Friday, May 22, 2015


I have nothing to add.  Because there is nothing to add.  It's perfect.

Why murderers should be allowed to own guns

Heard a discussion on the radio a few weeks ago about restrictions on the Second Amendment.  A caller was arguing that the government had no business restricting the right of the people to keep and bear arms and the host asked about murderers.  Should they be allowed to own guns?  The caller hedged, the host (a fairly strong second amendment supporter) pushed, and the caller eventually went away.  So I thought I'd make the case for murderers being allowed to own guns.

First of all, why does it matter?  What is at stake and why would I even take a controversial position like this?  Well, I don't think we should have a background check to purchase a firearm.  I believe that it is a violation of my rights in a couple way.  One is that the government has to maintain a file on me in order to have a background check, two a background check creates a record (and therefore defacto registration of my firearms, and three, you shouldn't have to be checked to exercise a Constitutional right.  No one has ever suggested, to my knowledge, that a background check should be required to exercise Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Religion, Freedom to Peaceably Assemble, and all the rest.  The Second Amendment is unique in that is has become acceptable to require a government document to exercise.  I would like to see background checks eliminated completely.  Delete the files that the government is holding, eliminate the requirement that you be checked out before buying a gun, period.

"But Heresolong", you cry, "what about all the criminals that would be able to buy guns?"

"What about them?", I say "Why shouldn't they be able to buy guns?"

"Well, they are dangerous criminals"

"Then why are they out of prison?

"Because they served their time"

"So they aren't dangerous anymore"

"Yes, they are"

"Then why are they out of prison?"

Do you see the problem with the argument?  If they are a danger to society they can be dangerous with a lead pipe, they can be dangerous with a candlestick, they can be dangerous with a knife, and they can be dangerous with a gun.  If they are truly a threat, then they shouldn't be let out of prison to begin with.  By letting them out of prison we are saying that we believe that they are no longer dangerous.  Otherwise we are engaging in a suicide pact.  We are letting people out of prison KNOWING that they are going to kill or otherwise harm one or more of us.  Why would we let them out under those circumstances?

You can't have it both ways.  Either they are dangerous and should be kept behind bars, or they aren't and there is no reason they shouldn't be able to buy a gun like any other citizen.

Eliminate a government bureaucracy, eliminate an un-Constitutional restriction on our right to keep and bear arms, eliminate a gun registration system that provides the government with the means to confiscate firearms, and delete a government dossier that could be used for other purposes.  It's a win-win situation unless you believe that the government is releasing people from prison who could snap at any moment and murder you and your loved ones.  That, however, might be a problem looking for a different solution.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Positive train control and Congressional dysfunction

Interesting article here from the WSJ about Congressional requirement for positive train control and what happens when Congress legislates technological fixes to perceived problems.

In a nutshell, Congress passed a law in 2008 that high traffic railroad lines had to have a Positive Train Control (PTC) system installed by this year.  Unfortunately the mandate didn't allow much leeway in how this goal would be accomplished.  From what I have read, the railroads weren't allowed to just use a computerized system and GPS but had to have transponders on trains, which of course required antennae along tracks.  Years of arguing with the FCC over frequencies and transmission rates, along with the expense of installing all those antennas kept a decent system from being installed.

Congress never learns.  If you mandate a specific technology rather than a specific outcome, you get an inefficient, backwards looking, expensive result.  Often these mandates are the result of someone (the company or person who stands to benefit the most from the specific technology requirement?) lobbying Congress.

(Aside: We have a requirement here in Washington state that our state ferries be built by a Washington company.  Only problem, there is only one Washington company building ferries.  Wonder who pushed for that law?)

Perhaps it is time for Congress to back off and pass more general requirements that allow for the inventive use of existing and new technology to solve problems.  Unleash the private sector.

PS In spite of all the political spin about the Amtrak crash, the operator was going 107 miles per hour in a 50 zone.  Anyone who thinks that changing the limit at that curve to 45 is going to stop the next crash is delusional.

NOTE: WSJ is subscription only so I just linked to a summary from NCPA.