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.

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(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.)

Guest post

Democrats stew in loathing

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Curl

(President Trump gave an excellent State of the Union address last night. No matter. Democrats loathe everything about him and, apparently, everything about America too. Guest poster Joseph Curl describes the situation beautifully.)

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If you were an alien being who swooped down to earth and landed inside the House chamber just in time to catch President Trump’s first State of the Union address to a joint gathering of Congress, you would think that one side of the room loved America, and the other sides literally hated its guts.

Praise to the U.S. flag? One side stood and cheered, the other side sat silent. Applauding America’s gritty veterans? A no brainer, right? Wrong. Republicans stood and clapped, Democrats didn’t budge. Freedom and democracy? Yawn, said the Democrats, as Republicans whooped and hollered.

When Trump touted the fact that black unemployment has hit a record low, you’d think the Democrats — the party of black America, seeking always to divide the races — would have at least fallen into a polite golf clap. Think again.

That’s right, black Democrats hate Trump so much that they refused to cheer the rise of the black community — or even acknowledge that whatever fears they may have had about Trump, he’s done, so far, anyway, all right.

Throughout the 80-minute speech, Democrats were downright glum. None apparently wanted to be captured by cameras applauding anything Trump said, but it all just got weirder and weirder as the night went on.

“That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to friends of America, not enemies of America,” Trump said. Applause from the right side of the room, crickets from the left. So, Democrats object to that pledge — that America only aid friends, not foes? That’s a tough sell in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or Abilene, Texas.

When Trump told a heart wrenching story about two young girls killed by MS-13 gang members — their parents were in Trump’s box and sobbed softly — he said: “Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our ICE and Border Patrol Agents … so that this cannot ever happen again.”

The camera panned the room: One side clapping, the other side, nothing. In fact, boos and groans were heard when Trump began his story. Again, so Democrats are on the side of MS-13 and they DO want that to happen again?

It all got more silly. At one point, dissing the NFL, Trump said “we proudly stand for the national anthem.” Republicans stood. Democrats sat. So petty.

“Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker.” Democrats didn’t applaud that, either. They seemed sad — angry, even — that Americans are getting some of their money back. The Middle Class they’re always saying they fight for? No joy for them. But then again, Rep. Nancy Pelosi has called those “thousands of dollars” mere “crumbs,” so that makes sense.

At another point, Trump expressed solidarity with the people of Iran. “When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.” Republicans cheered, Democrats sat stonefaced.

CRUX — THEY REFUSED TO APPLAUD FREEDOM IN A COUNTRY THAT OPPRESSES WOMEN AND GAYS! ALL BECAUSE THEY HATE TRUMP SO VERY MUCH.

A shot on Fox News at one point caught Democrats looking at their phones and chatting with each other during the speech. They had decided, en masse, that they wouldn’t listen to Trump — and they certainly wouldn’t agree with anything he said. But they missed a helluva speech.

In a section on North Korea, Trump told an amazing story that led to the picture of the night. He told the tale of Seong-ho, who in 1996 as a small boy tried to steal a lump of coal to trade for food. Exhausted and starving, he passed out on some train tracks and was run over and gravely injured. He underwent multiple amputations, but still had no food — his family sometimes ate dirt.

But he made it out. “Today, he has a new leg. But, Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those old crutches as a reminder of how far you’ve come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all. … Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom,” Trump said.

Seong-ho stood and, with tears streaming down his cheeks, held aloft those old crutches, worn and beaten. The room erupted in applause.

But only a smattering of Democrats stood. They couldn’t give Trump even this small moment — they couldn’t cheer one man’s escape from tyrannical rule merely because it was Trump telling the tale!

In his famous orations, former president Barack Obama was all about himself. In his first State of the Union, he said “I” nearly 100 times. In another speech, he praised himself a whopping 156 times.

But Trump was different last night. He said “we” 129 times, and offered his hand repeatedly to the Democrats.

Too bad they hate Trump so much they now hate America.

At the end of the speech, Trump launched in to some soaring rhetoric about America. The audience, moved, began chanting “USA! USA!” Rep. Luis Gutierrez — an advocate for letting illegal aliens stay in America — was clearly triggered. So distraught was he at the chants that he rose quickly and fled the House chamber.

That’s how much Democrats hate America.

Guest post

Trump’s da man!

(The following is an editorial from the Investor’s Business Daily. For an even more detailed list of President Trump’s many accomplishments, go here.)

AFTER WEEKS and months of fixating on tweets and Russia, someone in the press decided to have a look at what the Trump administration has been up to since January. Lo and behold, they discovered that it’s getting a lot done.

serveimage“Trump Has Quietly Accomplished More Than It Appears,” reads the headline in the Atlantic.

“With the Trump administration’s chaos sucking up all the attention,” the article begins, “it’s been able to move forward on a range of its priorities … It is remaking the justice system, rewriting environmental rules, overhauling public-lands administration, and greenlighting major infrastructure projects. It is appointing figures who will guarantee the triumph of its ideological vision for decades to come.”

It goes on to detail these achievements, many of which we’ve highlighted on these pages.

Border crossings, for example, have plummeted, even though all Trump has done so far is promise to enforce existing laws.

The Supreme Court approved parts of Trump’s travel ban, a success made possible by Trump’s appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the bench.

Trump is busy filling lower court positions with conservative justices. Ron Klain, a White House aide to Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, said that Trump “is proving wildly successful in one respect: naming youthful conservative nominees to the federal bench in record-setting numbers.”

What else? Well, Trump pulled out of the Paris climate change deal, which as we noted in this space is a yuuuge win for the economy.

The EPA, meanwhile, is dismantling Obama’s coal-killing, growth-choking Clean Power Plan, and draining the heavy-handed Waters of the United States rule. When a veteran EPA official resigned this week, she complained in a letter to her former colleagues that “the new EPA Administrator already has repeals of 30 rules under consideration,” which the New York Times described as “a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history.”

Trump promised to kill two regulations for every new one enacted, but in his first six months the ratio was 16-to-1.

Trump also approved the Keystone XL and other pipeline projects held up by Obama. He’s also rolled back a ban on coal mining on public lands.

To be sure, Trump hasn’t scored a major legislative achievement on signature issues like ObamaCare and tax reform.

The Atlantic writer describes the administration’s achievements as something akin to a shadow government. But these actions aren’t in the shadows. They’re just being ignored by a media that is obsessed with digging up dirt on Trump.

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(Note: An excellent way to get correct information on the Trump Administration is to go to the White House website and subscribe to the 1600 Daily, which is a brief wrap-up emailed to you of what’s actually happening every day in the administration.)

Guest post

Valley of the Shadow

Good stories from Alabama. By Ray Clifton.

Words Not On Paper

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It is Coleta Valley on the map.

I passed this way a few days ago.  Stopped for a photo and a memory.

Once upon a time three boys wandered into this spot in an old Jeep Ranger.  The Ranger is no more.  Neither is one of the boys.  The other two are worse for wear.

The day that old Ranger clanked into the valley the driver immediately christened it “the back side of heaven.”   It was the most beautiful landscape they had ever seen, and the name stuck, part and parcel of the bond between them.

In their boyhood journeys together it became the end of the line.  The turning-point back toward home.

The mountains in the background are a part of the Talladega National Forest and the Hollins Wildlife Management Area.  The boys spent countless teen-age hours in those mountains, learning to hunt white-tailed deer.  Never any success, as…

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