Tag Archives: South Africa

ISPs: Pirate Site Blocking Threatens Freedom of Expression

Post Syndicated from Ernesto original https://torrentfreak.com/isps-pirate-site-blocking-threatens-freedom-of-expression-190907/

Online piracy is an international problem for the content industries, one that’s particularly hard to curb.

Pirate site blocking appears to be the preferred countermeasure, which has been rolled out in dozens of countries over the years.

While industry reports and academic research have shown signs that this can indeed be effective, it’s certainly no a silver bullet.

With few other options to hand, rightsholders do see it as one of their best bets for now. As such, they frequently push lawmakers to lay the groundwork for ISP blocking, if that’s not available.

It’s also a topic of interest in South Africa at the moment, where the Government has been working on a new ‘Cybercrimes Bill. The proposed legislation doesn’t have any blocking requirements, but there have been calls from industry groups to require ISPs to block blatantly-infringing pirate sites.

While this doesn’t come as a complete surprise considering the global trend, local Internet providers are fiercely against any type of piracy enforcement. Speaking with MyBroadband, the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) describes site blocking as ineffective and concerning.

“Blocking is technically complicated and subject to false positives, yet it is relatively trivial for consumers and content providers to bypass the blocks, bringing its effectiveness into question,” ISPA said.

“There are also complex freedom of expression concerns which are not for ISPs or copyright associations to resolve and which need to be properly ventilated through the courts,” the group added.

The ISP association points out that new technologies such as Encrypted DNS could render website blocking pretty much useless, without the need to use proxies or a VPN.

The group doesn’t deny that blocking may have a marginal anti-piracy effect but says that it’s unsure whether the positive impact of such as “blunt and limited” measure will outweigh the potential negative consequences.

“It is not clear that there will be any significant benefit to copyright holder associations and their members from this approach and certainly no indication that any positive impact will outweigh the risks to freedom of expression and access to information outlined above, as well as the cost of implementation,” ISPA noted.

There is currently no indication that the Government is seriously considering implementing any blocking-related obligations. However, it’s always possible that rightsholders will try to have such measures put in place through the judicial route.

ISPA didn’t comment on this option specifically, but going through the court will at least mean that the interests of the public at large will be carefully weighed.

Finally, ISPA also commented on some scaremongering which suggested that, under the new Cybercrimes Bill, ISPs will have to report all pirates to the authorities.

According to ISPA, this is an incorrect interpretation of the bill. The group stressed that current law makes it clear that ISPs don’t have to monitor their customers. In fact, doing so may be illegal.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons.

Big Birthday Weekend 2018: find a Jam near you!

Post Syndicated from Ben Nuttall original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/big-birthday-weekend-2018-find-a-jam-near-you/

We’re just over three weeks away from the Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend 2018, our community celebration of Raspberry Pi’s sixth birthday. Instead of an event in Cambridge, as we’ve held in the past, we’re coordinating Raspberry Jam events to take place around the world on 3–4 March, so that as many people as possible can join in. Well over 100 Jams have been confirmed so far.

Raspberry Pi Big Birthday Weekend Jam

Find a Jam near you

There are Jams planned in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and Zimbabwe.

Take a look at the events map and the full list (including those who haven’t added their event to the map quite yet).

Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend 2018 event map

We will have Raspberry Jams in 35 countries across six continents

Birthday kits

We had some special swag made especially for the birthday, including these T-shirts, which we’ve sent to Jam organisers:

Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend 2018 T-shirt

There is also a poster with a list of participating Jams, which you can download:

Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend 2018 list

Raspberry Jam photo booth

I created a Raspberry Jam photo booth that overlays photos with the Big Birthday Weekend logo and then tweets the picture from your Jam’s account — you’ll be seeing plenty of those if you follow the #PiParty hashtag on 3–4 March.

Check out the project on GitHub, and feel free to set up your own booth, or modify it to your own requirements. We’ve included text annotations in several languages, and more contributions are very welcome.

There’s still time…

If you can’t find a Jam near you, there’s still time to organise one for the Big Birthday Weekend. All you need to do is find a venue — a room in a school or library will do — and think about what you’d like to do at the event. Some Jams have Raspberry Pis set up for workshops and practical activities, some arrange tech talks, some put on show-and-tell — it’s up to you. To help you along, there’s the Raspberry Jam Guidebook full of advice and tips from Jam organisers.

Raspberry Pi on Twitter

The packed. And they packed. And they packed some more. Who’s expecting one of these #rjam kits for the Raspberry Jam Big Birthday Weekend?

Download the Raspberry Jam branding pack, and the special birthday branding pack, where you’ll find logos, graphical assets, flyer templates, worksheets, and more. When you’re ready to announce your event, create a webpage for it — you can use a site like Eventbrite or Meetup — and submit your Jam to us so it will appear on the Jam map!

We are six

We’re really looking forward to celebrating our birthday with thousands of people around the world. Over 48 hours, people of all ages will come together at more than 100 events to learn, share ideas, meet people, and make things during our Big Birthday Weekend.

Raspberry Jam Manchester
Raspberry Jam Manchester
Raspberry Jam Manchester

Since we released the first Raspberry Pi in 2012, we’ve sold 17 million of them. We’re also reaching almost 200000 children in 130 countries around the world through Code Club and CoderDojo, we’ve trained over 1500 Raspberry Pi Certified Educators, and we’ve sent code written by more than 6800 children into space. Our magazines are read by a quarter of a million people, and millions more use our free online learning resources. There’s plenty to celebrate and even more still to do: we really hope you’ll join us from a Jam near you on 3–4 March.

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AWS Direct Connect Update – Ten New Locations Added in Late 2017

Post Syndicated from Jeff Barr original https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/aws/aws-direct-connect-update-ten-new-locations-added-in-late-2017/

Happy 2018! I am looking forward to getting back to my usual routine, working with our teams to learn about their upcoming launches and then writing blog posts to bring the news to you. Right now I am still catching up on a few launches and announcements from late 2017.

First on the list for today is our most recent round of new cities for AWS Direct Connect. AWS customers all over the world use Direct Connect to create dedicated network connections from their premises to AWS in order to reduce their network costs, increase throughput, and to pursue a more consistent network experience.

We added ten new locations to our Direct Connect roster in December, all of which offer both 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps connectivity, along with partner-supplied options for speeds below 1 Gbps. Here are the newest locations, along withe the data centers and associated AWS Regions:

  • Bangalore, India – NetMagic DC2Asia Pacific (Mumbai).
  • Cape Town, South Africa – Teraco Ct1EU (Ireland).
  • Johannesburg, South Africa – Teraco JB1EU (Ireland).
  • London, UK – Telehouse North TwoEU (London).
  • Miami, Florida, US – Equinix MI1US East (Northern Virginia).
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, US – Cologix MIN3US East (Ohio)
  • Ningxia, China – Shapotou IDC – China (Ningxia).
  • Ningxia, China – Industrial Park IDC – China (Ningxia).
  • Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Equinix RJ2South America (São Paulo).
  • Tokyo, Japan – AT Tokyo ChuoAsia Pacific (Tokyo).

You can use these new locations in conjunction with the AWS Direct Connect Gateway to set up connectivity that spans Virtual Private Clouds (VPCs) spread across multiple AWS Regions (this does not apply to the AWS Regions in China).

If you are interested in putting Direct Connect to use, be sure to check out our ever-growing list of Direct Connect Partners.

Jeff;

Build a Flick-controlled marble maze

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/flick-marble-maze/

Wiggle your fingers to guide a ball through a 3D-printed marble maze using the Pi Supply Flick board for Raspberry Pi!

Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, yeah

Using the Flick, previously seen in last week’s Hacker House’s gesture-controlled holographic visualiser, South Africa–based Tom Van den Bon has created a touch-free marble maze. He was motivated by, if his Twitter is any indication, his love for game-making and 3D printing.

Tom Van den Bon on Twitter

Day 172 of #3dprint365. #3dprinted Raspberry PI Controlled Maze Thingie Part 3 #3dprint #3dprinter #thingiverse #raspberrypi #pisupply

All non-electronic parts of this build are 3D printed. The marble maze sits atop a motorised structure which moves along two axes thanks to servo motors. Tom controls the movement using gestures which are picked up by the Flick Zero, a Pi Zero–sized 3D-tracking board that can detect movement up to 15cm away.

Find the code for the maze, which takes advantage of the Flick library, on Tom’s GitHub account.

Make your own games

Our free resources are a treasure trove of fun home-brew games that you can build with your friends and family.

If you like physical games such as Tom’s gesture-controlled maze, you should definitely check out our Python quick reaction game! In it, players are pitted against each other to react as quickly as possible to a randomly lighting up LED.

raspberry pi marble maze

You can also play solo with our Lights out game, where it’s you against four erratic lights eager to remain lit.

For games you can build on your computer with no need for any extra tech, Scratch games such as our button-smashing Olympic weightlifter and Hurdler projects are perfect — you can play them just using a keyboard and browser!

raspberry pi marble maze

And if you’d like to really get stuck into learning about game development, then you’re in luck! CoderDojo’s Make your own game book guides you through all the steps of building a game in JavaScript, from creating the world to designing characters.

Cover of CoderDojo Nano Make your own game

And because I just found this while searching for image content for today’s blog, here is a photo of Eben’s and Liz’s cat Mooncake with a Raspberry Pi on her head. Enjoy!

A cat with a Raspberry Pi pin on its head — raspberry pi marble maze

Ras-purry Pi?

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Approved Reseller programme launch PLUS more Pi Zero resellers

Post Syndicated from Mike Buffham original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/approved-reseller/

Ever since the launch of the first Raspberry Pi back in 2012, one thing that has been critical to us is to make our products easy to buy in as many countries as possible.

Buying a Raspberry Pi is certainly much simpler nowadays than it was when we were just starting out. Nevertheless, we want to go even further, and so today we are introducing an Approved Reseller programme. With this programme, we aim to recognise those resellers that represent Raspberry Pi products well, and make purchasing them easy for their customers.

The Raspberry Pi Approved Reseller programme

We’re launching the programme in eleven countries today: the UK, Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Greece and South Africa. Over the next few weeks, you will see us expand it to at least 50 countries.

We will link to the Approved Resellers’ websites directly from our Products page via the “Buy now” button. For customers who want to buy for business applications we have also added a “Buy for business” button. After clicking it, you will be able to select your country from a drop down menu. Doing so will link you directly to the local websites of our two licensed partners, Premier Farnell and Electrocomponents.

Our newest Raspberry Pi Zero resellers

On top of this we are also adding 6 new Raspberry Pi Zero resellers, giving 13 countries direct access to the Raspberry Pi Zero for the first time. We are particularly excited that these countries include Brazil and India, since they both have proved difficult to supply in the past.

The full list of new resellers is:

Hong Kong and China

Brazil

Raspberry Pi Brazil

India

Raspberry Pi India

Czech Republic and Slovakia

Raspberry Pi Czech Republic and Slovakia

Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

Raspberry Pi Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia

Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary

Raspberry Pi Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary

Mexico

Raspberry Pi Mexico

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250,000 Pi Zero W units shipped and more Pi Zero distributors announced

Post Syndicated from Mike Buffham original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/pi-zero-distributors-annoucement/

This week, just nine weeks after its launch, we will ship the 250,000th Pi Zero W into the market. As well as hitting that pretty impressive milestone, today we are announcing 13 new Raspberry Pi Zero distributors, so you should find it much easier to get hold of a unit.

Raspberry Pi Zero W and Case - Pi Zero distributors

This significantly extends the reach we can achieve with Pi Zero and Pi Zero W across the globe. These new distributors serve Australia and New Zealand, Italy, Malaysia, Japan, South Africa, Poland, Greece, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland. We are also further strengthening our network in the USA, Canada, and Germany, where demand continues to be very high.

Pi Zero W - Pi Zero distributors

A common theme on the Raspberry Pi forums has been the difficulty of obtaining a Zero or Zero W in a number of countries. This has been most notable in the markets which are furthest away from Europe or North America. We are hoping that adding these new distributors will make it much easier for Pi-fans across the world to get hold of their favourite tiny computer.

We know there are still more markets to cover, and we are continuing to work with other potential partners to improve the Pi Zero reach. Watch this space for even further developments!

Who are the new Pi Zero Distributors?

Check the icons below to find the distributor that’s best for you!

Australia and New Zealand

Core Electronics - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

PiAustralia Raspberry Pi - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

South Africa

PiShop - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

Please note: Pi Zero W is not currently available to buy in South Africa, as we are waiting for ICASA Certification.

Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway

JKollerup - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

electro:kit - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

Germany and Switzerland

sertronics - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

pi-shop - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

Poland

botland - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

Greece

nettop - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

Italy

Japan

ksy - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

switch science - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

Please note: Pi Zero W is not currently available to buy in Japan as we are waiting for TELEC Certification.

Malaysia

cytron - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

Please note: Pi Zero W is not currently available to buy in Malaysia as we are waiting for SIRIM Certification

Canada and USA

buyapi - New Raspberry Pi Zero Distributors

Get your Pi Zero

For full product details, plus a complete list of Pi Zero distributors, visit the Pi Zero W page.

Awesome feature image GIF credit goes to Justin Mezzell

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Classifying Elections as "Critical Infrastructure"

Post Syndicated from Bruce Schneier original https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2017/01/should_election.html

I am co-author on a paper discussing whether elections be classified as “critical infrastructure” in the US, based on experiences in other countries:

Abstract: With the Russian government hack of the Democratic National Convention email servers, and further leaks expected over the coming months that could influence an election, the drama of the 2016 U.S. presidential race highlights an important point: Nefarious hackers do not just pose a risk to vulnerable companies, cyber attacks can potentially impact the trajectory of democracies. Yet, to date, a consensus has not been reached as to the desirability and feasibility of reclassifying elections, in particular voting machines, as critical infrastructure due in part to the long history of local and state control of voting procedures. This Article takes on the debate in the U.S. using the 2016 elections as a case study but puts the issue in a global context with in-depth case studies from South Africa, Estonia, Brazil, Germany, and India. Governance best practices are analyzed by reviewing these differing approaches to securing elections, including the extent to which trend lines are converging or diverging. This investigation will, in turn, help inform ongoing minilateral efforts at cybersecurity norm building in the critical infrastructure context, which are considered here for the first time in the literature through the lens of polycentric governance.

The paper was speculative, but now it’s official. The U.S. election has been classified as critical infrastructure. I am tentatively in favor of this, but what really matter is what happens now. What does this mean? What sorts of increased security will election systems get? Will we finally get rid of computerized touch-screen voting?

EDITED TO ADD (1/16): This is a good article.

The Nest: hidden music atop Table Mountain

Post Syndicated from Alex Bate original https://www.raspberrypi.org/blog/the-nest-hidden-music-atop-table-mountain/

Located at the lookout at the summit of Table Mountain’s Kloof Corner hiking route, The Nest was a beautifully crafted replica of a rock that sat snugly alongside the trail. It would have been easy to pass it without noticing the enhancements: the USB port, headphone socket, and microphone. After all, what would such things be doing by a mountain trail in Cape Town, South Africa?

bateleur the nest

However, if you were a follower of interesting tech builds or independent music, or a member of the Geocaching community (it’s highly likely that the project was inspired in part by Geocaching), you may have been aware of The Nest as a unique way of sharing the self-titled debut LP from South African band, Bateleur.

Bateleur

Yes, this may seem like something of a publicity stunt. A cheaper version of U2 forcing their album onto every iPhone simply to ‘get through the noise’ and make sure their music was heard. But listen to Bateleur’s LP and I’ll guarantee that there’s no place you’d rather be than sat atop a mountain with the fresh air and beautiful vista before you.

Kloof Corner Cape Town

Image courtesy of trailing ahead

In my opinion, this build was not so much a publicity stunt as a public service.

Once The Nest was discovered, two whistles would act as a trigger to switch on the Raspberry Pi heart within the semi-translucent faux rock, and a light show, previously hidden from view, would begin to play. A pulsing ring of green lights would indicate when the device was ready for you to insert a USB drive and retrieve the album, while a rainbow pattern would let you know when the download was complete.





You could then either continue on your merry way or take the time to sit back and enjoy the view.

Now you may wonder why I have written this blog post in the past tense, given how recently The Nest was installed. Quite simply put, someone felt the need to vandalise and destroy it. Why? Your guess is as good as ours.

However short-lived The Nest project may have been, I’d like to thank Bateleur for their build. And if you’d like to see the creation of The Nest, here’s a wonderful video. Enjoy.

Bateleur : The Nest

To release their self-titled debut LP, Bateleur created The Nest. All you need to do is plug in. And climb a mountain. For more information visit bateleur.xyz __ Credits: All footage, editing & colour grading by Nick Burton-Moore. Hiker: Anine Kirsten Concept by Bateleur Music: Bateleur – Over (Again)

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A bit more on firearms in the US

Post Syndicated from Michal Zalewski original http://lcamtuf.blogspot.com/2015/06/a-bit-more-on-firearms-in-us.html

This is the fifth article in a short series about Poland, Europe, and the United States. To explore the entire series, start here.

Perhaps not surprisingly, my previous blog post sparked several interesting discussions with my Polish friends who took a more decisive view of the social costs of firearm ownership, or who saw the Second Amendment as a barbaric construct with no place in today’s world. Their opinions reminded me of my own attitude some ten years ago; in this brief follow-up, I wanted to share several data points that convinced me to take a more measured stance.

Let’s start with the basics: most estimates place the number of guns in the United States at 300 to 350 million – that’s roughly one firearm per every single resident. In Gallup polls, some 40-50% of all households report having a gun, frequently more than one. The demographics of firearm ownership are more uniform than stereotypes may imply; there is some variance across regions, political affiliations, and genders – but for most part, it tends to fall within fairly narrow bands.

An overwhelming majority of gun owners cite personal safety as the leading motive for purchasing a firearm; hunting and recreation activities come strong second. The defensive aspect of firearm ownership is of special note, because it can potentially provide a very compelling argument for protecting the right to bear arms even if it’s a socially unwelcome practice, or if it comes at an elevated cost to the nation as a whole.

The self-defense argument is sometimes dismissed as pure fantasy, with many eminent pundits citing one questionable statistic to support this view: the fairly low number of justifiable homicides in the country. Despite its strong appeal to ideologues, the metric does not stand up to scrutiny: all available data implies that most encounters where a gun is pulled by a would-be victim will not end with the assailant getting killed; it’s overwhelmingly more likely that the bad guy would hastily retreat, be detained at gunpoint, or suffer non-fatal injuries. In fact, even in the unlikely case that a firearm is actually discharged with the intent to kill or maim, somewhere around 70-80% of victims survive.

In reality, we have no single, elegant, and reliable source of data about the frequency with which firearms are used to deter threats; the results of scientific polls probably offer the most comprehensive view, but are open to interpretation and their results vary significantly depending on sampling methods and questions asked. That said, a recent meta-analysis from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided some general bounds:


“Defensive use of guns by crime victims is a common occurrence, although the exact number remains disputed (Cook and Ludwig, 1996; Kleck, 2001a). Almost all national survey estimates indicate that defensive gun uses by victims are at least as common as offensive uses by criminals, with estimates of annual uses ranging from about 500,000 to more than 3 million.”

An earlier but probably similarly unbiased estimate from US Dept of Justice puts the number at approximately 1.5 million uses a year.

The CDC study also goes on to say:


“A different issue is whether defensive uses of guns, however numerous or rare they may be, are effective in preventing injury to the gun-wielding crime victim. Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies.”

An argument can be made that the availability of firearms translates to higher rates of violent crime, thus elevating the likelihood of encounters where a defensive firearm would be useful – feeding into an endless cycle of escalating violence. That said, such an effect does not seem to be particularly evident. For example, the United States comes out reasonably well in statistics related to assault, rape, and robbery; on these fronts, America looks less violent than the UK or a bunch of other OECD countries with low firearm ownership rates.

But there is an exception: one area where the United States clearly falls behind other highly developed nations are homicides. The per-capita figures are almost three times as high as in much of the European Union. And indeed, the bulk of intentional homicides – some 11 thousand deaths a year – trace back to firearms.

We tend to instinctively draw a connection to guns, but the origins of this tragic situation may be more elusive than they appear. For one, non-gun-related homicides happen in the US at a higher rate than in many other countries, too; Americans just seem to be generally more keen on killing each other than people in places such as Europe, Australia, or Canada. In addition, no convincing pattern emerges when comparing overall homicide rates across states with permissive and restrictive gun ownership laws. Some of the lowest per-capita homicide figures can be found in extremely gun-friendly states such as Idaho, Utah, or Vermont; whereas highly-regulated Washington D.C., Maryland, Illinois, and California all rank pretty high. There is, however, fairly strong correlation between gun and non-gun homicide rates across the country – suggesting that common factors such as population density, urban poverty, and drug-related gang activities play a far more significant role in violent crime than the ease of legally acquiring a firearm. It’s tragic but worth noting that a strikingly disproportionate percentage of homicides involves both victims and perpetrators that belong to socially disadvantaged and impoverished minorities. Another striking pattern is that up to about a half of all gun murders are related to or committed under the influence of illicit drugs.

Now, international comparisons show general correlation between gun ownership and some types of crime, but it’s difficult to draw solid conclusions from that: there are countless other ways to explain why crime rates may be low in the wealthy European states, and high in Venezuela, Mexico, Honduras, or South Africa; compensating for these factors is theoretically possible, but requires making far-fetched assumptions that are hopelessly vulnerable to researcher bias. Comparing European countries is easier, but yields inconclusive results: gun ownership in Poland is almost twenty times lower than in neighboring Germany and ten times lower than in Czech Republic – but you certainly wouldn’t able to tell that from national crime stats.

When it comes to gun control, one CDC study on the topic concluded with:


“The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.”

This does not imply that such approaches are necessarily ineffective; for example, it seems pretty reasonable to assume that well-designed background checks or modest waiting periods do save lives. Similarly, safe storage requirements would likely prevent dozens of child deaths every year, at the cost of rendering firearms less available for home defense. But for the hundreds of sometimes far-fetched gun control proposals introduced every year on federal and state level, emotions often take place of real data, poisoning the debate around gun laws and ultimately bringing little or no public benefit. The heated assault weapon debate is one such red herring: although modern semi-automatic rifles look sinister, they are far more common in movies than on the streets; in reality, all kinds of rifles account only for somewhere around 4% of firearm homicides, and AR-15s are only a tiny fraction of that – likely claiming about as many lives as hammers, ladders, or swimming pools. The efforts to close the “gun show loophole” seem fairly sensible at the surface, too, but are of similarly uncertain merit; instead of gun shows, criminals depend on friends, family, and on more than 200,000 guns that stolen from their rightful owners every year. When breaking into a random home yields a 40-50% chance of scoring a firearm, it’s not hard to see why.

Another oddball example of simplistic legislative zeal are the attempts to mandate costly gun owner liability insurance, based on drawing an impassioned but flawed parallel between firearms and cars; what undermines this argument is that car accidents are commonplace, while gun handling mishaps – especially ones that injure others – are rare. We also have proposals to institute $100 ammunition purchase permits, to prohibit ammo sales over the Internet, or to impose a hefty per-bullet tax. Many critics feel that such laws seem to be geared not toward addressing any specific dangers, but toward making firearms more expensive and burdensome to own – slowly eroding the constitutional rights of the less wealthy folks. They also see hypocrisy in the common practice of making retired police officers and many high-ranking government officials exempt from said laws.

Regardless of individual merits of the regulations, it’s certainly true that with countless pieces of sometimes obtuse and poorly-written federal, state, and municipal statutes introduced every year, it’s increasingly easy for people to unintentionally run afoul of the rules. In California, the law as written today implies that any legal permanent resident in good standing can own a gun, but that only US citizens can transport it by car. Given that Californians are also generally barred from carrying firearms on foot in many populated areas, non-citizen residents are seemingly expected to teleport between the gun store, their home, and the shooting range. With many laws hastily drafted in the days after mass shootings and other tragedies, such gems are commonplace. The federal Gun-Free School Zones Act imposes special restrictions on gun ownership within 1,000 feet of a school and slaps harsh penalties for as little carrying it in an unlocked container from one’s home to a car parked in the driveway. In many urban areas, a lot of people either live within such a school zone or can’t conceivably avoid it when going about their business; GFSZA violations are almost certainly common and are policed only selectively.

Meanwhile, with sharp declines in crime continuing for the past 20 years, the public opinion is increasingly in favor of broad, reasonably policed gun ownership; for example, more than 70% respondents to one Gallup poll are against the restrictive handgun bans of the sort attempted in Chicago, San Francisco, or Washington D.C.; and in a recent Rasmussen poll, only 22% say that they would feel safer in a neighborhood where people are not allowed to keep guns. In fact, responding to the media’s undue obsession with random of acts of violence against law-abiding citizens, and worried about the historically very anti-gun views of the sitting president, Americans are buying a lot more firearms than ever before. Even the National Rifle Association – a staunchly conservative organization vilified by gun control advocates and mainstream pundits – enjoys a pretty reasonable approval rating across many demographics: 58% overall and 78% in households with a gun.

And here’s the kicker: despite its reputation for being a political arm of firearm manufacturers, the NRA is funded largely through individual memberships, small-scale donations, and purchase round-ups; organizational donations add up to about 5% of their budget – and if you throw in advertising income, the total still stays under 15%. That makes it quite unlike most of the other large-scale lobbying groups that Democrats aren’t as keen on naming-and-shaming on the campaign trail. The NRA’s financial muscle is also frequently overstated; it doesn’t even make it onto the list of top 100 lobbyists in Washington – and gun control advocacy groups, backed by activist billionaires such as Michael Bloomberg, now frequently outspend the pro-gun crowd. Of course, it would be better for the association’s socially conservative and unnecessarily polarizing rhetoric – sometimes veering onto the topics of abortion or video games – to be offset by the voice of other, more liberal groups. But ironically, organizations such as American Civil Liberties Union – well-known for fearlessly defending controversial speech – prefer to avoid the Second Amendment; they do so not because the latter concept has lesser constitutional standing, but because supporting it would not sit well with their own, progressive support base.

America’s attitude toward guns is a choice, not a necessity. It is also true that gun violence is a devastating problem; and that the emotional horror and lasting social impact of incidents such as school shootings can’t be possibly captured in any cold, dry statistic alone. But there is also nuance and reason to the gun control debate that can be hard to see for newcomers from more firearm-averse parts of the world.

For the next article in the series, click here. Alternatively, if you prefer to keep reading about firearms, go here for an overview of the gun control debate in the US.