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Why are there more guns in America than people?

in Ask Dr. Ruwart, Gun Rights, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Mary Ruwart Comments are off

Why are there more guns in America than people?

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Question:

A friend asked me this question: “Why are there more guns than people?”

I have a hunch that this isn’t true. I wonder if such statistics are skewed to give support to an anti-gun position? What is your answer?

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Answer:

I’m not sure whether this is true or not, either. If it is, it may be because so many gun owners have more than one firearm.

Your questioner is really saying: “Something is wrong with our society because we have so many weapons.” However, the best research suggests “More Guns, Less Crime” (see John Lott Jr.’s book with that title). Even deranged shooters that fire into crowds are deterred by laws permitting law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons. Rapists and burglars stay away from areas where women are publicly trained in firearms.

Once acquainted with such data, your friend may not feel that more guns are problematic.

Cody Wilson Develops New Metal Ghost Gun, Defying Regulators

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

 Cody Wilson Develops New Metal Ghost Gun, Defying Regulators

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Cody Wilson, the heroic designer of the world’s first 3-D printed gun, has now created something that will surely defy any and all existing gun legislations: An entirely untraceable metal handgun.

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While the federal government has yet to pass a legislation against homemade firearms without serial numbers, otherwise known as ghost guns, the state of California has already passed legislation outlawing these firearms.

According to Wilson’s gun rights advocacy group, Defense Distributed, the new software designed to be used with the group’s ghost gun machine gives anybody the ability to carve out the untraceable bodies of AR-15s from unfinished pieces of aluminum. The software also allows for the production of M1911 handguns, giving anybody the chance of owning an untraceable gun.

In the near future, Wilson said, his group will be following up with software that produces Glocks — all regulation-free.

By giving individuals the ability to produce their own guns, Wilson gives them the freedom to defend themselves without having to ask government for permission.

But in times of major lethal attack, the fearmongering rhetoric spewed by politicians on both sides of the isle ignites major political and popular campaigns that call for more restrictions on gun ownership.

With access to technology like the one being made available by Wilson, Americans everywhere won’t have to fear what legislators will come up with next — and that’s what a market response looks like.

When government officials tell us that only bureaucrats have the answer to our questions and we go along with it, we are at their mercy, incapable of answering for ourselves. Whether you agree with what Wilson does or not, you must admit that he has given individuals a way out, just like competitors do the same in an open market by offering better, more efficient, and more convenient products by taking into consideration the consumer’s needs.

When looking into what we prefer, a world overly regulated by bureaucrats who function by restricting and raising roadblocks or a free market where individuals and companies work to serve one another in a better way every day, it’s clear that the latter option will always produce better results.

Gov’t Allows National Guard To Confiscate Locals’ Guns In Light Of Irma

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Alice Salles Comments are off

Gov’t Allows National Guard To Confiscate Locals’ Guns In Light Of Irma


This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Following the destruction and horror caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas, government officials and locals started bracing for the potential destruction that Hurricane Irma is about to bring the southeast coast. But in at least one place in particular, government officials seem to be using the hurricane as an excuse to expand the U.S. civil asset forfeiture powers.

Irma In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Gov. Kenneth Mapp gave the National Guard the OK to confiscate locals’ guns, ammunitions, explosives, and any other material that is seen as needed to respond to Irma. This move shocked conservatives nationwide. Now, many are asking since when does the seizure of private property give response teams advantages in fighting a national disaster?

If anything, those who own weapons and ammunition would feel less safe if the government were to take them away from them, especially in light of reports involving house break-ins and violence in Texas following Harvey.

Unfortunately, the practice of giving law enforcement the power to seize private property has now become so common, with one of its most staunch defenders of civil asset forfeiture serving as President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, that when this report hit the news few mainstream, left-leaning news organizations bothered to cover it.

Still, civil asset forfeiture-related practices should concern any American, regardless of political affiliations, as such actions are nothing but transfers of wealth from citizens to governments. And unlike what is going on now in the U.S. Virgin Islands, civil asset forfeiture doesn’t only hurt pro-gun rights advocates who are rightly upset at this order. The practice hurts the poor, minorities, and even students who dare to own any property.

As countless people see their money or their cars being taken away without being able to fight in court due to the prohibitive costs of such legal cases, we see few civil rights activists worried about criticizing the government now for allowing the use of a natural disaster to confiscate private property. Perhaps, that’s because many believe that guns and ammunition shouldn’t be seen as prized personal possessions, especially if they are owned by the civil population.

After all, what good could such personal items do in case something like what happened in 2005 in New Orleans happened now or if houses in the U.S. Virgin Islands were attacked like houses in Texas were? One can only wonder.

More Love

in Liberator Online by Brett Bittner Comments are off

More Love

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

When we woke up yesterday, the breaking news was about a senseless tragedy that took place overnight in Orlando at Pulse nightclub.

That tragedy took 49 of our families and loved ones.

moreloveAs is often the case, without full information, those seeking to politicize the great suffering caused by the event jumped in with both feet. Whether the issue is terrorism, guns, Muslims, the LGBT community, or immigration, those seeking to promote their agenda took to social media, news interviews, and any avenue they could find to spread the word.

As we noted on Facebook, our first priority is to grieve for the loss of life. Full stop.

There are 49 families who just lost their son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, or cousin. There are 49 families who are laying someone they love to rest. There are 49 families who will never be the same.

For the rest of us, the stunned feeling still shakes us, as we learn more about the victims, the perpetrator, and the actions that took place there. We need time to process what happened. We need time to have a full picture of what occurred.

Rather than make assumptions, based on the little bit of information that’s publicly available, let us save our voices for love. Let US share it to our families. Let US share it to our neighbors. Let US share it with our friends. Let US reach out to those affected by the tragic events in Orlando. Let US give blood. Let US be the example of how we should respond.

One of my favorite things about libertarians is how much we have to offer in times of struggle, and how much we help those in need.

Let US do that.

When the grieving wanes, we can have a conversation about what should happen.

But first, let US love.

As Gun Buying Rates Shoot Up, Gun Haters Forget We’re Not All Bitter, Old, White Men

in Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Advocates HQ Comments are off

As Gun Buying Rates Shoot Up, Gun Haters Forget We’re Not All Bitter, Old, White Men

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

The employment rate may be dropping, but the gun sales rate is pretty darn high.

According to reports produced by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), its officials completed a record 1,870,000 background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in May alone. That’s a major hike, especially when compared to last year’s May checks, which added up to 300,000.

GunsIn 2015, more than 23 million checks were performed by FBI officials all through the year, making last year the record year for gun sales so far. But while the 2015 numbers are, indeed, high, the May 2016 statistics may show that the gun buying tend may be far from over.

While the numbers presented by the report only reflect gun sales carried out by licensed dealers, it still shows that Americans are buying more guns than they have in the past, offering a glimpse into the behavior of the American public that appears to often conflict with the policies supported by their politicians of choice.

To pundits at The Week, however, nothing makes a difference. What is pushing these sales is fear, that’s all.

But while that might be true in some cases, considering that the threat to private property and personal freedoms often makes us fear what’s ahead, prompting us to act accordingly, the fear many anti-gun rights proponents often talk about when analyzing gun owners and their behavior has nothing to do with personal choices.

To many, there’s a boogey man scaring all of the white folks in the neck of the woods into buying more guns and his name is President Barack Obama. Funny enough, not one single gun buyer was ever interviewed on this subject before The Week’s quick-to-judge writer, Marc Ambinder, wrote his assessment. What he seems to ignore is that, while over one million guns were sold in May, not one of the consumers behind these purchases has claimed to be afraid of the current or future presidents.

Individuals have different reasons to protect themselves, but to those who subscribe to collectivist theories, this fact is not to be considered. Instead, The Week’s Ambinder suggests, what we must keep in mind is that what helps pro-gun right groups thrive is a “climate of fear.” Property or personal defense, a love for hunting or collecting are all good enough reasons to buy a gun, but no, fear is what motivates all of them.

Contrary to what many believe, owning guns and smoking pot are examples of activities that require no government regulation.

If I purchase bubble gum because I like to chew it, nobody will ask me why. So why do people question me when I purchase a gun? Do I look menacing?

While the growing number of gun owners continues to baffle bashers of gun rights, many seem happy to jump on the anti-drug war train, especially when talking pot, completely oblivious of how truly inconsistent their views are.

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

in First Amendment, Liberator Online, Libertarianism, News You Can Use, Philosophy by Alice Salles Comments are off

Why Rhetoric Should be Celebrated

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

We often hear that persuasion is an obstacle to freedom. “Rhetoric,” they say, is why we’re in such trouble. After all, voters would make better decisions if they had been better educated about the issues facing the nation.

To Deirdre McCloskey, the celebrated Professor of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago, people who scapegoat persuasion are misguided.

PersuasionIn a video for the Learn Liberty series, McCloskey argues that while many people with different points of view on politics all agree that free speech is “sacred,” few agree that persuasion is just as important, if not a feature of a free society.

“Rhetoric,” she tells the viewer, “sounds like a bad word.” Media outlets are the first ones to accuse politicians and key figures of indulging in rhetoric, and never getting to the point. But McCloskey believes that this approach to persuasion is superficial, especially when considering the alternative.

She explains that, persuasion would be bad if the alternative to “sweet-talking” people into believing something or siding with someone wasn’t persuasion through force.

Because we are humans, McCloskey adds, we depend on language. But if we cannot use language, there is another way of persuading people into taking a particular stance: Violence. If I have a gun in hands while telling you to believe in economics and stop arguing with me if you want to stay alive, you will most certainly choose to agree with me, just so you may avoid getting shot in the head. But if there aren’t any guns involved, all we can do to make our point stick is to try to persuade folks by selling our idea the best way we can.

“In a society of free choice, free ideas, free consumption,” McCloskey adds, “you have persuasion as the only alternative to violence.”

Henry David Thoreau once said that “thaw, with her gentle persuasion is more powerful than Thor, with his hammer.” The late, prolific author Gore Vidal once said that advertising is the only art form ever invented in the United States of America. To McCloskey, “a free society is an advertising society,” after all, a free society is where people debate and persuade, rather than threaten others into going along with their ideas. Americans should be proud of this very American tradition.

Instead of demonizing rhetoric by complaining that propaganda alone is the root of our problems, McCloskey seems to argue, we should celebrate the “speaking, rather than violent, society,” and take part in the activity, rather than decry it as the root of all evil.

The Good and the Bad of Donald Trump’s White Paper on Guns

in Elections and Politics, Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use by Jackson Jones Comments are off

The Good and the Bad of Donald Trump’s White Paper on Guns

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has shifted away from his previous support of some gun control policies, including longer waiting periods and a ban on “assault weapons.” Although his campaign is general devoid of any meaningful or specifics on policy, Trump released a white paper last week that offers support for the Second Amendment.

AK47

The white paper opposes restrictions on firearms, such as “assault weapons,” that are usually targeted by the anti-gun left. But this is a departure for Trump, who, in his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, expressed support for a ban on this type of firearm.

“The Republicans walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions,” Trump wrote. “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun.” (Emphasis added.) Trump was, at the time, considering a bid for the Reform Party’s presidential nomination.

Today, Trump, as he does on many different issues, sings a different tune. “Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. That’s been proven every time it’s been tried. Opponents of gun rights try to come up with scary sounding phrases like ‘assault weapons’, ‘military-style weapons’ and ‘high capacity magazines’ to confuse people. What they’re really talking about are popular semi-automatic rifles and standard magazines that are owned by tens of millions of Americans,” Trump’s white paper states. “Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own.”

He opposes expanded background checks and supports allowing the military to carry weapons on base and at recruiting centers. In the months after the Newtown tragedy, conservatives resisted a failed attempt to expand background checks, which wouldn’t have stopped that particular incident from occurring, and, after the recent shooting at a military recruiting center in Chattanooga, have expressed support for allowing recruiters to carry weapons on the job.

One particular policy proposed by Trump is likely to strongly appeal to conservatives. He supports “national right to carry,” which would make concealed carry permits valid in every state and the District of Columbia, much like a driver’s license. “A driver’s license works in every state, so it’s common sense that a concealed carry permit should work in every state,” Trump says. “If we can do that for driving – which is a privilege, not a right – then surely we can do that for concealed carry, which is a right, not a privilege.”

While this policy is attractive and worth of support – and at least three pieces of legislation have been introduced in the current Congress to achieve that goal – one aspect of Trump’s white paper is particularly troubling. He expresses support for a little known federal program, known as “Project Exile,” that existed in Richmond, Virginia in the 1990s.

“Several years ago there was a tremendous program in Richmond, Virginia called Project Exile. It said that if a violent felon uses a gun to commit a crime, you will be prosecuted in federal court and go to prison for five years – no parole or early release. Obama’s former Attorney General, Eric Holder, called that a ‘cookie cutter’ program. That’s ridiculous. I call that program a success,” the white paper states. “Murders committed with guns in Richmond decreased by over 60% when Project Exile was in place – in the first two years of the program alone, 350 armed felons were taken off the street.”

From 1993 to 2010, violent crime fell across the United States. The Pew Research Center found that the gun homicide rate fell by 49 percent from its peak level in 1993 and the victimization rate for other violent crimes committed with firearms, including rape, dropped by 75 percent.

“Nearly all the decline in the firearm homicide rate took place in the 1990s,” Pew noted, “the downward trend stopped in 2001 and resumed slowly in 2007. “ Theories on what caused the decline in crime rates vary, but economist Steven Levitt, known for the best-selling book, Freakonomics, has written that changes in policing strategies and gun control didn’t have much of an impact.

Project Exile was a federal program created in 1997 that targeted felons in possession of firearms. It brought these cases to federal court, where offenders faced a five-year mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Trump’s praise of Project Exile may be misguided. A 2003 study called into question its effectiveness as a deterrent to violent crime. “Despite this widespread acclaim, some skeptics have questioned the effectiveness of Project Exile, pointing out that homicides increased in Richmond in the last ten months of 1997 following the program’s announcement,” the authors explained. “In fact, the Richmond homicide rate increased by 40 percent between 1996 and 1997.”

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who represents part of Richmond and the surrounding area, blasted Project Exile in a speech on the House floor in April 2000. “The mandatory minimums associated with Project Exile show no better results. The proponents suggest that the violent crime rate has gone down 39 percent in the city of Richmond under Project Exile,” Scott said. “At the same time it went down 43 percent in Norfolk, 58 percent in Virginia Beach and 81 percent in Chesapeake without Project Exile.”

Trump’s white paper may offer a good idea, national right to carry, combined with fluff in contradiction to his previous statements, but programs like Project Exile are bad policy that are better handled under state law. What’s more, it defies logic. Violent crime is at its lowest point in the last couple decades. Unfortunately, the politics of fear are politicians need to succeed to win support from people who simply don’t know better.

No, Violent Crime is Not Getting Worse

in Criminal Justice, Gun Rights, Liberator Online, News You Can Use, Personal Liberty by Jackson Jones Comments are off

No, Violent Crime is Not Getting Worse

This article was featured in our weekly newsletter, the Liberator Online. To receive it in your inbox, sign up here.

One wouldn’t know it if they read what some news outlets are reporting or listened to the words of some Republican hopefuls and pundits on television, but there isn’t any real evidence that crime is getting worse.

The Pew Research Center, in May 2013, noted that the gun homicide rate was down 49 percent since 1993, when it peaked. What’s more, non-fatal gun violence dropped by 75 percent over the same period analyzed. The Bureau of Justice Statistics, an agency in the Department of Justice, found similar figures, a 39 percent drop in gun homicides and a 70 percent drop in non-fatal gun violence, between 1993 and 2011.

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Although instances of gun violence were falling, according to the Pew Research Center, 56 percent of Americans believed gun-related crimes were on the rise compared to 20 years before. The causes of this belief are certainly up for debate, but the media’s focus on shootings and coverage of politicians’ reactions could be a cause. After all, bad news sells.

At the end of August, The New York Times reported that “[c]ities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines.” The Times offers data from several U.S. cities that have seen spikes in homicides. Some have interpreted the story as a nationwide spike in violent crime attributed to the so-called “Ferguson effect.” Heather Mac Donald pushed this theory in a May editorial at the Wall Street Journal.

“Since last summer, the airwaves have been dominated by suggestions that the police are the biggest threat facing young black males today,” Mac Donald wrote. “Almost any police shooting of a black person, no matter how threatening the behavior that provoked the shooting, now provokes angry protests.”

Others, including Bruce Frederick of the Vera Institute and John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center, have taken a more reasoned approach to the perceived spike in violent crime.

“[N]ot all of the increases cited by the Times are statistically reliable; that is, some of them are small increases, or are based on small numbers of cases, such that the observed increases could have occurred by chance alone. Among the 16 top-20 cities for which I found publically available data, only three experienced statistically reliable increases,” Frederick explained. “Only one of the top-20 cities included in the Times’ sample, Chicago, experienced an increase that was statistically significant.”

“Even where a statistically reliable increase has been experienced,” he noted, “a single year-to-year increase does not necessarily imply a meaningful trend.”

Writing in response to Mac Donald at the end of May, Lott pointedly contested her narrative, writing, “The bottom line is that across the largest 15 cities in the US the murder rate has fallen by by 12 from 749 to 737 (a 2% drop) or from 43 from 871 to 828 (a 5% drop).”

And while many are insisting that violence against police is becoming a trend, the Associated Press recently noted that shooting deaths of police officers are actually down by 13 percent. “There were 30 shootings last year and 26 this year,” the report explained. “Those figures include state and local officers, as well as federal agents.” The data used in the report came from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Each shooting, whether of an innocent person or a police officer, is a tragedy, but everyone needs to calm down about this supposed uptick in violent crime because the data suggest that 2015 is consistent with recent years. Even if by year’s end there’s an increase in violent crime, it’s far too early to call it a trend.