"I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." John Adams (1780)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Starting Year 5 of 'Shall Issue,' Iowa has More Guns, Less Crime



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As Iowa begins its fifth year as a "shall-issue" state it's a good time to reflect on the fact that we now have a record number of law-abiding Iowans carrying firearms in public and lower violent crime rates than we did five years ago.


Iowa's shall-issue weapons permit law was signed into law by then-Governor Chet Culver (D) on April 29th, 2010. It went into effect on January 1st, 2011. The new law tweaked the civilian permit to carry weapons in several ways, but most importantly it required sheriffs to issue permits to Iowans who passed a criminal background check and met several other criteria. Prior to this, sheriffs could arbitrarily deny permits for any reason known only to themselves, essentially leaving Iowa with 99 different permit laws and the potential for personal discrimination.


So where do we stand now?


A recent Fox News article notes that in 2010, before the new law, Iowa had not quite 40,000 permits to carry in force. Last year the number hit 220,000, five and half times what it was in 2010. That means about 7% of Iowa's population currently has a permit to carry. With all those folks toting guns, what about all those predictions of increased carry causing "havoc and mayhem?"


Well, if Iowa has descended into bloody turmoil it sure isn't reflected in our violent crime rates. According to FBI statistics in 2008 and 2009 Iowa averaged about 284 violent crimes per 100,000 population. In 2010, when the shall issue was signed, our violent crime rate was at 268.5 crimes. In 2011, the first full year the law was in force, the crime rate fell to 255.6. In 2012 it rose a bit to 265.6. Then in 2013 (the latest year I could find stats for) it fell again to 260.9.



I don't if every hill and valley in these numbers can be ascribed to Iowa's permit law, but the fact remains that their are many more lawful guns on the street and violent crime rates are lower than before the law went to effect. At any rate it proves that more law-abiding gun owners carrying in public does NOT cause Old West shootouts and chaos as we were warned. This experience puts us inline with most of the other 40 states who have seen crime rates drop after passing shall issue laws.


Most of the critiques of the law I see nowadays don't rely on predictions of bloodbaths by deranged permit holders over fender benders but just on the fact that the idea of other Iowans carrying concealed weapons makes the critic feel "icky." (Here's one recent example.) Not the best argument to deny a constitutional right.


All in all I think we would have to rule Iowa's shall issue a success. Iowa's law-abiding gun owners have proven themselves to be a responsible lot. Now, about Constitutional Carry...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

IA Reps Blum and King Vote Against Commissar Boehner

Two of Iowa's three Republican U.S. representatives voted against the existing power structure on Capitol Hill as personified in John Boehner. 25 total Republicans voted against House Speaker Boehner, a Republican, which the Washington Post called “largest revolt against a House speaker in more than 150 years.” Unfortunately, Boehner was still re-elected to his speakership.


Freshman Representative Rod Blum of Iowa's 1st District explained his vote thusly on his Facebook Page:  "I was elected by Iowans to stand up to the status quo in Washington, DC, and I refuse to turn my back on them with my first vote. While I know Speaker Boehner is a good man and I respect the job he has done as Speaker, I must follow the will of the Eastern Iowans who rejected politics as usual in November and are calling for change in DC. With Congressional approval ratings at historic lows, it's time for our elected officials to listen to the people and rethink business as usual so we can move our country forward together."


Representative Steve King (IA-4) said of Boehner in a recent Breitbart column:  “I know the pattern of his strategy and actions for the past 12 years to the point where I can predict the results. I am convinced Congress will not be allowed to restore its Constitutional authority under his Speakership and by refusing to do so, cannot call upon the courts to do so. How then, can I take an oath to the Constitution and put up a vote for John Boehner, almost in the same breath?


“We need a Speaker who will help us all keep our oath, including his own, to the Constitution, not one who has consistently blocked our efforts to keep ours. I will vote for an alternative candidate for Speaker. I can’t vote for John Boehner again.”


Blum and King's opposition to Speaker Boehner seems to put them in good company with a good many of rank and file of their own party if not with ruling elite. A recent poll by Caddell Associates showed that "a stupefying 60% of Republicans who voted in the November elections either definitely or probably want someone other than Ohio Congressman John Boehner to be the Speaker of the House."  Two-thirds agreed with the statement that “John Boehner has been ineffective in opposing Obama.” When Republican voters were asked, “Is John Boehner for average Americans in his heart, rather than for special interests?” Only 44% said yes, and 43% said no.


"The GOP leadership, the lawyers, the lobbyists, the consultant class of the Republican party, and all the big donors don’t understand that these people are angry," said pollster Pat Caddell of polling data. "They are saying that John Boehner doesn’t care about them, and all he cares about is the special interests. I’ve never seen anything like this in the base of a party."


While I don't have a lot of faith in Steve King, I'm hopeful that Rod Blum will continue to stand up to the corrupt two-party oligarchy in Washington D.C.



Saturday, December 27, 2014

Book Review: "The FN FAL Battle Rifle"



When I received a signed copy of my brother Bob's latest book "The FN FAL Battle Rifle," a book about the Cold War rifle known as the "right arm of the Free World," of course I was excited to read it.  Bob is a former active duty Cavalry Scout, Desert Storm vet, forestry worker, and still an avid shooter and gun collector living in Montana. Suffice it to say he has a passion for firearms and military history.


Since I'm not quite the firearms technician nor military historian that my brother is, part of me was a little worried I might find parts of a "biography" of a rifle a little dry. However Bob kept the book quite interesting and accessible to us laypersons while still providing plenty of detail for gun wonks.


For many American gunnies the Cold War was a face-off between the American M16 and the Soviet AK-47. However the 7.62x51mm NATO Fabrique Nationale (FN) Fusil Automatique L├ęger (FAL) eventually equipped over 90 Western nations around the world, earning it the aforementioned nickname. The history of the FAL is a history of every bushfire war that popped up during the Cold War. The FAL showed up in most of them, officially or not. The FAL's storied history reaches a crescendo during the 1982 Falklands War where both sides (the British and the Argentinians) used the FAL against each other. Bob's book chronicles the whole history.


First Bob walks us through the development of the FAL right after WW2. Besides the technical aspects of developing the new weapon there was the political quarreling behind adopting a new NATO standard rifle round. The book then provides a brief rundown of the adoption and modifications made by each of the major nations issuing the new FAL. There is a section running down the major accessories adopted for the FAL including magazines, optics, rifle grenades and bayonets.


In the next section Bob points out that although the FAL was (thankfully) never used for its intended role of repelling a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, "[i]t did, however, give excellent service in battle around the world in many smaller wars and numerous insurgencies." Bob gives a brief history of the FAL's major use in combat by the British army from the 1948 Malayan Emergency to the 1991 Persian Gulf War and by other nations in African and Latin American bush wars, the Arab-Israeli Wars, the Indo-Pakistani Wars, and Vietnam. The FAL still pops up in combat zones today.


The book then has a breakdown of the capabilities of the FAL's 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge as well as an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the FAL system itself. Bob also compares and contrasts the FAL with its two a main contemporary rival battle rifles the German G3 and American M14. The book is chock full of historical photographs, graphs, as well as several original historical battlescene paintings created specially for the book by British artist Steve Noon.


I thoroughly enjoyed taking the stroll down Cold War "memory lane" that "The FN FAL Battle Rifle" provided. I think anyone with a bit of interest in weapons and/or military history will enjoy it as well. I recommend you check it out.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Law Prof: Never Support a Law You Are Not Willing to Kill to Enforce

Yale law professor Stephen L. Carter had an excellent article at Bloomberg View. It's good advice for our lawmakers. Here's a few excepts:


"On the opening day of law school, I always counsel my first-year students never to support a law they are not willing to kill to enforce. Usually they greet this advice with something between skepticism and puzzlement, until I remind them that the police go armed to enforce the will of the state, and if you resist, they might kill you.


"I wish this caution were only theoretical. It isn’t. Whatever your view on the refusal of a New York City grand jury to indict the police officer whose chokehold apparently led to the death of Eric Garner, it’s useful to remember the crime that Garner is alleged to have committed: He was selling individual cigarettes, or loosies, in violation of New York law."


"I don’t mean this as a criticism of cops, whose job after all is to carry out the legislative will. The criticism is of a political system that takes such bizarre delight in creating new crimes for the cops to enforce. It’s unlikely that the New York legislature, in creating the crime of selling untaxed cigarettes, imagined that anyone would die for violating it. But a wise legislator would give the matter some thought before creating a crime. Officials who fail to take into account the obvious fact that the laws they’re so eager to pass will be enforced at the point of a gun cannot fairly be described as public servants."


Do yourself a favor and read this outstanding piece HERE.


HT to Christopher Peters for bringing this article to my attention.

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