Currently Browsing: Gun Rights

“Guns in America” Forum

Tomorrow at Central Penn College in Summerdale, PA there will be a forum featuring David Keene, former NRA President, and Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFire PA. It runs from 7-8PM.

Keene has generally been a great spokesman for the issue. If anyone in the area wishes to attend, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. It’s a bit of a hike for me.

Are They Going to be Real Volunteers This Time?

Moms Demand Action and Everytown (which is to say Bloomberg) are planning on flooding legislative sessions with activists. One wonders whether their “more than 100 volunteers” will once again be paid protesters, or whether they’ve found some real moms who care enough about the issue to give up a weekday. Florida has a very active session planned:

  • Bill to legalize open carry in Florida. Open carry isn’t my thing, but I don’t see why it ought to be criminalized.
  • Legalize carrying of firearms in non-sterile parts of Airports. If someone is intent on shooting up the place, they aren’t going to be deterred by a sign or a law on the books somewhere.
  • Allow firearms to be carried on college campuses. College students are adults. I don’t think it’s ever made any sense to restrict permit holders from carrying on college campuses.
  • Allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry guns at any legislative meeting, committee meeting, county or local government meeting. Local government meetings are a magnet for kooks and crazies, which is why I’d like to carry a gun if I go to one. Again, not going to deter anyone intending to shoot up the place.
  • Legalize carrying firearms by permit holders in career centers? What the hell is a career center? This is a prohibition I’ve never heard of in any other state.
  • Require that courthouses provide temporary storage for permit holders. This is already the law in Pennsylvania, so I don’t see why Florida shouldn’t join the fun.
  • Expansion of stand-your-ground to place the burden on prosecutors to prove that there is no viable self-defense claim. This is what they’ll fight tooth and nail.
  • Ballot measure on eliminating the 72-hour waiting period for LEOs to buy personal handguns. I’d vote “no” on this. I don’t see why they shouldn’t have to follow the same rules as the peasantry.

That’s pretty ambitious, but Marion Hammer is a force of nature, unlike Shannon Watts, and the Demanding Moms, who are a force of Bloomberg. I know which one I’d be more scared of if I were a Florida legislator.

The Senate Votes to Repeal Social Security Gun Ban

Passed by 57 Yeas to 43 Nays. Fortunately there’s no filibuster for this kind of action, so a bare majority is all that was required. It’s worth looking at the no votes, and seeing what that may portend for National Reciprocity or the Hearing Protection Act, should it come before the Senate. The following Senators voted “no” from states that Trump won:

  • Robert Casey (PA)
  • Tammy Baldwin (WI)
  • Claire McCaskill (MO)
  • Gary Peters (MI)
  • Debbie Stabenow (MI)
  • Sherrod Brown (OH)
  • Bill Nelson (FL)

Most of these folks are up in 2018. If we can avoid any “I am not a witch!” moments this election cycle, and not vote for the person Claire McCaskill spends $2 million campaigning for in the Missouri GOP primary, we might have a shot at flipping some of these.

“Assault Weapons” Registration in Washington State

I warned people that Bloomberg’s ballot initiatives would blow the door open to more gun control and risk turning the state, and I’m sorry to see that is actually happening:

House Bill 1387 would impose an annual registration and licensing system on the most popular and commonly owned semi-automatic firearms sold today by classifying them as “assault weapons.” In addition, it would prohibit the sale and transfer of standard capacity ammunition magazines labeling them as “large-capacity magazines.” The transfer and sale of these firearms and magazines would be prohibited to anyone other than a federally licensed firearms dealer, a gunsmith or to law enforcement for destruction.

You can bet that if the legislature doesn’t pass these, and make no mistake, you should call and make sure they don’t, Bloomberg is going to spend big to get this on the ballot. Don’t let it happen: this is a precursor to confiscation. That’s not a hyperbole, it’s happened both in California and New York City, where registration lists were used to confiscate firearms later made illegal or reclassified as illegal. If you want to keep your guns, you have to stop this.

Opposition to Obama’s Late Term Social Security Gun Ban

In the Washington Post, from Jeffrey Swanson, a Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine:

The gun restriction rule is a well-meaning policy that gets some things right, notably its support of federal efforts to improve detection of risky people who should not have legal access to guns. But despite its good intentions, what the policy actually does is take away the gun rights of a large category of individuals without any evidence that they pose a risk of harm to self or others, and without legal due process protections commensurate with abridging a constitutional right.

As I’ve said, Bitter’s late grandfather had a designated payee, because he could not manage the finances of his farm properties in his old age. But there was no safety issue at all with him possessing firearms. He just could not handle money.

It is unfortunate that Republican lawmakers are using a rather heavy-handed regulatory tool — the Congressional Review Act — to repeal the gun restriction rule, rather than modifying it to reflect what the evidence tells us about mentally ill persons and violence risk.

I believe we have a bill that intends to do just that. It was introduced in the last Congress by Senator Cornyn, and opposed by Bloomberg’s group. Despite the rhetoric of the opposition, common sense is nowhere to be found.

Civil Rights Progress

The 7th Circuit has been surprisingly good when it comes to Second Amendment issues, so it’s not a huge surprise that Ezell II has scored a victory. If you recall, Chicago tried to zone gun ranges out of the city. That was struck down in Ezell I. So the city basically rewrote the law so that gun ranges aren’t technically banned, but they are subject to a patchwork of regulation that amounts to a de facto ban. They also prohibited minors from using legal gun ranges in the city.

Basically, in Chicago you couldn’t teach your kids to shoot, which wasn’t an issue anyway, since there were no ranges in the city by design. The city’s new laws, designed to evade Ezell I, is now struck down in Ezell II. The opinion being delivered by Judge Diane Sykes. Judge Sykes is on Trump’s list of judges he told us he’s considering for nominations to the Supreme Court.

We affirm in part and reverse in part. The two zoning regulations—the manufacturing-district classification and the distancing rule—dramatically limit the ability to site a shooting range within city limits. Under the combined effect of these two regulations, only 2.2% of the city’s total acreage is even theoretically available, and the commercial viability of any of these parcels is questionable—so much so that no shooting range yet exists. This severely limits Chicagoans’ Second Amendment right to maintain proficiency in firearm use via target practice at a range. To justify these barriers, the City raised only speculative claims of harm to public health and safety. That’s not nearly enough to survive the heightened scrutiny that applies to burdens on Second Amendment rights.

The age restriction also flunks heightened scrutiny. We held in Ezell I that the Second Amendment protects the right to learn and practice firearm use in the controlled setting of a shooting range. The City insists that no person under age 18 enjoys this right. That’s an extraordinarily broad claim, and the City failed to back it up. Nor did the City adequately justify barring anyone under 18 from entering a range. To the contrary, its own witness on this subject agreed that the age restriction is overbroad because teenagers can safely be taught to shoot and youth firearm instruction is both pruent and can be conducted in a safe manner.

What really pleases me is that the judges took note that the zoning rules allowed law enforcement ranges on any commercial property, and the city notes those ranges operated safely. They looked at that and balked at how that argument wouldn’t apply somehow to civilian shooting ranges. In a small way, they looked at police exemptions and called bullshit on it. This is what I think courts should do. If they are exempting the cops, something is fishy.

And if more were needed, the City concedes (as it must) that law-enforcement and private-security ranges operate in commercial districts throughout Chicago near schools, churches, parks, and stores; the City acknowledges that they operate quite safely in these locations. Common sense suggests that law-enforcement ranges probably do not attract many thieves, but the City’s theft-protection rationale for these zoning rules is so woefully unsupported that the distinction between law-enforcement and commercial ranges doesn’t carry much weight. The City doesn’t even try to argue that commercial ranges create greater fire or environ- mental risks than law-enforcement ranges.

The whole opinion is pretty decent. Scalia was passionate about the issue because he was a shooter. I’d like to see a shooter replace him. I don’t know if Judge Sykes is a shooter or not, but from what I’ve seen from her, I’d definitely find her to be an acceptable court pick by Trump.

Common Arguments Against National Reciprocity

I’ve been watching the debate unfold, and wanted to address some common arguments I see from people on our side. I’ll address them one-by-one:

The constitution is the only carry permit I need! It should be, but that is not the current reality we live with. We’re now double digits on the number of states that don’t require a permit, and hopefully that will continue to spread. I actually think H.B. 38 deserves kudos for recognizing the Vermont situation, and codifying nationwide Constitutional Carry for citizens whose states don’t require permits. I don’t know if that will survive the final vote, but it’s worth reaching for.

Most Americans are living under some kind of permitting regime, with about 1/3rd of our fellow citizens still living in may-issue states. None of these states will go shall-issue, let alone Constitutional Carry on their own. The only way you’ll ever carry in New York City, for instance, is if the federal courts or Congress force them to allow it, and they might not get into the finer points of reciprocity. There aren’t enough votes in Congress for just preempting permitting altogether, and if you think we have City of Bourne v. Flores problems with National Reciprocity now, wait until Congress tries to do something more appropriate for the Courts to do, like striking down state permitting laws.

This will be the federal camel’s nose under the tent! The federal nose got under the tent in 1934. In 1938, we let it under a little more. Then in 1968 we got half the camel under the tent. Then in 1994, three quarters camel. My point is, the Congress knows how to pass gun control laws. They’ve been doing it a long time. I’m not of the opinion that we shouldn’t move the ball forward because a future hostile Congress might pass gun control. That can happen regardless of whether we pass National Reciprocity. The question is this: do you want a future hostile Congress to have to start from farther away from your rights or closer? Would you like Bloomberg focused on repealing gains we can make now, or focused on gains we made last decade, like getting rid of gun bans and passing FOPA? I know I’d prefer fighting him back to today rather than fighting him back to what I already won last decade. That’s the choice.

Let me address the Brady Act analogy here, because I think it’s worthwhile. We made a number of concessions in the Brady Act that weakened our arguing position. We ended up arguing that instant background checks were great in order to stave off waiting periods. Well, if instant background checks are great for retail sales, why aren’t they great for every sale? You see where the other side can go with this. Well, since every sale gets phoned in to the FBI or State Police along with the buyer information, why can’t we just keep that? Just a little record keeping, you know. Nothing to worry about!

The compromises that went into the Brady Act inherently weakened our position for future fights. Where does National Reciprocity weaken our arguing position? That there should be no federal gun laws? I’m sympathetic, but if the Second Amendment is a recognized fundamental right, I want the federal government to be empowered to protect it against state encroachment, just like it does with other fundamental rights. Are we to believe that a hostile Congress has never thought of using its power to screw us until we came along and decided to use it to help? Congress liberally used its power to our detriment for most of the last century! Believe me, whatever your fears about what a Congress will do to state permit systems the anti-gun legislators have already thought about, and they’ll do that to us if they have the votes even if we never pass National Reciprocity.

Let me take one common fear: a future hostile Congress will mandate state standards for issuance, like they’ve done with Real ID. OK. I’ll buy that. Say a future hostile Congress decides that only states that require 8 hours or more of training and a live fire test qualify for national recognition. I would certainly oppose that. But are we still ahead of where we are now? Yes. Did the future  hostile Congress just blow political capitol pissing off 10 million people who have permits in this country just getting halfway back to where they were? Yes. Would you rather them chip away at gains we made a decade ago instead? Right now their goal is extending the Brady Ac, repealing FOPA, and as a stretch goal banning “assault weapons.” If we pass National Reciprocity, that’s going to become their target. That’s a good thing.

It’s a useless bill. My guns are illegal in the hostile states!  H.B. 38, and most of the other proposed National Reciprocity laws that have been proposed have attempted to preempt local gun bans. If you look at the language of H.B. 38, it allows anyone to carry a handgun (other than a machinegun or destructive device). It makes clear that magazines and ammunition are included. Now, I actually think H.B. 38 needs to be made more clear that Congress is intending to preempt state law in this matter. It should make clear that any handgun legal under federal law is covered, regardless of state laws on magazine capacity or ammunition type. But there is an attempt to ensure you can carry everywhere with the guns you own.

New Jersey will just change its laws to eliminate the permits. So will other states! That might be so. But I’d still argue we’re way ahead. Will states that issue but have bad reciprocity arrangements, like Minnesota, Nevada and Oregon, repeal their laws? Probably not. Will New York City, which hands out carry permits as patronage, repeal theirs? Maybe. But maybe not. Don’t underestimate how powerful patronage is. We don’t know what will happen. Also, what happens if a future Supreme Court rules that outright prohibitions on carry are unconstitutional? This puts a lot of the hostile states in an outright bind. It’s worth doing. Also, don’t underestimate our ability to make improvements to the law after they pass it and the sky doesn’t fall. Perhaps repealing concealed carry won’t get New Jersey out of recognition forever.

Journalists’ Gun Policy Arguments Bore Me to Death

Just Don't Bore MeBy now we’ve all head of the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport terminal. Joe Huffman speculates whether he picked Florida specifically because Florida banned carrying firearms in airports. Despite what many would accuse, this is not crazy talk: mass shooters often carefully plan their attacks, and consider the possibility of counter attack.

One issue I have with gun policy debates today that play out in the mainstream press is they’ve just gotten utterly boring. Take one of my favorite boring arguments: “He was a law abiding gun owner, until he wasn’t.” You don’t say? People don’t become criminals until they commit a crime? Bowl me over with a feather! This is essentially the argument of Daniel Ruth, columnist for the Tampa Bay Times, who is upset the Florida legislature is debating whether banning firearms in non-sterile areas of airports actually deters anyone intending to go on a killing spree from carrying out the deed. You’d think most of the article would be a discussion about that, but you’d be wrong.

Throughout his article you have passages like: “which would allow some 1.7 million people with concealed carry gun permits to move freely through airport terminals while armed.” Does that not imply something is wrong with 1.7 million people having Florida concealed carry permits? Of course it does, because later Ruth states that allowing firearms in non-sterile areas of airports: “assumes those 1.7 million gun-packing Floridians are Atticus Finch meets Dirty Harry — cool and calm under pressure and always blessed with perfect aim.”

So what bores me with all of this? Here’s the core issue: is society better or worse off allowing ordinary people to possess the ability to effectively apply deadly defensive force in public places. It’s not even really about guns, because if we had particle disrupters as the leading technology to apply deadly force, we’d be debating that. On the core issue at hand, the side represented by Daniel Ruth has pretty much lost the policy debate. Their current arguments on this topic are little more than channeling their anxiety at having lost by attacking the people who won.

It’s not that I have an issue, per se, with debates on the margins of a core issue: if you want to argue allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools risks a gun carelessly carried in a purse ending up in the hands of a student, I think we can have that debate. I can even think of arguments about guns in airport terminals that I might not agree with, but that wouldn’t bore me to death. But people like Daniel Ruth aren’t really interested in making actual arguments on the margins, or even rearguing the core debate with fresh arguments. They are only interested in public expressions of their anxiety at having lost. What surprises me, and is the reason I have absolutely zero respect for the media, is that anyone bothers to publish it. I am interested in sharing and debating ideas, but not so much reading or talking about the social anxiety of journalists.

Prepping the Ground for the Suppressor Fight

You can hate the Washington Post’s ignorant article about suppressors, but I have to admit that tying it to the Trumps was an effin’ brilliant way to frame the issue if the aim is to derail the bill. Why? Because most people don’t really give a shit or understand this issue, but if you try to imply the Trumps have something to gain from it, you trigger all the lefty hate rage, and that gets people who otherwise wouldn’t care motivated to oppose it. If the Trumps want it, surely it must be the Worst. Idea. Ever. That’s exactly what I’m seeing around social media.

The key is to speak out in favor of the issue. Put a human face on it. A lot of the same folks who complain about this bill are the same types who complain about noise emanating from gun clubs. Imagine if clubs could encourage members to use suppression? Right now that’s not a reasonable request because of the regulations. Push the training angle, and how it makes it much safer during instruction if the person being instructed can actually hear commands. This is one of those issues where we have really good arguments, and the other side is stuck hoping people believe Hollywood portrayals of how silencers work, and are willing to jump in and ra! ra! team! in opposition is the issue is framed in a way that triggers an emotional response.

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.

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