One Inch Tall

If you were only one inch tall, you’d walk beneath the door,
And it would take about a month to get down to the store.
A bit of fluff would be your bed,
You’d swing upon a spider’s thread,
And wear a thimble on your head
If you were one inch tall.

– excerpt from Shel Silverstein’s “One Inch Tall

I’d add to that: you can be a legal sign, if your lettering is at least one inch tall.

I’m referring to Texas Penal Code – Section 30.06. Trespass By Holder Of License To Carry Concealed Handgun. Specifically paragraph 3.c, about “written communication”. Where on B.ii it says

appears in contrasting colors with block letters at least one inch in height

So yes. According to statue, any sort of written communication given under this notice must have contrasting colored block lettering at least one inch in height. If it doesn’t have that, it’s not a legal sign.

And so, there are people that carry on with rulers or other means of easy estimation (e.g. comparing to the size of a coin or a dollar bill that they have measured and is of known height), go up to the sign, measure the lettering, and if it’s not at least 1.01″ tall, self-declare it an illegal sign and walk on by.

Fair enough, I guess.

Here’s the thing.

You can still be arrested. If not for this, maybe trespassing. There’s always the good-old catch-all “disorderly conduct” (and remember how DC affects your ability to have a CHL). Who knows, and does it matter? Because now you’re arrested, which means lost time out of work, family, and life in general. It could mean lost wages or a lost job. Then you have to deal with going to court, paying for a lawyer. And even if you are able to use “not a legal sign” effectively as a defense, how much did it cost you to achieve that? Is it really worth it?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. That’s your own decision to make.

As far as I know, “valid signage” has yet to be tested in the Texas court system. Me personally? I don’t care to set the precedent.

You saw the sign, you understood the sign (that’s clear from your reaction of pulling out a ruler). Doesn’t matter if it’s the issue of letter height, font, colors, language, or whatever other nitpicky detail out of §30.06 you wish to take umbrage with.  Consider the intent of the sign, even if it’s a simple “no guns” sign or other statement of “we don’t like guns” policy. Vote with your wallet and take your money elsewhere.

(Of course this also shows the lengths law-abiding citizens are willing to go through to ensure they can both obey the law and still “feel safe”, because isn’t “feeling safe” what everyone is on about?. When was the last time a gang member, murder, deranged school shooter, or other such degenerate took such care about the details of the law?)

Applying 1A to 2A

David Kopel, an adjunct professor of advanced Constitutional law, has published a paper examining how SCOTUS has used the First Amendment for guidance on Second Amendment questions.

You can read a summary/overview here.

The full paper can be found here. Here’s the abstract

As described in Part I of this article, the Supreme Court has strongly indicated that First Amendment tools should be employed to help resolve Second Amendment issues. Before District of Columbia v. Heller, several Supreme Court cases suggested that the First and Second Amendments should be interpreted in the same manner. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago applied this approach, using First Amendment analogies to resolve many Second Amendment questions.

Part II of this Article details how influential lower court decisions have followed (or misapplied) the Supreme Court’s teaching. Of course, precise First Amendment rules cannot necessarily be applied verbatim to the Second Amendment. Part III outlines some general First Amendment principles that are also valid for the Second Amendment. Finally, Part IV looks at how several First Amendment doctrines can be used in Second Amendment cases, showing that some, but not all, First Amendment doctrines can readily fit into Second Amendment jurisprudence.

I have not yet had a chance to read the full paper, but I did want to comment on a related matter I was thinking about prior to learning of this paper.

The notion of “if it saves just one life, then it’s worth it”.

I was reading this article and it trotted out the “just one life is worth it” trope. Yes, the article is from the NRA-ILA so it has an expected slant, but it got me thinking.

Is this really valid reasoning?

Can we apply this reasoning to other Constitutionally protected rights, such as those listed in the First Amendment? And would those so willing to apply this trope to 2A be willing to apply it to 1A?

Let’s consider cyberbullying. Consider the numerous children that have committed suicide or violently “acted out” as a result of cyberbullying. How can we prevent cyberbullying? Well, it does seem that banning computers or banning the Internet is never brought up as a solution, but if there was no access to computers or the Internet — if they were banned — then certainly “cyber” would cease to exist and so too would cyberbullying.

If it saves just one life, isn’t that worth it?

Isn’t curtailing free religion, free speech, free press, free association — because it could save just one life — worth it?

Well, isn’t it worth it?

Don’t deny the less capable

“Just run away.”

“Just kick him (in the crotch).”

“You’re a young/strong/big guy, who would mess with you?”

These suggestions tend to be predicated by either your current situation or my current situation.

When you think about ways people might defend themselves if attacked, you think what you could do, like run away or kick him or being able to put up a physical fight — because YOU (or I) can do those things. There often lacks consideration for others that may not be as able as you.

When my ankle problem came up a couple weeks ago and rendered me essentially cripple, I went from capable to incapable in the unexpected blink of an eye.

Run? I couldn’t even stand up, let alone walk or run.

Kick? If I can’t stand up, how can I kick someone?

Big and strong mean nothing. If I could get around it was with a cane and then heavily leaning on it; my gait made it evident I was crippled.

You’ve seen the shows on Discovery Channel. Who do the predators go for? The young, the old, the sick, the injured. I’ve become prey.

For all those who seem to know better about how we are to keep ourselves safe, please tell me what I’m supposed to do? Am I supposed to keep a cell phone programmed with 911? so while I’m crumpled on the ground getting my head stomped in I can try to call for help? Oh wait, that’s right — I’m supposed to pee on my attacker.

Don’t just consider someone with a temporary injury. Consider those with permanent disadvantage: smaller, weaker, older, younger, frail, crippled, wheelchair bound, other disabilities. Even consider some of us may not have the resources you have, like money, gated-communities, or personal bodyguards and security detail. We’re not all as (potentially) capable as you.

Thus, your solutions may not work for me.

Being human, we are tool users. We have limits, and we use tools to overcome them. That’s why most of us use hammers to drive nails, and phones to communicate beyond shouting distance. We use tools to overcome our limits. And when some of us have greater limits, we may need better tools.

Do not deny us the use of better tools. You may someday suddenly find yourself in a new and less-capable context. You’ll want those tools.

Or at least, when you start suggesting solutions, and want those solutions to be applied to everyone, make sure you take everyone into consideration, because we aren’t all like you.

Real solutions, please

Charles C. W. Cooke makes an important observation:

You will notice that in not a single one of the cases [high-profile mass shootings] listed above did a perpetrator buy his weapon through an “unregulated private sale,” through “the Internet,” or in “the parking lot at a gun show.” Not one. Instead, in each and every case, one of two things happened: Either (a) the killer followed the law to the letter, or (b) he broke it spectacularly. That Sandy Hook involved little children made it that much harder to bear. But it did not change the salient fact: that massacrs eand [sic] private sales have pretty much nothing to do with one another.

So are they really wanting to “save innocent lives”? Or do they have other goals, and the death of children is merely a vehicle for them to play on the emotions of the public?

If they are sincere in their efforts to “save innocent lives” then I suggest taking a step back and reexamining priorities and solutions, and being willing and open to new solutions. You know the saying about how the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? Well, suggesting these same “solutions” to “gun violence” over and over, when they are demonstrated to not work, well… that’s just insane. So if you are sincere in a desire to end violence, then I suggest you start looking at other solutions instead of the ones that don’t work.

Else, we can only think you are stubborn, ignorant, or nefarious.



Got out of bed this morning? You’re one of the lucky ones.

Apparently 600 people in America die every year getting out of bed.

Imagine that. You wake up in the morning, and fall out of bed… and that’s it.

600 people in America each year. I wonder what worldwide numbers are; I’m sure higher.

If we assume that’s a steady number, that means in the past 20 years 12,000 people have died just getting out of bed.

Damn. Makes you want to stay in bed all day, huh? 12,000 people dying just getting out of bed.

You know what? Only 543 people have been killed in mass shootings over the past 20 years. That’s about 27 per year.

543 vs 12,000

27 vs 600

22 times more people die getting out of bed, than from mass shootings.

Yes, we can agree that’s still too many senseless deaths.

There’s also a matter of perspective.

If your efforts to ban guns is because you want to save innocent lives from senseless deaths, then why aren’t you putting 22x more effort into banning beds? or making beds safer to reduce the body count to zero? Where’s your fight for legislation to ban beds entirely, making everyone sleep on the floor? or to mandate bed heights, that beds can only be so high off the floor?

If truly your primary concern is preserving life, first pick off the low-hanging fruit that will make a difference in preserving lives. Heck, what are your first aid and field medicine skills like? Do you know CPR? What are you actually doing that will make a more significant and meaningful impact towards saving lives?

I’m not saying you should stop your efforts to ban guns. If truly you believe that’s a right and just fight, go for it. What I am saying is if your primary concern is preserving life, then first focus your finite energy and efforts on those things that will have a greater and more significant impact on preserving lives.


A question

If a woman carries pepper spray, is she paranoid?

She’ll have it on her keychain or in her purse, and she has it with her every time she leaves the house.

So, is she paranoid for doing so?

If she carried a gun instead of pepper spray, does that change your answer?

Your business, or your rights?

The other day when I attended my Texas Concealed Handgun Instructor certification renewal class, many people arrived quite early (including myself). While in line waiting for the doors to open, I listened to a lot of the conversations happening around me.

One of the big topics was the recent changes to the CHL-related laws: the change in number of hours (4-6 hours for the classroom), and the removal of classroom/proficiency for renewals. There were many comments and much discussion going on about the various aspects and impacts this had, but one line of discussion stood out to me.

There was talk about loss of business. This makes sense. If people had to come to you for renewals but now that need is eliminated, that’s a fair portion of your business killed off. And now if people don’t need to be in your classroom for as much time, you just can’t charge as much money for those classes.

I cannot deny this affects and hurts business, and there were voices expressing how upset they were the law changed in a manner that damaged their business. I cannot fault them for being upset about this.

But what do you want?

If there was open carry and Constitutional Carry in Texas, you wouldn’t have any business at all! Are you saying it’s more important to preserve your business model than your fundamental rights?

I’m not necessarily advocating one way or the other, but just step back from your emotions for a moment and consider your stance.

Meantime, I see many ways in which the change in the law actually opens doors for creative business-folk to offer more classes, more instruction, and work in ways that can improve the class, capability, and confidence of Texas CHL holders. Of course, it might mean you have to get out and expand your business, your marketing efforts, your own skills and résumé so you can offer these things and still grow your business. But isn’t that what America is supposed to be about? You getting off your duff and building the future you want, instead of having the government structure and hand you something?


We are not the people you should be afraid of

The Texas Department of Public Safety keeps track of conviction rates for Texas Concealed Handgun License holders. You can see all the published reports so far, and here’s the 2011 list (latest as of this writing).

While it’s evident CHL holders are not immune from doing bad things, the data does support the notion that CHL holders are an extremely law-abiding bunch – far and above the citizenry as a whole.

Here’s some number crunching:

The number of CHL holders that commit murder or manslaughter is remarkably low. From the DPS reports for 1996 through 2011, the number of murder and manslaughter convictions for CHL holders totaled 30 over the 16 years.

DPS also reports on the number of active CHL holders for each year. Those numbers were totaled to obtain the number of CHL holder-years. The total number of CHL holder-years for the 1996-2011 is 4,295,434.

The two numbers give us the ratio of CHL holder convictions for murder and manslaughter per 100,000 CHL holders per year. That number is .70/100,000.

Yes, the decimal point is in the correct place.

The rate of murder and manslaughter for the general population of Texas averaged for the years 1996-2011 is 6.0/100,000.

If such is the case, why do you think we’re the people you need to stop? Why are you afraid of us? We’re demonstrably more law-abiding and statistically less likely to commit a crime. Aren’t we the very sort of people you desire?


There may not be enough time for someone else to respond

Greg Ellifritz writes about the recent Sparks, Nevada school shooting.

4) Time.  The entire attack, from the time the first child was shot until the shooter killed himself, lasted less than three minutes.  Think about that for a second.  You don’t have much time to act.  Don’t expect the police to be able to arrive in time to save you.  You won’t be able to get to your vehicle glove compartment to get the gun you don’t carry “because it’s too heavy.”  You are on your own and will be forced to use whatever gear you have on your person to stop this kind of attack.

Just let the reality of that sink in.

And for those who think there are other strategies you can take:

3) Talking is a poor strategy. The heroic teacher in this case attempted to talk the student down after the student shot his first victim. His heroic attempt was rewarded with a bullet in the chest. Historically, begging, pleading, and talking to the killer has not resulted in positive outcomes. In general, talking should only be considered as a last resort when no other options are available.

So as you go through life, as you make decisions for yourself — and for others — should you make them based upon contending with your dreamy ideal of how the world should be or how you think it is? or contending with the realities of how the world really is?


Could you look him in the eye and deny him?

In a prior posting I linked to this video:

It’s footage from the 1992 L.A. Riots (after the Rodney King verdict). It’s about the Korean shopkeepers arming themselves, standing on the roofs of their stores, defending them from the rioters and looters.

While searching for that footage, an NPR interview with Kee Whan Ha came up. He’s the store owner that organized and motivated the Koreatown shopkeepers to undertake their defensive action.

Why would he do such a thing? I mean, why didn’t he just give the looters what they wanted (because “just give them what they want” is the refrain we’re supposed to abide by):

MARTIN: I understand that, as the disturbance was beginning, you heard hosts on Radio Korea – which is L.A.’s major Korean-American radio station – tell people to leave their businesses and go home and pray. And you told one of our producers that that made you upset. Could you talk a little bit about that?

HA: Yeah. I was so upset. So I know the owner of that Radio Korea, so I brought my handgun and I put it on the table. I told him that we established Koreatown. It’s been more than 20 years (unintelligible) riot, even to be able – insurance and everything, but I want to protect my business, as well as all other Koreatown business.

He was one of the founders of Koreatown. He wasn’t going to see his life’s work, what defines him, be put to ruin.

Oh it’s just property, oh it’s just stuff. That’s true to you, but not to him. It was more than his castle, and it was something that, to him, was well-worth defending. Are you telling me he’s wrong? he’s unjustified in trying to preserve his legacy? his positive contribution to society? That the world would be better off if he gave in to the criminals, the leeches, the destructive forces?

So why didn’t he just call the police? Because the police are supposed to defend and protect us, right?

HA: From Wednesday, I don’t see any police patrol car whatsoever. That’s a wide-open area, so it is like Wild West in old days, like there’s nothing there. We are the only one left, so we have to do our own (unintelligible).


HA: …I was standing a few feet away, so I see that [our security guard’s] body has fallen down on the ground, but I was so scared. I – we tried to call the fire department. Please help us. But nobody listen. Then maybe after five or six hours in the evening – it start around the afternoon, about 1:00 or 2:00 p.m. But actual – the fire truck coming about 7:00 o’clock, late evening. So five hours, of course, is sitting between us and them.

Five hours with no response. No one could come to save them.

Can you imagine the fear, the stress, tha anxiety felt during that time? One hour goes by and still nothing. Every minute watching the chaos unfolding, wondering when someone will come to save you. How scared would you be if you were in his shoes?

But at least they had guns.

But at least they were able to do something for themselves. To pluck up their courage and stand firm. They weren’t helpless victims.

How would you have fared that day? Would you have been a helpless victim?

I would have been.

In 1992 I was in undergrad. I never was anti-gun, but I sure didn’t understand it. I recall questioning my pro-gun friends as to why anyone needed an automatic rifle to hunt Bambi. Looking back, I can see the many facets of my ignorance.

MARTIN: Did you have to fire your weapon?

HA: Yes. Actually, we are not shooting people. We are shooting the – in the air, so make afraid that these people coming to us. You’re not actually targeting people, so…

MARTIN: Sure. You were trying to create a – sort of a protective barrier, and you did succeed in saving your store.

HA: Yes.

So without guns, Kee Whan Ha and the other families of Koreatown would have lost everything. Not just their stores, but their legacy and contribution towards a better society.

Could you look Kee Whan Ha in the eye and tell him you want to deny him his business? his contribution? his legacy? The banning of effective tools of self-defense is precisely looking into the eyes of people like Kee Whan Ha and saying you will deny him.