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Real AR-15 or Replica?

See this local news story about a robbery that happened in North Philadelphia today:

There’s some speculation in the comments that it’s a replica, because the carry handle looks off. I agree it looks larger and differently shaped than any real AR-15 carry handle I’ve seen, so I’m open to the idea that it’s a replica. But that could also be a lensing effect on the camera making it look bigger than it really is. Other than that, it looks like the real deal to me, but I agree that carry handle and sight is off. What do you think?

Though, I do have to say, with that one handed grip, I don’t know how he thinks he could fight off a grab. That’s practically begging for a bolder store clerk to rip that AR right out of his hands. I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do it, but it’s certainly doable.

DEA and ATF Team Up to Monitor Phoenix Area Gun Shows, Says ACLU

According to the ACLU, the DEA and ATF were conspiring to use license plate readers at gun shows. Presumably all this was because, war on drugs, and because, terrorism or something like that. You have to wonder with as pervasive as the surveillance state is becoming, with technology enabling it to ever greater heights, how long we have until there’s de facto registration even without the government even needing to resort to 4473s. Just watch a gun range for a while via drone or satellite, and just start compiling a list. Soon you won’t even need people to do this. You won’t even need to specifically focus the camera on the gun range. It’ll all be done algorithmically by computers, compiling tons and tons of data to be called up and analyzed any time the powers that be want to scrutinize someone.

The scary part is, I don’t know if there’s a good way to stop it. The chest pounders among us would perhaps suggest such a state deserves “Second Amendment remedies,” and it’s hard to argue that such a persuasive surveillance state has any legitimacy. But the technology will be there. Would you trust anyone with it?

Quote of the Day

Seen on the Internets:

The Libertarian Party couldn’t organize a gangbang in a whorehouse; they’d all rather sit around and argue the ethics of making people wear a rubber.

I’ve never understood the purpose of the Libertarian Party, because it never seemed to me to be all that interested in the political process. Other than running someone for President (which is kind of doing step 100 when you’re not even making it to step 5), it’s always seemed to me to be more of a philosophical society, spending most of its time and energy arguing over what libertarianism is and isn’t.

Probably the reason I’ve always preferred the term “classical liberal.” I definitely don’t fit the LP definition of libertarian, but nor am I really comfortable with the label conservative.

First GOP Shindig of the 2016 Election Season

Did anyone even know about the Iowa Freedom Summit? I didn’t, but it was essentially the launch of the 2016 election season for the GOP presidential hopefuls. Jim Geraghty has a pretty good assessment of the event, including assessments of the candidates. I only had time yesterday to tune in to two speeches on YouTube. I watched Scott Walker’s performance, because I was interested to see how he did. Walker has a touch of midwestern boring, but it was a solid speech. I like Walker’s record, but I’m concerned he might not be fiery enough on the stump to really connect with voters. The other was Chris Christie, who also delivered a pretty solid performance, but I agree with Geraghty that in a GOP primary he’s a second tier candidate:

If Bush and Romney are both in, you have to wonder how many big donors stick by him. He did better in his Iowa appearance than some might have expected, and he’s undoubtedly going to be a dominant figure in the debates. But he’s positioned himself in opposition to the rest of the party way too often, and you can’t win the GOP nomination from the Jon Huntsman slot, as the Republican nominee most acceptable to the Acela class that can’t stand Republicans.

Christie has strong political talents, but I think the compromises he’s had to make in a deep blue state controlled very decisively by the Democratic Party in every other aspect, is probably going to be too much for GOP voters anywhere other than the Northeast.

I want to like Rand Paul, but the unfortunate thing about Rand is that he shares something in common with Jack Kennedy; the biggest concern many people have is his father. I can accept that Rand is his own man, but I am very wary that he’s going to bring along the same baggage with him. If he can show he’s bringing along a different coalition, I might be open to him, but I’m not if he’s using his dad’s political apparatus. I also I’m not too keen with Tsar Vlad trotting around Eastern Europe in “quasi-isolationist non-interventionism,” as Geraghty puts it. I think after two more years of smart diplomacy, the next President is going to be in a real foreign-policy pickle.

On guns, any of these guys would be better than Obama, or Hillary, or Elizabeth Warren. I know, I know, “but… Carson,” “but… Christie,” “but… Mitt.” Yeah, we know the problems with those candidates, but the most important thing we need out of the next President are Supreme Court justices who are solid on the Second Amendment. Any Republican President is going to be expected to choose from the party’s short list. See the Harriet Miers nomination to understand what happens when Presidents don’t go that way. You’re not going to see any Republican President promoting an Obama nominee to the high court, or a liberal law professor. The only time this goes sideways is when the other party controls the Senate. By the reverse token, even if Jim Webb ends up winning in 2016, there’s little chance you’re getting a pro-2A justice out of him, no matter how much he might “support the Second Amendment” otherwise. The party divide on this issue has unfortunately become that strong.

Anti-Gun Group Confessions

The leader of a gun control group here in Pennsylvania told a Lancaster, PA outlet that they don’t consider actual prosecutions of crimes to be a relevant factor in pushing gun control laws.

In the more than five years the law’s been on the books, not one person has been prosecuted.

“It’s just to lord it over law-abiding people and threaten them with it — which is wrong and immoral,” said Jonathan Goldstein, the NRA’s attorney on the case.

Shira Goodman, executive director of CeaseFirePA, agreed that prosecutions aren’t the point of the law.

So, if enforcement isn’t the point of passing gun control laws, then what is the goal? Is it to score a “victory” to use in fundraising for more gun control group salaries? Or is the goal to create a patchwork of such complicated laws that no one wants to bother trying to become a lawful gun owner? These are questions the paper isn’t willing to follow up on, even though it should be a little odd that a gun control group spokesperson is indicating she doesn’t care if there’s any enforcement of the laws she claims are sooooo vital to public safety.

Maryland Gun Policies in Pennsylvania to Come?

Remember the headlines about Maryland police officers possibly targeting gun owners for stops?

Well, we could be looking at the similar attitude against guns and their owners coming to Pennsylvania highways. The Maryland State Police Superintendent was just appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf to be the new head of the Pennsylvania State Police.

Elections have consequences, and this is just one more reminder for those guys and gals you know who are choosing to sit home and pout rather than trying to find a coalition so that they – and their rights – aren’t under constant attack.

NRA Suing Three Pennsylvania Cities

The cities are Lancaster, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. One presumes that the timing of these suits is related to an ill-advised lawsuit launched by U.S. Shield Law. These are the three cities that have thumbed their noses at the new preemption law, and are actively working to have the law invalidated by the courts as unconstitutional. They attorney handling the case is Jonathan Goldstein, who is a good choice, and is experienced in arguing gun-related cases. In the mean time, Attorney Joshua Prince’s campaign against the many municipalities across Pennsylvania is bearing a lot of fruit. It’s practically daily a municipality agrees to rescind its law. Only Lancaster, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have, so far, been willing to put their taxpayer dollars on the line to thumb their noses at the rights of their citizens to have gun laws be uniform throughout the commonwealth.

Journalists for Blue Laws

The Express-Times are standing behind New Jersey and Pennsylvania’s blue law that bans hunting on Sunday, originally enforced because you should be in church. They are arguing hunters have to share the great outdoors, which they largely pay for, with other people who don’t pay for it. I am not a hunter, but it’s very important for gun rights in this country to turn around its decline. There are plenty of people on our side who are happy to throw the “fudds” off the lifeboat, but the hunting cultures nonetheless provides a lot of bodies to the gun rights movement, and it’s decline will hurt us at the end of the day. Nearly every other state in the country allows Sunday hunting. There is no reason that New Jersey and Pennsylvania should be among the last states to repeal this blue law.

Texas is Not a Besieged State

Any tactic that beings with that assumption is the wrong one. It’s not illegal to make firearms in Texas, nor is it going to make that illegal anytime in the foreseeable future. Open Carry already seems like a done deal in Texas. Constitutional Carry might need some work, but it’s good to know what legislators are going to be open to persuasion. Don’t waste your time with the guys that aren’t. Pressure the legislators you might have some prayer to actually unseat, or at least make things very uncomfortable for. Rep. Poncho Naverez is not among those who fall into that category. That confrontation served absolutely no useful purpose.

You know why Rep. Navarez is happy to say he’s a “no” vote so readily? Or why he treats a threat to his seat with friendly and sportsmanlike indifference? Because in 2012, he won his overwhelmingly hispanic district with 60% of the vote. In 2014, a Republican wave year, he didn’t even draw a challenger. Rep. Navarez knows that his constituents either outright agree with his position on this issue, or at least don’t care enough to vote against him over it. You can threaten his seat all you want, but he what he knows, and what some of the activists in that video don’t, is that unless Navarez is caught with a dead girl or live boy, he’s probably in that seat as long as he wants to be there.

You don’t need Navarez’s vote to pass open carry or constitutional carry, which is good, because you’re never going to get it. You’re not reminding him he works for “the people,” because you’re not the people he works for. His people are his constituents, who seem to be largely happy with him. If you want his vote, that’s what you have to change. There will be no convincing him unless you convince his constituents that he’s failing them. This is how a Republic works, and no amount of calling anyone a tyrant is going to change that.

Not Great on Guns to Outright Confiscation

Our current Congresscritter, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, jumped on board with the “must look squishy” stance after Newtown and decided to sponsor gun control in the House even when it became clear there would be no vote.

It’s not a shock at all. No one actually believes he has a spine on any issue, but that’s part of why some people vote for him. Even our biggest frustration with him isn’t so much that he puts his finger in the air to try and guess the wind direction before taking a position, but that he’s actually not very good at it from a political strategy standpoint. (Of course, he might argue that he wins elections, and that’s a valid argument.) However, in all of that, he didn’t get on board with a gun ban, even though local folks thought he would in the wake of anything controversial. So, that’s at least something positive in the less-than-ideal political reality.

Rep. Fitzpatrick also pledged to term limit himself. He’s not running in 2016, which means it’s an open seat that only very slightly leans Republican in voting habits. It’s up for grabs for either party. The first to start the process of running? A local lawmaker who pushed banning possession of semi-automatic firearms – confiscation. In his statement, State Rep. Steven Santarsiero complained the gun ban legislation proposed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to be too moderate and pro-gun for his liking. Lovely.

This speculative field of alternative candidates who have grades doesn’t look good for gun rights, either. (Though some on that list haven’t run in an office to have an official grade or put out an official statement on the issue. And one, Jim Cawley, just announced a cushy non-profit CEO job today, so it’s safe to say he’s not interested.) Given the passion with which we oppose the policies of the officially declared candidate, this is a race we will be watching closely.

Sebastian and I have already spent dinner conversations on the subject, and we’d like to see one of the state senators from the area run. For Pennsylvanians who follow politics, we’re thinking Sens. Tommy Tomlinson or Chuck McIlhinney. One advantage to McIlhinney, beyond his previous A rating, is that it would help clear the path to liquor store privatization once Gov. Wolf is out of office. On the other hand, Tomlinson probably has the better demographic appeal. His name recognition is also spread across the most populous parts of the Congressional district. Tomlinson was last rated A-, and he did take a walk from us once on the issue of reciprocity a few years ago. As a consequence, he lost his endorsement and came back around on the major recent votes to earn back an endorsement. Tomlinson also won in 2014 after a big “war on women” attack in a Democratic area, so that’s a plus.

Does anyone else have any known open seat issues where there’s a not unreasonable chance that the seat will flip from (reasonably) pro-gun to an extreme anti-gun fringe candidate? Are you already looking around the political field for candidates to help early in the race?

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