Archive for ‘Guns’

June 1, 2011

Afternoon Links

by WIZ

Read up:

  1. A list of the 50 best cover songs ever.
  2. Some info behind the sped-up re-authorization of the PATRIOT act.
  3. A drug war-style raid on a house that had some small connection to viewing a pornographic website a year ago.
  4. A Macbook thief gets pwned.
  5. Police officers in New Mexico can take guns away from drivers who pose no threat.
  6. A Mexican teacher has been honoured after video footage showed her calming pupils (via singing to them) as a gun battle raged outside her school.
June 1, 2011

Divided They Stand

by WIZ

TIME magazine ran a good piece on the politics of Arizona. It’s worth reading in full. Here are some money quotes and comments.

Arizona is, after all, the Grand Canyon State. Its defining topographical feature is literally a divide. The politics of the state, not just in these past few weeks but in the past few years, has been all about division, as though every argument we are having as a nation plays out there on a breathtaking scale. The budget is a shambles, the schools are among the worst in the country, the governor is accused of running “death panels” for cutting off funding for organ transplants for some Medicaid patients. Representative Giffords’ Tea Party — backed opponent held a “Get on target for victory” shoot-out at a gun range as a campaign event. Rallies against a controversial immigration bill last year featured so many tearful calls to prayer and accusations of Nazism that it seemed like an all-Hispanic version of the Glenn Beck show. “It’s as bad as I’ve seen in 40 years of observing Arizona politics,” says Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University. “We have so many real problems, and all our leadership has done is [pursue] polarizing issues using very strident language.”

Hence the picture. Here is a very brief history of the rather young state (less than 100 years old and less than a dozen senators in it’s history):

A certain level of discord was sewed into the fabric of Arizona from the outset. The center of the state was settled largely by “washed-up 49ers,” as Tucson lawyer and history buff David Hardy puts it, who were returning empty-handed and somewhat wild-eyed from California. Among them was a morphine-addicted prospector named Jack Swilling, who founded Phoenix. The libertarian DNA — the same strain that made Giffords a fan of concealed weapons and caused state senator Lori Klein to carry a handgun to Governor Jan Brewer’s state of the state address at the capitol two days after the Tucson shootings — remains from those early days. Distant from Washington and hardened by the Apache wars, settlers acted first and asked permission from the federal government later. “The pioneer,” wrote Orick Jackson in his 1908 history, “took the matter in hand without any authority, and without a dollar in pay.” That group had little in common with the Mormons who settled the north and not much regard for the Hispanic population that was dominant in the south. It was, says Manuel Hernandez, professor of Mexican-American literature at Arizona State University, an “apartheid state” for Hispanics until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

With all its baggage, Arizona has boomed over the past half century:

Fair weather and cheap housing made the desert boom: a population that was just 700,000 after World War II stands at more than 6.5 million today. The growth in the past 20 years has been nothing short of steroidal: the population mushroomed by 40% in the 1990s and then rose an additional 25% in the first decade of this century. It is now the 16th largest state in the U.S. And that’s just the official population.

However, the state’s current affairs are hard to overlook:

The state of Arizona’s budget is even worse than it looks: a new study estimates that the true deficit is $2.1 billion (more than twice what the legislature says it is). The unemployment rate is exactly that of the U.S. as a whole — 9.4% — but more than half of the homes in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is, are underwater. Most state parks are being shuttered. The public schools are in the bottom 10% of the nation by many metrics.

The current leadership appears singularly unfit to tackle these challenges. Half the legislature seems to treat legislating like an indoor version of the Tombstone 2 p.m. Gunfight Show, giving speeches about pioneer values and then firing a round of blanks. Arizona’s legislature has long been warped by low voter turnout and uncontested districts. “Only ideologues go to the polls,” says Merrill. “In Arizona, that happens to be the right-wingers.” Public financing for campaigns removed most kinds of fundraising and, with them, the moderation that can come with accountability to the business community, so the primaries function as a race to the fringe of acceptable politics.

One Arizonan statesman worth mentioning is Russell Pearce:

Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who is now the president of the senate and perhaps the most powerful politician in the state. In 2009 the budgetary meltdown was already in its second year, but Pearce doggedly championed legislation that would force Obama, whom he describes as waging “jihad” against Arizona, to provide proof of his citizenship (it was tabled after being ridiculed around the country). In 2010, Pearce turned to immigration with SB 1070, a bill seemingly purpose-built to provoke not only controversy but also a lengthy court battle, thereby sapping both prestige and resources from a state that needs more of both. This year, the No. 2 priority after the budget, says Pearce, will be legislation calling for the repeal of the 14th Amendment, the one that grants citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil. This, of course, is not anywhere near the jurisdiction of the Arizona legislature.

To wrap up, much of the national and state-level approach to immigration issues most likely will come back to haunt America. The strident bumper-sticker public policy approach in Arizona and elsewhere in America is attacking the very base that will have a majority in Arizona in a few decades and most likely will continue to grow in presence and stature in America in the years to come:

So when the lawmakers decided to cut dropout-prevention programs — the Hispanic dropout rate is particularly abysmal — they may have fulfilled a campaign promise, but they also dented Arizona’s prospects.

(Pictured: The Grand Canyon in Arizona).

May 27, 2011

If the Drug War Killed a U.S. Soldier, Would You Oppose It?

by WIZ

Well, it did:

As the SWAT team forced its way into his home, [Jose] Guerena, a former Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq, armed himself with his AR-15 rifle and told his wife and son to hide in a closet. As the officers entered, Guerena confronted them from the far end of a long, dark hallway. The police opened fire, releasing more than 70 rounds in about 7 seconds, at least 60 of which struck Guerena. He was pronounced dead a little over an hour later.

The Pima County Sheriff’s Department initially claimed (PDF) Guerena fired his weapon at the SWAT team. They now acknowledge that not only did he not fire, the safety on his gun was still activated when he was killed. Guerena had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

This is insane. Herman Cain offers no clear, original, or seemingly plausible solutions to this war. Are there any?

May 24, 2011

An Extreme Gun

by WIZ

TDW:

FPSRussia gets its hands on a Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft autocannon — the most powerful machine gun in the world that a civilian can own.

Tags: ,
May 2, 2011

Part 1: Christianity is Not Pro-Firearms

by WIZ

Consider this the beginning of a series of blog posts dedicated to pointing out what Christianity is not about, not for, and not in in support of.

Let’s start with guns. Everyone has their opinion on gun regulations, the right to bear, and the impact they have on America. Mike Huckabee, a 2012 presidential hopeful and un-ordained “minister” issued some criticisms of Barack Obama as he was speaking at an NRA convention in Pittsburg, PA. The first line drew me in:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee called himself a “gun-clinger and a God-clinger”.

Putting both of them in the same sentence and in that same framing nearly aligns the two as a duo.

Where Huck nearly ties in guns with his God is in this segment:

He spoke mostly about how he had come to Pittsburgh to “celebrate America and celebrate its values”—including God, family, and a Second Amendment meant to safeguard freedom, not just hunting and target-shooting.

But he suggested that the next election would determine the future of the country, by telling a story about a comment his daughter wrote in a guest book after his family visited a Holocaust memorial in Israel years ago.

“Why didn’t somebody do something?” Huckabee said she wrote.

“Today, you will not find a spunkier activist than my daughter, and I don’t worry about her but I sometimes worry about us,” Huckabee said, referring to conservatives who don’t mobilize fully in national elections and for other political causes. “We cannot afford to be a generation that leaves our children with a huge debt and a very erosion of our values.”

Not only is he elluding to what has been going on in America (most likely under Obama) as comporable to what the Nazi’s did, but he is using his daughters words to ask us why we aren’t arming ourselves and fighting back.

Huck is one of a few conservative Christian hopefuls in the presidential field for 2012. He, Michele Bachmann, and Rick Santorum intertwine their take of conservative with their view of America as a Christian nation (On a side note, I find it ironic that these three Christians are always so mad and vengence-filled).

This all reminds me of the Gospel of Matthew:

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.

Jesus replied, “Do what you came for, friend.”Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”

In that hour Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted him and fled. (Matthew 26:47-56, emphasis added).

Jesus did not advocate for pacifism to corrupt powers. On the contrary, his life symbolizes giving ones life so to address the corrupt powers of the day.

Again, it is ironic that these conservative theocons slyly advocate for toting guns and violently fighting against their government just as, gasp, Osama bin Laden did with the Pakistani government.