Guest post

Gun control: an American fantasy

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Democrat National Committee headquarters.

(The following is an editorial in today’s Washington Examiner.)

The shooter who perpetrated the recent massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Fla., succeeded in killing 17 people. He also got Americans talking about gun control again.

Once again, too, there were those whose contribution to debate was to sneer at people who offered prayers for the victims and their families, instead of advocating or promising gun control. Even if you set aside the sneers, there is a problem with their attitude, no matter how good their intentions are otherwise. Prayer might actually help. Gun control, on the other hand, doesn’t work and can’t work in the U.S. and is a fantasy now just as it ever was.

By “fantasy,” we mean to express several important facts that are ignored in this debate. It is fantasy as policy because stricter gun control, within the limits of what is considered reasonable today (i.e., anything short of a total ban on sales or even gun confiscation), does not guarantee or even statistically correlate with lower gun homicide rates in any given state. This fact merits your time for some research, but to give just one prominent example from the FBI data, Texas and California have comparable gun homicide rates each year (they were actually tied in 2015).

If gun control were effective, that is not what you’d expect in the nation’s two most populous states with two of the most different gun policies. And that is by no means the only observation of its kind that you’ll take away from the FBI’s annual numbers.

Gun control is a political fantasy because the Second Amendment and various states’ constitutions protect the right to bear arms. This will not be changed, full stop. You don’t need to support or even like the Bill of Rights to see that gun control is an administrative fantasy as well.

In a country where private citizens own more than 300 million firearms, no effective form of gun control can be practical, and no practical form can be effective. Even an obviously unconstitutional ban on all new sales would take a century to make its effects felt. Universal confiscation of hundreds of millions of firearms would be several orders of magnitude more difficult than deporting every illegal immigrant in the U.S.

Gun control advocates seem frustrated that this country is not and cannot ever be Luxembourg. But the sooner they accept that reality, the closer everyone will be to starting a productive conversation about how to prevent the next Parkland.

This conversation ought to begin with the question of why the nation’s existing background check system and law enforcement agencies are so woefully ineffective in preventing known threats, like that from the Parkland shooter, whose irregular and threatening behavior was no secret, from becoming school shooters.

Why is the government so bad at keeping guns out of the hands not only of people who arguably shouldn’t have them, but even of people who by law are already not allowed to have them? The Charleston church shooter was a felon who should not have been permitted to buy his gun, but for an FBI error during the background check process.

The Parkland shooter, like the Pulse Nightclub terrorist and the Boston Marathon bombers before him, had been flagged for FBI attention long before his crimes. In each case, the bureau shrugged.

Is the government incapable of safeguarding citizens’ rights and safety? Could it do so with more resources, or with more authority? Congress should at least consider granting money to the states to pay for the personnel and computer resources required to make the background check database work as intended.

Meanwhile, it should also consider creating a universally accessible, voluntary background check system, as we have recommended in the past, to replace or supplement the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The next step will likely fall to state governments, which may want to consider new ideas such as temporary gun violence restraining orders. They probably ought also to be reconsidering procedures for officially identifying and legally recognizing mental illness in people who are suspected threats to themselves and others.

There is also an entire universe of discussion that hasn’t been had in decades, about whether we as a society are inappropriately neglecting to prescribe and perhaps heavily subsidize assisted living arrangements and even partial physical confinement for certain disturbed individuals. In today’s technological context, many of these might benefit and even become productive members of society, without posing a threat.

These ideas should be at the center of this debate. Once we’re talking about them instead of trying to drink from the dry well of gun control, we’ll actually be making some progress.

* * * *

(Note: A more accurate headline would have been Gun Control: a Leftist Fantasy. Conservatives tend to be more realistic. We are people with our feet on the ground, with some exceptions. The Democrat Party, i.e. leftists, excel at dreaming.)

Mexican life

My child bride goes topless

charro
This hombre was my father-in-law.

THERE ARE NO two abutting nations on earth that are more different than the United States and Mexico. Moving from one to another can be a jarring experience.

It is so jarring that it causes Gringos in Mexico — and Mexicans in the United States — to huddle with their own people for comfort and familiarity.

While the Gringos often crow about assimilating, blending in, the Mexicans know better. While Gringos often say they “love the culture” of Mexico, Mexicans never say that about the United States. Blame envy.

If you go further than simply moving from one nation to the other, and marry into a family from the other side, things can get more jarring or less, depending on you. It definitely provides a different perspective.

Speaking of perspectives, here are some photos my child bride recently pulled from the closet. Above is my father-in-law.  He owned a horse and a pistol, and he would pull the pistol out if necessary. He was a family physician and a surgeon to boot. I never knew him because he died over 30 years ago at the age of 61, a heart attack.

He was not, I am told, fond of Gringos.

Here are two more photos, both of my child bride in the early 1960s. I graduated from high school in 1962, so it’s clear why I call her my child bride.

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Enjoying a bath in a galvanized tub.
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Going topless with a goofy grin.

 

 

Mexican life

Early retirement is fun

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We bought that red, ceramic globe recently near Dolores Hidalgo.

I RETIRED QUITE early, age 55, and that means you potentially have lots of years ahead of you, years in which you must do something or other.

My plans were few. I knew I’d use the time to read books. I like to read books because it’s an interesting thing to do, plus it makes me even smarter than I already am.

Not on the plan was yard work, which I dislike. My distaste for yard work was one of the reasons I recently had part of the Hacienda lawn filled in with stone and cement. That’s the lighter part in the photo above. The darker is the sidewalk, which is 15 years old.

But I’ve discovered that I’ve simply substituted one form of yard work with another. The stone and concrete require sweeping. The primary reason is that there are plants, big ones. One is the towering nopal, and the other is the monster bougainvillea.

The nopal drops big, dead, prickly “paddles.” Ker-splat! The bougainvillea snows dead leaves and other miscellaneous crap.

I was out sweeping this morning when this realization came to me. It’s still yard work. However, sweeping stone and concrete is far more fun than fussing with grass.

I don’t regret the stonework. We intend to do more next year.

Back to the theme of retirement. Lots of folks dream of retiring early, which is a phrase open to interpretation. The standard “early retirement” is 55, and that’s what I did. Other people, mostly young ones, dream of leaving the work world even earlier. At 40, for example. Good luck with that, amigos.

Here’s what you usually have to do to retire early, say, at 55. Don’t go into debt. Save, save, save … and invest wisely. Being single can help. These are not difficult things to do, but few folks do them. It’s equally simple to lose weight. Eat less crap, and do regular moderate exercise. Again, easy, but few people can do it.

I’m having a fun time, and I’ve been having fun since 2000. Before that, not so much. One late afternoon recently, I was sitting here before the Hewlett Packard screen, and I looked out yon window. Below is what I saw.

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Mexican life

Doing time in the State of Guanajuato

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In the jail of Dolores Hidalgo, State of Guanajuato

WHEN LAST we spoke, the Hacienda Duo was hightailing it out of our hardscrabble neighborhood due to the approach of Carnival, which is when our neighbors go berserk.

We stayed three nights in a pretty swanky place off the highway between the Gringo-infested burg of San Miguel and Dolores Hidalgo, which is a bit farther north.

The drive last Sunday was uneventful. We had lunch in a San Miguel restaurant named Hecho en Mexico where we’ve eaten quite a few times.

The following day we drove to Dolores Hidalgo and hit a few tourist spots, one of which was the Colonial building that housed the city’s jail down to 1957. It’s not a place you’d want to be in the slammer, but it’s a museum now. My child bride snapped the mugshot above.

Not surprisingly, it’s not the first time I’ve been in jail.

We dined in the Restaurante Plaza, which faces the plaza as the name indicates. We’ve dined there before, happily. The place where we had intended to eat, a joint called DaMonica, was closed Monday. Dang!

Back in San Miguel on Tuesday, we ate somewhere new for us, a restaurant named La Frontera. It was recommended to us by the inimitable Jennifer Rose, a woman who thinks red shoes are better than bacon. I do not agree.

While Ms. Rose may misjudge the value and/or taste of red shoes, she does know restaurants, and La Frontera was a good call. I had a BLT, and my child bride ate some brisket thing. They were both good, but they weren’t the highlight of the meal.

That was the root beer float. We love root beer floats. The only root beer float my child bride had ever tasted was near San Antonio, Texas, years ago. I have never seen root beer in Mexico. I asked the owner where she got root beer, and she said at the major supermarket in San Miguel.

There are some advantages — few but some — to living in a Gringo-infested town. Having root beer at the store is one of those advantages. I am jealous.

Now let’s venture on to politics. San Miguel hates Donald Trump. We walked through a street market and saw lots of T-shirts on sale that sported (expletive) Trump this and (expletive) Trump that. Tsk-tsk.

We walked around an art gallery and saw a huge oil painting of the great American president, but the artist was really angry with The Donald.

Oh, the ill will at losing an election, fair and square.

Wednesday morning, Ash Wednesday, we packed our bags, hopped into the Honda and headed southwest to our mountaintop home, having avoided the worst of Carnival here, which was the objective, after all.

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Child bride on the cobblestones leading to the hotel.
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Unoccupied edifice near our hideaway hotel.