Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday Joke

A good joke for St. Patrick's Day, with thanks to Joni (JlovesR) on Plurk.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Monday Joke

Here's a joke I heard from Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs' fame) on Facebook. It gave me a chuckle, and is quite appropriate for Lent, when we should all be going to Confession (hint hint).

Thursday, March 6, 2014


So, recently Mike has been thinking about the second amendment. No surprise, but it's not doing any better than the first amendment. Here's and article about Maryland confiscating guns from criminals who have registered firearms.

Sounds like a great idea, right? I agree 100% with you that criminals should not have guns. But if you do the math and look at the real numbers, things are not as they seem.

One of my favorite books on computer programming philosophy is Programming Pearls by Jon Bentley. In one chapter, he asks a bunch of people to estimate how much water out of the Mississippi River in one day. They all use different methods, and come up with similar, reasonable answers, which is a measure of how reasonable their methods are. So let's see, if we assume the claims in this article to be accurate, what we can derive about gun owners and crime using several different methods of estimating. Will our answers be reasonable?

So let's assume the numbers in the article to be accurate. That means Maryland has 1.1 million gun owners (since they say that 110,000 is 10% of them). That's out of a population of 5.8 million, or 19% of Marylanders own a gun. Sounds reasonable, as it is similar to the rate in other states.

California has a population of 38 million and 22.5% of them own guns, for a total of 8.55 million gun owners. According to the article, there are 50,000 "disqualified" gun owners in the state of California since 2007, which is about 7,000 a year, or 0.08% per year. And note that California isn't just disqualifying people based on committing crimes, as Maryland is proposing. In California they are also illegally using supposedly private medical data (protected under HIPAA) to disqualify people who have sought psychiatric help.

Therefore, one would expect the disqualified rate in Maryland to be less than that in California. So why is there such a high percentage of disqualified gun owners in Maryland? Are Maryland people evil? I don't think so. I think the numbers are inflated to scare the public into supporting bad legislation. The numbers just don't seem reasonable.

If you look at it different ways, it's still fishy (or even fishier). In the absence of hard data I'm going to make some reasonable assumptions. You can change the numbers one way or the other, but you will still get results that are fishy.

Let's assume that the average first time gun buyer is in his 30s, and will live another 40 years. If 1% of Maryland gun owners "turns evil" and gets disqualified for owning firearms every year, then over that 40 years, 33% of all gun owners will commit felonies (1 - 0.9940). Sorry, but that is orders of magnitude over the average for the population in general, and even more so for legal gun owners (remember, these are people who have had a clean record up until now - what are the odds that after 35 years of being an upstanding citizen someone decides to rob a liquor store?)

Let's try a third method. 95% of gun crimes involve illegally obtained guns. So if 11,000 (1%) of these legal guns are being used in crimes (yes, I know the gun owners could become felons for crimes not involving guns, but if they are not using guns illegally, then the whole argument for keeping the guns away from them vanishes), then the crime rate in Maryland must include 220,000 gun related violent crimes per year. That number is higher than the total number of crimes committed in the state in a year (which is 189,816) and way higher than the number of violent crimes committed (28,079).

No, these numbers make about as much sense as claiming in 2003 that Iraq had nuclear missiles that could reach the US.

The other thing the article speaks about is closing the background check "gap," whereby a person could purchase a gun without a background check if it took more than a week. Folks, there is no such gap. That law was made back when background checks had to be done by people walking around looking through files by hand. Background checks are done in real time over the phone, via computer. The longest I have ever heard of a background check taking is 2 hours, and that was because some equipment was down.

It's ridiculous to think that felons are walking out with guns because background checks are taking more than two weeks. In fact, it is ridiculous to think that felons routinely submit themselves to background checks. They know they're going to be denied, so why waste the money going to a gun store and trying to purchase a gun legally? As noted above, 95% of them obtain their guns illegally.

I will note that eliminating a time limit is a good way for the state to stop sales of guns to legitimate buyers, however, by intentionally slowing the system. This whole thing is just a way to sneak in permission for the state to confiscate weapons from or deny weapons to law abiding citizens.

Monday, March 3, 2014

No Joke

If you follow this blog you know every Monday I post a Monday Joke. Not this week, there's too much going on in new Jersey for me to laugh. Last week bill A2006 was introduced, and today there will be a hearing on it, and bill A2777 will be introduced. [Update: due to the weather the hearing is postponed.]

A2006 is supposedly a limitation on "high capacity" magazines. What it actually does is makes it a felony to own a broad class of popular weapons that can fire more than 10 rounds. A2777 is described as a bill defining what it means to make a reasonable deviation when traveling between your home and the target range, or between your home and the gun store. What it actually does it makes it illegal for you to buy a cup of coffee.

Since I work for a living I do not have the luxury of appearing before the committee to testify. So here is my virtual testimony to the public safety committee on those two bills.

A2006 (10 round limit and gun ban bill)

Senate president Sweeny had a tear in his eye introducing this bill when the families from Newtosn were here on Monday. How does this bill even address the Newtown situation? Do you think Adam Lanza would have said “well, if I have to change magazines forget it, I'll stay home?” Do you think the outcome would have been any different? Does the possession of an 11th bullet somehow make a good person bad? Because that's what this bill says.

On Thursday, Senator Sweeny dried his tears and mocked those same people from Newtown, bragging on twitter “No mass shootings in NJ, therefore no need to carry a gun.” Does the senator mean that he thinks CT should allow citizens to carry firearms? I doubt it. How about this, senator “No mass shootings in NJ, therefore no need to enact more gun restrictions.”

Sweeny claims that “nobody needs more than 10 rounds.” He has not provided one shred of evidence that that is true. Statistics show that even police officers, who are trained and experienced, miss 70% to 80% of the time when in a stressful situation. I can fully understand that as I face an armed criminal with my heart pounding, pumping adrenaline, my hands shaking. Statistics also show that it often takes more than oe hit to stop an attacker. So if I'm allowed only 10 rounds to defend my family against an armed intruder (or, God forbid, multiple intruders), I'd better hope that I am a lot better than a trained police officer, or my family is dead.

What are you going to say to the families of people who are killed because they couldn't defend themselves? Or how about the families of people who are put in prison for 5 years for having a gun with a standard capacity magazine – yes I said standard capacity because that's what they are and that's what the rest of the world calls them. When you put these people in prison and their families are now without a father, or a mother, will you shed a tear for them? I doubt it.

In CT last year a very similar bill was passed. I would even say a less onerous bill, since it allowed existing magazines to be grandfathered. The result? The state turned over 300,000 law abiding citizens into felons with the stroke of a pen. The police in Connecticut have made it clear that they will go door to door breaking into homes to arrest these "dangerous" citizens. The Governor's office has said that non-compliance with the gun law "will be taken into account" if a citizen calls on the police to respond to a crime. Is he saying that such citizens will not be given police protection, or is this a thinly veiled threat of the use of violence against Connecticut residents?

Armed with the knowledge of how the government of Connecticut has in effect declared war on a significant, do you still want to go ahead with this bill? If the rate of compliance in NJ is similar to that in CT you will be declaring over half a million law abiding citizens to be felons, and crossing a line which Connecticut is probably wishing it hadn't crossed.

With all the issues in New Jersey that need to be addressed - we have the highest taxes in the nation, and among the highest crime rates in the nation - you really think the most pressing issue to address is taking the police away from arresting actual violent criminals, and sending them door to door to arrest over half a million good, peaceful citizens?

A2777 (the potty bill)

Let me propose a scenario to you. Let's say I want to defend my family in case of a home invasion. So I purchase a firearm. Now, since I am only allowed 10 rounds, I have to be a better shot than a police officer, so I need to practice a lot. After a hard day's work, I drive an hour home, then an hour back to the range, which is 3 blocks from my place of business, but the already draconian New Jersey firearm travel laws say I have to drive the extra two hours because somehow I would be a felon if I didn't. Never mind that as per New jersey law, my gun is unloaded and locked, and in a case locked in the trunk of my car. The ammo is locked separately in another case, also in the locked trunk of my car.

Now I go to the range and practice and I'm coming home. I've worked hard all day and I'm tired, Perhaps I feel a little too drowsy to make the hour trip home safely and so I want to pull up to the drive in window at the Dunkin Donnuts to buy a cup of coffee. This bill says that my doing so is so dangerous that I should spend 10 years (mandatory) in prison. Explain how that saves lives? You wrote the law to explicitly exclude this situation. Why?

In fact, I would be less of a criminal in your eyes if I walked in and robbed that Dunkin Donuts instead of buying a cup of coffee. How does this make any sense?

Of course, the bill does allow me to go into the Dunkin Donuts and use the restroom, as long as I don't buy a cup of coffee while I'm in there. And I find that the most egregious part of this bill.

The thing that I find most outrageous, the most offensive, is that in your arrogance, you thought that in the United States of America, a free, law abiding citizen should need to have permission from you to go to the bathroom.

Take your potty bill and flush it.

Your real agenda was revealed last year when we heard senators speaking about gun control on a microphone they thought was turned off, saying “confiscate confiscate confiscate.” Well here's the agenda of the people of New Jersey, “recall,recall recall.”