damnum absque injuria

March 27, 2013

When Roofies Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Roofies

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:30 am

The renewed debate on gun debate has sparked a meta-debate over whether one particular argument – that criminals don’t obey gun laws – is a valid one. On one side, a recent article by James Schlarmann of the aptly-named “Political Garbage Chute” has been making the rounds lately, suggesting that the argument can never be valid for gun control or anything else. On the other, Jennifer Townsend and others maintain that a law followed only by the law-abiding is a waste of everyone’s time, or worse. Elliot Fladen splits the baby, arguing that “criminals don’t follow the law” works for malum prohibitum (bad because prohibited) crimes but not for malum in se (inherently bad) crimes. In my view, “criminals don’t obey laws” is a valid argument, but one whose value is often overstated. Further, as I will explain below, it is more useful for the gun debate than it is for most other issues of contention.

First, let’s dispose of the living, breathing strawman that is Schlarmann. While concerns about compliance (or lack thereof) may not be dispositive, this doesn’t mean lawmakers should dismiss them entirely. Of course not everyone will comply with any new law, and of course that doesn’t mean all new (or old) laws are bad. But it’s one thing to have a law some people won’t comply with, and quite another the pass one that no one will. And by “no one” I don’t mean literally no one, but none of the target population we ought to care about. National Prohibition had a 100% compliance rate among teetotalers, and everyone who didn’t drive in the 1970s and early 1980s was in full compliance with the national 55 mph speed limit, but both laws became national jokes, and were rightly repealed as a result. If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really make a sound? If Congress or the Legislature passes a new law and no one complies with it, is it really a law?

On the flip side, while concerns about compliance (or lack thereof) may not be something legislators should dismiss entirely, this doesn’t mean they are dispositive. Take, for example, the death penalty debate. Liberals frequently claim the death penalty is not a deterrent. If they are correct, surely no lesser penalty can deter, either. Yet I have never heard even the most ardent liberal argue that laws against murder should be repealed, if for no other reason, then because locking up a person who has committed a murder in the past may prevent him from committing more murders in the future. So there can be a value to having a criminal law on the books, even if no one is deterred.

At first blush, this would seem to support Elliot’s malum prohibitum / malum in se distinction, as murder is an inherently bad act, while merely owning the instrument in question is not. Locking up or executing pepple predisposed to commit murder will surely result in fewer murders, which is unambiguously a good thing. Locking up or executing people for possessing Tiddlywinks will surely result in fewer people owning Tiddlywinks, but what’s the point? Similarly, locking up people for possessing firearms will result in fewer people owning firearms, but if that effect is only seen among those least likely to misuse them, it again seems to be a useless exercise.

That said, not all malum prohibitum laws are as silly as bans on Tiddlywinks, let alone as silly as gun control. While some “date rape” drugs may be prescribed to certain individuals for other, legitimate purposes (Rohypnol, a.k.a. “roofies,” have been prescribed for insomnia), there is no legitimate reason for the rest of us to have easy access to them. As surely as a person not deterred by the stiff penalties for murder won’t be deterred by the relatively lax penalties for merely possesing the gun, surely no potential rapist would be deterred by the relativity lax penalty for merely possessing the drug. Still, if a violent felon on parole is found in possession of a firearm, or if anyone is found in possession of date rape drugs at a bar, with no medical justification, would it not make more sense to lock them up now rather than waiting around until someone actually gets hurt?

Constitutionally, we have a right to bear arms but not roofies. Ignore that for now. The policy reason for banning roofies but not guns is because guns are useful tools for good and evil, while unprescribed roofies are useful tools for evil alone. Gun control creates a balance of power problem that is essentially nonexistent in most other debates. For any topic, the “criminals won’t obey this new law” is as good as the NRA slogan, “when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.” Try it on for size:

  1. When murder is outlawed, only outlaws will commit murder. Good, we need as few murders as possible.
  2. When date rape is outlawed, only outlaws will rape their dates. Good, we need as few rapes as possible.
  3. When date rape drugs are outlawed, only outlaws will have date rape drugs. Good, unprescribed date rape drugs are useless to the rest of us, anyway. Try fending off a rapist with a roofie.
  4. When bananas are outlawed, only outlaws will get enough potassium.
  5. When large sodas are outlawed, only outlaws will piss off Michael Bloomberg.

Note that there are some aspects of the gun debate where “only criminals will comply” becomes as silly for guns as it is for roofies. Take, for example, the ban on undetectable “plastic” guns. Unless you are planning on breaching security of some courthouse or airport, what use is a “plastic” gun to you? Similarly, the ban on certain individuals from owning firearms is a reasonable concept, even if the criteria themselves could use some work (lifetime for nonviolent felons seems over the top). So generally, the “criminals won’t obey X” argument is only a strong argument against X if it’s also a problem that non-criminals will.

January 20, 2013

Basic Gun Safety

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 3:13 pm

Safe handling of a firearm is not rocket science. All you need to do is follow the four basic rules:

  1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are. In other words, don’t do this:


  2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy. In other words, don’t do this:

  3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target. In other words, don’t do this:

  4. Identify your target, and what is behind it. Never shoot at anything that you have not positively identified. In other words, don’t do anything this guy would:

August 28, 2010

NRA and Harry Reid

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 1:30 pm

The NRA only finally got around to not endorsing Harry Reid. Damned sellouts.

June 20, 2010

Unclear on the Concept

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 5:52 pm

CSM sez that Paul Helmke dba Brady Center sez that Pennsylvania has the 10th strictest gun laws in the country. Huh? As a resident of the only southern state that should have made the list (but mysteriously did not) I’d gladly trade our gun laws for their any day of the week.

May 27, 2010

Marriott Update

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:11 am

Looks like I may have spoken too soon. Seems that Marriott hasn’t taken down any anti-gun-owner signs (yet?) and that its anti-gun roots run deeper than previously thought. Stay tuned.

May 24, 2010

GRNC Gets Results – in Charlotte and Beyond?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:28 pm

Looks like the long overdue “premature” boycott against corporate gun-grabbing Marriott has paid off in a matter of days. It’s not official yet, but this email from GRNC suggests that there is an excellent chance the gun-grabbing Marriott will soon be the formerly gun-grabbing Marriott, not just in Charlotte but worldwide:

Grass Roots North Carolina, P.O. Box 10684, Raleigh, NC 27605

919-664-8565, www.grnc.org, GRNC Alert Hotline: (919) 562-4137

GRNC Alert 05-24-10:

GRNC campaign leads Marriott to say signs will be removed

Grass Roots North Carolina began a “Don’t Buy” campaign against Marriott International after its Charlotte hotel took money from and then made inadvertent criminals of hundreds of gun owners by posting “no firearms” signs *during* the weekend of the NRA convention and GRNC’s “Gala for Gun Rights.” Marriott confessed to a prohibition on firearms in all of its properties, many of which were posted.

After GRNC began the effort and Gun Rights Examiners Paul Valone, Dave Workman and David Codrea and others ran it, the boycott immediately “went viral,” appearing on forums across the country and generating untold numbers of contacts to Marriott – many of which were from Marriott’s “Rewards” members who supported the boycott. On Sunday, the Marriott boycott made nationally-syndicated radio on Tom Gresham’s “Gun Talk.”

Today, upper level Marriott executive Keith Thomas told GRNC board member Bill Krupicka that signs from the Charlotte property had already been removed, and that signs across the country will be removed promptly.

Please bear in mind that this victory is conditional: Marriott has not yet confirmed its policy, and a public apology to the gun owners staying in and traversing the Marriott across the weekend of the NRA convention has not yet been issued. Accordingly, please do not relax pressure against Marriott International yet. More information will be provided as it becomes available.


* Keith Thomas: Reports directly to JW Marriott, Jr. himself. Thomas can be reached at Mr. Marriott’s office at either keith.thomas@marriott.com or 800-621-0999.

* Kathleen Matthews, Executive Vice President, Global Communications and Public Affairs: Kathleen.Matthews@marriott.com, 301-380-7770. Also include her assistant, Marilyn Cole at: marilyn.cole@marriott.com or 301-380-7525.

* Chad Callaghan, Vice President of Loss Prevention: chad.callaghan@marriott.com. Also call his assistant Pat Murphy at 301-380-7814 and presuming he ignores your call, feel free to page him at: 800-313-9391.

* Jim Diehl: Don’t forget the General Manager (and reportedly regional executive) who started this mess:, jim.diehl@marriott.com, phone: 704-333-9000, fax (directly to his office): 704-358-6522.


Looks good for now, but keep the calls coming. As Yogi usedta say, it ain’t over till it’s over.

May 23, 2010

TruthOrFiction Fiction

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:48 am

Continuing Retard Week: as bad as Annenberg Political (humorously known as “FactCheck.org”), Politifact, Snopes and the rest of the “your opinions are myths, mine are facts, nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah” web sites may be, one site among them, TruthOrFiction.com, warrants special attention. Check out their entry purporting to debunk the popular “doctors are more dangerous than guns” meme. While the author of the page acknowledges that the figure on licensed physicians in the U.S. was probably good (700,000 in the year the email originally circulated vs. 780,000 in 2008), they label the email as fiction because, in their view, “not all of the statistics appear accurate.” They proceed to identify the statistics they believe to be inaccurate, and offer statistics of their own:

Email Version
TruthOrFiction Version
Number of physicians in U.S.
Accidental deaths caused by physicians
Accidental deaths per physician
Number of gun owners in the U.S.
Annual accidental gun deaths (total)
Annual accidental gun deaths per gun owner
Factor by which doctors are more deadly than guns

If you’re not a retard, your first reaction to the above table would be to say “Wow, not only are doctors 9,000 times more dangerous than guns, as originally claimed in that email, the real figure is much worse than that!” Your second reaction would to say “Wait a minute, that higher figure on gun ownership can’t be right. Sure, we have one of the highest rates of firearm ownership in the world, but with a total population of 305 million there is no friggin’ way that 96% of us own guns.” Of course, if you are not a retard, you are also overqualified to write for TruthOrFiction:

Regarding gun owners, figures from 2002-2001 from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said there are 294 million gun owners in the U.S., a much higher figure that [sic] that quoted in the email.

Most of us count years from 2001 to 2002, not from 2002 to 2001, but never mind that. Between this crazy statistic (vs. 80 million, a figure that is well established among anyone with a passing knowledge about firearms in the U.S.), the fact that they deem something “fiction” when their own stats suggest it is an understated fact, and stamping the page as last updated on 2/20/07 while quoting stats from 2008, they seem to be on a mission to make James Frey look credible. I mean, at least in his case you can be reasonably sure that Chapter Four really was the fourth chapter in the book, and that he really does have parents. Remember this the next time anyone sends you a link to anything on TruthOrFiction.com purporting to prove anything.

*The number quoted in original email, as reproduced at TruthOrFiction, is actually off by a factor of ten, reading as 0.000188 instead of 0.0000188. However, they must have used the right figure in the actual calculation, else they would have concluded that doctors are only 900 times more dangerous than guns rather than 9,000.

May 21, 2010

Marriott to Gun Owners: Drop Dead (But Pay Us First!)

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:16 pm

Sebastian thinks the boycott is premature. I say it’s long overdue.

Grass Roots North Carolina notes that the Charlotte Marriott made instant criminals of countless guests by putting up no guns” signs while the event was underway – and long after GRNC had selected the venue in reliance on it being gun-friendly (at least in the Starbucksian sense of the phrase, i.e., not openly hostile to gun owners). Many have complained, and the good news is that Marriott has apologized. The bad is that rather than apologizing for putting those signs up and exposing their guests to criminal prosecution, their apology was for not having the signs up all along:

Dear Valued Guest,

Correction: the remainder of this email will make it clear that from their perspective I am not valued, nor am I a guest.

Thank you for contacting Marriott. We appreciate the opportunity to provide you with information.

Neat, but I didn’t ask them for information. I contacted them to provide them with information.

We would like to thank Grass Roots North Carolina/Forum for Firearms Education for its business at the Charlotte Marriott City Center hotel.

In other words: we like money. Fair enough, but….

During the group’s stay, there was some confusion regarding the hotel’s position on the carrying of firearms by the public. It has been the hotel’s long-standing policy to not allow firearms by the public on the premises.

In other words, they are an explicitly anti-gun organization, which has thus far managed to stay off the NRA blacklist despite being far worse than most of the companies on it. This, in turn, allowed them to exploit that very confusion not just during GRNC’s stay, but for months before that; else GRNC members (and Lord knows how many NRA members) take their business elsewhere.

In accordance with applicable law, this policy is posted in several locations around the hotel. Marriott’s policy is to comply with all applicable laws and ordinances.

From these weasel words you’d almost thing there were some law or ordinance requiring Marriott to post no guns signs around the hotel. Of course no law does; what the applicable law (North Carolina General Statute 14-415.11(c) – there are no applicable ordinances due to preemption) does do is convert what would otherwise be a mere civil trespass into a crime that can get our Valued GuestsTM fined, imprisoned and deprived of their right to carry anywhere in the state or even purchase firearms without their sheriffs’ permission. If this is what they do to their Valued GuestsTM, I shudder to think what they’d do to the guests they don’t value.

We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and space for events and functions. We do this without regard to the lawful purpose or views of any specific group or organization.

Yeah, it’s might hospitable of you to not be quite as hostile to the First Amendment as to the Second, but a company serious about hospitality wouldn’t have such a ridiculous policy in teh first place. There’s certainly nothing hospitable about tricking thousands of law-abiding gun owners into patronizing your joint, only to turn around and expose them to criminal liability for taking you up on your offer of faux hospitality.

As always, the safety and security of our guests and associates is a top priority.

So high that you adopt a lame-brained policy that has no potential of making any of your guests or associates safe, and ample potential to endanger them.

Marriott Customer Care

Translated: disregards, some lying crapweasel who won’t even stand up and put his/her/its name behind his/her/its words. Let’s call him/her/it … oh, I dunno …. Kathleen Matthews? Or maybe here assistant, Marilyn Cole? I doubt it was Jim Diehl, the brainiac who started this mess.

Note that despite having non-signed the email, he/she/it isn’t quite done yet. While Marriott loves to “comply with all applicable laws and ordinances” that enable it to expose others to criminal liability for exercising their legal and constitutional rights wherever they can, that doesn’t mean they’re above quoting scary, legal-sounding gibberish where no such law applies:

This communication contains information from Marriott International, Inc. that may be confidential. Except for personal use by the intended recipient, or as expressly authorized by the sender, any person who receives this information is prohibited from disclosing, copying, distributing, and/or using it. If you have received this communication in error, please immediately delete it and all copies, and promptly notify the sender. Nothing in this communication is intended to operate as an electronic signature under applicable law.

So to the extent that receiving mail from someone is the equivalent of being on their property, Marriott takes it upon themselves to say, in essence, “by reading my smarmy email you agree not to fisk it in a public forum.” Sorry, Marriott, no dice. Gun owners made the mistake of paying Marriott a fortune last week in Charlotte. We won’t be making that mistake again.

UPDATE: The original version of this post omitted Diehl’s name and address, on the theory that he was just taking orders from on high. After re-reading the message I’m not so sure; they never actually said it was the entire chain’s policy to require its Valued GuestsTM to be sitting ducks; only that it was the longstanding policy of “the hotel.” I’ve sent them a follow-up email asking for clarification on that point, but meanwhile, I’m leaving Diehl’s name and email address up there now, because at a minimum he is the one responsible for negotiating this deal with a gun rights outfit he knew, or should have known, would expect to be allowed to carry there.

May 20, 2010

Gun Show Loophole, Defined

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 7:55 pm

Me no like gun shows. Gun shows legal. Loophole!

May 18, 2010

Charlotte Recap

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 8:54 pm

Uncly-Wuncly has a roundup, but here are the only numbers anyone really cares about:


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