Friday, June 19, 2020

Statues on the Move

With apologies to the late Gil Scott-Heron

and his song "Whitey on the Moon"

Santa Fe New Mexican Photo Credit to Matt Dahlseid
I keep thinking that its easier to tear down statues than solve real problems. The fact that these statues are still up rubs some raw and for historically good reasons, but there are other pressing problems that keep everybody down. Getting rid of statues won't open the economy, get the unemployment rate down, or lower the price of a house in the City Indifferent. But it will feel socially just.

Then I thought of Gil Scot Heron and realized that reality doesn't change, it just changes form. Hence my piss poor takeoff on Gil Scot-Heron's really cool song.

I lost my job to the covid
With statues on the move
The checkbook is getting awfully thin
With statues on the move

The landlord wants his rent today
With statues on the move
He said he’ll raise the rent any day
With statues on the move
I think he bought his thirteenth house
"investment property", they say
with statues on the move

But I can't afford a house today
With statues on the move
And my doctor locked his doors today
Because I can't afford the co-pay
With statues on the move

I wonder where I’ll get a job today
With statues on the move
Or why the NIMBYs cancelled that new rental place
With statues on the move
They say this is a progressive town
With statues on the move
But all I see is surface rage
With statues on the move

So here I sit all day today
Watchin the kids cause they can’t go to school
My wife is having a breakdown
And for me there is no job around
The car is low on gas
and the governor shut the bike shop down
I’m a nervous wreck but there’s no way out
And I wonder why all this big bad pout
Over a statue sitting in the middle of town
When my whole life is spinning down
Well, those statues are on the move

So I think I’ll write all these issues down
While I’m sittin here with this frown
Figuring out how to survive in an expensive town
Looking for some answers true
So I'll send my questions, return postage due
To this town's Mayor
c/o the office of Statues on the Move

And I did see Gil Scott-Heron perform at Stony Brook back in the 1980's. He did this song.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Monday, March 30, 2020

Online gun safety videos I found

I was wondering what sort of online videos are available covering various firearms safety issues. So I started looking around. Below are some. But first, if you get no farther, read the Four Rules of Firearm Safety:

1. All guns are always loaded. Corollary: Even after you make sure it is not loaded, it is still loaded as far as anyone else is concerned. If you relinquish control of it, it is loaded again.
2. Never point the muzzle at anything you are not willing to shoot.
3. Keep your finger off of and away from the trigger until you are ready to fire.
4. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

to those I might add:

5. Never handle a gun if you are impaired by drugs (legal or otherwise), alcohol, or emotional upset.
6. Store your firearms safely given the particulars of your own situation.

NOTE and Disclaimer: This is not firearms safety instruction and I am not an instructor. This is for your amusement only. See a certified firearms instructor for real training. 

But at any rate, here is the sort of stuff that is out there.

Just added tonight from Mike Grimler, my CCW instructor, found at WYOR

A quick discussion of the very popular AR-15 type rifle.

Two videos on semiauto handguns, which seem to be the most popular today. Note the position of the trigger finger OUTSIDE the trigger guard when handling or clearing the gun.

Note also: these are not YOUR guns.If you own guns, know them inside and out!

Beginner's guide to the AR-15

The Venerable pump action shotgun, with fond regards to V.P. Joe "shoot it off the back porch" Biden

another view of the 870

and another, twi ways to unload an 870

Revolvers. More intuitive.

Leave a comment in the comments if you have better videos. I'm an amateur on this.

Self defense lethal force laws vary by state. Find out what applies to you.

Range Safety from the National Shooting Sports Foundation

Handgun Basics for Absolute Beginners

I'll add more as long as it doesn't blow up this blog post and as long as I am interested.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Did You Buy a Gun This Week? Why?

Sunday's Santa Fe New Mexican reported a run on guns and ammo at the Outdoorsman of Santa Fe. Apparently this is not unusual right now and is happening elsewhere in the state, in part due to news that the Albuquerque City Council will vote on a proposed expansion of emergency powers to shutter gun shops. Whether that happens, and whether it is lawful, is beside the point. That, along with all of the other uncertainty and worry going on due to COVID-19 is resulting in a mad buying binge. But we don't need a buying binge right now. We need a caring binge.

As far as Santa Fe as reported by the Santa Fe New Mexican's Daniel Chacon:

“That rack is usually full of basic pump-action shotguns — all gone,” salesman Jay Winton said last week as he pointed to an empty rack in the store at DeVargas Center. “People … want to defend their home from the ravening hordes that they’re convinced are coming, so we’re selling lots of ammunition, lots of firearms.”

But at times like these, its perhaps best to remember Franklin Roosevelt's First Inaugural Address:

"...So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days..."

 But really. If you bought a gun, or are considering buying one right now, consider the following:

1. The Spanish Flu of 1918 killed more people than World War I and about a half percent of the U.S. population. We persevered.
2. The Great Depression unemployment rate peaked at 25%. We persevered.
3. Do you know how to use that gun in a crisis when a few seconds count? Do you know Jeff Cooper's Four Rules? Do you know the laws of the use of deadly force? Do you know how to store a firearm safely, esp. if there are kids around? If you are a first time firearm owner, do you know where to sign up for a gun safety class before you put a round in the chamber?  If you are unsure of any of these questions, lock that gun up until you can pass my quiz with an "A". You are more of a hazard to yourself and others than a resource.

"Bullets don't have a reverse gear" 

We cannot shoot a virus. We can only shoot each other and quite possibly, live the rest of our lives  with the knowlege of having made a fatal mistake. We need to help each other and find common cause in working through this pandemic rather than fearfully arming up against hypothetical "ravening hordes" or collapses of civilization that will only happen if we as a people affirmatively make it happen.

So if you have a few  hundred bucks to burn, perhaps its a better idea to donate it to the Red Cross, the food bank, Santa Fe Community Fund, or some organization trying to raise funds for COVID-19 test kits or ventilators. Yesterday we bought water containers and distilled/deionized water and delivered same to a close and elderly friend with serious medical conditions who has some medical contraption that needs DI water to function. She is, as she said to us, "one of the people for whom a COVID diagnosis would likely be a death sentence".

Stop and think. Look around you. As FDR so beautifully said, we have nothing to fear...but fear itself.

Disclaimer: I am on the Board of Directors of the Los Alamos Sportsman's Club. These are not club views or Board views but my views alone.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Some Quick Thoughts on the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Bill Currently Filed for the 2020 Legislative Session

 I will undoubtedly edit this but wanted to get something out there.

Two identical Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO, or "red flag") bills have been prefiled for the legislature and are on the Governor's "to do" list for the thirty day session. On the house side, HB 7 has been filed by Rep. Daymon Ely. On the Senate side, Sen. Joseph Cervantes and Mr. Ely have filed SB 5. These are both online and can be examined. As an aside, Rep. Patricia Caballero has filed HB 85 to ban "firearm converters" but that bill is so bizzarely written that I hope it simply dies.

The bigger issue is the ERPO bill, which as I said, has been on the Governor's to do list and is being pushed heavily by the gun control fraternity. I won't bore you with a rewrite here so go read the bill. What I will do is point out what I consider the most problematic aspects of it to a gun owner.

First and foremost is due process. These bills use a lower standard of evidence to issue an order, the so called "preponderance of evidence" standard or fifty percent plus a smidgen typical of civil lawsuits. This is in contrast to "beyond a reasonable doubt" used in criminal adjudication.The good news is that this year's bill has a provision that the person seeking the order has to fill out an affidavit under oath, which means that if they mislead the court, they are subject to penalties such as being charged with perjury.

The bad news for gun owners would be that these cases are often ex parte (only one party need appear) and in any case, the person seeking the order, once it is issued, puts the gun owner into a position of being guilty until proved innocent.The initial orders are good for about fifteen days and you get your day in court. If you convince the court the request is not supported by sufficient evidence, you get your guns back. If not, say goodbye to them for a year.

But what about that day in court? In spite of the fact that your 2nd Amendment (and as enumerated in Art. II, Sec 6 of the state constitution) right to bear arms is on the table, as are your 4th and 5th Amendment rights to be secure from unlawful searches and seizures and loss of property without due process, you are at risk if you cannot afford counsel. The bill, while saying you have a right to counsel (well, duh...) does not provide you with one if you cannot afford one. So an indigent person or one of somewhat limited means will likely be showing up in court not only unfamiliar with the whole judicial process (as would be the case for most of us), but unable to afford competent legal advice. That is the most shocking problem in this bill from my perspective. It needs to be amended. As I said to Rep. Ely on the phone, I think this is a prime consideration for a lawsuit against the bill on due process grounds.

Finally, some of the wording in the bill is vague and could be a legal trap. Section C on pg. 13 of the present bill lists reasons one can be served with an ERPO. These include 'unlawful, reckless, or negligent use, display, storage, possession, or brandishing of a firearm". While brandishing is a fairly well established legal concept, I am not familiar with any NM law that defines some of these other terms. What is unlawful, reckless or negligent storage? If it is in the eye of the beholder, this is vague and can be twisted and turned to the use of a party unfamiliar with firearms.

Likewise, "misuse of controlled substances or alcohol". Are these well defined legal concepts or another opportunity for a gotcha? Finally, "the recent acquisition of a firearm". Really? Presumably one would have to have a context other than "gee, I like that winchester".

I would encourage all gun owners to contact the bill sponsors as well as their own representatives and bring up these points. I'm not opposed to an ERPO bill as a concept because as someone who has a subscription to multiple newspapers, I read of cases where these bills are good tools if used as a precision tool rather than as Maslow's Hammer. I do think these have to be narrowly drawn and preserve due process.

Its tough to strike a proper balance with these if one is thinking of real world situations. But find that balance we must.

Note as of 1-15-2020 10 a.m. I have repeatedly asked the New Mexico ACLU for an analysis of this bill. so far, crickets.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Guns and Bombs Will Keep Us Free?

The big picture isn't about assault rifles. Its about assaults on decency.

Along with the current discussion about gun control, assault rifle bans, and domestic terrorism, Uncle Sam is working on reinvigorating the nuclear weapons program in New Mexico and South Carolina. Given that a few of us in Northern New Mexico are affiliated with certain large Federal installations involved with making things that can create very large holes in the ground, I see a lot of chatter about both topics. This leaves me uneasy.

Guns and bombs are necessary evils albeit fascinating creations when not employed for their intended purpose. That's why people enjoy shooting sports, especially with military design rifles, for example, as described here and here. But lethal weapons are solutions of last resort to real problems. Whether someone is kicking down your door or your frontier at o-dark thirty, you need a way to defend yourself. The problem is, when things get to the point of a shooting war, whether in the kitchen or the Ardennes, the less destructive solutions have failed or have been ignored. Cleaning up the blood and lost treasure gets more complicated as weapons become more advanced. During the American Revolution, a few thousand soldiers faced each other and opened fire when they could see the whites of each others eyes. The American Civil War, which bled America white, was the harbinger of WW I with trench warfare and the introduction of modern weapons. Nowadays, advanced heavy weapons and highly lethal infantry weapons (not to mention, nukes) can blow somewhat larger holes in the other side's strategic interests. High capacity semiauto weapons can drench the neighborhood with a rainsquall of full metal jacket (or jacketed hollow point, I suppose). Or as Bruce Cockburn once sang, "who put that bullet hole in Peggy's kitchen wall?". Nowadays, it would be more than one hole. I think Bruce thought up that song when people generally shot at each other with revolvers.

Things won't get better if we concentrate on more guns and bombs as solutions. There are more of us in the U.S. (and of course on the planet) and here at home, resources are becoming more unequal, leading to rising stress. Our civilization's reliance on dinosaur juice, methane, and coal to power our cars, homes, and other stuff is on track to double atmospheric CO2 concentrations over Holocene levels by mid-century. This will, by most reputable accounts, lead to global energy retention via the Tyndall effect resulting in heating on the order of 1.5-4 degrees C and the associated climate adjustments that likely are associated with warming (sea level rise, changes in regional precipitation, changes in average temperatures, more extreme weather due to changes in the jet streams, etc). As an aside, note the uncertainties here. We can predict the big picture, but not the details, hence the constant bickering.

If you think forced migration due to climate and political problems is bad now, I suggest a friendly trip in the time machine to see what things will look like in a few decades. For those who are skeptical of forward climate models, we have plenty of historical geochemical records suggesting significant change is likely in the century to come. Even on the regional scale, we see the results on societies of past climate change in the abandoned settlements of the American Southwest and Greenland. I wrote something for the Albuquerque Journal about that here. Far fewer humans lived back then, so there were places to resettle. Where do people resettle in a few years, as their wells run dry and crops wither, now that we live in a No Vacancy world?

Our ability since the Industrial Revolution to change atmospheric chemistry and thus the atmosphere’s ability to retain the sun’s heat, in a nutshell, is why humans can profoundly – at least with respect to our own existence – impact climate.

My guess is we will probably deal with climate change using guns and bombs, since that seems to be the historical tradition. Yes, I am increasingly pessimistic. With the world order drifting towards authoritarianism, nationalism, xenophobia, and ethnic/racial extremism and increasingly, with people showing up unannounced at each other's national doorsteps, I think the stresses will overcome reason. Plus, its been 74 years since we had a world war. Few living today remember what a world war looks like and frankly, I worry that today's leaders can only see war as an abstraction. Reagan and Gorbachev knew WW II. Putin and Trump do not. My parent's generation, now pretty much gone, saw it in its smoke, blood, and destruction filled reality.

The bottom line is if we continue to fixate on using Maslow's Handgun to stave off change rather than hunkering down to fix what is broken, we will kick the underlying problems down the road until a crisis overcomes us and we solve the problems with...guns and bombs. Its the way Homo sapiens has always done it before. Why change now? Because the guns and bombs are too lethal to use? That's the underlying idea behind deterrence, but it assumes rational actors acting in their best interest. Hmmm. Does anyone see a potential problem with that assumption? Orwell did:

The passage in the Declaration of Independence that starts, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” with its references to equality, liberty, and happiness, is literally impossible to translate into Newspeak. “The nearest one could come to doing so,” Orwell wrote, “would be to swallow the whole passage up in the single word crimethink.”

As Kurt Vonnegut, who himself rode out the WW II Dresden firebombing, ironically enough in a slaughterhouse, would say, "So it goes". Unless we choose otherwise.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Adam Winkler's Lecture on the History of Gun Laws and the Impact of the Heller Decision

As Arte Johnson would say, "veerry interesting". That is, if you follow this stuff.