Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why the UN Small Arms Treaty Sucks

The UN Small arms treaty is aimed at preventing or at least alleviating the problem of various terrorist, criminal, and insurgent groups getting their hands upon small arms, in order to help prevent crime and human rights violations. Or at least, that's what the UN would have you believe.

1. It won't work.
The UN is an international joke for several reasons. One of them is their complete inability to enforce anything without target country permission. Iran, "rogue state" is perhaps the best example of this. If a country doesn't want to enforce the provisions of the treaty, even if they've signed the treaty, the UN will be powerless.

2. This treaty isn't about preventing crime and human rights violations. If the UN actually cared about human rights, the People's Republic of China (PRC) wouldn't be on the UN's Human Rights Council. Keeping the terrorists and criminals from getting weapons would be wonderful, but this treaty is more likely to affect the very people whom it claims to help.

3. They talk of tracing the firearms back to their last legitimate owner, and "holding them accountable". The problem comes when the last legitimate owner was a government, or a citizen of a country that is not a signatory of the treaty, or that chooses to violate the treaty. Then the UN is stuck, impotent.

4. Tracing the firearms to the last legitimate owner would require gun registration, something that is seen as being a precursor to confiscation of firearms, and rightfully so, as the previous examples of Hitler and other totalitarian human rights violators have shown.

I'm not comparing the UN to the Nazis, as the UN doesn't fit that label (they fall under the label of "power-hungry kleptocrats", not "psychopathic sadistic bastards"), but whenever they say that they're doing something to prevent human rights violations, remember that their Human Rights Council includes the PRC, Cuba, and Djibouti, all "single party republics", which is another way of saying "totalitarian dictatorship". It also includes various other countries where human rights are not respected. This is why I consider it to be a sick joke whenever the UN references human rights.

Fox News: Proposed U.N. Treaty To Regulate Global Firearms Trade Raising Concerns For U.S. Gun Owners

Human Rights Council: Membership of the Human Rights Council

United Nations Disarmament: Small Arms and Light Weapons

Deadliness of Cars vs. Deadliness of Guns

A theoretical one metric ton (2679.23 lbs, about 320 pounds lighter than my Chevy S10) vehicle traveling at ten meters a second (about 22 mph) has 50,000 joules of energy. I’ll admit that I used this theoretical vehicle because I wanted a nice round number.
A 180 grain 30-06 rifle (Hornady 30-06 Springfield 180 gr. InterLock® SP) bullet traveling at 822.96 mps (2700 feet per second) has 3948.44 joules of energy.
A 240 grain 44. Magnum (Black Hills Ammunition, 44 Magnum 240 gr. JHP) pistol bullet traveling at 384.05 mps (1260 fps) has 1146.77 joules of energy.
Why then, can I buy and drive a car at 16, but have to wait until I turn 18 to buy a rifle, and until I turn 21 to buy a pistol?
For those who wish to quote death statistics, I’ve got a few from the CDC.
According to CDC’s WISQARS site, unintentional motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of accidental death in 2009 with 34,485 deaths, while firearms are the number 16 cause of accidental death with 554 fatalities.
Even with firearm suicides (18,735) and homicides (11,493) added to the firearm accidents, the total comes to 30,785, 3700 less than car accidents alone. No matter how you look at it, firearms are less deadly than cars.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


After considering the language in SOPA/PIPA (specifically SOPA, but PIPA is also a concern), I have decided that it would be a very bad law.

I'll start with a summary of what I have heard and read on the internet. First, if a site has user-generated content, it is at extreme risk. Second, if a site facilitates reaching a restricted site, it too becomes restricted. Third, SOPA/PIPA does not provide an easy method to fight back against the accuser.

Now for my thoughts. Tor, a service designed to help people behind the Great Chinese Firewall would be blocked in the U.S. It is a software designed expressly to get around firewalls and make the users anonymous en masse; you can tell if someone is using it BUT you cannot filter where they go OR tell where they go. Tor, in and of itself, is a very useful tool for whistle-blowers, journalists, and other people who want to remain anonymous when posting online (due to legal concerns or personal concerns). I will say this much about SOPA's hope of preventing access to Tor; look at China (PRC), have they blocked Tor completely?

Also, if the interpretation of this law becomes broad enough (or loose enough; look at the second amendment for example) then sites who have dealt with sites whose sole purpose is to get around firewall's/pirate content/etc. could find themselves at risk.

I'm going to take everyone's favorite (or least favorite) browser. Mozilla Firefox has a massive addon ecosystem with user generated content. So someone who did not like Mozilla or was competing with Mozilla could, conceivably, put copyrighted content in a user review of an addon, or upload an addon that enables others to get around DNS blocking/firewalls/etc., and then Mozilla Firefox is effectively out of business.

Sites that serve as places to upload reviews of products would also be hard hit, since instead of going through a legally arduous process to get a bad review removed, a company could just upload copyrighted content (anonymously) to the website and get it pulled down for that.

Here is something else to consider; I could write a book, self-publish it, and then use the forums of EA to completely (or partially) kill EA's online presence.

By the same token, some smart cracker/hacker (cracker is more accurate) somewhere will crack into the government's website and post copyrighted material there, which would make the government liable (the government probably won't care--they wrote the law, so they could modify to give exemptions to certain parties, but then some people are more equal in the view of the law then others. Just like 1984).

Has anyone out there given any thought to the potential for crackers to take down legitimate sites that had no intention of violating copyright law, but did violate copyright because it got cracked/hacked?

I have no problem with IP laws; it is only how it is enacted, and I think that SOPA/PIPA along with the DMCA go a little to far. I want to own what I purchase, and be able to resell it later.

SOPA and PIPA are just disasters waiting to happen; if you cannot enforce the law, especially one like this, then you have no business passing the law in the first place.

For those in congress:
Oh, and about Tor? Some people already have it. It is open source, anyone can get the source, anyone can build it, anyone can improve upon it. Again, look at how effective it is in places that have essentially the same type of blocking.
Also, don't trust the lobbyists; they have been known to lie to further their interests.

For everyone else:
Join us, get Tor today for tomorrow.

Also, I see .onion domains popping up all over the place. Those are sites only accessible via Tor, and no one can track them back to the originator easily.

BTW, I do not condone or engage in piracy, so please don't say that I'm against it because you think I engage in "piracy."

Also, for those wanting to quote me out of context, please do so after SOPA/PIPA pass. I'll use it on YOU. If you are going to quote me, get the context; if you don't, ask. I'm specifically thinking of the previous paragraph.