‘Red flag laws’ strip gun owners of their constitutional rights

“Red flag laws let police confiscate guns without due process. Suspending the Constitution in a secret hearing is a Rubicon from which there is no return.”

A silhouette of a hunter in a field aiming their gun.
(Photo: Getty Images)

Six states have enacted these laws. At their core, they allow the police to convene a Kafkaesque secret proceeding, in which an American can be stripped of his or her gun rights and Fourth Amendment rights, even though gun owners are barred from participating in the hearings or arguing their side of the dispute.

The first thing gun owners learn is when police knock on the door — ready to ransack their house and, if they resist, to arrest or even shoot them and their family…

Far from being a “consensus proposal”, the suspension of the Constitution in a secret hearing is a constitutional Rubicon from which there is no return.

Continue reading: ‘Red flag laws’ strip gun owners of their constitutional rights (USA Today)

Study: California’s Background-Check Law Had No Impact on Gun Deaths

Gun Control

The findings—which run counter to the conventional wisdom that gun control saves lives—have received almost no media attention.

“A joint study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of California at Davis Violence Prevention Research Program found that California’s much-touted mandated background checks had no impact on gun deaths, and researchers are puzzled as to why.

Despite the dismal record of gun control, expect the media and “experts” to use a repertoire of self-justifications rather than modify their beliefs—regardless of what the evidence shows…”

Hackers break into voting machines within 2 hours at Defcon

After nearly an hour and a half, Carsten Schürmann, an associate professor with IT-University of Copenhagen, successfully cracked into a voting machine at Las Vegas’ Defcon convention on Friday night, CNET reports.

Schürmann penetrated Advanced Voting Solutions’ 2000 WinVote machine through its Wi-Fi system. Using a Windows XP exploit from 2003, he was able to remotely access the machine, CNET reports.

The convention purchased more than 30 voting machines for the event, although, organizers didn’t specify how many models those units represented.

“The exposure of those devices to the people who do bug bounties or actually look at these kind of devices has been fairly limited”, Brian Knopf, director of security researcher for Neustar, told CNET. “And so Defcon is a great opportunity for those of us who hack hardware and firmware to look to these kind of devices and really answer that question, ‘Are they hackable?’”

A hacker tries to access and alter data from an electronic poll book in a Voting Machine Hacking Village during the Defcon hacker convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on July 29, 2017.  REUTERS
 A hacker tries to access and alter data from an electronic poll book in a Voting Machine Hacking Village during the Defcon hacker convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. on July 29, 2017.  REUTERS

Synack, a San Francisco security platform, discovered serious flaws with the WinVote machine months ahead of this weekend’s convention. The team simply plugged in a mouse and keyboard and bypassed the voting software by clicking “ctrl-alt-del”.

“It’s really just a matter of plugging your USB drive in for five seconds and the thing’s completely compromised at that point”, Synack co-founder Jay Kaplan told CNET. “To the point where you can get remote access. It’s very simple.”

A hacker, who only identified himself as “Oyster,” tried to crack a Diebold voting machine after another team had compromised it.

Anne-Marie Hwang, a Synack intern, told CNET that changing votes can be as simple as updating a Microsoft Excel document…

Source: Hackers break into voting machines within 2 hours at Defcon (CBS News)

I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.

 

A 9mm pistol. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
A 9mm pistol. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

Evidence suggests that no one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference.

By Leah Libresco, a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. She is the author of “Arriving at Amen.”

Before I started researching gun deaths, gun-control policy used to frustrate me. I wished the National Rifle Association would stop blocking common-sense gun-control reforms such as banning assault weapons, restricting silencers, shrinking magazine sizes and all the other measures that could make guns less deadly.

Then, my colleagues and I at FiveThirtyEight spent three months analyzing all 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States, and I wound up frustrated in a whole new way. We looked at what interventions might have saved those people, and the case for the policies I’d lobbied for crumbled when I examined the evidence. The best ideas left standing were narrowly tailored interventions to protect subtypes of potential victims, not broad attempts to limit the lethality of guns.

After a shooting in Las Vegas left at least 59 people dead and injured hundreds, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Oct. 2 said Congress’s failure to pass gun-control legislation amounts to an “unintentional endorsement” of mass shootings. (U.S. Senate)

researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.

The story must be told.

When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.

As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.

As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference. Two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States every year are suicides. Almost no proposed restriction would make it meaningfully harder for people with guns on hand to use them. I couldn’t even answer my most desperate question: If I had a friend who had guns in his home and a history of suicide attempts, was there anything I could do that would help?

However, the next-largest set of gun deaths — 1 in 5 — were young men aged 15 to 34, killed in homicides. These men were most likely to die at the hands of other young men, often related to gang loyalties or other street violence. And the last notable group of similar deaths was the 1,700 women murdered per year, usually as the result of domestic violence. Far more people were killed in these ways than in mass-shooting incidents, but few of the popularly floated policies were tailored to serve them.

By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.

Instead, I found the most hope in more narrowly tailored interventions. Potential suicide victims, women menaced by their abusive partners and kids swept up in street vendettas are all in danger from guns, but they each require different protections.

Older men, who make up the largest share of gun suicides, need better access to people who could care for them and get them help. Women endangered by specific men need to be prioritized by police, who can enforce restraining orders prohibiting these men from buying and owning guns. Younger men at risk of violence need to be identified before they take a life or lose theirs and to be connected to mentors who can help them de-escalate conflicts.

Even the most data-driven practices, such as New Orleans’ plan to identify gang members for intervention based on previous arrests and weapons seizures, wind up more personal than most policies floated. The young men at risk can be identified by an algorithm, but they have to be disarmed one by one, personally — not en masse as though they were all interchangeable. A reduction in gun deaths is most likely to come from finding smaller chances for victories and expanding those solutions as much as possible. We save lives by focusing on a range of tactics to protect the different kinds of potential victims and reforming potential killers, not from sweeping bans focused on the guns themselves.

Source: I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise. – The Washington Post

Is The Average U.S. Speed Limit Dangerously Low?

‘Americans nearly universally speed, and excess speed is a factor in many #accidents. But what if higher speed limits made roads safer?

“We all #speed, yet months and months usually pass between us seeing a crash,” Lt. Megge tells us when we call to discuss #speedlimits. “That tells me that most of us are adequate, safe, reasonable #drivers. #Speeding and #traffic #safety have a small correlation”.’

Continue reading:

New password guidelines say everything we thought about passwords is wrong

‘Forget enforced password complexity. Forget forced periodic #password changes—These don’t work! Do have passwords checked against a list of commonly “hacked” #passwords that regularly show up in stolen account data troves…’

Continue reading:

Here is a quick look at the three main changes the NIST has proposed:

No more periodic password changes. This is a huge change of policy as it removes a significant burden from both users and IT departments. It’s been clear for a long time that periodic changes do not improve password security but only make it worse, and now NIST research has finally provided the proof.

No more imposed password complexity (like requiring a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters). This means users now can be less “creative” and avoid passwords like “Password1$”, which only provide a false sense of security.

Mandatory validation of newly created passwords against a list of commonly-used, expected, or compromised passwords. Users will be prevented from setting passwords like “password”, “12345678”, etc. which hackers can easily guess.

So why haven’t we seen any coverage of the changes considering how much of a departure they are from previous advice — and considering every average user is going to be affected?

VIDEO: Hillary Clinton Delegate “Hillary Wants to Ban All Guns”

“In this video, a journalist encounters a Hillary Clinton Alternate Delegate who discusses how the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton hide the fact that they want to ban all guns. In a step-by-step process, alternate California DNC delegate Mary Bayer explains the language Hillary Clinton and other Democrats will use to ban all guns.”

Continue reading: Hillary Clinton Delegate “Hillary Wants to Ban All Guns”

Media Silent as Concealed Carrier Stops Mass Shooting at SC Club

A deranged man who began firing into a crowd of people at a nightclub was stopped by a heroic, armed citizen, who was a lawful concealed carrier.

Concealed Carrier Stops Mass Shooting

“As Thompson was firing at the crowd of people, one of his would-be victims, with a concealed carry permit, was able to return fire, striking Thompson in the leg and ending the mass shooting in progress…”

Continue reading ► Media Silent as Concealed Carrier Stops Mass Shooting in Progress at a South Carolina Nightclub

Why Does The IRS Need So Many Guns?

‘What exactly is the Obama administration up to?’

‘Special agents at the IRS equipped with AR-15 military-style rifles? Health and Human Services “Special Office of Inspector General Agents” being trained by the Army’s Special Forces contractors? The Department of Veterans Affairs arming 3,700 employees?

The number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000). In its escalating arms and ammo stockpiling, this federal arms race is unlike anything in history. Over the last 20 years, the number of these federal officers with arrest-and-firearm authority has nearly tripled to over 200,000 today, from 74,500 in 1996.’

Source: Why Does The IRS Need So Many Guns?

Reality Check: Did Australia And Great Britain See Lower Gun Violence After Mass Confiscation?

Reality Check: Did Australia And Great Britain See Lower Gun Violence After Mass Confiscation?

Only days after mass shooting at the community college in Oregon, President Obama said that the United States needs to follow the lead of Great Britain and Australia—nations that instituted large scale gun bans and confiscation after mass shootings on their soil.

So would it work here?

Maybe the more important question is: did it work there?

“We know that other countries in response to one mass shooting have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings,” Obama said. “Friends of ours, allies of ours, Great Britain and Australia, countries like ours.”

That was Obama speaking shortly after the community college shooting in Oregon.

The president says that Great Britain and Australia are great examples of nations that have taken control of gun violence. But are they?

It made us think—what is the real story behind those countries?

Let’s start with Great Britain.

On August 19, 1987, Michael Ryan killed 15 people and wounded 15 others in a series of random shootings around Hungerford, Berkshire. He also killed his mother before taking his own life. The pistol and two semi-automatic rifles he used in the massacre were all owned legally.

As a result, Great Britain enacted some of the world’s strictest gun-control measures in the late ’80s and ’90s. In Britain, a nation of 63 million people, more than 200,000 guns and 700 tons of ammunition have been taken off the streets during the past 15 years.

So what has the result been?

Early on, the ban appeared to have little impact, as the number of crimes involving guns in England and Wales rose heavily during the late 1990s to peak at 24,094 in 2003/2004.

Since 2004 though, the number of crimes involving guns has fallen each year. In 2010/11 there were 11,227 offenses, 53 percent below the peak number.

But that is not to say that this ban ended mass shootings in Great Britain, because it did not.

In 2010 a lone gunman killed 12 people in a four-hour shooting spree in northern England.

So what about Australia?

This is a more dramatic example.

In 1996, a 28-year-old man killed 35 people with a semi-automatic rifle in the Tasmanian city of Port Arthur. Twelve days later, a gun-confiscation program was rushed through the Australian parliament.

The National Agreement on Firearms all but prohibited automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles, stiffened licensing and ownership rules, and instituted a temporary gun buyback program that took some 650,000 so called assault weapons (about one-sixth of the national stock) out of public circulation.

The images are pretty incredible from that time. This agreement was called a gun buyback, but it really wasn’t. It was mandatory.

So what were the effects of this program?

Interestingly, there have been at least two major studies done on the program and gun homicides. University of Melbourne researchers Wang-Sheng Lee and Sandy Suardi did the first, and in 2008 they completed a report on the matter saying:

“In this paper, we re-analyze the same data on firearm deaths used in previous research, using tests for unknown structural breaks as a means to identifying impacts of the National Firearms Agreement. The results of these tests suggest that the NFA did not have any large effects on reducing firearm homicide or suicide rates.”

“In this paper, we re-analyze the same data on firearm deaths used in previous research, using tests for unknown structural breaks as a means to identifying impacts of the National Firearms Agreement. The results of these tests suggest that the NFA did not have any large effects on reducing firearm homicide or suicide rates.”

And a second report concluded that while the mandatory program did reduce the rate of “accidental” firearm deaths, it had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia and it also did not end mass shootings.

In 2002 two people were killed and five were injured in a shooting at Melbourne’s Monash University. In 2011 three people were killed and three were wounded in the Hectorville siege. In 2014, three people (including the gunman) were killed and four were injured in a Sydney hostage crisis.

What you need to know is that even with mass confiscation of weapons, Australia could not end all mass shootings and the rate of gun homicides wasn’t actually affected.

But here is something else worth mentioning: the 650,000 guns confiscated in Australia were between one-fifth and one-third of all guns in the country.

Compare that to the United States and that would require confiscation of around 105 million firearms—something that would not only be unconstitutional but would likely become incredibly violent.

In other words, mass confiscation in the United States, simply cannot happen. Not right now—possibly not ever.

That’s Reality Check. Let’s talk about that on Twitter @BenSwann_