Revisiting the Four Rules

We not even going to discuss all four, just the first two.

The reason I am bringing this up is this news article. A father and son had found a muzzle loading rifle in a trash bin. There aren’t a lot of details, but apparently they were trying to disassemble it and the barrel plug was seized or rusted in. They tried heat, and cooked off the powder behind the loaded round that they had not considered. The 28 year old son was standing in front the barrel at the time and was killed.

I feel for the father, he has lost his son. Nothing else that ever happens to him will match the pain and horror of watching his son die. If he, or anyone that knows them reads this, I can only offer my sympathy for his loss. But physics has no mercy. Those four rules are the result of hard earned wisdom. This incident is only unusual because of the type of firearm and the situation that lead to it’s discharge.

A muzzleloader can be loaded for decades, there’s no way to know by looking at it. The normal procedure for discharging a round is not well know any more, even to many people familiar with other firearms. Still, sliding a cleaning rod into the barrel and marking it’s length would have alerted them that there was something in the barrel. There are ways to extract a projectile from a muzzleloader, old tools designed for just that eventuality.

So, they didn’t know, they assumed, and paid the full price. Don’t let it happen to you. Always assume every gun is loaded, check the chamber, check it every time the gun is picked up. Assume somewhere out there is the evil gun gremlin that loads the gun when your back is turned. When you pick up a gun, check it. If you don’t know how, ask. If someone else picks up a gun, ensure they check the chamber. Then after you check it, after you all know for certain it is unloaded, still don’t point it at anything that you wouldn’t be willing to have a hole in. Point it at the ground, or a brick wall, or the berm down range. If you’re working on the gun, and it’s chucked in a vise, point the barrel at a sure backstop and don’t walk in front of it.


1. All guns are always loaded.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction at all times: on the range, at home, loading, or unloading.

–Col. Jeff Cooper


Crushing regulations and taxation

Government, any government, creates laws and levies taxes. To the extent that this is done to protect citizens, provide essential services and support the national defense, it can be effective.

However, sometimes the level of taxes and regulations become overwhelming. When that occurs, some businesses opt out of selling that product or providing that service. The remaining businesses pass the extra cost of complying directly to the consumer.

When taxation becomes overwhelming, businesses fail. Every tax on business is transferred to the consumer, there is no other way a business can continue to operate. If the increased cost slows sales below the profit margin, businesses that were just surviving fail.

Other taxes are directly levied on the consumer, sales tax, “sin taxes” on items like beer and cigarettes”, road use taxes on fuel. The unseen, but cumulative effect on the price of everything slows the economy.

So, if I’m selling yachts, and the government decides to levy a luxury tax in addition to the other taxes, I have to still compete with yacht makers in other countries that don’t have that tax. This was tried in 1991 when Congress levied a 10 percent tax on cars valued above $30,000 and boats above $100,000. There was a 77% drop in sales of yachts the first year. The tax was repealed in 1993, but the damage to the boat building industry lasted for several years.

I bring this up because of this interesting article in the Pasadena Star-News. There will be a government mandate in California to install equipment on gasoline pumps to capture fumes and prevent the pollution caused when people are filling their tanks. Many owners of smaller stations are planning to, or already have, quit selling gasoline altogether.

This new regulation may be useful and a public good, that is not the point of my comments here. I am considering the consequences of the regulations. In this case, the interviewed businessman is choosing to cease sales, as this one new extra requirement, on top of all the other regulations, takes effect. If hundreds of others join him, will that create pressure on the remaining businesses, leading to gas lines? Will some businesses lay off workers they no longer need?

Not so long ago people could start a business if they could buy or rent space and set up equipment. If you did that now, you would end up in court, paying fines and risking jail because you didn’t have the proper permits.

Think about opening a service station. You are going to sell gas, diesel and kerosene. Your service mechanics are going to do maintenance, changing oil, repairing brakes, doing tune-ups. You have a lot of things to consider, how many employees, how large a building, how many pumps (and underground tanks), what sort of work documentation, how are you tracking employee hours and pay, location, work rates, suppliers, and so on.

Now, for better or worse, added to that, you have many environmental laws and regulations (what are you going to do with old oil, tires, batteries, how will you respond to a gas spill?),labor laws, OSHA regs, the possibility of lawsuits by employees or customers, and always, at every level, taxes and the documentation you have to do pay your taxes and defend yourself if audited. The added work, cost, and complexity must be factored into the cost of the business, and passed on to the customer.

It may be that we have reached a tipping point in all of this, and the crushing weight of regulation and taxes is finally taking it’s inevitable toll on the economy. If so, every move the government makes will just make things worse.

Government “help” to business is just as disastrous as government persecution… the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.
–Ayn Rand

The effect of gun control

Read about the effects of gun control with the story of this Robbery in Britain. Here’s a bit of the article:

The incident happened on Monday as Mr Robinson left the pub in Clifton where he lives with his wife Donna, 35, and two children, aged six and four. As the landlord sat in his car the passenger door was opened and a man began to repeatedly punch him in the face. Mr Robinson said: ‘The driver’s door then opened and another was screaming at me to hand over the money. ‘I managed to push the door into him and tried to run back to the pub. But they ran over me in the car. My leg was shattered. I couldn’t get up and they stamped on my head. ‘At that point I blacked out and they took the cash from my pocket. The last thing I remember was their car screeching away.’

Wonderful. The honest shopowner is completely disarmed. The criminals now run in packs, using the strength of numbers and brute force to commit crime.

That’s the face of a victim of gun control. Remember it when Nancy Pelosi & Co. start talking about making us all safer by disarming us.

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms…disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes…Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.
–Thomas Jefferson

What ties Iran to Gaza?

The US Navy is intercepting shipping, so something is going on. Here’s a link and part of the news report.
US Navy to fight arms smuggling from Iran

An American naval taskforce in the Gulf of Aden has been ordered to hunt for suspicious Iranian arms ships heading for the Red Sea in a bid to deliver weapons to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, the British Times newspaper reported Sunday, quoting US diplomatic sources….According to the Times report, a document circulated to Israeli ministers by Military Intelligence last week suggested that despite the bombardment, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is well advanced with a huge program of arms resupply for Gaza. According to the document, the Iranians are attempting to smuggle munitions from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, where the arms shipments are loaded onto commercial vessels.

Why would Iran send weapons to rearm Hamas in Gaza? What possible connection could these countries have that would cause Iran to risk war with Israel just send rockets and other war material to the Gaza strip?

Israel is a disgraceful stain on the Islamic world.
–Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Whose rights?

It was an understanding of the Founders, based on the ideas and philosophies of the Enlightenment, that individuals had rights. Not groups, organizations, or governments. If someone is talking about the “rights of African Americans” or the “rights of the Gay Community”, they have missed the point of rights completely.

You have rights, I have them, every random stranger you meet has them. If we are talking about the rights of an individual that happens to belong to some group, any group, they have rights. So a person who happens to be gay, or Hispanic, or Wiccan, or a member of the American Nazi Party, or all of the above, has the exact same set of personal rights as any other.

The government has no rights. It has power and responsibilities.

Organizations don’t have rights. Individuals have the right of free assembly and free association, so organizations that they may choose to belong to are protected in that way.

Groups don’t have rights, although individual rights have been violated in various ways because of groups or categories that those individuals belong to. People may even band to together and form organizations that strive to protect the individual rights of their members.

This distinction is an important one because the War on Drugs, and the War on Terror, and several other initiatives of the last few decades have pressed in on the freedoms and rights of all of us.

The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to “create” rights. Rather, they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting.
— Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, 1982