Jim Manley Scores Big Gun Rights Victory in Colorado

Mar 092012

Ari Armstrong recorded a nice interview with Jim Manley last night on his big legal victory with the Colorado Supreme Court to overturn the ban on concealed carry at University of Colorado (CU). Colorado law allows concealed carry, but CU has refused to allow permit holders to exercise that right on campus grounds, even though state law should permit it:

Diana and I first met Jim several years ago when he was the head of the University Colorado (Boulder) campus Objectivist club. After he graduated from CU law school, he went to work for the Mountain States Legal Foundation (which does the same sort of advocacy work as Institute for Justice, but at the state/regional level).

Jim was the lead attorney on this case against CU’s bad policies. His (and MSLF’s) recent legal victory has made national news, including writeups in the Wall Street Journal and MSNBC.

I was glad to be able catch up with Jim a few nights ago and give him my personal thanks for his hard work on this case. Soon, law-abiding concealed weapons permit holders such as myself will no longer have to disarm when we enter University grounds. (Jim came to Diana’s free public lecture at CU on Ayn Rand’s ethics and moral perfection).

Given how easy it is to be discouraged by current politics, I wanted to highlight another example of successful activism by a determined individual!

Addendum from Diana

When I was a graduate student at CU Boulder, I had to walk a few blocks off-campus, through a residential neighborhood, to get to my car. I took classes in the evening on occasion, and during those times, my walk was dark and lonely. Like other students, I’d receive periodic reports of sexual assaults just off-campus, and that worried me.

The police chief’s advice of carrying a “safety whistle” was pure absurdity to me. If I was attacked, that wouldn’t do me a lick of good. Also, I knew that I couldn’t hope to outrun my attacker: I’m a slow sprinter, and even in elementary school, I only ever beat the fat girl in running the 50-yard dash. Really, I wanted my “safety Ruger” — because that could have actually kept me safe! Instead, I often took Kate, my German Shepherd with me to those late classes. She probably wouldn’t have helped much if I’d been attacked, but she might have deterred a criminal.

Moreover, in the wake of school shootings, I hated to think of being disarmed and defenseless, particularly as a teacher in a classroom full of terrified students. I’d have an obligation to protect my students as best as I could, yet I’d be unable to do much of anything. I hated that with a passion.

Hence, I’m so pleased by Jim’s fabulous work to overturn this gun ban on CU campuses. It’s taken years of litigation, but the results will make a real difference in the lives of students, professors, workers, and visitors to campus.

Thank you, Jim!

Hsieh PJM OpEd: SOPA, Guns, and Freedom

Jan 202012

The 1/19/2012 edition of PJMedia published my OpEd, “SOPA, Guns, and Freedom“.

I open with the following question:

Q: What does the proposed SOPA (“Stop Online Piracy Act”) legislation have in common with gun control?

A: Both would punish the innocent for the bad acts of a guilty few.

Click through to read more on how this applies to SOPA, gun control, freedom, and limited government.

For more detailed discussion on how SOPA could have “broken the Internet”, technically-minded readers might enjoy Paul Vixie’s article from 1/11/2012, “Refusing REFUSED“. Because of the intense political pressure from anti-SOPA advocates, some legislators have proposed a modified version of SOPA that they claim will avoid some of these technical problems.

Diana has more links and information about SOPA in her recent webcast on this topic, “SOPA and Online Piracy“.

(Note: This OpEd was written the day before the 1/18/2012 “blackout” and subsequent political events.)

Video: The Legal Status of Automatic Weapons

Nov 232011

In Sunday’s Philosophy in Action Webcast, I discussed the legal status of automatic weapons. The question was:

Should it be legal for civilians to own fully automatic weapons? At present, civilians can only own full-auto firearms by special permission of the US Treasury. In a free society, would such weapons be banned or regulated, such that only members of the police and military could access them? As a law-abiding civilian, am I somehow violating someone else’s rights by owning an M-16 fully automatic rifle – as opposed to the virtually identical (and currently legal) semi-automatic AR-15 rifle?

My answer, in brief:

The critical question to ask with any potentially dangerous property is whether mere ownership constitutes a threat to others. That’s not true of firearms, including fully automatic weapons.

Here’s the video of my full answer:

If you enjoy the video, please “like” it on YouTube and share it with friends in e-mail and social media! You can also throw a bit of extra love in our tip jar.

All posted webcast videos can be found in the Webcast Archives and on my YouTube channel.

Reason for Hope

Oct 182011

If you ever think that American culture and politics is relentlessly sliding into the abyss, just consider the ginormous strides made by two groups over the past decade — gun enthusiasts and gays. Both are simply remarkable examples of good causes made real by successful activism.

I was surprised to be reminded — in this article about the life and death of early gay activist Frank Kameny — that President Clinton signed an executive order allowing gays to obtain security clearances… in 1995. That’s only 16 years ago. That seems like the Dark Ages! In 2021, I bet I’ll be saying, “Wow, I just can’t believe that gays and lesbians were only permitted to openly serve in the military for the first time ten years ago.” Hopefully that will seem like a barbaric distant past too.

As for gun rights, just check out the spread of shall-issue concealed carry laws across American states from 1986 to the present in this animated map. Blood is running in the streets, and every city is like the Wild West now… oh wait, maybe not. (Surprise, surprise!)

Change for the better is possible… if enough people doggedly and openly pursue it.

Self-Defense in the UK

Aug 252011

In Diana’s July 3rd webcast, one of the topics she covered was self-defense and one of the points she made was that victims of violent attack in Great Britain could be prosecuted for fighting back in self-defense.

A listener who was a former UK resident (now living in Hong Kong) wrote back to let her know that UK law did allow “reasonable force” in resisting a violent attack and wanted to correct any potentially erroneous negative impressions of British laws. One of the references he cited was this 6/29/2011 BBC news story, “Right to self-defence in homes to be ‘much clearer’“.

However, even if UK law does recognize a victim’s theoretical right to self-defense, a big question is precisely whether and how that right is recognized by the authorities in practice.

A few years ago, American gun law expert David Kopel posted this interesting report from a US student studying abroad in London. According to her, the London police were very explicit in telling her not to fight back:

I’m an alumna of Pepperdine University, a school which proudly owns a house/campus on Exhibition Road, literally across the street from the Imperial University, in the middle of South Kensington, right near Harrods, Hyde Park, the Albert Hall. Within two days of arriving for our first semester in London, our relatively small [American] class (37 students, 10 men, 27 women) was visited by a local police officer to instruct us on living in London. Her first question was to the women, ‘How many of you brought mace?’ Three girls raised their hands. She told us we couldn’t use it, shouldn’t even carry it, it was illegal.

Had any of us brought any other type of weapon, such as a knife? Several of the men in our group indicated that they carried pocket knives. She told us to leave them at home too.

Then she instructed us on how to properly be a victim. If we were attacked, we were to assume a defensive posture, such as raising our hands to block an attack. The reason was (and she spelled it out in no uncertain terms) that if a witness saw the incident and we were to attempt to defend ourselves by fighting back, the witness would be unable to tell who the aggressor was. However, if we rolled up in a ball, it would be quite clear who the victim was.

The feeling I got was, in London, it is not permissible to defend oneself. I also understood that this police officer thought Americans were more likely to be aggressive and/or cause more damage to a potential attacker. She was warning us for our own good. I have to admit, she did not make me feel particularly safe.

Last week, historian Joyce Lee Malcolm wrote a piece in the 8/16/2011 Wall Street Journal, “The Soft-on-Crime Roots of British Disorder“. (If the link takes you to the truncated version, just enter the full title into a Google search box to get to the full piece.)

Some excerpts from her OpEd:

Victims of aggression who defend themselves or attempt to protect their property have been shown no such leniency. Burglars who injured themselves breaking into houses have successfully sued homeowners for damages. In February, police in Surrey told gardeners not to put wire mesh on the windows of their garden sheds as burglars might hurt themselves when they break in.

If a homeowner protecting himself and his family injures an intruder beyond what the law considers “reasonable,” he will be prosecuted for assault. Tony Martin, an English farmer, was sentenced to life in prison for killing one burglar and wounding another with a shotgun during the seventh break-in at his rural home in 1999. While his sentence was later reduced to five years, he was refused parole in 2003 because he was judged a danger to burglars.

In 2008, a robber armed with a knife attacked shopkeeper Tony Singh in West Lancashire. During the struggle the intruder was fatally stabbed with his own knife. Although the robber had a long record of violent assault, prosecutors were preparing to charge Mr. Singh with murder until public outrage stopped them…

All sorts of weapons useful for self-defense have been severely restricted or banned. A 1953 law, the “Prevention of Crime Act,” made any item someone carried for possible protection an “offensive weapon” and therefore illegal. Today there is also a list of devices the mere possession of which carries a 10-year sentence. Along with rocket launchers and machine guns, the list includes chemical sprays and any knife with a blade more than three inches long.

Handguns? Parliament banned their possession in 1997. As an example of the preposterous lengths to which zealous British authorities would enforce this law, consider the fate of Paul Clark, a former soldier. He was arrested in 2009 by Surrey police when he brought them a shotgun he found in his garden. For doing this personally—instead of asking the police to retrieve it—he received a five-year prison sentence. It took a public outcry to reduce the normal five-year sentence to 12 months, and then suspend it…

Knives? It’s illegal for anyone under age 18 to buy one, and using a knife for self-defense is unlawful. In 1991, American tourist Dina Letarte of Tempe, Ariz., used a penknife to protect herself from a violent attack by three men in a London subway. She was convicted of carrying an offensive weapon, fined, and given a two-year suspended sentence.

The result of policies that punish the innocent but fail to deter crime has been stark, even before the latest urban violence…

Now it may be that the latest “clarification” of self-defense laws from the current UK government (including what counts as “reasonable”) will respect the rights of innocent victims, rather than violating them.

During the recent UK riots, the police told shopkeepers that they could use “reasonable force” against the rioters and looters. And many innocent people did bravely use baseball bats and clubs to protect themselves against the bad guys. But if any of the would-be victims had presumed to protect themselves with a handgun, they likely would have been arrested. If self-defense with a handgun is illegal, then it de facto falls outside of what the government regards as legal “reasonable force”.

Under any legal system where tools of effective self-defense (such as handguns) are banned, the losers are the physically weaker victims (women, the elderly, those with disabilities) who are easily preyed upon by the young and the strong.

There’s a damned good reason that Americans have always regarded handguns as the “Great Equalizer“. Let’s hope that some day the UK government chooses to do the same.

Video: Why Carry a Concealed Firearm

Jul 282011

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I discussed the moral and practical reasons for carrying a concealed firearm. Here’s the 11-minute video, now posted to YouTube:

Video: The Proper Standards for Self-Defense

Jul 072011

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I discussed the proper standards for self-defense. Here’s the short video, now posted to YouTube:

Video: Parents, Teach Your Kids About Your Guns!

Jun 292011

In Sunday’s Rationally Selfish Webcast, I answered the following question about kids and guns:

Should people give up their guns when they have kids? Many people think that having guns in the house with kids is terribly risky, if not child endangerment. They say that the kids might get to the guns, even if locked away, and injure or even kill themselves in an accidental discharge. Is that right? If parents choose to keep their guns in the house, what should they do to minimize the risk of injury?

Here’s my answer, now posted to YouTube:

In essence: Don’t try to kid-proof guns, but instead, gun-proof your kids by training them in the principles of gun safety.

Links mentioned in the webcast include:

Hsieh PJM OpEd: "Dude, Where’s My Freedom?"

Jun 132011

The 6/11/2011 PajamasMedia has published my latest OpEd, “Dude, Where’s My Freedom?

My theme is that ongoing forms of “gun control”, “health control”, and “travel control” are just examples of a broader “freedom control”.

Here is the opening:

Benjamin Franklin once warned Americans that “they who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security.” Yet in the seemingly unrelated areas of health care and physical security, our political leaders are embracing this folly with predictably bad results…

(Read the full text of “Dude, Where’s My Freedom?“)

I’d like to thank Jared R. and Vicky G. for pointing me to some of the links I used. And thank you, Glenn Reynolds, for the Instapundit link!

Hsieh PJM OpEd: Berwick, Gun Control, and Paternalism

Jul 232010

The July 23, 2010 PajamasMedia has published my latest OpEd, “Donald Berwick, the Pro-Gun Control Lobby, and Paternalism“.

My theme is that both Donald Berwick and gun control advocates share a flawed view of human nature and a disdain for the rationality of ordinary men. This explains their paternalistic desire to restrict our freedoms.

Here is the introduction:

Q: What do Donald Berwick and gun control advocates have in common?

A: Both distrust ordinary Americans’ ability to exercise individual rationality and responsibility. Instead, they believe that the government should restrict our freedoms for our own good. And if they have their way, we’ll end up paying the price.

Dr. Donald Berwick is President Obama’s newly appointed head of Medicare and an unabashed supporter of socialized medicine. He has repeatedly praised the British National Health Service as a model for the United States to emulate.

The Wall Street Journal recently published a selection of Berwick’s public statements on health policy. Two in particular stand out because they are such naked attacks on the efficacy of individual choice and rationality:

1) I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do.

2) The unaided human mind, and the acts of the individual, cannot assure excellence. Health care is a system, and its performance is a systemic property.

Hence, Berwick has explicitly called for doctors to relinquish their “clinician autonomy” and instead follow standardized government treatment guidelines. Patients should forgo using their “unaided human minds” and instead let their “leaders” decide what kind of medical care they should receive.

Many gun control advocates display a similar disdain for the rationality of ordinary Americans. This can be seen most clearly whenever a state considers allowing law-abiding citizens to carry concealed firearms…

(Read the full text of “Donald Berwick, the Pro-Gun Control Lobby, and Paternalism“.)

Update: Thank you, Instapundit!

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