Tag: Maryland

Another Gun Control Failure

About fifteen years ago, a couple of states decided to try a program in ballistic fingerprinting. The idea was that, whenever a gun was sold, it would be fired and a casing would be kept of its ballistic fingerprint. Then, when that gun was used in a crime, police could use the ballistic fingerprint to find the perpetrator.

At the time, it was very obvious this program was going to be an expensive failure. Apart from the challenge of creating a usable database, it was fundamentally flawed. Because ballistics isn’t that precise a science. Ballistic “fingerprints” change. Ballistic fingerprint can be altered. Even if you could identify to whom a gun was sold, that doesn’t help you if the gun was stolen or sold to another party. It doesn’t prove they used it to commit a crime. And … as always … this was yet another gun control measure that punished the law abiding. According to the FBI, only about 15% of guns used to commit a crime were purchased legally. The vast majority are obtained from friends, family members or illegally. So people legally buying guns in stores had to go through this rigamarole while criminals didn’t.

You know … sometimes I hate being right all the time:

For gun control advocates, it sure sounded like a great idea. Why not force gun purchasers to fire a round at the police station so that the ballistic “fingerprint” of the firearm could be catalogued? That way, police could find the perpetrator every time a gun was used in a crime. What could go wrong?

Plenty, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Erin Cox. Fifteen years, millions of dollars, and 340,000 shell casings later, Maryland decided last week to scrap the system … after failing to solve one single crime in its existence.

What lessons are we to learn here? Perhaps the first lesson is that no idea is so nonsensical that it can’t be turned into a government program, especially when the topic is gun control. Even now, some of the program’s defenders insist that it takes 15 years for this kind of project to ripen because guns tend to get stolen and used in crimes long after their initial sale. However, even if that’s true, then the ballistic fingerprints will get investigators nowhere except to find the victim of a prior robbery. It still won’t solve the extant crime. Meanwhile, Maryland will bury itself in used shell casings and pay for storage and personnel in order to solve no crimes at all. Those resources would be put to much better use if they funded more investigators rather than more bureaucrats and stock clerks. Those are the priorities that matter in law enforcement, but appear to matter less to politicians looking for headlines to assuage gun-control advocates.

(That’s from Ed Morrissey. Be sure to click through to a great column from Glenn Reynolds about how gun control primary targets minorities, convicting them not of crimes against their fellow humans but of breaking arbitrary government rules.)

This was never going to work. Anyone who knew anything about guns knew this was never going to work. Even if it had been run perfectly and created an extremely efficient system for ballistic fingerprinting, it would never have worked. It would never have worked because guns don’t work that way.

All Kansas, No Maryland

All right, here’s a question. Over the last year, we’ve seen innumerable think pieces about the budget crisis in Kansas. To make a long story short, Governor Sam Brownback cut taxes in the state dramatically, claiming that this would stimulate Kansas’ economy and the tax cuts would pay for themselves. It was a poor decision since 1) he didn’t cut spending; 2) Kansas’ taxes and unemployment were already low; 3) tax cuts almost never “pay for themselves”.

But …

In Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley enacted the Democrats’ dream agenda. He raised the gas tax, the fuel tax, the flush tax, tobacco taxes, individual taxes, taxes on the rich, highways and tolls, hospital taxes, titling taxes, alcohol taxes, millionaires taxes, sales taxes, tip jar taxes, property taxes, corporate taxes — to the tune of billions of dollars. He hiked the minimum wage, made in-state tuition available to illegal immigrants, increased spending on everything.

And the result is a budget disaster that makes Kansas look like small potatoes. A $1.2 billion deficit this year. Hiring freezes at state universities and an economy that is still heavily dependent on federal government contracting.

So where are the headlines at Vox? Where is Mother Jones talking about the failure of Keynesian economics? Where are the think pieces about how you can’t tax your way into prosperity? Why is Brownback’s Kansas a disaster of biblical proportions but O’Malley Maryland is something he can run on for President?

As Lee used to say: oh … that liberal media. Right.

(PS – And it looks like Connecticut is going to be moving into the high tax, huge deficit family as well.)

Here Comes the Rain Again

Uhhh, wut?

On the heels of Maryland’s decision to enact tough new gun laws, the ironically nicknamed state (the “Free State”) will now impose a so-called “rain tax” on its residents.

The “storm management fee,” passed by the state legislature in 2012, will go into effect following a decree from Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley.

“Fees will be calculated on the surface area of properties as the theory is that roofs, driveways and carparks create more potential for drainage problems and water contamination,” Metro explains. “Councils are supposed to determine how much to charge per square foot, but the fee depends on the size of the building and surrounding paved surfaces.”

So here’s the deal. The EPA gave Maryland an unfunded mandate to reduce runoff into the Chesapeake. The state then passed that on to the counties. The counties are now using this an excuse to raise taxes. Only…

And how does the state plan to spend these new tax dollars? It’s unclear:

The state law is kind of squishy. It can be spent to build and maintain stream and wetland restoration projects. And, of course, a lot of it will go to “monitoring, inspection, enforcement, review of stormwater management plans and permit applications and mapping of impervious surfaces.” In other words, hiring more bureaucrats to administer the rain tax program.

It can also be spent on “public education and outreach” (whatever that means) and on “grants to nonprofit organizations” (i.e. to the greenies who pushed the tax through the various levels of government).

In other words, it’s just going to be another tax. It will fund some cleanup, yes. And the Chesapeake does actually need the help (I know crab fisherman on the basin who’ve been having problems). But it will also fund anything else the state or county thinks is worth it.

Money if fungible. Taxes are fungible. In the end, all taxes go into a big pile. And after our leader are finished rolling around naked in it, they are free to spend it on whatever they like.

(About that Maryland gun law. In addition to banning 10-round magazines and “assault weapons”, it requires a license to buy a handgun, complete with a fingerprint requirement. The NRA is going to court and I think it’s unlikely that the Court will uphold this.)

O’Malley, incidentally, is being touted as a 2016 Presidential Candidate. His qualification, according to the pundits, is his unabashed liberalism. He has raised taxes and spending, restricted guns, banned the death penalty and supports same-sex marriage. He is doing what liberals wish the President would: just ignoring the small Republican minority (made easier by recent gerrymandering). Here’s a quote from him that will put a tingle up every liberal leg out there:

“I think we’ve been on a 30-year detour since Reagan’s time. And frankly, sometimes the Democratic Party’s been complicit in slinging this crack, that somehow the answer to every problem is to do less; that somehow, if the wealthiest among us pay less and less in taxes, that somehow jobs are going to sprout up all over the prairie,” O’Malley told POLITICO.

That 30 year detour, incidentally, included one of the biggest and most sustained economic booms in history until Bush and Obama messed it up. But yes, let’s go back to the “good old days” of double digit inflation and double digit unemployment and … oh, wait, we’re already there, aren’t we?

Of course, O’Malley’s actual achievements aren’t very good. He was a lousy mayor of Baltimore. That is, unless you consider expanding government an achievement in and of itself, which most Democrats do. When I lived in Baltimore, it was clear he was running for governor the whole time and taking credit for Baltimore getting better because it simply couldn’t get any worse. Under him, Maryland has become one of the least free states in the union and one of worst business environments. And while unemployment has fallen in Maryland, it has not fallen nearly as fast as the rest of the country, basically remaining unchanged for the last two years. The proximity of Washington has generally kept unemployment rates low in Maryland (mid 3’s before the recession). So today’s 6.6% isn’t as hot as it sounds.

But, hey! He passed the gun law Obama wants and hates small government. So … O’Malley 2016!

Kluwe vs. Burns

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo recently spoke out in favor of gay marriage (it was legalized in Maryland by O’Malley but will be up for a referendum in November; it is very likely to pass referendum). Last week, delegate Emmett C. Burns sent a nasty letter to the Ravens on official stationary expressed how appalled he was that a Ravens player would dare support gay marriage and urging the Ravens to “inhibit such expressions from your employee and that he be ordered to cease and desist such injurious actions”.

If you thought the mayors were out of line to threaten Chick-Fil-A over their expression, you should think this is out of line too. I would write a retort but I don’t think I can match RavensVikings punter Chris Kluwe:

As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.

The rest of the letter is in that vein and includes several expressions that I have never heard before but will certainly steal in the future. Obviously, your opinion of the letter will vary depending on where you stand on the same sex marriage issue. But even absent that, pretentious politicians deserve this kind of public response.

To be fair, Burns isn’t actually threatening the Ravens right now. And the Ravens would be in a better position to ignore this sort of shit if they did not play in a taxpayer-subsidized stadium. But I do think they should respond to Burns’ letter the way they once did when they were in Cleveland.

Oh, and the NFL season kicks off tomorrow, so now is as good a time as any to say, Go Packers!