We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Crime is falling

This article caught my eye in the Economist (Paul Marks, avert your gaze now), stating that in many nations, crime rates for offences of property, violence and the like have fallen significantly over the past few decades (but that’s no reason for complacency):

Both police records (which underestimate some types of crime) and surveys of victims (which should not, but are not as regularly available a source of data) show crime against the person and against property falling over the past ten years in most rich countries. In America the fall began around 1991; in Britain it began around 1995, though the murder rate followed only in the mid-2000s. In France, property crime rose until 2001—but it has fallen by a third since. Some crimes are all but disappearing. In 1997, some 400,000 cars were reported stolen in England and Wales: in 2012, just 86,000.

 

Cities have seen the greatest progress. The number of violent crimes has fallen by 32% since 1990 across America as a whole; in the biggest cities, it has fallen by 64%. In New York, the area around Times Square on 42nd Street, where pornographers once mingled with muggers, is now a family oriented tourist trap. On London’s housing estates, children play in concrete corridors once used by heroin addicts to shoot up. In Tallinn you can walk home from the theatre unmolested as late as you like.

 

What is behind this spectacular and widespread improvement? Demographic trends are an obvious factor. The baby-boom in the decades after the second world war created a bubble in the 16- to 24-year-old population a couple of decades later, and most crimes are committed by men of that age. That bubble is now long deflated. In most Western countries, the population is ageing, often quite fast.

The magazine looks at a range of others issues, ranging from drugs, policing methods, fewer opportunities, stronger protections on things like cars and houses, and so on. (Of course, modern burglar alarms and all the rest cost money, and there are the potential civil libertarian issues arising from developments in modern policing, arguably). Even so, with all the ifs, buts and niggles about statistics, etc, it seems there has been a genuine improvement, and in quite a short – relatively – period of time.

Maybe we are seeing, in accelerated form, the sort of decline in misbehaviour that Steven Pinker has written about in his book, The Better Angels of Our Nature.

And perhaps because certain forms of crime are in decline, that might also explain how this creates a vacuum for the worriers out there, as they focus on issues such as health, drinking, smoking, paedophiles, and the rest. I am not trivialising such concerns – especially the latter – but it might explain part of what it is going on. It is almost as if we humans need to have stuff to get anxious and worry over and there are plenty of people, with good and less positive motives, who are only to keen to pander to that need.

Samizdata quote of the day

Some “experts” say that women should pee their pants or puke to avoid rape. Are they serious? Guns are better. Don’t pee your pants; make your wannabe rapist pee his pants.

Julie Borowski

Print-a-gun becomes a reality

So it seems that it is possible to create a functional firearm with a 3D printer after all… awesome.

Ammunition may be a tad harder but where there is a will, there is a way.

Samizdata quote of the day

[W]hen you pull a gun the implication is that you will use it. All subsequent actions proceed on that basis. When you raise your interactions to that level here in Wisconsin you should bear in mind that Wisconsin is a concealed carry state. You better be prepared to play for the stakes you wager.

– Samizdatista Midwesterner, discussing the implications of coercing people into ‘doing the right thing‘ with threats.

So what is a person to do when another wishes to make them ‘do the right thing’ at gunpoint?

Reading the excellent blog The Last Ditch, there was an article about the Liberty League Freedom Forum 2013, written back on April 06th. And in the article, the author describes the views of Sam Bowman, of the Adam Smith Institute (and I am a great fan of the ASI) thus:

The two other sessions I attended also provided much food for thought. Sam Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute suggested that the standard libertarian approach to presenting our ideas appealed only to ourselves.

[…]

The most disturbing moment of the day was in Bowman’s session when he mentioned in passing the “standard” justification for welfarism; one that I had never heard before. If, he said, a baby was drowning in a puddle not only would a passing stranger have a moral duty to rescue it, but he would also have a moral right if, perhaps because of disability, he couldn’t do it himself to force someone else to do so at gunpoint.

This utilitarian remark passed without comment or challenge, but left me distinctly chilled. I don’t dispute a moral duty to save the child and I would shun forever someone else who failed to do so. But the idea that I would be justified in pulling a gun on the shunworthy one – or even killing him – if he failed to do his duty struck me as obscene.

Views like Sam Bowman’s are why I am so in favour of the private ownership of firearms.

When he (theoretically) points his (theoretical) gun at me to force me to risk my life to save another, I would say “Yes sir… oh and do you also want me to rescue that burning baby over there?”

And when he turns to look, I would (theoretically) produce my (theoretical) handgun and put two (theoretical) 40 cal rounds in the fucker’s chest and then one in his (theoretical) head.

And then I might actually go rescue the (theoretically) drowning baby and thereby have done two good things in a single day.

Using a SWAT team as a weapon against investigative journalism

Brian Krebs, a information and network security journalist, a few days ago had a little visit from a SWAT team:

When I opened the door to peel the rest of the tape off, I heard someone yell, “Don’t move! Put your hands in the air.” Glancing up from my squat, I saw a Fairfax County Police officer leaning over the trunk of a squad car, both arms extended and pointing a handgun at me. As I very slowly turned my head to the left, I observed about a half-dozen other squad cars, lights flashing, and more officers pointing firearms in my direction, including a shotgun and a semi-automatic rifle. I was instructed to face the house, back down my front steps and walk backwards into the adjoining parking area, after which point I was handcuffed and walked up to the top of the street.

I informed the responding officers that this was a hoax, and that I’d even warned them in advance of this possibility. In August 2012, I filed a report with Fairfax County Police after receiving non-specific threats. The threats came directly after I wrote about a service called absoboot.com, which is a service that can be hired to knock Web sites offline.

His blog carries the story context. Krebs further notes:

I have seen many young hackers discussing SWATing attacks as equivalent to calling in a bomb threat to get out of taking exams in high school or college. Unfortunately, calling in a bomb threat is nowhere near as dangerous as sending a SWAT team or some equivalent force to raid someone’s residence. This type of individual prank puts peoples’ lives at risk, wastes huge amounts of taxpayer dollars, and draws otherwise scarce resources away from real emergencies. What’s more, there are a lot of folks who will confront armed force with armed force, all with the intention of self-defense.

Statutory murder is an occasional topic of discussion in the information security community, for instance by planting a small quantity of drugs on someone who is travelling to Singapore.

It’s a risk, and it’s only getting easier to exploit with calls for ever more heavy-handed “security“.

A theory about why Britain has a lot of gun control and America has less

It is to do with urbanisation. Quite simply, the more people who live in cities the greater the amount of gun control.

It’s not just Britain and America. Switzerland, largely rural, has very little gun control, while America’s cities, as I understand it, tend to have plenty. I suspect one of the reasons for this is that in the cities you can have a reasonably effective police force. OK there’s the quip about “When seconds count the cops are only minutes away.” but better minutes than hours.

Also, I suspect politicians themselves are affected by this. In a city a politician finds himself surrounded by potential assassins, all of whom are nearby. “Best to disarm them”, he thinks. In less populated areas this is far less the case. It is perhaps no accident that high-rise New York City had gun control well before anywhere in the UK.

A pistol

A pistol. A 1907 Dreyse to be exact.

David Mamet rants magnificently

I would appear to be the last to know that the playwright David Mamet is, if not a member of my political family, then perhaps a cousin. The rant I link to below, which is exquisitely well written, is not going to persuade a single person who doesn’t already agree with the content, but it is an amazingly well designed firehose of hydrofluoric acid. Critics may (with some reason) say that it is vicious and panders to my affiliation group, but if so, it is literate vicious pandering.

The topic is ostensibly gun control, but in fact, it is mostly about collectivism in general. It begins with…

Karl Marx summed up Communism as “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” This is a good, pithy saying, which, in practice, has succeeded in bringing, upon those under its sway, misery, poverty, rape, torture, slavery, and death.

…and builds spectacularly from there.

“Gun Laws and the Fools of Chelm” by David Mamet

Samizdata quote of the day

“We respect the Office of the President of the United States of America. But make no mistake, as the duly-elected sheriffs of our respective counties, we will enforce the rights guaranteed to our citizens by the Constitution. No federal official will be permitted to descend upon our citizens and take from them what the Bill of rights — in particular Amendment II — has given them. We, like you, swore a solemn oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and we are prepared to trade our lives for the preservation of its traditional interpretation.”

– The Utah Sheriff’s Association

(H/T, Unforseen Contingencies blog)

Distributed defence

Incoming:

Dear Samizdata,

Defense Distributed, a libertarian student partnership, is announcing a project they’re calling the Wiki Weapon. This project’s goal is to test and prove a design for a completely printable, one-use ABS plastic .22 handgun, and to take that design from CAD and port it to a .STL file that will then be freely shared across all major file-sharing platforms to the world. DefDist is anticipating a world where 3D printing becomes much more economical and ubiquitous, and the Wiki Weapon will be one step in providing political and personal leverage to the peoples of that world. The value of such a file’s existence in the future cannot be overstated.

We ask that you please share the project or its video, located at http://PrintableGun.com and http://Indiegogo.com/wikiwep, with your readers and help spread the word that there are intellectual entrepreneurs dedicated to preserving Liberty in a time of almost unopposed statist planning.

Please find the attached press release for your convenience.

Thank you for your time.

You’re welcome.

71-year-old fights off robbers

I would like to think it means something that this story is in the Metro, a London free paper, but it is probably there only because the video of the robbers running for their lives is so funny. Other than where it appears, there is nothing unusual about the story. Gun use for self defense seems quite common.

Cool gun

News can travel fast these days, but this particular bit of news took its time reaching me. It started in Covent Garden, then went to Oddity Central, then to here, in Canada, and from there to here, which is based somewhere (I think) in a southern state of the USA, where I read it, I being about two pleasant little walks away from Covent Garden. And now it is here:

Icecreamists of Covent Garden, London has created the Vice Lolly, a sacrilegious gun-shaped frozen treat made from holy water from a sacred spring in Lourdes, France, 80% alcohol absinthe and sugar.

According to this, this gun is still perfectly legal here in Britain. Nevertheless, my first thought was (hence that link): isn’t there some kind of law here against replica guns? Call it the chilling effect.

Would you prefer me to be more serious about guns in Britain? Not tonight thank you. The subject is too depressing.