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Currently Browsing: Civil Liberties

Well, That Didn’t Take Long

Looks like the pendulum has swung back to having to argue, “No, burning the flag is speech protected by the First Amendment, and it ought to be.” Of course, no sooner are conservatives starting the flag burning debate again, some folks on the left acting like this is some kind of fringe, extremist position.

Nope. Hate to tell you, the American People like protecting speech they like, and don’t have issues restricting speech they don’t like. Actually, one could argue that the broad protections we have for First Amendment rights now are a product of elite opinion.

Oregon Wildlife Refuge Standoff Acquittal

I’m not a big supporter of the what the wildlife refuge standoff folks did, but I’m heartened by this result because I absolutely support jury nullification and wish more people were aware of it and would use it more often. I don’t believe juries should nullify lightly, but I think it’s a critically important check the people retain against the power of the state, and in this case the federal government has just reaped the resentment is has spend years sowing with western ranchers.

The Big Contradiction

Cam Edwards latest column:

Have you noticed the cognitive dissonance that many supporters of “common-sense” gun control have been exhibiting as of late? I’m not sure it’s possible to support more gun-control laws and oppose “mass incarceration” or “excessive policing” policies. How can someone argue that young men of color are overpoliced, while at the same time calling for more non-violent-offender gun laws to be placed on the books?

Cam goes on to ponder why the media was quick to jump on NRA’s lack of commentary, then cautious commentary on the Castile shooting, but isn’t asking Bloomberg about his “stop and frisk” policies that he promoted as mayor, which even he conceded disproportionally jailed minorities for non-violent offenses.

Expanding the Surveillance State

Republicans do love themselves some law and order. The reason I am worried about this one is that both parties covet their secret lists and neither cares all that much for civil liberties. Plus, American Populism is on the rise again, and that particular school of thought has always favored law and order over civil rights.

Whether we want to admit it or not, Trump’s instincts on this have a home. There’s plenty of people out there if you said, “Well, what if someone proposed a law that no one on the terrorist watch list could attend mosque?,” wouldn’t see any problem there. But I will say that at least the populists are consistent.

New “Bipartisan” Bill Introduced To Ban Those on No-Fly List

Guilty until proven innocent is what this is, and if this were introduced as a bill to prevent people on these lists from publishing, attending mosque, or using social media, there would be outrage, and justifiably so. The people behind this affront to constitutional liberties:

  • Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). So much for her holding firm.
  • Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
  • Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
  • Jeff Flake (R-AZ) WTF? He must love himself some “law and order” and secret lists. This is the kind of stab in the back I’d expect from McCain!
  • Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Dude is an AR-15 shooter. For real. He also must love himself some secret lists and “law and order.”
  • Angus King (I-ME).

The no-fly list itself ought to be viewed as an unconstitutional infringement on the right to travel. This bill doesn’t have a number yet, but get ready to call your lawmakers and demand they vote no. There’s enough leftist groups uncomfortable with this crap that they have no excuse to vote yes.

Note now there’s an assumption that “if you can’t board a plane in this country, you shouldn’t be able to buy a gun,” as if it’s perfectly accepted that the government can keep secret lists of people that interfere with the right to travel. See how they did that?

Note Pat Toomey isn’t on this list. Must be an election year, or his bill is coming soon.

UPDATE: Toomey has announced he’s supporting this bill.

Unintended (Or Perhaps Intended) Consequences of Terror Watch List

I wanted to elevate this comment from Divemedic the other day to a full blown post, so folks could understand how this could end up playing out if the Dems, Toomey and Bloomberg get their way:


My son is on [the Terror Watch] list. He is listed as a suspected terrorist. He was even visited by DHS agents, and his passport was revoked.

Now, I raised my son better than that, and he is most certainly not a terrorist, so how did he wind up on that list?

My son is a travelling nurse. He flies all over the world, treating and transporting patients from one place to another. It pays very well. He recently got paid for a 4 day trip, escorting a patient to Australia, and was paid $4000 for 4 days’ work. This week, he is in Milwaukee, and is being paid $12,000 for ten days’ work. In between trips, he works at the local trauma centers, and was one of the nurses on duty this past weekend in the Orlando area.

Now that you have the background, here is how he wound up on the terror watch list:

A known terrorist was arrested, trying to enter the country with my son’s passport. Well, not his actual passport, but a forgery with all of his information on it.

In all of his travels, he once had to go to the Dominican Republic to bring a patient home. While he was there, a government official photocopied the passports of the entire crew: 3 members of the flight crew, a respiratory therapist, and my son. Those photocopies were sold to people who make forged identity papers, and that information was used to create fake papers.

My son received a visit from DHS, they revoked his passport, and he had to apply for a new one. His name, birth date, and other information is now on the suspected terrorism watch list, because that information is now known to be used by terrorists.

This proposed law would prevent my son from buying a firearm, even though he has not broken a single law, nor is he likely to.


And remember, the Dems don’t want there to be any way for you to get off the list. They rejected the Coburn/NRA bill because it would provide for that. That’s because the goal is not to protect us from terrorists. The goal is to make as many people prohibited as possible so gun ownership becomes more burdensome and legally risky than it already is.

Range Owner Sued for Refusing Muslims

Filed under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and also under Oklahoma’s anti-discrimination laws. Personally, I don’t think incidents like this reflects well on the shooting community. I think there are debates to be had over the definition off public accommodation, and whether current civil rights law successfully balances property rights and a right to free association with a functional, pluralistic society. There are fair points own both sides, but that’s not the issue I’m speaking about here.

I don’t defend radical jihadists. If you follow an interpretation of Islam that believes in spreading the faith through conquest, beheading unbelievers, razing villages and raping women, I don’t have any issue labeling you a barbarian and treating you as such. All the abrahamic religions are violent and barbaric if you want to dig through and find passages in the scriptures that support that kind of thing.

But if you follow a mellow interpretation of the faith, as the Kurds do, and as a lot of other muslims around the world do, I don’t have a problem with you. I’m not willing to paint every Muslim with the same broad brush any more than I would make Christians own Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, or gun owners own mass shooters. I care more about what you do, rather than what you profess to believe. If a couple of guys come onto a shooting range and start shouting “Death to America” as they shoot, I wouldn’t blame any range owner for booting them and tipping off the FBI.

I think people are right to be concerned about the spread in popularity if violent, fundamentalist interpretations of Islam. I don’t think that makes one bigoted. But to me, you take people as they come, as individuals first, and members of whatever group you may or may not like second.

One of the Heller Five Gone

Word is just breaking that Justice Antonin Scalia was found dead this morning in Texas. Thoughts and prayers go to his family.

Politically speaking, this really shakes up the Supreme Court on the issue of the right to keep and bear arms. In 2012, Sebastian blogged about this potential in terms of the odds that all Heller Five make it to the end of 2016. The numbers weren’t good, and they proved to be accurate.

History Worth Noting

Martin Luther King on Marxism:

“This deprecation of individual freedom was objectionable to me. I am convinced now, as I was then, that man is an end because he is a child of God. Man is not made for the state; the state is made for man. To deprive man of freedom is to relegate him to the status of a thing, rather than elevate him to the status of a person. Man must never be treated as means to the end of the state; but always as an end within himself.”

That strikes me as the fundamental dichotomy between individualism and statism.

h/t Instapundit.

Flamethrower Company Runs Into Trouble

IonXM42While it’s true that flamethrowers are unregulated, they don’t have a culture surrounding them like firearms do. Which means there’s no preemption law to protect manufacturers, sellers and buyers from the ravages of hysterical local politicians, who are often petty little Napoleons in their own right. Such is the Mayor of the town of Warren Michigan, who is moving to ban flamethrowers. Warren is where Ion Productions makes the XM42. You might think “well, he’ll just have to ban super soakers then too,” but I’m not certain that his proposed legislation doesn’t actually do that:

It describes a flamethrower as “any transportable device that can emit a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid at a distance of more than two feet.” It doesn’t include open-flame cooking devices as defined by the International Fire Code, torches used for industrial purposes or smaller flame-producing devices, like cigar lighters. It also makes exceptions for any officers, employees or members of the Armed Forces, law enforcement, fire department or local, state or federal government workers on duty and acting within the scope of his or her employment.

I’m not sure how this doesn’t cover a super soaker, since it’s certainly can “emit a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid at a distance of more than two feet” with a pretty minimal level of creativity. Let me also say how relieved I am that the Mayor decided to make an exception for Law Enforcement, because I guess we never know when we might have to burn people out of their homes, or hose down a rowdy crowd with some napalm — legitimately, and as a function of law, and for their own good, of course.

I like that a lot young people are embracing libertarian ideas and philosophy, but they are coming against the hard reality that most people aren’t libertarian in philosophy or thought, and aren’t going to agree that people can have dangerous things that they themselves don’t see any legitimate use for. I get taking on the man, but without the cultural underpinnings to support a particular freedom, attracting undue attention to it can result in that freedom ending for everyone. At the end of the day, what does it accomplish?

It’s an dilemma I don’t know how to resolve it. I think people should be allowed to have things that aren’t inherently dangerous to others, which a flamethrower is not. You have to do something stupid and/or evil with it in order for someone to get hurt, and the law would be more just to only punish the stupid and/or evil behavior than to ban the instrument that enabled it. Are there places where even using a flamethrower is stupid? I think that’s debatable. But again, that’s restricting use. If I want to take it out to a quarry and have a good old time setting piles of wood chips on fire, it ought to be my freedom to do so.

But most people don’t think this way. They aren’t willing to live in a society where there’s more risk in order to preserve someone’s “strange” idea of fun. These are people who live relatively conventional lives, and don’t exist much outside of convention. For the most part, they run the world. The reason we’ve been successful with guns is because we’ve abandoned the idea of defending firearms rights on the basis of recreation, which doesn’t appeal to anyone who doesn’t engage in the hobby or who lacks any curiosity about it. Instead, we embraced defending it on the basis of self-defense, which a lot more people can relate to. I worry that at the end of the day, preserving people’s right to have fun with flamethrowers, or their right to make guns at home, won’t prove compelling enough to ordinary people to stand against a tide of public hysteria if it were to come this way.

You know, it occurs to me I don’t have a “flamethrower” category. I guess I’ll have to file this under “civil liberties.”

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