Harvard Law Review: New Issues in Gun Rights

Appearing here, with articles by Dave Kopel, Alan Gura, Joseph Blocher, and Darrell A.H. Miller. “Comment on Peruta and Other Recent Cases.”

I’ll have a news link post a little later, but I wanted to put this one out there because it’s a lot of good stuff. I haven’t read it yet, and probably won’t have time for a bit.

Cooler Heads Prevail in Bundy Ranch Situation

BlmOver the weekend, while I was busy with yard work, the Bureau of Land Management backed down from their confrontation with Cliven Bundy in Nevada. It’s actually been the foreign media that seem to be most fascinated by all this, as the coverage at the UK outlets Daily Mail and The Guardian, and Australian outlet the Sydney Telegraph, aptly demonstrate. A pretty good article about the confrontation appears in Breitbart, which is not entirely sympathetic to Bundy’s position, but provides a good bit of background.

This whole incident is baffling for an east coaster, because grazing rights on federal land seem more like a policy dispute rather than an dispute of fundamental rights, or the government reaching beyond its Constitutional constraints. Few people would argue the federal government doesn’t have the power to control it’s own property. It’s in the Constitution. This has never seemed to me to be in the realm of things we draw lines in the sand and threaten to shoot people over.

I get the fundamental unfairness of it all; that the feds are ruining the livelihood of ranchers over a desert tortoise, when Harry Reid and his former staffer who now heads up BLM is busy defiling that very tortoise habitat with a solar farm to benefit one of his big donors. I get that the federal government is currently flush with overreaching bureaucrats who have little regard for the people their policies impact. But to me this looks like something we’re better off changing at the ballot box. I also don’t really have very much sympathy with the Sovereign Citizen Movement, which Bundy seems to have leanings toward.

I won’t pretend to have a strong understanding of the west’s land use culture. To east coasters, westerners have always seemed rather eager to kill each other over things that people on the east coast take for granted, like water. But that’s not to say I’m on the federal government’s side in this whole affair. While I believe the federal government is probably in the legal right, I think they’ve squandered their moral right when they decided to threaten protesters and corral them into first amendment pens like herds of cattle. When I say what’s happening with Cliven Bundy isn’t worth shooting people over, I’m speaking to both sides. The BLM didn’t have to come in with a cocky attitude and pushing people around. I’d rather live in a country where’s a healthy spirit to resist bureaucratic whim, than live in one where people are expected to be obedient little subjects and step aside. Bundy stood up to the federal government and he won, and there’s part of me that celebrates that no matter how I feel about the actual policy issue. The famous quote from Thomas Jefferson is quite apt here:

God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.

In a political climate where a large portion of Americans didn’t feel like they were constantly under the boot of the federal government in general, and this Administration in particular, these kinds of public policy disputes wouldn’t risk starting a civil war. The federal government backed down because it did not want a bloodbath. I think that was the prudent and moral thing to do. If the federal government is going to deal with grazing on federal lands, it’s going to have to earn back a its legitimacy from the large segment of the public that now questions it. This Administration has taken to politicizing every aspect of American life, and these are the wages of that policy.


I’ve heard of people in New York burning their registration forms, but this act if defiance also earns my seal of approval*:


* Well, I don’t actually have such a seal, but if I did, I’d stamp to hell out of this one.

CSGV and Knife Violence

Robb Allen notes an exchange between some pro-gun folks on Twitter, and the Coalition to Stop Gun  Rights Violence, about the recent mass stabbing at a school in Pittsburgh. I think we ought to not kid ourselves about the lethality differential between bladed weapons and firearms. If knives were just as lethal as firearms, most of us would probably be fine with being limited to carrying knives. That’s not to say 20 wounded, some of them quite seriously, isn’t a big deal. Some of these folks will have lasting injuries that will never fully heal and will always live with, just as if the wound had been from a firearm. But the fact is, all things being equal, a person is much more likely to survive a knife attack, if they get medical help quickly, than a gunshot wound.

Of course that assumes all things are equal, which they are not. The tactics of the mass killer or killers matter far more to the outcome of the event than the weapon used, and body counts with edged weapons in countries which have a stronger tradition of using them tend to be higher than in cultures that don’t have much recent experience, like the US and Europe. In the examples above, the body counts look gruesome even compared to many mass shootings in the United States that involve firearms.

I believe our opponents are correct when they note that knives are generally less lethal than firearms. I see no point in arguing that. But what they overlook is that the real weapon isn’t the weapon itself but the person wielding it. They tend to believe these types of mass killings are perpetrated by people who snap, become insane, and then impulsively engage in mass slaughter. The only thing that’s correct in that viewpoint is that mass killers tend to be mentally disturbed. But aside from that, they also tend to plan out their attacks in detail, and that’s definitely been true of the perpetrators of the worst mass shootings. If we could magically suck up all the guns from society, I think it would make it more difficult for mass killers to kill large numbers of people for a time, until they adjusted their tactics to deal with the available remaining weaponry. Adam Lanza meticulously studied past mass shootings when formulating his plan. Also consider that a knife is hardly the pinnacle of non-firearm weapons; the worst school mass killing didn’t even involve firearms. Hell, a knife isn’t even the pinnacle of edged weapons*. At the end of the day a humans are just remarkably inventive when it comes to hurting one another. It’s a cliche that guns don’t kill people, that people do, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

* Hat tip to Tam for that link.

Bradys Actually Getting Involved in Violence Prevention?

For years now, we’ve all known that the whole “Gun Violence Prevention” cloak worn by our opponents was mostly a sham to put some nice new wrapping on stale antigun policies that had become unpopular. I ran across this particular article about the Brady Center teaming with Rubenstein associates, to reach out to young people with a “Speak Up” campaign. I went through the whole site looking for the antigun propaganda masquerading as violence prevention but couldn’t find it. Joe noticed the same article and couldn’t find it either.

Not that I trust these folks for a minute. I suspect they are starting off with the soft sell in regards to the gun violence prevention movement, or, like Joe mentioned, possibly have fundraising concerns in mind with this partnership. But the fact that they are being forced to try new things is a good thing for us, because that means the old things aren’t working. The Brady organizations are now stuck playing second fiddle to MAIG and MDA. Maybe they figure they need to go beyond just hating on guns and gun owners to survive.

Thursday News Links

This will be a shorter one, since this has been a relatively slow week. I spent all of yesterday patching systems to deal with the Heart Bleed vulnerability in OpenSSL, including the system this blog runs on. People are saying it’s likely an accident, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it’s a deliberate fault injected into the source code by the NSA. Either way, the news:

What…. is the muzzle energy of an experimental Navy railgun that hurls a 20lb projectile at Mach 7? Sean got the right answer. About 21,201,337 ft/lbs. Wow. At that speed you don’t even need explosives. The impact energy is more than sufficient.

The truth accidentally slips out.

Civil rights victory in Tennessee. Knife rights!

Why are anti-gun activists so violent?

Bob Owens reviews the R51. I still want one, but I might wait until they work the bugs out.

PDB: Guns I Hate. I have a Mk.III that was also designed by lawyers. Note how successful the LCP has been? That was designed by George Kellgren rather than by lawyers.

Obama requests 1.1 billion of your tax dollars to promote gun control.

The Democratic candidate for governor in Idaho calls NRA’s questionnaire ‘biased and loaded’ and is refusing to answer it. OK, A.J., feel free, but we take question marks to be Fs, and good luck trying to win an election in Idaho with your attitude.

Charles W. Cooke: Smart Guns are a Dumb Idea.

MDA is fighting against legalizing open carry of pistols in Texas. In the vast majority of states, the only thing MDA has accomplished is to make them more pro-gun.

Eric Holder wants you to wear his special bracelet if you want to be able to use your firearm. No word on whether he’ll be smuggling smart guns and bracelets to Mexican drug cartels too.

Teacher suspended for starting a rail gun project with his students. I’ll believe we have a STEM shortage when the powers that be start acting like it.

Turns out MAIG isn’t all that helpful to associate with if you have higher ambitions for public office, even in Connecticut.

Your papers. Zeh are not in order. Cradle and grave of liberty, indeed.

Sorry Bloomy, No Lemon Law for Attorneys General

You have to think that Mike Bloomberg, by about now, is starting to regret his purchasing decision when it comes to Kathleen Kane, given that she’s been caught lying again about her decision to end corruption investigations against Democratic politicians. Instapundit has more on the case. I’d say her political career deserves to be over. She ought to even have an uphill battle ahead of her for re-election. I might even start to get optimistic about the prospects of her being accountable by voters given that even the Inquirer has seemingly turned against her. Hopefully we can be rid of Bloomberg’s Attorney General even if we end up suffering the loss of Tom Corbett in 2014.

CSGV’s “National Conversation”

The mouth foamers over at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence are objecting to Andrew Branca apparently speaking anywhere. His sin? He believes that the rule of law prevailed in the Trayvon Martin case. For a coalition of supposedly peace-loving organizations, the folks who run CSGV sure are a bunch of hate filled, narrow minded goons who try their best on a daily basis to shut down the free exchange of ideas. If gun control is such a good idea, why are they so afraid of debating the issues on their merits in an open and free manner?

On Witch Hunts

In regards to the whole Brendan Eich’s purging from the Mozilla Foundation, Tam notes that we’ve engaged in a good bit of that type of thing in our community. In fact, a very sharp analogy to the Brendan Eich situation is one that had its genesis with this very blog. But I do think it’s a bit different. If Eich had been the CEO of a gay dating site, and had spoken in favor of Prop 8 in the media, and then his donations to anti-gay candidates was uncovered, I would, of course, fully expect the gay community to eat him alive. They’d actually be fools if they let that slide.

What happened to Eich would be more the equivalent to us discovering that say, Roku’s CEO had once donated a few thousand bucks to a pro-gun control PAC*. That would generally not register very high on our giveashitometer as a community. What we tend to get really outraged over are members of the community betraying us; we don’t like turncoats. For people who just disagree with us, we’re more likely to argue to the point our opponents are ready sharpen a pencil to gouge out their ears, or defenestrate their Internet router, than we are to try to ruin their personal lives. I wouldn’t say we’re totally incapable of the same kind of mob mentality, but I’d say on the whole, most of us don’t have time for that kind of crap.

* Just using that as a hypothetical example. I don’t even know who their CEO is, let alone his voting or donating habits.

Latest on EP Armory 80% Lower Receiver

ATF has ruled that it is a firearm, despite the inclusion of a biscuit in the fire control well, which the rest of the receiver is injection molded around. You can find the determination letter here.

Unlike “castings” or “blanks” which are formed as a single piece so that a fire-control cavity has not been made, EP Arms uses the biscuit specifically to create that fire-control cavity during the injection molding process. As described in your letter, it appears that the sole purpose of the “biscuit” is to differential the fire-control area from the rest of the receiver and thus facilitate the process of making the receiver into a functional firearm. ATF has long held that “indexing” of the fire-control area is sufficient to require classification as a firearm receiver. Based upon the EP Arms manufacturing process, it is clear that the “biscuit” serves to index the entire fire-control cavity from the rest of the firearm so that it may be easily identified and removed to create a functional firearm.


Keep in mind that courts are generally highly deferential to agency determinations, so I wouldn’t give this much of a chance in court. But it’s noteworthy that ATF has “long held” that indexing constitutes creating a receiver. Where in the Federal Register can that be found? Can’t find anything in the code of federal regulations either. It’s probably found in other determination letters. This isn’t rule of law, it’s rule by bureaucratic whim.

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