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Polling & Results

With Washington ready for a ballot initiative fight this November and the accompanying debate over who is and isn’t showing up, I thought it would be important to look at a couple of historical votes relevant to the subject of ballot initiatives.

One is recent history. Very recent. As in, yesterday. There were were many polls showing that the Yes and No votes on Scottish Independence were in a dead heat, and even some showing that Yes was taking the lead in the days prior to the vote. The real result was a 10 point vote against independence with massive turnout.

Another, more relevant example, is from Massachusetts in 1976. I’ve posted about how important it is for gun owners to read about and learn from this example before. It shows why we keep fighting, even in sometimes clearly uphill fights. From Dave Kopel’s article on the ballot initiative fight:

Early polling suggested that a handgun ban would pass handily. Further, in the 1974 election, voters in several state legislative districts had overwhelmingly supported measures instructing their state legislators to vote for strict anti-gun legislation. …

The final poll, a few days before, had showed Question 5 with a 10-point lead. Everyone anticipated a long night waiting for the election results. Everyone was wrong.

Handgun confiscation was crushed by a vote of 69 percent to 31 percent. Of the approximately 500 towns in Massachusetts, only about a dozen (including Cambridge, Brookline, Newton and Amherst) voted for the ban. Even Boston rejected the ban by a wide margin.

There are notable differences in that it was certainly a far more extreme policy than Washington. However, it still shows that what people feel they “should” tell a pollster may not match how they vote in a closed voting booth. That’s the kind of tendency that Washington activists need to appeal to there.

Now, NRA cannot, even if they empty their entire campaign war chest into Washington State and completely ignore the rest of the country, outspend Bloomberg and Bill Gates. They can’t. Just accept it right now that you cannot look at this situation strictly through the lens of campaign finance reports. I’m not in Washington, but I do see some evidence of NRA work. There’s a Facebook page they’ve created that partially documents some of their work, and I can also say that from the moment I met our new EVC coordinator back in March, she’s been aware of this and trying to work with local activists to make sure they have what they need and help them out. Even in our Friends of NRA program that isn’t political, we saw record turnout for people showing up to participate, even though they couldn’t quite open their wallets as much as last year. Fights like this aren’t accurately portrayed in financial reports.

These issues are complex, and there’s a chance that we may lose. However, if gun owners study their history on ballot initiatives, they’ll know these things are won with volunteers on the ground and that sometimes polls on policy efforts to support more gun control are very, very wrong when you actually stick a ballot with that issue in front of someone’s face.

Tuesday News Links 09-16-2014

I hate to news links you guys so soon after doing it previously, but today is our Bucks County Friends of the NRA Banquet, for which Bitter is co-chair and I serve on the committee (and will be co-chair next year, as Bitter is stepping down) and Bitter’s Mom and Grandmother are visiting, so lots of stuff going on this week.

Shooting in defense of pets.

A lot of folks are talking about the New York Times admitting the Assault Weapons issue was bullshit. I think there’s a concerted effort by anti-gun groups to spread this story so gun owners feel safe and go back to sleep. Once that happens, next Sandy Hook like pretext, they are going to come after us differently, not trying to get everything and the kitchen sink. But that will open the floodgates.

$350 million for gun control from another rich asshole.

Speaking of rich assholes, looks like NRA has started a site meetbloomberg.com. Bloomberg is a great villain. What we have to hope is that he stays at the center of the debate.

I don’t know about the antis, but I personally prefer it when our nation’s police officers can shoot straight.

Turns out that there is mounting scientific evidence showing that natural supplies of lithium in water correlate to suicide rates. I’ll be it correlates better than gun ownership does with suicide rates. (h/t Instapundit)

The Brady Center is suing Lucky Gunner for selling the Aurora killer ammo. I will analyze that complaint when I come across it. “[T]he case will allege that BulkAmmo.com was negligent in allowing the purchase without any ‘screening mechanism to determine his identity or intent for the products.’” This is sure to be even worse than the case I mentioned yesterday. I actually think someone needs to countersue the Bradys. There are usually sanctions for filing frivolous lawsuits. Punch back twice as hard.

Remember, our opponents are against the very notion of self-defense. Well, maybe they’d agree hitting someone repeatedly with a flower would be a reasonable level of force one could use in self-defense.

I guess Kathy Kane doesn’t want to make people think she’s too anti-gun. She’s pooped in a lot of punchbowls in Harrisburg. She can’t really afford powerful enemies.

Things are looking better for Shaneen Allen, but we should keep the pressure on.

I suspect this is a ploy to derail ATF 41P. ATF can’t define person to mean one thing in one context, and another thing in another context.

Thursday News Links 09-11-2014

It’s the anniversary of 9/11, and I don’t really have much to say after 13 years. Maybe after 40 we’ll have sales at Penny’s. If it hasn’t been apparent, I’m suffering a bit from blogger burnout. Most of that is because I really just don’t have the time right now. In truth, these past few weeks have been quite generally unproductive, so I don’t think it’s just blogger burnout, but burnout in general. The cure for burnout, for me at least, is usually a vacation, but even if I had somewhere to go, I have things I need to spend money on that aren’t a vacation, like digging a fallout shelter in the back yard. I kid for now, but if the Bear keeps terrorizing the countryside, I might not be kidding. I never had high hopes for this Administration, but if you had told me the Cold War might be back on like in the good old days, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Andrew Cuomo won his primary, but not nearly by the margin he should have as a well-funded incumbent against poorly funded challengers. Jacob notes in the link that it’s being acknowledged that Cuomo’s support for the SAFE Act is a big reason why he fell short of expectations.

Please note some of the unintended consequence of the “law and order” stance of “throw the book at criminals who violate our guns laws.” I’d personally love to see the “law and order” strain in the center-right coalition die the quiet death is richly deserves. I get why we’ve wagged that dog int he past, but it’s always been an unsavory business, and it does us no good to pretend otherwise.

More accurate headline: The NRA Pissed Off the Wrong Billionaire, or maybe the right one. In fact, the effort in Washington State to end private transfers of firearms is headlined almost exclusively by billionaires. Remember, it’s OK to buy democracy, as long as it’s the right people doing it.

Remember, it is unlawful to carry weapons on public transportation in Illinois.

Mother Jones thinks “These Women Are the NRA’s Worst Nightmare.” I hate to tell you Mother Jones, but no. We’ve been through much worse than the likes of Shannon Watts. I’d much rather have Bloomberg and Watts as opponents than the Brady’s, who were a D.C. power couple even before they got into gun control. I’d much rather have an unpopular and failed Obama Administration in the bully pulpit than a popular are politically adroit Clinton Administration. There is no comparison.

Why gun control groups have moved away from the assault weapons bans? It’s naive to believe it’s not still on the agenda. They are just looking for ways to score a victory without rousing our community to oppose them, and they’ve learned assault weapons bans tend to do that. They will ban any gun they can get away with politically if you give them half a chance.

SayUncle notes that using wasp spray as a defensive spray, as an article suggests, is a violation of federal law. I also doubt very much it would be effective. Actual defensive sprays have their place, but I wouldn’t use one to stop a home invasion. Home invasions are deadly force situations.

SayUncle notes that the guy in WalMart who was shot dead holding a BB gun was likely swatted. Bob Owens is also on the case.

Eugene Volokh: The Last American Jurisdiction with a Total Handgun Ban. There’s an awful lot of pacific territories that are unfriendly toward guns. It’s good to see that might be changing. John Richardson has more background not he case. Bitter’s grandfather was stationed on Tinian in World War II as a mechanic, but was shipped back to Hawaii only a few months before this most famous aircraft went rolling down the runway there with it’s rather infamous payload.

The Second Amendment isn’t just about firearms. Someone ought to tell that to Mike Honda.

Thirdpower has snapshots of the rally and counter-rally at Chuck’s Gun Shop in Cooke County. They headed to Pennsylvania right after, but didn’t say where until the lawsuits were filed. I’ll have more to say on that later.

Panera Bread has caved to Shannon Watts. I suspect they wanted to avoid the kind of Bloomberg funded ad campaign currently being waged against Kroger. Where would their movement be without rich assholes? It’s the same play, however. Panera doesn’t actually change it’s policy, but instead releases a statement saying guns are icky so Shannon Watts can fundraise off another “victory.”

Bloomberg getting bored with gun control? I’m not relaxing. It doesn’t take much effort to write checks, and Bloomberg can outspend NRA every year for the rest of his life just by occasionally cleaning out his sofa cushions.

NRO: Anatomy of a GOP Disaster, talking about the Corbett Campaign. The biggest complaint against Corbett from the center-right is that he’s been a do-nothing governor. To me, that’s hardly a sin. I worry more about what politicians are going to do to me than for me. But being a loser Republican this year has to take a special talent, when you look at how other states are faring poll wise.

Anti-gun people won’t give up on this ridiculous notion that guns cause suicides. I can state this very confidently: owning a firearm does not increase my risk of death by suicide one bit. If I die from my own hand it’s going to be by fried foods and booze.

Another mass knifing in China. He stabbed 8 children and a teacher, three fatally.

A lot of anti-gun folks really are terrible people, but let’s not pretend we don’t have assholes on our side too. Though, to be honest, I’ve never seen anything like this on our side.

A teacher in Utah has an accidental discharge while, well, having an… err… intentional discharge. A professor in Idaho also screws up. This obviously is not going to help our cause. While I still strongly believe most people who carry are safe, there is a small number of buffoons out there who will ruin it for the rest of us. We’re probably very fortunate the Missouri Legislature chose to override Governor Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would allow limited carry in schools, and also preempt local communities when it comes to open carry.

From The Firearm Blog: Guns, Ignorance and Superstition in Africa, and The Winchester 94 in WWII.

Mike McDaniel of Bearing Arms: A Submachine Gun Primer.

Remember, gun control works.

Engagement

I am (perhaps unsurprisingly) a constant customer of Baen Books, both in the era of its founding by Jim Baen and now under the able leadership of Toni Weisskopf. They print books that entertain me, though the Baen logo is neither a necessary nor a sufficient guarantee that I will be entertained. In the past year or so, a cultural conflict in the Science Fiction domain has brewed up, another theater in the overall culture war. Diatribes have been written, ably and poorly, by all combatants as well as their allied hosts. Toni has this particular one, and Sarah Hoyt has reprinted it someplace I can easily link to. It’s long, and a lot of it is domain-specific, but the conclusion has relevance to the RKBA culture war. Emphasis is mine

But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

I think the problem is that folks just really feel they have no possible conversation with the other side any more, that the battle for this part of the culture isn’t worth fighting. And I think again SF is mirroring the greater American culture. Our country is different because it, like science fiction fandom, was built around an idea—not geographic or linguistic accident, but an idea—we hold these truths to be self evident. And it is becoming more and more obvious that the two sides of American culture no longer share a frame of reference, no points of contact, no agreement on the meaning of the core ideas.

And yet, I can’t help but think that at some point, you have to fight or you will have lost the war. The fight itself is worth it, if only because honorable competition and conflict leads to creativity, without which we, science fiction, as a unique phenomenon, die.

This is why I blog, I engage in arguments and debates (and a little bit of trolling as well) in comment sections and on Facebook (and on Twitter back when I still had the energy). You have to fight or you will have lost the war. Despite the famous line, they can take our freedoms. But we have to remember what the actual objective is. The objective is not to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, or hear the lamentations of their supporters. That might be a side effect, but the objective is to regain our freedoms and build the institutions that will support and protect them in the coming generations. And to do that we have to convince the undecided. To do that, we have to engage, have discussions with outsiders where it can be seen. And, of course, we have to both be and appear to be correct and reasonable.

The management is responsible

I regret that I was not able to fully participate in the discussion that my last post engendered; but a family vacation out of country intervened. But I’m back now, so I can address a couple of points that came up.

First, of course, I don’t believe that the usual business owner should discriminate against the usual firearms bearer, either as a visitor or employee (except as far as dress code; don’t open carry a white rifle after labor day, don’t open carry at people, &c); at least not as a matter of course. There are circumstances where certain specific areas of a business might be off-limits to carriage of firearms; you don’t necessarily want to allow large chunks of ferrous metal into the MRI room, or non-instrinically-safe items into a place with a volatile atmosphere, for example. Not to mention tightly-secured aras such as prisons, mental hostpitals, or certain areas of courthouses. However, I am also somewhat leery of using the blunt force of law to enforce this societal norm against private property owners. In this case, while I’m not unaware of the civil rights aspect, it’s not a free-for-all, either. Regardless of your right to free speech, a private property owner may ask you to leave if you exercise it in certain ways, for example; or if you are an employee your free speech rights may be quite sharply curtailed while on the property or on the clock.

However, I chose the title of the last post and this one to highlight that my suggestion is to change the “default” assumptions. Today, the “no guns” sign functions against lawyers as a bunch of garlic does against vampires; as a mythical ward against their depredations. The suit in Colorado aims to change this assumption, but not particularly in a way that the supporters of the RKBA should be happy about; the plaintiffs claim that the theater chain should have had more security, not that they should not have posted, and that the theater should be on the hook for compensating the victims and families.

In a better legal regime, the property owner might be excepted to take basic and minimal security precautions, such as ensuring any exterior lighting is in proper order, just as they should ensure that the parking lot does not have any sinkholes, &c. When it comes to controlling access to the property by possessors of weapons, thought, they can have a choice. On the one hand, that if a property owner does not prohibit firearms to the people who are inclined to observe such a restriction, they should be immunized (a la the Protection of Commerce in Lawful Firearms acts immunization of retails and manufacturers of firearms, as a very off-the-cuff suggestion). But, on the other hand, that if the property owner does post, they should be required by law and custom to make a serious effort to ensure that all visitors are protected. IE, that a secure perimeter be established, at the boundaries the visitors be given the opportunity to safely and securely disarm and stow their weapons and later safely and securely recover and rearm, and that the property owner be potentially liable in civil (and if appropriate, criminal) court for malicious acts perpetrated against visitors (and employees), not to mention the secured weapons.

This is something that could and should be codified in law, that if a business owner wishes to declare part or all of their property a “weapons-free” zone, they must make a sincere and thorough effort to ensure that it remains as such. In theory, I suppose the courts could force the issue, but in practice I don’t think they will, at least not in a manner we would recognize as supportive of the general RKBA.

Quote of the Day: Shaneen Allen Edition

Fordam law professor Nicholas Johnson challenges Americans over the Right to Keep and Bear Arms:

A final question, and this one is not rhetorical: Will the people who invoke the power and rhetoric of civil rights to condemn the disparate treatment of heroin and crack dealers, come to the rescue of a law-abiding Black woman whose crime was misunderstanding the multilayered bureaucracies that restrict the federally-guaranteed constitutional right to arms?

Shaneen Allen failed to appreciate that only one piece of the right to keep and bear arms operates in New Jersey. She perhaps concluded that two high-profile Supreme Court opinions affirming the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, plus a Pennsylvania license to carry a concealed firearm, would be enough to secure her right to carry a gun for self-defense, even in New Jersey. She was mistaken, and might be faulted for her slippery grasp of U.S. federalism. But with that as her crime, she is still infinitely more worthy of being rescued than anyone on the recent list of presidential pardons.

So far, there have been no protests or demonstrations seeking justice for Shaneen Allen. Like Otis McDonald, she is ignored by the nominal defenders of civil rights. Let us hope that this is not the end of the story.

I sincerely hope it’s not the end. If she’s convicted, I fully expect Chris Christie to commute her sentence, to be followed by a full pardon once she’s gone through the process. I think what’s happened to Allen is egregious enough that Pennsylvania should refuse extradition. If she’s in free America, fuck what the New Jersey courts demand. We should refuse to turn her over if the State of New Jersey refuses to do the right thing.

She could be any one of you or me.

UPDATE: I should make clear when I say “fully expect,” that doesn’t mean I think he’ll actually do it. That means “fully expect” if he wants me to consider him a viable candidate for President in 2016. And oh yeah, there’s still Brian Aitken too, who could use a full pardon. I’m more open to a Christie candidacy than others, especially when I hear talk of Romney running again, but only if he does the right thing by Aitken and Allen.

The Horror!

From the Wonkblog:

But a child’s parent could. “If dad wants to give his son a rifle or a shotgun on his 13th or 14th birthday, he’s pretty much free to do that in most states,” Webster said.

This is clearly a horrible situation about which “something must be done.” In other news, how does New York have more liberal laws than us in this regard? And not just New York, but Delaware and Maryland as well. Hell, Massachusetts, Connecticut and California(!) have us beat. Yes, indeed. Something must be done about this!

With New Jersey, Options are Limited

I agree with this writer than Shaneen Allen is not collateral damage, and the law is working as the legislature intended it, and I agree with this too:

The video above makes a case for eliminating mandatory minimums to increase a judges discretion.  That isn’t a just solution.  It would still be a crime to simply possess a firearm with no criminal intent or history.   If Shaneen shouldn’t face the penalty (I agree she shouldn’t) the state has prescribed for those who possess a firearm outside of narrow exemptions, why should any other gun owner?

But I’ve long advocated that we have to recognize reality, push for what we can get, and not let perfect be the enemy of good. The reality is that this is New Jersey: the legislature is never going to change the gun laws in the manner above, unless that change is forced on them by the courts.

But they might be able to look at the Allen case an at least agree to ease up on the law a bit so otherwise law abiding people don’t find themselves looking at years in a New Jersey prison for a mistake. In truth, even that is likely an uphill battle. It would be a huge deal if the New Jersey legislature even started looking at gun owners and said, “Not all of these people should be in prison.” That would be a sea change in attitude in the Garden State.

I’m not certain whether Dancer has any chance to even get his bill a hearing. It very well might just be a means to signal support, knowing full well it’s doomed to languish in the Democratically controlled, anti-gun legislature. But I’m inclined to support it nonetheless. Only two things are going to push New Jersey back from its current position: federal courts, or a federal legislative remedy under the 14th Amendment. That’s it.

The Management Is Not Responsible

There’s a certain amount of libertarian ambivalence about laws that force companies to allow their employees and patrons to have firearms (or other weapons) in vehicles in parking lots on private property. On the one hand, the property rights of the owner are trampled. On the other, if this is not forced, the self-defense right of the individuals are trampled. No matter what, someone’s natural rights are getting trampled. The justification for parking lot laws boils down to property rights are less important than self-defense rights.

But, there’s an interesting lawsuit that’s come out of the Aurora, CO mass shooting a few years back. Victims and family members are proceeding with a wrongful death/personal injury suit against the theater chain. Normally, I’d say this was an attempt to go after the deep pockets. But, we have been told that this theater chain was somewhat unusual in the region for posting their property, and it’s suspected that the shooter chose this theater at least partially because it was posted, since the theater was not the closest to his home.

A federal judge has again refused to dismiss wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits filed against a movie theater chain by victims of a 2012 mass shooting at a Colorado cinema where 12 people were killed and dozens injured.

In general, the lawsuits claim Cinemark had lax security at its theater in the Denver suburb of Aurora when a gunman opened fired during a midnight screening of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The article then goes on to point out that other theaters in the chain hired security, but this theater chose not to. The theater chain’s defense is that they should not have a “duty and burden to have foreseen and prevented the criminal equivalent of a meteor falling from the sky.” However, by encouraging their patrons to disarm under threat of banning from the property or other legal actions, I’d say that they have chosen to assume the “duty and burden” by forbidding their patrons from retaining the means of self-defense. And, at any rate, a mass murderer is not the only reason for someone to wish to have the means to defend themselves readily to hand.

In the end, this is why those signs and policies exist, because after a tragedy, people will go looking for the deepest pockets that can provide them monetary compensation. The assumption has been, until now, that the signs may not be effective against lawbreakers, but they are effective against the plaintiff’s bar; that they are the equivalent of those signs you see at coat racks and in parking lots that say “management is not responsible for theft.” (which is literally true, but apparently needs to be spelled out). However, today we live in a legal regime where the search for deep pockets causes the plaintiff’s bar to advance the theory that if a property owner does not have a policy against the carriage of weapons, they are responsible for the actions of anyone who does carry a weapon onto the property. Which is absurd, of course.

If this lawsuit goes through, though, the property owners will be forced to take on the duty of defense of their patrons. For a variety of reasons I don’t expect this lawsuit to succeed; but it points out a libertarian way of obtaining the same results as a parking lot law, without the trampling of the rights of the property owners. Pass laws that make it harder to sue the property owner for the actions of a third party on that property, a la the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Firearms Act or the safe harbor provisions of the DMCA, and impose a duty to defend patrons if the property owner chooses to post their property as a “gun free zone.” Then leave it to the free market and the insurance companies to make those signs evaporate…

 

H/T to Saysuncle

Law Proposed in New Jersey: “Shaneen’s Law”

Assemblyman Ron Dancer of New Jersey has introduced “Shaneen’s Law,” legislation that would give judges the option of not sending citizens like Shaneen Allen to prison. Allen, if you recall, was the mother from Pennsylvania who had a Pennsylvania LTC, and didn’t know it was invalid in New Jersey until she was pulled over and told the officer she was armed. Atlantic County Prosecutor, James P. McClain, threw the book at her.

I’m glad to see someone at least trying to do something about this. Of course, I’d rather stop this with reciprocity, but that’s a long way off for the Garden State. Maybe Assemblyman Dancer’s bill has a chance to go somewhere.

I really want the anti-gunners to explain to me what public interest is served in sending Shaneen Allen to prison? She’s not a threat to anyone. There was never anyone that was victimized by her actions. What purpose does it serve to separate a mother from her child to house her in a prison at taxpayer expense? Is this the America you really want to live in? In an article that would make even the most “law and order” Republican cringe, anti-gun activist Bryan Miller has already answered that question. Sadly, I believe the answer is yes, because when she picked up the gun and put it in her purse, to those people, she became something less than a human being.

UPDATE: This post originally mentioned Shaneen Allen was persecuted by the Ocean County Prosecutor. Atlantic County is where she was persecuted. We apologize for the error.

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