Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

LttE - What's good for the goose....

Submitted to the San Antonio Express-News on 23 May 2007:

Heather and Tyler Smurr’s letter on Saturday the 19th decrying the legislature’s decision on teacher pay raises made an excellent point about the relationship between teacher pay and the desire of teachers to work at public schools: “Texas doesn’t want the best teachers … Who wants to work for a state that doesn’t want to pay you anything?” They’re absolutely right: pay scales are one way (perhaps the most important way) that businesses compete for employees in the free labor market that we’re blessed to have in this country. The good news for teachers is that they can take their expertise and labor and bring it with them to another educational institution where they’ll be paid more.

Now consider Michelle Martinez’s article from Thursday the 17th highlighting charter schools and the way they offer varied curriculums in order to compete (there’s that word again) for students. Some students will want what those charter schools are offering more than they want what their normally-assigned district schools are offering, and they’ll decide to go there instead. The good news for those students is that they can take the tax money that pays for their education and bring it with them to their new school where they’ll get the education they want.

With these two stellar examples of how free-market competition continually makes things better, it’s beyond unfortunate that the choice afforded to teachers to choose who benefits from their labor and the choice afforded to charter school students to choose who benefits from their tax dollars is vehemently denied to those students who want to take their tax dollars to other schools who are offering curricula that are different still from the very limited number of charter schools in operation. When will we take our blinders off regarding school choice and recognize that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander?

UPDATE: Printed

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Maybe we're not all wussies after all

Great stories from the past week:
Concealed-carry permit holder holds off murderer/bank robber until police arrive

11-year-old girl foils her own kidnapping and gets the guy apprehended

Lesson: when faced with adversity of any kind, be it an injury, disease, or hostile strangers with malicious intent, for the love of God, don't go quietly into that good night!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Welcome, visitor from the NRA!

I had a hit today from the National Rifle Association, who MSNed (as opposed to Googled) Utah concealed carry permits and found their way here (or, more accurately, a cached version of the page).


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Emailing my congresscritters re: HR 297 & S 1237

Sent to Sens. Hutchison & Cornyn:
As good law-abiding Texans, I'm sure we agree that the right to own a firearm for personal, family, and community defense is one of the most important rights we have, and should not be surrendered lightly. In the strongest possible terms I urge you to work against the passage of one of your colleague's bills, Sen. Lautenberg's S 1237. This bill gives entirely too much power to those in power to assign an arbitrary label to individuals as being "suspected" of certain activity, which would unconstitutionally restrict that individual's ability to own a firearm for any reason, whether that label was justly applied or not! Obviously Sen. Lautenberg threw out the presumption of innocence our legal system was founded on when he wrote this bill. The way this bill is written, any activist protesting anything (from the latest tax increase to the ingredients in fast food) can be labeled a "suspected terrorist" and therefore not trusted to own a firearm! The application of a restrictive legal status without probable cause or due process is unconstitutional and unacceptable.

This language must NOT become law, and your constituents are depending on you to make our voice heard.

Thank you,
Jason Trippet

Sent to Rep. Rodriguez:

As good law-abiding Texans, I'm sure we agree that the right to own a firearm for personal, family, and community defense is one of the most important rights we have, and should not be surrendered lightly. In the strongest possible terms I urge you to work against the passage of one of your colleague's bills, Rep. McCarthy's HR 297. This bill gives entirely too much power to those in power to assign an arbitrary label to individuals as being "mentally defective" (even a high-school guidance counselor can do so!), which would permanently end that individual's ability to own a firearm for any reason, whether that label was justly applied or not! The way this bill is written, even if a doctor orders an individual to undergo observation and the observation reveals no defects of any kind, that individual ist still considered to "have been forcibly committed", and therefore not trusted to own a firearm!

This language must NOT become law, and your constituents are depending on you to make our voice heard.

Thank you,
Jason Trippet

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Senators and their reading habits

No, I'm not talking about novels or poetry, I'm talking about the bills they're foisting on the rest of us. Check out this quote from a U.S. Senator - I've removed the name of the Senator and the specific issue so that everyone reading this can look at it with an unbiased, critical eye.
[This congresscritter] said yesterday he no longer supports [this bill] that he helped pass in the Senate.

"I would not vote for the same bill," [he] told reporters yesterday morning, saying that after the bill passed the Senate he had a chance to study its effects and decided it led to too much [of something].

It's a major reversal for a man who is listed as one of seven original sponsors of the bill, along with [other big-name Senators], who spearheaded the bill.

Everybody with me so far? He not only voted for the bill, he was one of the seven original sponsors who got it in front of the Senate in the first place!!! And now, only after it passes, he's got time to study the text and its effects and decides that it's no good? I'm all for a guy discovering new information and admitting error and correcting his position in light of that error - but doesn't it make sense that these guys should do these kinds of studies before they pass a law that affects all of us regular Joes?

But wait, there's more - his spokesman had this to say:
"The congressional landscape has changed with no [his party]-led House conference as a backstop, and the provisions of the bill that the senator did not care for would not likely improve after a bill was passed by a [other party] Senate,"

Oh, well then Senator, that all makes sense. You couldn't take the time to actually understand the bill you authored and sponsored, so you decided that you'd just pass it, leaving the responsibility for vetting it and stopping it if it turned out that it's no good on the other chamber of Congress, but now that that other chamber is of a different composition than you thought it would be, you've changed your mind. Awesome. This is why I don't trust congresscritters, and why a) the 17th Amendment should be repealed and b) current office-holders shouldn't be able to run for a higher office while already serving.

By now you've probably figured out who said all this and the bill he's talking about, but here's the article just in case.

A couple more comments for San Antonians

I just couldn't resist posting just a couple more things in response to some of the comments on the page linked in my last post:

"Law enforcement officers are trained to respond to volatile and violent situations where the average CHL has none of that training and are more able to make mistakes and cause unnecessary injuries to others."

Are you sure about that? Have you educated yourself on the training that a CHL applicant goes through and what material it covers, from shooting techniques to ethics, from legal implications to situational decision-making?

As for law enforcement being less prone to make mistakes and cause unnecessary injuries, I'd challenge you to read Overkill by Radley Balko, formerly of the Cato Institute, who found a disturbing trend of police killing innocent people my mistake. I'd also challenge you to come up with one incident of a lawfully-carrying citizen trying to defuse a violent situation and shooting an innocent by mistake. Concealed-carry supporters can point to several instances where the situation was ended successfully, but I have yet to see any press on a situation where Joe CHL Holder shot a bystander by accident (and don't you think the media would inundate us with that story, should it happen?).


That may be your gut instinct, and that of many of the other posters here, but the empirical evidence over the last 20 years in the 40 states who have enacted shall-issue concealed-carry laws says different. Florida was the first state to do so, in 1987, and through the first decade out of 400,000 permit holders, there was exactly ONE murder conviction. Here in Texas the arrest rate for CHL holders has been 2/3 LESS than the rate for the general population.

The millions of citizens around the country who have been legally carrying concealed for two decades (260,000 in Texas last year) WITHOUT the predicted Wild West/O.K. Corral bloodbaths shows that this isn't some new idea that should scare people. CHL holders have proven themselves over the years to be sensible, law-abiding, and - most important of all - willing to take personal responsibility for the safety of their families and the strangers around them.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Comments on Gov. Perry's statement re: concealed-carry

For some head-shakingly amusing (and yet depressing) comments, solicited by this article in the San Antonio Express-News, click here.

I contributed twice:
This might be the wrong forum to pit statistics and figures against emotional outcries, but here goes.

"Get a bad grade, shoot the teacher." "Get drunk, get in an argument, shoot the other guy." "Get in a car accident, shoot the guy that hit you." "We're going back to the Wild West, the O.K. Corral all over again!" "When the psycho pulls out his gun and 20 other citizens pull out theirs we'll have an uncontrollable shootout!" "The streets will run red with blood!"

You know what? These predictions have been heard, and heard often. We heard them in 1987 when Florida passed the first non-discretionary "shall-issue" concealed-carry law. Did violent crime & shootings skyrocket, as predicted? No - in fact they decreased FASTER than the national rate was already decreasing. We heard them in 2004 when the so-called "assault weapons" ban expired. Did we have a rash of multi-victim massacres, as predicted? No - in fact violent crime continued its decades-long descent with nary a blip in the graph. Those in Utah also heard them in 2004 when the state legislature specfically allowed concealed-carry on college campuses (by legally-licensed holders only, of course). Did students start shooting their teachers, as predicted? Nope - no campus massacres either.

Folks, you have to remember that nobody's talking about issuing handguns with driver's licenses or student IDs. The only people we're talking about are those who have put in the time and effort to attend 10-15 hours of education & training, prove their proficiency, pass the strictest of background checks, and who continually keep their noses (and records) clean through periodic renewals. Of the 34,791 criminal convictions in the state of Texas in 2005, only 129 were perpetrated by Concealed Handgun License holders - .37% to be exact (and they all lost their licenses for it). Sounds like exactly the kind of level-headed and responsible people I'd feel good about trusting with the responsibility.
To the folks stating that the crime rate WILL go up, and not believing any statements about keeping the crime rate down, please do your research before posting. In the midst of the great nationwide decline of violent crime rates over the last 3 decades, the 40 states that have enacted "shall-issue" concealed-carry laws saw their violent crime rates drop FASTER and FARTHER than those states with the more restrictive "may-issue" or "no-issue" concealed-carry laws.

The National Academy of Sciences in 2005, the CDC in 2003, and the AMA in 2000 released studies that could not statistically correlate a reduction in violent crime with a single gun control measure - not one.

Legally-carried firearms are used to stop crimes far more often (estimates range from half a million to 2 million times a year) than illegally-carried firearms are used to commit crimes (~350,000/year). It's as simple as that.
There are quite a few good comments, like this one, hitting on the same point I made in my last letter to the editor:
Since when has Texas become a state that doesn't care about property rights? Property rights has always been a major concern in this state, but over the last few years it's fallen by the wayside. Smoking bans circumvent property owners ability to choose the way they run their property, and Perry wants to do the same thing with handguns.

I'm sorry, but it's my property. If you have a gun, no badge, and are on my property, you are unwelcome and therefore trespassing. Businesses, office buildings, parking lots, schools, etc, should all decide for themselves whether or not to allow any type of weapon on their premises without interference from the State government.
This is Texas, after all.

But here are some lowlights:
Everyone on here with a concealed weapon permit has just succeeded in making me more scared that I am not safe at work or school.
(So she's felt safe in the vicinity of CHL holders in the past, just as long as she didn't know about it.)

If you're so insecure and frightened about going out in public that you need a concealed weapon to feel adequate, then you don't have the stones to shoot anyone anyways. So why put yourself in that situation? You'll shoot yourself in the foot out of panic before you shoot someone who's already openned fire on Sally. Life isn't a B movie and you're not Dirty Harry so stop contributing to the problem. Where do think the criminals are getting the guns from anyways? The short answer: They're stealing them from low-browed,slack-jawed, mouth-breathers like you who weren't going to use it to begin with!
(Nice. Classy.)

What a crazy idea, especially if we are trying to teach kids to be non-violent and having arms only pertuates [sic] the chances of people being hurt. Certainly, bearing guns has a place in our crazy society to be able to protect ourselves against those that are deranged and evil. But, taking guns anywhere contributes to a police state.
(Don't worry - I did a double-take on that logic too.)

If a person is allowed to carry a weapon, I feel that it will just give them the feeling that they can use it anytime they feel threatened.
(Feel, feel, feel - what is it with these guys and their preference for feelings over cold, hard facts?)

I can not get a CHL, so why should any of the other stupid idiots that loose control because of alcohol be able to carry or have one. we do not need to revert back to the lawless days of the old west.
Welcome to the OK coral - only in Texas.
(Yeah - 'cause shootouts have been happening non-stop in the 40 states with shall-issue concealed-carry laws.)

This is ridiculous; as a person in a school everyday with some kids who already scare me, how many 18 year old seniors would get to show up at school with their guns ready when we're telling them who will graduate and who won't?????
(Hello, if you're under 21 you can't get a CHL anyway!)

Get pissed at teacher for a bad grade, shoot the teacher in class, then someone shoots the shooter excellent idea.
Sometimes it's embarrassing to live in this backward state, where the governor would have us walking around like we're living in the Old West. Did he take anything from the Va. Tech tragedy?
(Why yes he did, that's the genesis of the suggestion, thanks for asking.)

Seriously, do these people even take the 5 minutes it would take to learn about the subject under discussion before posting irrational and pointless comments like these? It's obvious they have no class, but I thought at least they'd find out what requirements are met by each and every CHL holder in the state, what kind of training they go through, etc. Can you believe some of those people were attacking the straw man of high school seniors (who can't get CHL permits in the first place) carrying at their school? Sheesh. There's even the obligatory "ban all first-person shooter video games" suggestion.