Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.


( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

The Old Comrades:

November 2001 December 2001 January 2002 February 2002 March 2002 April 2002 May 2002 June 2002 July 2002 August 2002 September 2002 October 2002 November 2002 December 2002 January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 August 2007 October 2007 February 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 March 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 October 2009 January 2010 March 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 April 2011 June 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013

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Friday, April 20, 2007
What Cho learned - a post for Samizdata.

Thursday, April 19, 2007
Bitter prescience. This article was written by a Virginia Tech student in August 2006, after an earlier evacuation following the sighting of a gunman on campus.
The policy that forbids students who are legally licensed to carry in Virginia needs to be changed.

I am qualified and capable of carrying a concealed handgun and urge you to work with me to allow my most basic right of self-defense, and eliminate my entrusting my safety and the safety of my classmates to the government.

This incident makes it clear that it is time that Virginia Tech and the commonwealth of Virginia let me take responsibility for my safety.

If that man and others had been armed there is no guarantee that it would have saved lives. For one thing, most of the students are too young for a concealed permit under Virgina's laws. Of those who are not, only a very low percentage would opt to be armed. Of those who were armed, random chance might easily mean that they just weren't in that part of the building when the shooter struck, or were killed before they realised what was happening, or shot and missed, or whatever. In my frenzy for honest speculation let me add that the defender could end up himself accidentally killing an innocent in crossfire - or her gun could end up being lifted from her dead hand by the murderer and used for yet more mayhem.

No guarantees. Ever. But I know of several killing sprees that were cut short by armed students or faculty - the one at the Appalachian School of Law is the most recent.

"If just one life is saved..." has been the rallying cry of several anti-gun campaigns. Though certainly a successful it has never been a rational slogan. The role of chance is too big for us to know what course of action will change the murder statistics by one.

I think arming the sane against the insane would save dozens of lives from spree killers over a period of years in the US. (Here in Britain the prospect is so remote that there is no point in even discussing it.) Beyond that, I think many more lives would be saved by guns being used to defend law-abiding citizens against ordinary crime, and more yet by the mere presence of guns acting as a deterrent.

As a slogan, that doesn't exactly make the heart thunder.

Apart from its necessarily statistical nature, another difficulty in getting this argument across to the wider public is that a massacre prevented or curtailed by an armed citizen is a massacre that gets bumped down the running order for the evening news. Here in Britain, what percentage of people have ever heard of Peter Odighizuwa's curtailed killing spree compared to the unimpeded efforts of Cho Seung-hui? Even in America, those making this argument are swimming against the tide. It does not help that the media, most of whom favour gun control, actively play down the use of guns to save lives. (Here's the CNN story from 2002 about the Appalachian killings. All sorts of details but it only speaks of students "grabbing" and "subduing" Odighizuwa. No mention that their actions, though most certainly brave, were renderered much less nearly suicidal by the fact that two of the three of them had guns.)

Banning Handguns Is Not a Panacea, says Pommygranate I would go further and say that it is not even a a good thing.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007
A distant mirror. When reading about the tragic massacre in Virginia I came across an account of an earlier, and yet worse, mass murder at a place of education in the USA. I'm afraid I cannot remember at which website I saw it - but its nature was such that I had no difficulty finding the Wikipedia page again.

A short excerpt from the list of 45 victims, most of whom were children:
Arnold V. Bauerle, age 8, third grade student, Henry Bergan, age 14, sixth grade student, Herman Bergan age 11, fourth grade student, Emilie M. Bromundt, age 11, fifth grade student, Robert F. Bromundt, age 12, fifth grade student, Floyd E. Burnett, age 12, sixth grade student, Russell J. Chapman, age 8, fourth grade student, Robert Cochran, age 8, third grade student, Ralph A. Cushman, age 7, third grade student.
Two things surprised me about this dreadful event. The first was that I had never heard about it, the second that it happened in 1927.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more. In a Biased BBC discussion of BBC coverage of Americans who don't accept evolution, commenter Sarah pointed to an Ipsos MORI poll in 2006 that said under half of Britons accept the theory of evolution as the best description for the development of life.

Sunday, April 08, 2007
Things ain't what they used to be.

Do you wonder why this happens?
The British boat crew were caught in a position when they did not even have the opportunity to defend themselves from capture. At the very least, our rules of engagement need changing. It is very likely that the Iranians had orders not to continue with the kidnap operation if it met resistance, as it was carried out under the very guns of the British warship HMS Cornwall. Yet because the Iranians knew that HMS Cornwall was under orders never to fire first, their daring plan succeeded.

The “no-first-fire” rule of UN forces was the reason that thousands of innocents died in Srebrenica and Rwanda. Opponents knew that if they didn’t attack UN forces they could do pretty much anything they liked. This is simply an updated version.

To state anything more than name, rank and serial number is all that a captured servicemen should ever do. These marines — New Brits to a man and woman — instead told Ahmadinejad, in the words of one of them: “Mr President, nice to meet you. We are very grateful for your forgiveness. We would like to thank yourself [sic] and the Iranian people.” Compare that with the behaviour of British POWs in any earlier war that one cares to consider and one appreciates the vast difference between New and Old Britain.

Funnily enough, the answer was in the Times News in Brief column a couple of weeks ago.
Teenagers as young as 14 are ambushing security guards making cash deliveries to banks and shops, police said. They have even been caught on CCTV striking on the way home from school. In a fifth of the robberies a firearm was produced against guards, who are told not to resist. The raids yield up to £25,000.