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Jim Geraghty on Smaller Government

Jim Geraghty’s “Morning Jolt” is one of my my many sources of news, but I thought yesterday he made a good point in a rant about why GOP primary voters weren’t looking to give Bobby Jindal much of a chance (personally, I thought Jindal cozied up to the religious right too early and too hard):

See, a lot of us conservatives walk around in a reassuring trance believing that people like and want small government. Most people don’t. At most, they like and want small government for other people. Farmers like farm subsidies, defense-contractor employees like big spending by the Pentagon, most senior citizens explode at the slightest mention of cuts to Social Security or Medicare. Most self-identified conservatives not only don’t fight for smaller government, they fight against it when it personally impacts them. And then they turn around and complain that lawmakers never manage to reduce the size of government.

That’s pretty much spot on, unfortunately.

New Jersey Looking to Repeal Smart Gun Law

They’d be replacing the Smart Gun mandate with a mandate that would require dealers to stock at least one smart gun. Don’t buy this load of crap for a single moment. They’ve already showed their cards. If smart guns appear on the market, they intend to mandate them, no matter how awful, dysfunctional, and expensive they may be.

I don’t see why Senator Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) would think we’d be fooled by this move and drop opposition to smart gun technology. We didn’t have to arrive at this place. I don’t think any gun owners are opposed to the technology in concept, provided it’s the market that’s allowed to choose whether it wins or loses. But Senator Weinberg didn’t want that. She wanted to mandate it, while at the same time exempting police. That’s not something that can be undone, and trust gets automatically restored. We should continue to oppose this technology. We know, not just speculate, we know it will result in politicians mandating it.

New Jersey Bill Would Require Dome Lights at Traffic Stops

How do you become a police state? Whatever the police ask for, they get. No questions. I think this bill, which would require people to turn on their dome lights during a traffic stop is going to end up getting someone killed. The police unions are asking for it, so who are members of either party to say no? Republicans love themselves some law and order, and you can’t expect a Democrat to say no to a union, can you?

What’s going to end up happening is a lot of out-of-state people will get fined, because they aren’t aware of such a ridiculous law, since they don’t exist in other states. Maybe that’s the idea. Is it a good and courteous thing to turn on one’s dome light during a stop? Sure. But just because it’s courteous doesn’t mean it ought to be the law.

Of course, there will be the usual, “the innocent having nothing to hide,” from the law and order crowd, but remember a .22LR hollow nose cartridge getting out of your range bag is going to get you in a hell of a lot more trouble than a $50 fine in New Jersey. This bill is not only an invitation to extract more money from out-of-state drivers, it’s an invitation for more otherwise law abiding gun owners to end up in New Jersey State prison. Chris Christie isn’t going to be around to issue pardons forever, and we already know the courts can not be depended on.

My bigger concern is that as awareness of the law spreads in New Jersey, the people who are slow to catch on are going to be presumed by the stopping officer to be up to no good, and are going to meet at the least a heightened response, and at worse a dangerous overreaction. Politicians need to think about the consequences of these kinds of outlying regulations, and not be afraid to say no to the police lobby when they come asking for them. It’s already against the law in New Jersey to refuse to turn on your dome light when requested (I don’t know what happens if your dome light doesn’t work, since it’s not an inspection item, and not required to be working on the car). This law seems like a way to bilk money out of the peasantry while claiming to be about keeping the King’s Men safe.

Why Did Houston’s Proposition One Lose?

vote-here-woman-1436537This might seem like an off-topic post, given that Prop 1 was an anti-discrimination proposition for LGBT community, and not anything gun related, but I think it’s useful to analyze political failure and decide what lessons might be drawn from it for use in other contexts. First, I should introduce Proposition 1:

Proposition 1, would have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity—criteria not covered by federal anti-discrimination laws—especially “in city employment, city services, city contracting practices, housing, public accommodations, and private employment.”

The proposition failed 39% to 61%, much to the shock of supporters. It’s failure is not a shock to me, once you break it apart and look at it. In my opinion, the failure boils down to three things. Demographics, timing, and overreach.

Let’s start with demographics. The City of Houston is about 25% white, 6% Asian, 25% Black, and 44% hispanic. The city is overwhelmingly Democratic, but supporters failed to recognize that many white Republicans are farther along to agreeing with them on these issues than black and hispanic voters. Demographically, Prop 1 faced an uphill challenge right out of the gate. Urban black and hispanic voters may vote overwhelmingly Democrat, but on social issues like this they are about as supportive as your most bible thumping evangelical GOP voter, and probably even less so in many respects.

Move on to timing. It’s really only a small minoring of people who are comfortable with rapid change. Activists can often delude themselves into thinking how strongly the population really supports their cause. There is a tendency to push too fast, and that risks a backlash. This referendum comes fresh on the heels of the cake controversies, where public opinion lags far behind support for gay marriage. The fact that Prop 1 had carve out for religious organizations and non-profits won’t really matter. There’s a tendency for the public to apply the brakes when they think activists for change are pushing too fast.

One could argue timing is really just a form of overreach, but I wanted to treat it separately. Gun rights has achieved because we were determined to not be a flash in the pan movement. We have persisted for several generations now in pushing this issue forward, often sliding backwards for periods of time; not able to achieve everything we’ve wanted. Timing is an important part of moving forward, independently of overreach.

Which brings us to overreach itself. If activists had only included sexual orientation in Proposition 1, it probably would have done much better, and perhaps even won. At this point, gays have achieved widespread tolerance and acceptance in our society. They achieved that through decades of coming out of the closet and confronting society with their existence and normality. It’s easy to discriminate against people when they are “shady deviants” (those people) who go to special clubs and bars (those places) and do “God knows what.” It’s much harder when they are family, friends, coworkers and neighbors who are mostly normal people.

Sound familiar? It should, because we have built the pro-gun movement in the same manner. How much do you think we’ve achieved in the past 20 years in demystifying gun shows? You notice how many families come these days? That’s a reward for decades of cultural normalization.

Transgender people are currently where gays were a few decades ago. While public polling shows that most people don’t have a problem with the transgendered (the public is about equally divided), I think it’s safe to say most people are still a bit uncomfortable with it. Without diving into the debate about whether this is right or not, how many companies do you think would feel comfortable putting an obvious transwoman in a public facing customer service or sales position. Now change that to a visibly butch lesbian woman, and I think you’d agree there’d be a lot more acceptance.

To put this in a Second Amendment context, transgenderism to them is what machine guns are to us. Most activists in this issue would like to ease or end the 1986 ban on machine guns, and most would also like to end NFA treatment of them as well. This is a sound anti-discrimination principle! But it’s one that just isn’t ripe yet. It may never be, even with a strong effort to demystify and mainstream.

The LGBT community enforces a conformity that would make the most rabid 2nd Amendment activist blush. We also have our own “no one gets thrown off the lifeboat” principle, but in fact we are willing to throw people off the lifeboat in order to save the ship. We’ve done it. Notice that all of the DC preemption bills floated in Congress don’t cover NFA items. Neither do any of the national reciprocity proposals. It would also be doubtful that if we managed to pass a federal law preempting state and local bans on semi-automatic “assault weapons” that the bill would not also carve out NFA items. As firearms enthusiasts, we’ve been more realistic about what can be achieved and when it the right time to achieve it. The failure of Proposition 1 is a lesson in what happens when reality is ignored and deluded activists turn a generational struggle to an immediate all or nothing game.

Pennsylvania Elections: Where’s the T?

The Dems swept the statewide races, which isn’t too surprising given they seemed to be the only people spending money. They managed to drive turnout in Philadelphia, while turnout in the “T” part of Pennsylvania was very light. Are they still sore about the whole Penn State thing? Has the Pennsylvania GOP started sucking worse than usual? For whatever the PAGOP is worth (which probably isn’t much), this is a problem they should be very interested in diagnosing, because without very strong turnout from that section of the state, there aren’t enough votes to overcome Philadelphia and Pittsburg, and the unions spent big on this race. It will likely be a good investment for them, because they can now have a very big say in the 2020 redistricting. The Republicans should have spent more in this election, and if they didn’t have the money to spend they should start asking themselves how they can manage to suck so bad that no one wants to give them money. But of course they never ask that. It’s business as usual. Strategy? What’s that?

The only thing you have to hope for is that union backed Dem justices aren’t going to toe the Dem line on gun control, for fear of being eaten alive by their members.

The GOP managed to increase their majority in the Senate by one vote by winning the special election. Generally speaking the GOP did pretty well in the Philadelphia suburbs in County elections.

Cops vs. Criminals

In New Haven, the mayor is saying great things about a plan by police to steal personal items from people’s closed cars that they can turn around and sell for profit after 60 days. The police claim that this is done in the best interest of the car owners, as it prevents a thief from stealing it and taking it to the pawn shop for a profit.

And this is why local elections matter.

Pennsylvanians: Don’t Forget Tomorrow’s Elections

NRA has endorsed candidates in the off-year elections tomorrow, November 3rd. It is very important for every gun voter to show up this year. PVF’s web site looks like it’s finally correct, and has all the endorsed candidates. FOAC also has their slate of candidates up, with some further local races you might want to pay attention to. We elect judges in Pennsylvania, and that’s mostly what this election is about. The Supreme Court plays a big role in drawing of districts, and realize that if the Dems manage to take full control of this state in their current “wild-eyed leftist and loving them some gun control” incarnation, your gun rights will be finished. This is no exaggeration. The important statewide candidates:

Supreme Court

  • Anne Covey (R)
  • Michael George (R)
  • Judith Olson (R)

Superior Court

  • Emil Giordano (R)

Commonwealth Court

  • Paul Lalley (R)

Also, if you live in State Senate District 37, which comprises parts of Allegheny and Washington counties, you have a special election tomorrow where Guy Reschenthaler (R) is the NRA and FOAC endorsed candidate.

Reminder for Pennsylvanians on Election

We have critical judicial races coming up next Tuesday, November 3rd. NRA has issued a few endorsements, which I will relay to you. You may have already seen them if you’re on their list:

Tuesday, November 3, is Election Day in Pennsylvania.  Your NRA-PVF ( has endorsed Judge Emil Giordano for Superior Court and Paul Lalley for Commonwealth Court.

Over recent years, many of your Second Amendment rights have been ultimately decided by the courts, such as the Ortiz v. Commonwealth PA Supreme Court case that struck down local firearms bans in the Commonwealth and the historic District of Columbia v. Heller United States Supreme Court case that overturned the ban on handguns for self-defense in the home in Washington D.C.

It is critical to elect judges who interpret our Constitution the way that our Founding Fathers intended at all levels.  On Tuesday, November 3, remember to vote for NRA-PVF endorsed candidates, Judge Emil Giordano and Paul Lalley. 

For a complete list of NRA-PVF endorsements, click here.

Be sure to turn out. This is an off year, so the gun vote could make quite a difference.

Not speaking about gun races specifically, but we also have Supreme Court elections, and I’d keep that in mind too. The Supreme Court has a lot of say in the drawing of districts, so it would not be, in my opinion, a good thing to have that in Democratic hands next census.

More Anti-Gun Money in Virginia Race

As if Bloomberg’s 700 large weren’t enough, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly’s group are poised to spend $600,000 of other rich people’s money in Virginia races this year. They’ve been going after big donors as well, and it’s paying off. That’s 1.3 million dollars of anti-gun money being spent in a single state. That’s way more than NRA can afford to spend in a single state.

It was depressing to read this article, “How to Build a Digital Elephant, The GOP’s Biggest Obstacle in 2016,” this morning just after waking up. It’s essentially a story of how Silicon Valley oligarchs have built an impressive machine that the Republican Party is ill prepared to match, and it seems like a lot of candidates are making the same mistakes Mitt Romney made, in not getting his ORCA system off the ground until the election, where it spectacularly failed for lack of ever having been tested. What we’re seeing, essentially, is a bunch of rich billionaires buying Our Republic by creating an impressive analytical machine that helps Democrats reach low-information voters in large numbers with messaging compelling enough to them to get them to turn out, both at the polls and on the ground.

This isn’t the first time this has happened in our country’s history. William Randolph Hearst‘s yellow journalism machine managed to buy him enough influence to start a war. FDR coasted into office, and was re-elected three times largely because he understood how to use radio, when other candidates didn’t. It’s widely believed that Kennedy managed to defeat Richard Nixon in the 1960 election because he looked better on Television, and knew how to use Television. Obama almost definitely won the Presidency and re-election, because the people backing him understood how to use social media better than anyone else. Can the GOP learn in time?

Tying this back to gun rights, I don’t think the NRA is at all using these kinds of sophisticated analytics to understand its membership and other people NRA interacts with to understand more about them and how to motivate and message to them. Bloomberg has a ton of money to buy solutions to these problems, and if he figures this out before NRA does, we’re finished.

I like Glenn Reynold’s suggestion, “Meanwhile, if the GOP were smarter it would be pushing Google-unfriendly changes in tax and IP law, and couching them in Democratic buzzwords to make it hard for Obama to veto them. That would encourage Google to back off of the partisanship.” Not just tax and IP law, send a bill to Obama ending the H1-B program. That will really kick Google in the nuts. The GOP needs to learn to be ruthless to their enemies. Their unfortunate problem is they think their enemies are conservatives.

Hillary Clinton Endorses Mass Confiscation of Firearms

Mass confiscation now seems to be the official policy of the Democratic front runner. When asked about the Australian and British models, Hillary responded:

Australia is a good example, Canada is a good example, the U.K. is a good example. Why? Each of them have had mass killings. Australia had a huge mass killing about 20-25 years ago, Canada did as well, so did the U.K. In reaction, they passed much stricter gun laws.

In the Australian example, as I recall, that was a buyback program. The Australian government, as part of trying to clamp down on the availability of automatic weapons, offered a good price for buying hundreds of thousands of guns.

No, Mrs. Clinton, Australia offered $200 per firearm, often for guns worth thousands, and you either took the money and turned over your gun, or you went to prison. Australia forcibly confiscated every semi-automatic rifle in the country, and then offered a pittance in return, as a “so sorry.” Great Britain forcibly confiscated every handgun in the country, upon penalty of going to prison. And they were successful. Why? Because both countries had registration, so the police knew exactly who had them. Universal Background Checks are really universal registration. That’s not an exaggeration, it’s the truth, and it is the primary reason the gun control folks want them. How do we know this? Because every time we’ve offered a UBC system that doesn’t involve the registration component, they’ve rejected it. Registration is what they want, and look to where it lead in Britain and Australia. Now you have both the Democratic President, and Democratic front-runner endorsing the British and Australian model.

Folks, we are in real serious trouble if she wins in 2016. Real serious.

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