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People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, March 07, 2005

From My Cold Dead Hands

For the few of you out there who still cling to the notion that disarming law-abiding citizens will make career criminals sweeter and more accepting of their fellow human beings, the following news from the Lake County (CA) Record-Bee will be disheartening.

Gun ban utopia creates violent crime increase

The cure is worse than the disease

Thursday, March 03, 2005 - In a pattern that's repeated itself in Canada and Australia, violent crime has continued to go up in Great Britain despite a complete ban on handguns, most rifles and many shotguns. The broad ban that went into effect in 1997 was trumpeted by the British government as a cure for violent crime. The cure has proven to be much worse than the disease.

Crime rates in England have skyrocketed since the ban was enacted. According to economist John Lott of the American Enterprise Institute, the violent crime rate has risen 69 percent since 1996, with robbery rising 45 percent and murders rising 54 percent. This is even more alarming when you consider that from 1993 to 1997 armed robberies had fallen by 50 percent. Recent information released by the British Home Office shows that trend is continuing.

Reports released in October 2004 indicate that during the second quarter of 2004, violent crime rose 11 percent; violence against persons rose 14 percent.

The British experience is further proof that gun bans don't reduce crime and, in fact, may increase it. The gun ban creates ready victims for criminals, denying law-abiding people the opportunity to defend themselves. (link)

Now you could argue that there is no direct causal relationship between the confiscation of weapons of self-defense and a (dramatic) rise in crime, but it is interesting - to say the least - that the inverse holds true as well. Here in the good old USA, there are more small arms in the hands of the citizenry than there have ever been and crime rates continue to plunge.
In contrast, the number of privately owned guns in the United States rises by about 5 million a year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The number of guns owned by Americans is at an all-time high, fast approaching 300 million.

Meanwhile the FBI reports that in 2003 the nation's violent crime rate declined for the 12th straight year to a 27-year low. The FBI's figures are based on crimes reported to police. By comparison, the U.S. Department of Justice reported in September that, according to its annual national crime victim survey, violent crime reached a 30-year low in 2003.

Right-to-Carry states fared better than the rest of the country in 2003. On the whole, their total violent crime, murder and robbery rates were 6 percent, 2 percent and 23 percent lower respectively than the states and the District of Columbia where carrying a firearm for protection against criminals is prohibited or severely restricted. On average in Right-to-Carry states the total violent crime, murder, robbery and aggravated assault rates were lower by 27 percent, 32 percent, 45 percent and 20 percent respectively.

As usual, most of the states with the lowest violent crime rates are those with the least gun control, including those in the Rocky Mountain region, and Maine, New Hampshire and Ver-mont in the Northeast. The District of Columbia and Maryland, which have gun bans and other severe restrictions on gun purchase and ownership, retained their regrettable distinctions as having the highest murder and robbery rates. [my emphasis]
Fascinating, eh?

And Speaking Of Effective Gun Control ...

Beyond the subject of relationships between the rate of firearms ownership and that of violent crime, another growing controversy has to do with the cost and fecklessness of certain gun-control plans. Take, for instance, the mother of all gun control programs, the Canadian Firearms Registry. This news comes to us from the Toronto Star.

$1B gun registry branded `useless'
ANDREW CHUNGSTAFF REPORTER

Rochfort Bridge, Alberta.—New questions are being asked about Canada's controversial and expensive gun registry, and why it didn't keep a high-calibre assault rifle out of the hands of a man who killed four Mounties in a cold-blooded ambush.

Despite the Firearms Act and its related programs — designed to keep firearms from people who are likely to be a danger to themselves or to others — local farmer Jim Roszko managed to obtain and keep the high-powered weapon, which he used Thursday to kill RCMP constables Peter Schiemann, Leo Johnston, Anthony Gordon and Brock Myrol before turning the gun on himself.

The officers were helpless against such firepower.

"When you have a person with a weapon that's capable of either semi- or fully-automatic firepower, what chance do you have?" asked RCMP spokesman Cpl. Wayne Oakes.

Roszko — a convicted child molester whom family and neighbours described as aggressive and in a lot of emotional pain — was known by local residents and police to have guns hidden on his farm. In fact, he faced numerous firearms charges over the years, and in 1999 a bailiff who was to visit the Roszko farm was warned by RCMP to wear a bulletproof vest.

Critics say Roszko shouldn't have had weapons in the first place — and, if the gun registry actually worked, wouldn't have had them.

"Clearly this case is further evidence that the system doesn't work," said Guy Fontaine, an Edmonton lawyer who represented Roszko on many legal matters over 15 years. Fontaine said the registry targets only responsible
gun owners. (
link)

The Canadian gun registry is not only completely ineffective - as was predicted by everyone who wasn't blinded by resentment and fear - it is totally out of control.
The controversial gun control program — licensing owners and registering guns — was originally projected to have a net cost of $2 million, but after 10 years in the works, it surpassed the $1-billion mark last year. Critics have condemned it for years, saying it lacks both accountability and effectiveness.
I felt sorry for the Canadian people who have to endure such stupidity. But only for a moment. I quickly remembered that it was the same Canadian people who, year after year, vote the same socialist ninnies into office who dream up such feckless laws.

A Dangerous Sport

Another person has died on the slopes (reported by the Detroit News this morning):
Indiana man dies while snowboarding at Crystal Mountain

THOMPSONVILLE, Mich. (AP) -- A 21-year-old snowboarder died after he lost control while attempting a jump at Crystal Mountain resort and hit the ground, the Benzie County sheriff's department says.


Joas L. Miller of Shipshewana, Ind., was pronounced dead at the scene about 6:30 p.m. Saturday, the sheriff's department said. The death remained under investigation Sunday by the medical examiner and other authorities.

"The ski patrol went up there and tried to revive him but he didn't respond," said resort president and general manager Jim MacInnes. "It's just a sad thing for a young man. Our heart goes out to his family." (link)
If you watch the news on television each evening, you'd think we had a major problem with handgun safety. With SUV's. With table salt. But none of those compare to winter skiing.

Paula and I lived for a number of years near Mount Brighton, Michigan, a weekend ski facility. By the standards set out in Aspen or Steamboat or Vail, Mt. Brighton is a bump in the road; a tiny set of hills upon which "snow" (ice) is manufactured for us "weekend warriors."

What separates Mt. Brighton from Aspen besides the vista and the degree of diffculty of the skiing is the relative experience - or lack thereof - of the skiers. Most of those who travelled to Mt. Brighton were the kind of people - like me - who took the time on just a few occasions a year to strap on the skis and hurtle down the slope - for 45 seconds.

I have often said that the most fun I had at Mt. Brighton was waiting in the lift line at the bottom of the hill, watching totally inexperienced skiers - completely out of control - come crashing into an unsuspecting group of fun-seekers down below. Or watching people with virtually no experience speeding down the hill without any understanding of how to apply the brakes. I can remember one pitiful snowbunny (I remember she was wearing the most elegant lavender ski suit) crash headfirst into a hill at the bottom of a run and bury her entire head in the snow. She was last seen being being pulled up the hill on a stretcher by the rescue squad's snowmobile.

I know this is not funny. And that somebody should pass a law banning skiing. And that I should be ashamed of myself for finding morbid pleasure in the pain and suffering of others. But (God strike me down for saying this) I enjoyed the spectacle.

Shoot, I would have paid money just to sit at the base of Mt. Brighton and watch the avalanche of humanity come hurtling, screaming, crying, pleading toward me.

That and a case of Bud would have made for a great day on Mt. Brighton.

Blogging 101

For those of you who spend a lot of time - like I do - reading blogs, you may have noticed that there are really few rules governing their perameters. It seems sometimes that certain individuals create a weblog just to see how many "f" words they can cram into a paragraph. Others choose to bore you to tears with their musings about the latest rap "lyrics" or the joy they felt when they got a phone call from their Great Aunt Bertha yesterday.

Although I pay those kind of offerings little attention, I say, "to each his own." I celebrate their decision to publish their opinions and musings. They contribute in their own way to the global web dialogue.

That having been said, there are still some rules relating to the use of weblogs. Ellen Simonetti and Mark Jen have exposed a few of them. And have paid the price.
Blog-related firings prompt calls for better company policies
By Anick Jesdanun, AP Internet Writer

NEW YORK -- Flight attendant Ellen Simonetti and former Google employee Mark Jen have more in common than their love of blogging: They both got fired over it.


Simonetti had posted suggestive photographs of herself in uniform, while Jen speculated online about his employer's finances. In neither case were their bosses happy when they found out. (link)
On the face of it, it would seem both these bloggers crossed the line. Though some are having trouble discerning where that line is drawn.
"There needs to be a dialogue going on between employers and employees," said Heather Armstrong, a Web designer fired for commenting on her blog about goings on at work. "There's this power of personal publishing, and there needs to be rules about what you can or cannot say about the workplace."
Uh, Heather. You should by now have realized that your employer "dialogued" with you. Termination of employment is a quaint way of telling you, "You did wrong, fool. Pack your bags."

And as for your plea for "rules about what you can or cannot say about the workplace," consider your experience Blog Rule Number 1: Speak disparagingly about your employer and expect to be bounced.

A lesson learned the hard way.

Bingo!

What have I been telling you along about Social Security? Sweep away the gimmicks and the only viable solution to the gap between the amount of money the system will be taking in in coming years and the amount it will pay out to retirees is to raise the age of eligibility. Now we have a United States senator proposing just that.
Senator to propose raising retirement age
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A leading Republican senator is proposing to raise the Social Security retirement age from 67 to 68, while Democrats maintain their opposition to the president's plan to overhaul the retirement program with private investment accounts.

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel's plan would raise the age that retirees could receive full benefits, beginning in 2023. "We are living longer," Hagel said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "So when you look at the total universe of this, I think that makes some sense to extend the age." (
link)

I generally think Chuck Hagel is a bit of a flake, but in this instance, he's on the right track. Raising the age at which a person can begin receiving retirement income from the government from 67 to 68 won't fix the problem, but he's got the right idea. In order to close the gap completely, I think the age of eligibility is going to have to be pushed to 70; perhaps 72.

But good for you, Chuck, for speaking the truth.

And for making me look really smart.