Blue Line Update

Back in 2015, the topic of law enforcement was center stage. Specifically, what law enforcement does, how they should be governed, and the subject of abuse of power were all major topics that, while important, ended up largely being split into camps where police were either always right or always wrong.

Back in September, we discussed just about every square inch of the topic in three Midnight Run updates.
Blue Line provided the overview.
Blue Blood focused on attacks on police, both physically and politically.
Blue Bond closed by focusing on the response to those attacks and what has now become known as “Back The Blue.”

This week, we update what we can, based on what little stats we have. Primarily, we will discuss the latest statistics on Line Of Duty deaths, a change in the political climate, and a look back at the 2016 Dallas shooting.

1.) Baseline. As with Blue Line, it is worth stating a few things upfront. In this debate, you have people who believe that police can do no wrong, and people who believe police can do no right. Both are completely asinine at best and fundamentally dangerous at worse. To presume that police are always right, no matter their actions, is essentially to allow for any abuse of power because “there must have been something the suspect did.” Likewise, to presume that police are always wrong is to assume that there is no reason for police to exist, and indeed that society can get along just fine without some sort of central authority, or at least an organization focused on maintaining some semblance of order.

We don’t accept either viewpoint here. We never have.

2.) War On Cops. Since the original Blue Line, there has been a ton of literature on the so-called “War On Cops.” Some outlets, like Reason Magazine, have said that there is not and never was any such thing, pointing to statistics showing that line of duty deaths have never been lower. The Mises Institute has flat-out asked “Where’s the Evidence?”

However, strictly looking at line of duty deaths simply isn’t a good way to discuss whether there is (or at least was) a “war on cops.” In December of 2016, National Public Radio’s Martin Kaste did a report on how events like the Dallas shooting have lead to the perception that law enforcement officers are themselves under siege. In other words, it’s not just about the hard numbers, it’s about whether police believe they are themselves under siege. That perception is changing how police operate, often with much more hesitation than they normally would have.

Part of that perception, of course, is due to the subject becoming politically-charged. According to a July 2016 article in Politico, the head of the National Association of Police Organizations told FOX News that then-President Obama helped to ignite anti-police sentiment.

“I think [the Obama administration] continued appeasements at the federal level with the Department of Justice, their appeasement of violent criminals, their refusal to condemn movements like Black Lives Matter, actively calling for the death of police officers, that type of thing, all the while blaming police for the problems in this country has led directly to the climate that has made Dallas possible, William Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, said in an interview with Fox on Friday morning.

Johnson said although the Thursday night shooting of law enforcement officers reminded him of “the violence in the streets in the 60’s and 70’s,” he pointed out how Obama’s response appeared different than his predecessors.

“I think one of the big differences then was you had governors and mayors and the president — whether it was President Johnson or President Nixon, Republican or Democrat — condemning violence against the police and urging support for the police,” Johnson said. “Today that’s markedly absent. I think that’s a huge difference, and that’s directly led to the climate that allows these attacks to happen.”

This “War on cops” has been blamed also for a recruitment shortage, among other things.

(It’s worth noting that, more recently, the head of one of New York’s largest police unions said that a lot of recent NYPD resignations were due to low pay. This news has itself become a political issue, as mayor Bill de Blasio has called it a “classic union play.”)

3.) Trump. The shift from President Obama to President Trump also seems to have brought about a shift in how law enforcement is perceived (in most cases). Trump has regularly praised the efforts of law enforcement, and the new tone from DC has not gone unnoticed. Trump has called anti-police sentiment “defamation” and has called police “the thin blue line between civilization and chaos.”

Jim Pasco, the Exec. Director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, told the Washington Times in December of 2017 that “Arguably the most significant thing a president can do is use the bully pulpit to reflect his support for law enforcement. To this point in his presidency, he has certainly gone out of his way to do that. That resonates within the profession, and it’s received very favorably.”

In the interest of balance, it’s worth noting that there has occasionally been some friction between law enforcement and the Trump administration. This seems to have something to do with the investigation into Russia’s work during the election, and specifically former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. McCabe has since been fired after it was “determined that he lied to investigations reviewing the bureau’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server.”

In general, however, the shift from Obama to Trump has seen a marked change in tone from DC, and the lack of support coming from the DC seems to have kicked down a lot of support for vehemently anti-police movements.

And that, thankfully, seems to have at least somewhat reduced tensions in the debate.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Newsroom: March 2018

Way too much to cover this week. We’re going to basically cover everything that has happened in relation to the Parkland shooting. This week, the “violent video game” trope is resurrected from the early 2000s, multiple updates to state legislative efforts, a GOP debate in PA, and one or two likely-doomed bills in Congress.

1.) Violent Video Games. Let us get this out of the way and never speak of it again. For some reason, despite there being no connection between the Parkland shooter and video games, and despite a doesn’t exist) on violent video games. President Trump had a handful of gaming executives, Media Research Center’s Brent Bozell, and Dave Grossman come to the White House for one of many “listening sessions” he has held in recent weeks. Apparently had no interest in games whatsoever.

Of course, it’s also worth noting that this takes place in the post-Brown v. Electronic Merchants Association world, and that video games are indeed protected by the First Amendment, as Vox was quite eager to note.

2.) Massie. Definitely going against the grain of recent legislative efforts, Representative Thomas Massie has introduced a bill that, rather than raising the age to own a rifle to 21, would instead lower the age to own a handgun to 18. Unfortunately, as Bearing Arms notes, the current climate isn’t exactly conducive to reducing restrictions on firearms.

3.) Age discrimination. The National Shooting Sports Foundation has warned FFLs that the recent trend of unilaterally raising the age to purchase a rifle may have legal consequences. Dick’s Sporting Goods, among other retail stores, have said they will not sell firearms to people under 21, despite the law stating that people can at least own a rifle at 18. The NSSF places its entire argument on state and local “age discrimination” laws.

4.) GVROs. The idea of pre-emptively taking somebody’s firearms because they “might” be a risk has also been floated in the wake of the Parkland shooting. Bearing Arms has an excellent op-ed on the has already seen one firearm confiscated.

5a.) State’s Fights: New York. Somehow managing to find ways to make gun laws tighter, New York has passed five new gun control bills ranging from bump stock bans, to GVROs, to 10-day waiting periods.

5b.) State’s Fights: Utah. Utah, meanwhile, rejected the idea of and invited swift legal action by the NRA as a result. The bill raises the age to buy a rifle to 21, puts in a 3 day waiting period, and according to Bay News 9 “includes new checks to prevent guns from falling into the hands of the mentally ill.”

The NRA’s lawsuit focuses on the age to purchase a rifle.

Next time, we update the Blue Line series. A look at violence against police, the current statistics on line-of-duty deaths, and more. In April, we will put the long-form discussions on hold for a moment, and lay out a rough sketch for the second half of 2018 on the Midnight Run, including Blowback and the concept of following up on previous updates more frequently (as opposed to, for example, the four-year gulf between Debt and its upcoming follow-up in May).

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Blade

A few years ago, in Dirt and Blood, we examined the lethality of weapons other than firearms. This week, we will return to that discussion, with a focus on knives. There simply isn’t much in regards to fists that was not covered in the original D&B (apart from this BBC article covering one-punch deaths), first of all. Secondly, knives have suddenly become a major topic of discussion in many ways. In London, crime involving knives surged in 2017 to its highest point in six years. Beyond that, however, is the rather concerning notion that knives have become the “weapon of choice” among terrorist groups, as a Canadian government report shows.

The purpose of the Run this week, in brief, is to examine the rise of the knife as a terrorist tool, it’s role in crime (particularly in areas with tight gun restrictions), and to demonstrate that an individual without a gun is not, in anyway, less of a threat to somebody.

1.) Lethality. An object is either lethal or it isn’t. A man armed with a brick is still a danger in a one-on-one situation. Massad Ayoob has an excellent piece from 2014 called “The Dangerous Myth of Hierarchy of Lethality” that beautifully lays out how a knife in many cases has an advantage over a firearm (never jams, doesn’t need ammo), and also goes into blunt impact weaponry. The Odyssey expands upon this, going into the mindset of a criminal. Specifically, the Odyssey’s Taylor Glowacki argues that, since a criminal intent on harm will find a way regardless, it is naive to assume that the lack of a firearm somehow makes the person less dangerous. (This is why releasing someone while banning them from owning firearms is itself contradictory; it acknowledges that the person is too dangerous to be released.) Taylor says in part:

Taking a look at other countries who have limited gun rights are also proof that reducing gun rights do not reduce the rate of violence, crime or shootings. Russia, for example has extremely strict regulations on owning a firearm and had a period of time when they were even banned, but yet they have a higher rate of homicide than the United States. In Russia there were about 21,000 homicides, and in the United States there were about 13,000 in a given year. Russia’s rate is almost twice that of the United States, and they have far less guns and gun access. The homicide rate, as well as the crime rate in the United States, is actually decreased from the past 10 years, and guns haven’t been restricted. With that being said, if crime rates are reducing and guns aren’t restricted, why restrict them now?

2.) Crime. Let us turn from that to the knife as a tool of criminals. The chief example about gun control and knife crime is almost always the United Kingdom, and frankly 2017 was no exception. Knife crime rose 23% in the country, with 37,443 offenses (compared to 6,694 gun crimes). 80 people in the country were killed due to stabbings.

The mass stabbing in China back in 2014, which saw 29 people killed and over 100 injured is another example, and in fact. knife attack statistics in China have been referred to as misleading and possibly based on falsified information.

3.) Terrorism. Beyond that, however, the knife has become a prime tool for terrorism, as a report from Canada’s public safety department shows. In the Executive Summary of Public Safety Canada’s report, the agency says:

We have witnessed an increase of low-sophistication, high-impact terrorist attacks around the world. In particular, we have seen the increased use of knives and vehicles in attacks, such as the attack that took place recently in Edmonton, in which five people were injured; and in New York, in which eight people were killed and several more seriously injured.

It should not be too much of a surprise, given the tendency of terrorists to search for less easily-detectable, and in some cases outright makeshift weaponry to achieve their goals. (We saw such makeshift weapons in the 2017 bombing in Manchester, England, discussed here in the Tactical Review “Shock Value.”)

We have discussed at length in the Midnight Run how terrorists, and frankly mass killers general seek to create maximum impact with minimal effort and an almost skeletal planning system.

Meanwhile, FOX News has a remarkable piece showing Islamic terror’s embrace of the knife as a primary tool, almost to the point of fetishization. Not only does the FOX bit discuss the knife as an object in terms of its tactical use, but also how songs have been written about it and even how it has become a popular baby name.

4.) Bottom line. The purpose of this week’s Run is not to instill some irrational paranoia, or to propose something ludicrous and impossible like banning knives. Rather, it is to continue the thesis of Dirt And Blood which is that anything can be used as a lethal weapon. The knife has rather obvious uses in modern life, but it also has uses as a lethal weapon. It is all dependent on the person using it. This update also shows, to be frank, that some of the major threats in the world today neither prefer nor need firearms to do incredible damage; and indeed rely upon less obvious forms of weaponry (and less obvious forms of conversion/recruitment) to achieve their ends.

Focusing on a single weapon for political reasons only succeeds in leaving a dangerous opponent with everything else.

Back to the newsroom next time.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Newsroom: February 2018

This week, Everytown bets on ignorance to lobby against suppressors, Moms Demand Action compares the military to white supremacists, a long-overdue (and mediocre) exoneration of a few MARSOC Marines, and a word about elections in Texas.

1.) MARSOC. An embarassing, decade-long story is finally over, as nearly 30 MARSOC Marines were exonerated of war crimes they were accused of back in 2007. It largely came about in the form of a letter to Rep. Walter Jones that reaffirmed a court’s ruling.

The full story is on Marine Corps Times’ website and makes for stunning reading. It’s a repulsive story about Marines who did nothing wrong, but were nonetheless made examples of by the people who were supposed to have their backs.

2.) Everytown. Using the Chris Dorner case as a jumping-off point, Everytown released a statement against the Hearing Protection Act, noting that “five years ago, our nation saw what can happen when silencers end up in the wrong hands, yet Congress is trying to pass a bill that would roll back gun silencer safety laws and make it easy for people with dangerous histories to buy silencers without a background check.” This is ludicrous in two ways. Firstly, it later defeats its own thesis by acknowledging that suppressors are rarely used in crime. Secondly, suppressors would still be subject to background checks, just not the obscene Class 3 regime that they are part of now.

The ATF, as an aside, adds more detail on how rare such crimes are, with the agency’s Ronald Turk noting that only 44 people are recommended for prosecution due to “silencer-related violations”

In other words, Everytown tactfully avoids how rare an incident like Dorner actually is, and completely characterizes what Congress is actually intending to do with the law.

3.) Moms Demand. Another part of Everytown, Moms Demand Action, had a slight PR screw up this week when Everytown’s head, Shannon Watts, opined on the recent discussion about Trump looking to hold a military parade by suggesting that white supremacists already had done the same for him.

Of course, a military parade is quite different from a parade of neo-Nazis. But we’ll let that slide for now.

4.) CBS News. 60 Minutes is interviewing somebody from the US Concealed Carry Association about gun rights and the legislation moving through Congress relating to gun rights. (Hopefully they have a recording of their own.) The report broadcasts on CBS Sunday night, February 11, at 7 PM Eastern time.

5.) Grisham. Finally tonight, a brief word about Texas. In 2016, the Run referenced Open Carry Texas Founder CJ Grisham six times. In each case, he had demonstrated being exceptionally pro-gun (and frankly, pro-liberty generally). Grisham also had referenced Midnight Run: Debt a few years back.

I put all this out there because the man is now running for office as a State Representative in Texas. The Facebook page is here, and the primary is March 6th.

Good luck to the man. He certainly has the track record.
Maybe he’ll move to the FEDERAL House eventually. That would be fun to watch.

Full disclosure: No, this is not paid for by his campaign, despite my frequent interactions with Grisham.
I have, however, donated to said campaign. All of the above is entirely my own writing.

Next up, we update Dirt And Blood by talking about the knife, its effectiveness in combat, and its relatively new adoption by terrorists as a primary tool.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Iniquity

Exploitation, violence, abuse, and fear.
The hallmarks of the illegal sex trade.

It’s remarkable that, for all of the moralizing seen online today, and the constant parade of virtue-signaling, very little attention is paid to what is arguably one of the most amoral and repulsive industries in the nation; sex trafficking. It’s not something that gets a lot of attention, and when it does, the sexual aspect becomes part of the presentation, appearing more as a film noir drama than a legitimate look at the issue.

This week, we tackle the industry itself, statistics on sex trafficking hubs, and the movement to legalize prostitution under the belief that it can be a consensual transaction. (It can be, it just virtually never is. And that’s the problem.)

This week will see a Run more in the style of the Dirt and Blood update than our usual clinical, journalistic approach. We will not overdramatize the sleaziness of the industry (frankly, we don’t need to), but we will not run from occasionally graphic events and the abuse that many prostitutes endure. Plan accordingly.

The Run makes every effort to dodge sensationalism, and no effort to hide the less-pleasant parts of the subject matter.

Before we begin, credit where it’s due. I would like to thank Luke Crawford for his help in researching portions of this Run.

1.) Statistical Breakdown. Sex trafficking is defined by the FBI as “when persons are compelled to engage in commercial sex acts through means of force, fraud, and/or coercion.” It is a sub-strata of human trafficking, which is essentially modernized slavery.

According to a 2013 report by CNN, the average life expectancy of a female sex trafficking victim (in other words, a woman lured into becoming a prostitute) is roughly a mere seven years from when she becomes involved in it. Shared Hope International, a group focused on rescuing women and children from sex trafficking rings, states that the average age for a prostitute is roughly 14-16 years old (although studies for this statistic are nebulous at best).

As Shared Hope notes however, the driving force behind sex trafficking is the same force behind human trafficking; profits. A 2014 report by the Urban Institute shows that the sex trafficking industry generated about $39 million in Denver, and a staggering $290 million in Atlanta. This is compounded by the inevitable connection between sex trafficking and the “adult entertainment” industry, which was worth about $14 billion in 2015, according to a CNBC piece the network’s coverage of the industry.

Without profit, an industry collapses. So how does one fight an industry built on exploitation and abuse? For that, we need to examine the harm caused by the industry, and the clinical studies done not only in regards to sex trafficking, but pornography.

It should be noted, going forward, that many statistics and studies focus on human trafficking as a whole, and not sex trafficking in particular. It is, obviously, no less pertinent to this discussion, so we will use studies looking at both.

2.) Clinical. Put bluntly, the impact human trafficking has on its victims is devastating. A 2016 study from the King’s College of London and the London School of Hygine and Tropical Medicine shows that nearly 80% of female victims reported high levels of depression, anxiety or PTSD. To be clear, this is not about the immediate effects, but rather the aftermath 16 months afterwards. 4/5 of men also reported similar issues.

Shared Hope notes that the world of the trafficking victim as one of near-constant violence, fear, threats, and intimidation. It is not hard to see how such a world could severely impact the person’s mental health (to say nothing of their physical health).

Perhaps one of the best sources on the mental and physical impact of human trafficking is a report by the American Psychological Association. In addition to the depression, anxiety, and PTSD mentioned above, the APA also notes increased hostility and nervousness even 3 months removed from the initial rescue. Moreover, the APA reports on dissociation (that is, detachment from either other people or from the environment as a whole), as well as suicidal/self-harming behavior and thoughts. It is an incredible report that also recommends ways of both punishing human traffickers while also caring for the victims.

It also makes clear that caring for the victims is an incredibly complex process, and that a one-size-fits-all approach simply isn’t effective.

3a.) Solutions: Baseline. An article in 2011 from the APA gives us a good view as to what is being done about the problem of human trafficking in general, namely “through public awareness campaigns, education and advocacy, psychologists are working to end human trafficking.”

Additionally, the Department of Justice has published an annual report on the U.S. Government’s efforts to combat human trafficking. The US government actually publishes a number of reports on the subject, from at least 4 separate departments.

Meanwhile, Australia has come up with a novel solution to sex tourism, the practice of going to another country for prostitution or other sexual activity. The country has become the first on Earth to prevent convicted sex offenders from leaving the country in the first place.

However, for whatever reason, another solution has been gaining steam on the side-streams.

3b.) Solutions: Legalization. Nets from Daily Beast to the left-leaning Slate to the libertarian Reason Magazine have proposed the idea of legalizing sex work as a manner of stopping sex trafficking. On paper it sounds extremely counter-intuitive. However, supporters argue that legalizing the business of prostitution could lead to lower rates of STDs, reduce the spread of HIV, and allow for laws to be put in place protecting sex workers. Libertarians argue that the illegality of prostitution has contributed to a sort of “black market” environment that allows for such physical abuse of the prostitute.

On the flipside, the group Demand Abolition has a very well-sourced article on why legalizing prostitutionshouldn’t be legal, arguing that the physical and emotional abuse linked to prostitution happens regardless of whether it is legal or not. The group also points to how legalizing prostitution in some countries has done little to decrease sex trafficking and, in some cases, has led to a substantial increase.

3c.) Solutions: Organizations. At this point, though, it’s worth highlighting a ton of organizations who are working to fight human trafficking as a whole.

Let’s start with NightLight International. NightLight was formed in Bangkok, Thailand in 2005 (where sex trafficking is estimated to be a $6.4 billion industry). The group’s United States operation serves as a combination intervention, ministry, healthcare network, and even a place of employment for victims of sex trafficking. Their main US operation is based in Missouri. The group believes in what it calls “holistic restoration” of sex trafficking victims, in other words addressing all of the victim’s needs and guiding them out of their current situation.

Next up is Thorn, once called the DNA Foundation, which focuses on child sexual exploitation and trafficking. Co-founded by actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore (the former of whom testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the subject last year), Thorn is built as a technology company, developing software for identifying victims, analyzing evidence, and giving victims a discreet way to get help by way of a confidential textline operated by the Polaris Project. The company says their main program, Spotlight, has identified roughly 18,000 victims, and 6,500 traffickers.

Polaris appears to be a significantly larger operation. Their website says “Polaris systemically disrupts the human trafficking networks.” This is done through a three-point system build around responding to victims, lobbying governments for support, and directly targeting human traffickers. They boast a impressive array of roughly nine separate projects aimed at targeting virtually every aspect of the human trafficking industry, extending even into the labor markets.

For those looking to go into much deeper research, the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office On Trafficking In Persons” has a lot of fairly thorough reports on human trafficking, including state-by-state efforts to combat it.

4.) Bottom Line. Billion-dollar industries don’t disappear overnight. Anybody who has seen the illegal drug trade in Mexico can figure that out. However, Human trafficking has started to become, at the very least a much more public issue. Recent developments such as the raid at a Victoria’s Secret in Bangkok and lawsuits against hotels and Backpage, and even the recent focus on sexual assault will only enhance the issue’s visibility. Additionally, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal has announced that he will bring a victim of child sex trafficking to next week’s State of the Union address. (Incidentally, a week after the SotU is the Super Bowl. That event has a reputation for seeing an increase in sex trafficking in the host city.)

For now, however, it is worth considering three things. The first being the incredible toll human trafficking takes on its victims, the second being the connection between human trafficking and pornography, and the third being the staggering amount of effort that has been put into fighting the industry that has gone largely unnoticed until very recently. The enhanced visibility of anti-trafficking efforts can only benefit both the efforts themselves, and the victims of of human trafficking.

For our part, the Run will definitely return to this topic in the near future.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Newsroom: January 2018

Welcome back. Kicking things off with a quick run of some major news from the last month, and then we kick off the long-form half of the Midnight Run in two weeks with a discussion on sex trafficking.

1.) Venezuela. Remember when everybody was singing the praises of the Venezuelan government? When we had celebrities praising the Venezuelan government in general, and then-leader Hugo Chavez in particular.

Jump ahead a few years, and Venezuela is the definition of a failed state, with mandated price cuts, (and a minimum wage equivalent to two US Dollars per month), and looting that has resulted in the deaths of four people.

In September of last year, President Trump noted that Venezuela was in crisis because socialism has been “faithfully implemented” in the country.

2.) Gun rights. There is an almost-embarassing report out of Guns.com about a court finding that being involuntarily committed for less than 24 hours does not trigger a lifetime ban on gun rights. The case centers around a man who walked into his local police station in 2002 “needing to talk to someone.” He was hospitalized for less than a day. Jump ahead over a decade and he learns that he is prohibited from owning a firearm, despite having no issues whatsoever in the intervening time.

A judge found that he “no longer suffers from the mental health condition that was the basis of the original civil commitment,”

But nonetheless, it’s worth noting that all of this started because a man asking for help, getting it, and moving on with his life.

We’ll be talking more about gun rights restoration, as well as mental health later this year.

3.) Guns and Weed. My InSov colleague at This Is The Line found a report out of PA saying that, at least in Pennsylvania, registering for a medical marijuana card will not lead to the State police looking to confiscate their firearms. The trouble, of course, comes from weed being illegal in all circumstances under federal law.

This is likely to become a flashpoint given Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ extremely well-documented opposition to legalization.

4.) Swatting. Swatting is the practice of giving fake information to a 911 dispatcher with the express purpose of getting the SWAT team called on somebody. This usually ends badly for either the SWAT team or the victim. In Kansas, we are finally starting to see a bit of resistance to it, as the suspect in a swatting case is facing an involuntary manslaughter charge. At max, he will serve 3 years in jail and a $300,000 fine. The suspect is apparently also wanted in Canada on mischief and fraud charges from a different swatting incident.

We covered Swatting previously in “Harassment” way back in 2014, as well as 2016’s “Pendulum” update.

If we see more of this, we’ll probably end up revisiting swatting this year as well.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Stand Down 2017

Two months ago, in “Free Speech Week,” we were covering free speech being censored at a college that used to see itself as a bastion of free speech.
Three months ago, in “Lawless,” we were discussing the aftermath of Charlottesville, gun confiscation, and the emerging threat of political violence.
After the July updates, we suddenly found anti-gun groups having an issue with the licensing schemes they claimed to support.

The year hasn’t exactly been a great one, but as we close this year, there are reasons for at least some form of optimism going into 2018. Even in this year, we have seen events that directly contrast the narrative that the country is irreparably divided. We have discussed as much here in “Optimism” and the post-Harvey “Hope Within Hatred.”

Additionally, we have seen gun control’s ineffectiveness proven scientifically (discussed in November’s Grab Bag back when they were called Grab Bags), polls have shown that Americans believe in due process and support reducing this country’s absurdly high prison population. The attempts to censor free speech at places like Berkeley only led to a debate on free speech, and the emergence of people like Sargon of Akkad and Dave Rubin (both of whom are more liberal in their politics, yet frequently take shots at the left and social justice warriors).

It’s worth noting that the firearms debate is going so well that the Run, for several months, became fairly repetitive.

Firearms, free speech, and due process are looking to be major topics next year; whether we’re talking about national reciprocity, censorship on YouTube and Patreon, or even criminal justice reform.

But outside of the political sphere, it is worth noting that this year saw major disasters that reinforce the need for practicing being prepared for those disasters. From the tornado outbreak in Georgia (in January, no less), to Harvey in Texas, to the (as of this writing) ongoing wildfires in California; the year has proven that being ready for events that “can’t happen here” is actually very important. (This is, of course, leaving aside the major snowstorms that briefly paralyzed portions of the southeast, although not quite to the degree Winter Storm Leon did to Atlanta in 2014).

Survivalism, disaster preparedness, and physical fitness may not get a lot of attention next year (largely due to their rather dry nature and their inability to be politically exploited), but the Run will certainly continue to cover those topics. We will take advantage of the new format to the greatest extent possible, and cover these and many more subjects, up to and including the often-forgotten history of the United States. If there is one major event in the Run that will happen regardless of the format, it is the annual Blowback. There are quite a few things in the pipe for 2018, including long-overdue updates to Debt, as well as Dirt And Blood.

And so, we close the Midnight Run for this year with a new format, a much wider scope, and a series of major articles ahead. We close on a year that has reinforced the need for preparing well ahead of disasters, and proven the tactical ineffectiveness of gun control (which, as Andrew Branca has noted, was blatantly obvious to begin with). It has proven, to be completely frank, that expecting laws to prevent anything or worse, assuming that bad things “can’t happen here” is dangerous at best, and ignorant at worst. This will become a theme for the Run going forward, continuing to focus on the tactics of firearms, and returning to survivalism a lot more frequently than the Run has in the past. (The previous format made exploring such a concept in-depth fairly difficult.)

In short, the Run will be more informative, more in-depth, and will continue to be fairly clinical in 2018.

We resume on the 13th of January, with a quick update on the news from around the firearms/survivalist world. We then jump into an in-depth look at sex trafficking, and its impact on the country as a whole.

Thank you for reading, and as always:

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Newsroom: December 2017

Programming notes: As mentioned back in Worldwide Blueprint we are coming to the close of the Run in 2017. This and one more essay, then we adjourn for the year and reload on January 13th with a news update. However, unlike what was laid out in that Run, the second January update will be a look at sex trafficking.

But, for now, let us discuss the news. This month, Black Friday sales continue to set records, ISIS militants are confirmed in Canada, and “firearms amnesty” in the United Kingdom.

1.) Black Friday. In what is starting to seem as an annual tradition, NICS background checks for Black Friday set a record. 203,086 background checks were run through the system, but multiple firearms can be tied to the same BGC, so the number of firearms sold was likely a lot higher.

Not much more to say there, really.

2.) ISIS in Canada. We already know that ISIS has fighters in the UK, that much has been shown fairly clearly. But now, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Ralph Goodale, has confirmed that the government is watching a least 60 ISIS fighters in the country. This comes on the heels of an extremely controversial plan to “reintegrate” ISIS fighters back into the country. According to The Daily Caller, Canada’s PM, Justin Trudeau, says that the goal of the program is to “monitor them, we’re also there to help them to let go of that terrorist ideology.” However, Goodale has noted that “once a person has been in a war zone, once they’ve been actively engaged in terrorist-related activities, the capacity to turn them around is pretty remote. That’s why you have to use the other tools, including collecting the evidence and prosecuting wherever and whenever you can.”

This leads to the idea that a person too dangerous to be released from prison shouldn’t be released (which we have discussed here), but the question in this context is a bit more complicated. Namely, should Canadians affiliated with ISIS be allowed back into society at all?

3.) The United Kingdom. By now, you’ve heard that the UK has very little gun crime, compared to the US. The interesting thing is that, in mid-November, we actually saw a 27% increase in gun crime throughout the UK, and the government set up an amnesty program for people to turn in their firearms, no(t many ) questions asked. The event was known as the “National Gun Surrender.”

But, when gun crime is rising by almost 1/4, it is not exactly a point in favor of gun control advocates here. Leaving aside the laughably small hauls gun buybacks tend to pull in around the US.

4.) Gun ownership. Finally tonight, a great article on how gun control, as a policy, is elitist at best, and ineffective at worst. Scott McPherson, over at The Future of Freedom Foundation, brilliantly illustrates how gun control is not so much about crime, and more about exerting self-granted authority.

At its root, gun control is an elitist policy. One group of people decides that by virtue of birth, social status, economic status, or political persuasion, they should control the ownership of firearms. The framers of our Constitution explicitly rejected that notion, lauding instead the value of an armed populace. To protect the right to keep and bear arms, the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791.

Elites are even less comfortable when commoners use guns, in defense of themselves and others. On NBC’s Today former vice president Joe Biden, who is guarded around the clock by Secret Service agents, was asked specifically about Stephen Willeford’s use of an AR-15 rifle to stop a madman who killed twenty-six people in a Texas church. Biden didn’t even acknowledge Willeford’s competence, presence of mind, and incredible heroism on that tragic day, offering dismissively, “Well, first of all, the kind of gun being carried he shouldn’t be carrying.”

Next week, we discuss this year in gun rights, and set the stage for next year.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Optimism (Thanksgiving Grab Bag)

Really should start referring to the normal Grab Bags as news updates.

This week, we focus neither on recent news, nor on the latest outrage. Instead, as the year winds down, I find it more reasonable to look at the much more optimistic side of the news; the rare stories that, were they more commonly reported on, would destroy a large portion of the media narrative of a divided country. (Which is largely why they aren’t widely reported on; bad for business.) We also have a few updates to Midnight Run: Hope Within Hatred, to boot.

So while we are shifting focus this week (and frankly, also in December), we still have a fair amount to talk about.

1.) Patriotism. We start this week with what is either badly needed or seriously unnerving, depending on your view. A private (yes, private) school in Missouri has come up with a class in patriotism as part of its military science ciriculum. The class, which is named “Patriotic Education and Fitness,” will cover “modern military customs, U.S. politics and flag protocol and procedures. It will also teach rifle marksmanship, map reading, land navigation and rope knotting,” according to Bloomberg News.

At an event to announce the course, one of the school’s trustees, retired Marine Corps general Terrence Drake, said “I really think that if you give a person the tools of an education, the patriotic yearnings inside of themselves and the leadership tools that can be taught — they will be leaders.” Meanwhile, college President Jerry Davis said that “understanding the military now is more important than ever because we have 99 percent of the population being defended by 1 percent, who are in uniform. We should be more intentional about patriotic education, and from our point of view that needs to occur from kindergarten all the way through college.”

It is worth noting that this class is mandatory at the school.

2.) Daryl Davis. The Washington Post headline sets this next story up best: “A blues musician has a unique hobby: Befriending white supremacists.” It’s a long, detailed report on musician Daryl Davis’ efforts to essentially convince members of the Ku Klux Klan to leave the organization, something Davis has done for three decades. It’s a remarkable story, to be honest. So far, he claims to have convinced 40-50 people to leave the Klan, some of whom even gave him his robes. Davis says he eventually hopes to open a museum with the robes he has.

3.) Firearms. A Constable in Texas has proposed a new solution to helping mitigate mass shootings; abolishing all restrictions on licensed gun owners. Fort Bend County Constable Wayne Thompson, who is also a strong supporter of Constitutional Carry, believes that anyone who can pass a background check and is mentally fit should be able to carry a gun just about everywhere legally. His primary reason is one we have discussed here countless times; hardening soft targets. (We discussed church security briefly in Newtonian, after the Charleston shooting.

4.) Osteen. Updating Midnight Run: Hope Within Hatred now. Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church held a “Worship Relief” concern in October. The concert was free to attend, and apparently standing room only. Osteen said that “Hopefully this will be a small part to help people get back on their feet,” and that “as a church this is the time to shine brighter and to give people hope.”

Osteen took a fair amount of (fairly misguided) heat for not opening the church as a shelter while part of it was flooded. That discussion is over in Hope Within Hatred.

With that, we close out the third-to-last Midnight Run of 2017. Next up we will have one final news update (and from here on they will be termed as such. “Grab Bag” seems a bit too casual.), and we will adjourn for the year with a few final thoughts on the year, and what the major topics will be both for the Run and the firearms world in 2018.

Until then, have a happy Thanksgiving.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Grab Bag: November 2017

The uselessness of gun control is now a matter of scientific record, a suicide prevention organization rebuffs gun control organizations while partnering with a major firearms group, and a word on the Run in 2018.

1.) Programming Notes. A variety of topics for future updates was brought up in Worldwide Blueprint, although none of it was slated to start until Februrary.

After looking over the projects mentioned, I have decided that the Run will keep its usual pattern in January. The second update will be on the sex trafficking industry. This is a Run that, like the update to Debt, is a few years late, and the bi-weekly format allows for the article to get the research and attention it deserves.

Now, onto the news.

2a.) Statistics. A former 538 researcher has published an op-ed in The Washington Post detailing how she once believed gun control worked until she conducted thorough research on the subject. Put bluntly, she discovered that broad-stroke, one-size-for-all legislation is almost counterproductive in its approch, and almost never helps the specific situations that lead to most firearm-related deaths.

2b.) Enforcement. Meanwhile, This Is The Line found a study that found, shockingly, that many gun laws are completely ineffective because they aren’t enforced, and because the laws are ignored by criminals.

The research that gun control laws are ineffective. This goes along with the pre-existing body of research that virtually all gun laws aren’t Constitutional to begin with. (Andrew Branca has regularly noted that almost no gun law can survive strict constitutional scrutiny.)

3.) Anti-gun efforts. When it isn’t stepping on its own PR landmines, the NRA is also covering how anti-gun groups intend to push legislation in the wake of the Vegas shooting. A bulletin by the NRA-ILA outlines a remarkably ambitious (and doomed) wishlist of legislation anti-gun politicians are looking at. The bills range from universal background checks, to opening the firearms industry to a torrent of frivolous lawsuits, to banning “bump fire stocks.”

Of course, with the current Congress (despite a handful of caving Republicans), almost none of this has a chance of being passed. Still, as always, it is worth monitoring to see how politicians react. We figured that the Republicans would be united on healthcare at this point too, and even that couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

Sidebar: Open enrollment was sliced from 90 days to 45 days. If you’ve lost your insurer because they withdrew from the exchange, you have to December 15.

3.) Suicide. We’ll get considerably more in-depth on the subject of suicide next year, but for now we have this story about suicide prevention advocates rebuffing gun control groups. A suicide prevention walk organized by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention took place in San Diego. Moms Demand Action wanted a booth at the event, but the Foundation’s director said that “their organization’s legislative stance related to guns is inconsistent with our efforts. As a suicide prevention organization, we are not in the business of saying who can and cannot own firearms. We are in the business of saving lives.”
Surprisingly, the Foundation has built a relationship with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which apparently has led to a series of very pointed messages from both Moms Demand Action and the Brady Campaign.

Again, as discussed in Worldwide Blueprint, we will get into considerably greater detail on the subject of suicide next year.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

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