Sort of Blast from the Past: Combining “Popular Fiction” and “Popular Fiction 2”

In which I combine a couple of my old posts and also add some new thoughts interspersed along the way.

I have been reading Terry Brooks, particularly the Shannara series recently.  Say what you will, the man is able to write best seller after best seller after best seller.  I’d really like to know how he does it.

There is a tendency among certain segments to dismiss popular fiction, a tendency expressed in the view that if it’s popular it can’t be good.

How do you figure?

Some make the claim that the “secret” to writing for a popular audience is to “dumb down” the story, to write to the “least common denominator”.  As one wag put it rather crudely “shit floats.”  However, if it were that simple a lot more people would be doing it.

That, of course, can be trivially dismissed.  If it were that simple, then anyone could to it and sleep on big piles of money from the sale of same.  Excuses abound for why proponents of that theory don’t do it but as we go on and on and so very few do demonstrate that “anyone could do it”, it become eminently clear that the reason they don’t is simply that they can’t.  The “theory” doesn’t hold water.

Another claim is that it’s all from the “push” the publishers give certain works.  And there is some truth to that.  A publisher, and the book distributors, strongly backing a title, selling it aggressively to bookstores (particularly those bookstores that are counted for best-seller lists), getting end-cap displays (those displays at the ends of rows of bookshelves which feature certain works most prominently) and so forth can drive a lot of sales for a particular title . . . for a while.  But sooner or later, and usually sooner, people start noticing that a book is annoying or offensive or, worst of all, boring, and stop buying it.  Of course, by this time the publishers have found their Next Great Thing and are pushing that.

But popular fiction tends to stay in print.  People keep buying it even after the “push” (if it ever had any) is over.

Some people dismiss popular fiction as lacking meaning.  I happen to think otherwise.  You can’t write popular fiction that sells to large numbers of people, that continues to sell long after any “push” it may have gotten has faded, that continues to sell long after any “derivativeness” that let it ride on “coattails” of something else (Brook’s entree, The Sword of Shannara was actually marketed “for people who’ve read The Lord of the Rings and are looking for something else to read”) has been expended, without touching something in the psyche of the vast body of the human race.  Some psychologists might call that something “the collective unconscious.”  Whatever you call it, it’s something that you have to touch in order to be popular as I have described here, not just short term sales driven by lots of hype but to convince people, lots of people, to shell out money that could buy a meal, a six pack of beer, a couple of steaks to grill, or whatever else they might spend that money on and to keep convincing people to do that, to recommend their friends do that, to show it to their kids and have their kids do that in their turn.

I’ve used Terry Brooks and The Sword of Shannara here.  Another example is Heinlein’s juveniles.  I’ve had some people tell me that they “don’t work” anymore as juveniles because society has changed too much.  Well, that hasn’t been my experience.  Perhaps they weren’t so dated when I first read them back in the mid seventies (or perhaps they were–it was known that Heinlein’s Mars and Venus were no longer possible and Have Space Suit, Will Travel was already Alternate History rather than future fiction).  On the other hand, I read them to my daughter in installments as bedtime reading (got a little distracted before getting to Citizen of the Galaxy, which isn’t one of my favorites anyway, and I’m not happy with the new/original ending to Podkany of Mars so I’m reluctant to include it) and she loves them.  She even, without prompting, echoed my sentiment that Have Space Suit, Will Travel begs for a sequel.  Such a pity that there’s probably no writer alive who could do it justice.

Those books worked because they touch something deep inside people.  And even though “society has changed” (It Says Here) and the stories are “dated” yet they still can touch a nine year old girl so that she wants more.

To be popular, and especially to remain popular, fiction must strike something within people’s hearts and minds.  It must resonate with many people.  It must tap into the heart of what makes us human.  Jung might call that the “collective unconsciousness.” (Please, that’s just a label.  Don’t take it as an endorsement of any of Jung’s “theories.”) Whatever you call it, it’s something that, without which, fiction cannot be popular.

That something can be base in nature–appeal to sex drive and titillation, for instance–and some areas are certainly easier to get that emotional connection than others.  But that very ease only speaks to how very powerful the emotional drive in humanity is.  Porn, to use the classic example, is an economic powerhouse precisely because the drive is so powerful.  The danger with that one is that it is so powerful that in stories that evoke it everything else gets lost behind the power of the sex impulse.  And the stories become only about sex, with the rest being mere window dressing.

But another drive, one nearly as powerful, is that toward what we can call agency.  Whether a person has control over their own life, or not.  I note that a lot of “literary” fiction is about the lack of agency.  They are overwhelmed by events, swept along by circumstances over which they have no control.  Popular fiction often takes the other side.  People’s fates are to a greater extent their own.  While they may face enormous challenges, their actions matter, if only to them.  Agency is at the core of both events of the story (plot) and character development.

Let’s take another example, the late Kenneth Bulmer’s “Dray Prescott” series (Bulmer writing as Alan Burt Akers, writing as Dray Prescott–the conceit being that Akers is transcribing tapes recorded by Prescott.) It’s an old style “Sword and Planet” romance, probably the last great sword and planet series.  One of the common themes is that the main character, Dray Prescott would be dropped into a situation where he would often be captured and enslaved.  But in the course of the story arc he would escape, overthrow the slavemasters, gain power and prestige, and then get dumped into another circumstance where he’d start the whole thing all over again.    It’s all about attempts to deny him agency and his fight to not only regain it for himself but to help others win it for themselves.  He has three primary motivators:  to win back to his love, the incomparable Dellia of Valia, Dellia of the Blue Mountains, Delia of Delphond, to prepare the cluster of continents in which most of the action takes place to defend itself against the reiving Shanks from the other side of the world, and to end the practice of slavery.

Now, some people might claim that that “agency” idea is unrealistic.  That people have little control over their own fates that they are swept along by events beyond their control.  Perhaps.  In some places and some circumstances.  But he idea of agency is deeply rooted even in classical literature.  In Shakespeare’s tragedies, for instance, the tragic characters build their horror with every choice they make.  the events are only tragic because of the choices the characters make.  If Hamlet had made choices of the kind Othello would have made, he would have carved Claudius like a suckling pig the very night the ghost told him of his murder.  If Othello had made decisions of the kind Hamlet would have made, he would have delayed and waited, and checked and double checked until Desdemona’s innocence was at last revealed.  In neither case would the story have been a tragedy, not in the classic sense.  They built their prisons, brick by brick.

And so, it would appear, agency is at the heart of much, if not most “popular fiction” (genre or not).  It also appears to be at the heart of that “classical literature” that people actually read and enjoy.  Shakespeare survives not because professors of literature declare his works as “literature” but for the simple reason that through the centuries people watched and read and were swept away in his work.  He was among the popular fiction of his day . . . and to the present time, in fact.

And thus, we see that popular fiction is literature, in the true meaning of the term, in that which touches the heart, the mind, and the soul.  Without that touch, nobody would read it.  Without that touch, nobody would buy it.

That is what I want to do with my fiction.  Now if I can just figure out how Heinlein did it and how Brooks does it today.

Vainglorious

I have twin problems. One is that I suck a promotion. Get advice from someone who’s actually a professional marketer and I’m completely clueless how to turn that advice into specific actions to take on my part.

OTOH, I’d rather have weak promotion and a slower career growth than be “that guy”. So I’m even afraid to do too much promotion on my own pages for fear of driving people away.

Mad Genius Club

Vain-glo-ri-ous

Adjective; literary

excessively proud of oneself or one’s achievements; overly vain.

“this vainglorious boast of personal infallibility”

Synonyms: assured, biggety (or biggity) [Southern & Midland], bigheaded, complacent, consequential, egoistic (also egoistical), egotistic (or egotistical), important, overweening, pompous, prideful, proud, self-conceited, self-important, self-opinionated, self-satisfied, smug, stuck-up, swellheaded, vain, conceited

The most difficult part of this business, for most of us, is promoting ourselves and our books. It’s also the most important, if we want to be read and paidfor our work. This applies to both the traditionally published, and the independent. The book is published, but how are readers to know about it?

There are many paths to a reader. The best is the same in any business, because it is also the strongest. I did it myself, yesterday. I tried to use my First Reader’s 30+ year old Kirby vacuum, and to my great frustration, it left as much…

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The Hordes of Chanakra, A Snippet

During their escape from the Schahi, Kreg and Shillond discover that their companion, Kaila, has been bespelled and turned against them.  Shillond’s magic was able to render Kaila unconscious and they were able to flee into the darkness, carrying her with them:

“Is everything ready?” Kreg asked Shillond as he pulled brush to block the entrance to the small cave.  They had been fortunate in finding the cave.  It offered a place to hide from the soldiers searching for them.

The cave mouth sat halfway up a large hill.  It opened onto a small shelf of level ground above a steep slope of loose, broken rock.

“Ready enough,” Shillond said. “I’ll have to awaken Kaila in order to make the tests.” He had renewed the sleeping spell on her several times over the past two days. “Stand ready.  She is likely to be violent and I am unsure whether her bonds will restrain her.”

“Cripes, if we had any more rope to use…”

“But we don’t.” Such as they had, they had stolen from farmyards in the moonless hours of the night. “Be alert.  I will begin.”

Shillond began to chant.  In a few seconds Kaila’s eyes flew open.  They flashed with pure hatred, a look so grim as to make her usual expression seem positively cheerful.  Her muscles bulged.  The ropes creaked under the strain, but held.  Barely.  Kreg shuddered before Kaila’s stare as Shillond finished the spell.

“We are lucky.” Shillond turned to Kreg. “It is a compulsion rather than a possession.  Unfortunately, it is a greater compulsion rather than a lesser.”

“Which means?”

“I should be able to break it.” Shillond shook his head. “It will be difficult.  Perhaps you should wait outside.”

“Not meant for the eyes of us mortal types, huh?” Kreg regretted the jest at the pain in Shillond’s eyes.  He held up a hand. “Sorry.  I’ll go.”

“Do not reenter the cave,” Shillond said. “That would break the wards and release forces you cannot imagine.”

Kreg thought about the weapons of his own world and thought he could imagine more than Shillond thought.  He nodded and backed out of the cave’s small opening.

Outside, Kreg sat and waited.  In the distance he could see the light of the army’s watchfires, pinpricks of light in the darkness.  Shillond had said that such an army as had been encamped before the castle was not raised in a day, but two days had seen the apparent raising of an even larger army.  Kreg did not doubt that the army was on its way to reinforce the forces attacking Aerioch.

Seeing the apparent size of the army, Kreg frowned.  Shillond had explained that Schah was a small country, not in area but in population.  Although the land area was similar to that of either Aerioch or Shendar the land of Schah was much drier.  As a result, population was sparser.

The armies they had been fielding numbered hosts larger than Schah’s entire population and, judging by the army that was massing below, there did not seem to be any end to them.  Those people had to come from somewhere, but where?  Kreg had suggested Chanakra along with the wizards, but Shillond had said that Chanakra was an even smaller country than Schah.

So lost in thought was Kreg that he nearly missed noting that several of the watchfires were moving.  They also flickered a bit much for watchfires seen at a distance.

Kreg jumped to his feet.  Those were not watchfires.  Those were torches, and they were moving closer.

“Shillond!” Kreg drew his sword. “We’ve got company!”

Kreg’s gaze flitted from shadow, to rock, to twisted bush hoping to find something with which to stave off the attack.  He saw nothing.  First, sticking his sword point first in the ground he gripped his bow, nocked an arrow, and estimated a target under one of the torches.  He loosed and the arrow disappeared in the darkness.  A moment later a cry of pain rewarded Kreg and the torch fell to the ground.  He loosed another arrow after the first but this one missed.

Kreg sent arrow after arrow speeding into the approaching band.  Twenty arrows he loosed.  Seven men fell, dead or wounded.  At least ten more were still approaching.  They had reached the base of the slope and would have to scramble up it to reach Kreg.

Kreg plucked his sword from the ground and drew himself to his full height. “Come on, you bastards!  I may die tonight, but I’ll take a few of you with me.”

He stood at the edge of the slope where he would have solid footing while the men approaching him would still be on the scree.

The first of the men arrived.  Kreg thrust, catching the man through the throat as he scrambled for footing on the loose rocks.  After parrying the next man’s attack, Kreg drove back with a riposte as the third began to clamber to the side in an effort to outflank Kreg.  He sliced past the second’s guard and sidestepped to deal with the third.  Numbers four and five split up, working Kreg between them.

Kreg managed to drop the third just as the larger of the two moons chose to peak from behind a cloud and bathe the scene in a ruddy glow.  He turned to face four, unable to avoid leaving his back to five.  While Kreg dealt with four, he heard a shout behind him.  Something warm and wet thumped against his back, causing him to lose his balance.  As he stumbled, he threw out his arms for balance.  By chance rather than design, Kreg’s sword caught four in the ribs.  Four dropped.

Kreg turned to deal with the others and saw only bodies.  Over them stood Kaila, clad in buff tunic and high leather boots.  She returned his gaze with a grim smile.

“Again, I owe you thanks,” she said.

At that moment Kreg thought her the most beautiful woman who ever lived.  He smiled. “So who’s keeping score?” He gestured at the bodies at her feet. “As I see it, you just saved my life–again.”

Shillond crawled out of the cave.  He stood and dusted himself.

“As you can see,” he said, “the spell worked.” He looked around at the carnage. “It also seems success could not have been better timed.”

“No argument on that one.” Kreg sank to the ground.  Near his right leg rolled the object that had struck him in the back–the severed head of number five.  With a sigh, he told himself that he was too tired to be bothered.  He would take the time to be sick later.


Available on Kindle or in Paperback.  As always, the Kindle version is available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited.
$4.99 in Kindle Store

Pulled into an alternate world mired in the middle ages, Kreg finds allies in Kaila, a rough swordmistress, and her wizardly father. He’s also found their foes – an unending horde pouring forth from the small nation next door.

Now, he’s in a race against time to find the true source, before everything he cares about ends in fire and death!

The police will protect you (trust us).

 

We don’t need personal weapons.  We have the police for protection.

Yeah, I couldn’t stop laughing either.

This claim is based on several presumptions that vary from the optimistic to the outright silly.

The first is the idea that the police will actually be present to protect you.  Have you heard the old saw “There’s never a cop around when you need one”?  There’s a reason for that.  If someone is going to break the law, most of the time, they’ll do it where the police aren’t.  Those of criminal intent have the initiative.  They get to choose the time and place.  And if the police happen to be present, why then the one of criminal intent simply chooses another time and place.  There are exceptions.  Sometimes the police are the target.  Sometimes the person is committing “suicide by cop”.  In either of those cases the presence of the police is not going to stop them.  But mostly, they don’t want to have the police after them so they’ll choose a time and a place where the police aren’t present to commit their violent acts.

“But,” some say, “you can call the police and they’ll come.”

Well, maybe (we’ll get to that later), but what do you do until then?  It takes time for the police to arrive.  How long?  Five minutes?  Ten?  Twenty?  An hour?  Even if it’s a rather impressive five minutes what can happen to you in five minutes.

Until the police arrive, what do you do?  What do the police say about that?

Well look at that.  Police say you’re on your own. (And how did you like that one officer, suggesting you show the attacker your phone so they can see you’ve called the police?)

But, let’s say that you called the police, they’re on their way, and you manage to lead the person who means you violent harm a merry chase keeping yourself alive until the police arrive, what about then?  The police will protect you then, right?  They have to, right?

Well, no.  They don’t.  In Castle Rock v. Gonzales the Supreme Court determined that the police do not have a legal responsibility to protect you, not even from someone against whom you have a court ordered permanent restraining order. (Text of the Supreme Court Case)

Ah, one might say, you can’t legally require it because there are too many things that are beyond their control which can prevent it, but police are generally good and decent people and they’ll at least try if they’re there.

Maybe.  But you cannot count on it.

In New York, police stood back and watched as a Joseph Lozito struggled with a man who had stabbed four people to death during a 28 hour rampage.  The police officers, who were sitting in a cab right next to the attack, waited until Lozito had subdued the killer, and had been stabbed seven times in the process.

Lozito sued.  The police officers were right there, positioned to watch it happen.  And did nothing until it was all over.

Case dismissed.

And, more recently, we have seen “protests” by the so-called “Antifa” (They say “Anti Fascist” but their actions more resemble the Fascists themselves and they could more accurately be described as Anti-First-Amendment) protestors assaulting people  for saying the wrong things, for wearing the wrong clothing, or simply for being in the way.

And what were the police doing?  Let’s see what they have to say:

So, will the police act to protect you?  Maybe.  If you’re really, really lucky.  But you cannot count on it.

You’re on your own.

 

Nobody wants to take your guns?

Bringing this forward from my old blog:

Whenever I, or others, object to “registration” or bans on transfers, or other forms of “gun control” and firearms restrictions as steps toward an eventual complete prohibition and the confiscation that such would necessarily entail, we get told we’re paranoid and “nobody wants to take your guns.”

Well, perhaps we should consider these “nobodies”:

Normally I put the newer stuff at the bottom but this one, oh, this one, goes right up at the top because not only does it advocate taking guns, but also lying about it:

Joy Behar on “The View” said:  “They should not tell everything they’re going to do,” Behar exclaimed. “Like, if you are going to take people’s guns away, wait until you get elected and then take the guns away. Don’t tell them ahead of time!”

Now onto the rest:

“A gun-control movement worthy of the name would insist that President Clinton move beyond his proposals for controls … and immediately call on Congress to pass far-reaching industry regulation like the Firearms Safety and Consumer Protection Act … [which] would give the Treasury Department health and safety authority over the gun industry, and any rational regulator with that authority would ban handguns.” Josh Sugarmann (executive director of the Violence Policy Center)

“My view of guns is simple. I hate guns and I cannot imagine why anyone would want to own one. If I had my way, guns for sport would be registered, and all other guns would be banned.” Deborah Prothrow-Stith (Dean of Harvard School of Public Health)

“I don’t care if you want to hunt, I don’t care if you think it’s your right. I say ‘Sorry.’ it’s 1999. We have had enough as a nation. You are not allowed to own a gun, and if you do own a gun I think you should go to prison.” Rosie O’Donnell (At about the time she said this, Rosie engaged the services of a bodyguard who applied for a gun permit.)

Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option — keep your gun but permit it.” Andrew Cuomo

“I do not believe in people owning guns. Guns should be owned only by [the] police and military. I am going to do everything I can to disarm this state.” Michael Dukakis

“If someone is so fearful that they are going to start using their weapons to protect their rights, it makes me very nervous that these people have weapons at all.” U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman

“In fact, the assault weapons ban will have no significant effect either on the crime rate or on personal security. Nonetheless, it is a good idea … Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic – purely symbolic – move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation.” Charles Krauthammer, columnist, 4/5/96 Washington Post

Ban the damn things. Ban them all. You want protection? Get a dog.” Molly Ivins, columnist, 7/19/94

“[To get a] permit to own a firearm, that person should undergo an exhaustive criminal background check. In addition, an applicant should give up his right to privacy and submit his medical records for review to see if the person has ever had a problem with alcohol, drugs or mental illness . . . The Constitution doesn’t count!” John Silber, former chancellor of Boston University and candidate for Governor of Massachusetts. Speech before the Quequechan Club of Fall River, MA. August 16, 1990

“I think you have to do it a step at a time and I think that is what the NRA is most concerned about. Is that it will happen one very small step at a time so that by the time, um, people have woken up, quote, to what’s happened, it’s gone farther than what they feel the consensus of American citizens would be. But it does have to go one step at a time and the banning of semiassault military weapons that are military weapons, not household weapons, is the first step.” Mayor Barbara Fass, Stockton, CA

Handguns should be outlawed. Our organization will probably take this stand in time but we are not anxious to rouse the opposition before we get the other legislation passed.” Elliot Corbett, Secretary, National Council For A Responsible Firearms Policy (interview appeared in the Washington Evening Star on September 19, 1969)

Banning guns addresses a fundamental right of all Americans to feel safe.” Senator Diane Feinstein, 1993

“If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them… ‘Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.” U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) CBS-TV’s “60 Minutes,” 2/5/95

Banning guns is an idea whose time has come.” U.S. Senator Joseph Biden, 11/18/93, Associated Press interview

Yes, I’m for an outright ban (on handguns).” Pete Shields, Chairman emeritus, Handgun Control, Inc., during a 60 Minutes interview.

“I am one who believes that as a first step, the United States should move expeditiously to disarm the civilian population, other than police and security officers, of all handguns, pistols, and revolvers… No one should have the right to anonymous ownership or use of a gun.” Professor Dean Morris, Director of Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, stated to the U.S. Congress

“I feel very strongly about it [the Brady Bill]. I think – I also associate myself with the other remarks of the Attorney General. I think it’s the beginning. It’s not the end of the process by any means.” William J. Clinton, 8/11/93

“The Brady Bill is the minimum step Congress should take…we need much stricter gun control, and eventually should bar the ownership of handguns, except in a few cases.” U.S. Representative William Clay, quoted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch on May 6, 1991.

I don’t believe gun owners have rights.” Sarah Brady, Hearst Newspapers Special Report “Handguns in America”, October 1997

We must get rid of all the guns.” Sarah Brady, speaking on behalf of HCI with Sheriff Jay Printz & others on “The Phil Donahue Show” September 1994

“The House passage of our bill is a victory for this country! Common sense wins out. I’m just so thrilled and excited. The sale of guns must stop. Halfway measures are not enough.” Sarah Brady 7/1/88

“I don’t care about crime, I just want to get the guns.” Senator Howard Metzenbaum, 1994

We’re here to tell the NRA their nightmare is true…” U.S. Representative Charles Schumer, quoted on NBC, 11/30/93

“My bill … establishes a 6-month grace period for the turning in of all handguns.” U.S. Representative Major Owens, Congressional Record, 11/10/93

“I’m convinced that we have to have federal legislation to build on. We’re going to have to take one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily — given the political realities — going to be very modest. Of course, it’s true that politicians will then go home and say, ‘This is a great law. The problem is solved.’ And it’s also true that such statements will tend to defuse the gun-control issue for a time. So then we’ll have to strengthen that law, and then again to strengthen that law, and maybe again and again. Right now, though, we’d be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal — total control of handguns in the United States — is going to take time. My estimate is from seven to ten years. The problem is to slow down the increasing number of handguns sold in this country. The second problem is to get them all registered. And the final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition — except for the military, policemen, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs, and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal.”Nelson T. Shields of Hangun Control, Inc. as quoted in `New Yorker’ magazine July 26, 1976. Page 53f

Our goal is to not allow anybody to buy a handgun. In the meantime, we think there ought to be strict licensing and regulation. Ultimately, that may mean it would require court approval to buy a handgun.” President of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Michael K. Beard, Washington Times 12/6/93 p.A1

The sale, manufacture, and possession of handguns ought to be banned…We do not believe the 2nd Amendment guarantees an individual the right to keep them.” The Washington Post – “Legal Guns Kill Too” – November 5, 1999

“There is no reason for anyone in the country, for anyone except a police officer or a military person, to buy, to own, to have, to use, a handgun. The only way to control handgun use in this country is to prohibit the guns. And the only way to do that is to Change the Constitution.” USA Today – Michael Gartner – Former president of NBC News – “Glut of Guns: What Can We Do About Them?” – January 16, 1992

“I would personally just say to those who are listening, maybe you want to turn in your guns,” Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, 2012

” 4. Any person who, prior to the effective date of this law, was legally in possession of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine shall have ninety days from such effective date to do any of the following without being subject to prosecution :
(1) Remove the assault weapon or large capacity magazine from the state of Missouri;
(2) Render the assault weapon permanently inoperable; or
(3) Surrender the assault weapon or large capacity magazine to the appropriate law enforcement agency for destruction, subject to specific agency regulations.” Legislation introduced in Missouri.2013

And you can repeat the exact same thing for Minnesota

“Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence. If coupled with a gun buyback and no exemptions then it could be effective.” NIJ Memo on a new “Assault Weapon” Ban. 2013

“The sheriff of the county may, no more than once per year, conduct an inspection to ensure compliance with this subsection” (Warrantless searches by law enforcement?) Washington State Senate Bill 5737 (2013)

“the state of Iowa should take semi-automatic weapons away from Iowans who have legally purchased them prior to any ban that is enacted if they don’t give their weapons up in a buy-back program.  Even if you have them, I think we need to start taking them,” Iowa state Rep. Dan Muhlbauer (D-Manilla) 2013

California Senate Bill 374 (Steinberg 2013) would expand the definition of “Assault Weapons” to include ALL semi-auto rifles (including rimfire calibers) that accept a detachable magazine.

SB374 would ban on the sale and possession of ALL Semi-Auto rifles and require registration to retain legal possession in the future. California Senate Bill 47 (Yee 2013) would expand the definition of “Assault Weapons” to include rifles that have been designed/sold and or equipped to use the “bullet button” or similar device.

SB47 would ban on the sale and possession of ALL those Semi-Auto rifles and require registration to retain legal possession in the future.

California Assembly Bill 174 (Bonta 2013) would ban the possession of any firearms that were “grandfathered “ for possession if registered in previous “Assault Weapons” gun control schemes. 

Californians that trusted the State of California and registered their firearms will be required to surrender the firearms to the Government or face arrest. Passage of AB174 would make SB374/SB47 (above) into confiscation mandates.

California Senate Bill 396 (Hancock 2013) would ban the possession of any magazine with a capacity to accept more than 10 cartridges. ALL currently grandfathered “high-cap” magazines would become ILLEGAL to possess and the owners subject to arrest and the magazines confiscated. (“High-cap” means a capacity that has been standard, that the firearms were designed for, since the 40’s–AK pattern rifles–or 60’s–AR pattern rifles.)

We want everything on the table. This is a moment of opportunity. There’s no question about it…We’re on a roll now, and I think we’ve got to take the–you know, we’re gonna push as hard as we can and as far as we can.” Illinois Rep Jan Schakowsky says assault rifle ban just the beginning, ‘moment of opportunity’ and seeks to ban handguns (2013).

“People who own guns are essentially a sickness in our souls who must be cleansed.” Colorado Senator (Majority Leader) John Morse. 2013 (Cleansed?  “Final Solution” anyone?)

“We needed a bill that was going to confiscate, confiscate, confiscate.”  Discussion among Senator Loretta Weinberg (D37), Senator Sandra Cunningham (D31), Senator Linda Greenstein (D14) of New Jersey’s State Legislature, May 9, 2013

“No one in this country should have guns.” Superior Court Judge, Robert C. Brunetti, Bristol, CT. September, 2013

Proposed Missouri Bill to ban “assault weapons“: 4. Any person who, prior to the effective date of this law, was legally in possession of an assault weapon or large capacity magazine shall have ninety days from such effective date to do any of the following without being subject to prosecution:
(1) Remove the assault weapon or large capacity magazine from the state of Missouri;
(2) Render the assault weapon permanently inoperable; or
(3) Surrender the assault weapon or large capacity magazine to the appropriate law enforcement agency for destruction, subject to specific agency regulations.

New York sends out Confiscation letters.

“It is extremely important that individuals in the state of California do not own assault weapons. I mean that is just so crystal clear, there is no debate, no discussion,” Leland Yee, California State Senator.

Shannon Watts (head of “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense”): “@MikeBloomberg and I want guns gone. Period. It doesn’t matter what it takes.” (Twitter, 2014).

“Upon review of all the parties’ evidence, the court seriously doubts that the banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes, particularly self-defense in the home, which is at the core of the Second Amendment right, and is inclined to find the weapons fall outside Second Amendment protection as dangerous and unusual.” U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake. (The “assault weapons” being described are semi-automatic weapons–meaning one shot fired per pull of the trigger–of fairly modest power, near the low end of center fire rifles.)  As for the claim that said weapons are not particularly useful for home defense.  I address that here.

2. No person, corporation or other entity in the state of Missouri may manufacture, import, possess, purchase, sell, or transfer any assault weapon or large capacity magazine.” Bill introduced in Missouri House.

NJ.com editorial boards advocates for “mandatory gun buybacks”.http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/09/nj_gun_buyback_programs.html “So do all the voluntary gun buybacks you want. But until they are mandatory, and our society can see past its hysteria over “gun confiscation,” don’t expect it to make much difference.”

“Gun Surrender” without the anonymous provision:
“We’ll take that weapon into safekeeping as a matter of practice. It’s pretty easy,” he said of the surrender process. “We are working to find ways in which we can make it easier for people to turn in weapons and firearms.”
Callers will provide their name, telephone number and address, and the reason for surrender. Once the firearm has been checked to see if it was involved in a crime police will mark it for destruction.
(So, basically, people with illegal guns, or guns used in crime, will stay away in droves.  The only purpose of such a provision is to take legally owned guns from people.)

Another shooting in another “gun-free zone” (Florida requires guns on college campuses to be locked up and cannot be carried) leads to calls for gun prohibition:
“I’m talking about flat-out banning the possession of handguns and assault rifles by individual citizens. I’m talking about repealing or amending the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.”

Another one who clings to the “The Second only applies to government ‘militias’” creed (never mind that the first time that came up was in the Miller case in 1939 and the Supreme Court’s decision, despite the government arguing their case unchallenged, was only on the basis of whether the weapon had a militia use, not whether the deceased Miller (why his side wasn’t even presented) had been a member of a proper militia and so, given the Supreme Court’s returning to the original, plain meaning of the Second in Heller and McDonald decisions sees only one possibility (recognizing the Right to Keep and Bear Arms is apparently not on the table):
Repeal the stupid Second Amendment.” Article in Wisconsin Gazette.
Note:  Normally I reserve this page for explicit calls for gun confiscation and the author of this article doesn’t explicitly call for such.  But I figure a complete repeal of the 2nd could really only be for one purpose.  So I’ll allow this one.  I’m not, however, going to include every such call for repeal.  Let this one stand for the idea.  I’ll unbend occasionally when something is egregious enough, but this page is for calls for actual confiscation.

An advisory panel charged with looking at public safety in the wake of the deadly Newtown school shooting agreed Friday to include in its final report a recommendation to ban the sale and possession of any gun that can fire more than 10 rounds without reloading.(Banning possession means you can’t have it.  I.e. they’ve taken it whether directly or by forcing you to get rid of it yourself.)

“Let’s say that one again: A gun-free society.” From an article in The Washington Post.

“In other words, yes, we really do want to take your guns.” Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo.

I urge President Obama to ban firearm possession in America. He is the president of the United States. He can change the country. He can do it today. I believe in him.”  Opinion piece in Democrat & Chronicle, a Gannet Company (Gannet publishes a number of “mainstream” newspapers).  This individual appears to be a bit weak on how lawmaking works in this country but the sentiment is there.

“I don’t know enough details to tell you how we would do it or how it would work, but certainly the Australia example is worth looking at,” Clinton said at a New Hampshire town hall on Friday. (“Australian example” is confiscation–they may pay what the government thinks is a “fair” amount, for it but the end result is that the gun is gone.)

Some older ones recently brought to my attention:
Guns are a virus that must be eradicated.”—Dr. Katherine Christoffel, pediatrician, in American Medical News, January 3, 1994.  In the 1990s Dr. Christoffel was the leader of the now-defunct HELP Network, a Chicago-based association of major medical organizations and grant seekers advancing gun control in the medical media.  The name HELP was an acronym for Handgun Epidemic Lowering Plan.

“Data on [assault weapons’] risks are not needed, because they have no redeeming social value.—Jerome Kassirer, M.D., former editor, New England Journal of Medicine, writing in vol. 326, no. 17, page 1161 (April 23, 1992).

“Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.New York Times editorial
(Emphasis added in the above).

Screw The NRA! It’s Time To REPEAL The Second Amendment Once And For All” This one’s a little harder to accept into this list.  In the article they author claims not supporting summarily banning all firearms, but really, banning is the only justification for a repeal of the 2nd.  Look, may think it’s unnecessary but the 2nd is there.  Even if you don’t care for it, it does no harm unless you’re planning on banning.  Therefore any call for a repeal of the 2nd Amendment is a call for prohibition and to “take your guns”.  And saying that it’s not all the guns does not justify it.

“We should, that is, seek to ‘control’ access to them and their use. But even that’s not going far enough. We should get rid of them, that is, ban them. Guns create too many problems, promote too much fear, and lead to too many deaths to not consider banning them. Perhaps they were necessary at some point in our history, but let’s declare that that time has run its course.” Salon

As a person of principle let me be very clear to any “conservatives” who troll the Kos for proof that liberals want to take away thier guns.  Here you go conservatives:  We liberals really do want to take away your guns and never let you have them back. They go into a lot of “ifs” after that, but they ring a little hollow after this bold statement.

“Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh … also provided his opinion of the Second Amendment, stating that ‘we should ban guns altogether, period.’” In a hidden camera interview.

“Needed: Domestic Disarmament, Not ‘Gun Control’ That headline pretty much says it all.

an guns. All guns. Get rid of guns in homes, and on the streets, and, as much as possible, on police. Not just because of San Bernardino, or whichever mass shooting may pop up next, but also not not because of those. Don’t sort the population into those who might do something evil or foolish or self-destructive with a gun and those who surely will not. As if this could be known—as if it could be assessed without massively violating civil liberties and stigmatizing the mentally ill. Ban guns! Not just gun violence. Not just certain guns. Not just already-technically-illegal guns. All of them. ”  Article in The New Republic

“What has to go?
All magazine fed, self-loading firearms.
Yes, that means handguns too.
Yes, that includes your 4 shot Remington hunting rifle.
Yes, that includes rigid controls on police firearms.

Your 5 shot revolver can go home with you officer, your 17 shot handgun stays inside the armory of the police station.  Armory, not your locker.  Signed-in, signed-out, via proximity card reader, with real-time computer controls at the State and Federal levels.” Daily Kos
Note:  this has now been reported to me as a satire piece.  However, also note that it’s here at all from my habit of following back from secondary sources to the original source to avoid claims that the secondary source was just making it up.  I didn’t twig to it’s satirical nature then because, no matter how over-the-top it was, it wasn’t over-the-top enough to exceed what extremists actually espouse (indeed, why somebody cited it in the first place).  This is why “Poe’s Law” is a thing.

“We could use a President who was, like, ‘OK. Everybody turn in all your guns tomorrow by 5 p.m. After that, if I catch you with a gun then I’m sending SEAL Team Six to your house with a recent Facebook picture of you and those tanks that shoot fire that we haven’t used since Waco — Ummm — I mean since World War II.’” CNN Commentator

“Bans on the manufacture and sale of all semiautomatic and other military-style guns and government offers to buy back any rifle or pistol in circulation. It won’t solve the problem, but Australia proved that such programs can help reduce gun deaths.” NY Times writer Thomas L. Friedman (Anyone who invokes Australia is calling for confiscation.)

“179 (a) Notwithstanding Code Sections 16-11-115 and Code Section 16-11-116, any person
180 who possesses any assault weapon or large capacity magazine on July 1, 2016, shall have
1801until October 31, 2016, to accomplish any of the following actions without any prosecution
182 under the law:
183 (1) Modify such assault weapon or large capacity magazine to render it permanently
184 inoperable or such that it is no longer an assault weapon or large capacity magazine; or
185 (2) Surrender such assault weapon or large capacity magazine to the Georgia Bureau of
186 Investigation for destruction pursuant to this part.
187 (b) Notwithstanding Code Section 16-11-115 and Code Section 16-11-116, any person
188 who relocates his or her residence to this state and who possesses an assault weapon or
189 large capacity magazine or who comes to possess such assault weapon or large capacity
190 magazine through probate shall, within 90 days of establishing such residency or the
191 closing of such probate, modify such assault weapon or large capacity magazine to render
192 it permanently inoperable or such that it is no longer an assault weapon or large capacity
193 magazine or surrender such assault weapon or large capacity magazine to the Georgia
194 Bureau of Investigation for destruction pursuant to this part”

“Given that even micro gun control measures will be effectively blocked by the NRA and its allies, and that promoting mini measures as potentially effective is misleading, progressives may as well go for the big enchilada: Call for domestic disarmament.”

Amitai EtzioniProfessor of international relations, George Washington University“I really don’t personally think anyone should have a gun,” Bonnie Schaefer, DNC Platform Committee member.

“We need to say loud and clear: The Second Amendment must be repealed.” At least the “Constitutional Law professor” David S. Cohenacknowledges that you actually have to repeal the Amendment to take our guns. (2/3 of the House, 2/3 of the Senate and 3/4 of State legislatures.  Good luck with that.)

“If I could I would take all the guns in America, put them on big barges, and go dump them in the ocean,” says Walker in the above video from the Oregonian. “Nobody would have a gun. Not police, not security, not anybody. We should eliminate all of them.” Multnomah County Circuit (Oregon) Judge Kenneth Walker

Just passed by the Oregon State House of Representatives (and note that it’s a Senate Bill, so at least some form has passed both houses):
“SECTION 2. (1) A law enforcement officer or a family or household member of a person may file a petition requesting that the court issue an extreme risk protection order enjoining the person from having in the person’s custody or control, owning, purchasing, possessing or receiving, or attempting to purchase or receive, a deadly weapon.

SECTION 6. (1) Upon issuance of an extreme risk protection order under section 2 of this 2017 Act, the court shall further order that the respondent:
(a) Within 24 hours surrender all deadly weapons in the respondent’s custody, control or possession to a law enforcement agency, a gun dealer or a third party who may lawfully possess the deadly weapons; and
(b) Within 24 hours surrender to a law enforcement agency any concealed handgun license issued to the respondent under ORS 166.291 and 166.292.”
So basically any any law enforcement officer or disgruntled family or household member, on their word alone, can strip someone of their rights.  Doesn’t even require review by qualified medical personnel.  Someone with no qualifications in the field can simply say “I think…” and boom, rights gone.  This whole “due process” before stripping someone of their rights seems to be forgotten.

According to Bret Stephens, Op-Ed Columnist for the New  York Times:  “There is only one way to do this: Repeal the Second Amendment.” Elsewhere in the article, regarding “buy-backs” he says: “Nor will it do to follow the “Australian model” of a gun buyback program, which has shown poor results in the United States and makes little sense in a country awash with hundreds of millions of weapons. Keeping guns out of the hands of mentally ill people is a sensible goal, but due process is still owed to the potentially insane. Background checks for private gun sales are another fine idea, though its effects on homicides will be negligible: guns recovered by police are rarely in the hands of their legal owners, a 2016 study found.” (So exactly how is he expecting to get those guns he fears so much out of private hands?  Outright confiscation?  Depriving people of their property without either due process or fair compensation, the two protections guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.  Well, if you’re going to eliminate one of the Bill of Rights, it’s just as easy to eliminate others while you’re in there, right?)

Dan Pfeiffer, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama “‘We are nibbling around the edges instead of proposing bold, meaningful solutions,’ Pfeiffer wrote. His suggestions included implementing a national gun registry, mandating ‘smart-gun technology,’ and rolling-out a buy-back program similar to Australia’s.” “Similar to Australia’s” IOW, manadatory confiscation with whatever the government decides is “just compensation.”

Boston Globe Columnist David Scharfenberg in his article “Hand over your Weapons” concludes with:  “Ultimately, if gun-control advocates really want to stanch the blood, there’s no way around it: They’ll have to persuade more people of the need to confiscate millions of those firearms, as radical as that idea may now seem.” (In the article he talks about a buyback, at about $500 each of some 60 million guns.  Only 60 million is a conservative, very conservative, estimate of gun owners.  The number of guns in private hands is upwards of 300 million, that too a conservative estimate, so at $500 each, that would cost $150 billion dollars.)

Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsome tweeted:
“It’s been 5 years since 20 first graders were shot dead at Sandy Hook. Since then:
14 killed in San Bernardino
49 killed in Orlando
58 killed in Vegas
26 killed in a Texas church
Enough.
We have a message for the @NRA: If you hurt people, we ARE coming for your guns.”
(Note that four of those five locations were “gun free zones”.  There is a reason for that.)

Sorry, some of your guns have got to go….I’ve heard your arguments against all that I’ve said here, but the body count of innocent people keeps getting higher no matter how many ‘good guys’ have guns” (Actually, violent crime is down.  The “higher body count” is in places where the good guys are forbidden from bringing their guns, but, of course, the bad guys don’t care.)

CNN “analyst” Kirsten Powers wants to ban semi-autos and handguns:
“‘I want it let you respond to what Kirsten said earlier about the AR-15 and semiautomatic weapons, pointing the blame at them,’ Tapper asked. ‘I don’t think you agree?’
“‘Well, is the answer to ban them?’ Ham asked.
“’Yes,’ Powers responded.” (See link for what she says about handguns.)

Editorial at Portland Press Herald: “We need to stand up to the NRA and push for what is so desperately needed: a complete ban on firearms.” Doesn’t get any more clear than that.

Minnesota Bill Introduced 2018: “Expand the definition of an “assault weapon” to include many semiautomatic pistols, rifles or shotguns and makes possessing them a felony, with the exception of some that were legally registered before February 2018. Those owning a grandfathered assault weapon must undergo a background check, renew their registration annually, and use them only on their property or at a shooting range. Such weapons could not be sold or transferred, only surrendered to law enforcement for destruction.” Even ignoring the “possessing” part the inability to transfer makes it a ban with delayed enforcement.

East Lansing School District has made an official resolution which includes: “Whereas, no civilian should ever be allowed to purchase, possess or use a weapon of mass destruction, including but not limited to automatic and semi-automatic guns, nor be allowed to purchase, possess or use any magazine, clip or other tool designed to deliver rapid-fire ammunition without the need to reload;” (That’s the vast majority of all firearms in American and pretty much anything but single-shot firearms.)

“Kerry Picket, Sirius XM Patriot:  ‘Now some would argue that then guns and ammunition would only be available to those with money, those who are wealthy. And that those who are in the lower classes as far as financial terms are concerned would not be able to afford such weapons. Tell me about that.’

“Congressman Danny Davis (D-Ill.):  ‘Well I would be just as pleased if neither group were able to get them [guns]. So what I am saying is it doesn’t pose an issue for me because I would like to outlaw them altogether. I am saying I would like to make it where nobody except military personnel would ever have access to these weapons. So it wouldn’t bother me that one category of people couldn’t get them even if the other one was willing to pay the high price for them. Then we use that money for services that are needed and people could make use of them.’
“Picket: ‘So rich people only could own firearms?’
“Congressman Davis:  ‘So if rich people could only get firearms then only rich people would be able to pay the price. And if that could prevent some people from getting them, I would want to prevent all people from getting them. But if rich people were willing, and would continue to pay the high price then I’d be happy that we kept the other group from getting them.'” Audio of interview included at this link.

An article at VOX.COM: “Realistically, a gun control plan that has any hope of getting us down to European levels of violence is going to mean taking a huge number of guns away from a huge number of gun owners.”

House Bill effectively a delayed ban on the vast majority of firearms in the US:  “The bill prohibits the ‘sale, transfer, production, and importation’ of semi-automatic rifles and pistols that can hold a detachable magazine, as well as semi-automatic rifles with a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds. Additionally, the legislation bans the sale, transfer, production, and importation of semi-automatic shotguns with features such as a pistol grip or detachable stock, and ammunition feeding devices that can hold more than 10 rounds.” By banning the transfer  they are, in effect, creating a delayed ban.  As soon as the current owner of a covered firearm (most of those in the US) dies or otherwise is unable to keep the firearm it cannot be passed on to someone else–like ones heirs.  That gun is then gone and no more can replace it.

Daryl Fisher (A Democrat candidate for Sheriff in Buncombe County NC):  “Any weapon that is designed for use by the military I think we should ban. You’ve heard people say you have to pry my gun from my cold dead hands. [shrugs] OK.” (Up front about willing to kill to take people’s guns.) What is interesting to note is that while my 1893 Argentine Bolt Action (an antique, old enough that it’s not even regulated by the ATF), my Mosin Nagant rifle, and various other bolt actions, including the extremely popular Remingtin 700 have been used by the US and other militaries, that AR-15 is not (the similar appearing M-16 and M-4, both having full auto or “burst” fire that the AR-15 lacks, are different beasts).

Going back in time a bit, to a bill Senator Diane Feinstein introduced in 2013. “‘The purpose is to dry up the supply of these weapons over time,’ Feinstein said. ‘Therefore, there is no sunset on this bill.'” After all, ending transfer of the firearms means that when, for whatever reason (including eventual death) a person cannot own their existing weapon it has to be surrendered.  A slow confiscation over time is still a confiscation.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif “In a USA Today op-ed entitled ‘Ban assault weapons, buy them back, go after resisters,’ Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., argued Thursday that prior proposals to ban assault weapons ‘would leave millions of assault weapons in our communities for decades to come.'”

Deerfield, IL bans possession of “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” with a $1000 per day fine if residents fail to comply.  As of this writing (June 20, 2018) they have two weeks to turn them over or.  This isn’t just a 2nd Amendment issue, but a 5th Amendment (“nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”–and simply passing a law saying you can’t have it doesn’t qualify as “due process”).

Editorial in the Houston Chronicle claims “Every Gun is an Assault Weapon” (and thus should be banned): “But as long as we continue to condone personal firearms of any shape or size, we’ll remain trapped in a brutal, heart-breaking version of ‘Groundhog Day.'”

NBC News reported: “WASHINGTON — A Democratic congressman [ed: Eric Swalwell, D-CA] has proposed outlawing “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons” and forcing existing owners to sell their weapons or face prosecution, a major departure from prior gun control proposals that typically exempt existing firearms.” And when challenged on possible armed resistance to such a mandatory “buy back” (which would violate both the 2nd and 5th–deprive of property without due process of law) said that the government has nukes.  Yep, suggested (and even as a joke?) nuking American citizens who resist his gun confiscation proposal.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg as reported in the Aspen Times: “Bloomberg claimed that 95 percent of murders fall into a specific category: male, minority and between the ages of 15 and 25. Cities need to get guns out of this group’s hands and keep them alive, he said.
“‘These kids think they’re going to get killed anyway because all their friends are getting killed,’ Bloomberg said. ‘They just don’t have any long-term focus or anything. It’s a joke to have a gun. It’s a joke to pull a trigger.'” Anti-gun and racist all in one.

One of many proposals in Virginia (including “Red Flag Laws” which deprive people of property without due process): “Delegate Kathy Tran and Senator Adam Ebbin will patron legislation to ban the sale, purchase, possession, and transport of assault firearms in the Commonwealth. The bill also modifies the definition of assault firearm to any firearm that is equipped with a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition.” This basically, would immediately render the vast majority of handguns illegal, affecting millions of law-abiding gun owners.

Hawaii State legislature passes resolution calling for the repeal of the 2nd Amendment:
BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirtieth Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2019, the House of Representatives concurring, that the United States Congress is urged to propose and adopt a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution pursuant to article V of the United States Constitution to clarify the constitutional right to bear arms; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United States Congress is requested to consider and discuss whether the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution should be repealed or amended to clarify that the right to bear arms is a collective, rather than individual, constitutional right; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Concurrent Resolution be transmitted to the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Members of the Hawaii congressional delegation, and the Governor.
This, of course, is meaningless drivel without 2/3 of the House, 2/3 or the Senate (or a convention called by 2/3 of the States) and 3/4 of the State legislatures.  But this list isn’t about how successful they are at taking guns, but the desire–want to take your guns.  And, given that the courts have (wrongly, IMO) allowed many restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms without its repeal, the only reason to call for its repeal is as a prelude for complete prohibition.

And we just knew that the Freshman Congresswoman from New York Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez would “weigh in” on the subject: “You know, instead of training children, teachers, houses of faith, & concertgoers to prep for being shot, we could just:
-Pass Universal Background checks (!)
-Disarm domestic abusers
-Mandate safe storage
-Ban bump stocks, semiautos, & high cap mags designed to kill people”
(Never mind that a number of those things are already law.)

And Eric Swalwell is at it again:
“I’m not calling for confiscation. What I’m saying is we should invest in the buyback, that we should restrict any weapons that aren’t bought back to gun clubs, hunting clubs, shooting ranges. Keep them there, where it is safe, not on our streets. And if you are caught, just like, if you were caught with drugs or anything else, they have probable cause to go into your home and you have one of these weapons, yes, you’d be prosecuted.” (You have to turn them in, if you don’t we’ll come search your home and you’ll be prosecuted for having them…but it’s not a confiscation.   Yeah.  Right.)

California bill would expand “red flag laws” for “temporary” gun confiscation: “AB 61 would expand this to include school employees such as guidance counselors and teachers as well as the employers and co-workers of a subject.” Anyone who decides, for whatever reason, that they think you’re a “danger” can have armed men come to your house and take your guns.  Due process?  What due process?  Oh, if you’re lucky, and you can find a friendly judge, and spend enough money on lawyers you might get them back later.  Maybe.  Oh, filing a false affidavit is a misdemeanor but how do you prove that the person filing the affidavit didn’t believe you were a threat?  The only criteria is that they have to claim to believe you were a threat, not provide any actual evidence that you are.

Senator and Presidential hopeful Cory Booker wants sweeping gun and magazine bans and thinks folk who do not comply should be thrown in jail.

Illinois State Senator Julie Morrison, when questioned on, if certain semi-automatic rifles are so dangerous as to be banned, why allow people who already have them to keep them if they pay a fine and register them responded. “Maybe we’ll just have a confiscation and you won’t have to worry about having to pay a fine.”

Democrat Congressional Candidate (NY-27) Nate MacMurray tweeted: “YEP. I’M COMING FOR YOUR AR15 You heard me. No apologies.”

Democrat Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson: Williamson, an author and an activist by trade, proposed the following: enacting universal background checks, closing “the loopholes,” outlawing the AR-15, banning bump stocks (which have already been banned), putting serial numbers on bullets and… “When we outlaw them [ARs] there will be so many millions on the street, so we need to stop selling the ammunition. We need to stop producing the ammunition for the AR-15,” she explained. No word on which of the many calibers which AR pattern rifles have been chambered for are to be banned.

Democrat Presidential Candidate Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, when asked how, under his Presidency, the government would take semi-automatic firearms containing certain cosmetic features (common called “assault weapons”) from gun owners responded:  “I want to be really clear that that’s exactly what we are going to do.” The candidate later shared that quote on Twitter, adding: “We need to ‘buy back’ every single assault weapon.” Mind you  you can’t buy “back” something that you never sold in the first place, but that’s a minor point.  The main one is that exchanging some modest sum of money that you simply declare as a “fair value” in a mandatory “buy back”–“sell” the gun back or go to jail–is confiscation pure and simple.  The money does not change that.  And, to be quite blunt, we can go back to basic economics.  A “fair value” is one where the parties to an exchange mutually agree to make the change without coercion.  The fact that he has to make it mandatory, bringing government coercion to play, to even get a small fraction of the guns turned in, demonstrates that it is not a “fair value.” Confiscation pure and simple.

Novelist Jim Wright (normally I wouldn’t bother with “some guy on twitter” but with a published novelist with more than 100,000 followers, I’ll include him here): “Here’s the thing America: we ARE coming for your guns.”

“But nobody wants to take our guns?”

If you give a man a fish part 2: Sweatshops and bootstraps

In 1853 Commodore Matthew Perry sailed with his small flotilla into Tokyo Harbor.  Forcing Japan to open itself to the world.  Now some folk claim that this was for the purpose of exploiting Japan and insisting that Japan buy Western products.  It was actually more complicated than that.  Among other things when shipwrecked sailors washed up on Japanese shores, the Japanese killed them.  That was a perfectly valid justification for war in those days.  It would be a justification for war today.

In any case, Japan was opened up to the West.  Japan came into its new relationship with the west at a decided disadvantage.  Because of their former isolation the Industrial Revolution had passed them by.  Japan had to play catch-up if it was going to compete with the rest of the world from a position of parity.

The process began simply.  They began providing cheap labor, both in Japan and exported.  It wasn’t just cheap Chinese labor that built the railroads in the American West.  There were a lot of Japanese toiling right alongside them.  In addition to exported workers, Japan itself needed to industrialize.  Much like Britains Industrial Revolution, they started in textiles.  Textile mills, operated mainly by young women who “gave” their wages to their fathers.  They went almost directly from hand powered looms to coal fired steam.  Miserable, dangerous work for low wages the workers were not even allowed to keep.

But.  As miserable as this work was, it was better than working in the rice paddies.

It also provided a stepping stone to actual industrialization.  This provided an avenue for economic growth leading to improvement, at first gradual then not so gradual, in the standard of living of the average Japanese person.

A third benefit was that it broke feudalism and its caste system.  Economic and social mobility became much more achievable (achievable at all in social terms).  Eventually, this economic growth that started with the functional equivalent of sweatshops has made Japan one of the economic powerhouses, ranking the third largest economy in the world.

Japan was the first of the Asian nations to take that path.  Others, for various reasons, were delayed in starting.  However, in every case of a nation growing from abject poverty to some level of economic success they all start at one place:  cheap labor.  They cannot compete with the skill and productivity of more developed nation, not yet.  All they have to offer to start with is low costs.  But in the process, they learn.  They develop the skills to be more productive.  They also tend to break old lines of hereditary aristocracy–who ones father was becomes less important than can one do the job.  Oh, vestiges hang on, but the potential of a person of “low birth” to improve his or her position increases dramatically.

And these “poor” “exploited” workers?  Do you think there are press gangs going and dragging people kicking and screaming into the factories?  Do you think they have barbed wire and machine guns to make the people stay in the factories?  Chained to their work stations?

No.  The people running the factories simply offer better pay, and better working conditions than would be available to those workers otherwise.

Look, these “sweatshops” may look horrid from our perspective but they’re a step up, generally a big one, over what would be available to the people working in them otherwise.  Try working in a third-world subsistence farm sometime while being a single drought away from starvation to see just how heavenly reliable work with a reliable (if small) income with which to reliably feed your family can be.

I would love to be able to wave a magic wand and bring everybody in the world up to First World standards of living.  Reality, however, doesn’t work that way.  It takes time and there’s a learning curve.  Take away a nation’s ability to start up that learning curve and they can never get to the top.

Modern industrial production is not something learned overnight.  There are institutional habits and skills that take time to develop.  And until they are developed folk in those nations only have one thing to offer:  cheap labor.

Take away that competitive edge by forbidding Western businesses from “exploiting” (read “improving the lives of”) cheap labor and you take away their ability to pull themselves up out of their current levels.

And you condemn them to crushing poverty…forever

If you give a man a fish…

This is going to ramble a bit.  I ended up going a completely different direction from what I had in mind when I started.

If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, the old saw goes.  And if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

As someone who has come home empty handed often enough from a day of fishing, I’m not so sure it quite works that way, but it’s close enough to be a reasonable metaphor.

Benjamin Franklin put it this way: “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”

The truth is, there are some people–not everyone, perhaps not even most, but some–who, if you provide them enough for even a basic living without their having to earn it, will accept that and make no attempt to improve their lot through their own efforts.  Oh, they may complain about how hard they have it, but that complaint doesn’t motivate them to go work their way out of their situation.  If anything, it’s intended to influence you to provide more of that “basic living” they’re not having to work for.

This is not to say that there aren’t people who legitimately cannot provide for themselves but how often is that really the case?

The problem is two-fold.  Three-fold, actually.  The first is the “making them easy in poverty”.  Yeah, I can hear the howls now of how hard the poor have it.  Want to try again?  I grew up with an outhouse–having to go outside in the dead of winter to an unheated, drafty wooden building to do my business through a hole in a board.  A wood stove heated the kitchen.  Steam radiators heated the rest of the house.  Air conditioning?  What’s that?  I packed sandwiches for my lunch at school because we couldn’t afford the hot lunch.  We did have electricity–when it worked.  And we weren’t even particularly poor.  So, please, tell me again how “hard” most of the “poor” in the US have it today.   I can use the laugh.

And, no, I don’t begrudge the poor having a better life than I did.  That’s progress.  But, dammit, is it too much to ask that they appreciate what they have?  Apparently so.  Somebody else has more and that’s just too much to bear.

The second and thirds problems are closely related.  The second is that sometimes you just have more people than jobs, at least jobs that one could make a living at.  And the third is mismatch of skills required for the jobs available and skills people seeking work possess.  It doesn’t matter how great a typist you are if the job requires a welder.

So what to do?

First thing, impose the old dictate “if any of you would not work, neither shall he eat.” (And before you start “but what about…” note that word “would”.  It’s a matter of will, not ability.  If a person truly is incapable of doing anything of value that would qualify as work, then that’s a separate story.  But how many of those are there really?)

Personally, I’d like to see government welfare done away with entirely and let helping those who can’t work, or those who’ve temporarily fallen on hard times, devolve to private, mostly local charities.  I realize that such changes do not happen in an instant without causing their own problems.  Still, there’s a lot that can be done to move in that direction and the most important is a work requirement for anybody drawing any kind of government assistance.  Take away the incentive not to work to get off welfare.  You can work for your government assistance or you can work for your own money, but you’re going to work.

A related issue is that even for a person who, for whatever reason got on government assistance and now wants to get off it, can find the prospect daunting.  You find a job that pays more than that welfare check, well, and good, but now you also lose SNAP, oh, and while before you could stay home with the children, now you need to find daycare.  That costs money.  You’re actually worse off than you started.  Another perverse incentive.  Some people will push through that anyway but not everyone will.  And if our goal is to get people off welfare and on their own feet then shouldn’t the incentives work that way?  Say, reduce their total benefits from all sources one dollar for every two dollars they earn?

But in addition to removing the incentives for people to remain on welfare, we need the other side:  to make sure that there are jobs for them to take.  And to do that there’s one thing that so many people have trouble wrapping their heads around.

We.  Need.  A.  Political.  Climate.  Favorable.  To.  Business.

Whether it’s small businesses and people employing themselves, or big businesses employing thousands or even in some cases millions, businesses provide jobs.  Politicians do not provide jobs.  Governments do not provide jobs (except the jobs of government).  Businesses provide jobs.  And basic laws of economics apply.  If you make it more expensive for businesses to hire people, they will hire fewer people, or they will go where it isn’t so expensive (like, say, overseas).  If you cut off their ability to go where it isn’t so expensive, then foreign firms will take advantage of that opportunity to undercut our own businesses.  If you try to use tariffs or other trade restrictions to try to penalize the foreign companies in favor of our own, then they respond in kind and, again, our people suffer.

“But, but…big Megacorporation makes billions in profits!” And has trillions in sales.  The profits are a small fraction of the total amount of the business.  Most of that money goes to people working for the company, or people working for suppliers to the company.  Oh, and much of that profit is paid out to things like pension funds and retirement accounts that invest in things like big Megacorporation, not just to millionaires and billionaires.

“But, but…CEO compensation!” Do the math.  A company has one CEO.  Big ones, the ones where people complain about CEO compensation, employ hundreds of thousands to millions of people.  What the CEO makes is a drop in the bucket compared to the total labor costs.

For any large company, labor costs are their biggest expense.  Increase the cost of hiring people and they hire fewer people.  That’s not just Economics 101.  That falls right out of the first day‘s lecture in Economics 101.  Practically the second thing taught (right after “wants are unlimited, resources at any given time are limited, so it’s not possible for everyone to get everything they want”):  increase the cost of “buying” something and people buy less of it.

Now labor costs are at least something that produces value to the company.  So long as the value of the labor is higher than the cost of the labor it’s possible to come to an agreement.  But there’s another factor, the regulatory cost.  Almost a quarter of our economy is eaten up in regulatory costs.  If those costs were the GDP of a country, it would be larger than Germany’s.  That’s four trillion dollars spent making sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed.

Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations had the great insight that the wealth of a nation was not in specie, in gold, silver, and precious gems, it was not in paper money, and if he’d had to foresight to predict the modern age he would certainly have said it was not in electronic banking records.  It was in the amount of goods and services available to a nation.  It is not the money in my wallet and my bank account that is my wealth (such as it is).  It’s what that money can buy.  Produce and trade for more goods and services and you are wealthier as a nation, and the people within the nation are wealthier.

And everyone, rich and poor alike, benefits.  That cheap “prepaid minutes” smartphone you can pick up for $50 at Walmart?  A portable phone alone would have been a mark of wealth and prestige just 30 years ago–and one so small, unheard of.  And one with more computing power than supercomputers of the day?  With instant access to a wealth (note that word.  It has meaning) of music, movies and TV shows, to more information than all the libraries in the world held then?   How many millions would somebody have paid for that capability back then?

And it’s cheap.  A device that the wealthy of a generation past would have mortgaged their first three children for and it’s cheap.

You want to teach people to fish?  Economic growth.  And we’re wasting 25%  of our GDP not on developing and growing the economy but on regulatory burden.  Is some regulatory oversight necessary?  Probably.  But 25% of our economy?  That’s resources that could be used to make life better for all of us, frittered away on some government bureaucrats.