“Anxiety simmers as mass shootings loom any time, anywhere”

That’s the headline of an article in the Detroit Free Press. Motorcycles backfired in Times Square last week. It sounded like gunfire, and panic ensued in the heart of New York City. The same night, a sign fell during a concert at a Utah mall. The loud bang when it hit the floor sounded something like a gunshot, and sent people racing into stores to hide. Balloons popped in a dorm in March on the University of Michigan campus. Outside, a vigil was underway for those killed in the massacre at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Dozens of students heard the loud

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H. L. Mencken’s recipe for dealing with activist judges

Both sides of the political spectrum in the USA have from time to time expressed “reservations” (euphemism!) at the decisions of judges that affect causes, laws and activities which they support.  Ninety-five years ago, H. L. Mencken had a suggestion on how to deal with them. To punish a judge taken in judicial crim. con. by fining him or sending him to jail is a bit too facile and obvious. What is needed is a system (a) that does not depend for its execution upon the good-will of fellow jobholders, and (b) that provides swift, certain and unpedantic punishments, each fitted neatly to its crime.

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“Red flag laws” as a tool of oppression

I wrote yesterday about so-called “Red Flag laws”, and how they could be misused by people for various reasons.  I hadn’t expected to be proved right so quickly, but . . . If you go into the comments on any one of these Tweets, you’ll see quite a number of people also stating that if they see anybody with a gun (open or concealed) they will red flag that person. These people don’t want red flag laws to prevent mass shooters.  They just want to abuse them to harass law-abiding gun owners with the weight of the law. Not just does this put people’s

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Personal safety during a mass shooting

I’ve seen a lot of comment among more gung-ho denizens of the Internet after the three mass shooting incidents last week.  It can be summed up as “Always carry your gun, and if someone starts shooting, shoot back!” Shooting back is not always a good idea.  It may be one’s only option, if worse comes to worst;  but that still doesn’t necessarily make it a good one. Let’s start by examining a scenario like the Walmart shooting in El Paso.  Around where I live, I can be pretty sure that there will be several persons in our local Walmart branches who have concealed weapons permits, and are

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“Red Flag” laws: between a rock and a hard place

I think the growing outcry to pass a national “Red Flag Law“, allowing authorities to temporarily confiscate the firearms of those suspected of intending to use them illegally, is fraught with peril.  It’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. Those who are Constitutional strict constructionists (including yours truly) argue that such laws ignore due process, and frequently convict someone of being a risk to society before they have an opportunity to respond.  Others, who regard the Constitution as more of a “living document” (and therefore malleable), maintain that the safety of society is more important than strict legal niceties, and therefore

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Why government can’t solve the mass shooting problem

Time and again, in normal life or extreme difficulties, we see how outside assistance can be unwelcome, or abused, or lead to all sorts of complications (the famous law of unintended consequences).  We’ve spoken of some of them in these pages before, most recently the result of local governments subsidizing homelessness. We’re seeing it again now, in the reaction of politicians and community leaders to the mass shootings in Gilroy, CA;  El Paso, TX;  and Dayton, OH.  Almost without exception, they’re calling for more laws, rules and regulations to be passed.  The fact that we already have myriad laws, rules and regulations, and that the shooters

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The best comment I’ve yet seen on the El Paso and Dayton shootings

A tip o’ the hat to Stilton Jarlsberg (obviously, a pseudonym) for his insightful comments on last weekend’s mass shootings.  Here’s an excerpt. These gruesome murders are not about, nor caused by, politics. Rather, they are the unavoidable and perhaps unstoppable product of a deeply diseased culture. A culture which has become the perfect growth medium for psychopathy. . . . After all, who’s going to notice or care about garden variety insanity in a world which routinely describes everyone as murderous: baby killers on one side, Earth-destroying Nazis on the other. The stakes are absolute, the “other” is the enemy, and

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Acid tests for any proposed solution to mass shootings

In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings over the past weekend, politicians and pundits are already bloviating about the need for more gun control, and all the yadda-yadda-yadda we’ve become accustomed to hearing from them.  Mostly, they’re dancing in the blood of the victims, seeking to build their own support on the back of their suffering, and offering “solutions” that are nothing of the sort. Of course, almost all the “solutions” being advanced are not “solutions” at all, because they focus on tools rather than individuals.  As I wrote back in 2009, after the Winnenden school shooting in Germany:  “Again and again

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“Refugees” as a weapon of international blackmail

It seems Turkey is again wielding the “weapon” of unleashing Middle Eastern “refugees” against Europe if it doesn’t get what it wants. Turkey has threatened to re-open the floodgates of mass migration to Europe unless Turkish nationals are granted visa-free travel to the European Union. The EU agreed to visa liberalization in a March 2016 EU-Turkey migrant deal in which Ankara pledged to stem the flow of migrants to Europe. European officials insist that while Turkey has reduced the flow of migrants, it has not yet met all of the requirements for visa liberalization. Moreover, EU foreign ministers on July 15

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Extremism in America; over-hyped hobgoblin, or a real threat?

I find myself in a quandary writing this blog post.  On the one hand, I have to agree with H. L. Mencken‘s famous caution: The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary. I don’t want to discuss or propagate imaginary hobgoblins on this blog.  On the other hand, I’ve been discussing the current political turmoil in this country with several friends, some born here, others, like myself, immigrants who’ve seen and experienced a lot beyond America’s

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