Why a Trauma Kit is essential and what it should contain


Tiny SquirrelGun shows are great places to meet kindred spirits and at the last one I went to I met David Dietrich who is co-owner of GetReady! Emergency Planning Center, getemergencyready.com. He was selling a fantastic range of Trauma items (although I admit he got my attention with a small pack on his stall labeled “Vasectomy Kit.”) Anyway, I asked him to come up with something that would really be of use to you guys and he produced a doozy. Check this list out. Thanks David, this is really useful. 

Most people likely think about equipment for trained specialists in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) when they hear “Trauma Kit.”  Other terms used are “Blow-Out Kit,” and “Individual First Aid Kit” (IFAK).  However, they would be wrong.  Such kits are instead designed to be used by the first responder, whether he is a police officer, infantryman, or just a Good Samaritan.

A Trauma Kit is a far cry from a typical First Aid Kit.  While the latter is designed to support minor injuries and medical issues, the former is essential for saving someone’s life in the next ten minutes.  That means such kits are focused on major bleeding from gunshots, stabbings, and amputations.  In addition, they address breathing obstructions from anaphylaxis or massive tissue damage.

For the purposes of post-disaster preparedness, a Trauma Kit provides coverage where there will likely be no medical services for some time.  That means we will be on our own.  We ourselves may be not only the first responder, but also the last.  So, acquiring and learning to use the components of such a kit is a critical capability.  This is one reason why so many military combatants have survived serious wounds in our recent wars.

One axiom is indisputable – all bleeding stops.  The question becomes, how it will stop?  Do you want to let it stop on its own, after the casualty has bled out, or do you want to play an active role, stopping the bleeding yourself in sufficient time for the casualty to become an asset once again?  The Trauma Kit provides a means to that end, through various included devices.

Image: Pictured are the JBC Corporation Medical Assault Kit, costing over $200, and the GetReady! Field Trauma Kit, listing at $99.95.

So, what does a Trauma Kit look like?  First of all, it is relatively small, easily carried on a belt, armor plate, or in a backpack.  Secondly, it does not usually contain the items we expect to see in First Aid Kits.  Rather, they include tourniquets, pressure bandages, blood clotting agent, occlusive dressing, tension pneumothorax needle, and nasopharyngeal airway. There may be a few other odds and ends as well, but those are the basics.


Let’s take a look at components of a trauma kit, to better understand why they are used:


Image: Pictured are rubber tubing, RATS, SWAT-T, and CAT-T.  Others to consider are are SOF-TT, and TK-4.  They range in price from approximately $6 to $32 each.

Tourniquet.  There are many designs and brand available, from simple rubber tubing to complex windlass or ratcheting designs.  But, they all have one purpose – to constrict or eliminate blood flow to the bleeding extremity.  While these used to be a tool of last resort, military experience has proven their worth in saving lives as the tool of first choice.  If properly applied and combined with other devices, they can be safely removed later.


Pictured are the H&H Medical H-Bandage and the ubiquitous “Israeli Bandage.”  They range in price from approximately $6 to $15 each.

Compression (Pressure) Bandage.  There are several commercial brands out there, typically based on the original Israeli Bandage.  As the tried and true method for staunching blood flow is pressure and elevation, their purpose is to maintain pressure at the injury site, as well as provide a clotting medium.  This is accomplished through an integrated dressing and pressure device.  The hands are then left free to perform other functions. Here are some examples of commercially available Pressure Bandages:


Pictured are the Celox Hemostatic Granules,  QuikClot Combat Gauze, and QuikClot Clotting Sponge.  They range in price from approximately $13 to $42 each.
Pictured are the Celox Hemostatic Granules,  QuikClot Combat Gauze, and QuikClot Clotting Sponge.  They range in price from approximately $13 to $42 each.

Hemostatic (Clotting) Agent.  There are mainly two commercial brands out there, found in three forms.  These are QuikClot and Celox, using sponges, gauze wraps, or poured granules.  The key component is either a clay mineral (kaolin), used in QuikClot, or a crustacean derivative (chitosan), used in Celox.  Both types interact with blood plasma to rapidly form clots.  They work independently of blood platelets or thinning drugs.



Pictured are the H&H Medical Wound Seal Kit and Compact Wound Seal.  Other companies also produce simple and valved options.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $30 each.
Pictured are the H&H Medical Wound Seal Kit and Compact Wound Seal.  Other companies also produce simple and valved options.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $30 each.

Occlusive Dressing (aka Chest Seal).  Several brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are designed to block inhalation through the thoracic cavity, rather than normally, into the lungs.  If such a condition, known as a “sucking chest wound,” is allowed to continue, the lung on that side will likely collapse, putting pressure on the aorta and heart, resulting in painful breathing and associated circulatory problems.




Pictured are the BD Angiocath and the H&H Medical Tension Pneumothorax Needle.  Enhanced versions are also available.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $43 each.
Pictured are the BD Angiocath and the H&H Medical Tension Pneumothorax Needle.  Enhanced versions are also available.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $43 each.

Tension Pneumothorax Needle (TPN).  Several brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are designed to release air and/or fluid pressure in the external thoracic cavity that may lead to the same conditions described under Occlusive Dressing above.  So, this device is for closed, versus open chest wounds.  The TPN is probably the most difficult of all the Trauma Kit devices to apply, and should by studied and practiced.


Naso-Pharyngeal Airway (NPA)

Pictured is the Rusch Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway.  Packaged with water-soluble lubricant, they range in price from approximately $5 to $15 each.
Pictured is the Rusch Robertazzi Nasopharyngeal Airway.  Packaged with water-soluble lubricant, they range in price from approximately $5 to $15 each.

Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies. They are used to maintain breathing in the event of an airway blockage due to anaphylaxis or tissue damage.  They are basically comprised of a stiffened rubber tube, beveled on one end and enlarged into a bell shape on the other.  Assisted by accompanying water-based lubricant, they are fully inserted into a nostril up to the bell.

compressed-gauzeCompressed Gauze.  Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are used primarily to absorb and aid in the clotting of blood.  Almost always comprised of cotton, they are the most versatile Trauma Kit component.  And it cannot be overstated that you can never have enough gauze.  Additional uses include absorbing other bodily fluids, covering burns and lacerations, wrapping dressings, and securing splints.


Trauma Shears

Pictured are 3.5” and 5.5” light duty Trauma Sheers from Rescue Essentials and Ronson.  Other, more robust sheers are available.  They range in price from approximately $3 to $50 each.
Pictured are 3.5” and 5.5” light duty Trauma Sheers from Rescue Essentials and Ronson.  Other, more robust sheers are available.  They range in price from approximately $3 to $50 each.

Numerous brands are used by the military and other agencies.  They are used primarily to cut away clothing and other accessories (eg bra underwire) to quickly access the point of injury.  Their unique design provides a safe and easy method to cut through almost anything, including coins!  The major take-away regarding arterial bleeding is that saving clothing comes in a distant second to saving a life.




 Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Medical (Duct) Tape.  This ubiquitous resource really comes into its own in a medical kit.  Not only can it be used to secure bandages and dressings, but it also has applications for foot care (eg prevention and treatment of blisters), wrapping splints, making snow goggles, and repairing medical gear and other items.  Mini rolls, primarily for storage purposes, are the best configuration.  Don’t leave home without them!



Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.
Pictured are rolls from eGear and H&H Medical.  Also found among survival gear, they range in price from approximately $1 to $4 each.

Medical Gloves.  These are included in Trauma Kits primarily to protect the responder, not the patient.  Bodily fluids can carry many dangerous diseases, and having additional barriers during treatment may keep the responder from becoming a casualty.  In addition, they may preclude the need for further cleansing following treatment.  Simple glove removal and disposal may be sufficient action under tactical conditions.

Marking Pen

Pictured are mini Sharpies.  Full-sized versions can also be used.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $3 each.
Pictured are mini Sharpies.  Full-sized versions can also be used.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $3 each.

This is important not only for recording information on a Casualty Card, but also for marking other information, such as the date and time of a tourniquet application.  Such marking can be on the device itself, or even on the forehead of the patient.  There are other uses for such pens, such as taking notes on environmental conditions, and descriptions of agents (eg animals, plants, suspects) involved.


Pictured are the H&H Medical standard and Marine Combat Casualty Care Cards.  They range in price from approximately $2 to $4 each.
Pictured are the H&H Medical standard and Marine Combat Casualty Care Cards.  They range in price from approximately $2 to $4 each.

Casualty Response Documentation Tool (CRDT).

This is an event recording card, containing information describing patient and injury, treatment (including drugs) administered, mental state, circulation, respiration, mechanisms of injury (MOIs), medical conditions, and overall patient medical status, from routine to critical.  It’s always good to keep track of what’s happening in such cases, for reference prior to future treatment.


 Pictured are medical pouches from Eagle Industries and Maxpedition.  Another common brand is Rothco.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $45 each.

Pictured are medical pouches from Eagle Industries and Maxpedition.  Another common brand is Rothco.  They range in price from approximately $15 to $45 each.

Pouch.  Typical military kit dimensions are 8 inches long by 6 inches wide by four inches deep when full.  It uses the Pouch Attachment Ladder System (PALS) to fasten to Modular Lightweight Load-Carrying Equipment (MOLLE) configured backpacks.  Made of rugged Cordura nylon, this Pouch can be used under adverse environmental and tactical conditions.  It should be readily accessible for immediate use.


Other Components.  A number of other items may be included in a Trauma Kit for various reasons.  For example, if the owner would like to access the kit for minor injuries, and not dip into important trauma components, then adhesive bandages may be included.  In addition, medications (eg aspirin) should be considered.  Sterile wipes and water for cleaning wounds, flashlight for nighttime, and CPR shield round out the list.

 Pictured are a CPR Shield, regular strength Aspirin, Moist Towelettes, Sterile Water, Penlight, Adhesive Bandages, and Gauze Pads.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $5 each.

Pictured are a CPR Shield, regular strength Aspirin, Moist Towelettes, Sterile Water, Penlight, Adhesive Bandages, and Gauze Pads.  They range in price from approximately $1 to $5 each.



David Dietrich is co-owner of GetReady! Emergency Planning Center, getemergencyready.com. He has been preparing for uncertainty since he was a youth, recognizing that backpacking is about smaller, lighter, and multi-capability.  His experiences in the Boy Scouts and military have given him an appreciation for the real meaning of the Scout Motto – “Be Prepared.”  Today, David runs a disaster preparedness business that is focused on the creed – helping you help yourself.  It is about delivering resources, training, education, and consulting in preparation for a failure of civility.  Prepared people are survivors.





What you didn’t learn in Conceal Carry Training. And how this information could change your life.

Image: Target shooting, Kelly McCarthy. Now’s the time to think about the consequences of pulling the trigger in a defensive situation

Pulling that trigger is something you need to have thought about BEFORE you ever have to do it. Could you shoot a kid? No? Could you shoot a kid with a gun aimed at your wife? Maybe? Could you shoot a pregnant woman? Never? Could you shoot a pregnant woman with a gun to your kid’s head. Would you shoot a gunman threatening a clerk in a convenience store if you’re safely hiding at the back and in no immediate danger? Could you shoot your wife? Are you going to risk your life for a stranger? Are you willing to endure the court case? The massive hit to your finances? To even, possibly, have to move town because people won’t believe that what you did was necessary. So many ifs, right?

Here are the steps that COULD follow a defensive shooting:

  • Shots Fired
  • 911 Call
  • First Responders
  • Local law enforcement supervisors
  • Detectives – In some places the ADA will be dispatched
  • Investigation/Questioning
  • Prosecutor Determination
  • Trial Phase
  • Sentencing
  • Appeal Process
  • Civil Trial

See what I mean. Being the hero can get you in a whole world of trouble? That’s why I am probably only going to draw and shoot if I’m saving someone with the same last name as me.

Reporting a defensive shooting

So you pulled the trigger. You need to prepare for how you would report a defensive shooting. Rule No. 1. Don’t incriminate yourself. The 911 operator is not your friend but is trained to keep asking questions which are being recorded. Keep it simple.

  • Dial 911
  • Report there’s been a shooting.
  • Give them your name and the address you’re at
  • Tell them who is in the house/building. (Maybe send the kids next door if they are present.)
  • Describe any injuries and whether you need EMS
  • Describe yourself, your clothes. Put your weapon on the floor or in clear sight. (Unless you are using it to subdue a criminal.)
  • If you are insured with an organization that provides an attorney, call them. If you have an attorney call them.
  • Tell the police the bare minimum. Be cooperative but spare the details. Say only:
    • Officer, I was in fear of my life/my family member was threatened and at risk of losing their life. (You would not pull the trigger to save property. The fallout is NOT worth it for something insured or inanimate.)
    • I will sign the complaint.
    • Be helpful and show them what the assailant used to attack you.
    • Introduce any witnesses.
    • Tell them you are invoking the Fifth Amendment until you have had time to talk to your attorney and calm yourself down. You should say you’ll be back within 24 hours to talk to them. Be prepared to be arrested. And be prepared to spend a long time being questioned.
    • Remember to say: “If he/she survives I want to press charges.” Remind everyone that you’re not the aggressor here. 

The Dallas Cop Shooting Was Horrific. It Also Has Nothing to Do With the Second Amendment.

Image: Kaufman County Sheriff

Last week, an off-duty Dallas police officer fatally shot 26-year-old Botham Jean inside his own apartment.

The officer—since identified as Amber Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department—was also a resident in the same apartment complex, and claims she shot Jean after walking into the wrong apartment and mistaking him for a home invader.

Some have rightly questioned why Guyger was charged with the lesser offense of manslaughter instead of murder. Others have pointed to this incident as evidence that even lawful gun owners are dangerous, and therefore stricter gun control measures are needed on a broad scale against all law-abiding citizens.

It’s important to analyze this situation more closely through both of those lenses.

Guyger Probably Should Be Charged With Murder

Prosecutors have charged Guyger with manslaughter, and will present the case to a grand jury, which could—and probably should—recommend the charge be upgraded to murder.

Texas law doesn’t require an element of premeditation or malice for the offense of murder. Instead, to be guilty of murder, a person must only (1) intend to cause serious bodily injury and (2) commit an act clearly dangerous to human life that (3) causes the death of an individual.

In other words, Guyger needn’t have planned on killing Jean prior to entering his apartment in order to be guilty of murder—she need only have intentionally fired her gun at him while intending to cause serious bodily harm without a legal justification, such as acting in self-defense.

Self-defense arguments require not just that a person feared imminent death or serious bodily injury, but also that this fear was reasonable under the circumstances. In Texas, a person is presumed to have a reasonable fear in a wide variety of situations, including when he uses lethal force against someone who unlawfully entered his home.

There is, however, a major problem with that presumption in this context: Jean didn’t unlawfully enter Guyger’s home. On the contrary, Guyger unlawfully entered Jean’s home—mistakenly, she claims. Guyger must therefore make what is called an “imperfect self-defense” claim, admitting that her actions played a role in making “self-defense” necessary, while also showing that her mistake of the factual situation was reasonable.

Guyger is likely to face an uphill battle on such a claim. First, initial testimony from Jean’s neighbors indicates that Guyger’s version of events may be misleading, thereby damaging her credibility. Second, a significant amount of evidence suggests that Guyger’s beliefs and actions may have been unreasonable, even if her story is accurate.

Guyger claims that she parked on the wrong garage level and that the apartment door opened up just as she placed her key in the lock of what she believed to be her apartment. At least one witness, however, reported hearing a woman knock on the door while saying, “Let me in! Let me in!” prior to the gunshots.

Guyger’s version of events has also changed, particularly as to whether the door was unlocked or simply ajar. The plausibility of either of those situations occurring is doubtful, since the doors in question are operated by an electronic key, much like in a hotel, and can’t simply be left “unlocked.”

Residents from the apartment complex have also posted videos of the way their doors automatically swing shut, making it unlikely the door was inadvertently left ajar.

Further, the apartment doors between Jean’s unit and the elevator are distinctly decorated, making it difficult to believe someone who lived in the apartment complex wouldn’t recognize she was on the wrong floor. Jean’s apartment unit also prominently features a red doormat—a far-from-subtle indicator to Guyger that it wasn’t her apartment.

Finally, Guyger’s claim that it was reasonable for her to draw her weapon and fire in that situation, even if it occurred exactly as she described, is problematic.

She claims the apartment was so dark that she couldn’t realize it wasn’t hers, and that she merely saw a “large silhouette,” which she took to be an intruder. She then fired two shots with extreme accuracy across this allegedly very dark apartment when the barely visible figure didn’t comply with her demands.

Whether that story and chain of events is sufficient to convince a jury that she acted reasonably is far from certain.

There are, however, indications that Guyger may have been exhausted after working a 15-hour shift, and while a reasonable civilian may not have used lethal force in this situation, Guyger was a police officer with a trained instinct to do so.

Not Evidence Against Lawful Gun Ownership

This shooting, even if determined by a jury to be noncriminal, is tragic and likely could have been prevented with the exercise of reasonable circumstantial awareness. But the inappropriate use of lethal force in one situation doesn’t negate the reality that Americans use their firearms in defense of self and others between 500,000 and 3 million times every year.

It’s irresponsible to use this incident to promote broad restrictions on lawful gun ownership by otherwise law-abiding citizens. Consider the following:

  • On Sept. 11, in Garland, Texas, a woman and her boyfriend attempted to meet in-person with an individual who had offered online to sell them a camera. Instead, the couple found themselves victims of an armed robbery scam, and the boyfriend was forced to defend himself and his girlfriend by shooting the armed suspect.
  • On Sept. 7, in Spanaway, Washington, a 16-year-old girl returned home alone from a visit with her neighbor to find the electricity suspiciously shut off. Fearing for her safety, the teen armed herself with her mother’s handgun and was shortly thereafter confronted at the door by a knife-wielding intruder who attempted to stab her several times. The teen suffered minor wounds, but managed to fire a shot at the intruder, who subsequently ran off before being arrested by sheriff’s deputies.
  • On Aug. 29, in Elmira, New York, a 33-year-old single mother defended her four children from a convicted felon by shooting him in the chest with a legally-owned shotgun.
  • On Aug. 28, in Winter Haven, Florida, an Uber driver protected himself and his passenger from an attacker who thought the passenger was his girlfriend, with whom he had been fighting earlier in the night. The attacker cut off the Uber driver and approached the car shouting, “I’ve got a pistol. Do you want me to shoot you?” while grasping a dark item roughly the size and shape of a firearm. The Uber driver drew his own gun and shot the attacker once in the chest, ultimately killing him. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd praised the driver, calling the shooting a “classic” justifiable homicide and warning the “hotheads of the community” that “[g]ood people carry guns and they will shoot you.”

Judd is absolutely correct. These stories of Americans using their Second Amendment rights to defend themselves and others truly sum up why law-abiding citizens own firearms and jump through the administrative hoops to get their concealed carry permits. They are fundamentally good people who are willing and able to stop bad people who are doing bad things.

Tragic injustices happen. Lawful gun owners sometimes make mistakes. Sometimes, they even intentionally commit crimes. But they are not the primary source of gun violence, and the total impact of lawful gun ownership skews heavily in favor of maintaining a strong, meaningful Second Amendment right.

Guyger probably should be charged with murder. Other gun owners should not be condemned and punished for her careless actions.

What Is Hezbollah?


When listing the world’s most notorious terrorist organizations, why is it that Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram so quickly spring to mind, while Hezbollah is frequently forgotten? In this video, Tony Badran, Research Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains how the backing of Iran has served to legitimize Hezbollah on the world stage, while simultaneously making the group all the more dangerous.

Dept.of State Deep Stater: Resist Everything. Every Level. F*ck sh*t up


Project Veritas has released the first installment in an undercover video series unmasking the deep state. The video features a State Department employee, Stuart Karaffa, engaged in radical socialist political activity on the taxpayer’s dime, while advocating for government resistance. Stuart Karaffa is also a ranking member of the Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America (Metro DC DSA.) Stuart Karaffa is just the first federal government employee that Project Veritas has filmed in an undercover series unmasking the deep state. More video reports are to be released soon. Featured in this video are: Richard Manning of https://www.firetheswamp.com Bill Marshall of https://www.judicialwatch.org

Why We Couldn’t Create Our Constitution Today


Americans should be thankful not only for the rare genius that assembled in Philadelphia in 1787 to draft the Constitution, but for the unique circumstances under which they met.

Not all moments in time are ripe for founding a nation. Nor is every citizenry equally prepared to receive new modes and orders. The Founders’ time and generation presented just such an opportunity. Our time would not.

Earlier this month, University of Texas law professor Sanford Levinson wrotethat “not enough people connect the dots … between our political dysfunctions and the sacred Constitution of 1787.”

What dysfunctions does he have in mind? President Donald Trump’s “near dictatorial powers with regard to mobilization of the American military, control of immigration, or the imposition of tariffs against one and all countries around the world.”

Levinson is not the only person questioning the wisdom of our constitutional design now that Trump occupies the White House. Weeks after the 2016 election, in which Trump won the Electoral College but lost the popular vote by a small margin, the editorial board of The New York Times demanded that we replace our “antiquated system” of presidential selection and impose direct popular elections.

Similarly, after Republicans took control of the Senate, Jacobin’s Daniel Lazare advocated abolishing the upper chamber, which he contends “grossly marginalized” voters in states such as California and New York.

It is difficult to reason about the proper structure of government in the midst of partisan tumult. This is true of Republicans as well. Immediately after the 2016 election, Republican support for direct election of the president dropped from 54 percent to 19 percent.

Both Democrats and Republicans know what institutional arrangements benefit their side and, if given the opportunity, would rig the system in their favor.

Thankfully, party conflict at the time of the founding was virtually nonexistent, and factional strife was tamped down. According to James Madison, going through the crucible of the Revolutionary War bound the nation together and “repressed the passions most unfriendly to order and concord.”

The unity born of this great existential threat “stifled the ordinary diversity of opinions on great national questions.” Hence, “no spirit of party connected with the changes to be made.” So too did the near universal experience of the failures of the Articles of Confederation.

This national unity did not last long. George Washington was still in the White House when the battle lines were drawn between the Federalists led by Alexander Hamilton and the Democratic-Republicans led by James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

Had the Constitution been drafted only a few years later, these inchoate parties already might have become sufficiently developed to give a partisan taint to both the convention and ratification debates that would have followed.

The revolution not only tempered factionalism and forestalled partisanship, it also elevated a cadre of universally revered national figures capable of effectively championing the Constitution. As Madison writes, the war imbued the public with “enthusiastic confidence … in their public leaders”—men such as Washington, Hamilton, Ben Franklin, and Madison.

If not for the public reputations of these men, citizens may have been understandably hesitant to accept a wholly new and untested form of government. Leaving the familiar shores of the status quo is always a dangerous risk. But, with trusted captains at the helm, the nation was able to face down the fear of the unknown.

Imagine if a constitutional convention were held in a political climate more like our own. Would the public have “enthusiastic confidence” in their political leaders—the delegates to such a convention? There is no public figure that enjoys the sort of near-universal public adoration that George Washington did at the time of the founding. Collectively, our national politicians are less trustedthan at any point since the beginning of scientific public opinion polling.

Trust in politicians is particularly low today, but political figures rarely enjoy widespread, bipartisan support. Even when politicians lead the nation through great existential threats, goodwill tends to evaporate very quickly—just ask former President George W. Bush.

Even the reputations of our Founding Fathers eventually were sullied as the revolutionary unity dissolved into partisan rancor. The election of 1800, which pitted Jefferson against John Adams, was famously vicious.

Adams’ supporters publicly claimed that Jefferson’s election would usher in an epoch during which “murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will be openly taught and practiced.” Jefferson’s allies retorted that Adams was a “repulsive pedant” who “behaved neither like a man nor like a woman but instead possessed a hideous hermaphroditical character.”

The fortuitous conditions Madison points to only set the stage for what unfolded in Philadelphia 231 years ago. Without the genius and public spiritedness of the Founders, the moment might have slipped by.

But at a time so taken with the idea of progress, among a people convinced that time confers useful experience, if not greater wisdom, it is important to celebrate both the men and the moment that gave rise to our Constitution.


NATO Chief Credits Trump for Allies’ Boosting Defense Spending…


…Rules Out Naming HQ for McCain

Image: President Donald J. Trump and Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, The White House, Public Domain

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg says allies are stepping up in their commitments to defense spending, and gives some of the credit to President Donald Trump.

Stoltenberg also told an audience at The Heritage Foundation in Washington on Friday that the international defense alliance likely would not name its headquarters after Sen. John McCain, the veteran Arizona Republican and prominent defense hawk who died Aug. 25.

“President Trump has been outspoken on this issue, and I have thanked him for his leadership on defense spending,” Stoltenberg said at the leading conservative think tank’s Capitol Hill headquarters. “Since President Trump took office, NATO allies across Europe and Canada have spent an additional $41 billion extra in U.S. dollars on defense.”

British Member of Parliament Tom Tugendhat asked Stoltenberg to name NATO’s headquarters in Brussels after McCain, who had been a strong internationalist.

“NATO allies and I personally very much respected the late Sen. John McCain for many reasons, but not the least because of his very strong support to NATO and to the transatlantic bond,” the NATO chief said, noting that the organization doesn’t have a tradition of naming buildings after politicians.

“So, I am certain we will be able to honor John McCain, but not necessarily through naming a building, and actually honor John McCain every day by the fact that we stand together in NATO and deliver a strong transatlantic deterrence and defense,” Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg said NATO benefits the United States by maintaining peace and stability in Europe; by supporting fundamental American values, such as democracy and free enterprise, across the world; and by boosting U.S. military power. He said:

But it is clear that allies need to invest more in our shared security. All NATO allies have agreed to stop cuts to defense budgets, to increase spending, and to move spending to 2 percent [of gross domestic product] on defense by 2024. We are making real progress. Last year, NATO allies across Europe and Canada boosted their defense budgets by a combined 5.2 percent in real terms, the biggest increase in a quarter of a century.

This year will be the fourth consecutive year of rising defense spending. The trend was down. Now the trend is up. But we still have a long way to go.

As a candidate for president, Trump called NATO “obsolete” and criticized allies for not paying their fair share. After he became president, Trump said he didn’t think NATO was obsolete after all.

Stoltenberg said that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, hundreds of thousands of European and Canadian troops have fought alongside the U.S. military in Afghanistan as part of the NATO alliance.

He said the alliance remains in Afghanistan to prevent it from becoming a “safe haven for internationalist terrorists.”

He also spoke at length about Russian aggression, noting: “NATO is and will remain a defensive alliance. That is the case for all allies.”

Referring to Russian propaganda and fake news, Stoltenberg said the best defense is a “free and independent media” in countries across the world.

But Russia’s military aggression against its neighbors in Georgia and Ukraine is a major reason NATO allies have invested more in defense for the first time since the end of the Cold War, Stoltenberg said.

“NATO is not mirroring, tank by tank or plane by plane, what Russia is doing, but we are responding when we see the security challenges are changing with an assertive Russia,” he said.

Still, Stoltenberg said, NATO and its member nations must be willing to engage in talks with Russia:

For us, there is no contradiction in being strong and firm in our approach with Russia, as we are, and at the same time seeking dialogue and try to reduce tension with Russia.

Russia will not go away. Russia will remain our biggest neighbor. … We will all be losers if we move toward a new Cold War and new arms race.

Florence: Displacing venomous snakes into homes

Image: Hurricane snake. NY Post. https://nyp.st/2CSShAB

The monster cyclone could uproot up to 38 different species of snake – including the deadly copperhead viper – from where they live along the US coastline, says the New York Post. Which means they could be displaced into homes through basements, dryer tubes, drains and toilets. If your home is flooded, be cautious as you inspect the damage. If you spot a snake, call the animal/pest control department and leave it alone.

Thad Bowman, a member of Alligator Adventure Zoo in South Carolina, said flooding caused by Florence could lead many of the snakes to move from their natural habitats. Venomous snakes inject venom, which causes tissue destruction, platelet loss, bleeding, and in rare circumstances, death. The rattlesnakes in South Carolina are the eastern diamondback, timber and pigmy rattlesnakes. Whatever the situation outside, a snake bite warrants a 911 call.

Clean water: Some survival hacks.


I was doing some errands yesterday that prompted me to travel a couple of exits on I-95 where it passes through my part of Virginia. It’s the main north-south highway running from Florida all the way to Maine and was as crowded heading north at noon as during the typical rush hour traffic on any weekday morning with all the people evacuating from the areas predicted to take the biggest hit from Hurricane Florence. Fortunately, I was on and off the interstate within a couple of exits.

After getting off the highway I stopped off at the supermarket for a lottery ticket and a few small items. The guy at the customer service counter told me the store was completely sold out of bottled water, as were Walmart, Weiss, and several other stores he named. I just grinned and shook my head at the typical last minute panic shopping because we have several hundred gallons of drinking water stored, along with a nice variety of foods, camping gear, batteries, medicines and just about everything else we would need to live for a considerable time with no outside support.

But it did make me wonder about all those people crowded into those cars standing still on the interstate. How prepared were most of them? And more important, how prepared are you? The two items that always sell out first as an emergency approaches are batteries and drinking water. And if you wait until the crisis is looming, you are going to be running around fighting the panicked crowds to find what you should have had stored all along. And that’s assuming you have enough advance warning to do even that.

If you’re an avid ‘Self-Reliance Central’ reader like I am, you probably…hopefully…read the article ‘Survival lessons learned: “Water is more important than an AR-15”’ that was posted a recently. If you haven’t, I strongly recommend that you do. Human beings can easily live a couple of weeks without food but can only live about three days without water. And a human dying of thirst will often drink anything that they think might ease that thirst and sustain them, and in doing so often poison themselves.

Unless you live in the desert water can be obtained in a lot of places, especially during a hurricane in times of heavy rain. Unfortunately, that water is usually unfit for human consumption. So, how do we ensure we’re prepared to assure we and our loved ones have a reliable source of safe drinking water? Conventional wisdom states that we should store enough water to provide a gallon of potable water per day to each person in your group. Happily, that means my wife and I are good for about 200 days just on what we have stored but not everyone has that much stored.

Safe Water

  1. Obviously, the first thing to do is store all the clean water you can. Next, look at what sources of water you can tap into. As soon as you know that there could be a power outage or some other break in the supply of water, fill everything in your home. Sinks, bathtubs, buckets, jugs, and anything else that will hold water. Of course, if you have a well with a hand powered pump, then you’re in pretty good shape.
  2. Water can be obtained from a number of outside sources like rain runoff, ditches, and puddles but we need to have a stock of purification measures on hand. Yes, we can buy Berkey water filters, and they are great but will quickly clog if the water you are filtering is filled with sediment so it’s important to have rough filtration sources like cheesecloth and coffee filters available to get the big pieces out and make life easier for our finer filters.
  3. Learn to use easily available materials. An excellent and effective filter can be made by using washed charcoal and fine sand in a container of some sort. Take a one gallon water or juice jug and poke small holes in the lid. Push a layer of clean charcoal through the neck and then add a few inches of sand. Get the sand at Lowe’s (the stuff for mixing concrete, or playground sand works fine and is very cheap.) Sieve water with a lot of sediment or debris in it through cheesecloth or a coffee filter, first, then run it through your homemade filter by turning it upside down so the water comes out of the lip, and you will have clear water.
  4. Once you’ve filtered water, add a few drop of a common water purifier such as halazone, iodine or just plain old chlorine bleach. About 7 drops of bleach per gallon of water will do the trick, just don’t use scented or fabric softener bleach. Just use plain old chlorine bleach. AND ALWAYS CONSIDER THE SOURCE OF THE WATER. PESTICIDES AND CHEMICALS WILL NOT BE FILTERED OUT.
  5. You can always boil water, but that will use up fuel (propane, Coleman Fuel or whatever) so you have to decide if you have enough for the purpose. If you do boil water, filter it through some kind of cloth or filter first and then be sure to bring it to a rolling boil and keep it there for at least two minutes, at least three at higher altitudes.

Training is the Most Important Preparation

People are great at making lists of the things they need, and some are even good at filling out the items in those lists. But no item, no matter how necessary, will do you any good if you don’t know how to use it. One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to learn and get training.

You have a great first aid kit? Do you know how to use everything in it? You have suture sets to stitch up serious wounds, (or know how?)a CPR mask, a tourniquet, antibiotics? Do you know how to use everything and which antibiotics are good for what? Colloidal silver? Do you have inflatable splints and materials to set a broken bone? How about emergency dental kits? Do you know how to use them?

If you can’t answer yes to all of these questions, you need to get some training. Stocking up on water, food, batteries, camping gear and guns are all critical preparations, but training is by far the most valuable preparation you can make. And be sure you aren’t the only person who is trained. I was doing a security assessment on an office in Amman, Jordan once, and I asked the staff if they had a good first aid kit, and if they knew how to use it. They proudly said they had an excellent kit and one of their staff was a trained EMT. When I smiled and asked what if he was the person suffering the medical emergency, all I got for an answer was a loud silence. Always have a back-up.

I’m sure a lot of you have great ideas that will help people prepare, so tell us about them. Let’s help each other out and fill the comments section with concrete and useful ideas we all can use. ~ Mike

© 2018 by Mike McMaken for Self-Reliance Central. Mike is a US Army veteran with over 30 years of military, law enforcement and private security experience. He spent several years  in Iraq as a security contractor and has made trips into many of the world’s most “challenging” places. 

Everything you need to know about the HARMFUL effects of FEMA and Federal Disaster Relief

by Dan Mitchell

With Florence hitting the East coast, it’s time to preemptively explain how the federal government makes damage more likely and why post-hurricane efforts will make future damage more likely.

There are just two principles you need to understand.

  1. When Washington subsidizes something, you get more of it, and the federal government subsidizes building – and living – in risky areas.
  2. When Washington provides bailouts, you incentivize risky behavior in the private sector and “learned helplessness” from state and local governments.

If I wanted to be lazy (or to be merciful and spare readers from a lengthy column), this satirical image is probably all that’s necessary to explain the first point. The federal government’s flood insurance program gives people – often the very rich, which galls me– an incentive to build where the risk of flooding and hurricanes is very high.

But let’s look at additional information and analysis.

We’ll start with this excellent primer on the issue from Professor William Shughart.

Disaster relief arguably is, in short, something of a public good that would be undersupplied if responsibility for providing it were left in the hands of the private sector. If this line of reasoning is sound, the activity of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) or something like it is a proper function of the national government. …even if disaster relief is thought of as a public good—a form of “social insurance” against fire, flood, earthquake, and other natural catastrophes—it does not follow that government provision is the only or necessarily the best option. …both economic theory and the historical record point to the conclusion that the public sector predictably fails to supply disaster relief in socially optimal quantities. Moreover, because it facilitates corruption, creates incentives for populating disaster-prone areas, and crowds out self-help and other local means of coping with disaster, government provision of assistance to disaster’s victims actually threatens to make matters worse. …Government agencies are created by legislation, overseen by elected officials, and operated by huge bureaucracies. Public employees’ fear of being blamed for doing something wrong (or failing to do something right) produces risk aversion…the people who set priorities and make decisions are often separated by multiple layers of management from those on the ground who know what really needs to be done.

Professor Shughart explains that “public choice” and “moral hazard” play a role.

FEMA has been shown to be responsive more to the political interests of the White House than to the needs of disaster victims on the ground. …federal emergency relief funds tend to be allocated disproportionately to electoral-vote-rich states that are important to the sitting president’s reelection strategy. …The term moral hazard refers to the reduction in the cost of carelessness… The prospect of receiving federal and state reconstruction assistance after the next hurricane creates an incentive for others to relocate their homes and businesses from inland areas of comparative safety to vulnerable coastal areas. …The expectation of receiving publicly financed disaster relief may explain why 69 percent of the residents of Mississippi’s Gulf Coast did not have federal flood insurance when Katrina hit. …the immediate reactions of for-profit businesses, nongovernmental organizations large and small, and countless individual volunteers amply demonstrate that the private sector can and will supply disaster relief in adequate and perhaps socially optimal quantities

Barry Brownstein has a sober assessment of the underlying problem.

…federal flood insurance was amplifying the impact of storms by encouraging Americans to build and rebuild in areas prone to flooding. …the case against subsidized flood insurance is not a case against growth; it is a case against distorted growth. Federally supported insurance overrides the risk-reducing incentives that insurance premiums provide and results in building in vulnerable areas. …In a free market, insurance premiums on cars, for instance, tend to settle toward an “actuarially fair price.” …If you have a history of drunk driving, that increases the chances you’ll make an insurance claim on your car – so your premiums will be higher, and that encourages you not to drive in the future (or to drive sober in the first place). …Getting the government out of the flood insurance business and having insurance companies determine actuarially sound premiums is the only way for homeowners, businesses, and builders to know the real risk they are assuming.

And here are excerpts from a column by David Conrad and Larry Larson.

…the Great Flood of 1993 in the upper Midwest. After that disaster, the Clinton administration directed an experienced federal interagency task force to report on the flood and its causes. That report…made more than 100 recommendations for policy and program changes… The government found that many policies were encouraging — rather than discouraging — people to build homes and businesses in places with increasingly high risks of flooding… That often compounded the costs and problems caused by floods. …Experts and policymakers have known for a long time that we need to change the way we approach flood mitigation and prevention, but that hasn’t stopped the nation from making the same mistakes over and over. …substantial benefits for property owners and taxpayers could be gleaned by simply removing damaged buildings, rather than repairing them only to see them flooded out again. …many flood insurance policies were heavily subsidized and underestimated risk, leading to premiums that were far too low. …Americans facing some new devastation in the future will be looking back at Harvey and wondering why we didn’t act now.

Even the Washington Post has a reasonable perspective on this issue.

National Flood Insurance Program…an…increasingly dysfunctional program. Enacted 50 years ago…, the program made a certain sense in theory…in return for appropriate local land-use and other measures to prevent development in low-lying areas and for actuarially sound premiums. Politics being what they are, the program gradually fell prey to pressure from developers and homeowners in the nation’s coastal areas. Arguably, the existence of flood insurance encouraged development in flood zones that would not have occurred otherwise. …Ideally, more of the costs of flood insurance would be shouldered by the people and places who benefit most from it; modern technology and financial tools should enable the private sector to handle more of the business, too. Such radical reform is not on Congress’s agenda, of course.

As you might expect, Steve Chapman has a very clear understanding of what’s happening.

The National Flood Insurance Program, created in 1968 under LBJ on the theory that the private insurance market couldn’t handle flood damage, presumed that Washington could. Like many of his Great Society initiatives, it has turned out to be an expensive tutorial on the perils of government intervention. …A house outside of Baton Rouge, La., assessed at $56,000, has soaked up 40 floods and over $428,000 in insurance payouts. One in North Wildwood, New Jersey has been rebuilt 32 times. Nationally, some 30,000 buildings classified as “severe repetitive loss properties” have been covered despite having been swamped an average of five times each. Homes in this category make up about one percent of the buildings covered by the flood insurance program—but 30 percent of the claims. Their premiums don’t cover the expected losses. But as National Resources Defense Council analyst Rob Moore told The Washington Post, “No congressman ever got unelected by providing cheap flood insurance.” …The root of the problem is a familiar one: the people responsible for these decisions are not spending their own money. They find it easier to indulge the relative handful of flood victims than to attend to the interests of millions of taxpayers in general.

Now let’s look at some of the perverse consequences of federal intervention.

Such as repeated bailouts for certain properties.

Brian Harmon had just finished spending over $300,000 to fix his home in Kingwood, Texas, when Hurricane Harvey sent floodwaters “completely over the roof.” The six-bedroom house, which has an indoor swimming pool, sits along the San Jacinto River. It has flooded 22 times since 1979, making it one of the most flood-damaged properties in the country. Between 1979 and 2015, government records show the federal flood insurance program paid out more than $1.8 million to rebuild the house—a property that Mr. Harmon figured was worth $600,000 to $800,000 before Harvey hit late last month. …Homes and other properties with repetitive flood losses account for just 2% of the roughly 1.5 million properties that currently have flood insurance, according to government estimates. But such properties have accounted for about 30% of flood claims paid over the program’s history. …Nearly half of frequently flooded properties in the U.S. have received more in total damage payments than the flood program’s estimate of what the homes are worth, according to the group’s calculations.

Disaster legislation, Rachel Bovard explained, is often an excuse for unrelated pork-barrel spending.

In 2012, President Obama requested a $60.4 billion supplemental funding bill from Congress, ostensibly to fund reconstruction efforts in the parts of the country most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. However, that’s not what Congress gave him, or what he signed. Instead, the bill was loaded up with earmarks and pork barrel spending, so much so that only around half of the bill ended up actually being for Sandy relief. Consider just a handful of the goodies contained in the final legislation…$150 million for Alaska fisheries (Hurricane Sandy was on the east coast of the US; Alaska is the country’s western most tip)…$8 million to buy cars and equipment for the Homeland Security and Justice departments (at the time of the Sandy supplemental, these agencies already had 620,000 cars between them)…$821 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge waterways with no relation to Hurricane Sandy (the Corps never likes to waste a disaster)…$118 million for AMTRAK ($86 million to be used on non-Sandy related Northeast corridor upgrades). …the Sandy supplemental represented the worst of special interest directed, unaccountable, pork-barrel spending in Washington.

And as seems to always be the case with government, Jeffrey Tucker explains that disaster relief subsidizes corrupt favors for campaign contributors.

Look closely enough and you find corruption at every level. I recall living in a town hit by a hurricane many years ago. The town mayor instructed people not to clean up yet because FEMA was coming to town. To get the maximum cash infusion, the inspectors needed to see terrible things. When the money finally arrived, it went to the largest real estate developers, who promptly used it to clear cut land for new housing developments. …It does seem highly strange that this desktop operation in Montana would be awarded a $300 million contract to rebuild the electrical grid in Puerto Rico. That sounds outrageous. But guess what? …Zinke claims that he had “absolutely nothing to do” with selecting the company that got the contract, even though the company is in his hometown and his own son worked there. And yet there is more. The Daily Beast discovered that the company that is financing Whitefish’s expansions, HBC Investments, was founded by its current general partner Joe Colonnetta. He and his wife were larger donors to Trump campaign, in every form permissible by law and at maximum amounts. …FEMA has long been used as a pipeline to cronies.

The ideal solution is to somehow curtail the role of the federal government.

Which is what Holman Jenkins suggests in this column for the Wall Street Journal, even though he is pessimistic because rich property owners capture many of the subsidies.

What’s really missing in all such places is…proper risk pricing through insurance. …Now we wonder if it can even be ameliorated. …our most influential citizens all have one thing in common: a house in Florida. An unfortunate truth is that the value of their Florida coastal property would plummet if they were made to bear the cost of their life-style choices. A lot of ritzy communities would shrink drastically. Sun and fun would still attract visitors, but property owners and businesses would face a new set of incentives. Either build a lot sturdier and higher up. Or build cheap and disposable, and expect to shoulder the cost of totally rebuilding every decade or two. Faced with skyrocketing insurance rates, entire communities would have to dissolve themselves or tax their residents heavily to invest in damage-mitigation measures. …With government assuming the risk, why would businesses and homesteaders ever think twice about building in the path of future hurricanes?

Katherine Mangu-Ward of Reason offered some very sensible suggestions after Hurricane Harvey.

Many of the folks who take on the risk of heading into an unstable area do so because they are driven by the twin motivations of fellow-feeling and greed. These people are often the fastest and most effective at getting supplies where they are most needed, because that’s also where they can get the best price.

This is just as true for Walmart as it is for the guy who fills his pickup with Poland Spring and batteries. Don’t use the bully pulpit to vilify disaster entrepreneurs, small or large. …by trying to control who gets into a storm zone to help, governments can wind up blockading good people who could do good while waiting for approval from Washington in a situation where communications are often bad. Ordinary people see and know things about what their friends and neighbors need and want that FEMA simply can’t be expected to figure out. …Emergency workers and law enforcement shouldn’t waste post-storm effort rooting around in people’s homes for firearms. Law-abiding gun owners do not, by and large, turn into characters from Grand Theft Auto when they get wet.

Amen to her point about so-called price gouging. The politicians who demagogue against price spikes either don’t understand supply-and-demand, or they don’t care whether people suffer. Probably both.

Sadly, FEMA, federal flood insurance, and other forms of intervention now play a dominant role when disasters occur.

That being said, let’s wrap up today’s column with some examples of how the private sector still manages to play a very effective role. We’ll start with this article from the Daily Caller.

Faith-based relief groups are responsible for providing nearly 80 percent of the aid delivered thus far to communities with homes devastated by the recent hurricanes… The United Methodist Committee on Relief, which has 20,000 volunteers trained to serve in disaster response teams, not only helps clean up the mess and repair the damage inflicted on homes by disasters, but also helps families… The Seventh Day Adventists help state governments with warehousing various goods and necessities to aid communities in the aftermath of a disaster. …Non-denominational Christian relief organization Convoy of Hope helps to provide meals to victims of natural disasters by setting up feeding stations in affected communities.

And I strongly recommend this video by Professor Steve Horwitz, my buddy from grad school.

The famous “Cajun Navy” is another example, as noted by the Baton Rouge Advocate; they are already in the Carolinas ready to assist.

There’s also the “Houston Navy.”

Here’s another good example of how the private sector – when it’s allowed to play a role – acts to reduce damage.


Increasingly, insurance carriers are finding wildfires, such as those in California, are an opportunity to provide protection beyond what most people get through publicly funded fire fighting. Some insurers say they typically get new customers when homeowners see the special treatment received by neighbors during big fires. “The enrollment has taken off dramatically over the years as people have seen us save homes,” Paul Krump, a senior executive at Chubb, said of the insurer’s Wildfire Defense Services. …Tens of thousands of people benefit from the programs. …The private-sector activity calls to mind the early days of fire insurance in the U.S., in the 18th and 19th centuries before municipal fire services became common. Back then, metal-plaque “fire marks” were affixed to the front of insured buildings as a guide for insurers’ own fire brigades.

It’s also important to realize that armed private citizens are the ones who help maintain order following a disaster, as illustrated by this video of a great American (warning: some strong language).

I imagine that guy would get along very well with the folks in the image at the bottom of this column.

Last but not least, here’s some analysis for history buffs of what happened after the fire that leveled much of Chicago in the 1800s.

…does the current emphasis on top-down disaster relief favored in the US and beyond represent the best strategy? Emily Skarbek, a professor at Brown University, approached this question by studying one of the most famous catastrophes of the 19th century, the Chicago fire of 1871. …scholars and laypeople alike are convinced that there is no substitute for the resources and direction that centralized governments can provide in the wake of a disaster. …This maxim was apparently inconsistent with the Chicago fire, however, as the Midwestern city was reconstructed in a remarkably short period of time, and without the supervision of an overbearing central government. …in 1871 there was no analogue to the present-day, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), meaning that relief efforts had to be decentralized. Moreover, there was no institutionalized source of government financial aid…it was up to Chicago’s residents to develop solutions to the calamity that they faced. …The Chicago Relief and Aid Society was founded, and set about coordinating the funds and efforts, including sophisticated bylaws regarding who merited support, and at what level. …the society exhibited the flexibility and adaptability necessary for it to expand dramatically immediately after the fire…and to subsequently contract once the needs for its services fell. This latter feature distinguishes Chicago’s relief efforts from those of 21st century government agencies.

Since I started with an image that summarizes the foolishness of government-subsidized risk, let’s end with another visual showing the impact of government.

Or, let’s apply the lesson more broadly.

Sadly, I predict that politicians will ignore these logical conclusions and immediately clamor after Hurricane Florence for another wasteful package of emergency spending, most of which will have nothing to do with saving lives and have everything to do with buying votes. Trump, being a big spender, will be cheering them on.

Which will then encourage more damage and risk more lives in the future. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Most of Europe Is a Lot Poorer than Most of the United States


Living Standards Are Markedly Higher in the United States

I recently wrote that many European nations are doomed to demographics and fiscal chaos, but a lot of people don’t care that much about the future.

Bernie Sanders, for instance, looks at nations such as Denmark and Sweden today and says that America should copy their expansive welfare states.

Is he right?

Well, it depends on the parameters. If, for some reason, somebody was holding a gun to my head and demanding that we copy the policies of a nation from the European Union, the Nordic countries would be among my top choices. Yes, their welfare states are too large, but they somewhat compensate for that mistake by having very pro-free market policies in other areas.

That being said, Ireland and the United Kingdom have the most economic freedom among EU nations, and Switzerland would be at the top if the choice was broadened to non-EU nations in Europe.

But I’m digressing. Let’s get back to whether people in places such as Denmark (or anywhere else in Europe) enjoy more prosperity than their American counterparts.

Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute has put together some apples-to-apples data suggesting the answer is no. At least if the goal is more economic output and higher living standards.

…most European countries (including Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Belgium) if they joined the US, would rank among the poorest one-third of US states on a per-capita GDP basis, and the UK, France, Japan and New Zealand would all rank among America’s very poorest states, below No. 47 West Virginia, and not too far above No. 50 Mississippi. Countries like Italy, S. Korea, Spain, Portugal and Greece would each rank below Mississippi as the poorest states in the country.

And here’s the table Mark prepared.

As a quick caveat, it’s worth noting that there’s not a one-to-one link between gross domestic product and actual living standards.

Some of the economic activity in energy-rich states such as North Dakota, for instance, translates into income for shareholders living elsewhere in America.

But if you look at the U.S. average ($54,629), it obviously is higher than economic output in European nations.

And if you prefer direct measures of living standards, then data on consumption from the OECD also shows that America is considerably more prosperous.

None of this suggests that policy in America is ideal (it isn’t), or that European nations are failures (they still rank among the wealthiest places on the planet).

I’m simply making the modest – yet important – argument that Europeans would be more prosperous if the fiscal burden of government wasn’t so onerous.

And I’m debunking the argument that we should copy nations such as Denmark by allowing a larger government in the United States (though I do want to copy Danish policies in other areas, which generally are more pro-economic liberty than what we have in America).

Shifting to a different topic, Mark Perry also takes a shot at Donald Trump, who seems to think that other nations are “winning” over America because of trade.

…maybe we should remind him that Mexico and China, as US states, would both be far below our poorest state — Mississippi — by 51% and 62% respectively for GDP per capita; and Japan would be barely above our poorest state — Mississippi. Using GDP per capita as a measure of both economic output per person and of a country’s standard of living, America is winning quite handsomely.

Excellent point. It’s a sign of American prosperity that we can afford to buy more from other nations than they can afford to buy from us.

It’s also a sign of prosperity that, when they do earn American dollars, foreigners often choose to invest those funds in the American economy (remember, the necessary flip side of a “trade deficit” is a “capital surplus”).

P.S. Speaking of European prosperity, here’s a fascinating map I saw on Twitter. The reporter from the Wall Street Journal who shared it remarked that “Purple areas are rich as US states. Yellow areas poorer than Mexico.” In other words, The few dark areas (a handful in Germany and one each in a few other nations) are the only parts of Europe that are economically equal to the U.S.

P.P.S. Here’s another map, concentrating just on Northern Europe.

I don’t have a policy lesson. Simply an observation that the United Kingdom has one really rich region (Greater London) and quite few relatively poor regions.

P.P.P.S One final comment. Long-run growth matters. Hong Kong and Singapore, for instance, used to be a poor jurisdictions. But free markets and small government have produced decades of strong growth. And now these places are among the richest places on the planet. Richer not only than Europe, but even more prosperous than the United States.

Daniel J. Mitchell
Daniel J. Mitchell

Daniel J. Mitchell is a Washington-based economist who specializes in fiscal policy, particularly tax reform, international tax competition, and the economic burden of government spending. He also serves on the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review.

This economy belongs to Trump, not Obama. Here’s why.


You got to give former President Barack Obama credit, at least he’s consistent.

When he came into office, the economy was in a deep recession that began when financial markets crashed in 2008, and, he said, he was blameless for the 8 million job losses that occurred, even as they continued into 2009 and the unemployment rate kept rising through 2010.

But after that, he deserves all the credit, apparently. Speaking to a crowd at the University of Illinois on Sept. 7, Obama bragged, “[W]hen you hear how the economy is doing right now, let’s just remember when this recovery started. I’m glad it’s continued, but when you hear about this ‘economic miracle’ that’s been going on when the job numbers come out…”

To be fair, the number people with jobs did increase after 2010 substantially when the worst of the recession was over at a rate of a little more than 2 million a year, about what it is right now. That’s the point Obama wants to make. But here’s what he doesn’t want to hear. It wasn’t good enough — by a long shot.

During Obama’s tenure in office, the economy never grew above 3 percent, a number not seen since 2005. It wasn’t a robust recovery.

Labor participation among 16-to 64-year-olds continued to drop significantly seven out of Obama’s eight years in office, as working age adults found it harder to find work and enter the economy, representing millions of people who lost opportunity from 2009 to 2016.

Which is little wonder. The $800 billion stimulus was not aimed at boosting labor participation.

Obamacare and Dodd-Frank did nothing to get working age adults back in the labor force.

The continued outsourcing of American jobs overseas and supporting massive one-sided trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership was not designed to bring production and jobs back to the U.S.

It wasn’t merely the poor economic numbers that we saw during the Obama administration, it was the policies that were implemented that did so little to make things better for working age adults.

But now that the economy is turning a corner, with 4.2 percent growth annualized in the second quarter and the possibility of the first year above 3 percent growth since 2005, labor participation among working age adults is rising, Obama wants the credit.

After all, in Obama’s eyes, his economic record did not begin until the economy had completely cratered. So, from that same partisan lens, naturally, President Donald Trump won’t earn any credit for the current upswing.

Of course, the moment it goes sour, in Obama’s eyes, Trump will likely warrant any and all blame when the business cycle does run its course. It’s convenient.

But it also shows a tremendous lack of leadership.

How about taking responsibility for the economy and doing those things that will get Americans back into the labor force and boost growth?

Grow or not, President Trump will be held accountable to the state of the economy come 2020 when he stands for reelection. That’s how voters are going to decide. If he’s going to get the blame if it goes down, then he should get credit when it goes up.

One of the reasons President Trump did so well in 2016, particularly in the Rust Belt states that have been decimated by globalization, bad trade deals and outsourcing, was because of Obama and Hillary Clinton ignoring the plight of blue-collar workers. They kept passing the buck, and they paid dearly for it in 2016.

Trump’s economic message, particularly on trade, resonated with conservative and union households alike, much to Democrats’ chagrin. Now, with the combination of tax cuts, deregulation and the push for better trade deals, the economy stands a real chance of growing above 3 percent for the first time in 13 years. We’re not there yet, but we’re on the right track.

The next go around, in 2020, it will matter quite little what Obama or Trump or any politicians says. Actions will speak louder than words, and results will speak the loudest of all.

To the extent President Trump succeeds, economic growth accelerates and jobs are boosted along with labor participation, 2020 will take care of itself. It will tell us whether or not Trump gets four more years. For better or for worse, Trump owns this economy. That’s the real accountability the American people deserve and expect from their current leaders, not political diatribes from former presidents hoping to rewrite their legacies.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government.

Logical Fallacies in the Gun Debate


In 2017, the data website FiveThirtyEight declared that the U.S. had become more polarized on the issue of guns that at any time in the nation’s history.

Because of the emotional nature of the debate, both gun control advocates and Second Amendment proponents increasingly resorted to violent rhetoric (“burn her!”), conspiracy theories, and especially irrational thinking.

Here are six of the most common logical fallacies you’ll find in the current debate on guns in America.

1. Non Sequitur

Non sequitur translates as “it does not follow.” They are more common in casual conversation than formal debate.

Example: I can’t believe you didn’t like The Last Jedi. You loved The Empire Strikes Back and Mark Hamill is in The Last Jedi.

It does not follow that all fans of the original Star Wars trilogy will like The Last Jedi just because Luke is in the movie.

In the gun debate, argument sometimes devolves into non sequiturs. Example: I don’t support the murder of innocents; therefore I don’t vote Republican, since Republicans often support the Second Amendment.

Republicans murder children

2. False Dilemma/False Dichotomy

News media are notorious for presenting public options as a binary choice: do nothing or pass federal gun control legislation.

“Donald Trump does nothing; Paul Ryan does nothing; Mitch McConnell does nothing,” Joe Scarborough recently said. (He threw in an ad hominem for good measure: “Donald Trump has proven to be a coward. He’s proven to be a small man.”) Scarborough was echoed by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) who told the president to “get off his ass” and work with federal lawmakers to pass gun control legislation.

In reality, there are many actions individuals, communities, parents, and local governments can take to help prevent school shootings. But media reports and pundits on television usually don’t present these alternatives.

3. Appeal to Emotion

Children have been featured prominently in the gun debate, both by news networks advocating gun control and the president himself. Why? The answer is simple, as J.D. Tuccille recently pointed out at Reason:

“Kids are pulled into political discussions by adults who want to trump debate and shame their opponents into acquiescence.”

This is just one example of how people and media appeal to our emotions to argue their points. Here is another:


4. Straw Man

The straw man is arguably the most common fallacy in modern debate. The fallacy involves taking someone’s point or argument and reducing it to a caricature that is easy to knock over.

A case in point can be found in a recent column by Jerry Adler of Yahoo. In it, Adler mocked an article written by National Review’s David French which stated that the purpose of the Second Amendment was to defend liberty from potential state tyranny.

Adler depicts French as defending assault-style rifles “on the grounds that we might need them to fight a reprise of the American Revolution.” He invokes the image of “middle-aged guys running around the woods in camo pants” trying to go “up against the Marine Corps.”

But French never mentioned the American Revolution, Marines, or middle-aged guys in camo pants. In fact, French explicitly states that an armed citizenry would not be much use if it came to open conflict between the people and the state.

“The argument is not that a collection of random citizens should be able to go head-to-head with the Third Cavalry Regiment. That’s absurd. Nor is the argument that citizens should possess weapons “in common use” in the military. Rather, for the Second Amendment to remain a meaningful check on state power, citizens must be able to possess the kinds and categories of weapons that can at least deter state overreach, that would make true authoritarianism too costly to attempt.”

Instead of directly engaging French’s argument that semi-automatic rifles are a more meaningful check on state power than sidearms and shotguns, Adler created a straw man.  What’s interesting is that Adler did this while admitting that French “acknowledges that ordinary citizens wouldn’t stand much of a chance against the 101st Airborne” and that there is little evidence that the 1994 “Federal Assault Weapons Ban” reduced gun violence.

5. Bandwagon Fallacy (Also called Appeal to Popularity)

The bandwagon fallacy is born of the idea that something is right, true, or desirable because it’s popular.

Take this article, which recently appeared on Salon and featured the headline: “Support for gun control surges to highest level ever as GOP lawmakers sit on their hands.”

The implication is that action should be taken because many people favor it, according to a poll.

Such an action might be entirely appropriate. But the assumption that the opinion of the majority is prima facie evidence of validity is flawed logic.

6. Faulty Analogy

This fallacy assumes that because two things are alike in some respects, they are necessarily alike in other respects.

In the gun debate, it’s common to point to Australia’s 1996 gun control legislation as a model for the U.S. It often runs like this: “In Australia, gun legislation passed and gun deaths fell. Therefore, the U.S. should pass more gun legislation.”

Australia on gun control

The problem, as many have pointed out (here, here, and here), is that the these nations are so different–their legal systems, constitutions, histories, the number of guns in circulation, etc.–that any comparisons or predictions in gun policy are essentially useless. In other words, it’s a faulty analogy.

[Image Credit: Flickr-Elvert Barnes | CC BY SA 2.0]

This post Logical Fallacies in the Gun Debate was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Jon Miltimore.

SRC EXCLUSIVE: Private Security Contractor Small Arms of the Iraq War

Image: Mike McMaken on convoy escort duty on the road to Mosul with a mixed escort of private security contractors and a US Army platoon in HUMVEES. The author is armed with a Bushmaster M4 SBR and a Glock 17 pistol. Note the M19 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher on the HUMVEE.

I’ve spent the past 14 years traveling in and out of various conflict zones in Africa and the Middle East, and two and a half of those years were spent deployed in Iraq. From August 2004 through April 2007 I worked as a private security contractor, as a Personal Security Detail (PSD) team member and tactical driver, a convoy escort vehicle commander, the overall security team leader for $500 million in Department of Defense (DoD) reconstruction projects throughout Iraq, and finally as the security manager and force commander at a remote project site isolated in the Mahdi Militia region of southern Iraq. Each of those positions required me to be armed every day and gave me the honor of working with a lot of great people from the USA, Great Britain, South Africa, Nepal, Philippines, Angola, Iraq, Lebanon, Kurdistan and some other places that slip my mind right now. It also gave me the opportunity to carry and use a wide range of military weapons.

Image: Image: Author’s own. American Team Leaders at the Iraqi Police Academy Range in Baghdad. Everyone is armed with Colt selective fire M4s and Kimber 1911 pistols. The author is second from the left. Note the older style Trijicon Reflex Sight (this was 2006).

If we wanted to discuss the small arms issued to any given nation’s armed forces, it would be a fairly straightforward process. The US troops carried M16s or M4 Carbines, M203s, SAWs, M240s, and Beretta M9 pistols. Troops from the former Soviet Bloc nations such as Romania and Georgia were issued variants of the venerable AK47, or more commonly the AKM, along with RPKs and PKMs. The British carried SA80s and L85s, and the Australians (who I worked closely with in Nasiriyah) carried F88 AUsteyr’s. The special ops teams of almost all the Western armies used the M4.

On the other hand, independent security contractors (branded mercenaries by some) carry whatever they’re issued by their employers. I’ve seen guys carrying everything from ancient British Sterling subguns to state of the art P90s. We can all sit in the comfort of our homes behind our keyboards and argue about what handgun is the best for us to EDC, or debate about the AK vs the M4, but when you are a security contractor in a war zone you make the best of whatever you’re issued by your employer.

Arming on the Cheap

Back in the Wild West days of Iraq, the quickest and cheapest way to arm a private security force was to simply hand someone you trust a duffle bag full of cash and send them out into the unsecured areas to buy some guns and ammo on the Black Market. Guns procured this way had usually been ‘liberated’ from the Iraqi military in one way or another, and were generally well broken in, to put it mildly. The weapons I’ve seen acquired this way include AK variants, HK G3s, MP5s, FNs, Browning Hi-Powers, and even the aforementioned Sterling and using them on a daily basis can be an adventure in itself! A month after arriving in Iraq our Suburban crashed on Route 1 near the Samara Overpass. The guy next to me was carrying a locked and loaded Sterling. The Sterling is an open bolt design not known for its safety, and as we bounced off a large local truck and crashed through the guardrails, I recall hoping the guy next to me was pointing that damned Sterling somewhere besides my direction as all our footlockers were flung forward hitting him square in the face (he was facing backwards at the time of the crash). He survived with a concussion and I didn’t get shot, so I put that one in the win column. I was very happy that on my last major DoD contract I was issued a shiny new Colt M4 and a nice Kimber 1911.

The Guns of Iraq Contractors

As I mentioned previously, the guns used daily by private security teams in Iraq ran across a wide spectrum of weapons. Probably the easiest way to cover them all is to break them down by origin.

Image: Authors own. AKMs bought off the street were well used and required a lot of TLC and cleaning to ensure they would work when needed. Cleaning and maintenance was a group effort and every private security company had dedicated armorers to support the teams. Note the PKM on the floor to the left. This is in the basement of the team villa in the Mansour District of Baghdad. Most of the windows were blown out a few days later when a car bomb went off down the street.
  • Russian/former Soviet Bloc weapons– These were by far the most common type of weapon used in Iraq. Obviously, both the Iraqi security forces and the insurgents/terrorists used them, but they were also used by the vast majority of all static guard forces no matter what nationality they were. They were also used by more than half of the PSD and convoy escort teams made up of foreign (expat) contractors. They were common and easily available, cheap to purchase, and ammunition was readily available from both legitimate and illegitimate sources. On the downside, many were older and well used, so they required a considerable amount of attention and care to ensure they would work when you needed them to. These were mostly the AKM version of the AK47, some with folding stocks and others with solid wood stocks. A few even had the old integral wooden forearm grip. One also saw the occasional Dragunov sniper variant, as well as lots of locally made copies.
  • US Manufacture– Roughly a third of the private security contractors were issued US made rifles, as were a very small number of non-Western static guard forces. For the most part, these consisted of M16/M4 rifles and carbines. Some contractors on direct military support contracts were issued actual US Army weapons, but most companies were responsible to procure their own guns to issue their contractors. Most of these were collapsible stock models because we normally operated from vehicles, and in my time there I was issued a Bushmaster Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) and later the Colt M4. Everyone had their own experience with various guns, but in mine the Bushmaster suffered from a problem common to SBRs back then and sometimes suffered failures the feed (FTF), but the Colt ran like a thoroughbred horse and never failed me once. Once, I did some work with a Department of Diplomatic Security contracted private security team that had a customized Remington 700 (not quite an M24) for use by their designated marksman when their principal (client) was on foot making nice with the locals.
  • Western Designed Weapons – including Iranian and Iraqi local knock offs – Very few private security contracts were issued European rifles en masse, but many teams had a few scattered around among the various teams for special purposes. These included an amazing range of rifles and subguns in every caliber from 9mm to .308. The most common was the venerable MP5 because it was compact and I was issued one while doing Close Protection for government contractor engineers. The HK G3 was also fairly common with the FN FAL being less common. These were especially popular with teams that were out on the road a lot because they believed the heavier .308 round (as compared to a 7.62X39 or 5.56) was more effective in stopping approaching vehicles that contained either hit teams or were car bombs, officially known as Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices (VBIEDs) and a team might have one or two along.
  • Exotic and Cool– In my entire 2 ½ years in Iraq I saw a single team armed with P90 bullpup rifles and Sig handguns. They were driving armored Land Rover Defenders while the rest of us were in up-armored Suburbans and B6 armored Ford Excursions, and it was obvious that their employers had plenty of money to throw around. This was definitely the exception rather than the rule and I never saw anyone else so lavishly equipped.
  • Oddball and Unusual– These are weapons that someone ‘finds’ or acquires in some way, and they either get a kick out of carrying it or they genuinely love the thing and think it’s the best thing going so they use it. Back in the Wild West days of Iraq security contractors, most companies didn’t have a problem with their team members using something odd as long as they did their job. With the much greater scrutiny on private contractors since the infamous Blackwater incident on September 7, 2007 private security companies are more sensitive to the appearance they present. Here’s where the Sterlings, M1 Garands (yes, you read that right, and no, he couldn’t find much ammo for it), and other strange weapons fit. Most were only represented by a single example in my own personal experience. I even ran across an old Sten Gun at one point, but it was inoperative. Most of these weapons had probably been bouncing around the Middle East since WWII and had likely come from some local’s house during a search or as a war trophy.
  • Handguns– Outside of the US military, which carried the Beretta M9, by far the most common handgun was the Browning Hi-Power. It was a tried and true design and was the defacto handgun of the Iraqi officer class so there were plenty of them in the country. I was issued one a couple of times and wasn’t crazy about it because of the magazine safety, but they were reliable and lots of people carried them. Also very popular were 1911s and the Glock 17. I was issued both of these at various times and liked them both. The G17 was much easier to get ammo for since it was a 9mm, but in the case of the contract on which I was issued the Kimber 1911, we were also provided with 30,000 rounds of .45 ACP to share among the 11 of us. As I mentioned above, I saw one team with Sigs (no idea which model) and saw a few CZs floating around.
  • Machine guns– By far the most common machineguns outside of the military were the Russian RPKs and PKMs. The RPK is essentially an AK on steroids that uses the same 7.62X39 ammo the AK does and feeds from a magazine or drum. It has a longer barrel and a few refinements in the woodwork and a bipod to make it useful as a squad automatic weapon. These were carried by some teams, especially the non-Western folks from places like Angola and Kurdistan. The PKM with its heavier 7.62X54Russian round was frequently vehicle mounted to provide a punch for teams on the road. The US M240 (FM MAG) was also popular with road teams with its 7.62X54 NATO round and both it and the PKM were mounted on tripods for static defense. The Russian DShK 12.7 heavy machinegun was much too large for any team to drag around but was used in some static emplacements around compounds because of its very heavy round that would easily penetrate any lightly armored vehicle. The US M2 .50 Cal machinegun was virtually never seen in use by private security companies.

As in any war zone (the current term is ‘conflict zone’), people will use whatever is at hand when things get hairy, and Iraq was no exception. This was even more significant because of the very large numbers of private security operators working throughout the country. Personal preferences often don’t matter because you will use whatever you are issued and learn to make the most of it. Consequently, private security contractors quickly gain a great deal of experience with a wide range of guns and become proficient in using just about anything they can get their hands on. Something that is also a good idea for preppers since you never know what kind of situation you might find yourself in, or what weapon you might be forced to use in a pinch.

© 2018 by Mike McMaken for Self-Reliance Central. Mike is a US Army veteran with over 30 years of military, law enforcement and private security experience. He spent several years  in Iraq as a security contractor and has made trips into many of the world’s most “challenging” places. He holds a Master’s Degree in Behavioral Science.

Bolton to UN: “Bite me!”


Bolton rejects International Criminal Court’s Jurisdiction Over US Military

National security adviser John Bolton didn’t mince words in a speech on Monday as he outlined U.S. policy toward the International Criminal Court.

In that speech, before the Federalist Society, Bolton said:

The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens, and those of our allies, from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court.

We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.

Bolton’s announcement pre-emptively confronted the prospect of an International Criminal Court investigation of U.S. military and government officials.

The prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, announced on Nov. 3 that she had formally requested authorization from the court’s Pre-Trial Chamber to open an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Afghanistan since May 2003.

The next step is consideration by the Pre-Trial Chamber, whose approval is required to launch the investigation. Although a shift in the judges assigned to the chamber delayed the process, approval is considered likely in the coming months.

As Bolton noted, the Trump administration has both practical and philosophical objections to International Criminal Court’s claims of jurisdiction over U.S. persons:

  • Because the U.S. has not ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, its jurisdictional claims are without U.S. consent and an assault on our national sovereignty.
  • The structure of the court lacks proper checks and balances to prevent abuse of power.
  • The crimes over which the court claims jurisdiction are, in some cases, ambiguous and potentially expanding.
  • The existence of the court has not deterred the committing of serious crimes, and it has been relatively ineffective in trying and convicting individuals.
  • The complementarity principle of the court is less a standard than a flexible guideline, as demonstrated by its potential investigation of alleged crimes by U.S. military and government officials, even though the U.S. has investigated these incidents extensively and held numerous individuals to account.
  • The court’s “authority has been sharply criticized and rejected by most of the world,” Bolton said. “Today, more than 70 nations, representing two-thirds of the world’s population, and over 70 percent of the world’s armed forces are not members of the ICC.”
  • Palestinians’ efforts to launch a court investigation of Israeli crimes is politically motivated and undermines prospects for peace.

Many of these concerns have spanned multiple administrations. They have led the U.S. to enact legislation restricting U.S. cooperation with the International Criminal Court and negotiate Article 98 agreements to preclude other nations from surrendering, extraditing, or transferring U.S. persons to the court or to third countries for that purpose without U.S. consent.

In December 2000, President Bill Clinton authorized the U.S. delegation to sign the Rome Statute to facilitate U.S. efforts to address U.S. concerns, but emphasized that the U.S. still had “concerns about significant flaws in the treaty.”

President George W. Bush’s administration, after failing to secure the changes necessary for addressing U.S. concerns, “unsigned” the Rome Statute.

Although it pursued a more cooperative relationship with the International Criminal Court, even the administration of President Barack Obama maintained the scores of Article 98 agreements and refused to seek ratification of the Rome Statute.

Last December, the U.S. rejected the court’s claims of jurisdiction:

The United States rejects any assertion of ICC jurisdiction over nationals of states that are not parties to the Rome Statute, absent a U.N. Security Council referral or the consent of that state.

As an initial matter, and as we have consistently emphasized, the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute and has not consented to any assertion of ICC jurisdiction, nor has the Security Council taken action under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter to establish jurisdiction over U.S. personnel.

It is a fundamental principle of international law that a treaty is binding only on its parties and that it does not create obligations for non-parties without their consent.

The Rome Statute cannot be interpreted as disposing of rights of the United States as a non-party without U.S. consent.

The United States respects the decision of those nations that have chosen to join the ICC, and in turn, we expect that our decision not to join and not to place our citizens under the court’s jurisdiction will also be respected.

Since then, the U.S. has taken no further action. However, Bolton made it clear that, if the court formally proceeds with an investigation, the U.S. will take additional actions, including stronger protections for U.S. persons through bilateral agreements and working in the U.N. Security Council to “ensure that the ICC does not exercise jurisdiction over Americans and the nationals of our allies that have not ratified the Rome Statute.”

These actions are entirely appropriate, as discussed in a Heritage Foundation paper last November.

That paper urged the Trump administration to:

  • Reiterate that the U.S. will not ratify the Rome Statute and rejects International Criminal Court jurisdiction over U.S. persons.
  • Refuse to cooperate with the investigation.
  • Assert that U.S. investigations should preclude International Criminal Court investigations into allegations against U.S. persons.
  • Take action to prevent surrender of U.S. persons to the court.
  • End all cooperation with, or support for, the court if it proceeds to investigate and seek the arrest of U.S. persons.

The decision of the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor to seek a formal investigation into alleged crimes committed in Afghanistan since 2003 creates the sobering possibility that U.S. military personnel and government officials could be investigated and subjected to its arrest warrants.

It is appropriate and necessary for the Trump administration to take steps to place our military personnel, our government officials, and our national interests above the interests of an international court whose jurisdiction the U.S. has never acknowledged.


Portrait of Brett Schaefer

Brett D. Schaefer is the Jay Kingham fellow in International Regulatory Affairs at The Heritage Foundation. Schaefer analyzes a broad range of foreign policy issues, focusing primarily on international organizations and sub-Saharan Africa. Read his research.

Butthead Barry Is Back

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Jimmy Kimmel made a great joke when he said, referring to Barack Obama’s bad economy, “You can’t turn around four years in just eight years.”  Hmm … come to think of it, even though it had all the markings of late-night comedy, it actually was not Jimmy Kimmel who said this.

Nor was it Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, or Conan O’Brien.  Amazingly, this side-splitting whopper came from none other than Barack Obama (known more affectionately to his millions of enemies as Butthead Barry, or just “BB” for short) in a trademark, smart-aleck performance billed as his first midterm campaign rally at the University of Illinois.

And guess what?  He wasn’t even trying to be funny.  He actually meant what he said … or at least meant to hoodwink people into believing what he said.  You can’t turn around four years in eight years?  Really?  Then how in the world did someone figure out how to turn around eight years in less than two years?  Oh, that’s right, BB gave that deplorable clown a head start.

Contrary to what he famously said in the past, he now apparently believes that presidential elections do not have consequences, because even if someone wins two terms, he doesn’t have enough time to make things better.  After all, everyone realizes that eight years is simply not long enough to “turn things around.”  Insulting to the intelligence of voters, to be sure, but also quite humorous.

Though I only listened to a few minutes of BB’s bitter, whining gibberish, I did catch one other thing he said that I actually agreed with — that Donald Trump is not the cause but the symptom.  There’s no question that the anger of frustrated, fed-up Americans gave Trump the opportunity to get elected as a non-politician and take on the establishment.

And, of course, what makes Trump so hated is that he not only won against all odds, but has actually succeeded in turning things around in a major way.  The fact that an increasing number of African-Americans are jumping aboard the Trump Train is perhaps the cruelest blow of all to BB’s delicate ego.

So where does all this leave BB?  Frustrated and confused, that’s where.  After all, over a period of eight years he got comfortable with the idea that the media and the masses viewed him as a saint and a savior.  Oh … and also billed him as “the smartest guy in the room” even though all the evidence clearly pointed in the opposite direction (“all 57 states” comes quickly to mind).

It’s understandable, then, that BB is having trouble coming to grips with the reality that a majority of Americans no longer see him as either a saint or a savior, and, as with Horrible Hillary, would like him to just get off the stage.  Hidden away quietly in his D.C. mansion, his media minions have been able to boast of how presidential he is behaving, but as soon as he opens his snarky, hip-hop mouth, American voters are reminded of how badly he snookered them for eight long, painful years.

Today, millions of people who were so caught up in white guilt that they allowed themselves to be conned into believing that an unaccomplished community organizer with virtually no work experience was the answer to America’s ills now see him for what he really is — a ne’er-do-well Marxist subversive who is a master at one thing:  stirring up hatred among disparate groups via identity politics.  Hands down, he is the most successful people divider in White House history.

As BB travels the country to promote Democratic candidates, rest assured that he will continue to say ludicrous things (such as Republicans apparently like Nazis and the current economic boom actually started under him).  He will also continue to use the words I, me, and my so much that people won’t even remember the candidates for whom he is supposed to be campaigning.

Regardless of what you think of Donald Trump, it’s indisputable that it is his megaphone that has revealed BB for the fumbling, bumbling stealth Marxist fool that he is.  Had any of the other 17 Republican presidential candidates become the GOP’s nominee, you can be sure they would have filled the airwaves with apologetic, McCain-like platitudes for all things Democrat.

Thankfully, we no longer have to listen to John McCain’s drivel — you know, gems like “Barack Obama is fine gentleman” and calling it scandalous for anyone to make accusations against America’s (corrupt) intelligence community.

Unfortunately, however, while we lost a John McCain, we gained an equally unprincipled Mitt Romney, who assured us in his own failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination that BB “is a nice guy.”  I think it’s safe to say that mean-spirited Mitt will do everything in his power to cause trouble for President Trump once he arrives in Washington.

From the coming confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the EPA’s day-by-day emasculation to a 4.2 percent GDP, the Dirty Dems and FNM are beyond grief-stricken, which is why you can count on the Radical Left to ramp up its violence even as the Democratic Party continues to self-destruct.

For a long time, I have suspected that the real civil war would come after Trump is overwhelmingly reelected in 2020, but perhaps I’ve been too much of an optimist.  If the Dirty Dems fail to take back the House in November, they are likely to whip their surrogates into a death frenzy that could bring on the inevitable civil war much sooner than expected.

No matter how unlikely some folks may believe it is for the Republicans to hold onto their majority in the House, trust me when I tell you that BB is quite capable of repeating the same results he got for Horrible Hillary and many other Dirty Dem candidates for whom he campaigned the last time around.  When BB is running off at the mouth, anything is possible, so buckle up for a bumpy ride.

Robert RingerCopyright © 2018 Robert Ringer

ROBERT RINGER is a New York Times #1 bestselling author who has appeared on numerous national radio and television shows, including The Tonight Show, Today, The Dennis Miller Show, Good Morning America, ABC Nightline, The Charlie Rose Show, as well as Fox News and Fox Business. To sign up for a free subscription to his mind-expanding daily insights, visit www.robertringer.com.

What Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide Would Create


On World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10, we recognize suicide as the tragedy it is. Yet at this very moment, activists are agitating to expand—not to prevent—physician-assisted suicide.

This practice promotes the idea that some lives are more valuable than others, an idea that rips apart the social fabric of our nation.

No one should receive suicide assistance over suicide prevention.

Stories like Jeanette Hall’s remind us that the appropriate response to human suffering must always be loving care and solidarity, not destruction.
After losing her brother to suicide and receiving a cancer diagnosis in 2000, Hall approached her doctor, Dr. Kenneth Stevens, about a prescription for lethal barbiturates.

Instead of counseling her to die, Stevens reminded Hall of everything she had to live for, including her son’s upcoming graduation and—someday—his wedding.

“That’s what kept me back,” she said. “That one sentence.”

So, she decided to pursue chemotherapy instead. She was ultimately cured of cancer, and celebrated her 70th birthday in 2015.

“I was just going to say, ‘Give me the barbiturates; call it good,’ not even thinking that I would do [to] my own son the same thing that my brother did to me,” Hall said. “Suicide is awful. And here, knowing that, I was still going to do it.

“That would have been just heartbreaking for me,” said Hall’s son, Scott Walden.

Hall’s story reminds us that we all play a role in counseling and protecting the sick, the weak, and the elderly, whatever their background or circumstances.

Physician-assisted suicide is antithetical to a culture of life for a whole host of reasons.

For one, physician-assisted suicide sets up arbitrary guidelines about who receives suicide prevention and who receives suicide assistance.

Patients of a certain age or with a certain qualifying condition are told to end their lives with professional help, whereas others receive support in order to keep living. These circumstances are completely arbitrary and subject to change on a whim.

Ultimately, physician-assisted suicide guidelines communicate that some lives are simply more valuable than others. A mentality that privileges some lives over others infects culture on multiple levels.

Contrary to the prevalent myth that physician-assisted suicide is mainly an option for those in excruciating pain, studies suggest that the leading cause of physician-assisted suicide is not pain, but existential distress.

Ending one’s life does not solve loneliness, depression, or anxiety. It neglects the problem at the ultimate cost—that of the person.

Physician-assisted suicide also attacks the relationships that form the fabric of society.

When physician-assisted suicide is on the table, so too are less-than-pure motives to choose—or pressure someone to choose—death over life.

Family members may be increasingly tempted to think that suicide is what sick or elderly relatives “would have wanted” when facing down the emotional and financial toll of caring for others.

Patients might think themselves “better off dead” when accounting for the toll that additional medical care might take on their families.

Doctors might violate the Hippocratic Oath and their promise to never harm their patients when suicide is treated as a mercy.

Patients might withhold information from their doctors for fear they will be counseled to take their own lives.

Then there’s the uncomfortable fact that it is cheaper for health care systems and insurers to “do away with” patients who require additional, more expensive care.

So-called legal “safeguards” are gravely insufficient to protect against these negative social trends. Waiting periods, written requests, sign-offs from physicians—none of these requirements remove the pressure on patients to kill themselves or protect against other forms of abuse.

Physician-assisted suicide creates a culture where the weakest among us are the least able to protect themselves from pressure to end their lives.

That is why disabilities groups such as Not Dead Yet are at the forefront of the push against physician-assisted suicide, reminding us that no human life is ever worthless.

Physician-assisted suicide devalues human life in circumstances that require the most protection and empathy. Life is treated as disposable, which helps explain why many European countries that have legalized physician-assisted suicide now have expanded into non-voluntary euthanasia.

The U.S. is hardly safe from these dangerous trends. Thus far, six states have legalized physician-assisted suicide.

But there is still time to change course. America can still choose life over death.

This World Suicide Prevention Day, we must recommit ourselves to a unilateral defense of human life.



Portrait of Monica Burke

Monica Burke is a research assistant in the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation.

Reproduced with permission.

Here’s How Safe We Are 17 Years After 9/11


Seventeen years ago, 19 terrorists hijacked four planes and used them to attack the United States. Almost 3,000 people were murdered. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history.

Following that tragic day, the U.S. dramatically changed the way it approached terrorism. New government agencies and departments were created, like the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counterterrorism Center. Existing departments took on new or expanded responsibilities, such as the FBI’s National Security Branch.

Every American was made aware of the evil of Islamist terrorism and the harm its adherents wished upon the United States. The U.S. undertook new efforts to stop terrorism, from public security measures such as the Transportation Security Administration to intelligence programs such as those created by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Yet, as we moved to increase our security, terrorists were thinking up new ways to attack our way of life.

Since that dark day 17 years ago, the U.S. homeland has faced 104 Islamist terror plots or attacks. Initially, the main target was military facilities and uniformed personnel. But over time, the terrorists shifted their targets toward mass public gatherings.

Initially it was al-Qaeda that radicalized and recruited terrorists, but by 2014, terrorists were almost entirely inspired by the Islamic State. The most active period of terrorist activity was 2015-2016, but with the defeat of the so-called caliphate, the number of terror plots dramatically declined, from 17 plots and attacks in 2015 to only three so far in 2018.

In light of all these changes, I still get asked, “Is America safer today than in 2001?” I always answer in the affirmative: There is no question we are safer today. Our progress has been uneven, threats to America have waxed and waned, and the world overall has grown less stable. But the U.S. counterterrorism enterprise is leaps and bounds ahead of where it once was.

This system will not stop all terrorism—no system is or ever will be perfect—but it has stopped 87 out of 104 Islamist terror plots and made it much harder for terrorists to carry out large, complex attacks.

But even as terrorism appears to recede, we cannot rest on our laurels. There are still lessons to be learned, improvements to made, and efforts that must be redoubled.

We learned the hard way with al-Qaeda and ISIS that when given room, Islamist terrorism can spread across the world and ultimately attack us here at home.

And so the U.S. must continue to prevent terrorists from establishing safe havens abroad. We should improve our aviation security by looking to other countries and the private sector for lessons and greater efficiency. We must continue to stress the importance of lawful intelligence programs that help the U.S. stop terrorists before they strike.

Congress should reform its oversight of the Department of Homeland Security so that our security officials get clear guidance from Congress that lets them spend more time keeping America safe.

There are many things the U.S. can and should do to make the homeland safer. On this 17th anniversary of 9/11, we should remember the fallen—and through our policies, make sure such a horrific attack never happens again.


David Inserra specializes in cyber and homeland security policy, including protection of critical infrastructure, as policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. Read his research.

Laughing at the Evil of Communism


Dan Mitchell is adding to his collection of Socialism/Communism Humor.

I wrote a serious column a few days ago about Colin Kaepernick and his new Nike ad about protesting. Well, that’s become a meme, including this appearance by Joseph Stalin.

I guess he would argue that you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.

This next example is very simplistic, but it somehow got a chuckle from me.

This cartoon strip is clever. I’m assuming the kid is the same one from this classroom.

And here’s some biting sarcasm from Libertarian Reddit.

And here’s a reappearance of the real-communism-hasn’t-been-tried excuse.

Sticking with that theme, here’s another example. Funny how anything labeled communism always fails, but some sinister fools rationalize how it can work next time.

Next, we have a list of fantasy authors, though the President of the European Commission might disagree.

Last but not least, we have my favorite from today’s collection.

Yuri Gagarin was a hero for the Soviets and he probably was loyal to the regime, but I like this reinterpretation of his motives.

In any event, flying into space beats crawling under barbed wire.

P.S. While it’s cathartic to mock communism, let’s never forget that this statist ideology was truly horrible in practice.

What is Net Neutrality? (You always wanted to be clear.)


For months, it seemed nearly every media figure was in hysterics over the impending repeal of net neutrality. Then, net neutrality was repealed… and nothing much changed. So what exactly is net neutrality, and why do so many people have such strong opinions about something they don’t understand? Jon Gabriel, editor-in-chief of Ricochet.com cuts through the hysteria to bring you the facts.

Canning Meat (Super Easy Raw Pack) : Homesteading Family


This is an excellent primer on canning meat. The lady is a great teacher (although the very last instructions about removing the rings is confusing if you don’t know the jars don’t need them.) This meat will be very tender and good to use straight from the jar. Much better than frozen when you have an impromptu dinner to prepare!

As she says, you can can any type of meat. Which is good because not everyone has a husband you can send outside to shoot a deer when you want to make a video!

Leaving The Left, My #WalkAway Story


In May 2018, Brandon Straka was a New York City hairstylist and aspiring actor with a small social media following. Now, he’s a frequent Fox News contributor with nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, whose posts have been shared by Donald Trump Jr. and Sarah Palin.

His ascent to conservative-media darling began on May 26, when Straka posted a now-viral video describing why he fled the Democratic party.

“Once upon a time, I was a liberal,” Straka says in the six-minute video, looking directly toward the camera. “For years now, I have watched as the left has devolved into intolerant, inflexible, illogical, hateful, misguided, ill-informed, un-American, hypocritical, menacing, callous, ignorant, narrow-minded and, at times, blatantly fascistic behavior and rhetoric.”

The video above is a very thoughtful example of the movement. This man talks through his evolution from hippy Dem, to hard working conservative. (More here.)

Paul Joseph Watson doesn’t like Robert De Niro much!


Here’s a couple of video from the UK’s equivalent of Alex Jones. Like his former boss, PJW was censored on Twitter in its recent cull of high-profile conservative voices.

Here I have included his most recent video, which reports on the censorship from Twitter. And as cover, and to show you where he’s coming from, I have thrown in an attack on Robert De Niro.

And more importantly, Paul Joseph Watson made this video today about Censorship from the Big Tech companies.

So, You Think You’re Tolerant?


Are you tolerant? You probably think so. But who is tolerant in America today? Is it those on the left, or those on the right? In this video, Dave Rubin of The Rubin Report analyzes this question and shares his experience.

Click here to take a brief survey about this video.

Ebola outbreak found in new DRC city


Click here for a Free Download of our SRC Special Report containing vital information to protect you from all Biothreats.

Médecins Sans Frontières Summary

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declared their tenth outbreak of Ebola in 40 years on 1 August 2018. The outbreak is centred in the town of Mangina, in the northeastern North Kivu province. (MSF Report)

Latest figures – information as of 3 September 2018; figures provided by DRC Ministry of Health

91 Confirmed cases

14 Suspect cases

51 Confirmed deaths

Retrospective investigations point to a possible start of the outbreak back in May – around the same time as the Equateur outbreak earlier in the year. Although no connection between the two outbreaks can be established, it cannot ruled out either.

The delay in the alert and subsequent response can be attributed to several factors, including a breakdown of the surveillance system due to the security context (there are limitations on movement, and access is difficult) and a strike by the health workers of the area which began in May, due to non-payment of salaries.

The initial alert came after a woman from Mangina was admitted to the local health centre on 19 July for a heart condition. She was discharged but died at home on 25 July, after presenting symptoms of haemorrhagic fever. Members of her family subsequently developed the same symptoms and also died soon afterwards. A joint Ministry of Health/World Health Organization (WHO) investigation on site found six more suspect cases, of which four tested positive. This result led to the declaration of the outbreak.

The national laboratory (INRB) confirmed on 7 August that the current outbreak is of the Zaire Ebola virus, the most deadly strain and the same one that affected West Africa during the 2014-2016 outbreak. Zaire Ebola was also the virus found in the outbreak in Equateur province, in western DRC earlier in 2018, although a different strain than is affecting the current outbreak.

30 Jul 2018
MSF receives an alert about suspect cases of Ebola near Beni/Mangina, North Kivu.

Current situation

Four weeks after the declaration of the epidemic, the epidemiological situation in Mangina and the surrounding areas is still concerning; four health zones in North Kivu and Ituri provinces – Mandima, Mabalako, Beni and Oicha – have so far reported confirmed or probable cases of Ebola. Teams are still working on identifying all active chains of transmission. This is not simple given that some cases have occurred in highly insecure areas and cannot easily be followed up with the usual case investigation and contract tracing.

Since the beginning of the outbreak over 4,100 contacts have been identified and more than 2,300 are being followed up by the Congolese Ministry of Health. The contact tracing and follow-up is done by the MoH with a team of epidemiologists.

Whilst cases have decreased dramatically, we cannot yet say that the epidemic has stabilised or is under control. New cases are still arriving at our treatment centre in Mangina but we are not seeing the number of suspect cases we would expect to see at this stage of the epidemic. We are concerned that this could be because patients experiencing symptoms are too afraid to access care or do not understand the importance of early hospitalisation and treatment. We also don’t have a clear idea about how many unreported deaths have occurred at community level.

Figures correct as at 3 September 2018; figures provided by DRC Ministry of Health

Confirmed cases 91

Probable cases* 30

Confirmed deaths 51

Health staff infected 17

*Probable refers to community deaths that have links to confirmed Ebola cases but which were not tested before burial.


Mangina, a town of 40,000 people, is in Beni Territory, North Kivu province, northeastern DR Congo. Beni, the administrative centre of the territory, is about 30 kilometres away and is home to about 420,000 people. The area borders Uganda to the east; the North Kivu capital Goma, and the Rwandan border are further south. This area sees a lot of trade, but also traffic, including “illegal” crossings. Some communities live on both sides of the border meaning that it is quite common for people to cross the border to visit relatives or trade goods at the market on the other side. The region is densely populated, and the Ugandan border is a sensitive area and is crucial in terms of developments of the outbreak spreading in the region.

The territory is characterised by high levels of insecurity – it is considered an area of conflict, with over 100 armed groups estimated to be active in North Kivu. Kidnappings and carjacking are very common. It is an area of heavy ongoing military operations – the city of Beni is subject to military rule and military justice, and moving around some areas in the region is quite difficult and sometimes impossible.

Existing MSF presence in the area

MSF has had projects in North Kivu since 2006. Today, we have regular projects along the Goma-Beni axe as follows:

  • Lubero hospital: paediatric/nutrition care and treatment of sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Bambu-Kiribizi: Two teams support local emergency room and paediatric and malnutrition in-patient departments, plus care and treatment of sexual and gender-based violence.
  • Rutshuru hospital: MSF withdrew from the hospital at the end of 2017. However, in light of the volatile conditions in the region, we have returned to support emergency room, emergency surgery and paediatric nutrition programmes.
  • Goma: HIV programme supporting four medical centres (including access to antiretroviral treatment).

The response to the current outbreak

The DRC Ministry of Health (MoH) is leading the outbreak response, with support from WHO. The MoH team sent to coordinate the response in Beni was dispatched from Kinshasa and is the same team that coordinated the response in Equateur province. The WHO emergency pool was mobilised in the area upon the declaration of the outbreak.

Epidemiological surveillance is being set up both in North Kivu and Ituri provinces and a laboratory for testing is fully operational in Beni (previously every sample was sent to Kinshasa). Other partners are involved in water and sanitation, health promotion and community outreach activities.

On 7 August the Ministry of Health announced they will start vaccination of their health workers on the following day.

MSF response

At the MoH’s request, MSF is part of the task force coordinating the intervention. Our teams are focusing on caring for patients affected by the virus, as well as protecting local health structures (and their workers) by helping with triage, decontamination and training.

In total, 337 staff are currently working in MSF’s Ebola projects in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

MSF’s first task was to improve an isolation unit for suspect and confirmed cases in the Mangina health centre, the epicentre of the outbreak, where patients were isolated and cared for whilst a treatment centre was built. A treatment centre was subsequently opened on 14 August, with a capacity of 68 beds which can bed extended to 74 beds if required.

Teams have been progressively increasing the level of supportive care (oral and intravenous hydration, treatment for malaria and other co-infections, as well as treatment of the symptoms of Ebola), and have also been able to offer new therapeutic treatments to patients with confirmed Ebola infection under the MEURI protocol [1]. These treatments are given only with the informed consent of the patient (or a family member if they are too young or too sick to consent) and are provided in addition to supportive care.

As of 3 September, MSF had treated 65 patients confirmed to have Ebola and admitted a total of 124 patients for testing for the virus in Mangina. Of the patients confirmed Ebola-positive in Mangina Ebola Treatment Centre, 29 had recovered and returned to their families; three confirmed patients and two suspect patients remained under treatment.

Another isolation centre was built by MSF in Beni and handed over to the Ministry of Health, who assigned it to another NGO; it is now a treatment centre.

MSF teams also built a 7-bed transit centre in Makeke (on the North Kivu-Ituri border), which was opened on 28 August. The centre allows suspect patients to be isolated and tested for the virus. If they test positive, they are transferred by road to one of the treatment centres in either Mangina or Beni. It is hoped the transit centre will help overcome resistance to the Ebola response in the community.

Health centres in Mangina and Beni that have seen positive cases are also being decontaminated. MSF teams are working in the Beni and Mangina areas, as well as in Ituri between Mambasa and Makeke (on the border with North Kivu), visiting health centres and training staff on the proper triage of suspected Ebola patients. Our teams are also training staff on setting up isolation areas in case of need.

MSF has recently received authorisation to begin vaccinating frontline workers (health staff, religious leaders, burial workers, etc) from Makeke on the North Kivu-Ituri border up to Biakato. Given that the population from Mangina often move in this direction, it is hoped that vaccination will help to stop the infection spreading further into Ituri province.

Our teams in Uganda have also been mobilised to be ready in case the outbreak spills over from across the border. They have installed an isolation tent in Bwera, a small town directly over the border from Beni and Butembo. MSF’s non-emergency project in Hoima (Uganda) has also set up an isolation tent.

All MSF projects in North Kivu and Ituri areas have been supplied with Ebola equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE), and have put proper hygiene and infection control protocols in place to safeguard staff and patients from the risk of contamination, should the epidemic spread further.

[1] MEURI is a mechanism set up following the West African Ebola epidemic to allow drugs not yet registered, but showing promising results in early stage trials, to be offered to patients during outbreaks of diseases with high mortality rates like Ebola. As such, conclusions about the efficacy of any of these drugs cannot be determined by the survival rates of those who receive them. Further trials will be needed before the can be officially registered.

Easy Win for GOP: Kill the UN’s Backdoor Gun Grab

Photo: Randall Goya/Flickr (cc by-sa 2.0)

It comes as no surprise that Congress’ $1.3 trillion dollar omnibus budget package is rubbing raw the already thin patience of the Republican base. Rather than draining the swamp, which includes seizing this historic moment of Republican control of both Congress and the White House to dramatically cut government spending, Congress instead (with the support of the White House) is spending as recklessly as when Democrats were in charge. Couple this with scant legislative victories outside of President Donald Trump’s tax cuts, especially in regards to expanding gun rights, Republicans are doing little – literally – to motivate voters to show up in November, and keep them in power.

That is why killing the United Nation’s Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is precisely the low-hanging fruit Republicans need to score a quick and much needed victory with conservatives. And, just as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell prefers it, doing so would require virtually no effort on his part.

In September 2013, the Obama administration signed the UN-ATT, an international agreement that regulates the sale, transfer and export of conventional weapons, including “small arms and light weapons”; essentially every civilian firearm on the market. And, just as gun control activists in the United States claim their “common sense” demands are aimed at reducing “human suffering” attributed to firearms, the U.N. purports the ATT to be necessary for combatting the international trade of illicit firearms. Nevertheless, as we all know to be true, these claims are nothing more than emotionally-driven and thinly-veiled attempts to undermine gun rights; both here in the United States, and abroad in member countries.

Though the treaty was officially signed by then-Secretary of State John Kerry more than four years ago, it has languished in the Senate without ratification. Even still, the treaty poses a real danger to gun rights. As a signatory, the United States is obligated not to act “contrary to” the ATT’s terms – even if those actions conflict with the interests and constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. This obligation exists, and continues to exist, regardless of whether the Senate ever gets around to ratifying it.

Of course, that may change if Democrats regain control of the Senate, and the White House. Their reticence on the treaty’s presence is by no means indication they have forgotten about this crucial power play to limit gun rights; especially in today’s domestic political climate in which even some Republicans are now caving to pressure from gun control activists. They are simply biding their time. Additionally, the very existence of the signed ATT is an excuse and policy vehicle for career bureaucrats, like those at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, to use their regulatory authority to weaken gun rights under the guise of ATT compulsion.

There is historical precedence for Trump to “un-sign” the treaty; in 2002, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton sent a letter to the U.N. formally rescinding America’s involvement with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which had been signed by President Clinton two years before but never ratified by the Senate. However, officially removing U.S. support for the ATT would be more significant (and less controversial) were it to come from the Senate. And, all it would take is a document McConnell would transmit to the Senate. Easy as pie.

Yet, in spite of the modest effort it would take in defeating the ATT once and for all, doing so would be a huge shot across the bow of gun-grabbers in the U.S. and in the United Nations community that despite the anti-gun chatter of the last few weeks, the United States will not be party to international schemes to rid citizens of their God-given right to self-defense. Moreover, it would be a meaningful and much needed sign to conservatives that Republicans in Congress have not completely abandoned them, even as other promises such as the Hearing Protection Act and national reciprocity for concealed carry are still noticeably unfulfilled.

The recent special elections Republicans have lost in Alabama and Pennsylvania are about more than just bad candidates; they are a sign that Democrats are foaming at the mouth to get back into power, and are incredibly motivated at the ballot box to do so. So far, Republicans in Congress have done almost nothing to motivate conservatives to respond in kind. Killing the ATT would be at least some red meat to throw down to voters, while finally taking the ATT out of limbo and eliminating a vulnerability to gun rights that should have been handled months ago. If McConnell has any inkling of leadership left in him, the ATT will be slated for destruction by the month’s end.

Bob Barr is president and CEO of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation (LEEF) and a member of the NRA Board of Directors. From 1995-2003, he represented Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Should Trump call China’s bluff?


Is North Korea independent? Or is it a satellite of China? During the Korean War, when U.S. forces pushed toward the Sino-Korean border in the summer of 1950, China immediately intervened, pushing the U.S. back to the 38th parallel. From 1951 to 1953, the war was a stalemate.

Since then, although the war never technically ended, North and South Korea have stood at opposite ends of an ideological struggle, the Cold War, which ended in the last century. Now the demilitarized zone stands as a monument to those past conflicts.  In the time since then, North Korea has vigorously pursued nuclear weapons in a bid to claim dominance on the peninsula and to permanently stand up its regime as a world power.

How much has China invested in that nuclear endeavor? How does it play into Beijing’s economic plans to dominate global trade? Is North Korea China’s nuclear deterrent against trade sanctions?

We may be about to find out, as President Donald Trump simultaneously pursues his June 12 agreement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and considers up to $200 billion of tariffs against China as it has dramatically expanded its global market share of manufacturing.

If North Korea is indeed a satellite of China’s, then Beijing would actually be the proper pressure point to achieve denuclearization — by fighting the trade war.

We might not say it. China’s trade subsidies on currency and other state-run enterprises plus dumping steel on global markets all on their own render it worthy of the tariffs.

Sanctions on North Korea, although necessary in their own right until verified denuclearization is pursued and achieved, do not necessarily hurt the persons making the actual decisions to pursue nuclear weapons, if Kim is merely doing Beijing’s bidding.

It may also be the case that in order to persuade China — and Russia, for that matter — to cooperate in administering sanctions against Pyongyang requires consequences for non-cooperation. President Trump recently had to call off further talks with Kim by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo amid signals of non-cooperation from all three.

China and Russia have reportedly helped North Korea to get around the sanctions, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has reported North Korea is still developing its weapons. In addition, North Korea’s top diplomat, Kim Yong Chol, sent a letter to Pompeo expressing displeasure because the U.S. had not signed a peace treaty to formally end the war. These headwinds are rather par for the course, and to be expected as the U.S. attempts to achieve its policy.

Whether China is personally building the nuclear weapons for North Korea, the sanctions cannot and will not be fully effective without their cooperation. Therefore, the $200 billion of tariffs should absolutely be the table. U.S. economic policy preferences among investors do not trump U.S. national security interests. Trade sanctions with China should be cast in the lens of economic policy, but they may also be necessary to persuade China that cooperation in denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, and working toward a trade accord with the U.S., is preferable to fighting a trade war with Trump that it cannot win.

China has far more to lose in a trade confrontation with the U.S. In 2017, it shipped $505 billion of goods to the U.S., compared with $130 billion of U.S. exports to China, according to U.S. Census data. As a result, the goods trade deficit with China hit an all-time high of $375 billion in 2017.

President Trump should begin illustrating this while simultaneously leveraging the possibility of hundreds of billions of dollars of tariffs — perhaps we should make $400 billion? — to bring China to the table. Beijing has no right to trade goods to the U.S. The U.S. government allows it but it is by no means a necessity. So, levy the tariffs. No ultimatum. Just do it. They will hit Beijing where it hurts — in their pocket books.

And then see how North Korea reacts. If they start firing missiles again, it proves that they are China’s puppet. If they move quicker towards denuclearization, it could mean that, too, or it could mean China committed to the sanctions more vigorously. If they do nothing, perhaps that might be an indication that Kim is his own man — or simply be a ploy — and then talks can be resumed on a bilateral basis.

Again, China richly deserves the tariffs that Trump is considering levying after years of trade cheating. They should be enacted in their own right, but it is time that U.S. policy makers observe the real connective tissue between the trade issues with China and its North Korean nuclear deterrent.

The President has to consider the very real possibility that North Korea represents nuclear blackmail in China’s bid for global dominance in trade — and act accordingly. It may be that there can be no peace on the Korean peninsula if China truly rules north of the 38th parallel. It’s time to call China’s bluff.

Robert Romano is the Vice President of Public Policy at Americans for Limited Government. Reproduced with permission. Original can be viewed here

Survival lessons learned: “Water is more important than an AR-15”


I was reading an amazing survival story on reddit.com last week. I strongly advise anyone to go and read it and all the associated comments and posts that go with it. It really set me thinking.

The story goes like this. A brother and sister fell on hard times and had only her disability payments to live on. They had only ever held retail-type positions before so there were no savings and quite a few health issues. They became homeless “in a large city in the northern midwest of the US“. In winter – when the temperature fell to -10F degrees. There was no section housing available and no one would rent to them.

So, they bought (sight unseen) a tiny plot of land in the Ozarks, packed everything they owned in plastic totes which they threw in the back of their soon-to-expire truck, and headed deep into the woods. The plot was $120 down and $300 a month. They took four totes of dried food and all their firearms. When they arrived at their plot they were pleased to see a shack on it. It had housed a meth den. It was moldy and had been devastated by wildlife. But it became home.


They set to, making it kind of habitable though the horribly cold first winter. They used the plastic totes to collect rainwater, lining them up along the drip line of the roof. That and a Sawyer Mini (and eventually a Big Berkey) water filter kept them in drinking water. It was slow and laborious. The guy made a great comment “What use is an AR-15 if you don’t have water?” In the end he sold most of his weapons for pennies on the dollar for items that were more use.

In fact the things he leaned from this period of his life made me sit up and rethink a few priorities for my own SHTF planning.

  1. The most important aspect of survival was other people. In his case the local Ozark “hillbillies” as he calls them, became his friends. They all helped each other out whenever they could. The hillbillies taught him about catching a cooking wild life. They would leave him logs. They gifted him a wood stove. He would get them deals when he visited town. Not quite a quid pro quo  but a thoughtful exchange of items for people who needed help.
  2. He sold most his guns. It wasn’t Zombie Apocalypse – just a couple of people down on their luck. He kept just two firearms in the end, one for hunting and one for self-defense.
  3. Water was the key thing they had overlooked. He needed more than was available and he had to work very hard to get enough for all purposes.
  4. Boredom is the enemy. He managed to make a video player work of his car battery and they watched old movies during the winter to keep sane.

5 Takeaways From Day 2 of Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing


Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing continued Wednesday, with senators posing questions to the nominee.

Obstruction and absurdity were hallmarks of the first day—with Democrats demanding a delay, more than 60 protesters being arrested, conspiracy theories that a White House staffer and former law clerk sitting behind Kavanaugh was flashing a “white power” sign, and the left attacking liberal Supreme Court litigator Lisa Blatt for introducing Kavanaugh.

By comparison, Day Two was relatively calm. Here are some of the highlights.

  1. The Ginsburg Standard and the Precedent of Judicial Nominees

As questions for Kavanaugh got underway, Democrats started pressing for his views on issues that could come before him in the future on the Supreme Court.

Kavanaugh declined to provide those views, explaining that he had to be an “independent nominee” as well as an “independent judge.” To that end, he looked to what he called “nominee precedent.” That is, he had examined previous Supreme Court confirmation hearings to consider how nominees had approached requests of this kind in the past.

He found a consistent pattern of declining to give what Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg described in her 1993 hearing as offering “no forecasts, no hints … no previews.” Nominees have taken that position since Felix Frankfurter, nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, appeared before the Judiciary Committee in 1939.

In fact, during his confirmation hearing in 1986, Justice Antonin Scalia refusedto say whether Marbury v. Madisonwhich established the concept of “judicial review”was right or wrong.

In addition to this “nominee precedent,” Kavanaugh explained that the hearing itself is “a moment of judicial independence,” in which he had to preserve his own independence as both a sitting appeals court judge and, possibly, a future Supreme Court Justice.

  1. Roe v. Wade and ‘Stare Decisis’

Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked Kavanaugh about his view on a woman’s “right to control her reproductive life.”

Kavanaugh responded, “I don’t live in a bubble. I live in the real world … I understand the importance of the precedent set forth in Roe v. Wade.”

Feinstein pressed Kavanaugh to explain his recent statements that the Roe v. Wade decision is “settled.” Roe v. Wade, Kavanaugh said, is “settled as a precedent of the Supreme Court and entitled to respect under the principles of stare decisis.”

Kavanaugh is one of a group of U.S. Court of Appeals judges who co-authored a legal treatise titled “The Law of Judicial Precedent.” He explained some of the “principles of stare decisis” that the Supreme Court considers when evaluating its own past decisions: the age of the decision, how much people have come to rely on it, and whether it has been reaffirmed over the years, among others.

Kavanaugh’s answer echoes the language of previous Supreme Court nominees. In 2009, for example, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was asked about the Supreme Court’s 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London. She said that, as a Supreme Court justice, she would give Kelo “the deference that the doctrine of stare decisis would suggest.”

When asked about Griswold v. Connecticut (a precursor to Roe v. Wade), she said the decision “is settled law” because it “is a precedent of the [Supreme] Court.” Later in the hearing, Sotomayor said all “precedent of the [Supreme] Court is entitled to the respect of the doctrine of stare decisis.”

  1. ‘No One Is Above the Law’

Several senators asked Kavanaugh about his views of executive power and limits on the president. Kavanaugh declared, “No one is above the law in our constitutional system.”

Feinstein brought up the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Nixon (1974), mandating President Richard Nixon to turn over potentially incriminating tapes related to the Watergate scandal, and asked whether this means a sitting president could be required to respond to a subpoena.

Kavanaugh called the Nixon case one of the “four greatest moments in Supreme Court history” because the justices stood up for judicial independence “in a moment of crisis.”

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., asked about the president’s ability to fire a special prosecutor, but Kavanaugh declined to answer Feinstein’s and Coons’ questions about hypothetical cases that could come before him.

Kavanaugh had previously written in a 2009 law review article that Congress should consider enacting a law that would protect a sitting president from criminal investigation, indictment, or prosecution while in office.

He explained, “The indictment and trial of a sitting president … would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas. Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.”

  1. An Advocate for Women

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, gave Kavanaugh an opportunity to discuss something he’s particularly proud of: his efforts to advance women in the law.

Since joining the bench in 2007, Kavanaugh has had 48 law clerks—25 of whom are women. He recalled reading a Yale Law Review article discussing the disparity between male and female law students being called on in class, which then led to a disparity in the selection of research assistants, and in turn, that led to a disparity between male and female law clerks.

“There’s a pipeline problem,” he remarked, “[so] I hire the best and the best includes women.” A clerkship could help launch the “next generation of leaders.” He concluded: “I’m very focused on making sure women are getting the same opportunities as men.” Indeed, his female law clerks have gone on to become law professors, prosecutors, and  attorneys at top law firms and in government.

Hatch also asked Kavanaugh about his relationship with former 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, who resigned amid allegations that he sexually harassed several female law clerks. Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski in 1991-1992 and worked with him over the years on projects such as co-authoring the legal treatise “The Law of Judicial Precedent” and helping Justice Anthony Kennedy select his law clerks.

Kavanaugh acknowledged that they did not see each other often (he lives in Washington and Kozinski lives in Pasadena, California), but hearing the allegations was “a gut punch.” Kavanaugh continued, “I was shocked and disappointed, angry … No women should be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.”

He applauded Chief Justice John Roberts for convening a committee of judges to come up with a better system of addressing these issues within the federal judiciary.

  1. Schumer’s Antics Over on the Senate Floor

Meanwhile, on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., tried to employ a different tactic to obstruct the hearing.

The Senate has an unusual scheduling rule that creates an opportunity to disrupt committee proceedings. Senate Rule 26 requires that the full Senate must give permission for individual committees to meet after the Senate has been in session for two hours or past 2 p.m. While consent is routinely given, a single senator refusing to cooperate can force committees to stop meeting.

Today, the Senate came into session at noon and, shortly before the 2 p.m. deadline, Schumer objected to the Judiciary Committee continuing its hearing on the Kavanaugh nomination. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ensured that the hearing could continue by adjourning the Senate instead.

Day Three will include more rounds of questions from the senators. Later this week, outside witnesses such as representatives from the American Bar Association, former law clerks, law professors, and many others will testify before the committee—making the case for or against Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Despite the rocky start on Day One, Day Two of Kavanaugh’s hearing was mostly like any other Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Voluntary Quit Rates Confirm that Federal Bureaucrats Are Overpaid


President Trump has proposed a one-year pay freeze for federal bureaucrats, which has reinvigorated the debate over whether compensation levels for the civil service are too lavish.

The Washington Post opines this is nothing but “government bashing,” but this chartfrom my former colleague Chris Edwards should be more than enough evidence to show that federal bureaucrats have a big advantage over workers in the economy’s productive sector.

And there is plenty of additional evidence that federal employment is very attractive. For instance, it’s just about impossible to get fired from a bureaucracy.

Though defenders of the civil service sometimes make the preposterous claim that nobody gets fired because bureaucrats are such good employees.

The low rate at which federal employees are fired for poor performance doesn’t prove the government accepts it but instead “could actually be a positive sign,”… A report from the Merit Systems Protection Board in effect responds to members of Congress and others who contend that federal managers don’t care, or don’t dare, to take disciplinary action because of civil service protections. “…If the agency is successful in preventing poor performance…, a small number of performance-based removals could actually be a positive sign,” MSPB said. …Of the 2.1 million federal employees in a government database…, about 10,000 are fired for either poor performance or misconduct each year. …That low rate of firing has been cited in proposals to force agencies to take action… Individual employees, too, commonly express dissatisfaction with how agencies handle poor performers among their co-workers.

I have to confess that my jaw dropped when I read this article. Maybe we should ask veterans whether they think all federal bureaucrats do a good job?

Or we can ask non-profit groups whether they think IRS bureaucrats are top-quality workers? Or ask anyone who has ever tried to navigate the federal government?

We also know that the counties where most federal bureaucrats reside are now the richest region of the entire nation.

The three richest counties in the United States with populations of 65,000 or more, when measured by their 2016 median household incomes,
were all suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to data released today by the Census Bureau. Eight of the 20 wealthiest counties with populations of 65,000 or more were also suburbs of Washington, D.C.–as were 10 of the top 25. …With Falls Church City included in the 2015 data, the nation’s four wealthiest counties were D.C. suburbs.

To be fair, this data is also driven by all the high-paid lobbyists. contracts, consultants, and others who have their snouts buried in the federal trough. So the incredible wealth of the DC region is really an argument for shrinking the size and scope of the federal government.

But the bureaucracy is part of the problem.

Interestingly, even the Congressional Budget Office concluded that bureaucrats are overpaid. And CBO almost certainly understated the gap, as noted in congressional testimony.

The CBO report’s headline figure is that, on average, federal salaries and benefits are 17 percent above private-sector levels. … I would consider the CBO’s reported federal compensation premium to be on the low end… when I analyze federal employee wages using the methodology
that the progressive-leaning Economic Policy Institute has used in numerous studies of state and local government salaries, I find an average federal salary premium of not 2 percent but of about 14 percent. … The CBO chose to value federal employees’ pension benefits using a 5 percent discount rate. Using that discount rate, the federal employee retirement package was found to be substantially more generous than is received by comparable private-sector employees. But…corporate pensions are not nearly as safe as federal pensions, as witnessed by pending benefit reductions for “multiemployer” defined benefit plans. Valuing federal pension benefits using a lower discount rate to better reflect their safety would find a higher overall federal compensation premium.

Notwithstanding all this evidence, the unions representing bureaucrats nonetheless try to crank out numbers showing federal employees are underpaid.

To be sure, overall compensation levels don’t tell us everything. It is important to adjust for education, skills, and other factors.

Which is why the most useful, powerful, and revealing data in this debate is produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which measures voluntary quit rates by industry. If there is a lot of turnover in a sector of the economy, that suggests workers are underpaid. But if there are very few voluntary departures, that suggests workers in that part of the economy are overpaid.

And the numbers from BLS clearly show that federal bureaucrats are far less likely to leave their positions when compared to employees in the private sector.

This five-fold gap is staggering. I have lots of friends who work for the federal government. Most privately confess that they know that are making out like bandits. I think I’ll send this chart to the few holdouts.

By the way, I shared the numbers about quit rates for state and local bureaucrats back in 2011. Same story, though the compensation gap isn’t quite as large and may be driven mostly by unfunded fringe benefits.

P.S. I’m much more interested in shrinking government rather than shrinking pay levels. The correct pay for bureaucrats at the Departments of TransportationHousing and Urban DevelopmentEducationEnergy, and Agriculture is zero. Why? Because they bureaucracies shouldn’t exist.

by Dan Mitchell

TOTAL RECALL: Full Body Scanners Coming to a Subway Near You


By Former Congressman Bob Barr:

Nearly 30 years ago, a young Arnold Schwarzenegger, appearing in a sci-fi movie, Total Recall, walked through an entryway monitored in real-time by thuggish officials, as his skeletal form displayed a firearm hidden under his jacket.

This 1990 theatrical episode is now coming to real-life — and the privacy implications are far from fictional.

Earlier this month, to much fanfare, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority announced the roll-out of a plan to begin deploying full-body scanners in the city’s subway system. Participating in the roll-out was no less a luminary than the head of the federal Transportation Security Administration (TSA), David Penkoske.

The TSA has long advocated for the use of scanners, not only at commercial airports, but at other travel hubs as well; and its presence at the Los Angeles unveiling as a partner in the project was no surprise. Also of no real surprise, at least to those familiar with the world of privacy-invasive security systems, was the announcement that the technology for the subway scanners was being provided by the British company Thruvision.

As has become the norm whenever the government hits the public with a new form of scan-based security, there were promises that the devices carry no risks to the individuals being scanned. Assurance also were made that the systems will not be overly intrusive. In some respects, such assurances come with a degree of truth. For example, because the devices to be installed rely on scanning waves emitted by the human body (as opposed to radiation emitted by the scanners currently in use at airports), they likely will not carry any risk to those passing through their field of scan. Also, at least as currently planned, the devices will not be deployed at chokepoints through which each subway passenger must pass, so lines probably would not be among the initial drawbacks.

However, anyone who follows the progression of government surveillance systems knows that the vector always travels in one direction – upward to more surveillance, not less. And, since the wavelength scanners unveiled in L.A. currently are capable only of revealing objects on the body of the person passing through the scan field, they would appear unable to pick up a mass hidden not on the individual’s body but in a briefcase or backpack. It only makes sense, then, that the technology will be rapidly enhanced in order to detect other potentially lethal objects being carried by, and not on, individual persons.

Alex Wiggins heads the Los Angeles transit authority, and in his remarks at the August 14th demonstration, he made a not-very-credible stab at assuring the public that once the scanning system was in place, the government surveillors would have no interest if they detected a weapon incapable of inflicting “mass casualties.” He explained that the scanners were “specifically” for the purpose of detecting such things as “explosive vests [and]. . . assault rifles.” Los Angeles is a city that clearly is no friend to persons who carry concealed weapons, and for an official to state that if law enforcement detects a person carrying a handgun onto a subway they will take no action in response, borders on laughable.

Although the city officials touted that being scanned before boarding a subway will be “voluntary,” the price for declining would be that you would not be able to board the train for which you had already paid the fare. As well, you almost certainly would be flagged immediately as a suspicious person because you declined to be scanned. Moreover, assurance that the scanning would be “voluntary” flies in the face of added remarks by the Los Angeles officials, one of who said “most people won’t even know they’re being scanned,” thereby rendering it immaterial whether you “volunteer” since you would not even know enough to make the choice.

During the news conference at the Los Angeles unveiling, there did not appear to have been any interest expressed by the media about who actually will own the information gathered by these and future scanning devices. Had there been such a question, it might have made the government officials as well as Thruvision a mite uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, however, it is likely that most people using ground-based mass transit — whether a subway in Los Angeles or a Greyhound bus in Manhattan — will accept such privacy-invasive scanning as will be deployed very shortly in major cities across the country. As one 22-year old student interviewed in Los Angeles opined, “it makes me feel safe.” And, in the post-911 world, “feeling safe” apparently is worth just about any price.

Bob Barr is president and CEO of the Law Enforcement Education Foundation (LEEF) and a member of the NRA Board of Directors. From 1995-2003, he represented Georgia’s Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

8 Stubborn Facts about Gun Violence in America


In the wake of any mass shooting there’s a lot of noise from all sides; all searching for solutions to prevent future mass shootings.

emotions morph from grief to anger to resolve, it is vitally important to supply facts so that policymakers and professionals can fashion solutions based on objective data rather than well-intended but misguided emotional fixes.

Are there ways to reduce gun violence and mass and school shootings? Yes, but only after objectively assessing the facts and working collaboratively to fashion commonsense solutions.

Here are eight stubborn facts to keep in mind about gun violence in America:

  1. Violent crime is down and has been on the decline for decades.
  2. The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings.
  3. A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.
  4. Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people.
  5. Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.
  6. There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.
  7. Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.
  8. Concealed carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.

Each of these facts is firmly based on empirical data. Here’s a deeper look.

1. America is relatively safe, and the trend is toward becoming safer.

  • According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, violent crime has been declining steadily since the early 1990s.
  • The 2011 homicide rate was almost half of the rate in 1991, and according to the Pew Research Center, the 2013 gun-related death rate was half of the rate in 1993.
  • The number of nonfatal firearm crimes committed in 2011 was one-sixth the number committed in 1993.
  • In the past few years, there have been minor increases in certain types of violent crimes, mainly in large metropolitan areas. However, these increases are nowhere near those seen in the 1990s and are largely related to gang activity.
  • It should be remembered that it takes at least three to five years of data to show true trend lines. It appears that the collective homicide toll for America’s 50 largest cities decreased modestly in 2017 after two consecutive years of increases.

2. The principal public safety concerns are suicides and illegally owned handguns.

  • According to the Pew Research Center, almost two-thirds of America’s annual gun deaths are suicides. Since 1981, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began publishing data, gun suicides have outnumbered gun homicides. In 2010 alone, 19,392 Americans used guns to kill themselves.
  • Most gun-related crimes are carried out with illegally owned firearms—as much as 80 percent according to some estimates.
  • The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports prove that the overwhelming majority of gun-related homicides are perpetrated with handguns, with rifles of any kind accounting for less than 3 percent of gun-related homicides. In 2013, 5,782 murders were committed by killers who used a handgun, compared to 285 committed by killers who used a rifle. The same holds true for 2012 (6,404 to 298); 2011 (6,251 to 332); 2010 (6,115 to 367); and 2009 (6,501 to 351).
  • More people are stabbed to death every year than are murdered with rifles.
  • A person is more likely to be bludgeoned to death with a blunt object or beaten to death with hands and feet than to be murdered with a rifle.

3. A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.

  • Where do you live? Murders in the United States are very concentrated. According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, over 50 percent of murders occur in 2 percent of the nation’s 3,142 counties. Moreover, gun-related homicides are heavily concentrated in certain neighborhoods within those counties: 54 percent of U.S. counties had zero murders in 2014.
  • Who is your partner? According to a recent scholarly article in the Hastings Law Journal, people recently or currently involved in an abusive intimate relationship are much more likely to be victims of gun-related homicide than is the rest of the population, especially if the abuser possesses firearms.
  • Are you in a gang? According to the Department of Justice’s National Gang Center, particularly in urban areas, significant percentages of gun-related homicides (15 percent to 33 percent) are linked with gang and drug activity. Gang-related homicides are more likely to involve firearms than non-gang-related homicides are.
  • Are you a male between 15 and 34? The majority of standard gun murder victims are men between the ages of 15 and 34. Although black men make up roughly 7 percent of the population, they account for almost two-thirds of gun murder victims every year.
  • Women and children are more likely to be the victims of mass shootings and homicide-suicide shootings than they are to be the victims of a “typical” gun-related homicide.

4. The perpetration of gun-related murders is often carried out by predictable people.

5. Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.

  • Switzerland and Israel have much higher gun ownership rates than the United States but experience far fewer homicides and have much lower violent crime rates than many European nations with strict gun control laws.
    • While some will argue that the guns carried by Swiss and Israeli citizens are technically “owned” by the government in most cases, this does little to negate the fact that many citizens in those countries have ready access to firearms.
  • Canada is ranked 12th in the world for the number of civilian-owned guns per capita and reports one of the world’s lower homicide rates—but even then, some provinces have higher homicide rates than U.S. states with less restrictive laws and higher rates of gun ownership have.
  • Although many gun control advocates have noted that “right to carry” states tend to experience slight increases in violent crime, other studies have noted the opposite effect.
  • Higher rates of concealed carry permit holders are even more strongly associated with reduction in violent crime than are right-to-carry states. The probable reason for this is that right-to-carry studies often include “open carry” states, which have not been shown to correlate with more people actually carrying or even owning firearms. Rates of concealed carry permit holders are better indicators of the number of people who actually possess and carry firearms within a given population.
  • Further, as with most correlations, there are many other factors that can account for increases in concealed carry permits—including the fact that people who live in already dangerous neighborhoods seek out means of self-defense. The Huffington Post noted that the rate of concealed carry permit requests in Chicago has soared in recent years after the city loosened restrictions, in large part, according to the Chicago Tribune, because law-abiding residents are increasingly worried about rising rates of violent crime in the city.
  • The rate of gun ownership is higher among whites than it is among African-Americans, but the murder rate among African-Americans is significantly higher than the rate among whites.
  • Similarly, the rate of gun ownership is higher in rural areas than in urban areas, but urban areas experience higher murder rates.

6. There is no clear relationship between strict gun control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.

  • The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence ironically makes this clear with its ratings for states based on gun laws. “Gun freedom” states that score poorly, like New Hampshire, Vermont, Idaho, and Oregon, have some of the lowest homicide rates. Conversely, “gun control-loving” states that received high scores, like Maryland and Illinois, experience some of the nation’s highest homicide rates.
  • The Crime Prevention Research Center notes that, if anything, the data indicate that countries with high rates of gun ownership tend to have lower homicide rates—but this is only a correlation, and many factors do not necessarily support a conclusion that high rates of gun ownership cause the low rates of homicide.
  • Homicide and firearm homicide rates in Great Britain spiked in the yearsimmediately following the imposition of severe gun control measures, despite the fact that most developed countries continued to experience a downward trend in these rates. This is also pointed out by noted criminologist John Lott in his book “The War on Guns.”
  • Similarly, Ireland’s homicide rates spiked in the years immediately following the country’s 1972 gun confiscation legislation.
  • Australia’s National Firearms Act appears to have had little effect on suicide and homicide rates, which were falling before the law was enacted and continued to decline at a statistically unremarkable rate compared to worldwide trends.
  • According to research compiled by Lott and highlighted in his book “The War on Guns,” Australia’s armed and unarmed robbery rates both increased markedly in the five years immediately following the National Firearms Act, despite the general downward trend experienced by other developed countries.
  • Great Britain has some of the strictest gun control laws in the developed world, but the violent crime rate for homicide, rape, burglary, and aggravated assault is much higher than that in the U.S. Further, approximately 60 percent of burglaries in Great Britain occur while residents are home, compared to just 13 percent in the U.S., and British burglars admit to targeting occupied residences because they are more likely to find wallets and purses.
  • It is difficult to compare homicide and firearm-related murder rates across international borders because countries use different methods to determine which deaths “count” for purposes of violent crime. For example, since 1967, Great Britain has excluded from its homicide countsany case that does not result in a conviction, that was the result of dangerous driving, or in which the person was determined to have acted in self-defense. All of these factors are counted as “homicides” in the United States.

7. Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.

  • In 2013, President Barack Obama ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess existing research on gun violence. The report, compiled by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, found (among other things) that firearms are used defensively hundreds of thousands of times every year.
  • According to the CDC, “self-defense can be an important crime deterrent.” Recent CDC reports acknowledge that studies directly assessing the effect of actual defensive uses of guns have found “consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”
  • Semi-automatic rifles (such as the AR-15) are commonly used as self-defense weapons in the homes of law-abiding citizens because they are easier to control than handguns, are more versatile than handguns, and offer the advantage of up to 30 rounds of protection. Even Vox has published stories defending the use of the AR-15.
  • AR-15s have been used to save lives on many occasions, including:
    • Oswego, Illinois (2018)—A man with an AR-15 intervened to stop a neighbor’s knife attack and cited the larger weapon’s “intimidation factor” as a reason why the attacker dropped the knife.
    • Catawba County, North Carolina (2018)—A 17-year-old successfully fought off three armed attackers with his AR-15.
    • Houston, Texas (2017)—A homeowner survived a drive-by shooting by defending himself with his AR-15.
    • Broken Arrow, Oklahoma (2017)—A homeowner’s son killed three would-be burglars with an AR-15 (the man was later deemed to have acted in justifiable self-defense).
    • Ferguson, Missouri (2014)—African-American men protected a white man’s store from rioters by standing outside armed with AR-15s.
    • Texas (2013)—A 15-year-old boy used an AR-15 during a home invasion to save both his life and that of his 12-year-old sister.
    • Rochester, New York (2013)—Home intruders fled after facing an AR-15.

8. Concealed carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.

  • Lott found that, as a group, concealed carry permit holders are some of the most law-abiding people in the United States. The rate at which they commit crimes generally and firearm crimes specifically is between one-sixth and one-tenth of that recorded for police officers, who are themselves committing crimes at a fraction of the rate of the general population.
  • Between 2007 and 2015, murder rates dropped 16 percent and violent crime rates dropped 18 percent, even though the percentage of adults with concealed carry permits rose by 190 percent.
  • Regression estimates show a significant association between increased permit ownership and a drop in murder and violent crime rates. Each percentage point increase in rates of permit-holding is associated with a roughly 2.5 percent drop in the murder rate.
  • Concealed carry permit holders are often “the good guy with a gun,” even though they rarely receive the attention of the national media. Concealed carry permit holders were credited with saving multiple lives in: