Will Bloomberg Run a Semi-Auto Ban as a Ballot Measure?

I don’t think this Assault Weapons Ban will get through the Washington legislature, which makes me wonder if this is prep for accomplishing the same thing via ballot measure. While Bloomberg very nearly lost the vote in Nevada, and was outright defeated in Maine, he got a stronger margin for his Washington ballot initiative on “gun violence restraining orders” than he did on the private transfer ban. He might be feeling like Washington voters are in the mood for some gun control.

Generally speaking, gun bans have not done very well on the ballot even in liberal states, but as California has shown, things might have changed since the gun control movement last had money for this kind of thing. California is a lost cause, however. I don’t think Washington is. But I also think Bloomberg will keep pushing until he’s rebuked.

Hard to Believe It’s Been a Decade

Without really thinking about it, our 10 year blogoversary came and went. This blog has been sputtering along since January 6th, 2007. A decade of blogging is a lot for anyone, and I am getting tired. At some point, I probably will stop, but I’m not there yet. Obviously my posting frequency has dropped a good bit, but I’m not ready to completely throw in the towel.

A lot of that is really more lack of time than lack of interest. How many of you feel like you’re working harder today than you were a decade ago? A lot, I suspect. Maybe it’s easier when we’re younger. I was 32 when I started what was then Snowflakes In Hell, and didn’t fit the stereotypes of gun owners: the middle-aged fat white guy. A decade later at 42, I look a lot more like the stereotype than I really care to.

When I think back to what the blogging community was like in 2007 versus what blogging is all about today, it’s a night and day difference. When I started, you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a new blog. Now bloggers who don’t blog for a living are almost extinct. The traditional blog look and feel has given away to the E-zine model (is e-zine even a word anymore?). If you’re not a Google News source, you might as well not exist.

When I started this blog, Facebook had only been open to non-college students for a few months. Twitter also had only been launched a few months before, and no one had really heard of it. Social Media was not a thing, and blogging was a place people went to share and discuss ideas. It was a means to route around the traditional media. Back then, it was even a way to keep the issue ahead of the NRA, who in the days before they had any real social media presence, was usually late to the debates of the day. Today is about as likely I find out about breaking news from NRA’s online presence as I do other sources.

It’s been a hell of a journey. I never would have imagined the people I would get to know through blogging. I hope, over the last decade, I’ve had some kind of positive impact on this issue. I’d like to think what I’ve done here has mattered. As we enter our second decade of publication, I still can’t believe there are people who stop by on a regular basis to read the reams shit that go through my brain and out my fingers! For those that do, a hearty thank you.

Where is Gun Politics Going?

One of my big regrets of blogging about gun politics today is that I think all the interesting developments in politics are happening outside the gun issue. I’m hoping that a refresh on the federal bench might change some of that in 2017, and we can get some interesting movement in the courts again. But it’s hard to know what will happen.

I sense that the 2016 election is a pretty epic shift in the political balance, much in the same way 2008 was. Both the 2008 and 2016 election are not the pendulum swinging one way, and then swinging back. If you think that, you’re trying to shoe-horn the current political situation into the context you’ve understood all your life: the Post-WWII order created by our parents (if you’re a boomer) and grandparents (if you’re my generation). I believe 2008 and 2016 represent that order shattering. I’m not sure that will be a good thing. First let me argue where I think things are going with the gun issue:

  • Trump will fulfill a lot of his promises on court nominations, and that’s largely because Presidents don’t have a whole lot of leeway in who they appoint. If they did, we’d be talking about Justice Harrier Meyers. Court appointments are where Presidents appease their base. Your average voter isn’t paying attention to court fights, and nominations tend to get drowned in issues those folks don’t care to follow closely. We never would have won Heller and McDonald if Al Gore had won the 2000 election, even though Bush came into office promising to sign a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban. We can make progress with politicians who are “good enough.” We don’t need angels.
  • Trump is going to disappoint us in a lot of other ways. I am not looking forward to his first big test on the issue (think a Sandy Hook like event). He’ll be under a lot of pressure and he tends to get stupid off the cuff and under pressure.
  • Our bigger disappointment will be Congress. We’re all talking about this election as if we just won the lottery. It still takes 60 votes to pass legislation through the Senate. The GOP will be more than happy to put on a show for you and blame those dastardly filibustering Democrats for not being able to get anything done. Just be mindful of that. It’s not an excuse. The Dems will nuke the filibuster first chance they get. You can count on it. Republicans shouldn’t entertain any delusions about that.
  • Bloomberg is going to find that he can only defeat us at the margins, only at a very heavy cost in dollars. Unfortunately for us, the 20 million dollars Bloomberg blew on his gamble in Nevada is pocket change to him. He can still afford to whittle at the margins a lot, even if it mostly results in defeat, and if he’s smart it won’t. That said, I believe Bloomberg has hit his high water mark with gun control, but events unforeseen could prove me wrong here.
  • I believe we’re going to arrive at an equilibrium there we are not fully happy with, but it’ll be one that’s not disastrous to the gun culture we’ve been trying to build. There will be opportunities opened up. I think we can win on gun bans. The worst excesses of the anti-gun states can be checked.
  • On the down side, anti-gun states are going to win on a lot of marginal issues we won’t be completely happy with. I don’t believe California and New Jersey are, in my lifetime at least, ever going to be as pro-gun as Wyoming. The courts are going to leave more room for variation than we’d ideally like.
  • I don’t believe I will live to see the Hughes Amendment repealed, though I’d love to be wrong. I think we may get some more exceptions shot through it, but I think even a few decades from now if you want to take up collecting machine guns, you’re going to have to jump through hoops, deal with the legal maze, and fork up serious coin. That’s assuming it’s even legal in your state, because I don’t foresee court enforced protections for full-autos, SBRs and SBSs. That will have to come legislatively.
  • The good news is that I think we can achieve deregulating silencers closer to the short term, and that SBRs and SBSs might also be reachable legislatively, though I’m not very optimistic the courts striking down NFA provisions. In a lot of states these will remain illegal or more strictly regulated than under federal law.
  • The courts are liable to uphold a lot of “gun free zones” we’re not happy with. I believe they will uphold much of the “prohibited persons” mechanisms, though they might actually demand some token due process here and there. I’ve said for a long time, I will never live to see a return to cash on the barrel sales of firearms. Background checks are not going anywhere. There are probably even private sale restrictions the courts will uphold.
  • Here’s the real hard pill to swallow: the younger generation are far less concerned about personal privacy than earlier ones. They don’t have the visceral reaction to registration that we do if bans and confiscation are legal impossibilities. Even if the government never imposes formal registration, de-facto registration will likely become reality. To be honest, privacy is quickly becoming obsolete just because of technology. I’m not sure this is taking us to a good place, but that’s where we’re going whether we like it or not. How to manage this future could be a whole long post in itself.

What about politics in general?

  • Nationalism and populism are back, baby, and God help us. I don’t mean just the kind of traditional pride in your country, sing the national anthem at sporting events kind of nationalism, but the kind of nationalism that brought us such wondrous events as World War I and World War II. This is a global trend. Democracy is reasserting itself, and the people are sick of transnational institutions. Is this a good thing? Who knows. I generally tend to think the people reasserting themselves is probably healthy, but I also think there were good reasons many of our founders feared raw democratic power.
  • The post-WWII order is definitely disintegrating before our eyes. I’m not certain this incantation of nationalism will be the same as the kind we were taught spurned two major calamities, but I’m also not sure that another major calamity isn’t coming. History doesn’t really repeat itself, but it does have parallels.
  • Our current international institutions are anything but democratic, and probably deserve some rebuke. Both the UN and the EU are post-WWII technocratic institutions with no real democratic legitimacy. The UN was intended to be a top-down instrument of policy for the victors of the Second World War. It served as a stage on which the Cold War could be fought, and a mechanism by which “minor” country squabbles could be resolved before they had the chance to draw in major powers.
  • For all it’s faults, much of the Post WWII order was designed to avert the possibility of a Third World War fought with nuclear weapons, and it worked. But no one younger than 35 really understands this, and I believe that’s very dangerous.
  • The EU is probably going to collapse. To put it bluntly, the EU started off with good intention as a way to tie the continent together economically so as to make future wars unthinkable. It worked too well. What the EU has turned into is a not so subtle conspiracy by British, French, and German elites to control Europe both economically and politically via extra-democratic means. This was all well and good as long as those elites were actually doing a good job, but shit is starting to get real, and they don’t have answers except to double down on the status quo. The people have noticed.

If I had to make a prediction, technocratic and bureaucratic transnational institutions are going the way of the dodo. I don’t know what will replace them because I don’t believe globalism is going away: globalism is an inevitable consequence of technological progress. But people, everyday people, are reasserting themselves. You’re going to see that across the world, and not just here. Brexit and Trump are just symptoms. I don’t really know where all this is going, but it is definitely an interesting time to be alive, and I’m not sure whether by “interesting” I mean good “interesting” or bad “interesting.”


You Knew There Would Be a Parting F*** You

You had to expect there would be a final middle finger extended in our direction as Obama headed out the door. Because it’s a regulation, the incoming Administration can’t just undo it on a whim: they have to go through the rule-making process. Alternately, our Republican Congress could fix this issue with legislation, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on it being a priority for them. There are a few interesting claims in the regulation itself, which has appeared in the Federal Register:

Our authority to report the information we include in these final rules stems from section 101(a)(4) of the NIAA, which requires that we provide to the Attorney General for inclusion in the NICS pertinent information included in any record demonstrating that a person falls within one of the categories in 18 U.S.C. 922(g) or (n).3 NIAA section 101(c)(1)(C) does not prohibit us from reporting this information to the NICS.

You see, we just report this stuff to the DOJ. What those meanies do it is their problem, not ours. So don’t think you can blame us, the SSA, for this. This bit below is just pulling justification out of their asses:

The commenters who relied on section 101(c)(1)(C) only cited part of the section in their comments. In its entirety, section 101(c)(1)(C) of the NIAA states: ‘‘No department or agency of the Federal Government may provide to the Attorney General any record of an adjudication related to the mental health of a person or any commitment of a person to a mental institution if

. . . (C) the adjudication or commitment, respectively, is based

3 NIAA 101(a)(4), 121 Stat. at 2161.

solely on a medical finding of disability, without an opportunity for a hearing by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority, and the person has not been adjudicated as a mental defective consistent with section 922(g)(4) of title 18, United States Code, except that nothing in this section or any other provision of law shall prevent a Federal department or agency from providing to the Attorney General any record demonstrating that a person was adjudicated to be not guilty by reason of insanity, or based on lack of mental responsibility, or found incompetent to stand trial, in any criminal case or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.’’

We are not reporting information in records based solely on a medical finding of disability without the person being adjudicated as subject to the Federal mental health prohibitor ‘‘consistent with 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4).’’ The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has clarified through regulations that this prohibition covers individuals who have been determined by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition or disease to be a danger to himself or to others, or who lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her own affairs.4

The DOJ Guidance specifically indicates that records relevant to the NICS include ‘‘agency records of adjudications of an individual’s inability to manage his or her own affairs if such adjudication is based on marked subnormal intelligence or mental illness, incompetency, condition or disease.’’

What SSA is doing here is pretty clearly and flagrant violation of NIAA, but they rely here on “DOJ Guidance” which is specifically counter to the NIAA. Essentially BATFE has never updated any of their regulations and policies to comply with the NIAA requirements. That’s what SSA is depending on here. They are setting themselves up to take no responsibility for depriving million of SSA recipients of their right to keep and bear arms with no trial or due process whatsoever.

Here’s the thing, regulations can’t be changed at the drop of a hat, but “ATF Guidance” surely can. Will Trump appoint someone who will actually clean up ATF and start making them follow the law for a change?

It’s interesting looking at this and thinking what the Obama Administration is trying to accomplish here, and it’s kind of brilliant in its deviousness:

  1. Regulations aren’t easy to undo. Much of this will not be noticed by anyone until after Trump takes office. So this regulation will largely blow up in his face and he won’t just be able to undo it. Most people don’t pay attention to politics, and the way this will get noticed is when grandpa has a heart attack and then ends up charged because the responding cops noticed a pistol by the bedside, but yet he has a record with the FBI. Any high profile case in the community will hurt Trump with his base.
  2. The passage of NIAA was controversial at the time, because GOA and NAGR came up with some very creative ways NIAA would be interpreted. By taking NIAA and pushing it’s language way beyond what it supports, they lend credibility to GOA and NAGR’s fears. That’s bound to re-open the debate. It will be argued that NIAA offered the justification, but I still believe NIAA was the right thing to do, as it required a relief mechanism from mental health disability that did not previously exist. Putting people into NICS en-masse is a trick that dates back to the Clinton Administration. I think using NIAA a justification was a very clever fuck you.

The solution to this should be legislative, if we’re going to fix this permanently. The Gun Control Act’s mental health provisions are outdated, and there was a bill in the last Congress to replace them. That would frustrate the habit of Dem Administrations trying to stuff as many people into NICS as they can get away with.

2016, The Gift That Keeps Giving: Brian Anse Patrick Dies

Brian Anse PatrickBrian Anse Patrick died of cancer unexpectedly (for us) at age 62, of cancer. I ended up at the lunch table with him at the law seminar in Louisville this year, and if he was terminally ill, he certainly didn’t look or act it. I had met him several times at the law seminar, but I don’t think he was a reader, and never remembered meeting me previous years. But he was always really glad to meet someone who read his books and would strike up a conversation enthusiastically on those topics. His real area of academic expertise was propaganda.

Please, if you’re a 2A academic scholar, I would strongly encourage you to go into hiding until next week. We’ve already lost Don Kates. Now this.

You Can Die of a Broken Heart

Generally speaking, I’m pretty indifferent to the struggles of the glitterati, but the news that Debbie Reynolds died less than a day after her daughter, Carrie Fisher,  was pronounced dead is heartening. Carrie Fisher is an icon of my generation because she was, for a lot of us, their first crush. Even if it was irrational, you remember that. Carrie Fisher in the role of Princess Leia didn’t really do it for the young me, but Kathy Coleman in the role of Holly Marshall of Land of the Lost fame certainly did. I don’t want to jinx her. Please, Kathy Coleman, If you see 2016, RUN… just like you did from Grumpy and Alice. Don’t let it get you!

My paternal grandparents were sweethearts from childhood. They lived right around the block from each other in their South Philly neighborhood. My grandmother used to tell me stories of sitting on top of hidden liquor crates with my grandfather that her father was smuggling to Atlantic City on behalf of his employers (ever see Boardwalk Empire? My great-grandfather worked for Nucky). No one would ever suspect a family man traveling to the Jersey Shore for the weekend with the kids.

My paternal grandparents had known each other their whole lives. My grandfather had a couple of strokes in 1996, and a big one killed him that same year. My grandmother went very quickly downhill. She completely lost the will to live. I’ve come to think you get to a certain age, you can actually will yourself to die, or at least give up fighting the inevitable. Whatever cause of death she had on her death certificate, she died of a broken heart. So I can sympathize. I can’t imagine that kind of thing being in the public eye. Such is the price of celebrity.

Nevada Background Check Initiative Can’t Be Implemented

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy New Years all rolled into one: Bloomberg spent 20 million dollars in Nevada to secure a razor thin win, and he still gets nothing. The Attorney General in Nevada checked with the FBI and the law as it was written is simply not implementable. The FBI stated that states can’t commander federal policy on the matter, and that they refuse to conduct the checks in accordance with the way Bloomberg’s new law requires. How is this so? Hilariously, it’s a pretty simple mistake.

The issue is that Nevada is designated as a Point-of-Contact (POC) state, meaning that, like Pennsylvania, they have a state background check system that is designated by the FBI to conduct background checks under the Brady Act. Bloomberg’s new law states that the checks have to be conducted by the FBI’s National Instant Check System. Given that Nevada is a POC state, the FBI will not conduct checks on behalf of Nevada. The law cannot be complied with, and is therefore completely unworkable and unenforceable.

Never interrupt your enemy when they are in the middle of making a mistake, and always have a backup plan in case your main plan fails. In this case, it looks like we did.

It’s hard to believe Bloomberg sunk 20 million dollars into this with such a glaring error. I will admit I did not read the ballot initiative carefully enough to notice this, but once I started reading the opinion it was obvious. Nevada is a POC state! FBI doesn’t allow dealers to use NICS.

No doubt this won’t be the end of this controversy, since I imagine they’ll attempt to get a judge to bend the plain wording of the language to match Bloomberg’s drafter’s intent rather than what they actually wrote. I imagine someone at LCAV is seething right about now. We’ve benefitted a lot from their lack of real expertise and experience in this area of law. To be honest, their people just aren’t very good, and we should be thankful for that.

Politifact Openly Aids Gun Control Group’s Narrative

Whether it is true that seven children per day die from gun violence depends on whether you define 18 and 19 year olds as children. One could argue that it’s a matter of opinion (which I’d point out would put it outside the realm of ‘facts’) but as an objective criteria, we can look at how the law defines it. Eighteen and nineteen year olds are not considered children legally. They would be tried as adults if they commit crimes.

There’s no universe where this claim should be rightly considered “Mostly True.” In one sentence gun control advocates have set the mental picture of Sandy Hook, which sadly involved elementary school children. Then they suddenly switched context without mentioning to the reader they were doing so, promoting statistics that involve legal adults. Gun control groups were hoping that readers wouldn’t follow through; that it would push the right emotional buttons by making people think they’re discussing  young children. When Politifact rates statements like this as “Mostly True” they are helping the gun control movement promote a deceptive narrative. They have made themselves part of this deception, whole hog.

If Politifact had a shred of honestly, they would have a rating of “Deceptive” or “Misleading” for situations like this where the underlying facts may be technically true, but are presented in a way that is clearly intended to mislead the reader. But they won’t do such a thing, because Politifact has no integrity. They were created to promote narratives that benefit a certain political viewpoint. In that sense, they are serving their purpose. But the real danger is that organizations like Facebook are planning to include outfits like Politifact to police what has been widely derided as “fake news.”

As much as I’ve been involved with the gun issue, these days I’m becoming more concerned about the future of free expression, especially in a world where Silicon Valley oligarchs are conspiring with the media to decide on what you and I get to see or not see.

Weekly Gun News – Edition 52

I hope everyone had a nice holiday. Ours was a bit of a mixed bag since Bitter’s grandfather died on Friday at age 91. Her other grandfather died when she was a year old, but both her grandmothers are still living. Enough about that, maybe I have some news I’ve been collecting. Some of it might be a bit dated, but hopefully obscure enough you might not have seen it:

Looks like Miss Sloane was a box office bust. This is a good cultural indicator, but when is it ever fun to pay someone to give a political lecture. There are plenty of people on the Internet who will give you one for free!

The EU agrees to new gun control laws. I’m sure that’ll work just great!

Apparently Bloomberg’s people proffered a film plot from a small-time filmmaker in order to turn it into a statement on behalf of gun control. I’d argue they ruined his film by bringing politics into it.

The microstamping suit in California has been reinstated. I think we’re going to see a lot of movement on legal cases now that there will be an Administration change. However, it’s probably worth noting that replacing Scalia with another judge who’s solid on the issue doesn’t get us anywhere. I’ve said for a while I think Roberts is the soft underbelly of the Heller majority, and he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Chicago is trying to get everyone fingerprinted to get FOID cards. If Republicans suggested such a thing for voting there would be (justifiable) outrage.

More good cultural indicators: minorities continue to arm up. I don’t blame them. If even half the things being spread about Trump were true, they’d be fools not to. Also, The Liberal Gun Club says they are seeing a membership surge. Come for the panic, stay for the freedom.

Charles C.W. Cooke is writing in America’s 1st Freedom: “The trappings of true grassroots organizations (like NRA) are curiously missing from gun control groups. Where are their conventions? Where are the bus tours, the meetups, the magazines, the marches?

Texas is floating a bill to make carry licenses free. I have a better idea: why not stop requiring them in the first place?

Local news story on silencers. I think we’re going to win on this, largely because I think we’ve found good arguments, and the other side basically has nothing. Why do they hate our hearing?

David Keene: “Heller ruling just the start on gun rights.

Bring back the blue dogs! This is spot on, which is exactly why it will get ignored.

Gun owners fit no stereotype. Back when I got into shooting I didn’t fit the stereotype either, but the older I get the more I fit the stereotype.

Blood in the streets, they say, if Trump signs a reciprocity bill. That argument was worn and tired twenty years ago.

USA Today: “Trial reveals Roof’s gun purchase went unchallenged by store owner.” The real headline would be “FBI cocks up background check on Roof.”

Victory in PA Commonwealth Court over local ordinance banning guns in parks.

Prof. Nelson Lund: “The Right to Arms and the American Philosophy of Freedom

The Brady Campaign are celebrating failure in their fundraising campaigns. To be fair, spinning loss as victory is about all they can do. All the movement in this issue has been the result of Bloomberg, and as John Lott has argued, he doesn’t have much to show for the money spent.

The Hill: “What Gun Groups Want from Trump.”

Gun sales surged ahead of new California Assault Weapons Ban.

The Blaze: “As it turns out, NAGR is just one of a pack of ankle-biter groups, all of which trace back to Mike Rothfeld. Among this web of Rothfeld groups are Campaign for Liberty, Foundation for Applied Conservative Leadership, and Council for Freedom and Enterprise.


New Range Opening in Delco

Good news for those of you who live in Delaware County: there’s a new range opening in Upland, Race Street Range. Delco desperately needs more places to shoot that are mostly available to the general public (as opposed to private clubs that are hard to get into if you don’t know someone). Currently, there are public ranges in Yeadon (Double Action) and Chadds Ford (Targetmaster). I’ve never been to Double Action, but Targetmaster isn’t a place I’d go anymore. One of my visits there, I saw a staff member part-way down range fixing a jammed target hanger while people on the far end were still using the range. When the staff don’t follow basic safety rules, that’s bad news. Maybe they’ve cleaned up their act since then, but that was enough for me. Upland is a good location. It’s close enough to the market without having too many soccer moms. Chadds Ford is practically soccer mom central, and I remember Targetmaster had a terrible time opening back in the late 80s/early 90s.

Having this new range succeed in Upland will be a huge boon for the shooting culture in Pennsylvania. When I lived back home, if I wanted to shoot I used to drive all the way up to Classic Pistol, closer to where I live now. There are half a million people who live in Delaware County, and now shooting will be more accessible for them. Of the suburban counties, only Bucks County and Chester County have a reasonable number of public ranges of the kind that service people just getting into the culture.

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