How I afford to do this

Friday, August 2, 2013

A Harsh Look At School Shootings

  One of my chief character flaws is my tendency to entertain silliness.  Whereas many of my peers would simply shake their heads at an asinine idea, I'll "go there."  I'm not sure that it's improved my life to any degree, but I set the expectation that statements should be supported with fact.

  Shortly after the VA Tech massacre, I visited an outspoken anti-gunner at the restaurant he co-owns.  Knowing my stance, he walked up and told me the following story:

  "I was talking to a customer yesterday who said that if someone had a [concealed handgun license], he could have stopped the Virginia Tech shooter.  I said 'that's great, crossfire!'"

  And yes, I had to go there.

  Let's set a baseline.  Any loss of human life is tragic.  That's not patented by the left or right; it's a conclusion indicative of our humanity.  It doesn't matter whether the cause of death was murder, car accident or a spider bite; death is something we all seek to avoid for us, our loved ones, and our community.

  Here's what we know:  The Virginia Tech shooter killed 32 people, plus himself.  Each victim was shot at least three times. 28 were shot in the head.  Several classrooms were attacked, with anywhere from 2-11 fatalities per room.  Massacre ended with shooter's suicide, even though he had over 200 rounds to spare.  He had a Walther p22 and a Glock 19.  Fully loaded, that totals 27 rounds with standard magazine capacities of 10+1 and 15+1 respectively.  Given the body count per room, the shooter probably went into each class, emptied both magazines and moved on to the next, reloading on the way to avoid interaction during this period of relative vulnerability.  It's also said that he would leave the room, reload, and re-enter.

  The fact of the matter is that we can choose to toss around buzz words like "crossfire," or we can actually examine possible outcomes.  The reality in hindsight is that even if the armed civilian shot and killed three innocents before putting the assailant down, while creating three tragedies in the process would be a success so long as the perpetrator was killed before he was 90% through his rampage.

  There's a point during school shootings, let's call it the "I'm screwed" point.  This is where the shooter realizes that his rampage is coming to an end and typically ends with the bad guys' suicide.  Crossfire, despite its inherent danger would logically expedite this moment.

  Let's be honest though.  We would probably never have any information to study on the impact of armed students.  The shooters are not looking for a fight.  They want a body count.  In all likelihood, these deranged miscreants would be stopped by the prospect of crossfire, rather than crossfire itself.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Hi-Cap Debate

  Many unarmed Americans tend to follow the seemingly logical conclusions of the mainstream; to the conclusion that a citizen has no need for "high-capacity magazines," with the general consensus at a 10-round maximum. Some have heard the counterarguments of "If you take the guns from good people, then only criminals will have them."  This is absolutely true, albeit absolutely cliche.  Here are some things you might not have heard as to why a higher-capacity magazine for the law-abiding populace isn't such a bad idea.

  What I am about to say might be tough to read.  While it is never my intent to offend, facts from an objective analysis will inevitably come off as callous.  I would urge you all to remember the importance of knowing all facts, and discrediting any voice that calls an aspect of the debate untouchable.

  The first thing to grasp is the gravity of removing a right in this country.  Whereas many cultures consider their rights in terms of what the government allows them to do (or in some cases, what the government provides them), in the US we operate on the principle that our rights predate the government.  Therefore the government does not "allow" us to do anything.  The Bill of Rights is not about what we are given, but rather what we have that is to be preserved for the entirety of the American experiment.

  A principle flaw in this notion is the risk of stripping a right without getting a reward.  Aside from altering what all people may do in the hopes that it will impact what criminals can do, we have to concede that limiting the amount of rounds carried in one box does not in any way limit the number of rounds one can carry on his or her person.  Do a quick YouTube search under "speed reload" and tell me how many lives would be saved in any mass shooting if this simple action had to be performed after every ten rounds fired as opposed to every 15, 17, or 30.  Remember that this can be done in the course of target-acquisition, reducing or even eliminating the time gained (or lost, depending on perspective) when the magazine empties.

  When deconstructing the Fort Hood, Aurora, CO, and Sandy Hook massacres, we know that there was an average of 2.76 rounds fired for every victim (killed and injured).  What we don't know is how many lives would be saved if there was a 2-second break with twice the regularity at Ft. Hood (FN Five-seveN), three-times in the case of a standard AR magazine or 4.5 times in the case of the Beta mag that James Holmes tried using that failed at less than half-way through in Aurora.

  Another important aspect of a shooting to remember is the psychological and physiological impacts that the situation will have on the victim.  The victim's blood will rush to the center of the body to protect his or her vital organs, stripping their hands of dexterity.  The sudden adrenaline dump accentuates the shakes.  Tunnel vision sets in as the body focuses only on the immediate threat.  

  The perpetrator on the other hand is often not subject to the same reaction.  Murderers' brains are seeking to gain, rather than the stop-loss efforts of the victims.  Their minds are geared for a slaughter, rather than a fight.  While the same prerogative is sought by both the murderer and the armed civilian, the murderer has the advantage of forethought.  The perpetrator also has a higher likelihood of being under the influence of a mind-altering substance.

 In short, the criminal has a clear advantage when it comes to the element of surprise and mental clarity (or at least not being hindered by fear mechanisms).  It's bad enough that the victims' lives are thrown into upheaval; I don't think it's too much to ask that the citizens are at least as well-equipped as the miscreants.

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to win the debate

I may have mentioned before, but I am currently a little over half-way through my MBA coursework.  My recent business law class had a student who worked for a gun manufacturer, and the topic of gun rights came up.  My initial statement was that while a world without guns would probably be a cool place, the notion of in-inventing something does not exist within the confines of reality.  Below I have pasted another classmate's response along with my counter.  Note that I did not use any cliches that the other side is used to hearing.  Instead, I met her at her level of comprehension and presented facts.  Ultimately there are still people who are still trying to figure things out, and like this one, can be won over.  I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing.


Classmate's statement:
Christopher,
I would like to agree with your though to un-invent gun and a world without a single firearm or weaponized explosive of any kind would do wonders, as it would force disturbed individuals to kill in smaller numbers. I must tell you the rate at which i hear and see gun crime on the news in America is quite so unbelievable as in my country Nigeria I can say I do not know of any gun dealer shop let alone people carry guns freely as one of their human rights. True there is gun crime in Nigeria but very minimal as compared to developed countries where anybody can walk into a gun shop and buy a gun as long as the registration and checks required are fulfilled.
Class, I must say this is what civilization and democracy is bringing to us and i keep wondering and thinking that if there is no law that can drastically bring these gun crimes to a stop what is going to become of the world in the nearest future?

My Response:

Islamiat,
  It is interesting to see how some countries allow their citizenry to be armed while others don't.  I have no wish to harm any human being, but (obligatory disclaimer aside) I would imagine the mentality of a killer is something along the lines of:
1.     Identify pain.
2.     Identify cause of pain.
3.     Resolve to seek vengeance.
4.     Determine capability to kill.
5.     Resolve to kill a specific person(s).
6.     Choose method [gun/knife/ice cream truck/etc.].
7.     Execute (no pun intended).
  The choice to commit an act of violence, though it could take less than two seconds, would conceivably contain all of these elements.  Notice how the gun is only a small part of this equation.  I think that the problem cannot be blamed only on "step six."  To solve violence, we as a culture need to shun violence.  Stop going to violent movies.  Stop buying violent video games.  Stop buying music with violent lyrics.  Again, restricting the tools will only cause those who complete steps 1-5 to kill less efficiently, and will render law-abiding victims unable to survive the acts of an aggressor.

Back to your comparison, I pulled the murder rates by country and compared the US and Nigeria.  I also pulled the gun laws in Nigeria to compare with the American rights.

Murder rates per 100,000 population:

Nigeria: 17.7 (2004)

USA: 5.9 (Average, 2003-2005)

  Nigerian gun rights summary:  Civilian gun ownership is not guaranteed by law.  Handguns are illegal for civilians to own.  Semi-automatic and fully-automatic assault weapons are not legal for civilian ownership.

  USA gun rights summary: "...the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.
"  Ownership by civilians is restricted in several cases such as rifles with less than a 16" barrel, shotguns with less than a 18" barrel, select-fire (Fully-automatic) weapons systems and AOW, or "any other weapons" systems such as pen guns, cane guns and systems which completely conceal a firearm during use.  Further restrictions at the state level exist concerning other firearm-type/accessory limitations and rights concerning the public open-or-concealed carry.

  As we can see in the case of Nigeria vs. the US, if legal gun ownership limitations play a role in frequency of crime, it can be assumed that more legal gun ownership is conducive to less crime.  Again, I feel that the problem is not with step 6, but with 1-5.  Otherwise, America will see nothing but a spike in knife crime against a defenseless citizenry.


Sources:
Rogers, S. "Global homicide: murder rates around the world."  13 October 2009.  Retrieved fromhttp://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2009/oct/13/homicide-rates-country-murder-data on 16 February, 2013.

Author Unknown, Nigeria — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law.  Retrieved from gunpolicy.org viahttp://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/nigeria on 16 February 2013


Madison, J. United States Constitution; Amendment II. 25 September 1789. Retrieved fromhttp://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/second_amendment on 16 February 2013.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

On carrying a gun (Part 2)

  For this section, I thought it might be refreshing to see the mindset of someone carrying a concealed handgun on a daily basis.  I have no desire to argue my stance with this post, just to shed light on the subject for those who have never been exposed to guns or concealed carry, as well as those who may have not been able to get an honest look through all of the stigma.

  As I mentioned in Part One, the reason I got a CHL (Texas Concealed Handgun License) had nothing to do with me thinking I needed a firearm for personal defense.  I have the public demeanor of someone not looking for trouble, and I have the stature to dissuade victimization.  In interpersonal relationships, I tend to polarize people.  Walking down the street, I'm respectfully disconnected.

  If you ask my wife, she will tell you that I "attract weirdos," and she is 100% correct.  I have lost count of the number of people who have stopped to talk to me just so they could tell me a story or claim that the mall we were in had "The real Santa" in a ten-minute diatribe.  I never saw this as a threat to my safety, and to be forward, I enjoy meeting new people (Yes, even the non-lucid and domestically-challenged).

  I was not the most well-informed, and I had an outlook that most democrats could get behind; that hi-capacity mags were senseless and unnecessary, that WASR-10s and AR-15s were impractical for both hunting and defense.  I thought that that I would have the time and wherewithal to recite some smart-ass line which, combined with gun in hand would send any criminal running. I'll write another post later on the luxury of theory.

  I had been in a few fights growing up, nothing really serious until the time I thought it worthwhile to hang out in a trailer park at 4am and tell some crackhead that I didn't want to buy "his" motorcycle until I saw some papers.  Moderate blood-loss, threats of execution by way of a Biden-approved shotgun and a bruised ego later, I learned my lesson and decided to avoid bad situations from then on.

  My CHL came in the mail in the end of 2007.  Almost immediately I noticed the lifestyle and outlook changes.  I stopped flicking people off when they failed to use their blinkers, or anything else that had the potential to escalate.  I knew that since I had the ability and in some cases permission to respond with deadly force, I had to modify my behavior to reduce the likelihood of something turning bad.

  I made it a point to learn as much as I could about armed citizen situations and how they are most effectively handled.  The CHL class has a noteworthy section on non-violent dispute resolution, and I considered this every bit as important as trigger-pull technique, proper breathing, tactical reloads and cover vs concealment combined.  Every instructor with a shred of credibility included the obligatory disclaimer that "your brain is your best weapon."

  At first, the gun in my pocket provided the kind of smirk on a young man's face; not dissimilar to the one I had when I brought a 7 1/2' Colombian red-tail boa to Plano East Senior High in a duffel bag.  On the enthusiast forum Glocktalk.com, the standard rite of passage is to take a trip to Walmart, walking around the store while eating nachos with a gun in your pocket.  I don't think that they sell nachos there anymore, so I settled for the stroll.

  I acknowledge that the environment I grew up in is different than most.  I shot my first gun when I was 6-years-old, destroying a prickly pear cactus in Uvalde, TX with .410 bird shot.  A year later I had shot my first deer, and I went hunting with my dad and brother just about every deer season until I was about 20.

  Growing up around guns taught me a lot.  Not only about guns, but about life and natural laws as well.  One of the main rules of gun ownership is to never point a gun at something that I'm not willing to destroy.  This is because in the words of my father, "You can't un-pull a trigger."  While other kids were playing video games with "Extra lives," "Power-ups," and so-on, I was being taught the value and fragility of the only life we are given.

  For the most part, I carry only one gun with no spare ammunition.  I carry a Glock 27 with a total of 11 rounds in the magazine/chamber.  While I consider myself mentally-prepared to respond to a situation if necessary, a gun in my pocket has simply become my normal.  Most people have an out-the-door checklist, and mine is "Phone, wallet, keys, gun."  Three of these I will use at some point during the day, and one I hope not to.

  I've adopted an inclination that I once read; that paranoia is the point that one prepares more for what probably won't happen than for what probably will.  Do a YouTube search on EDC (For every day carry) and you'll find plenty of people who disagree with this notion.

  Carrying a gun encourages me to be more aware of my environment.  The one time I had to draw my pistol in self defense, I had picked up enough about the situation to proactively determine the best course of action as I went so that I remained safe and at the same time did not have to take a life.  This skill has transferred over into retail management where I see customers approaching the store and encourage my reps to do the same.  This helped my store to become and remain the top of it's kind in Texas.

  In essence, I think that carrying a gun has made my life better.  So far I've killed none and saved one.  Perhaps the biggest caution I could give someone outside of the notion of physical safety is that of moral polarization.  Simply put, one cannot be an ordinary, law-abiding schmuck when they leave their homes with a gun.  Each day, an armed citizen must decide to be either a good guy or a bad guy.  Many are too intimidated to actively make this choice, but the potential for deadly force requires one or the other.

Friday, July 5, 2013

The Tae Kwon Do Fallacy

  At some point, we have all seen a martial arts demonstration.  For most of us it was at school, but it may have also been at church or any other social gathering.  A key component of the martial arts demonstration is as follows:  The Sensei, Master or demonstrator will illustrate a predicament along the lines of "Watch how I counter as this guy attempts an overhead knife attack."

  Theoretically great information, right?  Given the demonstration and a rudimentary grasp on physics, this could definitely counter the demonstrated motion.  This expo may go on to contain half-a-dozen or more scenarios along with the counters, all with karma being appropriately delivered to the bad guy.  So what's wrong with this demonstration?

  The problem with this concept is that one never knows where an attack is coming from, from what angle or how to counter it when it hasn't been seen in class.  While it's entirely plausible that an attacker will use textbook offensive maneuvers, it's a far cry from probable.

  I recently watched a video of a Hawthorne, CA police officer fatally shooting a rottweiler after it lunged at him making definite, though an indeterminable amount of contact.  The dog approached officers who had just handcuffed its owner for at the very least, POP (pissing off the police).

  Enter the tidal wave of sympathy.  Comments flooded in as the video went viral, with many people claiming that the officer responded incorrectly.  They claim that the officer should have used pepper spray, a baton, etc. instead of deadly force.  One even went so far as to suggest that the suspect be un-cuffed so that he could put his dog back into the car and roll up the windows.

  Without getting into the logistics of whether a German protection breed will back down from a baton beating or pepper spray (but your next youtube video should be a schutzhund trial), or whether we think that someone worth handcuffing should be allowed to open a car door and be in reach of a glove box; we have to acknowledge that these thoughts came from outside of the situation.  What we do know is that the suspect acted in a manner he knew to draw the police, and that when the police arrived, he put his dog inside of a car, but with the windows open enough to let the dog out.

  Ultimately, the police did not fire until after he pushed the dog away after the first lunge.  As much as I love dogs and especially this kind of dog, the police officer did exactly what any person between a Rott and its owner has to.

  The similarity in many forms of martial arts is that they emphasize repetition of specific moves and countering certain situations.  The psychological impact is that the function transfers from the cerebral cortex (Where activities are focused) to the basal ganglia (For regularly-performed actions that do not require all of our concentration).  I think the best analogy for this would be in learning to drive a car.  When we first started driving, most of us had to concentrate completely on the road. Now, we can talk on the phone, listen to music, text (aside from the fact that we should NEVER text and drive), or any number of other tasks because it no longer occupies that valuable real estate in the middle of our brain.

  The gap left by training this way is that there is no possibility of training for every possible scenario.  Faced with the imminent danger of a dog almost the same size as the officer lunging and showing aggression, it's important to remember the psychological and physiological effects of having one's life/safety threatened.

  First, most blood rushes inward to protect vital organs, inhibiting fine motor skills.  Next, tunnel-vision sets in, focusing solely on the source of the danger and nothing else.  Adrenaline and testosterone surge as serotonin levels plummet.  This causes the heart to race and the mind to default to training or primal instincts.

  In short, the officer was most likely temporarily oblivious to the suspect as there were clearly more pressing matters.  Officers are trained to shoot a knife-wielding human at anything inside of 21', because inside of 21', the perpetrator can statistically close that distance and inflict fatal wounds before an officer can draw and fire.  How much more of a threat did a big dog at 5' present?  The officer chose the option with the most simple, effective, and repeatable function necessary to protect himself and his team.  For all that, while I regret the loss of the dog's life and the sorrow that would bring to any family, I applaud the officer for acting in the best interest of those around him.  I would only hope that if Leon Rosby ever decides to taunt the police again, it won't be in a situation that puts anyone or anything else in danger.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why I decided to carry a gun (Part 1)

  I've been legally carrying a concealed handgun for about 6 years now, and many people ask me why I own and/or carry guns.  This is generally asked by people unfamiliar to or afraid of them, in which case it's a toss-up between those who are generally curious and those asking rhetorically as a means of expressing their stance. In either case, here's the complete answer.  

  A couple years after he graduated from the police academy, I had a talk with my cousin who works for Houston PD.  I asked him what I'm sure many of us ask our law enforcement relatives:  "How do I get out of speeding tickets?"

  His response: "Don't speed."

  I countered: "What else?

  Eventually, he told me that a general consensus among law enforcement in Texas is to give leniency to Texas Concealed Handgun License (CHL) holders.  He went on to explain that the main reason to pull people over for speeding is actually not for speeding.  After all, he speeds when he drives.  In fact, law enforcement uses traffic violations as a means of checking for outstanding arrest warrants.

  There is an extensive criminal background check done for a CHL applicant, along with a duty to inform law enforcement during a traffic stop if the CHL holder is carrying a concealed handgun.  Because of this, they must conclude that when they see that license, they are dealing with someone without a significant criminal history, someone with an interest in abiding by the law, and who is responsible enough not to depend on the police for their safety. Typically he says, if he is going to let someone off with a warning, it will be a CHL holder.

  With that, I decided to get the license.  I never thought I would need it, because I'm a nice enough guy and at 6',7", I don't especially look like a victim.  That said, if I can get a little card that  helps law enforcement determine that I'm a good guy and increases the likelihood that I'll get off with a warning, sign me up!

  ...That's why I got permission to carry a gun.  Here's why I do.

  Growing up in Texas, the whole gun control thing was never a conversation I cared for.  At 31 years old, I can say that I have never lived in a house without at least one gun present.  Therefore the debate for me was never about whether or not to own a gun.  I'm a Texan and a grown man, of course I own guns. The only real question was whether to throw one in my pocket when I leave the house.

  In my culture, most of the guns in a given house were for hunting.  This didn't symbolize death, but rather family bonding, proper management of natural wildlife (SEE: carrying capacity), and organic meat for dinner.  The other gun, or guns in the house were held in the same regard as a fire extinguisher.  No, I don't expect my house to catch on fire, but I've got something just in case.  It's the same concept, just change the fire in this analogy to a drug-addicted reprobate.

  I certainly wasn't afraid of being victimized.  A couple years before I got my CHL, I was on a construction crew charged with switching out the traffic signals in Dallas, TX.  I had spent 8 months from 9pm-5am switching out traffic signals in every neighborhood in Dallas, completely unarmed.  I had found that even in the most notorious neighborhoods at midnight, people are like bees; if you don't mess with them, they don't mess with you.

  What got me to move from "Legally allowed to carry" to leaving my house with a gun in my pocket was simply a matter of Murphy's Law.  If I carry a gun, I probably won't need it; whereas the one day I forget to carry, I probably will.

  In addition to my own superstition, I like the ethical polarization of those who carry guns.  Let me explain.  An unarmed person can go about their day without any ethical designation of character.  They obey the laws, do their thing, and come home.  My fellow armed citizens are stripped of the luxury of omission.  When someone leaves their home with a gun, they are choosing, in no uncertain terms to be either a good guy or a bad guy.  We are fully aware that we posses the a means of and authorization to use deadly force, and that compels us to concretely determine (To quote my old Pastor) "what side my bread is buttered on."

  I don't want to kill, I want to live.  I will have forgiven any perpetrator before I pull the trigger.  It's not about forgiveness though; it's about getting home to my wife at the end of the day.  Some people either live without the thought of violence occurring to them or are content that justice, karma, or the universe itself will make things right. Frankly, I'll leave those conversations for people not grounded in objective reality.

  I don't wish harm on a single human being, but I'll quote Hank Rearden:  “I hold that there is no clash of interests among men who do not demand the unearned and do not practice human sacrifices.” In this context, I'm not the one choosing the life-or-death scenario; so if someone forces that question on me, it's nothing personal but I'll choose my own life every time.

  Finally, I carry because I can.  The State of Texas (And the US Constitution, for what little power it has left) has afforded us the right to own and carry our guns with us, and the increased number of people who do so helps to dissuade anyone who would attempt to curtail my freedom.

  About three months after I got my CHL, something took place that confirmed that I was correct in carrying, and it has ensured that I will do so for the rest of my life.  I'll save that for part 2.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Introduction to Social Chemistry: London Vacation

  I'm getting back into writing for the first time in almost a decade. Bear with me as I get back into the swing of things.

  Earlier this year, my wife and I took a trip to London for a week.  I must admit that I had heard much about the way their life contradicts my own and in many ways that's true.  One thing that I came to notice once I arrived however: It works for them.
  The report from most southerners when visiting London is how intense the lifestyle and environment are.  The best way I can describe it is to think of a New Orleans French Quarter that covers a little over 600 square miles.
  One thing that I have come to realize from my visits to other cultures is that their situation is for the most part either chosen, or accepted by the bulk of the populace.  That said, the differences seem to balance themselves out, and London seems to work for Londoners.  We often look at the UK through Texan (I suppose technically American) eyes, and praise or shun them based on how we would apply it to our situation.
DISCLAIMER: From what I hear, the London suburbs are going through a transitional period.  As I spent my time entirely inside the city, my experiences were accordingly limited.
1. Mores were more strictly adhered to.  The first thing I had to get used to was that when coming out of the tubes, it is customary to create a fast lane on the escalator.  When we looked lost, someone always helped.
2. Pride was not as present in human interaction. The norm was as follows:  If you are in a position to yield right-of-way, yield it.  If you are in need of the right-of-way, take it. The thought of "Hey, you cut me off!" seemed absent
3. Social services were more available. We all know about healthcare, and many of us know about the constant CCTV monitoring. These notions seem odd for someone coming from such a do-it-yourself culture as my own
4. Similar ethnic diversity, but hardly any cultural diversity.  We celebrate a melting pot in the US, but in London it was a reality; such to the point that when speaking to someone over the phone, we had no idea what they would look like or where their ancestral homeland may have been.
  These seemed to be balanced by two basic principles.  First, the population density is roughly 8X that of the US. This is ultimately more conducive to social services, and forces people to work together, rather than avoiding one another.  This is in stark contrast to the adage "good fences make good neighbors" because in much of the UK, there is simply no room to build fences.
  In terms of cultural diversity, a similar effect was achieved by accidental means in Houston, TX.  Until relatively recently, Houston had no zoning ordinances.  The idea was that if someone owned a property, they should be able to do what they want with it.  While the end result did not favor Houston aesthetically, there was a benefit that we wouldn't know until much later.
  Houston, compared to other major cities has very few really nice areas, and very few really bad areas.  Almost everywhere you go is either a mixture, or in close proximity to a full spectrum of humanity in economic, racial, and religious terms.  Again, this doesn't help the city in an aesthetic sense; but the benefit is that the close proximity meant that we all just have to deal with each other.  Sure, you're probably more likely to hear a racial slur in Houston than somewhere up north like here in Dallas.  That said, the odds of institutional racism and gentrification are greatly lessened.
  Also, the populace of the UK is ultimately comprised of subjects, rather than citizens.  We throw around terms like "Constitutional monarchy," but what really happened was the control previously granted to the throne was bestowed upon parliament.  Whereas a democracy determines the laws based on their convictions, the lawmakers in a constitutional republic must first ask "Does the constitution give me the authority to enforce my opinion in either direction?"  The UK can enforce mores and operate with less emphasis on the individual because they are conditioned to respect authority.  America, and later Texas was born from defiance.
  Ultimately each of these and many more display why what may work perfectly for one situation is not the best for another.  After all, cyanide might be the best thing for cleaning jewelry; just don't try cleaning your teeth with it.