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Elections and Consequences

With so many of the administration’s policies facing legal challenges, the increased likelihood that those cases could end up before more ideologically sympathetic judges is a reassuring development to the White House. Nowhere has this dynamic been more evident than at the District of Columbia court, which is considered the second most important appeals court in the nation, after the Supreme Court.

It’s not just SCOTUS, he’s been able to rejigger the entire system.

Radley Balko on Police Militarization

This is a 42 minute long interview, but worth your time:

What Would Scottish Independence Mean for Scottish Gun Rights?

FlagofScotlandThe referendum on Scottish independence is coming on September 18, 2014, and it’s looking like independence is gaining momentum. I don’t have much of an opinion on the topic as an American, but I’d probably vote in favor of union if I were to have a say. There’s an awful lot of too good to be true promises being made by the Scottish government, and it strikes me that the Scottish government might be a good deal more socialist without having to compromise with less socialist Englishmen. But what affect would Scottish independence have on Scottish gun laws? The document is very (probably intentionally) vague:

    1. How will access to firearms be controlled in an independent Scotland?

The Scotland Act 2012 provided the Scottish Parliament with limited additional powers to introduce licensing for airguns. Work is underway by the Scottish Government to introduce a licensing regime for airguns in Scotland. However, Westminster has refused requests to devolve powers fully to allow decisions on the licensing and control of firearms to be taken in Scotland.

Independence will give Scotland full powers to control firearms in Scotland. Firearms legislation and licensing in an independent Scotland will be simplified, made easier for the public to understand and for the authorities to enforce.

They say they’ll make licensing easier. They don’t make clear whether they would ease the handgun ban currently imposed on Scotland. Given that the Scottish government claims to want to regulate air guns more thoroughly than does the UK (which leaves them relatively unregulated up to a certain muzzle energy, after which a Firearms Certificate is required), I wouldn’t be too optimistic that much of anything will actually change if I were a Scottish shooter.

I tend to think that Independence will make both countries weakener, and given that Tsar Vlad is on the march, I’d not think too highly of some pie in the sky nonsense like eliminating nuclear weapons.

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.

How to get your gun in New Jersey – a layman’s guide

New Jersey requires permits to purchase firearms – for longarms, it’s a Firearms Purchasers ID card, issued once and good for life (unless revoked, or you move; it has your street address on it). This card is de jure and practically de facto shall-issue, the only quirk being that, while the legislature wrote a “must issue within 30 days (45 for out-of-state applicants)” into the law, the NJ Judiciary interpreted this as “must issue after the background check is complete;” in effect neutralizing the time limit. Now, while the form to apply for a FPID and the process is uniform statewide, it is administered by the local Chief Law Enforcement officer or the New Jersey State Police for jurisdictions without their own police agency. Furthermore, some jurisdictions have had long-standing traditions and or municipal regulations of having additional requirements not specified in the law, such as additional forms beyond the application and mental health release (Available on the NJSP’s website as PDFs to save and print), interview requirements, and other impediments to the process to purchase a firearm. Of late there is an effort by the NJ Second Amenment Society to sue non-compliant governments to force them to comply with the law, this has been mostly successful with out of court settlements in most cases. Unfortunately, due to the caselaw, the 30-day time limit is not subject to being enforced by lawsuit, so the time it takes to actually receive the FPID is highly variable – my town is generally considred to be middle-of-the-road and I required 6+ weeks both times I applied. Applicants in other towns have had to threaten or actually sue as their wait time approached moths or even a year+. The card itself neither laminated nor standard credit-card size, nor a photo ID. It had your identifying info on one side, and your signature, the CLEO signature, and your fingerprint on the other. It allows you to purchase longarms, as long as you fill out a transfer form and if buying from an FFL, undergo a state-run background check (I understand the FFL calls the NJSP, who runs a quick file check and a NICS check). The last time I bought a longarm it took less time to process that check than it did for me to fill out the 4473 and NJ’s own transfer form.

For handguns, you instead use a Permit to Purchase a Handgun. The application process is exactly the same as the process for obtaining a Firearm Purchasers ID Card, down to using the exact same forms (only checking a different box) – because you need to show an FPID and have the transaction logged when purchasing ammunition from an FFL (ammo for rentals is generally exempt from this requirement), it’s generally considered wise to obtain an FPID at the same time you get your first pistol permit to both take advantage of being able to use the same forms and to be able to buy ammunition retail. Note than “handgun ammo” is considered to be “any ammo that can be used in a handgun,” and includes both “traditional” pistol calibers and .22lr at least. I believe most FFLs log all ammo purchases, but since my only firearms eat 9mm and .22lr, I don’t know for sure. Once complete, you receive a paper form good for 90 days, which can be extended for 90 more days (de jure non-discretionary, and usually de facto as well). This may be used to purchase 1 handgun either privately or through an FFL. If through an FFL, another background check at point of sale applies.

Now, the legislation setting up this scheme was passed in the late 1960s, and the fees were specified at that time and have not been adjusted since then. Consequently, they are relatively trivial; though there is an additional fee nowadays since the entire state now jobs out the fingerprinting to a private company who charges not quite $60 for the job. Fingerprinting is not necessarily required for subsequent paperwork obtained from the same issuing authority as before (at their discretion). Without fingerprinting, the cost is generally under $50 to get a set of permits, often much less. So what some enthusiasts will do is apply for mulitple permits (currently there’s no reason to have more than 3 live ones due to NJ’s one-handgun-a-month scheme), and refresh/replace as the come due, so that they always have the ability to buy a handgun without having to wait out the normal process. If your issuing authority is reasonable, this isn’t a terribly expensive way to go, other than being an unconstitutional tax on the right to obtain a firearm, of course :)

(Obligatory Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, particularly not one who specializes in NJ firearms law. I’m just some guy on the internet who claims to have read the statutes once or twice).

For more resources see:

The NJSP Firearms FAQ

The NJSP links to NJ Firearms Laws and AG guidelines - that last includes the current “interpretation:” of the NJ AWB

The NJ2AS News and Resources page

The NJ2AS guide on purchasing a firearm in NJ - includes a link to their Operation Establish Compliance page

And, of course, the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, our NRA state org.

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.

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.

Republicans Pushing Gun Issues

It looks like the Republican Governors Association thinks that pushing gun control is going to be a worthwhile attack on John Hickenlooper out in Colorado.

There’s quite a bit of fair criticism that it appears as though Republicans often tend to only turn to our issue when they can attack Democrats for it rather than doing very much in the way of positive work to advance the cause. I suspect the truth in that statement, like any issue dealing with politics, varies wildly depending on your state and region. However, I can at least say this about our GOP governor in Pennsylvania – he’s the reason that controversial gun control is not an issue in this year’s state elections, and I think that’s under appreciated by many gun owners.

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.

Saying No to Bloomberg

NRA is launching an ad campaign to highlight what an insulting busybody Michael Bloomberg is to anyone who doesn’t want to live their life the same way he demands the little people live.

According to the WaPo, it’s starting out with a $500,000 buy in Colorado. USA Today says that it will also run nationally on cable. They also report a digital ad buy in other states like Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia.

This buy starts now, so they aren’t waiting until the elections to do it.

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