Tag Archives: United Kingdom

Seventy-One Days Away, But Now We’re Back


Our latest jaunt began April 27 with a flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and it ended 71 days later with a flight from Los Angeles, California to El Paso, Texas. Along the way we took a transatlantic cruise to Spain, a back-to-back follow-on cruise in the Mediterranean to destinations in both France and Spain, a four-night stay in Germany, two nights in the Netherlands, and then three 12-night back-to-back cruises before flying back for a night in Los Angeles.

The Transatlantic adventure aboard Royal Caribbean’s smallish (78,491 gross tonnage/2,050 double-occupancy passenger capacity) Vision of the Seas allowed me to play a lot of bridge as we had seven days at sea before reaching the Canary Islands, and an additional two sea days before making port in Barcelona. The eight-day Vision follow-on took us to seldom visited ports of call such as Carcassonne (Sete), Toulon, and Corsica in France; followed by the Spanish ports of Ibiza, Cartagena, and Valencia.

Our three Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas (slightly larger at 90,090 GT/2,191 double-occupancy) back-to-backs included Iceland, Ireland, and Northern Ireland; followed by destinations in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales; and finishing off with six ports in Norway. That last voyage took us well north of the Arctic Circle where, during our time there, the sun never set. The farthest north we ventured was 71º 10′ 21″ North latitude, the northernmost point of the continent of Europe and a mere 144 miles/232 kilometers from the closest point to the resurgent Evil Empire that does not deserve mention. You may recall that back in March I pulled all articles on destinations to that deplorable nation.

All in all, not a bad trip save for one completely disappointing city, which I described to you in this recent well-deserved rant: Trashy Amsterdam and the Hellhole of Schipol. You just know the wheels went completely off the rails when I take time away during travels to produce an unscheduled PSA.

At any rate, I’ll be presenting this series shortly after the conclusion of my series on cruising the Southern Caribbean. I’ve not decided yet, but I may run a week of firearms articles between the two series. If I do, that series of three articles will feature a bevy of fun little Berettas — a 21A Bobcat in .22 LR made in 1986, a nifty .25 ACP/6.35mm 950 BS Jetfire manufactured sometime between 1978 and 1986 (I haven’t been able to narrow it down beyond that; hopefully a more knowledgeable reader can solve the mystery for me), and a .380 ACP/9mm kurz 84B Cheetah in remarkable condition dating back to 1982. The 950 should be a particularly fun article, as it is one of two candidates for the unspecified “very flat .25 Beretta automatic with a skeleton grip” Ian Fleming’s fictional spy James Bond used in the first five novels — Casino Royale; Live and Let Die; Moonraker; Diamonds Are Forever; and From Russia, with Love. Of course, we all know what replaced that diminutive “lady’s gun” Beretta, now don’t we.

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Filed under R. Doug Wicker, travel, vacation

On Selectively Mining Data to Push an Agenda


No matter which side of the table you sit in a debate, I find it morally reprehensible to selectively mine data to push a specific agenda.  In discourse over public policy especially, one should either present data in its unrefined (and thus unbiased) form so that an honest debate and reasoned decision may be made, or the data should not be put forth at all.

But the individual below says it so much better than I in the following presentation of unfiltered factual data from reliable, unbiased sources — unbiased, that is, before the media, politicians, or those with an agenda get to them.

I’ve touched upon this topic before in my very popular blog article:  What Does Sandy Hook School Have in Common with Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, and the Century Aurora 16 Theater?  In that article I stated that so-called “assault weapons” (which are not truly military assault weapons by definition, as they are not fully automatic) are used in less than 5% of violent crimes.  Apparently I was way off.  I apologize for that, but in my defense I didn’t want to be caught fudging the figures in my favor.  The actual statistic according to the latest FBI figures is much closer to 3.5%.

Walther P99c AS

Walther P99c AS

Yet this is the type of weapon on which Senator Dianne Feinstein and others are concentrating their efforts?  Not really.  Don’t believe that “assault weapons” are the true goal for even a second.  Defining semiautomatic rifles with military-style cosmetic appearances as “assault weapons” is the opening volley in an agenda that aims to incrementally remove the right to bear arms from all law abiding citizens.  This despite raw, unfiltered data that shows such firearms are very rarely used in violent crimes despite the Sandy Hook and Aurora Theater slayings.

As for the ultimate goal of disarming law abiding citizens, that agenda is being pushed despite raw, unfiltered data that consistently shows almost across the board a sizable reduction in violent crime in those states and localities which have broadened the ability of their citizens to carry concealed weapons upon their person.  Remember — twenty years ago only a very few states allowed for concealed carry.  Today forty-one states allow it, and many of those states have reciprocal agreements allowing their citizens to cross into other states while availing themselves of the same “privilege” of self-protection.  Think for a second about that wording I just used.  Scary, isn’t it, that self-protection for law abiding citizens has become a “privilege” rather than a right in some places, and in others it is prohibited altogether.

During that same twenty-year period we’ve seen national violent crime rates cut in half, and the national murder rate has dropped 54%.  So, where is violent crime still a major problem?  In places in which law abiding citizens do not have the right to defend themselves from society’s predators.  Places such as New York City (where even a subway can be used as a weapon); Chicago (where, to paraphrase a popular song, only the unarmed die young); Boston (in which the violent crime rate routinely runs over double the national average); and Washington, D.C. (a national disgrace crime-wise).  Indeed, about the only exception as far as I can tell is perennially economically depressed Detroit, which is located in a state with actually pretty lenient concealed carry laws.

Beretta 84FS "Cheetah"

Beretta 84FS “Cheetah”

As for Senator Dianne Feinstein’s home state of California?  Now, there’s a national poster child for gun control.  We all know the decades-long horror story that is the Greater Los Angeles Area.  Let’s take a look instead at San Bernardino, as it is instructive to a citizenry that is frequently told by officials both elected and appointed that they should rely not upon themselves for protection, but rather local law enforcement.

San Bernardino recently went into bankruptcy.  As a result cost cutting hit even essential services — the San Bernardino police department being among those services.  Eighty officers were let go.  Predictably, crime went through the roof.  In one case, during an active home invasion call to 911, the residents were told there would be a three-hour response time.  Three hours!  Yet remember, we are told that we should entrust our lives and property protection to local law enforcement.

Indeed, things deteriorated so quickly in San Bernardino that City Attorney James Penman just last November advised the residents that they should, “. . . lock their doors and load their guns.”  Of course, if you’re traveling beyond the front door of your home then you’re on your own; California is a “may issue” state in which the local police chief or sheriff can decline at whim your application for a concealed carry license . . . even if their response time in a life-threatening situation is up to three hours.

Walther PPK/S

Walther PPK/S

While we’re on the topic of relying upon local law enforcement for your protection as well as the protection of your loved ones, I would like to direct your attention to two Supreme Court decisions:  Castle Rock v. Gonzales and DeShaney v. Winnebago County.  Without wading into the entire legal morass, the upshot is this — the Supreme Court of the United States has held on multiple occasions that there is no Constitutional requirement for local law enforcement to protect you, or even to respond in the event of imminent danger.  None, which means in San Bernardino the response time is free to go from three hours to three days, weeks, or even months without any consequences to the local government whatsoever.

Some final words on Gun Free Zones.  I mentioned in my article — What Does Sandy Hook Elementary School Have in Common with Columbine High School, Virginia Tech, and the Century Aurora 16 Theater? — that all the aforementioned mass slaying sites were Gun Free Zones.  I also noted in that article that:

“. . . in not one of the cases cited did those responsible for those [Gun Free Zone] designations take adequate (or even any) steps to ensure that the law-abiding citizens they were disarming were protected from those who would ignore their ‘Gun-Free Zones.'”

I have since learned that Sandy Hook Elementary, Columbine High, Virginia Tech, and the Century Aurora 16 Theater have something in common with nearly every single mass shooting in which there were more than four victims.  Each and every one save one occurred in what was ostensibly a “Gun Free Zone.”  That exception was the tragic 2011 Tucson shooting in which nineteen people were shot, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was severely wounded, and six people were killed.

Contrast that record for a moment with sites in which a heavily armed crazy chose as a killing ground an area not so designated.  That’s kind of hard to do, as such sites appear to be routinely avoided by mass killers for obvious reason.  But we do have a few cases to compare.  Just three days before the horrendous Sandy Hook shootings Jacob Tyler Roberts entered the Clackamas Town Center mall near Happy Valley, Oregon.  Mr. Roberts had with him a stolen AR-15 Bushmaster rifle, the same make and model used by Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza.  From that weapon Mr. Roberts fired sixty rounds, killing two and wounding one other.  And then he stopped his shooting and suddenly committed suicide well before local law enforcement could intervene.

Why?  Because of a man named Nick Meli, a civilian licensed to conceal carry and who, fortunately, had with him that day a .40 S&W Glock 22.  Mr. Meli pulled his weapon and took aim at Mr. Roberts, but decided not to take the shot for fear of hitting a person whom he saw standing behind the killer.  Instead, Mr. Meli ducked into a nearby store to await a better opportunity to stop the slayings without endangering someone himself (a wise course of action those of us who have taken concealed carry courses are admonished to follow).  The one thing Mr. Meli knew with any certainty at that point was that the killer saw him with his Glock 22 before he made his tactical retreat.

What happened next is instructive.  With no police in sight and no one else to stop him, that confrontation with an armed civilian was apparently enough for Mr. Roberts.  Mr. Roberts turned and fled, running down a stairwell and out onto a lower floor.  The next shot fired by Mr. Roberts was the one used by him to take his own life.

P99c AS, 84FS, and PPK/S Comparison

P99c AS, 84FS, and PPK/S Comparison

So, I’m going to say this once again:  Those who insist upon creating feel-good, do-nothing “Gun Free Zones” have a moral obligation to insure that the law abiding citizens they intentionally disarmed with that designation are protected from those who prey upon areas so designated.

It is way beyond time for those who insist upon implementing “Gun Free Zones” to take responsibility for their actions rather than allowing them to pass to an inanimate object the blame for what they themselves have wrought.  If lawmakers and other government officials insist upon repeating a demonstrably failed experiment with tragically repetitive and predictable results, they should at the very least be held civilly libel and perhaps even criminally negligent for the resulting loss in lives if they do nothing to protect those they have placed inside what amounts to a “Free Fire Zone” for those with deranged minds or criminal intent.  For private business owners such as those who designated the Century Aurora 16 Theater a “Gun Free Zone,” there should be absolutely no question as to holding them legally responsible for the outcome of their poor decisions.

Clackamas Town Center is, by the way, not the lone example of an armed civilian or off-duty officer intervening to possibly prevent a much larger tragedy.  For additional cites, take a look at the following (and note while you do that some were stopped because an armed citizen or off-duty officer fortunately disregarded that “Gun Free” designation, such as assistant principal Joel Myrick who had a .45 in his truck parked on school grounds in apparent violation of the 1990 Federal Gun Free School Zones Act; I say ‘apparent’ because there are exceptions to that law and I’ve been unable to determine if Mr. Myrick’s possession on school property was under one of those exceptions):

Sanktikos Mayan Palace 14 Theater

Players Bar & Grill

Appalachian School of Law

Pearl High School

Parker Middle School Dance

Colorado YWAM and New Life Church

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Filed under Firearms, Opinion Piece