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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.

Alan Gura in Harvard Law Review

The Second Amendment as a Normal Right. It is rightfully harsh on how some federal circuit courts have treated the Second Amendment. Here’s an expert:

Suppose a state were to prohibit abortion at 20 weeks of gestation absent a doctor’s certificate of “medical emergency,” invoking “documented risks to women’s health and the strong medical evidence that unborn children feel pain during an abortion at that gestational age.”30 In a world where Kachalsky-style “scrutiny” applied to the abortion right, it simply wouldn’t be the courts’ job to second-guess a legislature’s regulatory oversight of the medical profession in the important interests of patient safety and prevention of cruelty. Yet when Arizona enacted just this law, the Ninth Circuit wasted no time striking it down:

Allowing a physician to decide if abortion is medically necessary is not the same as allowing a woman to decide whether to carry her own pregnancy to term. Moreover, regulations involve limitations as to the mode and manner of abortion, not preclusion of the choice to terminate a pregnancy altogether.31

The court properly made quick work of the theory that a fundamental right is not infringed when everyone is free to exercise it upon proving need.32 “The presence of a medical exception does not make an otherwise impermissible prohibition constitutional. The adequacy of the medical exception has no bearing on whether the prohibition is permissible in the first place.”33 Regardless of what the legislature may earnestly believe to be required in the interests of health and safety, the Supreme Court has guaranteed a woman’s right to terminate pregnancy until viability.34 “The twenty-week law is unconstitutional because it bans abortion at a pre-viability stage of pregnancy; no health exception, no matter how broad, could save it.”35

Heller and McDonald leave no doubt that the Second Amendment must operate similarly, as a normal constitutional right…

Read the whole thing. The courts seem to know how to treat rights when a case involves a right that judges favor.

Discriminating Gun Range?

Bob Owens has the story about a gun range that has decided to exclude muslims. I’m with Caleb of Gun Nuts Media on this one. This does not show gun owners in a good light, and merely serves to reinforce the stereotype of gun owners being ignorant bigots. This kind of discrimination is also illegal, so this is certain to invite a lawsuit which Jan Morgan will lose.

She could refuse to rent to someone who came in and said “Please, I would like to rent a semi-automatic rifle so I can practice killing infidels.” But refusing to rent to someone for just being muslim would violate the Civil Rights Act’s prohibition on discrimination in public accommodations.

It’s my view that this is a shameless publicity stunt done by a woman who makes money feeding the worst instincts of the political right. One problem I think the right has is too many people who make a living doing that.

Civil Rights Victory in Pennsylvania

The case is Binderup v. Holder, filed in the Eastern District of PA. The plaintiff was convicted years ago of Corruption of Minors for having sex with a 17 year old. In Pennsylvania, Corruption of Minors is a misdemeanor, but has a possible sentence of up to five years, so it applies for the purposes of a federal prohibition. Corruption in Pennsylvania tends to occur for one of two things, alcohol and sex. Often both. Furnishing liquor to minors in Pennsylvania can cost you your gun rights. So can sex between a 18 year old and 17 year old. The age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16, so the charge is not Statutory Rape, but Corruption of Minors is still an option for the prosecution.

This is an “as applied” challenge, meaning the statute was challenged as applied to this person’s individual circumstance. It was not a facial challenge to the statute as a whole. This would presumably apply to other persons similarly situated to this defendant. To read more details about this case, see Of Arms and the Law and also Alan Gura’s blog, who is the attorney who argued this case.

Slowly but surely, we are chipping away here and there. The other side may brag about our defeats, but we’ve also had some very important and circumstantial wins. There are a lot of people in Pennsylvania, who are no threat to anyone, who have gotten caught in this trap. Now there may finally be some relief for them.

Demanding Mom’s Praise of Goebbels Likely Ignorance Rather than Malice

Bob Owens at Bearing Arms caught one MDA chapter leader, and volunteer for the Carolyn Maloney campaign, suggesting that Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels was a pretty insightful guy. I would bet money that Alison Martin had no idea who Joseph Goebbels was when she uttered that statement of support, and when she found out, she deleted her Twitter account because it was embarrassing.

That said, the quote in question is one that has been attributed to Goebbels, but I can’t find any evidence that quote is actually his. I don’t believe if her statement was uttered in ignorance that it lets Ms. Martin off the hook — far from it. It shows a dangerous ignorance. The fall of the Weimar Republic and rise of the Nazis is a recent history that describes a country making the slow (and democratic!) descent into the madness of a mass murdering police state. I would also wager that Ms. Martin has never read Orwell. Perhaps she can learn something from another quote from George Santayana:

Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Monday News Links 9-22-2014

Bitter’s mother and grandmother are on their way back to Tennessee, after spending the last week up here with us. Things turned a bit cold up here for folks used to Oklahoma summers. It’s starting to feel more like fall now and less like summer.

Don’t ever let anyone try to tell you that no one wants to take your guns from you. The NJ Star-Ledger calls for Australian style confiscation. Check the comments for people debunking “It worked for Australia!” propaganda.

The changing face of target shooting. Our opponents will do everything humanly possible to halt this trend. Keep that in mind when analyze proposed legislation to gauge their strategy.

Politico: “Gabby Giffords gets mean” The best way to fight back is to help out the politicians she’s attacking, both on the streets and in the voting booth.

John Richardson has a good piece on racial profiling on Form 4473. Why they are doing this now is an interesting question.

Alan Gura on DC’s may-issue shenanigans “In America, the police don’t determine what rights we have good reason to enjoy. You don’t need a good reason to speak, to worship, to vote or to carry a gun for self-defense.

Doctors groups seem to quite often be comprised of petty tyrants who know how to run your life better than you do. Here’s another example. You hear this a lot from gun control advocates: only federal gun laws are effective, because otherwise you can just go to a state with weaker laws. Well, then why do they keep trying to pass more controls at the state level then?

The war against accurate rifles. They’re going to hate particle beam weapons. More on that topic here.

Has Attorney General Kane offered a gift to gun owners? It seems improbable, but Josh Prince is going to try to put to some use.

SayUncle is done with the NFL. The NFL is an anti-gun organization.

Daily Caller: Top 3 Myths of the Second Amendment.

Shannon Watts: “Now, for the first time in our country’s history, there is a well-financed and formidable force positioned to take on the Washington gun lobby.” Well financed by a single billionaire asshole who has his own private armed security.

Even some Democrats are acknowledging Shaneen Allen doesn’t deserve to go to jail. This is what gun control means. When you heavily regulate a consumer product that’s widely legal most everywhere else, it necessarily means good people will go to prison. Democrats should think long and hard about that before passing everything our opponents (who are fine with gun owners going to prison) ask for.

NRA is getting involved in the race for Jim Gerlach’s old seat. I’m guessing Mike Fitzpatrick isn’t getting help this year. Fine by me, since I’ve been nothing but disappointed in him. Fitzpatrick has taken endorsements from gun control groups. Fitzpatrick has said previous he plans to step down in 2016. If this is not the case, he needs a primary challenger.

More about where NRA is spending its money this year.

Dave Kopel: New anti-gun strategies.

Off Topic:

 

Headline of the century?

Republicans need to figure this stuff out if they want to win elections. They are way behind. A big question in my mind is whether this will work for a run-of-the-mill candidate and not the new messiah incarnate.

The Fourth Amendment may be sick, but it’s not dead yet.

Suspending the Fourth Amendment in Pennsylvania

The manhunt for an accused cop killer is heating up in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I should be clear that I hope the State Police catch this guy, since regardless of whatever grudge one may have against cops in general, singling out two random officers for execution is unconscionable. But my support for the PSP in their manhunt is greatly tempered when I read of nonsense like this:

Heavily armed state troopers guarded an entrance into a neighborhood or area where they believe 31-year-old suspected cop killer Eric Frein may be hiding.

Police are checking every vehicle leaving. Local residents still have not been able to get back into their homes since last night, with some sleeping in shelters, others in their cars as it appears police are hot on Frein’s track but still haven’t got him.

No, you don’t get to kick people out of their homes and randomly search vehicles just because it’s a cop killer. You wouldn’t do that for someone who murdered a convenience store clerk, and you know it. You don’t get to suspend the Constitution just because its one of your own. This is what makes people hate cops in the first place.

Catching CeaseFire in a Lie

Bob Owens notices that CeaseFire PA has jumped quick on attempting to exploit the ambush murder of two Pennsylvania State Troopers by a crazed gunman. They are claiming that murders committed with long guns has doubled since 1996. That number is, of course, a complete fabrication. Bob looks at the actual figures and notes the number of murders with long guns has, in fact, halved. Bob notes:

The attempt to target long-guns comes after numerous media outlets sympathetic to gun control curious chose last week to abandon their 30-year fixation on so-called “assault weapons.”

Apparently, they’re now going to go after bolt-action rifles used for hunting, calling them “sniper rifles,” comparing their owners to “insurrectionists” and”terrorists” as they attempt to push universal background checks as a de facto gun registry.

I don’t think that can be stressed enough. If they get the “background check” bill they want, there will be de facto firearm registration in this country. We already have this for handguns in Pennsylvania, and nationally there is registration for firearms bought at retail through 4473. But the exceptions are important. Because you can buy, sell, and trade firearms privately, when the knock comes, they can’t prove anything. If that knock comes (don’t ever let anyone tell you they aren’t out to take your guns), you don’t want to be in a position where you have to turn it over, or admit to another serious crime.

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