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Pearl Clutchers Defeated in Niles Gun Shop Battle

Don’t ever let anyone tell you they aren’t after your guns. That was a recent theme Joe Huffman was pushing on his blog. You can see the collected evidence here, here, here, and here. I suspect one could make a successful niche blog out of a feature like this. To show that even Shannon Watts group is, in fact, an extremist group dressed in the disguise of reasonableness, last week John Richardson raised the alarm that the Mom’s Demand Action was busy trying to prevent a shooting range from opening in the Chicagoland area. This place is to be called Sportsman’s Club and Firearms Training Academy. Sounds like a den of criminals to me! I say “is to be called,” because the anti-gunners were defeated in their efforts to stop the range from being built. They got a whopping one vote in their favor on the Niles City Council.

When they get to the point where they are trying to prevent ordinary Americans from engaging in recreational shooting, or having a clean and safe environment to learn owning, shooting, and carrying a gun safely, they’re not operating in the realm most Americans would consider reasonable. These people are extremists. They are as kooky as the lunatics carrying AR-15s into Target, just approaching it from the other side of the issue. You can see their extremism on display in the comments to this article. Who is Christine Fenno? Why, she’s a professional extremist with Moms Demand. No amateur extremism going on there.

Joe is right. Don’t ever let anyone tell you they aren’t after your guns. At the very least, they are singularly unconcerned with actual gun safety. In order to teach people gun safety, we need ranges and instructors. Moms Demand is against ranges and instructors. What does that tell you? We should celebrate that they’ve lost this fight in Niles. We are bringing a safe and fun gun culture back to the places where they thought they had destroyed it for good. We will persevere, until we have places like “Sportsman’s Club and Firearms Training Academy” popping up in New York City, San Francisco, and all manner of places that will make the Christine Fennos of the world clutch their pearls. One way or another, they will have to deal with us as friends, neighbors, co-workers, and fellow Americans, no longer able to dismiss us as the caricatures erected in their own prejudiced minds.

So It Has Come to This: Obama Gets Me to Cheer Mike Bloomberg

The Obama Administration has taken such an egregious action that is has me actively cheering gun control wallet-in-chief Mike Bloomberg. From today’s edition of Jim Geraghty’s Morning Jolt, on what he’s calling a de-facto travel ban to Israel, quoting Bloomberg:

“This evening I will be flying on El Al to Tel Aviv to show solidarity with the Israeli people and to demonstrate that it is safe to fly in and out of Israel,” Bloomberg said in a prepared statement emailed by former City Hall spokesman Marc La Vorgna shortly after 8 p.m.

“Ben Gurion is the best protected airport in the world and El Al flights have been regularly flying in and out of it safely,” Bloomberg continued. “The U.S. flight restrictions are a mistake that hands Hamas an undeserved victory and should be lifted immediately. I strongly urge the FAA to reverse course and permit US airlines to fly to Israel.”

It’s not like anyone flying to Israel isn’t aware there’s a war going on. If people want to take their chances, it’s no business of the FAA’s. I agree with Geraghty that this is back channel pressure on the Israelis to comply with US demands. You know, US demands that it basically not defend itself.

I’ve said over the dinner table that if the drug cartels in Mexico were launching rockets over the border into El Paso at the same rate Hamas has been launching them out of Gaza, in a few days there would be no living cartel members. If the US Army wouldn’t invade Mexico and clean house, Texans would. There wouldn’t be all that much concern for collateral damage, as long as all the rockets and heavy weapons were found and destroyed quickly. A hostile Mexican government would likely be deposed. We all know we would do that. Even most liberal Americans faced with rocket attacks would demand action.

Yet this Administration apparently expects the Israelis to “show restraint.” They are. The fact that it took this long to go in shows remarkable restraint — restraint that Americans would never exercise in the same situation.

Dual Citizenship Laws

Tam was wondering how two Americans, recently killed in the hostilities in Gaza, were legally serving in the IDF while retaining citizenship. I am far from an expert in this, but there have been a number of Supreme Court cases involving this topic of dual-citizenship for those of you interested. But my understanding boils down to this: you generally won’t lose your citizenship unless you renounce it or take some action in a manner that shows intent to give up citizenship. US law and policy is generally favorable for people holding dual-citizenship, residing abroad, and serving compulsory military service, which Israel requires. I also think you can even join a foreign military voluntarily, since routine oaths are generally not sufficient to cause the loss of citizenship.

What’s interesting is that the State Department policy that allows one to keep citizenship as a result of a “routine oath” is just that — State Department policy. The case law is less clear as to when one renounces one’s US citizenship or not. Take the case of Vance v. Terrazas, where a dual-US/Mexican national lost his US citizenship when he signed a form having to reaffirm his Mexican citizenship when he went to college there.

What does this have to do with guns? I direct you to question 11(j) on ATF Form 4473, “Have you ever renounced your United States citizenship?” I’m not sure there’s much case law on prosecutions for lying on 11(j), but I could be wrong. I think serving compulsory military service of your dual country is probably fine, but if you voluntarily joined a foreign military, or took any action that could be interpreted, through preponderance of the evidence, that you had intent to give up your citizenship, you could find yourself facing a long time in federal prison if you answer that question incorrectly on 4473. It’s a good idea for dual citizens to be cognizant of any oaths or actions that may have been taken that could be interpreted as intent to surrender citizenship.

It’s No Laughing Matter

Joe Huffman had a worn AR-15 part that was causing his rifle to double. He notes:

It would have been really ugly if the ATF took a dislike to me. A gun malfunctioning like that can result in a prison sentence. It’s not right. The law should be fixed. The ATF should abolished or at least have it’s “claws trimmed”. But that is the way it is.

To some degree the Supreme Court already declawed ATF’s interpretation of this statute in the case of Staples v. United States, but if you ever have this happen to you, it’s very very important that you fix it promptly. Definitely don’t take it to the range and tell your buddies, “Hey, check this out!” From Staples:

We concur in the Fifth Circuit’s conclusion on this point: “It is unthinkable to us that Congress intended to subject such law-abiding, well-intentioned citizens to a possible tenyear term of imprisonment if . . . what they genuinely and reasonably believed was a conventional semi-automatic [weapon] turns out to have worn down into or been secretly modified to be a fully automatic weapon.”

Joe has little to worry about here, since he pretty clearly fits nicely into the Staples language. But to be safe, it’s probably also a good idea to destroy or otherwise get rid of the worn part once you’ve replaced it, because you don’t want to constructively possess a machinegun either. The statute in question hinges upon your knowledge, and whether you have a “guilty mind,” as is required under the Staples decision. If you have an AR go full-auto, or burst, that in itself is not strictly a crime if you take measures to quickly fix it. If you think it’s cool and knowingly keep it that way, and that goes doubly if you tell someone about it, you’re opening yourself up for possible prosecution.

Monday News Dump – 7/21/2014

Just when I thought I couldn’t get any busier, it looks like I’m going to take on another client. The good news is, it won’t be a very long engagement, but it will be 12 hours a week for a few weeks, on top of the 20 hours a week I’m billing at another client. It doesn’t start for a few weeks, but my time is going to get more scarce during that time, so Bitter will be filling in again. But for now, here’s some collected news articles that might be of interest:

Brian Anse Patrick has a new book out that explores the Zombie phenomena.

The Pueblo Chieftan didn’t particularly appreciate Bloomberg’s comments. The more people that gets around to the better.

A brief filed as an amicus in an ACLU case against government data harvesting.

Apparently the Connecticut Bar Association is looking to get in bed with the Brady’s. Apparently membership in the state bar is not mandatory for attorneys there. If you practice law in the Nutmeg State, I’d call and complain.

Is Remington trying to de-emphasize the R51?

The House is looking to preempt Washington D.C. from passing its own gun laws. This would be the first step on what I think should be a long road of the feds using their power under the 14th Amendment to preempt state gun laws. Our opponents want to argue that there needs to be a single, federal standard? Well, OK then, we’ll give you one.

Detroit police chief: ‘No question in my mind’ legal gun ownership deters crime’

Electronic Letters of Marque and Reprisal? An idea who’s time has come, if you ask me!

Another case of “Careful when you leave America.”

The feds are very eager to get rid of surplus M16s. So eager they’re giving two for one deals even if the department doesn’t ask. You know a good way to take care of this problem? Allow them to be surplussed through the DCM. Hell, I’d even take an exception that still required the auto-sear to be removed. Not possible under current ATF “once a machine gun, always a machine gun,” policy.

The may-issue bill, which would have made all firearms may-issue in Massachusetts, has largely been watered down to nothing. I’ll hand it to John Hohenwarter, I thought we were going to have to bend over with that bill.

Governor Brown has signed some gun control into law. Is converting single shot firearms to multi-shot firearms really a problem? I’ve never even heard of this practice.

This prankster almost gets his ass shot. He’s damned lucky the person who pulled his firearm in self-defense hesitated. From the other point of view, that concealed carrier was lucky he was facing a prankster.

Dog Bites Man: Irrelevant gun control group sues to have an irrelevant pro-gun bill struck down in the courts, in an attempt to gain back some relevancy.

Congrats, gun control folks: this AR-15 is legal in all 50 states. You’ve accomplished nothing, except taking us back a few decades in ergonomics.

This is how a gun culture dies. In New York, it’s been death by 1000 cuts. But they are getting pretty close to killing it off for good.

What happens when smart guns collide with dumb ideologies.

Rolling Stone magazine gets fisked by… the NRA? I don’t think I’ve ever seen NRA engage in that style before. See also this response to Rolling Stone.

Everytown is at it again. When people think “mass shooting,” they think of some nut job shooting up a shopping mall, movie theater or school. So why not lump domestic violence tragedies in with that idea and hope no one notices?

Hate to Tell You: They’re All Faking It

When I first saw this article at The Daily Beast, talking about how Chris Christie was “faking it” on gun rights, I had no idea how much of the gun community would echo that sentiment. My reaction was “Well, yeah, but they’re all faking it.” You see, aside from the very rare gunny politician (and they do exist, they just aren’t that common), almost all your politicians arrive at this issue based on whether or not that position is politically expedient. Even your politicians that may pay a lot of lip service to gun rights have a breaking point, and you’d be surprised by how many “great friends” will head for the hills and leave you to the wolves if the vote suddenly starts to turn hard for them. In any of your state legislative bodies, there are legislative friends who really have not been tested, and nearly none of these guys are going home after a hard day of shaking hands and kissing babies to clean their AR-15s. It’s quite easy to say “Oh, I’m with you on this or that,” when they’re talking to your lawmaker to constituent in the comfort of their office. It’s quite another thing to actually take a hard vote for us when there’s not a knock down, drag out fight over it with both sides and the media fully engaged.

So while Governor Christie is not my ideal candidate for 2016 (I’m partial to Scott Walker if he’s interested in running), and while I agree that he’s vetoed a number of bills for us out of a desire to run for the GOP nomination, I have to respect that he’s signaled to us through action rather than lip service. Does that mean I trust him on guns? Not really. But trusting in politicians is usually a fool’s business. Since politicians, as a general rule, act out of political expedience, the trick is to continue making our issue expedient for them. Over the long run, that’ll work out a lot better for you than trust.

Rolling Stone Article on Larry Pratt and GOA

The big question I have is why is the “American Independent Institute” funding a story about Larry Pratt and Gun Owners of America, and why now? I don’t make any secret that I’m not a fan of either Pratt or GOA, and this article outlines a lot of the reasons why. But I’m at a loss for what motivated it. Rolling Stone has been doing a lot of hit pieces on guns lately, at least one of which was supremely stupid. If the purpose was to make gun owners and the gun rights movement look like far-right lunatics, I don’t think the article succeeds at that, since it continually highlights the differences between GOA and the rest of the movement. It does succeed at making Pratt look like a lunatic. But what do our opponents have to gain by attacking Larry Pratt and GOA in such a manner, and attacking now? Are they hoping to raise his profile in the hopes to keep using him as a foil? Hardly seem to be the way you’d go about it if that were your goal.

Gun Control Puritans not Keen on First Amendment Either

Rep. Robin Kelly, a freshman Democrat in the House, is proposing a sweeping infringement on the First Amendment rights of gun owners. The bill would essentially ban any marketing material designed for children. NRA youth days would be banned. It might even become illegal to advertise a club’s Junior Shooter’s program. From the bill:

(a) CONDUCT PROHIBITED. —Not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Federal Trade Commission shall promulgate rules in accordance with section 553 of title 5, United States Code, to prohibit any person from marketing firearms to children. Such rules shall include the following:

(1) A prohibition on the use of cartoon characters to promote firearms and firearm products.
(2) A prohibition on firearm brand name merchandise marketed for children (such as hats, t-shirts, and stuffed animals).
(3) A prohibition on the use of firearm marketing campaigns with the specific intent to appeal to children.
(4) A prohibition on the manufacturing of a gun with colors or designs that are specifically designed with the purpose to appeal to children.
(5) A prohibition on the manufacturing of a gun intended for use by children that does not clearly and conspicuously note the risk posed by the firearm by labeling somewhere visible on the firearm any of the following:

(A) “Real gun, not a toy.”.
(B) “Actual firearm the use of which may result in death or serious bodily injury.”.
(C) “Dangerous weapon.”
(D) Other similar language determined by the Federal Trade Commission.

Even though commercial speech is generally permitted greater restriction than non-commercial speech, I’m fairly certain this would be unconstitutionally over broad. Unfortunately, we set this precent when we allowed tobacco producers to be thrown under the bus, and our opponents have long tried to get the gun industry treated similarly to the tobacco industry, despite studies that have shown that learning the shooting sports are very beneficial to children.

These people are modern day puritans.

Russian Rifles and Shotguns Blocked from Importation

President Obama issued an executive order blocking importation of Saiga rifles and shotguns. Bob Owens has all the gory details over at Bearing Arms. I have mixed feelings about the issue, because I believe in punishing the Russians with sanctions for their actions in Ukraine. I’d also like to punish them by redeploying several armored divisions to Poland, but that’s not in this President’s nature.

But the other side of the coin is that this move screws two enemies with the stroke of a single pen. Putin is the one enemy, and we’re the other. It’s awfully convenient, don’t you think?

Civil Service vs. The Spoils System

This is a topic I’ve long struggled with: are we better off with modern civil service protections, or would we be better off under the Spoils System? Lately, I’ve tended to agree with Glenn Reynolds “that the entire Civil Service system should be scrapped.” I’m think the civil service tends to perpetuate the opinions and prerogatives of a small handful of elites, and is fundamentally anti-democratic. Not that I always believe “anti-democratic” is a bad word, but it has to serve a purpose in the framework of individual liberty and protecting political minorities from the worst excesses of democratic government. I think civil service protections fail this test. I’d like to highlight his current top comment in Glenn Reynolds post, which I think offers food for thought. His commenter supports a return of the Spoils System:

A real spoils system would have several advantages:

  1. You could get rid of them all by electing a new party to office.
  2. Bureaucrats might be restrained by knowing that they will soon be turfed out into the private sector so they will want rules that they could live under after the next election.
  3. They might also be restrained by the knowledge that if their behavior got to obnoxious they would cost their party votes and potentially end their employment.
  4. Everyone would realize they are partisan hacks and thus not excuse their overreach behind some sort of non-partisan good government BS.

Lately, I’ve been thinking the same thing. The downside is there are people in the civil service right now who are actually knowledgable, do a reasonable job, and not political hacks. But there are far too many political hacks hiding behind civil service protections. These days I tend to agree we’d be better off with the spoils system, provided it was operated with the knowledge and understanding that there’s a lot the government does that requires people who are competent and willing to work hard. I’d hate to see, for example, document preservation exports cut loose at the National Archives because they were hired by the “wrong party.” But I’m willing to concede that civil servants who live by the sword (politics) can also die by it. That’s probably how it should be. An awful lot of civil service protections were generally meant to promote big, permanent government and rule by unaccountable “experts.”

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