Archive for February, 2008

U.S. gun owners betrayed by a Republican administration?

February 16, 2008

U.S. gun owners are incensed by the Department of Justice’s “friend of the court” brief in DC versus Heller which is currently before the US Supreme Court.

An article in the Washington Times takes the administration severely to task for their input into this case.

Here’s the rub: The Justice Department says the Court of Appeals ruling that overturned the D.C. ban might cast doubt on the constitutionality of existing federal legislation, including machine-gun regulations. So the administration urged that Heller be returned to the lower courts for appropriate fact-finding to determine whether rifles and shotguns in the home, as permitted by the D.C. Code, are an adequate substitute for handguns.

That came as quite a shock to those of us who believed the administration’s professed fealty to gunowners’ rights. What we got instead was a recommendation that could be the death knell for the only Second Amendment case to reach the Supreme Court in nearly 70 years.
Rather than a foursquare pronouncement that the D.C. handgun ban is unreasonable by any standard, the Justice Department has essentially endorsed years of depositions and expert testimony, and a rerun before a less hospitable Supreme Court.

In effect, a conservative administration has thrown a lifeline to gun controllers. Following the DOJ blueprint, they can pay lip service to an individual right while simultaneously stripping it of any real meaning. After all, if the D.C. ban can survive judicial scrutiny, it is difficult to imagine a regulation that would not.

It looks to me like a case of the bureaucracy advancing its own agenda and in the process further damaging the credibility of the Bush administration in the eyes of a constituency that were strongly supportive in his election run. To rub salt into the wounds, the Department of Justice has come down solidly on the same side of the issue as the notoriously anti-gun Brady Campaign Against Gun Violence.

Did the President and his advisors know of the DOJ’s intent in advance and were either in agreement or simply indifferent to what they were proposing? Or were the DOJ lawyers just so arrogant that they believed they could proceed with their amicus brief completely disengaged from the real world? But that begs the question: Once the cries of outrage and betrayal began why the Cone of Silence over the White House on the issue?

Then in a move that almost bordered on schizophrenia, Vice President Dick Cheney, as president of the U.S. Senate along with 55 members of the U.S. Senate and 250 members of the U.S. House of Representatives signed an Amicus Curiae Brief in support of the respondent, Heller.

John Lott notes that President Bush has the power to order the Solicitor General’s brief to be withdrawn or amended. For whatever reason, this has not happened. Predictably, this has lead US gun owners to believe that their President has sold them out.


Black Valentine’s Day

February 15, 2008

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, Dave Petzal over at his Gun Nuts blog links to a kind of anti-Valentine’s Day interactive site where you can have a bit of fun.

A modest proposal for curing a whiny nation

February 14, 2008

An excellent Valentine’s Day rant in the National Post, which has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.

Traits essential to the building of nations and preservation of democracies — reason, resolve, creativity, self-reliance, common sense — are no longer holding their own against the tide of the emotive, reactionary, self-obsessed and risk averse. The foundations built by those pioneering forefathers, upon which our unparalleled wealth and security were built, are cracking under the weight of regulation, litigation and personal entitlement. The nannies are staging a coup. They’ve moved out of the nursery to seize control of the family business.

Kate‘s solution may be a bit severe, but her heart’s in the right place.

All the news that may be the news

February 14, 2008

When I read this article, I was intrigued not so much by the story, which is interesting in itself, but by what it says about reporting in the mainstream media.

Anyone who has been closely involved in an issue that gets written up in a newspaper, or reported on TV or radio often finds that the reported story doesn’t always factually relate what really happened.

Sometimes it is because of time constraints that are usually found on TV and radio news reports or space constraints in the printed media. Sometimes it is just a reporter in a hurry to post a story to meet a deadline and hasn’t the time or the interest in digging out the facts. It this particular case it seems to have been the latter along with the tendency not to let the facts get in the way of a good story.

This article is probably at the extreme end of the spectrum as there was no story if the victim died of natural causes (which wouldn’t be determined until some time later) while walking his dog. But there was a big story if a Rottweiler attacked and killed his owner while being taken for a walk.

The lesson to be learned here that you always need apply some healthy skepticism to anything that you see, hear or read in the media.

Fear and loathing in US politics

February 11, 2008

U.S. voters are experiencing severe electoral trauma these days, particularly those of the Republican bent.

There was not a single candidate, in the starting lists of either major U.S. party, whom I did not devoutly wish not to see in power. Mr. Giuliani of New York was my first Republican choice, by a process of default. Mr. McCain of Arizona is now my first choice, by further default. (I supported George W. Bush in 2000, because the alternative was John McCain.) Mrs. Clinton of Mars is my preference for the Democrat party, given the alternative is Mr. Obama of Venus. My faithful readers will grasp that when I, along with Ann Coulter, begin speaking favourably about Mrs. Clinton, the end is near. Ms. Coulter has finally gone over the top, however, and in a McCain-Clinton final, I’ll hold my nose for McCain.

Coulter can be pretty bizarre at the best of times, but when you hear conservative commentators talking about voting for Clinton as a way to punish the Republican party for real and imagined transgressions against the faith, you might wonder if the end IS nigh.

Thomas McIntyre: Outdoor writer par excellence

February 8, 2008

I have just finished reading Thomas McIntyre’s ‘Seasons and Days’. Admittedly, I came to it late as it was published in 2003. My loss, as McIntyre is one of my favourite outdoor writers; Equal parts philosopher and sportsman. Or maybe the two are a natural combination but Mr. McIntyre is just more articulate than the rest of us.

He is definitely not a “Me and Joe” storyteller. He tells you about the country and the people he met along the way and thinks about why he hunts.

I particularly liked this piece taken from the preface of the book.


Hunting is indeed about death. Or, more precisely, killing. Killing is what makes the hunter (animal or human) different from every other walker in the woods. Not that this always explains the kill to the satisfaction of our friends, especially those of the more doctrinaire environmental stripe, or often to our own family. Sometimes not even entirely for ourselves.


The killing that I am talking about is, of course, the legal killing of wild animals in the hunt, not homicide, or the hunting of “armed men”; the killing in hunting is not murder or human conflict incognito – assuming one is relatively free of pathological impulse. Hunters are excruciatingly inarticulate about why they kill or what it is like to do so. Part of it is very much a case of like trying to tell a stranger about rock ‘n roll, but also because, as Ortega y Gasset says, hunting means “accepting reason’s insufficiency.” The desire to hunt, and ultimately kill, comes from a place well before consciousness and words, so that when it arises today it does so almost always outside articulation. Most hunters can’t even say when it began for them, but some still try.

I have a tendency to speed read, but when I am reading McIntyre I deliberately slow my reading down in order to appreciate more fully his craftsmanship..


The evil knife: a Canadian historical perspective

February 3, 2008

I have rapped the Brits several times for their silliness in talking about knife control – in some cases the banning of “pointy knives”. However, while sorting through some old files I came across a news clipping from 1989 that reminded me that Canada did not lag far behind in calling for legislative silliness.

In this case it was British Columbia Police Chiefs, backed of course by the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, calling for legislated prohibitions against carrying a knife.

Ottawa stuck in drafting knife laws, says Blais

By: Kim Westad
Times-Colonist staff
Victoria B.C.

February 24, 1989

Solicitor General of Canada Pierre Blais said Thursday there is little the federal government can do regarding curtailing the carrying of knives.

Blais, who addressed a one-day meeting of the B.C. Police Chiefs in Victoria, said that while he understands concerns about the carrying of knives, there is “nothing we can do for the moment.

“I understand the concerns because it is related to violent crime – I’m very concerned about that myself,” said Blais. “I’ll look at this. I don’t have a specific comment on that but I understand the concerns.”

police have been lobbying the federal government for tighter controls on the carrying of knives for over a year, and have been joined by numerous police forces, citizen’s groups and municipal councils.

In Victoria, the use of knives in violent crime and assaults has more than doubled in the past two years.

Currently, carrying a knife is not a criminal offence – unless it is concealed.

“Over the past few years, there has been an increase in serious assaults using knives,” Victoria police Supt. Doug Richardson said. “This association, along with the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, have lobbied for tougher legislation regarding the possession of knives.”

Provincial legislation prohibiting possession of knives in licensed premises was enacted last year.

“But we have to go one step further and ensure people frequenting the downtown area are prohibited from carrying knives simply for the purpose of self protection, because it usually turns out they are used in an offensive manner.

Richardson acknowledged there is a problem because some people carry knives for their occupation.

“It may require some sort of regulation through the issuing of permits for the legitimate use of knives.” (snip)

The Solicitor General of the day could obviously see the pitfalls in trying to legislate something that would have a large percentage of the country up on charges at some point or another and pussyfooted around issue. As far as I can recall nothing further came from this lobbying by the Police Chiefs’ association.

Probably, sitting in his office in the bowels of a major city, the idea may have made sense to the Victoria police chief; just as similar ideas are thrust upon us from officials in Toronto who look to their local problems being solved on the backs of the rest of the citizens in the country.

But while such restrictions may have made sense to some who were dealing with violence in localized areas of large metro centers, they would have been a severe imposition on people living in rural areas, who carry a knife on their belt on a daily basis. That would include farmers, ranchers and hunters, just for a start.

Actually, this 1989 call for legislation against knives is no different than the current call by Toronto’s Mayor and Police Chief for a blanket, country-wide ban on handguns in the desperate hope that it will solve their local problem of gang violence.

Although this idea went nowhere in 1989, you can bet your boots that it is still floating around in the head of someone, somewhere as a “good thing to do”.