Hex Signs

Here are some hex signs used by the Pennsylvania Dutch.

The Pennsylvania Dutch used to put these hex signs on the sides of their barns, supposedly to ward off bad luck or evil spirits. Many folklore experts now believe that they were just used for decoration although the symbols might have some magical meaning. Whatever the case, putting up a sign with a geometric design to keep away evil seems to be a silly superstition.

Here are some more signs that people put up to ward off evil.

These work about as well as the hex signs, which is to say, not at all. The idea seems to be that a criminal or madman intent on mayhem will see such a sign and turn away in frustration because the sign prohibits him from carrying his guns any further. I can’t imagine anyone is simple minded enough to believe this. Either such signs are a triumph of magical thinking over reality or they are meant to ward off a particularly vicious species of goblin known as the lawyer.

I hadn’t intended to write anything about the recent school shooting in Connecticut, but the sight of politicians such as Mayor Bloomberg taking advantage of the atrocity to demand stricter gun control laws prompted me to say something regarding gun control. The simple fact is that most proposed gun control laws are based on the same type of magical thinking as those signs above. The idea seems to be that if we pass strict enough legislation, all the guns will magically disappear, and everyone will live happily and peacefully ever after. That is not going to happen

Put aside all the debates about the Second Amendment and whether citizens have the right to own guns. Put aside the observation that criminals tend not to obey the law and will find ways to obtain guns no matter what the law is. Put aside also the question whether disarming law-abiding citizens and leaving them at the mercy of the criminals will really make anyone safer. The simple fact of the matter is that there are between 200 and 300 million privately owned guns in the United States. These guns are not just going to go away. Criminals will certainly not turn their guns is, and neither will many law-biding citizens. This will have the effect of turning many of these law-abiding citizens into criminals if they continue to possess firearms that are made illegal. Look up Prohibition sometime to see how a policy that turns honest people into criminals works out.

Of course, no one is talking about making possession of guns illegal, at least not yet, but any policy short of mass confiscation is not likely to take the guns out of the hands of the bad guys. Registering guns, stricter laws against felons or the mentally ill possessing guns and the like are good ideas for a start, but they will not prevent the felons, etc from simply stealing or illegally obtaining guns.

So what can we do to prevent another tragedy like the one that occurred yesterday? The truth is, not much. That is not what people want to hear, but it is the truth. No matter what precautions we take, things like this are going to happen. Maybe we could do a better job spotting the crazy people before they commit such acts. Maybe we should rethink the idea of committing mentally ill people who are a danger to themselves or others to hospitals where they can get the treatment they need. Maybe gun owners and dealers should be more responsible about keeping their guns secure. I just don’t know.


Arms Trade Fact Check


I read this fact check article in the AP concerning the controversial Arms Trade Treaty. It would seem that we have nothing to worry about. If the US signs this treaty, it absolutely will not be used to enact gun control here.

Negotiators at the United Nations are working to put final touches on a treaty cracking down on the global, $60 billion business of illicit trading in small arms, a move aimed at curbing violence in some of the most troubled corners of the world. In the United States, gun activists denounce it as an end run around their constitutional right to bear arms.

“Without apology, the NRA wants no part of any treaty that infringes on the precious right of lawful Americans to keep and bear arms,” National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told the U.N. this month. “Any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA’s greatest force of opposition.”


The Constitution’s Second Amendment offers broad protection for weapons ownership by civilians. As recently as 2008, the Supreme Court affirmed this when it struck down a ban on handguns in the District of Columbia, ruling that individuals have a constitutional right to keep guns for self-defense and other purposes. Period.

The court also has ruled separately that treaty obligations may not infringe on individual constitutional protections and rights within U.S. borders. This goes back at least to a 1920 ruling that a migratory bird treaty with Canada, which prohibited the hunting or capturing of certain birds, was an unconstitutional interference with states’ rights under the 10th Amendment.

Treaties are government-to-government agreements and do not subject citizens of one nation to laws of another or to those of an outside body.

Also, the U.N. resolution that authorized drafting of the small arms treaty recognizes the clear-cut right of nations “to regulate internal transfers of arms” and says nothing in the treaty that emerges will affect “constitutional protections on private ownership” of firearms.

Beyond that, there are many court rulings spelling out the limits of treaties. And if an act of Congress is inconsistent with a treaty obligation, the law passed by Congress prevails. Legal scholars say this has been well-established, including a long history of cases involving Indian treaties. Various international treaties with Indian tribes were abrogated by Congress – and courts ruled in favor of Congress, much to the displeasure of the tribes.

They are right, in that no treaty can override any law enacted by Congress and still less the constitution.  Somehow, given the Obama administration’s penchant for simply ignoring the law and the constitution, I feel less than reassured, especially when some Supreme Court Justices believe that foreign laws may be used to establish precedents here.


I actually have not paid very much attention to this issue and I can’t comment very much on it. I suspect that the fears of the NRA and others may be exaggerated. I have a feeling, though, that this treaty will be as effective at reducing the international trade in small arms as the Kellog-Briand treaty was in outlawing war.



Gun Sanity

There has been a terrible tragedy in Ohio. A young man went to Chardin High School and started shooting at the students. Three were killed and another two have been hospitalized.

Naturally, the Left has lost no time in exploiting this crime in order to push gun control, as witness this editorial in the Louisville Courier-Journal. This editorial, which they titled “Gun Insanity” is shameless and more than a little dishonest.I’ll give a few excerpts.

The shootings Monday at a suburban Cleveland high school that have now claimed three students’ lives will evoke widespread grief and horror, as they should. They will produce a search for motives and explanations, and there are already hypotheses regarding the teen-age shooter involving bullying, isolation and undetected personal problems. There will be discussion of the role of parenting and social media in such tragedies.What one can be absolutely certain of in today’s America, however, is that no serious political or public pressure will be brought to bear on the national madness that makes such slaughters not only possible but inevitable: an addiction to guns that is so sweeping that it all but prevents limiting access to firearms even by the millions of disturbed American adults and adolescents.

In a world that often emulates the United States, the American obsession with guns, and its Second Amendment that has been twisted to justify nearly unfettered private ownership of even the most powerful military and police firearms, is rejected by every advanced nation — and with good reason. In the January 2011 edition of the Journal of Trauma, researchers compared gun death rates in 23 advanced nations and found that the American numbers were by far the worst.The report noted: “Among these 23 countries, 80 percent of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States, 86 percent of women killed by firearms were U.S. women, and 87 percent of children [up to the age of] 14 killed by firearms were U.S. children.”

The Second Amendment has been twisted? Here is that amendment in its entirety.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

I don’t see how anyone would get the idea that the Second Amendment allows gun ownership, except that it is stated in plain English. The only people doing the twisting are activist judges who state the amendment means the precise opposite of its actual words.

Now, as to the level of gun deaths in the United States. I agree that too many people are murdered in this country. I wonder though, if the editors of the Courier-Journal have bothered to examine the evidence that the increasing number of states with concealed carry laws have been associated with lower crime rates, and see this chart. They might have noticed that the jurisdictions with the strictest gun control laws have the highest crime rates. They might also have observed that since Britain all but banned private ownership of firearms, the crime rate there has been exploding.

The editorial does end on a high note, at least to me.

No matter. There is no political will even to ban assault rifles and rapid-fire guns. Proposals to register guns, just like cars, don’t even get a hearing. States’ rights advocates perversely insist that local and state gun-control laws be superseded by higher authority.

Thank goodness. This, like so many other issues today, is a freedom issue.



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