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Hate to Tell You: They’re All Faking It

When I first saw this article at The Daily Beast, talking about how Chris Christie was “faking it” on gun rights, I had no idea how much of the gun community would echo that sentiment. My reaction was “Well, yeah, but they’re all faking it.” You see, aside from the very rare gunny politician (and they do exist, they just aren’t that common), almost all your politicians arrive at this issue based on whether or not that position is politically expedient. Even your politicians that may pay a lot of lip service to gun rights have a breaking point, and you’d be surprised by how many “great friends” will head for the hills and leave you to the wolves if the vote suddenly starts to turn hard for them. In any of your state legislative bodies, there are legislative friends who really have not been tested, and nearly none of these guys are going home after a hard day of shaking hands and kissing babies to clean their AR-15s. It’s quite easy to say “Oh, I’m with you on this or that,” when they’re talking to your lawmaker to constituent in the comfort of their office. It’s quite another thing to actually take a hard vote for us when there’s not a knock down, drag out fight over it with both sides and the media fully engaged.

So while Governor Christie is not my ideal candidate for 2016 (I’m partial to Scott Walker if he’s interested in running), and while I agree that he’s vetoed a number of bills for us out of a desire to run for the GOP nomination, I have to respect that he’s signaled to us through action rather than lip service. Does that mean I trust him on guns? Not really. But trusting in politicians is usually a fool’s business. Since politicians, as a general rule, act out of political expedience, the trick is to continue making our issue expedient for them. Over the long run, that’ll work out a lot better for you than trust.

Civil Service vs. The Spoils System

This is a topic I’ve long struggled with: are we better off with modern civil service protections, or would we be better off under the Spoils System? Lately, I’ve tended to agree with Glenn Reynolds “that the entire Civil Service system should be scrapped.” I’m think the civil service tends to perpetuate the opinions and prerogatives of a small handful of elites, and is fundamentally anti-democratic. Not that I always believe “anti-democratic” is a bad word, but it has to serve a purpose in the framework of individual liberty and protecting political minorities from the worst excesses of democratic government. I think civil service protections fail this test. I’d like to highlight his current top comment in Glenn Reynolds post, which I think offers food for thought. His commenter supports a return of the Spoils System:

A real spoils system would have several advantages:

  1. You could get rid of them all by electing a new party to office.
  2. Bureaucrats might be restrained by knowing that they will soon be turfed out into the private sector so they will want rules that they could live under after the next election.
  3. They might also be restrained by the knowledge that if their behavior got to obnoxious they would cost their party votes and potentially end their employment.
  4. Everyone would realize they are partisan hacks and thus not excuse their overreach behind some sort of non-partisan good government BS.

Lately, I’ve been thinking the same thing. The downside is there are people in the civil service right now who are actually knowledgable, do a reasonable job, and not political hacks. But there are far too many political hacks hiding behind civil service protections. These days I tend to agree we’d be better off with the spoils system, provided it was operated with the knowledge and understanding that there’s a lot the government does that requires people who are competent and willing to work hard. I’d hate to see, for example, document preservation exports cut loose at the National Archives because they were hired by the “wrong party.” But I’m willing to concede that civil servants who live by the sword (politics) can also die by it. That’s probably how it should be. An awful lot of civil service protections were generally meant to promote big, permanent government and rule by unaccountable “experts.”

California Breaking Up?

California is going to have a 2016 ballot measure to break itself into six different states. From my point of view, I see two solid blue states (Silicon Valley and West California), three red states (Jefferson, North California, and Central California), and a purple state (South California). Neither side really gains much overall. However, this is basically without legal effect:

Not only must the breakup plan score an unlikely victory at the ballot box in 2016, it must also win the approval of Congress.

No, it must also win the approval of the California Legislature. Article IV, Section 3 of the United States Constitution:

New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.

The people of California are not the “Legislature of the State concerned.” Unsurprisingly, both parties are fighting it. I don’t think anyone really wants to roll the dice with how this all would end up. From my view it looks like a marginally worse deal for Democrats. Maybe some native Californians who know the political landscape better might disagree.

Gun Clubs & Elections

Gun clubs can be organized under any number of tax statuses, but many will put them in a category where they may not be able to engaging in outright electioneering. However, one New York gun club sends a pretty clear message about the issue they want to see resolved without naming any candidates on a giant billboard.

I hate that the only place I ever witnessed really well organized gun clubs willing to get involved in the political fights to the degree that they were legally allowed to was in Massachusetts. It really was a case of too little too late there, and other states don’t have to follow that model if their clubs and organized shooters would get together and engage in just a little bit of activism.

Politics of Personal Destruction

I think the thing that both Sebastian and I hate the most about politics at the moment is that it seems like everyone is so hateful toward everyone else to the point of wanting to see the individuals themselves destroyed. I get that there’s a certain “us vs. them” quality to building political opposition, but in the past, you could still go to the bar and have a drink with someone with whom you disagreed. Now, that seems like something from the past for many folks.

One of the things that brought on my recent frustration with the issue is the Facebook scandal involving Kendall Jones, a young female hunter. She posted pictures from lawful hunts, and Facebook took them down for violating community standards. However, the “Kill Kendall Jones” page is allowed to remain because Facebook says that doesn’t violate any community standards. Now, a Democratic former Congressional candidate is offering $100,000 to anyone who will publish naked pictures of Kendall Jones simply because he doesn’t like that she hunts and wants to see her personally destroyed.

I don’t even know if the political discourse on display can be improved. When someone considers it a reasonable and good idea to start a page calling for the death of someone who simply disagrees with you, I’m not sure there’s much that can be done to bring people like that back to some form of reasonable discussion, even if it still results in disagreement.

10 Years for the Bloomberg Model Gun Control Mayor

It’s possible that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was Mike Bloomberg’s model Mayor Against Guns. Nagin organized a gun confiscation plan that he actually got away with for a little while until they city was taken to court.

Now, underscoring the need that Bloomberg had to get away from keeping his gun control brand associate with mayors, Ray Nagin has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for bribery and money laundering.

Responding to Parking Lot Law Critics

Pennsylvania is pushing a parking lot law to protect employees who carry and lock their firearms in their cars while at work, and at least one newspaper editorial writer isn’t too happy with it. Rather than ignoring it, the primary sponsor, Sen. Rich Alloway, is responding directly to the criticism.

Currently, many of our friends and neighbors risk losing their jobs by carrying their firearm with them in their vehicle on their way to work. Twenty-three states have already enacted laws to protect their citizens from losing their jobs, and Pennsylvania should join them.

Today, daily commutes are punctuated by short errands.

Whether at the dry cleaners or at the grocery store, headlines remind us that crime can, and does happen anywhere. Furthermore, many work shifts are during non-traditional hours, when crimes are potentially more likely to occur.

Mr. Major dismisses these concerns as “What if factors” that needlessly frighten people. The irony is that his newspaper is regularly reporting violent crimes, that clearly demonstrate that sometimes the “What if’s” do occur.

Christie Vetos the Magazine Ban

From ANJRPC:

Today Governor Christie vetoed A2006 / S993, legislation (http://tinyurl.com/pxxpja3) that would have banned firearms magazines larger than 10 rounds and would have banned an entire class of popular .22 caliber semi-automatic rifles. The veto marks the end of the road for this legislation for the 2014-2015 session.
“After months of intense battle over this misguided legislation that won’t stop another crime or prevent another tragedy, we are grateful that Governor Christie has heard the voice of the outdoor community and ended the discussion,” said ANJRPC Executive Director Scott Bach. “The Governor clearly recognizes the difference between legislation that punishes violent criminals vs. legislation that targets the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Fairfax County Playing Games with License Holders

Virginia gun lawyer John Frazer has information for Fairfax County concealed carry permit holders who may be facing minor misdemeanor charges that won’t impact their eligibility. According to John:

Fairfax County gun owners should be aware that the Circuit Court clerk’s office may treat concealed carry permit applications as incomplete, and forward them to a judge for review, based on disclosure of pending criminal charges. …

People whose applications are denied in this situation can either wait until their pending charge is resolved, or challenge the denial in an ore tenus (“word of mouth”) hearing in circuit court.

There’s a little more that people who might know someone in this situation should read.

When I renewed my permit there, they tried to play games with me, too. I was told that I would hear back in just beyond the deadline. I asked her if she meant to say that they would have a permit to me before the deadline, and it’s clear she was not happy about an informed applicant. I got my renewal on the last possible day.

Of course, she was also probably a little angry at me because when I said I was renewing, but the county it was issued from was Montgomery County, she went off about how it’s not a renewal from another state and how I needed to learn my new local laws, etc. When she stopped, I finally let her know that there is, in fact, a Montgomery County in Virginia that issues Virginia carry licenses. (h/t to VSSA)

Supreme Court Rules in Hobby Lobby’s Favor

This is off topic, but it’s the big case of the year, so I thought it warranted coverage. The Supreme Court issued a narrow 5-4 decision in Hobby Lobby’s favor. Narrow because the decision only applies to closely held corporations, and applies to contraception mandates, but not to all insurance mandates. I tend to agree with the applicability being only to closely held corporations, in it would be difficult to divine the religious views of a widely-held, public corporation. Objections would tend only to reflect the views of management, who are in no respects representing the will of shareholders. It would be interesting to know what affect this would have in a non-profit corporation, say, a Catholic Charity, but I suspect it would apply to them as well. It would be less clear how this would apply to a membership non-profit like the NRA.

I’m more skeptical of the notion that the RFRA doesn’t apply to all insurance mandates. If a Christian Scientist business doesn’t want to offer coverage for “blood transfusions or vaccinations,” who are the courts to come along and say some people’s religious beliefs against contraception or abortion more legitimate than other people’s religious beliefs against blood transfusions or vaccinations? That’s the government deciding some religions are greater religions, while others are less so. It smacks of establishment to me.

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