sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

March 19, 2013

“Bang!” The Ban

Before I start this post, let me explain the title.  I wrote a bit about the plastic grocery bag bans sweeping California towns, and in the process discovered an excellent website that accumulates resources for the opposition; it’s called bag the ban.  I doubt any of my readers came across the website.  So why did I choose a title referencing a website my readers know nothing about?  Because I’m crazy, that’s why!

Which brings me to this.  Leslie Eastman noted that in California, the state uses its power to confiscate guns from law-abiding citizens using the most tenuous mental health reasons (spending money we don’t have in the process):

Just last week, the California Senate approved a $24 million funding bill to expedite the process of collecting guns from owners in the state who legally acquired them but have since become disqualified due to felony convictions or mental illness.

Such was recently the case for one woman, who had been in the hospital voluntarily for mental illness last year that she says was due to medication she was taking. Lynette Phillips of Upland, Calif., told TheBlaze in a phone interview Monday she had purchased a gun years ago for her husband, David, as a present. That gun, as well as two others registered to her law-abiding husband (who does not have a history of felonies or mental illness), were seized last Tuesday.

“My husband is upset that they took the right from us that should never have been taken, Phillips told TheBlaze.

But according to the state of California, that doesn’t matter.

“The prohibited person can’t have access to a firearm” regardless of who the registered owner is, Michelle Gregory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, told to Bloomberg News.

What’s “crazy” anyway?  In the 90s, the lawyer for the Unibomber was talking about the insanity defense.  In the Soviet Union, dissidents were shipped off to mental wards.  The GOP, I hear, can use less “nutters”.

The perpetrator of the Sydney Hook massacre, the massacre that caused the latest round of anti-gun hysteria, is said to have had Asperger’s.  Maybe he could had been diagnosed with something else, or perhaps he’s just evil, but arguably, Asperger’s is a form of normal male behavior, often revered throughout history — Pierre Bezukhov in War and Peace, for instance, was probably modeled on a person with autistic traits.  Today, 1 in 54 boys is diagnosed with autism, most of them have mild symptoms, and quite a few will outgrow their diagnosis.  How many “crazies” (and their relations) are we prepared to disarm?

A politically insane individual like myself is weary of denying the “crazy” their Second Amendment rights.  Sure, there are people out there, very obviously scary people, like the perpetrator of the Aurora mass shooting, who should not had been able to have access to firearms.  The problem with people like him is larger than possession of weapons.  The man should have been involuntarily hospitalized, and we do need to have laws for that.  In his case, a mental health checks to buy a gun would be like putting a band aid on a wound that cuts to the bone.  It does not address the underlying problem, and does not prevent him from, say, picking up a hammer and cracking a few people’s heads.  Furthermore, many people obviously in need of mandatory psychiatric treatment (take a walk in downtown San Francisco) are not violent or at least not capable of actually getting themselves to a sporting goods store and not freaking out the clerk.  What would gun checks do for them?

It’s very much possible that the Sandy Hook murderer would slip through the cracks and not be hospitalized.  But no system is perfect and life is full of unpredictability and danger.  And yet, despite the impression we get from the evening news, mass shootings are rare.  Parents of the Sandy Hook first graders can be consoled by the fact that their beautiful children died in an extraordinarily rare event, but it was an extraordinary rare event.

Lets look at the mass shooting in perspective.  The same people that are rallying against the Second Amendment are typically environmentalists, also rallying for grocery bag bans.  In San Francisco such ban is linked to a 46% increase in deaths from foodborne illnesses.   According to CDC estimates, 3000 people died of foodborne diseases across the United States in 2011.  If we are to implement a similar plastic bag ban on federal level, we should for 1380 dirty bag deaths — and I hope the turtles are worth it.  Sixteen mass shootings were perpetrated in the US in 2012, leaving 88 people dead, meaning that grocery bag bans are quite likely to be nearly 16 times deadlier than mass shootings.

“Oh, that’s just mass shootings,” my readers may say.  “But what about the murders committed with ‘assault’ rifles?”  Actually my readers would never ask a question that stupid.  They know that according to the FBI, in 2011 323 people were shot to death with rifles.   This means that grocery bag bans are probably more than 4 times deadlier than bad guys with rifles.

Clearly, some residents of “reality-based community” need to have their priorities straightened out.  Or else, their political convictions are more about identity, about sticking it to the bitter clingers, and not so much about saving life.  Or else they prefer to return to “natural” pre-industrial living, the one characterized by high birth rate and low life expectancy.  That’s totally sane.  And get this, if we actually subsidize birth control and stop breading, the Earth will be returned to the animals.  In this case nobody will be shooting those AR-15s.

So, dear friends, support life and liberty, our Second Amendment rights and oppose government’s intrusion into personal matters!  (Crazy, I know.)

UPDATE: Related: anti-vaxxers kill. (Via Instapundit.)

January 22, 2013

A Future for Freedom

Filed under: Bay Area politics, education, environmentalism — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 8:53 pm

I wrote about our local plastic bag ban a few weeks ago.  Well, the other night during the dinner our 5-year-old told us that some man came over to talk to the kids about the ban at her elementary school assembly.  The need to inform elementary school children about the ban is not immediately obvious to this parent.

The speaker told students that when people don’t properly dispose of plastic bags birds and animals may get caught in them or eat them and die.  I’m sure he had a lot of other drivel to share, but that’s what our 5-year-old picked up on, naturally.  Me and DH looked at each other.  We talked about littering, and how all littering is bad, not just plastic bags.  Fortunately, however, people in our town are responsible and can be trusted to put their garbage into garbage cans, even without the new law.

We also said that paper bags are not very good because the break often, and that people use plastic bags again and again, in their garbage cans and to pick up dogs’ poop. We told her that it was wrong to invite the guy who talks about why he supports the ban, but not invite anyone with a different point of view, because there are many sides to this story.  DH said that we’d like to hear about what is going on at the assemblies, and that there will be lot of things she’ll hear in school, and that the most important are math, reading and writing.  Everything else is just someone’s opinion.

I don’t think there was an age-appropriate way to explain that plastic bags production requires fewer resources and is, therefore, cleaner.  So we didn’t go there.  But the most important point was yet to be made.  The reason we oppose the ban, we said, is because if some people think that paper is better, they can ask for paper, and if some people think that plastic is better, they can ask for plastic.  Or if a store decides that they don’t want to give out plastic, they can stick with paper.  This way everybody can do what they think is appropriate.  My daughter looked at me for a second or two and gave me the most beautiful mischievous smile.

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