Thursday, February 21, 2008

Help Bless Heather's Heart

Harsh Political Realities

An awful lot of conservatives have expressed dismay over the strange turn of events in the primaries that seem to have catapulted candidates to front-runner status that mere months ago were considered likely also-rans, even dead in the water.

Ann Coulter points out some harsh realities in our political environment that didn't exist back when Ronald Reagan was being courted to run for political office. The article is titled "How to keep Reagan out of office", and it appeared online in the World Jewish Review.

What a bizarre coincidence that a few years after the most draconian campaign-finance laws were imposed via McCain-Feingold, our two front-runners happen to be the media's picks! It's uncanny — almost as if by design! (Can I stop now, or do you people get sarcasm?)

By prohibiting speech by anyone else, the campaign-finance laws have vastly magnified the power of the media — which, by the way, are wholly exempt from speech restrictions under campaign-finance laws. The New York Times doesn't have to buy ad time to promote a politician; it just has to call McCain a "maverick" 1 billion times a year.

It is because of campaign-finance laws like McCain-Feingold that big men don't run for office anymore. Little men do. And John McCain is the head homunculus.

You want Reagan back? Restore the right to free speech, and you will have created the conditions that allowed Reagan to run.

As usual, read the whole thing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

HB473 to Allow Open Carry By Permittees

Open carry is a bad idea--but it shouldn't be illegal.

That's my take on a bill coming before the Utah State Legislature that will clarify the right of concealed weapon permittees to openly carry firearms in public places in Utah.

In a Salt Lake Tribune article entitled: "Bill would allow concealed-weapons permit holders to carry firearms openly", HB473 would stipulate that it's not illegal for CCW holders to carry in full view.

"The proposal would ensure that concealed-weapons permit holders are not required to conceal their firearms. It would allow permittees to openly carry loaded weapons into schools, colleges, hospitals and other public arenas. Proponents say the measure only "clarifies" existing law to ensure a right permittees already have, while opponents say open-carry would result in "untenable situations" at schools. "

Apparently current gun laws allow permittees to open carry anyplace where it's legal to carry concealed, but it's not totally clear. In other words, the law has been poorly written, and doesn't properly convey the intent of the legislators.

"I'm not saying [open-carry is] a great idea; I'm just saying it's not illegal," said gun-rights lobbyist Clark Aposhian. "This [legislation] is not creating new law. It's a definition of an existing ability permit holders already have."

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff spoke at the hearing, saying existing weapons laws can reasonably be read to both allow and prohibit open-carry on school grounds.

"I'm not taking a side," Shurtleff said in a Tuesday interview. "You just can't have different agencies interpreting the law differently. It should be clarified so everyone reads it the same way."

Additional confusion exists as to whether an inadvertent display of a concealed weapon, such as could occur when an armed man opens his coat to reach for a phone or wallet, constitutes a violation of the law, Shurtleff added.

Well, I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV or the internet, but if I understand correctly, Utah state law doesn't currently require law abiding citizens to have a permit in order to openly carry firearms. There are limitations, of course. For example, if you don't have a Concealed Firearm Permit, you can't openly carry a loaded gun inside a motor vehicle.

I'm not sure this is a fight worth fighting, because the rights of concealed carry permit holders is pretty well settled here in Utah. What this does is open up another can of worms regarding the rights of people to carry openly. Gun rights activists are going to have to fight and win battles all over again that they've already fought and won.

I'm not sure what the language of HB473 actually says, but my feeling is that it should state that open carry by permittees is not illegal in any area in the state that concealed carry is permitted. Also inadvertent, unintentional exposure of a concealed weapon isn't an illegal act.

Now, here's why I think open carry is a bad idea.

1. There is a strong counter-culture in society that is strongly opposed to regular citizens owning and carrying guns. Openly carrying firearms needlessly stirs the pot and riles up those people who would take any opportunity to strengthen gun control laws and confiscate all guns not issued by law enforcement or the military. The Second Amendment doesn't exist for these people. The fact that gun control laws only disarm the public and give career criminals a safe work environment is just so much rhetoric, to their way of thinking.

2. Openly carrying firearms marks a person as a target for theft or even worse. It's illegal for criminals to possess firearms, and a favored way of gaining possession of guns is to steal them. There have been many documented instances where people openly carrying guns were robbed and "relieved" of their hardware. Also, open carry marks you as a target for any person with criminal intent to shoot you first. A recent example comes easily to mind: the case of the digruntled citizen who entered a city council meeting, walked up to the armed police officer who was present, gunned him down, and then went to work on the city council unmolested.

I say it shouldn't be illegal to inadvertently or unintentionally expose your legal carry weapon, but let's keep them concealed if we can. The last thing I want is to be the focus of attention when I carry a gun into a room full of people.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Dennis Prager Asks Some Questions About School Shootings

In an article that appeared online at Jewish World Review, Dennis Prager asks some hard questions about recent trends in news coverage of shootings at universities. Mr. Prager has his own take on each of these questions, and I suggest you read the column for yourself.

Question 1: Why are murderers always counted in the victims tally? The day after the mass murder of students at Northern Illinois University (NIU), the headline in the closest major newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, was: "6 Dead in NIU Shooting."

"6 dead" included the murderer. Why wasn't the headline "5 killed at NIU"? It is nothing less than moronic that the media routinely lump murderers and their victims in the same tally.

My take is that the mindset of our media gatekeepers is that the dead perpetrator is not the real "bad guy". Gun Violence is the real bad guy, and the dead perpetrator is just another unfortunate victim.

Question 2: Which of these three options is more likely to prevent further murderous rampages: a) making universities closed campuses and increasing the police presence on campus (as the president of NIU has promised to do); b) making guns much harder to obtain; or c) enabling specially trained students and faculty to carry concealed weapons on campus?

...Of course, there is virtually no chance that the uniformly left-thinking individuals who run our universities will ever consider ... [option c]. To do so would mean abandoning what is essentially a religious-like conviction that guns are immoral rather than the people who use them immorally.

It's part of the narrative, isn't it? Guns are evil, not people (except for evangelical Christians, conservatives and Republicans).

Question 3: Why are "shooter" and "gunman" used instead of "killer" or "murderer"?
If a murderer used a knife to murder five students, no news headlines would read, "Knifeman Kills Five." So why always "shooter" and "gunman"?

Obviously, since the narrative is that guns are bad, not people, phrasing it this way focuses attention, and also the blame, on guns and gun violence, instead of placing responsibility for the evil act upon the actor.

Question 4: Why is "murder" never used to describe homicides involved in these university massacres? And why is "murderer" never used to describe these murderers? Why has "kill" become the only word allowed for deliberate homicide?

Perhaps it has something to do with our compunction to not try and convict people in the press before they are actually convicted in a court of law. And it's easier to throw the perps in with the victims if they're not classified as murderers. Remember, guns are evil, not people, and it's easier to sell that narrative if we don't call them "murderers".

Question 5: Would the press note killers' religiosity if they were all Christian?

I don't think think there's any question that they would, and of course, they'd be right to do it. Mr. Prager makes a valid point in his article. Read the whole thing here.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Storm Damage, All Fixed Up

Recently I posted about a storm that came in and blew the siding off the back of our house. Here's a picture of the damage.
We notified our builder, Fieldstone Homes, about the damage right away, via an internet warranty request. About 90 minutes later we received a call from the warranty representative, and she was at our house within the hour to inspect the damage. She assured us that the damage would be repaired and the siding replaced within the next day or two. And before she left, she took care of a couple of other warranty items inside the house. She was cheerful, competent and reassuring. I was impressed. Her name was Annette.

And she didn't disappoint. The damage occurred on Monday, and there was a siding crew at our house Wednesday morning, ready to go to work. That was around 9:30 or 10 a.m.

They were done by noon.

Yes, I'm happy.

Just a note about the color in the photographs: the first picture (of the damage) was taken at mid-day and shows the color most accurately. It's called sand. The pictures of the repaired siding were taken just before sunset, and the light was a lot "warmer" and makes the house look yellow. The only time the house looks like this is right after sunrise and just before sunset. Photographers call this kind of light "sweet light" because it is bright, warm and dramatic. It's the best time to shoot landscapes. Most calendar pictures of places like the Grand Canyon and Arches National Park, etc. are shot at this time of day because of that.