Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gun Myths:

"I was cleaning it, and it just went off and shot someone"

This requires both a mechanical malfunction of the gun, and violation of the four rules of gun safety. There are various wordings of the four rules, but they are basically the same:

When handling a gun:

All guns are always loaded
This means that the other rules always apply--Never say "Don't worry, it isn't loaded" as an excuse to do something that wouldn't be safe with a loaded gun. If someone checks to see that a gun is not loaded, then hands it to you, you should check to make sure it is unloaded, then follow the rest of the rules anyhow.
Never point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy
This doesn't mean you must want to destroy everything you point at, but rather if you cannot live with the consequences of destroying something, don't point a gun at it.
Know your target and what is beyond
You must know where the bullet is going to wind up, and what it may destroy on the way there. Something that blocks your view, but will not completely stop a bullet does not relieve you of this responsibility.
Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on target
If you are pulling the trigger of an unloaded gun, you still must choose a safe target and aim at that target. The target can be "the ground" rather than "that particular spot of ground".

Guns don't "just go off". Guns go off when handled. In almost all cases, they go off only when their triggers are pulled, in a few extremely rare cases they will go off when dropped (Almost all guns less than 30 years old are designed to be drop safe) or when decockers or other controls are used. They don't go off in a proper holster, or when sitting on a table or shelf. For this reason, I believe that guns that will be loaded often should be left loaded, but in a locked container--Less handling, less risk.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I've been trying to figure out where I fit politically. I seem to be more libertarian than either liberal or conservative. I think government should be a lot smaller--Federal should probably be half to 1/3 the size it is, not counting the military.

Top federal priorities should be:
Non-consensual Law Enforcement
Legal infrastructure--Courts, judges, etc
Infrastructure and long-term investment. Public buildings, roads, parks, etc.
Protection from state government
Promoting commerce

Lower priorities
Education. This is a lower priority only because I don't think the feds are all that likely to efficiently spend education dollars. I also don't see a really good way to use federal money to help locally--If you reward high-performers, you're de-funding the people who need the most help, if you help where it's needed the most, you essentially reward poor performance.

Health Care. This is a weird situation--I don't think it's a primary function of the federal government, but the finances of health care are currently insane. Those with health insurance are already subsidizing those without, in a very inefficient way. If the subsidy were moved and controlled (more preventative, less ER) I think it likely that my health insurance costs would go down by more than my taxes would go up.

The other option is a "pay or die" system. I personally would be reasonably OK with that, but it won't fly politically, and there are problems of people having to prove they can pay before they can have treatment.

The reason I specify "non-consensual law enforcement" is to distinguish it from busybody law enforcement like drugs, prostitution, gambling and other vices. If we spent less (resources) on victimless crime, we'd have more to spend where it will protect victims.

If drugs are legal, I think there will be far less property and violent crime and more room in prison to keep violent offenders longer. The drug addicts won't need to steal as much, and may be able to support their habit legally.

Prostitution should also be legal, partly to help protect prostitutes from being unfairly exploited.

I find state-run gambling offensive--The state should not be allowed to run a lottery (or a whorehouse, or a liquor store...) but should be able to (reasonably) tax and regulate privately run gambling. (or whorehouses....)

Federal coercion needs to stop. I'm talking about "pass these laws, or we won't fund your highways" type things. Intent also needs to be considered--Abuse of the interstate commerce clause to justify regulating things that should be left to individual states needs to stop.

Taxes should be primarily on spending.

This is a draft, and I'll likely come back to it later.