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Hump Day Mini News Links

I keep saying I want to wrap up with this current client, but things keep coming up. So I’ve been in “I think I can wrap this whole thing up in the next few weeks” mode for the past two months. So I dare not say things should be returning to normal in a few weeks, but maybe! At some point, the project will end and I’ll be on to other things. Anyway, here’s some news links. Not too many this time, because to be honest, I haven’t even had time to gather links:

Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.

What’s wrong with Oregon Republicans? Oregon is dominated by the Portland Metro area, so there’s not much hope for the GOP there. The GOP’s weakness in Pennsylvania, however, is almost entirely the fault of the GOP. The party in this state is sclerotic.

Holder: gun control among biggest failures. Happy to disappoint ya there Eric. I would imagine it was a tough thing to weigh his greatest failure.

John Richardson points out some other players in the I-594 initiative in Washington State.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a gun forfeiture case.

Glad to see Clayton Cramer has been doing better, but he’s still having some ups and downs. Hitting the tip jar would probably help. Money may not buy happiness, but the lack of it can certainly bring on a lot of misery.

Just another Everytown grassroots spokesperson who happens to work pretty high up for the Mayor’s office in New York City. It’s astroturf as far as the eye can see!

DC gets smacked down by the judge who ruled their carry ban was unconstitutional, but their new ordinance still has to have a hearing. Let’s hope the judge has read this.

A civil rights victory in Idaho! Ban on carrying guns on Army Corps of Engineers land is struck down. Right now this only affects the District of Idaho.

Mass shooting in Canada. Multiple shooters would seem to suggest terrorism.

Veteran Stands Up to Antis in Illinois

This comes by way of Legal Insurrection:

Confront them everywhere they appear. Never let them own the field.

The PA Supreme Court Controversy

Ace has a pretty decent write-up on the controversy on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court surrounding Justice Seamus McCaffery, who got in trouble for sending around raunchy e-mails on state computers. Apparently Justice McCaffery and the Chief Justice Castille don’t get along too well with each other. At the end, Ace notes:

Philadelphia Magazine says the war is partly about the power to supervise all of Pennsylvania’s state courts — power Castille doesn’t trust McCaffery with.

I don’t really have much of an opinion on the controversy, and perhaps Chief Justice Castille has legitimate reasons to be worried about Justice McCaffery. But I should note there’s a gun angle to this, in that Justice McCaffery is friendly to the Second Amendment, and Chief Justice Castille, a former Philadelphia District Attorney, has not been.

Supreme Court justices are elected in Pennsylvania, and McCaffery has carried an NRA Endorsement, and has spoken NRA Annual Firearms Law Seminar. I thought his talks were entertaining and funny, as Supreme Court justice presentations go.

Possible Germaneness Issue in Preemption Bill?

Unlike the federal government, but like many other states, Pennsylvania’s constitution has a germaneness requirement for bill amendments. Article III, Section 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution states:

No bill shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title, except a general appropriation bill or a bill codifying or compiling the law or a part thereof.

My concern about the addition of A10397, the preemption enhancement,  to House Bill 80 is that H.B. 80 is about metal theft. That would seem to violate the germaneness requirement. Now, I suspect, though I’m not certain, that because the Senate attached this amendment to a House Bill, that it will go to conference, and the House can strip out the metal theft language and essentially make H.B. 80 a preemption bill only. If the legislature is intent on having a metal theft bill, they can always pass it later with a different bill number, or in a different session. But I do still believe there is a way to save the preemption enhancement on the germaneness issue.

We are, however, getting really close to the election, and this also could have been a last ditch effort for lawmakers to get on record so NRA’s lobbyist will release their grades. I’m not sure what there’s time to do or not. It’s looking like Corbett is going to be toast, and I think it’s a safe bet Tom Wolf will veto the measure. But Corbett will still be able to sign as a lame duck. To me the important thing is we get this done.

BTW, the pigeon shooting ban passed the Senate 3 to 1. NRA is opposing the pigeon shooting ban, but I personally think they are fighting a losing battle on that topic. Wayne Pacelle, head of the phoney-baloney Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is no doubt pleased, even if it still has an uphill climb in the House. If you think those people are going to stop with pigeon shooting, you’re a fool. HSUS is an anti-hunting group, and any victory they get is a step closer to their goal of ending hunting. Unlike the anti-gun groups, they are very well funded, and have a highly motivated, rabid, and broad base of grassroots activists. That’s one reason I believe that, long term, hunting in the United States is probably doomed if trends among hunters keeps going the way it’s going. The time to stop arguing about what hunting is, and stand together, was yesterday.

Attacking I-594: WA State’s Phony “Background Check” Initiative

There’s a long way to go, but I-594, the Washington State initiative than would ban private transfers, even handing a gun to someone else on a private range, for instance, to teach them to shoot, is losing public support. These next few weeks will be critical for reaching low information voters. Without reaching those people, we don’t stand of a chance of winning. Both sides will be vying for their votes. Hopefully this ad will help:

I used to hate class warfare until certain classes started to think they were entitled to rule. I think the jab at Seattle billionaires who are backing this measure will resonate.

North Korean Communists Understand the Gun

From a poem written about dead North Korean dictator King Jong-Il:

So this is the Gun
that in the hands of an inferior man
can only commit murder,
but when wielded by a great man,
can overcome anything.
As history has shown,
war and carnage belong
to the weak.
General Kim Jong-il,
the General alone,
is Lord of the Gun,
Lord of Justice,
Lord of Peace,
Lord of Unification.
Ah, the true leader of the Korean people!

The propagandists for the North Korean regime understand what it means to be a disarmed people, and trick the people into rejoicing in it. They get the symbolism. Our opponents the gun control movement do too. They would happily write similar poems. Perhaps their ideal state would not be Kim-Jong Il; it would be a happier state, for your own good, and all. But they at least are philosophically sympathetic to the idea expressed in this sycophantic poem.

Hope and Change: The Inflation Monster

Are you better off than you were a decade ago? In terms of real wages, I’m making about what I did when I was 26, and I’m now 40. Granted, a lot of that is self-inflicted, so I really can’t complain. I gave up salary for flexibility, and the opportunity to take risks on new and interesting things with bigger potential payout down the road. But I have to admit, as I get older, it gets harder and harder to sacrifice for uncertain future rewards than when I was in my twenties.

That’s the one side of the coin. As I’ve have to be more careful about finances, the other side of the equation is undeniable: inflation. The powers that be decided that food and energy prices are too volatile, so they should not be calculated into the official rate of inflation. If you listen to those charlatans, inflation has been non-existent. But when I look at my own finances, the big things that stand out (other than the mortgage and taxes) are food and energy. I’m spending way more in those categories than I was a decade ago, as a percentage of my income.

In 2011, when I lost the high-paying job after the company went tits up, we decided to start eating more meals at home, and eat out less. Sure, it did save money overall, but my grocery bill shot way up to compensate. It was still a net savings, but the grocery bill offset more than I expected! Ordering out some pizza or cheesesteaks every once in a while, it turns out, is reasonably competitive with cooking at home.

Sure, if you can subsist on a diet of hot dogs and ramen, you can do pretty well, but if you cook meals at home as to not bore yourself, it will cost you some money. Eating on the outside of the grocery store? Yeah, that’s some shit invented by rich hippies with money to burn. I don’t find it to be cheap, even if you’re good at meal planning. I realized this summer I am mostly priced out of the beef market. I usually like to smoke a brisket at least once in the BBQ season, but not this year. Last summer we enjoyed several nights of grilled ribeye, but not this year. I haven’t had beef that wasn’t ground in some time. Fortunately, my mother taught me how to make a mean meatloaf, but I have to admit to missing steak.

How is the great recession treating you? Are you better off now than a decade ago? Is food and energy inflation pinching you? And let’s not even get into whiskey prices! It’s almost enough to turn a fella into a populist!

Dead Air

No posting from me for a while. I have been working every waking minute, amounting to about 18 hours a day since last Monday, including the weekend. The client project is wrapping up with a good old fashioned death march. It might be over after next week. I’m not sure, however. In the mean time, I’m going to be scarce around these parts. Apologizes, but the mortgage doesn’t pay itself.

A Blessing and a Curse

By now, most of you have probably heard about Defense Distributed’s october surprise. They have chosen to make CNC milling more accessible to the masses with a machine that you can use to make receivers for about $1500. It looks like the mill starts with an 80% lower. The Wired article talks about how milling machines typically cost tens of thousands of dollars, but there are affordable mills out there that you could do more with.

My friend Jason, who has experimented with making firearms and written about it here on this blog, has a Taig mill. It would cost you a few hundred more dollars to build a protective enclosure around it, which he would recommend, since he once had a bit break off and fly across the room and embed itself in the wall before he decided to build one. This is, of course, about double the price of DD’s mill, but with a full blown Taig setup, you can make receivers from a block of aluminum.

Nonetheless, this move significantly increases the accessibility of home built firearms, and I believe that is going to be both a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing, because it is now irrefutably true that gun control can never work. It is a curse because there are plenty of political elites who haven’t yet figured that out, and this gives them a new issue.

3D printing and CNC milling is new as a mass market technology (it’s existed for a long time, but only as industrial technology that was priced beyond what an ordinary consumer could afford). Being a new technology it’s going to scare people. People are more easily frightened  by technologies they don’t understand, and between all the billionaires arrayed against us, and a media able and eager to whip up public fears about guns, we could end up in a tough spot.

Our opponents in the gun ban movement have always had more luck with issues that don’t affect all that many gun owners. Remember that when the assault weapons hysteria was at its zenith in the late 80s and early 90s, not very many gun owners were familiar with the AR-15 or AK family. High-power shooters were still using the M1A, largely. That unfamiliarity bred opportunity for our opponents, because as long as you could keep your M1s, M1As, M1 Carbines, and Mini-14s, they had a lot more leeway to get the ratchet on the nut, which could always be tightened later.

The way I see it, the gun ban crowd has several options to deal with this:

  • They could change the definition of an unfinished lower. This could be done at a whim, as what constitutes an 80% lower is ATF policy, not federal regulation. It wouldn’t even require ATF going through formal rule making. They could declare tomorrow that now that 80% lowers are firearms, and create a new 70% standard.
  • They could require an FFL for all manufacturing and end home gun making. This would require an act of Congress. It would be completely useless to control people manufacturing with criminal intent, but there are plenty of people out there among the public, and even more in elected office, who are quite happy to criminalize behavior that frightens them, and they don’t think anyone should be doing anyway.
  • They could restrict CNC and 3D printing technology as a whole. I view this as the least likely option, but if more people find things to do with this technology that scares political elites, you could see a move for this.

So far we have not had any major issues with criminals utilizing this technology. I believe the reason for this is economic — you can buy a gun off the streets in most crime ridden neighborhoods cheaper than you could make one using a CNC machine or a 3D printer. If a criminal want an untraceable gun, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to dremel the serial number off a gun than to make one from scratch in a garage. But that won’t get us off the hook. A lone wolf criminal or nutcase using this technology in a high-profile incident could be all the pretext the politicians, media, and gun control crowd need to get the ball rolling to restrict home gun building and gun smithing.

I believe Cody Wilson* is playing with fire. I’m not saying he shouldn’t do it, but we all should be aware of what’s going on here, and not kid ourselves. This might convince some people who were already disposed to be skeptical of gun control that it is now impossible, but it’s just as likely to frighten the hell out of the type of people who are easily frightened by new and scary things. Which type of person do you think there are more of?

* Pssst, Cody…. The BYO community could really use a decent home anodization kit. Just saying.

Another Response to Jan Morgan

I believe this response goes farther than either Caleb or I did in excoriating Jan Morgan from banning muslims from her gun range, much of which I agree with. Reading some of the comments over at Caleb’s post, I was struck by how many folks don’t really get the context under which we’re arguing, so I thought I’d take a minute to explain it.

The key law at work in this context is Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws discrimination based on race color, religion, or national origin in “public accommodations.” When most people talk about the Civil Rights Act, they usually mean the 1964 Act. There could be some debate about whether a gun range is a public accommodation under the act, but I think it would be quite surprising if a court were to agree that it is not. There had been an attempt in the Civil Rights Act of 1875 to use the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to reach a similar result, but the Supreme Court said no. The 1964 act relied heavily on Congress’ power to regulate interstate commerce. So it has been established law for some time that this type of discrimination is unlawful.

There are some who argue that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went too far in regulating private behavior and limiting property rights. Barry Goldwater was one of the more famous opponents to Title II of the Civil Rights Act, but it’s likely his opposition cost him his bid for the Presidency. I do believe the libertarian argument against Title II of CRA64 is a legitimate one, is not based in a desire to perpetuate racism, or beyond debate. But politically, I’ve written before, opposition to CRA 64 is a non-starter, and probably will continue to be for some time.

It’s worth making sure people understand what the law currently says about what Jan Morgan is doing, and why I think that makes her a distasteful person to have on “our side.” Opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has never been a winning political position, and she’s bound to lose any lawsuit. This was attention grabbing, pure and simple.

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