success because news is leaking out that the Obamacare site is a hacker’s wet dream.

Right now, it looks as if Obama has finally been unable to fool all of the people all of the time, at least when it comes to Obamacare.

After Chief Justice Roberts resuscitated Obamacare, I find it hard to imagine the courts dismantling that monstrosity.  Still, it’s possible.

For people who want to see the inevitable graveyard of Obama’s anti-capitalist, anti-freedom, redistributionist policies, they need look no further than Venezuela, where the country has gone from stable to basket-case in a decade.

If you want to renew your driver’s license in Oregon, you’d better come in prepared with every bit of proof known to man showing that you are who you say you are.  Interestingly, though, you don’t need to show any ID to vote in Oregon.  Just sayin’.

I was reading Glenn Reynold’s article explaining why we should abolish the TSA, and I was nodding so hard in agreement, I looked like one of those bobble-head dolls in someone’s car.

I could dig up the zillions of posts I’ve done about the way in which the welfare state destroyed the black community because it was rational for blacks to put forth less effort.  I won’t though.  Thomas Sowell makes the same point, only he does so brilliantly in his article about test scores.

When you’re George Bush and increase AIDS aid to Africa, you’re reviled; when you’re Hillary Clinton and you decrease AIDS aid to Africa, you get a reward from the AIDS Foundation.  It’s not what you do, it’s whether there’s an “R” or a “D” after your name.

Regarding Iran, here’s the good news:  Obama’s an idiot, but the Iranians aren’t necessarily that smart (although, so far, their madman chess is a lot more successful than Obama’s amateur basketball).

On Passover, Jews the world ask “Why is this night different from all other nights?”  When it comes to Islam, if you still find yourself “Why is this religion different from all other religions?”, you’re not asking that because you’re engaging in a timeless religious ritual.  Instead, if you still have to ask that question you, like our President, are an idiot.  Islam is indeed different from all other religions and that difference lies in the fact that it’s utterly barbaric as written and as practiced.

No, Obama is not Hitler.  (He’s more Neville Chamberlain, with a large dollop of the Hugo Chavez school of economics.)  Nevertheless, the Dems couldn’t have been more tin-eared when they came up with “White House Youth” or WHYouth (to which I either want to answer, Why not? or I want to do an endless bullet-point list explaining why you’re not getting good public policy if you look to young people as your guide).

I’m sure there’s someone in the British government who could be dragged to a microphone to say, “Hey, some of my best friends are Jews.”  Nah!  Not really.  Because there’s no one left in Britain who could say that with a straight face, why Britain was able to ban Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller from entering England in part on the ground that they were pro-Israel.

Is it the Onion or is it just an ordinary Progressive news report about businesses in America?

And finally, if you’re a veteran and you can’t get a gun, Dom Raso has some helpful practical advice.

The horrible racism and cruelty of political correctness

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) occurs at the intersection of Africa and Islam — meaning brown people and black people.  It involves taking a little girl and cutting off her clitoris and, perhaps, her labia.  In extreme circumstances, it means sewing together the opening to her vagina.  It’s purpose is a simple one:  to destroy sexual pleasure or even the possibility of sex.  If sex is possible, it’s painful.  Of course, for all these little girls, sex will still be an imperative when they are grown (or, in same cases, almost grown) and forced to marry.

Aside from the horrible mutilation, the process itself is medieval too.  It’s done without anesthetics and using the most primitive instruments, including rusty, dull razor blades.  The notion of sanitation is laughable.

There is absolutely nothing good that can be said about FGM.  Unlike circumcision (which I understand many decry), it is not a covenant with God, it does not provide a sanitary function (whether in the Sinai desert or elsewhere), and it does not help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.  It is solely about control and denying women sexual pleasure as one means of that control.

Every right thinking person in the world should be opposed to it.  It is the modern equivalent of the suttee (or sati) that the English Governor-General of India, William Bentinck brought to an end.  That practice, of course, involved a widowed wife crawling onto her dead husband’s funeral pyre to be burned alive along with his corpse.  Bentinck was fully alive to the risks he ran in challenging an established cultural practice.  He understood that he could put British lives at risk, but he determined in 1829 that moral considerations must outweigh pragmatic concerns:

Prudence and self-interest would counsel me to tread in the footsteps of my predecessors [who allowed suttee]. But in a case of such momentous importance to humanity and civilization, that man must be reckless of all his present or future happiness who could listen to the dictates of so wicked and selfish a policy. With the firm undoubting conviction entertained upon this question, I should be guilty of little short of the crime of multiplied murder, if I could hesitate in the performance of this solemn obligation. I have been already stung with this feeling. Every day’s delay adds a victim to the dreadful list, which might perhaps have been prevented by a more early submission of the present question.

Convinced that respect for another’s culture and fear himself and his countrymen must yield to morality, Bentinck outlawed suttee in December 1829.

Reading Bentinck’s writing on the subject, it’s quite obvious that he never said to himself, “Well, it’s their culture and who am I to judge?”  To the extent that he recognized suttee was part of Indian culture, his calculus was “How much damage will it do to the British to squash this cultural excrescence?”

Nowadays, though, political correctness has left people unable to value the best that their culture has to offer.  We no longer say, “I judge them, but pragmatic considerations demand that I ignore them.”  Instead, multiculturalism has led us to the point where we say, “Well, those black and brown people have their own way of doing things, and it’s clearly good for them.  I wouldn’t do it myself, but who am I to demand that those backward folks meet higher standards of morality and human decency.”

I’m  not throwing around hypotheticals when I say that last sentence.  A British-based campaigner against FGM, who was herself subject to the procedure, was left in tears when 19 people in England cheerfully signed a petition encouraging FGM in Britain.  The phony petition argued that, because FGM is part of African culture, it should be respected.  Over the course of thirty minutes, 19 people thought that it was fine to sign on to barbarism if a non-white culture liked it:

A female genital mutilation (FGM) campaigner was left in tears after an experiment intended to assess the impact of political correctness on the fight against cutting saw 19 people sign a fake pro-FGM petition within 30 minutes.

Leyla Hussein, 32, who suffered female genital mutilation as a child, approached shoppers in Northampton with the petition, which argued that as FGM was part of her culture, it should be protected.

During the 30-minute experiment, 19 people signed the petition and just one refused – a result Hussein blamed on the all-pervading culture of political correctness.

[snip]

Speaking to the Evening Standard following the experiment, Hussein, who also appears in upcoming Channel 4 documentary, The Cruel Cut, said: ‘I kept using the words “it’s just mutilation”. They were like “yes, you are right”. How can anyone think this is OK?’

Warning that politically correct attitudes could hamper the fight against FGM, Hussein added: ‘FGM is not culture, it is violence.

‘Stop using the culture word. This is happening to children. We are human beings, we can’t watch children being cut, I don’t care what culture you belong to.’

‘It is incredible that UK citizens would sign a petition supporting child abuse,’ Efua Dorkenoo, Advocacy Director of Equality Now’s FGM Programme, told MailOnline.

Paul Weston — “I am a racist”

Defending what is good about your country is racist.  So is describing Islam and its cultural and political practices.

Regarding Islam, let me be clear that this is not the same as the antisemites making things up about Jews, as they have since time immemorial.  Instead, what we know about Islam comes from the Muslim world itself:  from their concrete (and bloody) acts, from their media, from their speeches, and from their houses of worship.  They are open about what they are.  It is we who bury their true nature under platitudes and lies.

A quick riff on yesterday’s events in London

Beheading is a peculiarly devastating form of murder, more so than shooting or stabbing. Human identity is tied to the head. From birth, we are programmed to recognize faces and voices. It’s the human face and the mind behind it that separate us, not only from other animals, but from each other: The contents of our minds and the features of our faces are what make us unique. Decapitation therefore doesn’t just kill people, it effectively erases them. It seems fitting, somehow, that jihadists who buy into an extremist Islam that demands complete submission – the denial of the individual — would use beheading as their preferred form of execution.

The Islamic-inspired murder of a British soldier yesterday on London’s streets horrifies us because the men who carried out sought, not just to kill a man, but to erase him. The brave women who stepped forward to challenge these men remind us that, at least for now, in the West individualism still exists. The entire event, which played out before witnesses who were tweeting, photographing and videoing, therefore had a bizarre, Kabuki-quality to it, as if the actors were carrying out culturally defined roles in a play.

Richard Fernandez noticed much the same thing, only he said it a lot better than I could:

This incident illustrates, if nothing else, the endpoint of the social engineering of the West. It has been remarkably effective.

From a certain point of view, the British crowd behaved perfectly and this is the way “they” all want us to behave. The populace sheltered in place, didn’t do anything rash, talked to the perpetrators as people. They waited for the police to come and the hospital helicopter to take the corpse away. Some will doubtless get counseling to overcome their shattering experience.

And then they will congratulate themselves on how tough British society is; resilience and all that. The more caring will leave some flowers by a railing and hold a few candle vigils for healing and peace, until these wither and blow away and the news cycle washes up a new object of attention.

The attackers knew they were actors in a drama — as keenly watched in their communities as on the BBC. And in that other audience they were asking: “How will the locals behave?” We know now. And that other audience may derive an entirely different lesson from this tableau: “See? Only their women act like men. They follow orders. They are nothing anymore — these Westerners. They are a civilization whose core has been destroyed.”

Well, exactly.

What Richard didn’t know yet when he wrote those words is that, while Prime Minister Cameron did so the attack was terrorism, the Department of Defence had a different response:  it told its troops to shed their uniforms when on British streets.  The DOD assured everyone that this was a temporary move, while they figured out what to do, but the fact is that the damage was done the moment the order went out.  The once mighty British Empire had been told to stand down.  When I saw the Scottish play “The Black Watch,” I wondered whether it spoke to the end of the British soldier.  The verdict is still out on the troops, but that’s irrelevant.  Without leadership, even the best troops in the world are pointless.  They’re merely victims along with everyone else.  England has been turned into one vast field of sheeples, watched over by the wolves her Labor government deliberately invited in in order to destroy the Tory party.  (And yes, of course I’m thinking of the Gang of Eight’s amnesty . . . er, immigration reform bill.)

One more thing.  While I was trolling through my overflowing email inbox yesterday, I found a link a friend had sent me shortly after the Boston Marathon Bombing, in which Leftist talking head (or do I mean writing hand?) Marc Ambinder says “Folks, you must stop blaming Islam” and then tells us that America’s gun culture was the reason the Tsarnaev brothers killed.  Now we know, of course, that Islam was why the Tsarnaev brothers killed.

Ambinder is right that in America we have free speech, that people are allowed to disagree on things, and that ugly ideas can exist as long as they don’t become ugly acts.  Islam, though, is sui generis because the Western idea of free speech and individualism is predicated upon voluntary assimilation.  We allow things to happen on the fringe because we assume that everyone will gravitate to the bell curve portion of society, and embrace society’s values, whatever they happen to be.  Islam, however, does not assimilate.

Think about that for a minute, because it’s a rather staggering concept.  One of the hallmarks of being human is that we adapt.  I do believe that only cockroaches have the ability to adapt to as many climates, including extreme climates, as we do.  For humans to have adopted a mindset so impenetrable that it is incapable of change is really amazing.  In any group, of course, you’ll have some people who are more adaptable than others, but we’re talking about a religion/worldview that renders adaption impossible.

When I was a child, my parents told me (rightly or wrongly) that Turkish soldiers could not be brainwashed.  They were so self-assured in their Turkishness that they were invulnerable to lies, blandishments, fantasies, etc.  They were Turks.  End of story.  It occurs to me now that this myth might have been true, not in terms of modern, secular Turks, but in terms of the Janissaries, who were the most elite soldiers of the Muslim Ottoman Empire.  Once your brain has been steeped in Islam, perhaps you become incapable of blending….

RIP to the late, very, very great Margaret Thatcher

Thatcher dismissing personal attacks

I was living in England in 1981 and 1982, so I was there for the coal miner riots and the Falkland War.  Since I was at a Northern University, the official posture of every student there was that Maggie Thatcher was evil.  I kind of admired her then, and I greatly admired her later.  This is the obituary I wrote for her at Mr. Conservative:

The indomitable Margaret Thatcher is dead at age 87, after having suffered a stroke. Thatcher was England’s Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990. She got elected after promising England that she would end the socialist hold over the British economy and, despite fierce opposition, that is precisely what she did.

Thatcher was absolutely sure of her convictions – she knew that Communism was evil; and that British socialism, a soft form of Communism, was simply a slow-moving evil sapping away the will and moral fiber that had once characterized the British people.

As is always the case when people who have been dependent on government benefits suddenly have those benefits pulled out from them, violence ensued. Thatcher was unmoved, and delighted in the fact that the British adopted the Soviet nickname for her: “The Iron Lady.’ She knew she was right, and she was not going to back down. She relished battle.

Thatcher on socialism

When, in 1982, Argentina attempted to take over the Falkland Islands, a small British governed island chain off its coast, Thatcher unflinchingly sent battleships off to war to take those islands back. The British, even those who hated her economic policies, cheered her on and celebrated what turned out to be a swift victory

Thatcher was the daughter of a conservative grocer and his wife. They raised her to believe in herself and in the fact that others had the right and the ability to be equally self-confident and self-sufficient. In the Thatcher family, dependency on government wasn’t just an embarrassment; it was a destructive force that had to be fought at every turn. This belief guided Thatcher’s entire career. Thankfully, her education at Oxford was in science and then law, so she was not indoctrinated in the leftism that was already then infecting Western liberal arts education.

Thatcher also had a wonderful gift for pithy sayings that readily encompassed serious conservative political thought. Small wonder that she and Ronald Reagan, whose presidency overlapped with much of her time as Prime Minister, delighted in each other so much:

Individualism has come in for an enormous amount of criticism over the years. It still does. It is widely assumed to be synonymous with selfishness…But the main reason why so many people in power have always disliked individualism is because it is individualists who are ever keenest to prevent the abuse of authority.

To be free is better than to be unfree – always. Any politician who suggests the opposite should be treated as suspect.

Because she understood socialism so well, she had the gift of prescience, predicting the socialist future with remarkable accuracy:

The European single currency is bound to fail, economically, politically and indeed socially, though the timing, occasion and full consequences are all necessarily still unclear.

I do believe that political arrangements which are based upon violence, intimidation and theft will eventually break down – and will deserve to do so.

Margaret Thatcher was a great lady, with the highest degrees of moral courage and political conviction. For a short, but golden time, she was able to stop Britain’s miserable slide into socialism. Although her control over Britain ended in 1990, it is her death that truly reminds us how rare her courage was, how difficult her conservative gains were, and how easily they were lost. All that’s left of Britain now seems to be embodied in an ugly, mean-spirited Leftist carpetbagger who seeks to destroy America as he and his kind have succeeded in destroying Thatcher’s Britain.

“Come on, you Spurs! Come on, you Spurs!

When I lived in England, the Tottenham Hotspurs, a London based football club, was doing very, very well.  It had done very, very well the year before too.  So Chas & Dave, a popular English duo, wrote a song, which became a massive hit.  The song is undeniably catchy, and it’s been stuck in my head for more than thirty years now:

During the song, you can hear the players in the back holler “oy, oy.” When I first heard this, I thought it was a funny coincidence that the Spurs used a Yiddish word like that. I was quickly disabused of this notion. There was nothing coincidental about that. The Spurs had such strong support from London Jews that it was called “the Jewish Club.” Back in the day, that was just a fact. The Brits, who were then known for a casual, rather than venomous, antisemitism, might make slighting remarks, but that was all.

Today, though, the team’s Jewish identity is something very dangerous for the team’s fans, despite the fact that there are no Jewish players and the vast majority of its fans aren’t Jewish:

For Tottenham Hotspur’s corps of traveling fans, Thursday’s soccer game in Italy against Internazionale Milano holds many dangers—and not just to their team. When Tottenham played Lyon in a Europa League game last month, 150 visiting fans were set upon by a group of neo-Nazis, with three Spurs supporters ending up in the hospital. It was the second time in recent months that the team’s fans have been attacked by a fascist mob in Europe—in November, several Spurs fans were injured when they traveled to Rome to see Tottenham take on Lazio. Their assailants screamed “Jews” before attacking them with knives and clubs.

Tottenham’s supporters are no strangers to anti-Semitism. The North London team has been known as the “Jewish club” since the beginning of the early 1900s, when it regularly attracted over 11,000 Yiddisher supporters to home games. In 1986, it was the first big team (and the last) to hire a British Jew, David Pleat, as a coach, and a Happy Yom Kippur message has made an annual appearance in the club’s official program since 1973.

The paragraphs above come from a Wall Street Journal article about the team and its Jewish identity. Although it’s short,it nevertheless manages to be a fascinating blend of history, antisemitism, and identity in a PC age. It is, therefore, well worth reading.

When it comes to guns, we need to follow the Left’s example: personalize, personalize, personalize

Defending your home against a break-in is about as personal as it gets.  The following email is a good example of taking that personal principle, then expanding to a narrative about a single third party, and finally discussing the broader policy implications that affect all citiziens (h/t Earl):

A LESSON FROM HISTORY:

You’re sound asleep when you hear a thump outside your bedroom door. Half-awake, and nearly paralyzed with fear, you hear muffled whispers. At least two people have broken into your house and are moving your way.

With your heart pumping, you reach down beside your bed and pick up your shotgun. You rack a shell into the chamber, then inch toward the door and open it…

In the darkness, you make out two shadows. One holds something that looks like a crowbar. When the intruder brandishes it as if to strike, you raise the shotgun and fire.

The blast knocks both thugs to the floor. One writhes and screams while the second man crawls to the front door and lurches outside.

As you pick up the telephone to call police, you know you’re in trouble. In your country, most guns were outlawed years before, and the few that are privately owned are so stringently regulated as to make them useless. Yours was never registered.

Police arrive and inform you that the second burglar has died. They arrest you for First Degree Murder and Illegal Possession of a Firearm.

When you talk to your attorney, he tells you not to worry: authorities will probably plea the case down to manslaughter.

“What kind of sentence will I get?” you ask.

“Only ten-to-twelve years,” he replies, as if that’s nothing. “Behave yourself, and you’ll be out in seven.”

The next day, the shooting is the lead story in the local newspaper. Somehow, you’re portrayed as an eccentric vigilante while the two men you shot are represented as choirboys. Their friends and relatives can’t find an unkind word to say about them. Buried deep down in the article, authorities acknowledge that both “victims” have been arrested numerous times.

But the next day’s headline says it all: “Lovable Rogue Son Didn’t Deserve to Die.” The thieves have been transformed from career criminals into Robin Hood-type pranksters.

As the days wear on, the story takes wings. The national media picks it up, then the international media. The surviving burglar has become a folk hero. Your attorney says the thief is preparing to sue you, and he’ll probably win.

The media publishes reports that your home has been burglarized several times in the past and that you’ve been critical of local police for their lack of effort in apprehending the suspects. After the last break-in, you told your neighbor that you would be prepared next time. The District Attorney uses this to allege that you were lying in wait for the burglars.

A few months later, you go to trial. The charges haven’t been reduced, as your lawyer had so confidently predicted.

When you take the stand, your anger at the injustice of it all works against you. Prosecutors paint a picture of you as a mean, vengeful man. It doesn’t take long for the jury to convict you of all charges. The judge sentences you to life in prison.

This case really happened.

On August 22, 1999, Tony Martin of Emneth, Norfolk, England, killed one burglar and wounded a second. In April, 2000, he was convicted and is now serving a life term. [See link below, explaining that he only served three years, but has had to go into hiding.]

How did it become a crime to defend one’s own life in the once great British Empire? It started with the Pistols Act of 1903. This seemingly reasonable law forbade selling pistols to minors or felons and established that handgun sales were to be made only to those who had a license.

The Firearms Act of 1920 expanded licensing to include not only handguns but all firearms except shotguns. Later laws passed in 1953 and 1967 outlawed the carrying of any weapon by private citizens and mandated the registration of all shotguns.

Momentum for total handgun confiscation began in earnest after the Hungerford mass shooting in 1987. Michael Ryan, a mentally disturbed man with a Kalashnikov rifle, walked down the street shooting everyone he saw. When the smoke cleared, 17 people were dead. The British public, already de-sensitized by eighty years of “gun control”, demanded even tougher restrictions. (The seizure of all privately owned handguns was the objective even though Ryan used a rifle.)

Nine years later, at Dunblane, Scotland, Thomas Hamilton used a semi-automatic weapon to murder 16 children and a teacher at a public school. For many years, the media had portrayed all gun owners as mentally unstable, or worse, criminals. Now the press had a real kook with which to beat up law-abiding gun owners. Day after day, week after week, the media gave up all pretense of objectivity and demanded a total ban on all handguns. The Dunblane Inquiry, a few months later, sealed the fate of the few sidearm’s still owned by private citizens.

During the years in which the British government incrementally took away most gun rights, the notion that a citizen had the right to armed self-defense came to be seen as vigilantism. Authorities refused to grant gun licenses to people who were threatened, claiming that self-defense was no longer considered a reason to own a gun. Citizens who shot burglars or robbers or rapists were charged while the real criminals were released. Indeed, after the Martin shooting, a police spokesman was quoted as saying, “We cannot have people take the law into their own hands.”

All of Tony Martin’s neighbors had been robbed numerous times, and several elderly people were severely injured in beatings by young thugs who had no fear of the consequences.
Martin himself, a collector of antiques, had seen most of his collection trashed or stolen by burglars.

When the Dunblane Inquiry ended, citizens who owned handguns were given three months to turn them over to local authorities. Being good British subjects, most people obeyed the law. The few who didn’t were visited by police and threatened with ten-year prison sentences if they didn’t comply. Police later bragged that they’d taken nearly 200,000 handguns from private citizens.

How did the authorities know who had handguns? The guns had been registered and licensed. Kind of like cars. Sound familiar?

WAKE UP AMERICA; THIS IS WHY OUR FOUNDING FATHERS PUT THE SECOND AMENDMENT IN OUR CONSTITUTION.

“…It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” –Samuel Adams

If you’re curious, here’s more information about Martin. Please note that the challenges against him came about because the state hadn’t given him permission to defend himself.

England’s welfare state is a victim of its own success

It’s no wonder Brits, contra Obama, want out of the EU.  Aside from exerting nit-picky control over every aspect of British life, the EU makes it virtually impossible for Britain to stem the endless tide of immigrants coming in, legally or not, and immediately getting public benefits that are not available to the Brits themselves.

Here are two articles and a video regarding that problem.

First, a woman talks about living the lush life on her benefits.

Second, some fed-up Brits raise their voices in protest song:

Third, a shy, unlikely voice emerges to oppose, not just the welfare state, but the lies that the ruling class tells about the welfare state.

Rather than debating gun control, we should be debating ways to diminish violent crime.

Glock 23

Words matter, President Obama once said.  He’s right.  How we choose words gives a very good insight into our feelings upon the subject under discussion.

In the current debate regarding the Second Amendment, conservatives have made the mistake of ceding oratorical control to the Left.  How?  By accepting the phrase “gun control” as the operative phrase to describe the debate.

Calling the debate “gun control” presupposes that there will be control — i.e., that government control over guns is the end, rather than the means.  The only question remaining in such a debate is how much control the government will ultimately exert over citizens’ guns.

Most people, though, if they thought about it, would say that what they’re really aiming for is “violence minimization.”  If one properly identifies minimizing violence as the goal, the debate changes dramatically.  It forces those participating in the debate to ask, not “how many guns can we take away or how many magazines can we limit?” but, instead, “what approach results in the fewest number of gun deaths or overall violence?”.

When it comes to overall violence, data from the world over easily answers that question.  Those Countries that have extremely strict gun bans also have extremely high violence rates — and those rates have often climbed in direct proportion to the increased gun bans.  England’s experience is the most stunning example.  From the time it imposed limitations on guns so stringent that almost all law-abiding citizens are now disarmed, England has seen its violent crime rate soar, to the point where the number of violent crimes per capita is the highest in the First World:

In the U.K., gun ownership is virtually banned. Even the police force in the U.K. is, for the most part, unarmed. Raw figures show that the UK has a lower homicide rate than the U.S., 1.2 per 100,000 of population in the U.K. versus 4.8 in the U.S. But when it comes to violent crime overall, the UK is a much greater hotbed than the U.S., with 2,034 violent criminal incidents in the U.K. per 100,000 of population versus 486 in the U.S.

Incidentally, when it comes to discussing murders in the United States versus those in England, don’t make the mistake of getting caught up in the fact that England has a lower homicide rate than we do.  It has always had a lower murder rate than America, which is not a surprise given that, until recently, it was a small, homogeneous nation, as compared to the brawling, sprawling frontier that is America.  In addition, it’s a sad fact — one that few have the courage to address — that America’s high gun crime numbers are rooted almost entirely in America’s black community.  If one subtracts that subset of America from the equation, our gun homicide rates are comparable to other majority Caucasian nations.  Comparing American and British murder rates is to compare apples to oranges.

However, comparing British to British murder rates over the period of the gun ban is edifying, since those rates have increased consistently for the first thirteen years after the 1996 gun ban.  They have tapered off again in the last three years, which suggests that the decrease in homicides is unrelated to the 1996 gun ban and may, instead, have more to do with the recession’s effects on England.

England’s violent crime statistics, while shocking, are not unique.  Putting aside anarchic areas (in the Middle East and Africa, for example), there’s a consistent correlation between government interference in private gun ownership and higher violence rates.  Take Australia, for example, a country that the New York Times touts as the example the U.S. should follow when it comes to government gun bans:

The homicide rate in Australia, low in 1996 at 1.9, increased in the three years after their gun ban before dropping to 1.3 in 2007. Regardless, overall, violent crime in Australia has exploded since gun control was imposed, with the sum of violent crime, including sexual assaults, robberies and assaults, increasing about 20% in just 12 years.


Russia and Mexico, two countries that have stringent laws controlling citizen access to guns, are two other countries frequently cited by Second Amendment supporters as proof that government restrictions on guns don’t work.

We really needn’t look so far afield, though, to determine whether people are safest when the government takes guns or when it allows law abiding citizens to hang onto their guns (including guns with high capacity magazines).  Reason.com has assembled a boatload of data showing that in America, as private gun ownership soared over the past 20 years, public violence — including violence in schools — decreased:

1. Violent crime – including violent crime using guns – has dropped massively over the past 20 years.

The violent crime rate - which includes murder, rape, and beatings – is half of what it was in the early 1990s. And the violent crime rate involving the use of weapons has also declined at a similar pace.

2. Mass shootings have not increased in recent years.

Despite terrifying events like Sandy Hook or last summer’s theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado, mass shootings are not becoming more frequent. “There is no pattern, there is no increase,” says criminologist James Allen Fox of Northeastern University, who studies the issue. Other data shows that mass killings peaked in 1929.

[snip]

5. “Assault Weapons Bans” Are Generally Ineffective.

While many people are calling for reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons – an arbitrary category of guns that has no clear definition – research shows it would have no effect on crime and violence. “Should it be renewed,” concludes a definitive study, “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

Correlation is not causation, of course, but it’s very hard to avoid looking at the above data (fewer guns and more crime versus more guns and less crime) without coming to the conclusion that, in a nominally Judeo-Christian society with a rule of law, guns add to, rather than subtract from, public safety.

So we’re back at the beginning.  Do we want to debate gun control, which is the current nomenclature of choice,  or do we want to debate lessening violence overall?  The former discussion presupposes government restrictions on gun ownership, with the only question being how much restriction the government can and should impose.  The latter discussion, however, forces people to confront the fact that the best way to lessen violence would be to arm more law-abiding citizens, rather than to leave guns as the exclusive preserve of the criminal and the insane.

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Gun control supporters count those who have died; Second Amendment supporters count those who will live

View of Marin from San Francisco

Because this is Marin and I am not a hermit, I frequently find myself in conversation with Democrats.  It was to be expected, therefore, that conversation over the Christmas holiday would end up revolving around gun control.  These conversations were disheartening on all sides.  My friends concluded that I support wild-eyed mass murderers, since I believe in the Second Amendment, and I concluded that their devotion to feelings over facts will result in many unnecessary deaths over the years.

As I explain at some length below, the only fact that matters to them is that guns do indeed kill people.  Any other data is irrelevant.  Indeed, the conversations were practically textbook illustrations of the giant chasm that separates the two world views.

My friends began by attacking the NRA and Wayne LaPierre as evil and fanatic. Only a deranged person could come up with the lunatic idea of placing armed guards in schools. They batted aside the fact that Clinton had proposed and put into place the same plan LaPierre now suggested — armed guards in schools — and that Obama had de-funded that initiative.  LaPierre is evil because he wants people to have semi-automatic weapons with unlimited magazines.

I explained that semi-automatic still means you have to pull the trigger.  I also explained that large magazines are a small convenience, but they don’t change the dynamics of shooting, because a practiced person can change clips in seconds (see the video above).  I got shouted down before I could even point out that the Dunblane killer, who didn’t have large magazines, simply went into a gun-free zone with more weapons and ammunition.  I also got shouted down when I said that the magazine size is pretty irrelevant if you’re in a gun-free zone.  The counter to this was that the only reason to have a large magazine is to have a people killing gun.

Reginald Denny

Well, yes, I said.  Imagine you’re in a riot, such as the 1992 Los Angeles Riots or the completely lawless situation after Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Sandy.  In those circumstances, you want to be over-armed, not under-armed.  “Ha!  So you admit it.  You just want guns to kill people.”  “No, they’re also fun for sport shooting.  But the fact remains that, when you’re isolated and the mobs are coming, a gun with a good capacity is your only protection.”  “Yeah, you want to kill people.”  I realized at this point that I wouldn’t get any mileage out of saying that some people deserve killing — meaning that, if they’re coming to kill or rape me or mine, I don’t think I’d have second thoughts about valuing their lives at zero.

Shifting arguments, my friends bemoaned the fact that the NRA is so rich and powerful.  If only there was an anti-gun lobby.  They were taken aback when I out that the Brady Center is precisely that anti-gun organization.  In other words, the NRA has not driven all other money or approaches out of the marketplace of ideas.  Americans, though, have voted with their feet by voluntarily supporting the NRA rather than the Brady Center.

George Zimmerman broken nose

Someone shouted out George Zimmerman — and was then shocked when I said that (a) Trayvon Martin wasn’t a sweet 12-year-old but was, instead, a hulking gang banger; (b) that Martin had smeared Zimmerman’s nose all over his face and was busy smashing his head into the pavement; and (c) that Zimmerman had black family members, was part Hispanic, and had a reputation for helping black youths at risk.  Zimmerman instantly vanished as a gun control topic.

The next argument to emerge was that the only thing the Second Amendment allows is muskets.  I countered that the Founders were good with words.  If they’d wanted to limit the Amendment to muskets, they would have.

Second Amendment

Well, you need a “militia” then, they asserted.  No, I explained.  We are all the militia.  The Founders had just emerged from a lengthy battle against a tyrannical government with a standing army.  They were able to engage this army only because, living as they did on a frontier far away from the motherland, ordinary citizens were generally armed and could therefore come together to stand against the government.  The Founders wanted to protect against any future tyranny by ensuring that the nation’s own government was never able to turn against the people.

Rounding Up Jews

I also pointed out that the first thing the Nazis did was confiscate guns.,  The response was predictable, and can be distilled to “that can’t happen here.” I’m sure that’s what my dad’s family thought, probably right up until they entered the gas chambers.

Since my friends think the Second Amendment is a pointless relic, I suggested that they get rid of it through the amendment process.  We should, they agreed — only the Red States would never allow it to happen.  Neither would the Blue States, I muttered.

London OWS riots

Where things really got frustrating, as far as I was concerned, and what I alluded to in my post caption, was my friends’ total disregard for the hard data we’ve received from existing gun control experiments.  In both Chicago and Washington, D.C., strict gun control played out exactly as the NRA said it would:  When guns were outlawed, only outlaws had guns.  When guns were reinstated in Washington, D.C., violent crime dropped.  In England, outlawing guns resulted in a huge uptick in violent crime, including gun crime.  Gun homicides in Britain have leveled out somewhat but, aside from the fact that the gun ban never effectively lowered gun crimes, the sad truth is that Britain is no longer a civil society:  instead, it is one of the most violent societies in the Western world.

The response I got to that indubitable fact is that Britain has a much lower murder rate than America.  This is true, but that’s an apples to oranges argument.  Britain has always had a lower murder rate than America.  When we at the effects of gun control on gun and other violence, we can’t reasonably compare Britain to America.  Instead, we have to compare pre-gun control Britain to post-gun control Britain — and that comparison shows that gun control coincided perfectly with a vastly increased crime rate.

Armed civilians save lives

My interlocutors were also unimpressed by the fact that, if someone opens fire in a public place (meaning he’s planning a mass slaughter), the best lifesaver is a civilian with a concealed carry weapon.  After all, the average police response time is measured in minutes.  Even if the shooter doesn’t have a big magazine, when he’s the only one there who’s armed, nothing stops him until the police get there.  If there is an armed civilian at the site of the shooting, however, and that civilian is neither crazed nor criminal, you usually end up with an intended mass shooting that becomes nothing but a small headline as the tragedy is limited to one or two, not scores.  I understand that correlation is not causation, but I suspect that there’s a connection in America between the increase in concealed carry over the last 20 years and a corresponding decrease in gun crimes.

When I threw out data about police response times, the difference in numbers of dead when someone with a concealed carry weapon is present, and the decrease in gun crimes over the last two decades, the gun-control people scoffed at the data.  “That can’t be true.”  “Guns kill people.”  “That doesn’t make sense.”  “If we got rid of guns, fewer people would die.”

It was at this moment that I realized that there truly was a giant intellectual chasm between me and them.  They can see only the people who died in the past, while I can count the ones who will live on into the future.  To them, the body count is the only data that counts.  To me, the statistical difference between those who die under a “gun control” regime and those who don’t die in a concealed carry environment, was the single most compelling piece of data out there.

Unlike my fellow Marinites, I realize that people are going to die under any circumstances.  Even the gun-control people concede that gun control will not actually do away with guns.  They’re just pretty sure it will decrease the number of guns overall — and to hell with the fact that this will be a lopsided decrease with law-abiding people ending up disarmed and lawless and crazy people ending up holding all the remaining arms.  It’s the gun equivalent of the old saying that, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. In the land of the disarmed citizen, the armed, crazed criminal rules.

My goal is to create the circumstances in which the largest possible number of people live.  My friends, however, believe that there is a Utopian future in which no people die.  To the extent that they understand that guns kill people, and they have the body count to prove it, they want to outlaw guns.  That data shows that outlawing guns results in more deaths is irrelevant to them.  The one fact they know and accept with comfortable certainty is that those who have already died because of guns might still be alive today if those particular guns hadn’t been available on that day, in that time, at that place.  Because this is the only fact that they can recognize, they focus obsessively on past deaths that could have been avoided with a few less guns, rather than projecting to future lives that, statistically, could certainly be saved with many more legal guns.

And as I said, I have absolutely no idea how to (a) get them to acknowledge that people will always die and (b) get them to understand that the best way to prevent future deaths isn’t to rehash old crimes but, rather, is to take the steps that are most likely to prevent future crimes.

People are violent even without guns

(I find that I’m too thrifty not to get the most mileage out of my writing.  People who get my newsletter — and if you don’t, you can fill out the subscription form to the right — will have seen this post already, but I couldn’t resist a slightly wider audience for it.)

I wrote the other day about the extraordinary violence in England, a level of violence that increased dramatically after the Labour Party outlawed almost all guns.  After reading that post, a friend send me a link to an article by Tom Gresham, writing at the Tactical Wire.  Gresham’s article bounces off of Bob Costas’ inane little homily asserting that Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins, would be alive if guns were outlawed.  After pointing out the most obvious fact, which is that Belcher could easily have killed Perkins with his bare hands, Gresham gets to the heart of the matter, which is the way the anti-gun Left abuses data.

Arthur Fellig photo of suicide 1936Gresham first tackles Costa’s claim that, even if guns aren’t used to kill innocent bystanders, they drive suicide rates.  Gresham has one word to demolish that argument:  Japan.  Japan’s laws almost completely prohibit guns.  Nevertheless, says Gresham, “the suicide rate in Japan approaches (sometimes exceeds) twice that of the U.S. No guns in Japan, but twice the rate of suicides of the U.S., which has perhaps 300 million guns.”

Gresham also points to a stunning statistic about America, one I hadn’t known.  In the 20 years since most states passed laws mandating issuance of concealed carry permits to qualified applicants,”the murder rate in the United States has fallen dramatically.”

We now have three interesting facts:  (1) Mostly gun-less Japan has twice the suicide rate of America; (2) mostly gun-less Britain has almost five times as much violent crime as armed America, a rate that increased dramatically when Britain banned most weapons; and (3) when American states enabled law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons, gun crime decreased, rather than increased.

Lion lying down with lambWe’ve talked before at the Bookworm Room about the fact that correlation is not the same as causation.  Those three facts taken together, though, indicate that it’s reasonable to assume a connection between guns and violent crime.  The connection, though, isn’t the one the Left wants us to draw, which is that guns increase the violent crime and suicide rate.  Rather, the connection is that an armed society is one that sees fewer violent crimes and fewer suicides.

Let not your heart be troubled — nations can be saved

I thought about Margaret Thatcher today.  Lord knows, she was something.  Brilliant, indomitable, focused, feisty, witty, and absolutely convinced of her right-ness and righteousness.  She was the un-RINO.  Her unswerving commitment to her principles enabled her to turn England around.  We forget that sometimes, because the Labor party managed to take her legacy and destroy it by turning England into an Orwellian state.

For a few brief shining years, though, she fought back against a socialist norm that had turned England into a decayed, drab society.  She privatized businesses, fought victorious wars, and generally reminded the English of their greatness.  I was there during that transition period.  The unions fought back ferociously but Maggie, unlike today’s loosey-goosey Republicans, would not back down.  She wasn’t driven by polls or scared by a Leftist media.  She understood economics and human nature.  The last half of the 1980s and much of the 1990s saw an English economic renaissance.  Had the British people been smart, they could have kept it going; instead, they opted for a renewal of socialism, the EU, unlimited immigration, and the strong velvet chains of a nanny state.

I mention this because I refuse to accept that Obama can “destroy” America.  He can — and will — damage it.  If we can get a handful of Maggie Thatchers, though, or even one Maggie Thatcher, someone who is both a visionary and a fighter, America can be turned around.  And if we’re smart, once that turnaround happens, we’ll stick with it.

Incidentally, although this sounds awful, I think we need to go over the fiscal cliff in January.  Three reasons:  First, this is what Americans voted for and, in a republican democracy, they should get it; Second, the longer we delay, the worse the inevitable fall will be; and Third, this disaster needs to happy during the long haul of a Democrat presidency (and Senate) so that Americans can grasp cause-and-effect.  Only when the socialist economic infection erupts in its full fury will Americans begin to accept that their nation is sick.  When that happens, God willing, we’ll have a Thatcher-esque politician cogently explaining to Americans that the cure lies in reaffirming constitutional and free market principles.

Sometimes you need to see the infection to know you're sick

Sometimes you need to see the infection to know you're sick