Exceptions

I am generally opposed to any new gun control laws, and really I am opposed to any legislation enacted in the immediate aftermath of any crisis. The worst time to act is when emotions are high and easily manipulated, while it is better to wait a little while for everyone to cool down and consider the matter rationally. This, of course, is why the gun control proponents are insisting we do something right this minute. The last thing they seem to want is to consider the problem of violence in America rationally. Someone might come up with a solution that doesn’t empower the federal government, after all.

Still, in the interests of compromise and holding the conversation, I am willing to make an exception to my principles. There are some people who should never have access to firearms,or any weapon. I would go so far as to suggest that some people, who have made violent threats against others, should perhaps be taken into custody until they are proven to be no threat to themselves or others. One person who should definitely be watched might be University of Rhode Island Professor Erik Loomis. Professor Loomis has made some tweets which could be considered, well, violent if not to say somewhat deranged. Loomis has since deleted his Twitter account, but luckily for us Twitchy has preserved his words for posterity.

erik-loomis-rt

That was a retweet. It is possible that Loomis did not agree with the sentiment, but here are his own words.

@rmccrory I was heartbroken in the first 20 mass murders. Now I want Wayne LaPierre’s head on a stick.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 15, 2012

Looks like the National Rifle Association has murdered some more children.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 14, 2012

@fmanjoo There are words. Fuck the National Rifle Association and its policies to put crazy guns in everyone’s hands.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 14, 2012

You are goddamn right we should politicize this tragedy. Fuck the NRA. Wayne LaPierre should be in prison.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 14, 2012

Wayne LaPierre is a criminal and should be in prison for complicity with murder. 27 counts.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 14, 2012

Dear Republicans, Do you know the definition of family values? It’s not having our kids FUCKING SHOT AT SCHOOL!! Fuck the NRA.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 14, 2012

It’s harder to buy Sudafed in a pharmacy that high-caliber rifle bullets. Fuck the NRA.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 14, 2012

Can we define NRA membership dues as contributing to a terrorist organization?—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 14, 2012

I bet terrorist NRA head Wayne LaPierre will sleep well tonight.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 15, 2012

Larry Pratt and the group Gun Owners of America are terrorists and should be dealt with as such. thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/1…
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 15, 2012

Idiot of the day: Eugene Volokh, for arguing we should arm school teachers. volokh.com/2012/12/14/a-t…
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 15, 2012

The NRA pushes for policies that make it complicit in mass murders in the US and Mexico. Repeal the 2nd Amendment.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

Another day, another NRA facilitated terrorist attack. This morning at an Alabama hospital. abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/p…
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 15, 2012

Your daily NRA-facilitated terrorism. San Antonio this time. thedailybeast.com/cheats/2012/12…
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 17, 2012

He calls it an “intimidation campaign” when websites such as Campus Reform, quote what he said about Wayne LaPierre:

The right-wing intimidation campaign against me for saying the NRA was a terrorist organization continues. Will not succeed.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

@NeilAnAlien Indeed they will not. In fact, I’d like to write up my story of right-wing intimidation for a magazine.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

The Venn diagram between those who are trying to intimidate me and those who think Obama is the Kenyan usurper is sizable.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

He backs away from his “head on a stick” comment but doubles down on his view that Wayne LaPierre should be imprisoned:

Dear right-wing morons, saying you “want someone’s head on a stick” is a metaphor. I know metaphor is hard for you to understand.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

Dear rightwingers, to be clear, I don’t want to see Wayne LaPierre dead. I want to see him in prison for the rest of his life. #nraterrorism
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 18, 2012

Even when not addressing guns,  Loomis seems to have significant anger and anxiety issues:

@jacremes Bad TV makes me angry.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 17, 2012

How do people relax after writing without alcohol? Am trying, failing. A jumble of nerves, determined no one will ever publish the book.—
Erik Loomis (@ErikLoomis) December 17, 2012

Of course Loomis did not really mean he wanted to see anyone murdered. That was just a metaphor as he explained to the police. I will take his word for that, but it is fairly obvious he has some anger issues.

On a larger note, I think that I can honestly say that I have never advocated violence on this blog, or on any other forum, either metaphorical or actual. In general, though I am sure there are exceptions, I have found the most expressions of hatred and threats of violence have come from the Left, the very people who are always accusing those who are opposing them of being of being violent haters. I am not sure of the reason for this. Perhaps it is a sort of projection by some on the Left. They are prone to anger and violent talk, so they assume others are. Perhaps this is a good subject for a psychiatrist to study.

 

Patterns of Force

Patterns of Force is the name of the infamous Star Trek episode in which the crew of the Enterprise encounter a planet ruled by Nazis. The story is that that the Enterprise has been assigned to search for the missing historian John Gill. He was last known to be studying the culture of the planet Ekos. They discover that Ekos has a more advanced technology than expected and is ruled by a Nazi party with exactly the same insignia and ideology as the Nazis who ruled Germany. Further investigation by Kirk and Spock reveal that John Gill is the Fuhrer. They learn that Gill has become a figurehead and real power rests with his deputy Melakon who is planning a genocidal war against the neighboring planet Zeon. They managed to confront Gill, who has been drugged and McCoy is able to revived him enough to answer questions. When Kirk demands to know why Gill introduced Nazism to the Ekotians, Gill replies that their culture was primitive and divided. By organizing them according to National Socialist principles, without the ethnic hatred, he hoped to unify the planet and help them to advance. He picked the Nazis because they were the most efficient state in Earth’s history.

604033_1306112146667_407_300

Spock agrees saying, “That tiny country, divided, beaten, bankrupt, rose in a few years to stand only one step from global domination.”

Gill and Spock were wrong, however, and Spock was being, dare I say it, illogical. In fact, Nazi Germany was not a particularly efficient state. The government was shot through with corruption at the highest levels. The Nazis purged the German civil service shortly after they took power, making party loyalty and racial purity more important than experience and qualifications. This had predictable results. The Nazis were also supporters of the concept of a centrally planned economy, remember Nazi is short for National Socialist. This also had predictable results. During World War II, Germany did not turn to a full war economy until 1943 and the free-market, capitalist wartime Unites States was more regimented and more efficient and productive. Hitler’s rule was an administrative nightmare since he didn’t leave clearly defined areas of jurisdiction, or lines of authority among his top lieutenants, thinking that as long as they were fighting each other, they weren’t conspiring to overthrow him.

Along with the corruption and general inefficiency of Nazi rule, there were policies that were simply irrational. Consider the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a crime against humanity, but it was also illogical. The men and materials used to round up millions of Jews and other undesirables, ship them to concentration camps, and exterminate them could have been better used fighting the war. The victims could have been used for slave labor and killed after Germany won the war. The enormous diversion of resources, while the Nazi regime was fighting for its life was irrational to the point of insanity. The Holocaust is the worst example of misplaced priorities, but hardly the only one. In the last two years of the war, Goebbels wanted to make the greatest movie of all time, Kolberg. The production of this film, the most expensive in German history, was actually given a higher priority than supplying the Wehrmacht with needed supplies and ammunition. Thousands of German soldiers were pulled from the front to work as extras. Hardy the most efficient state in Earth’s history.

There seems to be a persistent delusion that authoritarian states with centrally planned economies are some how more efficient than free countries. Mussolini made the trains run on time. (He didn’t.) The Communists in the Soviet Union were the future and their planners would create unparalleled economic growth that would bury the West. (It didn’t work out like that.) And on and on. It doesn’t even have to be a brutal dictatorship to excite this sort of ill founded admiration. Germany and Japan have a much closer relationship between private industry and government than is the norm in the United States. At various times both these nations were held up as examples they we should follow. The close cooperation was held to result in a better more efficient economy, better suited for long range planning than the often adversarial relationship found in the US with private competing companies that were more apt to plan only as far as the next quarter. The fact that such close relationships opened the door to crony capitalism and tended to give established companies an enormous advantage over upstarts seemed to be ignored.

The latest target of this kind of idiocy is not democratic at all but semi-Communist China. Somehow the idea has developed that a country ruled by a government that can rule by decree without the give and take of any democratic process is better run than a free nation. Thomas Friedman has become notorious for his admiration of China’s system.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.

More recently we have had a statement by Jeffrey Immelt on how China is better run.

Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman and CEO of General Electric and Chairman of the White House Council on Jobs and Competitiveness was interviewed by Charlie Rose on Bloomberg Television Monday evening.  When asked about China, Immelt praised the Chinese and their centrally planned economy:

CHARLIE ROSE: China is changing. It may be being stabilized as we speak. What does that mean for China and what does it mean for the United States? Should it change expectations?

JEFF IMMELT: It is good for China. To a certain extent, Charlie, 11 percent is unsustainable. You end up getting too much stimulus or a misallocation of resources. They are much better off working on a more consumer-based economy, less dependent on exports. The one thing that actually works, state run communism a bit– may not be your cup of tea, but their government works.

No it doesn’t. No, China is not overtaking us, any more than the Germans, Japanese, or Russians were. No, China is not being run by a reasonably enlightened group of people. According to Freedom House, China rates a 6.5 out of 7 with 7 being least free. The Chinese government continues to censor the media and Internet and while restrictions on personal  expression are looser than in the past, China is far from being a haven of free speech., The government is very corrupt. While China has enjoyed phenomenal economic growth in the last two decades, the benefits of that growth have not been well distributed. Something like 30% of the population lives on less than $2 per day. Property rights are non-existent in China where the government owns all of the land and decides how it is to be used. Health and safety regulations for Chinese industry are either non-existent or unenforced.

Despite the central planning, or really because of it, resources tend to be misallocated. The most notorious example of this are the mysterious ghost towns of China, cities built for no apparent reason out in the middle of nowhere. I am sure there are many more examples.

I don’t imagine that any of these facts will change the minds of the authoritarian admirers. The reason such people admire authoritarianism is less because of any facts or examples of superior efficiency but because they like to imagine themselves as the elites telling everyone else what to do. In the end it is not about efficiency. It is about power.

The Conversation

The liberals have been demanding we have a conversation on the issue of gun control since the Newtown Connecticut shootings. I imagine that this conversation will be much like the conversation that Attorney General Eric Holder wanted to have about race, or the conversations about gay marriage, healthcare, or any of the other conversations liberals want to have. The liberal idea about what a conversation entails seems to be for the liberals, secure in their moral and intellectual superiority to the rest of us, telling us what to think and do, and the rest of us sitting still and listening. Anyone who disagrees is  a racist, sexist, homophobic bigoted hater. In the conversation about gun control, those who are against stricter gun control laws must like to see children mowed down by psychopaths.

But, if we are going to have a conversation about gun control, then let’s have a real conversation. We can use Glenn Reynold’s remarks yesterday as a starting point.

SO IF WE’RE GOING TO HAVE A “NATIONAL CONVERSATION ON GUNS,” HERE ARE SOME OPENERS:

Why do people who favor gun-control call people who disagree with them murderers or accomplices to murder? Is that constructive?

Would any of the various proposals have actually prevented the tragedy that is the supposed reason for them?

When you say you hope that this event will finally change the debate, do you really mean that you hope you can use emotionalism and blood-libel-bullying to get your way on political issues that were losers in the past?

If you’re a media member or politician, do you have armed security? Do you have a permit for a gun yourself? (I’m asking you Dianne Feinstein!) If so, what makes your life more valuable than other people’s?

Do you know the difference between an automatic weapon and a semi-automatic weapon? Do your public statements reflect that difference?

If guns cause murder, why have murder rates fallen as gun sales have skyrocketed?

Have you talked about “Fast and Furious?” Do you even know what it is? Do you care less when brown people die?

When you say that “we” need to change, how are you planning to change? Does your change involve any actual sacrifice on your part?

Let me know when you’re ready to talk about these things. We’ll have a conversation.

We can move on by discussing John Fund’s recent column at National Review Online, in which he mentions some facts about recent mass shootings that somehow are not being discussed in the mainstream media.

Mass shootings are no more common than they have been in past decades, despite the impression given by the media.

In fact, the high point for mass killings in the U.S. was 1929, according to criminologist Grant Duwe of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Incidents of mass murder in the U.S. declined from 42 in the 1990s to 26 in the first decade of this century.

The chances of being killed in a mass shooting are about what they are for being struck by lightning.

Until the Newtown horror, the three worst K–12 school shootings ever had taken place in either Britain or Germany.

Almost all of the public-policy discussion about Newtown has focused on a debate over the need for more gun control. In reality, gun control in a country that already has 200 million privately owned firearms is likely to do little to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals. We would be better off debating two taboo subjects — the laws that make it difficult to control people with mental illness and the growing body of evidence that “gun-free” zones, which ban the carrying of firearms by law-abiding individuals, don’t work.

First, the mental-health issue. A lengthy study by Mother Jones magazine found that at least 38 of the 61 mass shooters in the past three decades “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings.” New York Times columnist David Brooks and Cornell Law School professor William Jacobson have both suggested that the ACLU-inspired laws that make it so difficult to intervene and identify potentially dangerous people should be loosened. “Will we address mental-health and educational-privacy laws, which instill fear of legal liability for reporting potentially violent mentally ill people to law enforcement?” asks Professor Jacobson. “I doubt it.”

Gun-free zones have been the most popular response to previous mass killings. But many law-enforcement officials say they are actually counterproductive. “Guns are already banned in schools. That is why the shootings happen in schools. A school is a ‘helpless-victim zone,’” says Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff. “Preventing any adult at a school from having access to a firearm eliminates any chance the killer can be stopped in time to prevent a rampage,” Jim Kouri, the public-information officer of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, told me earlier this year at the time of the Aurora, Colo., Batman-movie shooting. Indeed, there have been many instances — from the high-school shooting by Luke Woodham in Mississippi, to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs, Colo. — where a killer has been stopped after someone got a gun from a parked car or elsewhere and confronted the shooter.

Economists John Lott and William Landes conducted a groundbreaking study in 1999, and found that a common theme of mass shootings is that they occur in places where guns are banned and killers know everyone will be unarmed, such as shopping malls and schools.

I spoke with Lott after the Newtown shooting, and he confirmed that nothing has changed to alter his findings. He noted that the Aurora shooter, who killed twelve people earlier this year, had a choice of seven movie theaters that were showing the Batman movie he was obsessed with. All were within a 20-minute drive of his home. The Cinemark Theater the killer ultimately chose wasn’t the closest, but it was the only one that posted signs saying it banned concealed handguns carried by law-abiding individuals. All of the other theaters allowed the approximately 4 percent of Colorado adults who have a concealed-handgun permit to enter with their weapons.

Now that we have dismissed the policies that will not work, like disarming the potential victims of crime and putting up signs that criminals will simply ignore, we can begin to have a conversation about what will work. I am looking forward to that conversation