Have Nothing Better To Do? Kick John Lott Around.

This hasn’t been a particularly good week for our friends at Smith & Wesson.  The only good news is that the company common stock, which had been floating around at $10 bucks a share, jumped to $15 after the company released its quarterly earning report which saw an increase both in sales and profit margins. Considering that August FBI-NICS background checks continued to slide, losing nearly 7% from August 2018 numbers, the financial resurgence of S&W was really good news.

lott1             On the other hand, the company has just received a shareholder proposal from a bunch of peacenik nuns, who are demanding that the company explain the public safety risks associated with its products. This group had previously won a vote at the Ruger annual shareholders meeting requiring that another storied gun maker explain why its products do more good than harm.

The idea that a gun maker should be policing its sales channels to help prevent the mis-use of its products was initiated in the 1990’s with a lawsuit brought by the NAACP against Smith & Wesson; the suit claiming that S&W’s sales strategies pushed guns into the hands of people who then use the products to commit violent crimes. The suit was rejected on a technicality because the judge could not find that the NAACP had legal standing to submit its litigation, but the same proposal then appeared in a deal between S&W and the Clinton Administration, provoking a boycott that almost drove the gun maker out of business altogether.

This time around, the shareholders will be asked to vote on a proposal that will require company management to: (1). Assess the potential risks to the company related to the growing national debate about gun violence; (2). report on research initiatives to develop a smart gun; (3). monitor violent events associated with the use of its products. The company’s response was fairly straightforward, claiming that they recognized the possible impact of the gun-violence debate, that there was no viable smart-gun technology that could be developed, and that all ATF trace requests on crime guns were answered promptly and correctly.

Had our friend Jim Debney, the S&W President, left it at that, the whole issue would have passed gone through one news cycle and disappeared. But Debney couldn’t leave well enough alone. He then had to touch the rawest nerve of Gun-control Nation by citing in the company’s defense the work of none other than that no-good bum, John Lott. Using data from Lott’s website, Debney argued that in jurisdictions where concealed-carry permits had been issued, violent crime had gone down – a riff on Lott’s famous (or infamous) book, More Guns, Less Crime.

This led to a column in Gun-control Nation’s media outlet, The Trace, which chastised Debney for using ‘pseudoscience’ to push back against the good Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary who initiated the shareholder proposal. The author of this latest Lott hit piece, Alex Yablon, refers to himself as a journalist but he’s really a promoter of some of Gun-control Nation’s most cherished beliefs, one of them being that if John Lott would dry up and blow away, we would suffer less violence from guns.

Having been on the receiving end of numerous verbal attacks (and threats) from some of the real schmucks who dwell on the fringe of Gun-nut Nation, I have come to the conclusion that using insulting epithets or digging up embarrassing moments in someone’s background in lieu of informed criticism of their work is nothing more than an exercise in calling attention to yourself when you really have nothing substantive to say. The research that Yablon cites as having ‘debunked [Lott] for years’ does nothing of the sort. If Yablon honestly believes that taking previously-published data (by Lott) and putting it into a synthetic controls regression model is research, this simply demonstrates that he is not a researcher and has never done scientific research at all.

I have made my own concerns about Lott’s work very clear. But research-based criticism is one thing, abusive disparagement is something else. I’m not sure that everyone in Gun-control Nation understands the difference.

 

Advertisements

Want To Reduce Gun Violence? It’s These Guns That Count.

Perhaps without realizing it, our friends at The Trace have published data which could help the gun-control movement have its first, really informed discussion about how to regulate the product that causes gun violence, namely, the guns. The reason we experience gun violence and other countries don’t, is because we are the only advanced nation-state which regulates this particular consumer product by trying to control the behavior of product users, rather than by regulating the product in and of itself.

crime guns             This rather unique (and bizarre) regulatory approach was reaffirmed by SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who defended the ownership of assault rifles as a ‘matter of law,’ based on the fact that such weapons are commonly found in the home and therefore deserve 2nd-Amendment protection. Whether Gun-control Nation likes it or not, using ‘common ownership’ as the basic criteria for Constitutional gun rights happens to be the core argument advanced by gun-nut Scalia (and accepted without question by the dissenting justices) in the 2008 Heller case.

No other advanced (OECD) nation-state obliges its citizenry by allowing free access to guns that are used in violent crimes. And the reason that certain guns show up again and again at crime scenes is because those kinds of guns were designed to be used as assault weapons and have no other function or use at all.

I’m not just talking about AR-15’s and AK-47’s.  I’m talking about pistols from Sig, Glock, Kahr, Smith & Wesson, Beretta and just about every other handgun manufacturer because these guns are also designed to be used in assaults. Now you can argue from today to next year whether an assault is ‘offensive,’ or ‘defensive;’ I really don’t care.  The bottom line is that if you point a gun at someone else and pull the trigger, it’s an assault.

The article which sheds some important light on this issue is complete listing of every gun connected to a criminal investigation conducted by the Chicago Police Department from 2010 through 2016.  I decided to analyze all of these ‘crime’ guns picked up in 2014, which was a total of 4,511 guns. Although gun homicides dropped slightly from  the previous year, overall criminal gun injuries increased  by almost 15 percent, meaning that the gun-violence rate in 2014 was 95.6 per 100,000 city residents. The national rate that year for gun homicides and assaults was 22.4.  So a lot of guns were used to commit gun violence in the Second City during 2014.

Of the total crime gun listing, I was unable to identify 184 guns, which reduces the known crime guns to 4,327.  Of these guns, center-fire handgun calibers accounted for 3,160, the remaining crime calibers being either 22-caliber or rifle calibers.  In other words, nearly 75% of all guns connected to criminal activity in Chicago were centerfire weapons, whose only purpose is to inflict an injury on someone else (this listing did not include guns picked up in suicide investigations.) Of the remaining guns, 369 were 22-caliber weapons, the remaining 800 guns being shotguns and rifles, of which a grand total of 30 were assault-rifles (AR & AK.)

So the ‘crime’ gun problem in Chicago, which is probably true of all high-crime jurisdictions, isn’t so much a ‘gun’ problem, as it’s a problem of handguns. But even within this category there is an interesting subset of data, because of all the crime handguns, nearly one-third (n=978) can only be described as real junk; i.e., cheap guns, many if not most no longer manufactured, all of which floating around somewhere for at least the last thirty or forty years.

According to the gun stock survey published in 2017, roughly 40% of all guns in the United States are handguns. Doing a little extrapolation from what we found in Chicago, there’s a good chance that as many as 40 million crummy but nevertheless very lethal handguns are sitting in God knows whose pockets, drawers, and everywhere else, none of which could ever be traced to anyone at all.

Comprehensive background checks to reduce gun violence? Yea, right.

 

No Go Zones: A Guide to Western Failed States and European Secessionist Movements.

Original Content Published Here, over at Ammo.com

The failed state is to post-modernity what the nation-state was to modernity. It’s a recent development that is a hallmark of our age – like a state, but incapable of exercising sovereignty over all of its nominal territory. And while it might sound a little far-fetched, the failed state isn’t just coming to the West. It might already be here.

No go

What Is a Failed State?

A failed state is a state no longer exercising effective control over the whole of its nominal territory. This can take a number of forms in practice, such as:

  • de facto separatist nation or nations existing within the boundaries of their de jure territory, competing for the monopoly on legitimate use of physical force.
  • Failure of the legitimate authority of the nation to make practical, collective decisions.
  • Inability to adequately provide basic social services such as policing, firefighting or emergency medical services to some or all of its territory.
  • Inability to connect with other states through diplomatic channels; a lack of participation in the international community.
  • A central government incapable of collecting enough tax revenue to operate effectively.

One or several of these factors can be present in a failed state. Once a state is “failed,” this often means widespread crime, corruption and outsized influence by non-state actors.

Who Decides If a State Is “Failed?”

You and anyone else can have an opinion on whether or not a state is failed. Politicians have less leeway, as calling a state “failed” can result in serious geopolitical consequences. As a result, most politicians would be hesitant to describe any state as “failed.”

The “Fragile States Index” (FSI) is calculated by the U.S.-based think tank Fund for Peace. They use a number of objective and subjective factors to determine whether or not a state is failed (or “fragile” as they call it) by scanning media for indicators of social, economic and political failure or fragility in a country.

Among the top-ten most fragile states include: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe. Haiti is the first representative from the Western Hemisphere at number 12. The next appearance in the Americas is Venezuela at 46, followed by Colombia at 71. Of the 10 most stable countries, eight are in Europe (Finland, Norway and Switzerland get the gold, silver and bronze respectively) and two are in Oceania (unsurprisingly, Australia and New Zealand). The most stable non-Western country is Singapore at 161, followed by Japan at 158 and Mauritius at 151.

The FSI does not hold a monopoly on deciding what nations are and are not “failed.” It is, however, the only major organization ranking countries.

Most people under 40 were probably introduced to the concept of a “failed state” by Somalia, after the collapse of its dictatorship in the early 1990s. This led to an extended American adventure in Somalia, resulting in the events described in Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Not only were American lives lost, but so was a significant amount of American prestige, as Washington neocons got their first bitter taste of “nation-building” in a nation which didn’t want to be built. The central government collapsed and nothing effectively replaced it.

To this day, some organizations operating within Somalia claim to be the ruling authority. Others claim to be separate, but completely legitimate nations. And those who must do business in Somali waters arm themselves via floating barges filled with guns and ammunition to fight off pirates.

Are Failed States Coming to Europe?

As with most things, the answer to this question depends on how we define “failed state.” For example, the presence of terrorism within a state doesn’t necessarily make it a failure, but rampant terrorism is a signature feature of a failed state. No one would suggest that the 9/11 attacks on America make it a failed state. However, the constant terrorist attacks against the Afghan state might be an argument in favor of Afghanistan as a failed state.

A more useful concept in terms of understanding whether or not failed states are coming to Europe is the so-called “No Go Zone.” United States President Donald Trump made headlines when he suggested that Sweden was on the verge of civil war or collapse. The press quickly lambasted him. How could this possibly be true of a country ranking in the top ten most stable countries in the world?

There are two answers to this question: First, the Fragile States Index measures how failed a state is, not how likely it is to become a failed state in the near future. Second, the manner by which Sweden might become a failed state could be something completely novel – and why wouldn’t it be, as Sweden would be the first failed state in Western Europe?

Yugoslavia might be the model for this. Remember, Yugoslavia was a stable nation until it wasn’t. It then turned into a bloodbath that defined a generation. While it’s tempting to blame this on Communist rule, nowhere else in Europe has there been similar levels of bloodshed. Other multinational Communist states such as Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union broke apart with very little fuss and almost no spilled blood.

What Are European Secessionist Movements?

A little-known story about 21st-century Europe is that it’s filled with secessionist movements. Catalonia, a region currently part of Spain, made headlines when it voted overwhelmingly to declare independence.

In fact, there are dozens of secessionist movements in Western Europe operating at any given time. Some are more serious than others. For example, Catalonia voted decisively to leave Spain, which led to a constitutional crisis. Scotland came pretty close to voting to leave the United Kingdom. Some other active secessionist movements in Western Europe include:

  • Belgium: It’s been joked that Belgium is made up of six million Walloons, three million Flemish and one Belgian – the monarch. The country is largely an artificial marriage between a Dutch and French population, with little in the way of shared cultural heritage that was engineered by the British due to its strategic location.
  • France: France is filled with secessionist movements, many of which it shares with Spain, due to their proximity and shared history. The Basque Country, French Catalonia and the Celtic region of Brittany all have thriving independence movements. So does the Southern Occitan region, the island of Corsica and the formerly Italian territory of Savoy.
  • Germany: Even stable, sensible Germany has a secessionist movement. The southern, conservative and Catholic region of Bavaria has never comfortably fit into the nation of Germany. Indeed, prior to the formation of a unified Germany, Bavaria was closer to Austria. After World War I, several proposals were made to create a nation out of Austria and Bavaria. A number of other movements seek autonomy for regions within Germany.
  • Italy: Much like Germany, Italy was not a unified nation until relatively late in modern European history. And, much like France, it’s never quite integrated all of its parts into a whole. Venice, South Tyrol, Sicily, Sardinia, Northern Italy (known as “Padania”), Southern Italy (known as “Ausonia”) and Lombardy are just some of the regions of Italy with active secessionist movements. Of these, Northern Italy’s is the most robust. The Lega Nord (League of the North) is in a ruling coalition with the Five Star Movement.
  • Spain: The Catalonian independence is the most famous, but not the only independence movement in Spain. There’s the Basques, Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Castille, Galicia, Leon, Navarre and Valencia. Spain is comprised of autonomous regions, nearly all of which were once independent kingdoms. Virtually all of them have independence movements of varying relevance and strength.
  • Switzerland: Despite being a federation of largely autonomous cantons, Switzerland has secessionist movements in at least two: Jura (a French-speaking canton) and Ticino (an Italian-speaking canton).
  • United Kingdom: The United Kingdom has seen an uptick in secessionist movements since the Scottish independence movement gathered steam. Of course there’s also an independence movement for Wales and even Ulster. No, we don’t mean Irish in Ulster who want to be reunified. The Ulster independence is an ultra-British movement that sees London as having sold out Irish Protestants. Other independence movements in the UK include one for Cornwall, Shetland (which might seek union with Norway), Mercia, Yorkshire and – wait for it – England. Some in England resent that Scots can vote to decide policy in England, while the Scottish Parliament controls Scotland. This is known as the West Lothian question.

If any of these secessionist movements gains enough traction to break apart a Western European nation state, that could result in civil war and failed states without help from any other factors.

What Are Irredentist Movements?

A similar phenomenon is irredentist movements in Europe. Irredentist movements seek to reunite external territories with their “home nation.” The most famous example in Western media is probably “Greater Serbia,” which was the goal of Serbian ultranationalists in the rump Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav wars. While these are more common in the Balkans than probably anywhere else in the world, Western Europe has no shortage of irredentist movements including:

  • South Tyrol: Mentioned above, South Tyrol is a part of Italy seeking either independence or union with Austria. Nationalists in Austria likewise seek to reclaim South Tyrol, which was part of Austria for centuries.
  • Ireland: The government of Ireland, for its part, still claims that the six counties of Ireland that are a part of the United Kingdom are an occupied part of Ireland.
  • Portugal: Portugal claims Olivenza, a Spanish border town, as part of an obscure dispute with Spain dating back to the Napoleonic era.
  • Spain: Spain’s claim on Gibraltar, nominally British territory, is so strong that under the Franco regime “The Ballad of John and Yoko” was banned because of the line “Gibraltar near Spain.”

As stated above, these kinds of disputes are far more common in Eastern Europe, where borders are much newer and much less rigid than they are in the Western half of the country.

What Is a No Go Zone?

A No Go Zone is sort of a failed state in miniature form, and is not that recent of a development. In the strictest sense, a No Go Zone (or ”No Go Area”) is an area that has been barricaded off by military or paramilitary authorities. However, a broader definition has emerged in recent years as governments such as France and Sweden use euphemisms such as “vulnerable area,” “exposed area” or “sensitive urban zone” for what are effectively No Go Zones.

For our purposes, a No Go Zone is anywhere that the government is incapable of providing basic support services – policing, firefighting and emergency medical services. This is also the common meaning when “No Go Zone” is used in the media.

Uncomfortable for some to consider, it is an undeniable fact that most, if not all, of the No Go Zones in Europe coincide with large Muslim populations. In these areas, large radicalized immigrant populations are indifferent or hostile to the central government.

Beyond the merely uncomfortable for some and into the deeply disturbing for all, second-generation Muslim immigrants tend to be more radicalized than their parents, not less. This is true across Europe. Second-generation Muslim immigrants have been behind nearly every terrorist attack in Europe post-9/11. The kind of assimilation America saw after its massive immigration wave between the Civil War and the First World War simply is not happening with Muslim immigrant communities in Europe.

No Go Zones in Europe

Much of the debate around whether or not Europe has “No Go Zones” comes down to how terms are defined. A 2017 article on RT’s website put the matter very succinctly: “Thus those looking to dismiss no-go areas as a ‘myth,’ can argue the semantics of what constitutes a ‘no-go zone,’ or how much of a threat they present, but not that term represents a real phenomenon.” Here are some examples of growing civil unrest in Europe:

  • Belgium: Following the November 2015 terror attacks in France, Belgium’s Home Affairs Minister Jan Jambon stated that the Belgian government does not “have control of the situation in Molenbeek.” He described this as a “gigantic problem” without actually using the term No Go Zone.
  • France: Fox News created controversy in 2015 when they declared France had No Go Zones after the Charlie Hebdo shooting. However, looking beyond the hysteria, there’s considerable evidence that France has No Go Zones. In fact, Reuters referred to No Go Zones in Paris in October 2016. In June 2018, the French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech with repeated euphemistic references to No Go Zones. The National Post, Canada’s paper of record, did an in-depth feature on No Go Zones in 2016. In 2017, an app launched called “No-Go Zone,” allowing the French to report lawless areas to be avoided. So while there may be a reflexive reaction to dismiss reports from Gatestone Institute or Breitbart on French No Go Zones as “right-wing propaganda,” there are no shortage of so-called “mainstream” sources reporting on No Go Zones in France.
  • Germany: Angela Merkel has spoken about No Go Zones as a “reality” in Germany. In April 2018, the Daily Mail reported on a poll showing that a majority of Germans feared No Go Zones, with over three quarters stating they believed the government should crack down harder on organized crime.
  • Sweden: Much of the media attention surrounding No Go Zones is centered on Sweden. Despite vehement denials, there is overwhelming evidence of No Go Areas in Sweden, no matter what term one chooses to use. An April 2018 Sputnik report described areas where emergency services cannot enter without significant police support. In 2018, the Prime Minister of Sweden referred to “parallel societies” in Sweden. The spectre of civil war in Sweden is openly discussed in Parliament. A 2017 RT article quoted Swedish National Police Commissioner Dan Eliassonas saying “we cannot continue in this direction ten more years.” In December 2017, the nation’s chief prosecutor described a Stockholm suburb as being like “a war zone” and stating that she would look to countries like El Salvador and Colombia for potential strategies.
  • United Kingdom: President Donald Trump was ridiculed for suggesting the presence of No Go Areas in the UK, however, there is evidence to suggest he was correct. Raheem Kassam, a UKIP activist and former Breitbart UK Editor in Chief has written an entire book on the subject. Kassam is of Tanzanian extraction and was raised as an Ismaili Muslim, though he now identifies as an atheist. An anonymous London police officer went on popular British radio program LBC and stated that the British capital did in fact have “No Go Areas.” Councillors for Leeds suburb Bradford have similarly described areas of that city.

How Is the Specter of No Go Zones Influencing European Politics?

No Go Zones are not currently dominating political discourse in any European country. They are, however, forming a persistent backdrop in nearly every European nation. Populist-nationalist parties use them as a frequent talking point to pillory the establishment parties of both the left and the right. For their part, establishment political parties tend to deny the existence of No Go Zones entirely. To what degree No Go Zones are a factor in anyone’s vote is highly speculative.

In the middle of summer 2018, riots broke out in Sweden. Many on the left blamed the riots on the popularity of Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration populist party. This only seemed to bolster their support among Swedes. Moderate Party MP Hanif Bali denied that this was the cause of the riots. Bali, the son of immigrants, is a staunch critic of Sweden’s immigration policies, showing that these criticisms are not limited to the Sweden Democrats. Bali is the only Swedish politician of note within the more mainstream parties to state that he is open to the possibility of a coalition with Sweden Democrats.

How Likely Are No Go Zones to Result in Failed States?

This is a difficult question to answer, because there’s no history of pockets of No Go Zones metastasizing into failed states in Western Europe. However, some Western European countries have hallmarks of incipient failed states, such as:

  • Ceding their monopoly on legitimate violence. Sharia courts, for example, operate with relative impunity in the UK.
  • An unwillingness or inability to exercise sovereignty over its territory. The extended rioting in France and Sweden’s No Go Zones provide an example of this.
  • Escalation of communal or tribal conflicts. As No Go Zones grow, it’s almost a given that communal conflicts will escalate.
  • Guerilla conflict. Similarly, as No Go Zones grow, they may come to resemble completely autonomous areas and bases for terrorist attacks, such as the Moro areas of the Philippines.
  • Finally, there’s the specter of democratic collapse in Western Europe. What will happen, for example, if the Sweden Democrats win a plurality in parliament, but cannot form a government and neither can any collection of their rivals? How about if sections of the military or security apparatus start taking sides?

How Can I Protect My Family From No Go Zones?

The short answer is by not living near any. The problem with being “prepared” for No Go Zones and failed states is that even the most prepared people in these areas lead somewhat desperate qualities of life. Even all the tactical weapons and gear in the world won’t make living in what’s effectively a war zone any prettier.

Still, the last 30 years of European history teaches us that No Go Zones and failed states can crop up anywhere. Preparation should be focused on having adequate ammunition, water, food and power in the event of a disruption of normal civil society. More than anything, what you need is not supplies, but an escape plan.

 

No Go Zones: A Guide to Western Failed States and European Secessionist Movements

The failed state is to post-modernity what the nation-state was to modernity. It’s a recent development that is a hallmark of our age – like a state, but incapable of exercising sovereignty over all of its nominal territory. And while it might sound a little far-fetched, the failed state isn’t just coming to the West. It might already be here.

What Is a Failed State?

A failed state is a state no longer exercising effective control over the whole of its nominal territory. This can take a number of forms in practice, such as:

  • de facto separatist nation or nations existing within the boundaries of their de jure territory, competing for the monopoly on legitimate use of physical force.
  • Failure of the legitimate authority of the nation to make practical, collective decisions.
  • Inability to adequately provide basic social services such as policing, firefighting or emergency medical services to some or all of its territory.
  • Inability to connect with other states through diplomatic channels; a lack of participation in the international community.
  • A central government incapable of collecting enough tax revenue to operate effectively.

One or several of these factors can be present in a failed state. Once a state is “failed,” this often means widespread crime, corruption and outsized influence by non-state actors.

Who Decides If a State Is “Failed?”

You and anyone else can have an opinion on whether or not a state is failed. Politicians have less leeway, as calling a state “failed” can result in serious geopolitical consequences. As a result, most politicians would be hesitant to describe any state as “failed.”

The “Fragile States Index” (FSI) is calculated by the U.S.-based think tank Fund for Peace. They use a number of objective and subjective factors to determine whether or not a state is failed (or “fragile” as they call it) by scanning media for indicators of social, economic and political failure or fragility in a country.

Among the top-ten most fragile states include: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe. Haiti is the first representative from the Western Hemisphere at number 12. The next appearance in the Americas is Venezuela at 46, followed by Colombia at 71. Of the 10 most stable countries, eight are in Europe (Finland, Norway and Switzerland get the gold, silver and bronze respectively) and two are in Oceania (unsurprisingly, Australia and New Zealand). The most stable non-Western country is Singapore at 161, followed by Japan at 158 and Mauritius at 151.

The FSI does not hold a monopoly on deciding what nations are and are not “failed.” It is, however, the only major organization ranking countries.

Most people under 40 were probably introduced to the concept of a “failed state” by Somalia, after the collapse of its dictatorship in the early 1990s. This led to an extended American adventure in Somalia, resulting in the events described in Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Not only were American lives lost, but so was a significant amount of American prestige, as Washington neocons got their first bitter taste of “nation-building” in a nation which didn’t want to be built. The central government collapsed and nothing effectively replaced it.

To this day, some organizations operating within Somalia claim to be the ruling authority. Others claim to be separate, but completely legitimate nations. And those who must do business in Somali waters arm themselves via floating barges filled with guns and ammunition to fight off pirates.

Are Failed States Coming to Europe?

As with most things, the answer to this question depends on how we define “failed state.” For example, the presence of terrorism within a state doesn’t necessarily make it a failure, but rampant terrorism is a signature feature of a failed state. No one would suggest that the 9/11 attacks on America make it a failed state. However, the constant terrorist attacks against the Afghan state might be an argument in favor of Afghanistan as a failed state.

A more useful concept in terms of understanding whether or not failed states are coming to Europe is the so-called “No Go Zone.” United States President Donald Trump made headlines when he suggested that Sweden was on the verge of civil war or collapse. The press quickly lambasted him. How could this possibly be true of a country ranking in the top ten most stable countries in the world?

There are two answers to this question: First, the Fragile States Index measures how failed a state is, not how likely it is to become a failed state in the near future. Second, the manner by which Sweden might become a failed state could be something completely novel – and why wouldn’t it be, as Sweden would be the first failed state in Western Europe?

Yugoslavia might be the model for this. Remember, Yugoslavia was a stable nation until it wasn’t. It then turned into a bloodbath that defined a generation. While it’s tempting to blame this on Communist rule, nowhere else in Europe has there been similar levels of bloodshed. Other multinational Communist states such as Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union broke apart with very little fuss and almost no spilled blood.

What Are European Secessionist Movements?

A little-known story about 21st-century Europe is that it’s filled with secessionist movements. Catalonia, a region currently part of Spain, made headlines when it voted overwhelmingly to declare independence.

In fact, there are dozens of secessionist movements in Western Europe operating at any given time. Some are more serious than others. For example, Catalonia voted decisively to leave Spain, which led to a constitutional crisis. Scotland came pretty close to voting to leave the United Kingdom. Some other active secessionist movements in Western Europe include:

  • Belgium: It’s been joked that Belgium is made up of six million Walloons, three million Flemish and one Belgian – the monarch. The country is largely an artificial marriage between a Dutch and French population, with little in the way of shared cultural heritage that was engineered by the British due to its strategic location.
  • France: France is filled with secessionist movements, many of which it shares with Spain, due to their proximity and shared history. The Basque Country, French Catalonia and the Celtic region of Brittany all have thriving independence movements. So does the Southern Occitan region, the island of Corsica and the formerly Italian territory of Savoy.
  • Germany: Even stable, sensible Germany has a secessionist movement. The southern, conservative and Catholic region of Bavaria has never comfortably fit into the nation of Germany. Indeed, prior to the formation of a unified Germany, Bavaria was closer to Austria. After World War I, several proposals were made to create a nation out of Austria and Bavaria. A number of other movements seek autonomy for regions within Germany.
  • Italy: Much like Germany, Italy was not a unified nation until relatively late in modern European history. And, much like France, it’s never quite integrated all of its parts into a whole. Venice, South Tyrol, Sicily, Sardinia, Northern Italy (known as “Padania”), Southern Italy (known as “Ausonia”) and Lombardy are just some of the regions of Italy with active secessionist movements. Of these, Northern Italy’s is the most robust. The Lega Nord (League of the North) is in a ruling coalition with the Five Star Movement.
  • Spain: The Catalonian independence is the most famous, but not the only independence movement in Spain. There’s the Basques, Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, Castille, Galicia, Leon, Navarre and Valencia. Spain is comprised of autonomous regions, nearly all of which were once independent kingdoms. Virtually all of them have independence movements of varying relevance and strength.
  • Switzerland: Despite being a federation of largely autonomous cantons, Switzerland has secessionist movements in at least two: Jura (a French-speaking canton) and Ticino (an Italian-speaking canton).
  • United Kingdom: The United Kingdom has seen an uptick in secessionist movements since the Scottish independence movement gathered steam. Of course there’s also an independence movement for Wales and even Ulster. No, we don’t mean Irish in Ulster who want to be reunified. The Ulster independence is an ultra-British movement that sees London as having sold out Irish Protestants. Other independence movements in the UK include one for Cornwall, Shetland (which might seek union with Norway), Mercia, Yorkshire and – wait for it – England. Some in England resent that Scots can vote to decide policy in England, while the Scottish Parliament controls Scotland. This is known as the West Lothian question.

If any of these secessionist movements gains enough traction to break apart a Western European nation state, that could result in civil war and failed states without help from any other factors.

What Are Irredentist Movements?

A similar phenomenon is irredentist movements in Europe. Irredentist movements seek to reunite external territories with their “home nation.” The most famous example in Western media is probably “Greater Serbia,” which was the goal of Serbian ultranationalists in the rump Yugoslavia during the Yugoslav wars. While these are more common in the Balkans than probably anywhere else in the world, Western Europe has no shortage of irredentist movements including:

  • South Tyrol: Mentioned above, South Tyrol is a part of Italy seeking either independence or union with Austria. Nationalists in Austria likewise seek to reclaim South Tyrol, which was part of Austria for centuries.
  • Ireland: The government of Ireland, for its part, still claims that the six counties of Ireland that are a part of the United Kingdom are an occupied part of Ireland.
  • Portugal: Portugal claims Olivenza, a Spanish border town, as part of an obscure dispute with Spain dating back to the Napoleonic era.
  • Spain: Spain’s claim on Gibraltar, nominally British territory, is so strong that under the Franco regime “The Ballad of John and Yoko” was banned because of the line “Gibraltar near Spain.”

As stated above, these kinds of disputes are far more common in Eastern Europe, where borders are much newer and much less rigid than they are in the Western half of the country.

What Is a No Go Zone?

A No Go Zone is sort of a failed state in miniature form, and is not that recent of a development. In the strictest sense, a No Go Zone (or ”No Go Area”) is an area that has been barricaded off by military or paramilitary authorities. However, a broader definition has emerged in recent years as governments such as France and Sweden use euphemisms such as “vulnerable area,” “exposed area” or “sensitive urban zone” for what are effectively No Go Zones.

For our purposes, a No Go Zone is anywhere that the government is incapable of providing basic support services – policing, firefighting and emergency medical services. This is also the common meaning when “No Go Zone” is used in the media.

Uncomfortable for some to consider, it is an undeniable fact that most, if not all, of the No Go Zones in Europe coincide with large Muslim populations. In these areas, large radicalized immigrant populations are indifferent or hostile to the central government.

Beyond the merely uncomfortable for some and into the deeply disturbing for all, second-generation Muslim immigrants tend to be more radicalized than their parents, not less. This is true across Europe. Second-generation Muslim immigrants have been behind nearly every terrorist attack in Europe post-9/11. The kind of assimilation America saw after its massive immigration wave between the Civil War and the First World War simply is not happening with Muslim immigrant communities in Europe.

No Go Zones in Europe

Much of the debate around whether or not Europe has “No Go Zones” comes down to how terms are defined. A 2017 article on RT’s website put the matter very succinctly: “Thus those looking to dismiss no-go areas as a ‘myth,’ can argue the semantics of what constitutes a ‘no-go zone,’ or how much of a threat they present, but not that term represents a real phenomenon.” Here are some examples of growing civil unrest in Europe:

  • Belgium: Following the November 2015 terror attacks in France, Belgium’s Home Affairs Minister Jan Jambon stated that the Belgian government does not “have control of the situation in Molenbeek.” He described this as a “gigantic problem” without actually using the term No Go Zone.
  • France: Fox News created controversy in 2015 when they declared France had No Go Zones after the Charlie Hebdo shooting. However, looking beyond the hysteria, there’s considerable evidence that France has No Go Zones. In fact, Reuters referred to No Go Zones in Paris in October 2016. In June 2018, the French President Emmanuel Macron gave a speech with repeated euphemistic references to No Go Zones. The National Post, Canada’s paper of record, did an in-depth feature on No Go Zones in 2016. In 2017, an app launched called “No-Go Zone,” allowing the French to report lawless areas to be avoided. So while there may be a reflexive reaction to dismiss reports from Gatestone Institute or Breitbart on French No Go Zones as “right-wing propaganda,” there are no shortage of so-called “mainstream” sources reporting on No Go Zones in France.
  • Germany: Angela Merkel has spoken about No Go Zones as a “reality” in Germany. In April 2018, the Daily Mail reported on a poll showing that a majority of Germans feared No Go Zones, with over three quarters stating they believed the government should crack down harder on organized crime.
  • Sweden: Much of the media attention surrounding No Go Zones is centered on Sweden. Despite vehement denials, there is overwhelming evidence of No Go Areas in Sweden, no matter what term one chooses to use. An April 2018 Sputnik report described areas where emergency services cannot enter without significant police support. In 2018, the Prime Minister of Sweden referred to “parallel societies” in Sweden. The spectre of civil war in Sweden is openly discussed in Parliament. A 2017 RT article quoted Swedish National Police Commissioner Dan Eliassonas saying “we cannot continue in this direction ten more years.” In December 2017, the nation’s chief prosecutor described a Stockholm suburb as being like “a war zone” and stating that she would look to countries like El Salvador and Colombia for potential strategies.
  • United Kingdom: President Donald Trump was ridiculed for suggesting the presence of No Go Areas in the UK, however, there is evidence to suggest he was correct. Raheem Kassam, a UKIP activist and former Breitbart UK Editor in Chief has written an entire book on the subject. Kassam is of Tanzanian extraction and was raised as an Ismaili Muslim, though he now identifies as an atheist. An anonymous London police officer went on popular British radio program LBC and stated that the British capital did in fact have “No Go Areas.” Councillors for Leeds suburb Bradford have similarly described areas of that city.

How Is the Specter of No Go Zones Influencing European Politics?

No Go Zones are not currently dominating political discourse in any European country. They are, however, forming a persistent backdrop in nearly every European nation. Populist-nationalist parties use them as a frequent talking point to pillory the establishment parties of both the left and the right. For their part, establishment political parties tend to deny the existence of No Go Zones entirely. To what degree No Go Zones are a factor in anyone’s vote is highly speculative.

In the middle of summer 2018, riots broke out in Sweden. Many on the left blamed the riots on the popularity of Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration populist party. This only seemed to bolster their support among Swedes. Moderate Party MP Hanif Bali denied that this was the cause of the riots. Bali, the son of immigrants, is a staunch critic of Sweden’s immigration policies, showing that these criticisms are not limited to the Sweden Democrats. Bali is the only Swedish politician of note within the more mainstream parties to state that he is open to the possibility of a coalition with Sweden Democrats.

How Likely Are No Go Zones to Result in Failed States?

This is a difficult question to answer, because there’s no history of pockets of No Go Zones metastasizing into failed states in Western Europe. However, some Western European countries have hallmarks of incipient failed states, such as:

  • Ceding their monopoly on legitimate violence. Sharia courts, for example, operate with relative impunity in the UK.
  • An unwillingness or inability to exercise sovereignty over its territory. The extended rioting in France and Sweden’s No Go Zones provide an example of this.
  • Escalation of communal or tribal conflicts. As No Go Zones grow, it’s almost a given that communal conflicts will escalate.
  • Guerilla conflict. Similarly, as No Go Zones grow, they may come to resemble completely autonomous areas and bases for terrorist attacks, such as the Moro areas of the Philippines.
  • Finally, there’s the specter of democratic collapse in Western Europe. What will happen, for example, if the Sweden Democrats win a plurality in parliament, but cannot form a government and neither can any collection of their rivals? How about if sections of the military or security apparatus start taking sides?

How Can I Protect My Family From No Go Zones?

The short answer is by not living near any. The problem with being “prepared” for No Go Zones and failed states is that even the most prepared people in these areas lead somewhat desperate qualities of life. Even all the tactical weapons and gear in the world won’t make living in what’s effectively a war zone any prettier.

Still, the last 30 years of European history teaches us that No Go Zones and failed states can crop up anywhere. Preparation should be focused on having adequate ammunition, water, food and power in the event of a disruption of normal civil society. More than anything, what you need is not supplies, but an escape plan.

 

 

California’s New Ammunition Law Will Only Make Matters Worse.

Want to take a look at a new law for controlling gun violence which will probably have the exact, opposite effect of what the law is supposed to do?  Take a look at the California law going into effect next year which requires that everyone who buys ammunition must go through the same kind of background check that is now required for every California resident who want to buy a gun. The law is being touted by, among others, the current Lieutenant Governor, Gavin Newsom, who is now running for Governor as the Golden State’s most fervent gun-control politician because, as a recent campaign ad says, he has shown ‘bold leadership’ in taking on the NRA.

ammo1            What Newsom is really taking advantage of is the complete and total lack of understanding about the whole ammunition issue, a knowledge gap which he shares with a group of gun-control researchers who published a peer-reviewed article on this new ammunition law in a widely respected journal, Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences last year. The authors of this article interviewed 140 inmates in Los Angeles county jails and found that these lovely individuals knew next to nothing about laws covering purchase and/or ownership of ammunition; in particular, they seemed to be completely in the dark about this new ammunition law. The scholars raised serious concerns about this lack of legal awareness on the part of the jail-bird population since this would probably mean that the new law would be broken the moment these fellows got out of jail.

Know what? When it comes to understanding the gun business, stupidity can break out at any time. And in this case, as dumb as those county inmates might appear when it comes to the legal issues surrounding the purchase of ammunition, the scholars who did the research and wrote up their findings have a much greater dumbness quotient than the guys in the clink.  Having discovered that these criminal detainees are unaware of ammunition law, the researchers ask: ”How can we expect individuals—and prohibited possessors in particular—to be deterred from illegally possessing guns and ammunition if they are not aware of the laws to begin with?” The research team concludes by saying that what we need to do is come up with some more effective messaging within the criminal class.

The point is folks, that the people who aren’t allowed to buy ammunition because they won’t be able to pass muster during a background check already know a simple and easy way to get around the new law – knowledge which seems to have somehow not yet been processed by the Russell Sage research team. And for that matter, the new California law, designed to enhance public safety and reduce gun violence, contains specific reference to the manner by which the so-called unqualified population will be able to get their hands on all the ammunition they need.

Last time I checked, there were at least 20 commercial shooting ranges operating within Los Angeles County. Now let’s say that each range attracts 10 shooters a day – that’s probably far below the actual traffic – and each shooter buys 50 rounds of range ammo before he/she leaves. Range operators make their money selling reloaded ammunition for a fraction of the price shooters would pay for the factory stuff from Remington, Federal, Winchester, et. al. This means that every day in LA County at least 10,000 ammunition rounds are being sold, of which the purchase of not one single round requires any kind of background check at all.

The California ammunition law exempts purchases at gun ranges, which basically means that once the law goes into effect, the result will be to open up the handloaded ammunition market for everyone who would otherwise be unable to get their hands on the stuff they need. And the Russell Sage research team had the balls to publish a peer-reviewed article which claimed that criminals don’t understand gun laws?

What Kavanaugh Said About Assault Rifles Happens To Be True.

I hate to say this, folks, but the big flap over Brett Kavanaugh’s supposed endorsement of assault rifles and other pro-gun issues is nothing other than a big nothingburger. Understand that I’m not trying to find a back-door way to support his nomination. I’m also not trying to imply in any way that his nomination shouldn’t be opposed based on concerns that he might help the Supreme Court undo fundamental decisions that guarantee justice and equality for all.

kavanaugh1              My problem is that I keep reading and hearing things that Kavanaugh allegedly believes about guns, and then when I listen to what he actually says, it doesn’t add up.  Is he a pro-gun guy?  No kidding – gee, what a surprise. Will he tilt the Court to the right if and when another gun-control law comes up for review?  Of course he will.  On the other hand, his response to Senator Feinstein’s question about his views on assault rifles was not only well within accepted legal parameters, but followed directly from the majority Heller opinion written by Scalia in 2008.

First of all, contrary to what appeared on the Giffords website, he did not say that ‘assault weapons can’t be distinguished from handguns.’  What he said was that as semi-automatic weapons they could not be distinguished from semi-automatic handguns as a “matter of law.”  And what he obviously meant by that statement is the fact that since 1934, federal gun law has made a clear distinction between semi-automatic weapons, as opposed to weapons which fire full-auto, the latter being very heavily regulated, the former much less so.

Incidentally, David Hogg is also jumping into the argument by saying that the ‘effective’ range of a handgun is 75 feet but the ‘effective’ range of an AR-15 is 1600 feet; hence, the AR is not a gun to be used for self-defense. David’s a lovely young man, he’s a big and important cog in the gun-control machine. He doesn’t know squat about guns.

I notice that every, single anti-Kavanaugh post somehow neglects to mention the words ‘matter of law.’  But that’s exactly the point. Kavanaugh is absolutely correct in following the precedent set by Scalia whose opinion gave Constitutional protection to privately-owned guns, with the exception of ‘dangerous and unusual’ weapons, by which Scalia meant guns designed for military use.

Do me a favor, okay? Please don’t send me a nasty email or accuse me of being some kind of gun-sucking troll until you read what I am now going to say. The problem with the 2008 Heller decision is that Scalia, the Court’s alleged gun nut, really didn’t know much of anything about guns. If he did, he could never have made a distinction between so-called ‘weapons in common use’ and ‘weapons of war’ because most of the handguns owned today happen to be guns that were designed and initially manufactured for military use. The most popular handgun sold today – Glock – was designed for the Austrian Army and is carried by many troops in the field, including American troops. Every, single polymer gun in the Sig catalog is designed on the same platform which was used for the U.S. Army’s new handgun. The most popular handgun of all time, the Colt 1911 45acp pistol was designed for the Army by John Browning in 1907.

The United States is the only country that makes no distinction between small arms for the military and small arms for civilian use. In fact, even the whole idea of full-auto versus semi-auto is nonsense, because the current battle rifle, the M4, can be shot in semi-auto mode.

When the Supreme Court decided to extend Constitutional protection to weapons in ‘common use,’ it created a definition that had nothing to do with history, law or anything else. It was nothing more than an ill-founded opinion by a jurist whose colleagues knew even less about guns. Sorry, but when it comes to guns, the collective stupidity of our highest court can’t be blamed on what Brett Kavanaugh said or didn’t say.

Levi-Strauss Understands Gun Violence – It’s The Gun.

,             If there’s one brand name out there which we associate with the Old West, it’s not Smith & Wesson or Colt, it’s Levi’s, as in Levi-Strauss.  Their signature product, denim jeans held together with copper rivets rather than just plain thread, didn’t really become a mass market item until long after the frontier was closed, but the name and those leather labels still evokes everything which symbolizes how and when the U.S.A. was formed.

levi's             All of a sudden it seems, the company has decided to make a very strong and very public statement about guns. And it’s not a statement about how Winchester and Levi-Strauss won the West. To the contrary, in an open letter to Fortune Magazine, a publication you’ll find on the coffee table of virtually every business leader in the United States, Levi’s CEO, Chip Bergh, is urging the business sector to take what he calls a ‘stand on gun violence, which follows from a company policy announced in 2016 which banned guns from all Levi’s stores. The policy even applies to stores located in jurisdictions where carrying a gun is permitted by law.

Did the company receive the usual assortment of nasty emails and threats from the usual collection of pro-gun trolls?  Of course. Did Bergh and the company’s other executives back down?  Here’s his final comment from the 2016 piece: “In the end, I believe we have an obligation to our employees and customers to ensure a safe environment and keeping firearms out of our stores and offices will get us one step closer to achieving that reality.”

Did Levi-Strauss suffer at the cash register the way that a gaggle of alt-right trolls is claiming Nike will see its sales collapse because of the new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick that even has Sleazy Don weighing in to remind everyone that he’s America’s Patriot Number One? Levi’s has been privately-owned so we can’t determine whether they have paid any kind of price with falling revenues since they announced the ban.  The company has left open the issue of enforcement but the message is clear: one of America’s most storied and celebrated business organizations has decided to turn its back on guns.

In addition to the open letter, the company is also putting its money behind its mouth in the form of a million-dollar Safer Tomorrow Fund that will support what it calls “the work of nonprofits and youth activists who are working to end gun violence in America.”  The company is also doubling the match it donates when employees support organizations that get involved with the Fund. Most important, and this is a point which needs to be emphasized by anyone and everyone who supports the decision by Levi-Strauss, the company is going to partner with a new group of business leaders who want to reduce gun violence; it’s called the Everytown Business Leaders for Gun Safety, started by you-know-who.

Nobody on either side of the gun issue should underestimate the importance of this move. And the importance isn’t a function of the deep pockets of Mike Bloomberg, although that never hurts. What’s really important about this new campaign is that we finally have an effort to focus gun violence where it really belongs, namely, on the companies who create the 125,000 gun deaths and injuries each year because they make the guns.

I don’t know of another advocacy campaign aimed at reducing injuries from a consumer product in which the companies which make the product are so hidden from public view. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking for one minute that the 2nd Amendment is any kind of protective shield behind which gun manufacturers can hide. It’s not. Period.  But again and again the gun-control movement tries to come up with policies and laws that regulate the behavior of gun owners while exempting the gun makers from greater scrutiny and regulatory review.

Recall the 1992 Presidential campaign slogan ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ Now replace the word ‘economy’ with the word ‘gun’ and you have the real importance of what Levi-Strauss plans to do.

 

The Russian Spy And The NRA: The Story’s Fading Fast.

If there is still anyone out there who still believes that the Keystone Cops story about Maria Butina running around as a secret Russian agent trying to help Sleazy Don rig the election, last week’s New York Times story should finally put all that nonsense to rest. In fact, what has now been revealed isn’t the Keystone Cops – that’s way too professional.  It’s really a script right out of Laurel & Hardy, or maybe Cramden & Norton. But whatever it is, the idea that this half-witted little playgirl got together with the NRA to somehow subvert our political system is beyond absurd.

25butina_dc-jumbo   butina2           Even the NYT reporters, who had previously been pushing the Mata Hari storyline, felt it necessary to cover themselves by admitting that “during her time in the United States, she surrounded herself not only with high-profile American conservatives but also with dubious characters who seemed bent on making a fast buck — and it was not always easy to tell one from the other.” Not easy to tell one from the other – no sh*t Sherlock.

On the other hand, to cement the image of a nefarious NRA leadership hell-bent on doing whatever illegal or unethical things were done to promote Sleazy Don’s campaign, we now have the appearance of yet another suspicious character whose agenda was also being shaped by a connection the pro-gun gang, in this case none other than Donna Keene, wife of David Keene, who happens to be a former President of the NRA.

Donna Keene is described in the NYT article as a ‘well-connected Washington lobbyist,’ whose connections – surprise, surprise – all happen to be on the Far Right. She currently makes appearances for an outfit called The Leadership Institute, which was founded in 1979 as a place where young conservatives can learn how to promote the right-wing message on college campuses, social media, political movement, the whole bit.

The way she got involved with the Russian ‘spy,’ however, had nothing to do with politics, or lobbying, or the NRA, or anything else.  Keene reached out to Maria Butina because she allegedly was fronting for some guy who wanted to buy Russian jet fuel and, after all, since  Butina had taken husband David on an NRA junket to Moscow, why not ask her for help?

Why not? Because Butina didn’t know anyone who had any connections at all in the Russian energy industry, and she was so obvious in her attempts to promote herself and make a buck that even her boyfriend, or her ex-boyfriend, or whatever he is, another two-but hustler named Paul Erickson, admitted that he actually wrote all the emails which Butina then cut and pasted so that it looked like she knew what to say.

The whole, stupid deal collapsed because there never was a deal. All that happened was that Butina asked Donna to put up $25,000 as a ‘good faith’ payment; we all know where that money would have ended up.

Let me break it gently to my good gun violence prevention (GVP) friends. The NRA was founded in 1876 to promote gun ownership and the safe use of guns. For reasons having absolutely nothing to do with Trump, or Putin or anyone else, gun owners have always been politically conservative and are easily persuaded that political liberals are against gun ‘rights.’ If you want to come over here from anywhere else and try various shlock schemes that will appeal to folks on the right, my suggestion is that you’re wasting your time going to a meeting of the local chapter of moveon.org.

So far, super-spy Butina has tried to promote the AK-47 assault rifle without any success; she’s now tried to make a connection between an unnamed American and an unidentified Russian who may or may not be able to come up with some jet fuel for sale. This is how you get the NRA to help you subvert the American political system?  As my grandmother would say, “gai mach,’ which means blow it out your proverbial rear end.