Five Killed in Shooting at Ft. Lauderdale Airport, Where Guns Are Prohibited

Five have been killed and eight injured in a shooting today at the Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida, a state with relatively restrictive firearms laws.

At 1:00pm local time, a gunman in his 20s wearing a Star Wars shirt opened fire in Terminal 2, killing five and injuring eight more. He is currently in police custody and, according to Sheriff Scott Israel, he was apprehended without any additional shots fired.

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More Murdered in Chicago in 2016 Than Live in 33 Smallest NH Towns

More people have been murdered in Chicago in 2016 than live in the New Hampshire’s smallest 33 towns.

According to Chicago PD, 762 murders occurred in the city last year, from among 4,331 victims of shootings. This number more than doubles the reported murder total of New York City, a city several times the population size. According to Chicago PD’s superintendent Eddie Johnson, while no one cause can be cited for the high number of deaths, increased gang activity and boldness shares a large portion of the blame. [Read more…]

Gun Rights Won

gun owners

It might seem to early to know for sure, but I’m calling it: gun ownership rights have won in America.

Now, I’m not saying that the struggle is over. No, there are still many battles yet to come, and there will be ups and downs in the conflict. But make no mistake: the war has been won.

Those of you who aren’t so convinced might point to recent examples such as New York and Massachusetts, where various forms of regulations have prevailed and even become stronger. Exceptions always exist to a rule, however, and such occurrences isolated to traditional big-government stronghold areas do nothing to slow the greater trend towards firearms ownership freedom. A few cases in particular really illustrate the trend:

The assault weapons ban failed. Lest we forget, during the Clinton years there was a ban on so-called “assault weapons” in place that has since expired. For the last five years the U.S. government has been under pretty solid Democratic Party control. During this time, a recent spate of highly-visible school shootings occurred, culminating in the Sandy Hook tragedy, a veritable perfect storm for would-be gun-grabbers. With a sympathetic media and a ready gun control plan years in the making, it should have been like taking candy from a baby. As it turns out, this was one fierce and obstinate metaphorical baby.

Gun rights have won at the state level in big ways. Arizona, traditionally a very pro-gun state, took its reputation a step further in 2010 by implementing permitless concealed carry, meaning a citizen can now carry a concealed firearm without obtaining any permit whatsoever. The Grand Canyon State is also the site of the assassination attempt on famous gun-control advocate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who post-Sandy Hook and the attempt on her own life has been leading the charge for stricter gun regulations. Unsuccessfully so. Arizona holds firm, and Ohio, our second prime example, has just recently allowed concealed carry in certain school districts, formerly the hallowed strongholds of so-called “gun-free zones.”

The internet-fueled public opinion war went to the gun owners This is a brave new age of heretofore-unfathomable information flow. Media, public officials, and certain experts used to be the gatekeepers of the debate surrounding major issues. Now, thanks to social media, everyone from hardworking businessmen to full-time moms can participate in the discussion with a few clicks. Faced with a national (and global) discussion completely outside of their control, the foes of firearm rights fell short.

The war is far from over, and at this point it could easily go either way; but I’m still calling it. Firearm ownership rights’ biggest challenge completely failed, even backfired. The decentralizing power of the internet was simply too strong. How about the rest of the world? I can’t say. However, seeing how the information age has allowed this conflict to turn out so far, and knowing the borderless nature of the internet, it probably won’t be too long before the rest of the developed world follows suit.

It may still be early in the battle over the private right to own a firearm, but not too early to see the handwriting on the wall. It’s time to face it: gun rights won.

Weapons of Mass Competition

standoff

Who thinks firearms need to be regulated in order to prevent the wrong people from using them to murder innocents? Show of hands?

Well you’re wrong! Gun regulations do nothing to prevent the murder of innocents and do everything to consolidate power for a select few. They’re all about winning the arms race, about eliminating competition and securing a monopoly on the use of force. Here’s how:

Restricting guns does nothing to keep innocent people from being killed. Not to scare anyone, but it’s shockingly easy to find ways of killing people. Kitchen knives, heavy dictionaries, that bust of Martin van Buren that your mom keeps on the shelf, whatever’s on hand. Just use your creativity and you can find a cheap, easy, efficient solution for murder. More efficient than a firearm, in fact. If someone comes into a coffee shop with a .38 special revolver, they can take out at most five people before having to either reload or use it as a terribly-inefficient blunt weapon. A quick trip to the Home Depot, on the other hand, and they can weild a sledgehammer or a pair of machetes and make quick work of the whole establishment. A chemistry set and an imagination and it becomes even easier. Guns weren’t designed to mow down civillians. They were designed to win battles. There’s a crucial difference there.

Restricting guns makes it harder to fight those who have them. What gun control does do, however, is make it so much more difficult to defeat those who have them. Remember that bizarre, twisted coffee shop example I used earlier with the machetes? Now imagine one of the unsuspecting patrons is packing the previously-mentioned inefficient .38 special. Those five shots and a safe distance are all he needs to stop the machete maniac right in his tracks. Restricting guns makes it so that those who have them win, and those who don’t end up losing hard. Any firearms restrictions, therefore, don’t prevent murder, but rather tip the balance of power in a conflict towards the unrestricted group.

We’re not talking about restricting guns, just who gets them. When deliberating firearms restrictions, to whom are we bequeathing the important task of implementing these restrictions? Government. Who gets to decide exactly who can and can’t possess firearms? Government. Who always, always, gets to keep their guns? Government. Who already uses their guns, or the eventual implicit threat of their use, to carry out any and every activity? Government. Are we starting to see a pattern yet?

If we really cared about public safety we would want more guns in the hands of the people, not less. We would want as many citizens as possible to be armed and trained, so as to be able to instantly respond when a psycho jumps on his riding mower and heads for the nearest preschool. But it’s not about public safety. It’s about government job security. It’s about being able to poorly serve the people and yet still stay in power, through ingeniously maintaining that precious monopoly on the use of force.

So, you free, peaceful, independent people, to you I say this: keep your guns. Buy more. Resist all efforts to take them away from you. Why? Because you’re in a Mexican standoff with the government right now. All they’re waiting for is for you to give just enough ground for them to sieze the advantage. Then they will crush you without any hesitation.

Photo credit: Martin SoulStealer

Beyond The Iron Sights

gun

It has been recently brought to my attention that a myth regarding my current country of residence, Switzerland, has been on the rise as of late; namely that it is an exemplary paradise of a country where gun ownership is abundant and yet gun crime rates are low.

Now, as flattering as the accolade may be, it’s a bit of a narrow-sighted and incomplete presentation of the reality. Switzerland’s crime rate may be relatively low, but it’s also at an all time high, and has been rising for the past three years. To the point where Geneva, my hometown, has become the most dangerous city in the country, and arguably one of the most dangerous in Europe.

In 2011, the crime rates rose by 6%; more specifically +16% theft and robbery, +4% carjacking, +281% data theft, +20% cyber fraud, and +9% brigandry. More specifically regarding theft in my city: +17% for break-ins, +29% for robbery, +43% pickpocketing, +45% carjacking, +28% hit and run robbery. To this, add the 51% increase in the use of knives or cutting weapons in robbery cases.

Enough statistics though, let’s talk reality. As a resident of the rather respected and prestigious city of Geneva for the past 15 years, I can state with authority that it’s no longer as safe as one would think. In the past 8 years alone, my apartment has been broken into twice, my building has been broken into at least half a dozen times that I’m aware of, I’ve been pickpocketed twice that I know of, I’ve been accosted by violent individuals a handful of times, I’ve been assaulted with an improvised and sharp weapon (from whence the scar on my left eye), and I’ve found myself having to duck for cover at the sound of a gunshot just outside my favorite club. Add to this the high rates of unwarranted murders, hate crimes, vandalism and embezzlement, and even semi-confirmed rumors of amateur bounty hunters and hired guns, and you have a rather rough city indeed. As for sexual delinquency, I personally know four girls who have been sexually assaulted in this city in the past 3 years, and those are the brave few who are willing to say so.

Now let’s zero in on gun control and gun safety. Let me cite a couple of recent cases for you: 2nd of January 2013: a man of 33 murders three women and wounds two men in the hamlet of Daillon in Valais. 15th of December 2012: at least four delinquents hold up a jewelry store in Neuchatel armed with an assault rifle. 14th of April 2012: an man in St. Galen opens fire with his service rifle on his neighbor from across the hall following a verbal dispute. 7th of September 2012: a gas station is held up with a pump action shotgun. 2001: a crazed gunman breaks into the Parliament building in Zug and kills 14. 2006: former ski champion Corinne Rey-Bellet and her brother are murdered by her husband. 2009: a soldier murders a teenaged girl at a bus stop using his assault rifle. And I recall an incident in 2008 where a barmaid was killed by a drunk and violent customer who pulled out his service pistol on her (i.e. this was no regular rank and file soldier or Sergeant, but an upper rank NCO or even Officer).

Those who present Switzerland as a shining example of why having more guns around makes for a safer country are missing the point entirely. Having guns more or less available has relatively little to no impact on the crime rates, whether gun related or not. Even if guns weren’t readily available, the black market is easily capable of filling that gap in, both for the criminals and the victims who want to defend themselves. Teaching gun control and safety, even at a school level (as many seem to mistakenly believe is done in Switzerland), can only go so far.

The real solution to gun crime is a more deep seated one: it’s to teach people the value of the lives of their fellow men. That is what the Swiss army is all about. It’s not about running around playing commando with our guns and pretending we’re GI Joes; It’s about bringing the people from the various regions, cultures, and languages together, teaching them that life is tough and that if they’re to survive, they need to rely on each other and learn to trust and support each other. The Swiss army teaches solidarity, pride in our collective identity, and camaraderie first and foremost; and this teaches people to respect and value the lives of their fellow men. After all, for all they know, when the chips are down, that person sitting across the tram or next to them on the park bench may very well stand beside them on the battlefield one day. Still, people here are about as thick as in any other country, and sometimes these deep and meaningful lessons just don’t sink in. There’s sadly little anyone can do about that other than arrest them when they fly off the handle, and provide damage control in the wake of their stupidity.

That’s not to say it’s not worth the effort though, on the contrary! It’s not more guns we need, but rather more people willing to take the initiative to protect their comrades. We don’t need more warriors, but rather more heroes who know the value of life and are willing to defend it, and use guns in a cautious, respectful, and socially responsible manner.

Alon Starkman is a contributor to The Desert Lynx

Photo credit: Jeffrey Fairchild

Disarmament in the Information Age

gun sculpture

The stars aligned. A mass shooting in a movie theater in Colorado still very fresh in people’s minds, the horrific massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut was the deal-sealing tragedy to usher in a new era of gun control. They had been waiting for a moment like this.

It was the perfect storm of a gun-grab… but it failed. President Obama has admitted to a group of San Francisco donors that he has lost confidence in his ability to get passed any gun control measures of significance. Why? How could such a perfectly-orchestrated effort fall flat? The answer: the information age.

In the weeks following the massacre, the mainstream media reported one major myth regarding the incident: a “military-style assault rifle,” such as an AR-15, was used. Critical analysis quickly uncovered, and spread far and wide across the internet, that not only was an assault rifle not used in the actual killings, but one might not even have been present at all. That proved Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban to be completely irrelevant to preventing a similar massacre, dooming it from the start.

Next, thanks once more to the internet, information regarding gun violence in America was able to travel around the mainstream media’s filter rather than through it. This illuminated the abject failure of gun restrictions to cause a reduction in violence in places like England, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. itself. Once gun control’s abysmal track record on stopping violence came to light far and wide, the narrative of saving lives simply fell apart.

Finally, the moral case for gun rights, often reserved to the hearts and minds of patriotic Americans, was allowed online public exposure. A photo of Rosa Parks with the tagline “I don’t ‘need’ an AR more than Rosa Parks ‘needed’ to sit in the front of that bus” spread like a virus via Facebook, effectively setting in stone the message that We The People have the right to exercise whatever peaceful behavior we so desire without having to justify it to the government.

Times have changed. Any other decade and this would have been an open-and-shut case of national disarmament. This time, however, they underestimated the power of a free people standing up for their rights. And, most of all, they underestimated the unregulated power of the internet. Next time they try to take away a precious Constitutional right through manipulation and deception they’re going to have to try a little harder than that.

Joel Valenzuela is the editor of The Desert Lynx