The Basic Case Against Gun Control – Part II: General Gun Ownership

With the subject of public opinion trends already discussed in a previous post, we now turn our attention to gun control laws that generally fall under three categories (concealed carry, types firearms or accessories, and restrictions on how one may acquire a gun or possess one). Let’s begin with the effects of gun ownership in general for this post. We will be looking at international comparisons, concealed carry effects, and Kellerman’s fallacy.
 

Crime Rates and Concealed Carry

 
 
This is the most overarching topic in the debate over gun control, and one that the pro-gun side has luckily managed to make amazingly high legal progress in! This comes in the form of both a supreme court case (DC vs. Heller) as well as the state-by-state spread of concealed carry laws in the US over the past couple decades. Here is an excellent GIF that shows the progress year by year of that latter trend:

 

right to carry

Who said things are in a trend for the worse?

 

So what have the effects of gun ownership and concealed carry been on crime rates? Given that both are already widespread, what should we make of critics who say banning such things would put fewer lives at risk? We now turn to international data and data on crime within the United States. Take a look at this image from NoProhibition:

 

International Gun Deaths

While I would probably word it differently, this picture kind of sums up the discussion of international deaths.

 

I actually made a post a while back on the DefCad forums in which I mentioned more or less the same things. When using international laws and respective crime rates to make a point about what legislation we ought to pass, it’s pretty typical for people to just quote the raw death rates by firearms alone. Michael Moore did this in “Bowling for Columbine” and Piers Morgan did the same on national TV on more than one occasion. But as the graphic above makes clear, this completely sweeps all sorts of factors that are behind those death counts under the rug.

 

1. We begin here by adjusting for population differences – the most trivial step of them all. Many official sources like to use per capita rates by using the number of deaths per 100,000 people; fine by me.

 

2. Next make sure you’re using total homicides by any cause, not just firearms. Someone’s life doesn’t become meaningless just because they were murdered in a manner that didn’t involve the use of a gun.

 

3. In fact, make sure you really are citing total homicides in a given country. Murders aren’t reported until after they’re solved in the UK – which can be hard to come by. US homicides would also appear to be far lower by that same standard.

 

4. One important point that I was unaware of until I saw this video is the fact that US crime is centered in mostly large metro cities. With so many more such places in the US, crime rates have far less to do with firearms as a result.

 

5. Finally, stop using cross-sectional analysis in statistical comparisons. Compare crime rates before and after a given law is passed. Right to carry laws seem to be correlated with reduced crime as they’ve been adopted (see above GIF image).

 

 

This last point brings us to the question of data about the US itself. It’s one thing to show that international crime rates do not support the thesis that more gun control means less violent crime. Let me drive that point home even further with this link to Australian crime rates before and after a sweeping gun ban, and this picture:

 

Globally More Guns Means Less Crime

Looks beyond developed countries, and uses *UN* data. Click for better resolution.

 

Now comes a final question regarding what a gun in the home is likely to be used for. You likely have heard a statistic that originated from a man named Arthur Kellermann that says something to the effect of, “A gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used against yourself or a loved one than to be used in self-defense.” Okay, so he later revised that number to 22 times because he admittedly screwed up, but you get the point.

 

Variants of this argument still circulate to this day. While the kinds of measurement used in such studies is often flawed to begin with (assuming the only way a gun can be used defensively is to actually kill someone for instance), there is an even bigger flaw. Let the point of this image below sink in for a moment:

 

Kellermann's Fallacy

Whether NoProhibition.org will use this is yet to be seen. They’ve been inactive for a while.

 

The point of this meme is that you could apply Kellermann’s logic to just about anything. Recently people have twisted the logic to say gun ownership puts women at risk because they are more likely to be victimized with a firearm than to use one defensively. Yes, a lawmaker (Democrat) said this to a rape victim. Yet these refer to cases in which someone else (other than the victim) is using the gun. If someone argued that physical force was more likely to be used against women than by women defensively, should we ban all women’s self-defense classes by that logic? In fact, you could argue for banning martial arts classes altogether using the logic of Kellermann’s study.

 

Any way you look at it, gun ownership can’t be causally tied to an increased personal risk of death. And yes, this is even the case for suicide rates – as we can see in this image of multiple countries of differing gun laws:

 

suicide rates by country

Strict gun laws don’t necessarily mean fewer suicides.

 

As I made clear in the first post of this series, public opinion is increasingly in favor of allowing people to carry concealed firearms. In my next post, I will drill it down to the debate over specific types of firearms and accessories – namely so-called “assault weapons,” magazines that hold “too many” rounds, and even things like suppressors. This is where the general public becomes more divided over various proposals, and it’s important that gun rights activists learn how to put these issues to rest.

 

The Basic Case Against Gun Control – Part I: Trends in Public Opinion

In this post and the one that follows, I want to put up a draft of some stuff I will have in “State Exempt.” Rather than argue over Second Amendment matters (which are totally irrelevant in other countries), I want to focus entirely on why gun control is a bad idea from a law and economics perspective. Three categories of legal issues will be discussed: The effects of concealed carry, bans on particular firearms and accessories (e.g. assault weapons and magazine capacity limits), along with more general restrictions on firearm acquisition and possession (background checks, “liability” insurance, and registration). Each of those will have their own section in a subsequent post, but for now I want to devote a section to trends in public opinion for this one.

 

 

Public Opinion on the Matter

 

About two years ago, I shared a pessimistic state of mind with millions of others about legislation that was under consideration. One of the worst school shootings in US history had taken place weeks prior and it seemed like every other major news story was thinly disguised advocacy for banning things that have little effect on overall crime rates.

 

Little did I know, public opinion and grassroots activism had a different say on the matter…

 

More Americans Say Guns Make Home Safer

Recent Pew studies and Gallup polls have shown that this awesome trend has continued!

 

This trend of public opinion looks pretty unstoppable at this point, and yet most Americans have no idea that gun homicide rates have actually dropped over the last two decades. If they did, the more recent surveys showing six in ten being supportive would likely show even more prominent results.

 

But obviously this isn’t the case. Despite becoming more anti-gun control in a broad sense over the past couple decades (I’m sure internet access helped out there), the public tends to be lightly supportive of some specifics. These tend to have less to do with whether or not various firearms should be legal (the first two categories I listed at the top of this post), and more to do with how you may acquire them. Sure, the public has mixed feelings on so-called “assault weapons” – something I blogged about before here. But even this is turning out to be a fading opposition; to the point where even a staunchly left of center writer in the New York Times wrote that such a ban was pointless.

 

The focus thus far has now turned towards the question of how background checks are conducted, as well as the possibility of things such as “smart guns” or “liability insurance.” Oh, did I mention 3D-printed guns and magazines? In the next post I want to go over three main categories of gun control, and make the case for scrapping all such laws. Here they are again described in greater detail:

 

 

1. The Effects of Concealed Carry: What can we infer from international data as well as longitudinal data in the US about the effects of allowing civilians to carry firearms for personal defense? Has gun control worked in other countries? Are you more likely to use a gun to kill yourself or a loved one than to use it to stop a crime?

 

2. Bans on Weapon Types and Accessories: Do “assault weapons” bans make any sense? Does limiting magazine capacity (how much ammunition a gun may hold before you must add fresh rounds) boost public safety? What about things like suppressors or other “unnecessary” accessories? Should those be regulated?

 

3. Firearm Acquisition and Possession: How effective are background checks at stopping criminals? Do we need to expand them for any reason? What about forcing gun owners to have liability insurance of some kind for the weapons they own? Last but not least, should we ban people from using new technologies (3D printing) to make firearms?

 
 

The post won’t be exhaustive; the best comprehensive (as opposed to concise) guide to the debate over gun control can be found at GunFacts.Info.
 

My New Year’s Resolution? Ditch Labels As Much as Possible.

Yet another hiatus broken. :-)

 

Here’s something that likely applies to anyone who comes to hold well-defined views: We start off broad and less than certain, yet over time we begin to narrow our views down to an overall perspective that’s more rigid. From that point on it’s only a matter of filling in the cracks, or making up our minds about subtle nuances that are pretty trivial compared to what we think as a whole.

 

Okay so that’s probably not the best way to word it but you get the idea. In my case, my political orientation went from a kind of weak neoconservatism (I didn’t even know half the issues listed on many popular Nolan Chart quizzes existed) towards full fiscal and social conservatism – that was after I learned what the terms “capitalism” or “free market” even meant. Then over time, I slowly began to realize that conservatives were simply dead wrong to try and centrally plan moral values, engage in foreign adventurism, or endanger various civil liberties in an effort to fight “terrorism.”

 

By then, I noticed that I was scoring in the upper quadrant of two major Nolan Chart quizzes. You can clearly see from the image below that the label “conservative” no longer applied to me at that point:

 

Nolan Chart

Probably the best illustration of how the major political persuasions relate to one another.

 

So there I was in the summer of 2008, suddenly realizing what the hoopla over Ron Paul was all about and suddenly becoming fascinated by the Bob Barr campaign. I was a full-blown Libertarian of the Stossel variety – more or less. As a general rule of thumb, I felt that the market was able to provide many goods and services more effectively than government could ever dream of. I also was in favor of scrapping pretty much all victimless crime laws, and wanted the military to focus entirely on defending our borders – nothing more.

 

Yet even this took a turn within a few months. After spending more time surfing the net and coming across arguments in favor of “Anarcho-Capitalism” (or Market Anarchy, Voluntarism, etc), I started to consider the possibility that maybe all “necessary” functions of government could be provided on a profit/loss basis rather than a compulsory one based on your zip code. Yes, that included police, courts, and thus law as a whole.

 

Since that time in late 2008, my views haven’t really changed much. I’ve become more confident over time that they have merit and continue to feel more confident about how to articulate them. But small details within that framework continue to be worked out every day. In particular, I’ve had a hard time deciding how to label myself. On a casual basis, I just tell people my views happen to fall under the Libertarian camp of thought. And I no longer feel a need to be up front about labeling myself at all if I can help it.

 

I could go on for several paragraphs with examples of why I take this approach now, but just a few will suffice. Have you ever seen a profile page or description of someone who had views you strongly disagreed with? Maybe you just saw the ideological label(s) they adopted and immediately attributed all the most negative things about that political camp to that individual. You know, “them is fighting words.” If anything, whatever exchanges you ended up having with them would’ve gone a lot more smoothly if you were forced to find out for yourself what they actually thought about the biggest political issues of our time rather than projecting your own prejudices on them.

 

That sums up the biggest drawback of political labels – they can often do more to mislead and shut down discussions before they can really take place. Take a look at the image below:

 

Pew Political Polarization

Pew’s questions may be imperfect, but it gets the basic point right about growing ideological disparity.

 

Considering that I don’t fall under either camp mentioned in that pic, and that people who do will assume I do as well, making it harder for them to jump to conclusions about me seems like a pretty good idea. And what better way to do that than to just avoid labels altogether? Well, labels obviously aren’t useless. But when people associate things with labels that discourage them from wanting to hear you out, what’s the point? Why not force them to have to ask you questions before they can even begin to make bogus accusations about how you’re a bad person for not having the same views they do? For me, that meant changing my Twitter description to begin with, “Let’s discuss policy issues and see where we agree” a couple months ago.

 

What about terms like “feminist?” Do we go by what the dictionary says or do we look at what is commonly characteristic of people who actually apply that label to themselves? I would think the latter gives you a better idea of what someone truly stands for. And it’s that process that encourages two people who label themselves entirely different things to actually find where they are similar.

 

This issue goes beyond political labels. What about economic systems? Capitalism, socialism, communism, fascism, social democracy, anarchy, etc. With labels, most people accuse everyone else of having bad or stupid intentions rather than explain in clear concrete terms why their preferred system does or would deliver better results. Folks, this is an area where you can raise the level of discourse in no time simply by ditching labels, and explain how resources are to be allocated and why. If you rely on a lot of tautologies to defend your preferred political/economic system, then having to explain how it actually works without giving it any kind of label will expose your flawed reasoning in no time.

 

So now that 2015 is about to kick in, I’m going to take it upon myself to focus more on individual policy issues and the principles behind them before I mention a word about what my views are as a whole. I’m doing both myself and any potential critics a massive favor by doing so.

Six Years an Anarchist, Seven Years a Free Market Fundamentalist

Time to diverge from the post series on intelligence/IQ for just this post, which I of course forgot to set to autopost.

 

A week ago – while the Republicans were enjoying their landslide congressional victories – I was doing what I do every year on November 4th. Six years ago on the night of the 2008 elections, I came to the damningly unpopular conclusion that a society could function and even thrive in the complete absence of government.

 

It wasn’t a very happy day. There were – and still are – enough reasons on my plate for why I stand out more than I’d like to from average people. There’s no need to alienate myself from the masses at large any more than I already do. Okay, so maybe that’s too dramatic but back then that’s the thought process I had and still do to some degree today.

 

My 2014 Quiz 2D Result

My recent result from Quiz2D.com’s most recent quiz version.

 

Rather than tell the same story all over again, I guess I could best use this post to talk about what’s changed since then. Yes, I still score at the top of the Nolan chart. Yes, I still think everything the government does either shouldn’t be done or can be done via market means. But despite the broad picture being the same, the finer details remain in a constant flux.

 

I’ll focus here on the biggest of those finer details. In 2012, I finally ordered a copy of a book that I had known about for years prior to getting it, and that was originally published in 1994. One of the coauthors happened to be one of the most influential social scientists of our time – and a self-described “lowercase l” libertarian. He rose to prominence critiquing the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the war on poverty. From there, he espoused his libertarian (again with the lower-case “l”) views in a book he wrote shortly thereafter through a fascinating starting premise: The purpose of public policy is to create the optimal conditions for people to pursue happiness.

 

He continued writing numerous other books – some related to public policy, others related to social science – and it’s because of that book I first read two years ago that he is notorious for the latter. It was this interview he did for ReasonTV that finally made my interest in his work skyrocket:

 

 

 

 

Yep, the man, the myth, the legend himself: Charles Murray. It would be less than six months after I first saw this video that I would finally get a copy of his most notorious work. When I did, it turned out to be quite the red pill to put it mildly. Around the time I first began looking into the debate over IQ, I came across a Norwegian documentary series called “Brainwash” – which was a seven-part series done a few years back about the disconnect between sociology (which assumes much if not everything about human nature is environmental) and actual science (which acknowledges the fact that genes and other biological factors can influence a person’s behavioral traits).

 

It started with a Youtube comment I came across where someone had noted in a video critiquing feminist rhetoric that a documentary had aired over the Norwegian counterpart to PBS (NRK) that led to the defunding of a prominent feminist gender research institute. So I looked it up, saw the first episode, and was hooked from there! Soon I found myself spending less time following or studying public policy issues, and more time following sociological issues; namely political correctness, as well as the ongoing debate over how much of human nature is innate or influenced by society at large.

 

 

No need to go into too much detail here about this. All I can say is that it’s now a small staple in my daily thinking and research, but that I’m now trying to ween from it. As of a few days ago, I’ve decided to make political and economic issues my main focus all over again. To do so, I’ve begun rereading some of the books that influenced my early thinking in the first place.

 

In terms of political issues, the only real changes of heart that I’ve had over the past few years stem from how I think activism works best. Voting is a survey – nothing more or less – and should only be done to serve as a way to educate others on given political issues. As for what actually leads to change, I’ve continued to become more convinced every day that the bulk of what influences public policy and current events lies outside of the political system itself. For an excellent overview of how this is the case, this video should give you a clear idea of what I mean:

 

 

 

 

The video above is a reading of an article that has links to the various things listed. Overall I think it gets the basic point right, namely that the things that influence current events and public policy the most lie outside electoral politics. Cody Wilson and the rest of those with Defense Distributed have already demonstrated that gun control is anything but. That alone really drove the point home to me that leading by example is often the best way to go. At this point, I can only hope more attention will be drawn towards The Surgery Center of Oklahoma as a model for why price transparency is needed in the healthcare market.

 

Overall, those two things – emphasis on social science (which I plan on cutting back on) and non-political means of making change happen – represent the main changes in attitude that I’ve had over the years. Seems like I need to start networking with others, and get that first book draft done.

 

For the rest of this month however, I plan on rereading the books I found persuasive back in the day. ;-)

 

A Practical Definition of Intelligence – as Measured by IQ

As I type this, I’m finishing up the first ninety or so pages of what would appear to be the most controversial social science book of all time. More on that book and it’s 20th anniversary later – for now I want to go over a topic of the book that sort of bugs me every time I reread it.

 

I’ve read a number of attempts at giving a workable definition for what is meant by the phrase “intelligence.” But as with attempts that people make at defining government, or contrasting it with the market economy, I just can’t seem to find anything free enough of semantic drawbacks to fully endorse. Here’s a sample of what’s out there:

 

“A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—”catching on,” “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do.” - from “Mainstream Science on Intelligence

 

“The aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment.” -David Wechsler

 

“The ability to deal with cognitive complexity.” -Linda Gottfredson

 

“Goal-directed adaptive behavior.” -Sternberg & Salter

 

When discussions about intelligence or IQ come up, one of the most frequent charges made against either concept is the idea that you can’t measure what you can’t define. That’s actually not a bad formal argument at all, the remaining implied question is whether or not a workable definition of intelligence actually exists. Is intelligence (as well as IQ) really just a subjectively-imposed concept like beauty or emotion? Can we dismiss it as just another “social construct?”

 

For something that has such a tremendous amount of predictive power, the answer is definitely no. If IQ is “socially constructed” then so is time, temperature, weight, volume, or velocity by the same standard. Especially when we’re talking about something that is established to have a very real genetic property that can be measured in a lab environment. Still, with everything from Howard Gardner’s “multiple intelligences” to Richard Sternberg’s “triarchic theory” of intelligence, all the way to “Spearman’s g-factor,” it’s hard not to get confused about what’s being debated.

 

So without further ado, here’s how I would suggest defining intelligence – practically speaking – in a way that can both be measured objectively and also have predictive power in everyday societal contexts:

 

“Intelligence is the ability to comprehend novel circumstances to achieve objective mental goals. To have higher intelligence is to be able to work quicker with a greater variety or volume of information to finish mental tasks that have less room for error.”

 

Sounds pretty straightforward, but elaborating on the three terms I underlined helps to clarify things a bit:

 

Ability can be defined by one or more of the following: the volume, variety, or velocity at which you can operate. More mental loading at once, different types of mental tasks (math, verbal, and spatial for instance), as well as how quickly you can solve problems are all relevant examples of ability that can be quantified. This picture below should give an idea of what volume of information looks like in the context of non-verbal intelligence. Clearly the problem on the right has a LOT more cognitive loading, and this has been used as part of a challenge for English students several years ago.

 

English vs Chinese Math Diagnostic

Apparently China lives up to the stereotype when it comes to non-verbal ability in the form of math and spatial tasks.

 

Novel Circumstances/Informationwould be anything you have to apply mental problem-solving skills to work with rather than rely on mere familiarity from past experience. Trivia questions aren’t in this category; those require little mental effort and instead depend on already being exposed to the correct answer at some previous point. On the other hand, suppose you had to solve a Raven’s Progressive Matrices problem like this one:

 

Raven's Progressive Matrices Sample - small

This is an easy sample with only a few consecutive variables to sort through.

 

Unless you’ve already seen this exact problem on Google Images somewhere (as I obviously have), you’re ability to pick the missing piece is entirely contingent on how well you can sort out three variables: the pattern of background lines from the top to middle to bottom rows, whether they are straight/diagonal/curved, and finally the left/right pattern of the bold shapes. If you’ve already memorized the answer to this exact problem (after you’ve correctly solved it of course) then this problem ceases to be a novel set of circumstances. The key with IQ tests is to have a high enough volume, variety, and complexity of problems so that they require as much mental loading as possible.

 

Objective Mental Goals” are goals that are intrinsic to the task at hand and not something you interpret or impose. An example of the latter would be judging whether or not a painting was a decent piece of art or not – clearly it’s open to interpretation. However, a simple math problem like 2 + 2 has only one correct answer. It’s an objective task where the answer stems from the problem itself rather than only exist as something you subjectively impose. A problem can be objective even if it has more than one correct answer; for example: “Give two numbers which when multiplied equal 64.” Possible answers (using whole numbers) can include 8 x 8, 16 x 4, 32 x 2, and 64 x 1. Again, what determines if an answer is correct or not must stem from the problem itself and not be a matter of personal taste. Moreover, we’re talking about tasks that are mental in nature and don’t involve the need for excess physical performance. That’s not to say that intelligence isn’t used to achieve physical tasks, rather that subject of IQ tests is mental ability.

 

 

 

So now comes the big question: Do IQ tests actually have any kind of predictive validity that make scores on such tests useful information? Apparently the answer is a resounding yes. Nearly a century of data indicates that properly administered tests do tell use something of value for matters of employment. I could go on about education as well, but I suspect most readers agree that much of schooling these days has limited overlap with the real world of work. If anything, consider how effective the Armed Forces Qualification Test has been at helping the military pick better recruits, and what happened when they tried to recruit people who scored poorly on the test.

 

With all this in mind, let’s consider why IQ tests matter so much and why they continue to become more important. As the prevalence of technology becomes more unavoidable, we are increasingly living in an information-driven economy. Successful behavior is therefore becoming less open to interpretation now that so much of what we rely on are mathematical/mechanical things that have less room for error, and are far more sophisticated than mere agriculture.

 

Although an entire post could be devoted to the issue of whether or not IQ tests are “culturally biased” (go ahead, define culture for me), the proper response to that assertion is really more simple than that: Demonstrate that certain problem types on widely-used tests are “cultural” in nature (whatever that means) and create a test with better predictive validity.

 

IQ tests continue to matter more with each passing day now that the volume/variety/velocity of novel information that must be sorted to achieve objective mental goals is on the rise.

 

It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out, but it does take a humanities major to deny it altogether.

 

New Post Series on Intelligence & the IQ Controversy

I’ve recently begun reading some material related to topic of intelligence as a human trait: it’s definition, it’s relevance, and the 20th anniversary of a book that set off a firestorm about the topic as a whole. In particular, I want to critique the perspective expressed in this paragraph which basically sums up conventional wisdom against the idea that IQ is anything tangibly important:

 

“Intelligence is a bankrupt concept. Whatever it might mean – and nobody really knows even how to define it – intelligence is so ephemeral that no one can measure it accurately. IQ tests are, of course, culturally biased, and so are all the other “aptitude” tests, such as the SAT. To the extent that tests such as IQ and SAT measure anything, it certainly is not an innate “intelligence.” IQ scores are not constant; they often change significantly over an individual’s life span. The scores of entire populations can be expected to change over time – look at the Jews, who early in the twentieth century scored below average on IQ scores and now score well above the average. Furthermore, the tests are nearly useless as tools, as confirmed by the well-documented fact that such tests do not predict anything except success in school. Earnings, occupation, productivity – all the important measures of success – are unrelated to the test scores. All that tests really accomplish is to label youngsters, stigmatizing the ones who do not do well and creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that injures the socioeconomically disadvantaged in general and blacks in particular.”

 

The bold emphasis in that paragraph is mine. I highlighted those particular segments because I intend to do a few blog posts explaining why those assertions are wrong. This week and next week I will do posts on defining intelligence, the validity of IQ as well as why it’s not “culturally biased” (whatever that means), and finally do a post on a book in particular that created quite the firestorm two decades ago simply by being flat-out misrepresented.

 

During the past couple years, I’ve become convinced that the idea that we can shape any human being we want into whatever vision we wish to impose on them is pretty inhumane at the least. Parents, educators, society at large, even disadvantaged individuals themselves have been blamed for shortcomings that nobody really has much control over at this point.

 

Consider these posts a series on social science – as if empirical evidence mattered.

 

What I Think of Liberty.me So Far

Not long ago, an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for a new Libertarian social network began. Spearheaded by one of the biggest names in the movement for radically Libertarian thought (Jeffrey Tucker), it definitely looked like something that had promise.

 

 

 

 

That turned out to be an understatement! A couple months ago I became a member on that site when I forked out just over $100 for an annual membership. What motivated me to want to use the site was probably no different than the motives everyone else has on the site. Having an alternative to that holocaust on privacy known as Facebook sure is nice. Having a feed of user-generated articles is great too, in addition to the podcasts and “karma” feature that rewards people who produce great content. Then there’s the ability to create groups centered around specific topics, as well as have chat rooms that are functionally similar to Facebook’s instant messenger feature – but with privacy in mind of course. Top it off with the free massive open online courses they offer from time to time by the biggest names in the liberty movement (David D. Friedman recently did a course!), as well as numerous how-to guides that members are free to download, and what you end up with is a pretty respectable site that is more than worth the money.

 

In terms of the sorts of how-to guides they have, you can find everything from firearms advice, privacy information, a guide on peer-to-peer banking as well as one on how to invest in precious metals.  As if anything couldn’t be more timely, Jeffrey Tucker just did a post on his section of the site about how bad Facebook has gotten, and why Liberty.me is already a good alternative. Oh yeah, did I mention that anyone who signs up as a member get’s their own virtual site on Liberty.me? I’m already contemplating on how to clean up my blog and mirror all the worthwhile old posts onto my second site. From what I can tell this site will make it easy to distribute a PDF version of the book I’ve had in the works for nearly half a decade. Physical copies can easily be done via Createspace.

 

The crucial question with anything you’re considering giving money in return for is if it’s more worthwhile than all the other things you could do with it under those circumstances. Does it make sense to ever buy it? Are there other things I need the money for to a greater degree? Do I need to buy it now or later? Whether or not Liberty.me passes that criteria for you depends on how serious you are about your political leanings. The higher up you find yourself on the Nolan Chart the more likely the site will turn out to be a payoff. It’s a great haven for deep thinkers who are willing to dive into the edgier elements of activism as well. Having a kind of internet foxhole to put ideas together and organize is a necessity.

 

For me, Liberty.me was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. In addition to other sites, such as Libertarian Papers, Libtery.me looks like something I need to get into the routine of using as often as I use Twitter. And perhaps it’s about time I actually do something with my YouTube account that doesn’t involve bitchfighting with people; maybe some playlists of good content are in order?

 

One last note: Use the discount code “STATEEXEMPT” when you sign up. ;-)

 

Ghost Gunner: Proof Defense Distributed is Alive and Well

Here comes a development that warrants that this blog end it’s hiatus. I blogged a year ago on how the State Department has halted CAD file release for “dangerous” objects by Defense Distributed. Looks like that hasn’t stopped them from keeping busy:

 

 

https://ghostgunner.net/

 

I can’t think of a single person (Cody Wilson) or organization (Defense Distributed) that has demonstrated how much market innovation alone can have a bigger impact on current affairs than raw electoral politics alone. Check the official site out linked below the video for the list of innovations this device has, including a new file format that stores information about where to place external support jigs. That alone is a worthy feat, but a machine costing under $1,500 that has the capabilities of bulkier CNC machines costing at least double that speaks for itself. All hardware and source code will be open for people to borrow from or contribute to, meaning this is just the beginning for this sort of device.

 

From what I’ve read so far, this should be capable of machining at least one new AR-15 lower receiver per hour from 80% lowers. Someone could loan this out to a friend, or “sell it forward” so as many people can legally produce lowers as possible. Of course, there’s many more uses for this unit that are unrelated to firearms. I’m thinking “pirating” car parts using a 3D scanner such as this one could be another potential use for what Ghost Gunner could help manufacture:

 

 

Now the inevitable question arises: Do prohibitionists really think committed killers will give an exhausted shit about any law saying they must put a string of numbers on what they make in the name of registration? Such a law was vetoed in California of all places last Tuesday by Jerry Brown. This is the infamous “Ghost Gun” bill everyone was satirizing not too long ago.

 

 

The reason the governor vetoed the bill is so shockingly reasonable for any politician, let alone one from California of all places:

 

To the Members of the California State Senate:

 

I am returning Senate Bill 808 without my signature.

 

SB 808 would require individuals who build guns at home to first obtain a serial number and register the weapon with the Department of Justice.

 

I appreciate the author’s concerns about gun violence, but I can’t see how adding a serial number to a homemade gun would significantly advance public safety.

 

Sincerely,

 

Edmund G. Brown Jr.

 

 

No kidding! The best part of how tools like the Ghost Gunner CNC machine are already changing the conversation? Paternalistic types are now siding with the gun industry in an effort to curb their use. Of course they don’t even realize that’s what they’re doing, but irony of that makes me giddy as hell. See for yourself: https://twitter.com/StateExempt/status/519233597749084160

 

Cody Wilson Responds to Twitter Critic on Ghost Gunner

Very smirk-inducing, and rightfully so.

 

If you aren’t out to ban every firearm from civilian ownership, then you have nothing to fear.

And remember guys: they’re called “Undocumented” firearms. :-) 

 

Coming Soon – A List of Proposed Posts [August 2014 Edition]

The title of this post is self-explanatory, so without further ado here’s the list itself:

 

-My Collected Posts on Crypto-Anarchy

-Rational Ignorance: An Economic Analysis of Time Management

-I Joined Liberty.me and You Should Too!

-Belle Knox, College Costs, and the Signalling Theory of Education

-The Ten Universal Rules of Logic

-Burden of Proof: How You Draw the Line

-Antifragility: A Primer

-Writing That is Both Analytical and Antifragile

-Simple Math Showing that Taxing the Rich Gets Us Nowhere

-Simple Math Showing Background Checks Can be Eliminated – Seriously

-Three Reasons We Can and MUST End Anti-Discrimination Laws

-Demonstrating how “Privilege” is an Intellectual Black Hole

-Five Arguments Feminists Need to Ditch to Remain Credible

-Ten Ways Women Can Increase Pay NOW Without Government

-Five Arguments Anti-Racism Activists Must Ditch to be Credible

-Forget Disease: Single-Parenthood is the Biggest Epidemic in America

-Stop Bashing Christian Conservatives as “Anti-Science.” No really.

-News Flash: Anti-Science Liberalism Actually KILLS People

-Scrap the Precautionary Principle NOW

-The Bell Curve’s 20th Anniversary and it’s Significance

-Human Biodiversity is the Nuclear Physics of Biology and Social Science

-Why Social Justice Needs “The Bell Curve” and HBD

-Yes IQ Matters a WHOLE Lot More Than Socioeconomic Status

-Why Critical Studies Can (and Should) be Scrapped from Colleges

-How to Define Government and the Free Market

-Five Reasons Free Markets Beat Government at  [Five-part series]

-Price Controls Either Cause Shortages, or Aren’t Needed

-Ripple Effect: How Bad Price Controls Can Be

-The Simple Process That Makes Speculators a GOOD Thing

-Why Monopolies are Unlikely in the Absence of Government Intervention

-Universal Case Against Government Regulation I: Costs

-Universal Case Against Government Regulation II: Benefits

-Regulatory Capture is Inevitable – Here’s Some Examples

-Public Choice Theory: An Introduction

-Sorry Democrats, Demographic Determinism is Largely a Myth

-Buying Unowned Property: Aboriginal Reimbursement Explained

-The Many Camps Within Libertarianism – and Where I Stand

-Years Later and No Shred of Evidence Nozick Abandoned Libertarianism

-An Open Challenge to Naomi Klein Fans Who Buy Her Attacks on Milton Friedman

-How Much Would a Free Market Legal System Cost?

-Under Market Anarchy, Would the Poor Lack Protection and Legal Representation?

 

So there we go. These look like they’ll be the next forty or so posts that will appear on here. I pledge to do about 3-5 posts per week if not more. Largely this is possible because most of what I’ll write will be draft-ish material for State Exempt itself. Needless to say I will probably add some stuff to the list from time to time.

 

Sit tight, stock up on drinks, and enjoy what will soon appear!

 

Tentative Outline for Chapter Sections of “State Exempt”

I was supposed to finish a post series on Cryptography-related matters a while ago, and do a whole variety of other posts on different topics. But I pretty much began taking a bit of a break from the internet.

 

With Twitter eating up almost as much time as YouTube did a few years back, I decided to scale that back a bit and put that saved time towards working on other things. Besides taking the time to form new relationships with people in my area that I have a lot more in common with than I did several years ago, I finally got around to finishing this:

 

State Exempt Chapter Section Outline

 

Being the procrastinator that I am, I finally felt compelled to go through my written notes and make an outline that is one step closer to actual draft material. With the outline above, I now have a better idea of what I want to cover and where. From here I just need to reorganize my existing notes to fit that section outline and start reading some key books from a selected bibliography to better inform how I cover various topics.

 

When it comes to projects or tasks I do in life, I don’t plan on focusing on anything I don’t have any control over. And I sure as hell don’t plan on doing anything that won’t matter after I exit the picture altogether. One source of inspiration that really catalyzed my desire to finish the project this site was set up for is the work Cody Wilson and the rest of Defense Distributed have managed to do. At this point Cody could drop dead and his impact will still matter for decades to come.

 

 

I suppose that’s what every activist, artist, intellectual, or writer hopes to do: immortalize themselves through their own work. If I can do just half of what the likes of David Friedman or Murray Rothbard did when their key works came out, then that’s more than enough for me.