“Commonsense” Gun Control Laws

“Commonsense” Gun Control Laws

(Lifted from Clayton Cramer)

Supporters of restrictive gun control and “assault weapon” bans insist they only want “commonsense” gun control laws.  But many of these proposals have been tried and found wanting.

1.      1. Mandatory background checks for every gun transfer.  But 13 states have adopted such laws since 1960 when FBI murder statistics became sufficiently reliable to test the effects of these laws on murder rates: California,[1]Hawaii,[2]Illinois,[3]Massachusetts,[4]New Jersey,[5]and Rhode Island.[6]  A few more states have for a few years required such a check for private party transfers of handguns (with a few exceptions such as intrafamily transfers): Maryland,[7]Iowa,[8]Michigan,[9]Nebraska,[10] New York,[11]North Carolina,[12] and Pennsylvania.[13]  Hawaii, North Carolina, and Michigan, passed these laws so recently that we do not have enough data to measure results yet.

first full year
murder rate avg. (T-5)
murder rate avg. (T+5)
long guns

Yes, of eight states, three had declines in murder rates, but only two were statistically significant.  Five had increases.  If these laws are really effective, why are the results all over the map?  You would expect at least some consistent direction, unless they really make no difference.  Why?  The federal government has studied how criminally misused guns end up in criminal hands.
As you can see, a strong majority of these guns were obtained by committing felonies: strawman purchases, burglaries, unlicensed gun making,[14]  So why will creating another felony make any difference?
2.      2.  “Requiring a license to own a gun, like a driver’s license.  No one objects to that.”  With a driver’s license issued by any state, I can drive a car in any other state, and the car does not matter.  I can drive a car capable of exceeding the speed limit by a hundred miles per hour (a dangerous criminal offense) or a car with a high capacity gas tank (imagine the hazard of a car with a 80 gallon gas tank in a car crash spilling an explosive fluid around the accident).  I can also fly to any state, buy a car there, and drive it home.  Imagine doing that with a gun license!

3.       3. “Require gun owners to carry insurance to pay for damages caused by their guns.”  Home owners insurance usually covers non-criminal liability and even negligent acts now.[15]  If criminals buy firearms insurance, it won’t cover their criminal actions.

44. “But we require driver’s to have car insurance now.”  And are there uninsured drivers out there?  That’s why police officers ask to see your proof of insurance when they pull you over, and most driver’s carry uninsured motorist coverage.

5.     5.  “Gun owners should be liable for misuse of stolen guns.”  Why?  Are other victims of crimes liable for subsequent criminal use of their property?  If someone steals your chainsaw and re-enacts “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” should the burglary victim be held liable?

6.       6. “Weapons of war are too dangerous because of mass murders.”  USA Today gathered data on mass murders 2006-2010.  Only about 3/4 involved guns (the rest were “stabbing,”, “blunt force,” “Smoke inhalation/burns.” But even in gun mass murders: 72.9% handguns, 18.5% rifles (8.6% semiautomatic rifles); 8.6% shotguns.  And these were the guns carried, not necessarily used by the killer. )   It would make far more sense to ban handguns than semiautomatic rifles, and more sense to ban knives “blunt objects,” and flammable liquids, if the goal is to reduce mass murders.

7.       7. “You say the Second Amendment protects your ‘right’ to own these guns because they might be needed against a tyrannical government.  Do you really think you can defeat the might of the U.S. government?”  You call them “weapons of war” and say that they would therefore not be useful for that?  Which is it.?

8.       8. “Assault weapons are easily converted to full auto.”  But federal law has this covered.

The term ‘machinegun’ means any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger. The term shall also include the frame or receiver of any such weapon, any part designed and intended solely and exclusively, or combination of parts designed and intended, for use in converting a weapon into a machinegun, and any combination of parts from which a machinegun can be assembled if such parts are in the possession or under the control of a person. [16]

The courts have ruled that readily convertible means “about an 8-hour working day in a properly equipped machine shop.”[17]

9.      9.  “Think of the children killed each year by guns in accidents.”  How many?  In the years 1999-2016, there were 1,163 accidental firearms deaths of children 0-14 or 68 per year.[18]  Each is a tragedy, but 7,181 were killed in vehicle accidents: 422 per year.[19]  Drowning in bathtubs: 1,461, or 85 per year.[20]  Your focus is wrong.

110.   “Why are you leaving out older children?”  The Centers for Disease Control has age categories to 14, and 15-19.  That includes adults and some gang members.  Those are not children in the usual sense of the word.

111.   “Why not ban ‘assault weapons’ and high capacity magazines?  Who needs them?”  Why ban them?  They are seldom criminally misused.  When Congress passed the 1994 ban on new manufacture, the Clinton Administration directed the National Institute of Justice to examine the effects of the new law.  They found a 6.7% reduction in murder rates in the 15 states where the federal ban could have made a difference.  But Roth and Koper also admitted that this reduction was not statistically significant.  Because assault weapons had been used in a tiny percentage of murders before the ban, “it is highly improbable that the assault weapons ban produced an effect this large….”[21]  What about the effects of rapid fire and large capacity magazines?  “The ban did not produce declines in the average number of victims per incident of gun murder or gun murder victims with multiple wounds.”  What about “protecting police officers,” the excuse offered repeatedly for the ban?  There was a decline in assault weapons used to murder police officers, but Roth and Koper also admitted that “such incidents are sufficiently rare” that it impossible to determine whether the law reduced total gun murders of police officers.[22]

[1]Cal. Penal Code §Penal Code §§ 12070 described in SB 950 p. 8, ftp://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/01-02/bill/sen/sb_0901-0950/sb_950_cfa_20010709_110602_asm_comm.html, last accessed February 15, 2016.
[2]Hawaii Rev. Stats. § 134-2 (2012).
[3]430 Ill. Comp. Stats. 65/1 (2013).
[4]Mass. Acts ch. 737 (1968).
[5]N.J. Code Crim. Jus. § 58-3 (2012).
[6]R.I. Gen. Laws §§ 11-47-35, 11-47-35.2 (2009).
[7]Md. An. Code § 5-124 (2003); see Md. An. Code § 5-101(p) (2003) for the definition of “regulated firearms”; it includes handguns and a list of so-called “assault weapons.”
[8]Iowa Code § 724.16 (2012).
[9]Mich. Comp. Laws § 28.422 (2011).
[10]Neb. Rev. Stats. § 69-2403 (2010).
[11]N.Y. Penal Law §§ 265.00, 265.20, 270.00, 400.00, 401.00, 405.00 (2012).
[12]N.C. Gen. Stats., Art. 52A, § 14-402 (2011).
[13] Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 6111 (2009).
[14] Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, Following the Gun, Enforcing Federal laws Against Firearms Traffickers, June 2000, p. 11, http://www.nfaoa.org/documents/ATF-%20Following%20the%20Gun,%20Enforcing%20Federal%20Laws%20Against%20Firearms%20Traffickers.pdf,
[15] Mocsary, George A., Insuring Against Guns? (May 2014). 46 Connecticut Law Review 1209. 1223 (2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2511291.
[16]28 USC 5845(b).
[17] U.S. v. Smith, 477 F.2d 399, 400 (8th Cir. 1973).
[18]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December 2017. Data are from the Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 Series 20 No. 2V, 2017, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 27, 2018 11:38:51 AM
[19]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December 2017. Data are from the Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 Series 20 No. 2V, 2017, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 27, 2018 11:51:29 AM
[20]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 on CDC WONDER Online Database, released December 2017. Data are from the Compressed Mortality File 1999-2016 Series 20 No. 2V, 2017, as compiled from data provided by the 57 vital statistics jurisdictions through the Vital Statistics Cooperative Program. Accessed at http://wonder.cdc.gov/cmf-icd10.html on Mar 27, 2018 11:57:28 AM
[21]Jeffrey A. Roth and Christopher S. Koper, “Impacts of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban: 1994-96,” NCJ 173405, (Washington: National Institute of Justice, 1999), 1.  You can find this report at http://www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/173405.pdf. 8-9.
[22]Roth and Koper, 9.


Bookworm: A history professor wrongly claims the Founding Fathers loved gun control


….According to Saul Cornell, the Founders:

  • Required weapons registration
  • Prohibited public carry
  • Limited stand-your-ground laws to the home
  • Mandated safe storage
  • Required loyalty oaths to protect weapons

As Cornell sums up his own conclusions, heavy-duty gun regulation was the name of the game for the Founders ….



This sounded wrong to me, since I’ve read verified quotations from the Founders that see individual arms’ possession as an important bulwark against tyranny. If you give the nascent tyrant preemptive control over arms, you’ve vitiated that principle — and encouraged the road to tyranny.

Still, I haven’t done any in-depths studies about the Revolutionary Period so I could be wrong. I therefore turned to my friend and fellow blogger, who knows more about the Revolutionary Period than any person I’ve ever met. For Professor Cornell, as for most academics, Revolutionary history is a job. For Wolf Howling, it’s an overriding passion. I’d trust him on the subject before I’d trust anyone else. Here’s what he wrote me when I put Cornell’s article before him:

Stop and Frisk vs Crime Rates

Paul Cassell co-authored an article showing how the reduction in “stop and frisk” activity in Chicago corresponded with a significant increase in homicides. Needless to say, this article provoked comment. It seems some people are uncomfortable with the notion that it might have actually worked, even if minorities were being targeted.

This addresses comments by John Pfaff and the ACLU.

The 2016 Chicago Homicide Spike – Further Explained

The Volokh Conspiracy by Paul Cassell

On Monday, I discussed Professor Fowles and my article about what caused the 2016 Chicago homicide spike. Our paper argued that the causal mechanism was likely an ACLU consent decree with the Chicago Police Department, which led to a sharp decline in stop and frisks—and, we believe, a consequent sharp increase in homicides (and other shooting crimes). Since our paper was announced in The Chicago Tribune, distinguished law professor John Pfaff has tweeted a series of comments about our article, and the ACLU has commented as well. I wanted to briefly respond.

Turning first to Professor Pfaff’s tweets, it is useful to start with several points of agreement. Professor Pfaff notes that the causal mechanism we propose—an ACLU agreement leads to fewer stops, fewer stops leads to more crime—is “wholly plausible.” So far, so good.

But then Pfaff moves on to criticize us because our model “has only a handful of variables, almost all of them official criminal justice statistics, no social-economic statistics, and all at the city level (despite the intense concentration of violence in Chicago).” Let’s address these concerns specifically.

First, as to the explanatory variables in our equations: In our most extensive model, we employ twenty variables—specifically stop and frisks (of course); temperature (since crime tends to spike in warm weather months); 911 calls (as a measure of police-citizen cooperation); homicides in Illinois excluding Chicago (as a measure of trends in Illinois); arrests for property crimes, violent crimes, homicides, gun crimes, shooting crimes, and drug crimes; homicides in St. Louis, Columbus, Louisville, Indianapolis, Grand Rapids, Gary, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Detroit; and a time trend variable. All of these variables were based on monthly data, since we were attempting to explain homicide data reported on monthly basis. Interestingly, Professor Pfaff does not suggest any other readily-available monthly data that we could have included. Nor is it clear what sort of “socio-economic” statistics would have been relevant to explaining the homicide spike, which developed over a short period of time. It is true that our variables are not collected at the neighborhood level, but the city-wide level. But since our goal was to explain the Chicago homicide spike, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with looking at Chicago data.

The one specific variable that Professor Pfaff argues we failed to include was the “defunding of Cure Violence [a violence prevention program], which happened at the same time” as the spike. But it is curious that Professor Pfaff would take us to task for failing to look at this issue when, at the same time, he argues that the “best analysis” of the homicide spike was done by the University of Chicago Urban Lab. That (ultimately inconclusive) report specifically stated that “earlier in 2015, state funding for Cure Violence, a violence prevention organization operating in Chicago, was suspended, although the timing of that funding reduction does not seem to fit well as a candidate explanation for the increase in gun violence since the latter occurred at the end of 2015.”

Professor Pfaff also mentions that our regression equations simply include (in one model) homicides rates in other cities, without developing difference-in-difference variables or synthetic controls. But there are advantages to parsimonious construction. We doubt whether such controls would have made any difference to our conclusions. Moreover, we relied on Bayesian Model Averaging (BMA) as, at least, a partial response to such concerns. We would be interested to learn what Pfaff thinks of our BMA findings—which compellingly demonstrate our findings’ robustness within the included variables.

Professor Pfaff also raises a question about whether we have measured an “ACLU effect” or a “stop and frisk” effect. It is true, of course, that our regression equations explain homicides (and shooting crimes) by using stop and frisk as an explanatory variable. A linkage between stop-and-frisk tactics and homicides is an important finding in and of itself—a finding with which we hope Professor Pfaff might, to some degree, agree. But the logical next question is why did stop and frisks fall in Chicago at the end of 2015? This question is not as well suited to quantitative analysis as other questions, since it appears to be policy-driven. In any event, as Professor Pfaff even-handedly notes, we provide a qualitative defense of our position that the ACLU agreement caused the reduction in stop and frisks. Among other things, this is what the ACLU itself said—at least before the reduction became controversial.

Professor Pfaff also wonders why we do not attempt to quantify the costs of aggressive policing. Our paper explicitly addressed this point, agreeing that proactive policing has costs. But as anyone who has read the stop and frisk literature is well aware, many previous articles have articulated those costs. Our (perhaps already too-lengthy) paper focused on the other side of the cost-benefit equation, hoping to spark a discussion about how to strike a balance among competing concerns.

This issue of balancing competing concerns leads Professor Pfaff to raise a cautionary note about whether our findings are simply, as he puts it, a “Constitutional Effect” rather than an “ACLU Effect.” If things were so starkly simple as saying that all the additional stop and frisks that CPD conducted in 2015 compared to 2016 were unconstitutional, Pfaff might have an argument. But, again, our paper was more limited. The ACLU has justified its efforts to reduce stop and frisks, in part, by making the policy argument that there is “no discernible link between the rate of invasive street stops and searches by police and the level of violence . . . There simply is not any evidence of this so-called [ACLU] effect.” We believe it is fair to respond specifically to ACLU’s claim as part of what must necessarily be a much broader discussion about what are “unreasonable searches and seizures.”

We are encouraged by the fact that Professor Pfaff, based in New York City, is concerned about a common argument advanced about the efficacy of stop and frisk in fighting gun violence—that New York’s experience proves that no such linkage exists. We explained at length in our paper differences between New York and Chicago:

In 2016, New York’s homicide rate was only 3.9 per 100,000 population, while Chicago’s was 27.8—a rate more than 600% higher. But the relevant differences between the two cities may be even higher than this already staggering difference suggests. Looking at homicides committed by firearms, in 2016 New York’s rate was 2.3 compared to Chicago’s rate of 25.1—a rate more than 1000% higher. This is important because, as discussed earlier, gun crimes may be particularly sensitive to stop and frisk policies. In addition, because New York has such a small number of guns and gun crimes (relative to Chicago and many other cities), it can concentrate resources on preventing gun crimes in a way that other cities cannot….

Another problem in equating New York’s circumstances with Chicago’s is that the level of police power is different. Famously, New York has high levels of law enforcement. . . New York had about 153 law enforcement employees for every homicide committed in the city, while Chicago had only about 17 employees for every homicide committed—about a 800% difference. The difference is even greater if one combines both the gun homicide and police force numbers. Per gun homicide, New York has roughly 260 employees, while Chicago has only 19—well over a 1000% difference. To this point it might be objected that a homicide is a homicide, so it makes no sense to break out gun homicides separately. But homicides are not all alike. To the contrary, in general, homicides committed by firearms are more difficult to solve than other kinds of homicides, only adding to the relative difficulties for the Chicago Police Department. Moreover, in 2016, about 23% of New York’s homicides were gang-related, while roughly 67% (or more) of Chicago’s homicides and shootings appear to have been gang-related. Here again, gang-related homicides may be more difficult to solve than are other homicides, particularly in Chicago.

Professor Pfaff notes that our arguments distinguishing Chicago from New York “deserve attention.”

In several concluding tweets, Professor Pfaff wonders about whether homicides “spiked” in Chicago? Or did they rise steadily? Here we have a section of our paper that quantitatively analyzes this point in detail. After seasonally adjusting the data, we are able to perform a standard structural break analysis on our four dependent variables: homicides, fatal shootings, non-fatal shootings, and total shootings. We are able to find structural breaks in all four data series in and around November 2015.

In responding to each of Professor Pfaff’s questions to us, it may be fair to pose a single question back to him. Based on our review of on-the-street reports from Chicago, regression analysis of the available data, qualitative analysis of possible “omitted variables,” and relevant criminology literature, we believe that the best explanation for the 2016 Chicago homicide spike a was reduction in stop and frisks triggered by the ACLU consent decree. If this isn’t the best explanation, is there a better one?

The ACLU of Illinois has also commented on our paper. Some of the arguments that the ACLU raises are surprising, because the ACLU does not acknowledge that we addressed them at length in our paper.


“Gun control” is a euphemism for more power and control | Questions and Observations

Source: “Gun control” is a euphemism for more power and control | Questions and Observations

You’ve heard all the arguments and how they’re structured when it comes to gun banning. The left would like to convince you that if you just let them get rid of guns (knowing full well the only people that would be deprived of guns are the law abiding) that this “gun violence problem” would go away. That apparently we’ll all live in peace and harmony because, well, guns will be gone. It is guns, you see, which spark all of this violence. Without them, why we wouldn’t harm a fly.

It reminds me of the same reasoning that the Brits went though to justify their incredibly strict gun laws. And that further reminded me of an article I tucked away that is from 2005 when knives suddenly were the problem. Again, you’ll recognize the argument (think “assault” knives). This is now a movement in the UK – banning knives, because … well, that gun ban thing just didn’t change much, did it?


The point, of course, is the gun ban isn’t really about guns. It’s about power and control as the people in the UK are now finding out as the state tries to take their knives away. It’s all about reducing citizens to docile little proles after they take way any means of protection and defense. When the only means of “protection” belongs to the state.

And this BBC article is cited…

Doctors’ kitchen knives ban call

A&E doctors are calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives to reduce deaths from stabbing.

A team from West Middlesex University Hospital said violent crime is on the increase – and kitchen knives are used in as many as half of all stabbings.

They argued many assaults are committed impulsively, prompted by alcohol and drugs, and a kitchen knife often makes an all too available weapon.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

The researchers said there was no reason for long pointed knives to be publicly available at all.

They consulted 10 top chefs from around the UK, and found such knives have little practical value in the kitchen.

None of the chefs felt such knives were essential, since the point of a short blade was just as useful when a sharp end was needed.

The researchers said a short pointed knife may cause a substantial superficial wound if used in an assault – but is unlikely to penetrate to inner organs.

In contrast, a pointed long blade pierces the body like “cutting into a ripe melon”.

The use of knives is particularly worrying amongst adolescents, say the researchers, reporting that 24% of 16-year-olds have been shown to carry weapons, primarily knives.

The study found links between easy access to domestic knives and violent assault are long established.

French laws in the 17th century decreed that the tips of table and street knives be ground smooth.

A century later, forks and blunt-ended table knives were introduced in the UK in an effort to reduce injuries during arguments in public eating houses.

The researchers say legislation to ban the sale of long pointed knives would be a key step in the fight against violent crime.

“The Home Office is looking for ways to reduce knife crime.

“We suggest that banning the sale of long pointed knives is a sensible and practical measure that would have this effect.”

Government response

Home Office spokesperson said there were already extensive restrictions in place to control the sale and possession of knives.

“The law already prohibits the possession of offensive weapons in a public place, and the possession of knives in public without good reason or lawful authority, with the exception of a folding pocket knife with a blade not exceeding three inches.

“Offensive weapons are defined as any weapon designed or adapted to cause injury, or intended by the person possessing them to do so.

“An individual has to demonstrate that he had good reason to possess a knife, for example for fishing, other sporting purposes or as part of his profession (e.g. a chef) in a public place.

“The manufacture, sale and importation of 17 bladed, pointed and other offensive weapons have been banned, in addition to flick knives and gravity knives.”

A spokesperson for the Association of Chief Police Officers said: “ACPO supports any move to reduce the number of knife related incidents, however, it is important to consider the practicalities of enforcing such changes.”

First they ejected the puppies

People are being banned from SF conventions for dubious reasons. At least according to the people being banned.

It seems that SJWcon is not the only place in speculative fiction where Orwell’s 1984 is being used as an instruction manual. One should of course note that SJWcon’s pre-banning was clearly inspired by the previous banning of Dave Truesdale by MidAmericaCon in 2016.

To quote from the link (but it is worth reading the whole thing):

Jim Hines gives a hilariously one-sided account of the panel (“Truesdale tries yet again to get back to the evils of political correctness. Sheila Williams shoots him down again.”) and then goes off on a tangent about how this was a “deliberate and preplanned hijacking” of a panel, as if that were the smoking gun the CHORFs needed to undermine Truesdale’s credibility. Howard Tayler went on a Twitter rant about panel moderation etiquette, as if people were booted from cons for being bad moderators all the time, and this was a good opportunity to review some helpful hints to keep that from happening.

Okay, reality check. Truesdale didn’t personally attack anyone. He didn’t swear. He didn’t lose his temper. He didn’t threaten anyone or throw chairs. He talked a little too long off-topic at a panel. That’s literally the worst thing you can say about what he did.

People hijack panels all the time. I have never heard of anyone being ejected from a con for hijacking a panel or being a poor moderator. As far as I know, it’s unprecedented. (Feel free to correct me if you’ve heard of this happening.) Is Dave Truesdale a jerk? Maybe. But being a jerk is not a crime, and believe it or not, scifi conventions tend to attract people whose interpersonal skills are sub-optimal. Writers tend to be opinionated and abrasive. If WorldCon is going to eject everyone who commits a social faux pas, they might as well just move the convention in the parking lot.

What it comes down to is that WorldCon ejected Dave Truesdale for voicing an unpopular opinion. You can call it what you want; If it makes you feel better to call it “criticism” rather than censorship, feel free. If you want to focus on Truesdale’s character, go for it. If you want to pretend this is all just a little misunderstanding about panel etiquette, that’s up to you. But the fact is that Dave Truesdale was booted because he said something that the people in power didn’t like. Dance around it all you want, but that’s what happened.

Part of what got the Worldcon folks really upset was that DaveT had recorded what he said and the rest of the panel personally. As a result it became very easy to compare the over the top reactions (see above) with what DaveT actually said, which was perhaps off topic and certainly annoying to certain factions of fandom but could only cause “significant discomfort” to people more sensitive than “the Princess and the Pea”. Sadly of course it seems the SJW faction of fandom are indeed more sensitive than said fictional Princess and they have gained significant power within the greter SF community to its great loss.

Before DaveT, and indeed inspiring him, was the Sad Puppy Hugo award controversy which boiled over in 2015 when it became clear that the SJW parts of fandom would do pretty much anything to ensure that Wrongthink was verboten. And Wrongthink was defined as anything that wasn’t sufficiently SJW to pass muster. Moreover, it turned out that anyone with associations with Wrongthink, such as being nominated by Wrongthinkers, were in trouble.


Before DaveT, and indeed inspiring him, was the Sad Puppy Hugo award controversy which boiled over in 2015 when it became clear that the SJW parts of fandom would do pretty much anything to ensure that Wrongthink was verboten. And Wrongthink was defined as anything that wasn’t sufficiently SJW to pass muster. Moreover, it turned out that anyone with associations with Wrongthink, such as being nominated by Wrongthinkers, were in trouble.

Then it turns out that they also came for Will Shetterly, who certainly is neither right wing, nor a gamergater nor anything like that, and Steven Brust (ditto). What got Brust in trouble was this:

Fourth Street Fantasy Convention is not a safe space. On the contrary, it is a very unsafe space. Of course, it ought to be safe in the sense of everyone feeling physically safe, and in the sense that there should be no unwanted harassment, and it should be free of personal attacks of any kind. But other than that, it is not safe.

Your beliefs about writing, and my beliefs about writing, and what is good, and how to make it good, should be sufficiently challenged to make us uncomfortable.

The interaction of art and politics is getting more and more in our faces. Whether this is good or bad is beside the point (although I think it’s good); it reflects changing social conditions, intensification of conflicts. Anyone who thinks art is independent of social conditions is as hopelessly muddled as someone who thinks there is a direct, simplistic 1:1 correspondence between them.

The result of this is that political understanding, unexamined assumptions, agendas, are very much present in the art we create and thus in the discussions of that art.

If no one feels unsafe, or threatened during these discussions, we’re doing them wrong. […]

It was said in defense of Shetterly who was declared unwelcome by certain snowflakes:

When the seminar page went up, we received many complaints, and I brought these Safety concerns to the Board. Your long history online and on certain panels at 4th St. are the issues. Of particular concern is your pattern of refusing to drop arguments despite direct requests and pursuing people on various social media platforms when they do not want to engage with you.

Your reputation and mode of discourse are such that the Board decided that having you represent the convention as seminar leader wouldn’t be in line with the kind of inclusive culture we want to promote at 4th St. Fantasy. If you were to behave in person the way you have online–by refusing to back off when the other party was done conversing–you would not be welcome at 4th St. at all. At the moment, we have only instituted formal safety procedures as of last year, and we haven’t received any formal complaints that would lead to you being banned from the convention.

Shetterly is well know for holding strong opinions and not being keen on being told to STFU. He also famously “doxxed” a person who used a pseudonym that was not exactly very hard to work back from to identify the real person (her user name was her extremely rare first name). However he was also one the founders of the 4th St Fantasy workshop and had been a participant in (many? all?) previous years and in fact was originally asked to be a “seminar leader” as a favor by one of the current organizers, so the idea that people who would attend the event would feel unsafe to have him be a “seminar leader” is unconvincing (hence Brust’s speech above which went down like a cup of cold sick).

Anyway that was last year.This year he was in fact banned:

On April 27, 2017, as part of an email conversation regarding your removal from a programming item at the 2017 4th Street Fantasy Convention, you wrote “Someone has suggested this decision to imply I’m unsafe in public might be actionable.”

We cannot disregard this implied threat of legal action, particularly combined with your lengthy and detailed public criticism of the convention on multiple platforms. Despite your reassurance in correspondence dated April 30, 2017 that “I just want to reassure everyone that Emma and I have less than zero intention of suing anyone”, the Board of Directors has decided that we are unwilling to open ourselves to liability through further association with you.

We are therefore banning you from Fourth Street Fantasy.

We would like to resolve this privately. These are the practical steps we have taken:

• As stated above, you are banned from Fourth Street Fantasy. You will not be allowed to register for the convention or attend convention events. Please do not come to the Doubletree Hotel during the weekend of the convention.


So apparently now just mentioning that a statement could be legally libelous/slanderous is enough to get you banned if people don’t like you because you hold strong opinions. Official SF Fandom seems to be delving ever deeper into the “Brave New World” of 1984.

This is can only make their appeal more “selective” and seems highly unlikely to lead them to the sort of mindshare in the larger world that they might hope for.

A dozen Iraq war myths that need to die – AEI

A dozen Iraq war myths that need to die – AEI

1. Sanctions killed 1 million Iraqis (and 500,000 children). False. Where did this claim come from? Saddam Hussein’s government.

2. The 2003 Iraq war was illegal. Wrong. Too many activists who cite international law to back their positions of the day act essentially as armchair dictators. They assume they alone can act as judge and jury and discount alternate interpretations. As first a state senator and then U.S. senator, Barack Obama repeatedly declared the 2003 Iraq war as illegal because Bush acted absent U.N. authorization. It is reasonable to debate whether or not the war was wise or necessary, but it was not illegal: Bush acted under existing U.N. Security Council Chapter VII resolutions allowing force to ensure compliance. To suggest that they were no longer binding would be to establish a precedent in which binding, enforceable Security Council resolutions expired after 13 years. To declare that the Iraq war to be illegal, therefore, risks undermining the entire basis of permanence in international law.

3. Iraq was a war of choice. Any war is one of choice, but this is the wrong framing. The question wasn’t to invade by an arbitrary date or let stability reign. The sanctions regime was actively collapsing, thanks to countries like Jordan, France, Germany, and Russia.

4. Bush lied. False. Bush (and Vice President Dick Cheney) read the intelligence presented them. Sometimes, that intelligence was wrong.

5. Saddam had no interest in WMDs. False. Let’s put aside the residual WMD discovered in Iraq, as that fell far short of what U.S. intelligence suggested Iraq had. While true that Saddam had suspended his WMD program, he wanted to keep the illusion of one and so did not cooperate fully with inspectors. All documents seized the aftermath of his fall, however, show that the Iraqi dictator planned to restart his program as soon as sanctions collapsed. The war prevented an Iraq armed with a nuclear, biological, or chemical arsenal, period.

6. The Invasion of Iraq caused the deaths of 1 million Iraqis. False. Let’s put aside the exaggerated figures used by some analysts, most of whom cite a statistically flawed 2006 article in the Lancet, a British medical journal. Certainly, many Iraqis did die in the wake of the war, but who killed them? Most were killed not by U.S.-led forces but rather by Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias.

7. At least Iraq was stable under Saddam. False. Iraqi Kurdistan had been in a state of near-constant insurgency since 1961. As for southern Iraq, Saddam controlled the day, but even his elite Republican Guards were afraid to patrol at night. The simple truth is that as Saddam confused brutality with stability — he had gradually lost control of broad swaths of Iraq.

8. At least Saddam was a secularist. Well, yes and no. Saddam himself worshipped only himself, but he used religion as a tool.

9. The Iraq war created al Qaeda in Iraq. False. Remember Laurence Foley, a U.S. diplomat assassinated by al Qaeda in Iraqi leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Amman, Jordan, in October 2002? Well, that was more than four months before the war began. The post-war chaos in Iraq exacerbated the problem, but it did not create it.

10. Dismantling the Iraqi army caused Insurgency. False. Baath Party cells planned and carried out the insurgency.

11. De-Baathification caused insurgency. False. Founded by a Syrian Christian in the 1940s, the Baath Party was, in its early years, a secular, socialist pan-Arabist political movement. With time, however, it became a vehicle for power, both for Saddam Hussein in Iraq and the Assad family in Syria. De-Baathification referred to the purge of the top four levels of the party in Iraq. Senior Baathists deemed complicit in Saddam’s regime lost their jobs and their qualification to work in government or the military.

12. Ousting Saddam empowered Iran. Let’s put aside the intellectual inconsistency inherent in this statements by critics of the Iraq War who then support empowering Iran with other policies such as the Iran nuclear deal or caving to Iranian ambitions in Syria, Lebanon, or Yemen. The idea that ousting Saddam alone empowered Iran was false. The majority of Iraqis may be Shiite, but they have an identity distinct from Iran and often resent Iranian attempts to subordinate Iraqi interests to those of Tehran.

Nobody wants to take your guns?

Lots of quotes, compiled for you in one convenient place.

The Writer in Black

Bringing this forward from my old blog:

Whenever I, or others, object to “registration” or bans on transfers, or other forms of “gun control” and firearms restrictions as steps toward an eventual complete prohibition and the confiscation that such would necessarily entail, we get told we’re paranoid and “nobody wants to take your guns.”

Well, perhaps we should consider these “nobodies”:

“A gun-control movement worthy of the name would insist that President Clinton move beyond his proposals for controls … and immediately call on Congress to pass far-reaching industry regulation like the Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act … [which] would give the Treasury Department health and safety authority over the gun industry, and any rational regulator with that authority would ban handguns.” Josh Sugarmann (executive director of the Violence Policy Center)

“My view of guns is simple. I hate guns and I cannot imagine why anyone would want…

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Why Gun Control cannot work

The Writer in Black

If we just prohibit the law abiding from owning guns, then criminals won’t be able to get them either.

So say the proponents of “strong gun control”.  That they often say this in the same breath with saying they are not for complete prohibition but just “reasonable” or “common sense” restrictions, makes the claim even more laughable.

The first thing you need to remember is how extremely simple guns are at their core.  The basic firearm dates back to 13th century China.  Firearms first arrived in Europe in the next century.  Methods making firearms more conveniently portable and more effective continued to evolve.  The matchlock, basically a lever that dropped a smoldering wick (a cord treated with saltpeter so it would continue a slow burn and called a match) into a small container, called a pan, of powder attached to the barrel.  It ignites the powder in the pan which…

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20 Rules for Racism (each) for the Right and the Left — The Writer in Black

Boosting the signal:

This is originally from Tom Kratman. In his words “widest possible dissemination authorized and encouraged.” So here it’s disseminated: The Left’s 20 Rules of Racism: If you believe that general intelligence exists, is heritable and at all testable for, you’re a racist. If you point out that liberal philosophies and programs intended to have a […]

via 20 Rules for Racism (each) for the Right and the Left — The Writer in Black

SPLC Thinks ‘Factual Feminist’ Christina Hoff Sommers Legitimizes ‘Male Supremacy’ Movement

They contend Hoff Sommers legitimizes “male supremacy.”

The SPLC wrote (emphasis mine):

The men’s rights movement has a dedicated international following, including in the United Kingdom and in Australia. Women, too, have helped give the men’s rights movement a veneer of even-handedness. Prominent MRAs [Men’s Right Activists] also include anti-feminist female voices, such as popular Canadian YouTube personality Karen Straughan, American psychologist Helen Smith, and the former head of a domestic-violence shelter for women, the British Erin Pizzey. Men’s rights issues also overlap with the rhetoric of equity feminists like Christina Hoff Sommers, who give a mainstream and respectable face to some MRA concerns.

Guessing how SPLC apologists will respond, this excerpt doesn’t say that Ms. Sommers is associated with “male supremacists”. Instead, it seems to be calling her a useful idiot, in that her rhetoric can be abused by “male supremacists” in support of their ends.

Rather the way a group can abuse the mantel of “anti-hate group” to demonize people they disagree with.