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Brady Campaign Loses Bid to Trigger NJ Smart Gun Law

There’s going to be some Sad Pandas at the Brady Campaign today. The NJ Attorney General has ruled: the Armatix iP1 smart gun just isn’t smart enough:






After careful consideration of the iP1’s design, we have determined that it does not satisfy the statutory definition because, as a matter of design, the pistol may be fired by a person who is not an authorized or recognized user. That is, as long as the pistol is situated within 10 inches of the enabling wristwatch, it may be fired by anyone – the authorized user or any other person who is able to pull the trigger. While the system does incorporate a PIN code or a timer to disable the handgun, when the weapon is enabled, there is nothing in the technology which automatically limits its operational use so that it may only be fired by an authorized or recognized user (so long as the pistol is within a 10-inch proximity to the wristwatch component).

Situations may readily be envisioned in which an unauthorized individual gains access to the pistol in close enough proximity to the wristwatch component (by either maintaining possession of the pistol within 10 inches of the authorized user’s wrist on which he or she is wearing the watch, or by forcibly taking possession of the wristwatch), and therefore would be able to fire the weapon, despite the limiting technology. Accordingly, we are unable to conclude that the iP1 design meets all the elements of New Jersey’s statutory definition of a personalized handgun under N.J.S.2C:39-1(dd), and therefore its availability for retail sales purposes will not trigger the operation of N.J.S.2C:58-2.4 (requiring the promulgation of a list of personalized handguns) and N.J.S.2C:58-2.5 (prohibiting the sale of non-personalized handguns).

Some might smell a rat, and perhaps a rat was intended, but this seriously raises the bar on triggering the NJ smart gun law, and is probably a good thing for gun owners behind enemy lines. Complying with this standard will be exceedingly difficult for those who wish to impose smart guns on us, whether we want them or not.

I’ve always been of the opinion that Smart Gun technology should rise or fail depending on what the market wants, but our opponents would never allow that. As soon as the technology becomes available (In the case of New Jersey, even before!), they will do their level best to mandate it, as the Bradys have attempted here. This ruling doesn’t mean we should stop fighting Armatix. Because the antis have shown their hand, no good can come of allowing this to come to market.

Webb 2016?

Jim Webb looks to be throwing his hat into the ring for 2016. For Democrats these days, Webb would be pretty good on the gun issue. A lot of people think Hillary is going to walk away with it, but I think Hillary is weaker than a lot of people think. Democrats don’t have much of a bench, since most of their political talent has been sucked down the drain with the Obama Administration. Webb’s candidacy makes sense in case Hillary melts down. But I don’t think the left-progressive wing of the Democratic Party, who are now thoroughly in control, would get too enthused over a moderate like Webb, even if he managed to eke out the nod because there was just no one else.

The big problem on guns we’d have with Jim Webb would be Supreme Court appointments. He’d likely be expected to pick solid liberals. Even if he went with moderates, I think we’d have an uphill climb on the gun issue with any Democratic pick. Remember, the next President will pick replacements for at least two of the Heller Five, and realistically probably three, possibly four. A weak 2A supporting Justice would probably amount to a loss for a broad Second Amendment right.

‘He et what was set before him’

The title is basically my all-time favorite Heinlein line. It was chosen to describe a secondary character, in explicit contrast to ‘He played the hands he was dealt.’ (Because the character in question would absolutely stack the deck and commit other shenanigans along those lines). It’s a useful thing to remember the difference between the two statements when it comes to politics. There’s plenty of ways in politics to “stack the deck,” but in the end, you have to eat what is set before you.

Thus the money paragraph of Megan McArdle’s post on the President’s no-good, very-bad, horribly-wrong speech about immigration

At this very moment, someone is preparing to explain to me that most of these things are only true because the left-wing MSM is so darn unfair to the Republican side. Assume, arguendo, that you are right. Now let me ask you a question: So what?

If the left-wing MSM is indeed biased against you, then your strategy needs to take that into account. Do you have a plan for compelling the left-wing MSM to treat you fairly? If not, then you should not settle upon a course of action that would work, if only this fact were not true. You don’t launch your cavalry regiment against a Panzer battalion on the grounds that you could beat the Germans if only they didn’t have all those darned tanks.

This applies to more than the immigration/impeachment debate kicked off yesterday. It’s all of politics, including firearms politics. The MSM is against us. The judiciary is no better than neutral, and more usually hostile. Those are facts on the ground, that have to be dealt with. We do not live in a perfect world, we live in one where the very notion of armed self-defense by the public is disdained by the policy makers, and the average voter doesn’t care because it makes no difference to them. That’s what has been set before us. We can season the dish, but we are going to eat that food, because that’s all there is.

Enhanced Preemption Law Paying Dividends

Despite the legal challenge against the new enhanced preemption law, the law is already paying off. Norristown council has revoked its lost and stolen ordinance.

In light of the recent amendments to the Pennsylvania Uniform Firearms Act, which grant an expansive right of legal standing to individuals and membership organizations to challenge a local gun control ordinance,” the ordinance said, “which further provide for exorbitant damages that can be shifted to the municipality if unsuccessful in defending its ordinance, council has determined that it is in the best interests of the municipality to remove any regulation of lost or stolen firearms.”

It’s amazing how these municipalities were so confident in the legality of these ordinances when they were being passed over objections that they were illegal, are now are suddenly not so confident with the near certainly they will be sued and held accountable.

Good News for PA Republicans & Gun Owners

The Senate GOP has dumped Dominic Pileggi (RINO, Delaware) as Senate Majority Leader in favor of Center County Republican Jake Corman. If there’s any one person who I think deserves the blame for losing the Governor’s mansion, it’s Pileggi. He, along with a handful of other Southeast Republicans, blocked the Corbett Administration from accomplishing anything, including liquor privatization, which was wildly popular with voters, even voters in the Southeast.

If we end up losing on the germaneness issue with enhanced preemption, likewise, you can blame Pileggi and Stu Greenleaf (RINO, Montgomery), who held up the bill long enough that a floor amendment to an existing bill was the only path forward. Maybe now we can see some progress from the GOP Senate, just in time to have everything blocked by soon-to-be-governor Tom Wolf.

The Inevitable Lawsuit Against Preemption Enhancement

I had mentioned before there were issues with germaneness with the preemption enhancement bill, so it’s not surprising to see that a lawsuit has been filed to challenge the law on that issue. Note that having to take this more risky route to pass preemption enhancement wouldn’t have been necessary if it weren’t for intransigence in the part of the GOP leadership of the Senate.

It’s worth noting that there has not been a single prosecution under the numerous “Lost and Stolen” laws that have been illegally passed by municipalities around the Commonwealth, including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. This is despite the leaders of these cities telling us these laws were critical crime fighting measures. None of this is surprising. The City of Philadelphia hardly ever prosecutes gun violations. They are typically add on crimes that get plead away, or in most cases, the cities just refuse to prosecute. Any city leader in Pennsylvania claiming to need these laws need to explain why they aren’t using the ones they already have. How are more going to help? And maybe since you aren’t using the existing ones, we ought to take those away too.

Details Matter – Legislative Whoopsie

Via Josh Prince, we find out that Pennsylvania’s new preemption law isn’t really law…yet. It turns out that someone sent the wrong version of the bill to the Governor.

Josh noted on Facebook that it does mean a new effective date, but the law will still become law.

Maybe Tom Corbett could find a liquor privatization bill that the Senate seemingly forgot to send him to sign before he leaves, too.

The Future of Ballot Measures

Sebastian noted that Bloomberg has rated his top priorities for the next gun control ballot initiatives. The Brady Campaign is quick to follow with their promise to ride his coattails.

However, they want more. They want far more than what Bloomberg is willing to fund right now. They released this map that shows all of the states they want to target in coming years with gun control ballot measures.


Maine isn’t highlighted because the Brady Bunch decided to go with a flashing GIF that colored target states blue one by one and I didn’t quite act fast enough to capture it in time. I didn’t care enough to try again.

Regardless, I wouldn’t completely write this off if you’re in a deep red state that they have colored dark blue on this map. Plenty of gun owners are willing to believe that these laws only target “bad” people and that they aren’t really efforts to entrap otherwise law-abiding people who just get mixed up with what’s allowed and not allowed. Do not assume your state is immune.

To Win, You First Need Good Candidates

This is a great WaPo article detailing how the GOP came back for the 2014 elections. I think it also hits on an important concept, which I believe is lost on the Tea Party, and probably the cause of a lot of friction between it and the GOP establishment. The Tea Party is big on finding the “true conservative,” and not focused nearly enough on finding good candidates. The article talks about the candidacy of Joni Ernst in Iowa:

Republicans worked to polish Ernst’s presentation and policy platform. “She is naturally disciplined, and I assume that has a lot to do with her military training and her farm-girl roots,” said David Kochel, an Ernst adviser.

Meanwhile, the Braley campaign had problems. With each of his missteps — a gaffe about towel service at the House gym, hostile questioning of witnesses in committee hearings and a local fracas over a neighbor’s roaming chickens — Braley caused heartburn in Washington.

When the chicken incident became public, Reid called and said, “Bruce, look, you just have to be smarter than this — or you’re going to lose,” according to Krone. Schumer, the party’s message maven, called Braley repeatedly to help him become more disciplined.

“Braley listens for a minute and then sort of just continues back on his merry way,” said a senior Democratic official. “He’s not a good politician, which may seem like a compliment but it’s not. . . . He comes across as arrogant, and I think it’s because he is.”

If you want true conservatives to win, they must first be good candidates, meaning they have to be good politicians. What are the qualities of a good candidate?

  • They can fundraise and run a campaign. If they can’t do this, they can’t win. A lot of people in Pennsylvania were really enamored with Sam Rohrer for a while, but he couldn’t fundraise or campaign, and so he never went anywhere as a state level candidate.
  • They have to be disciplined. They need to stay on message, and avoid saying stupid things. In the example given of Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, he was formerly a conservative talk radio host. No one who has that much of a paper trail, on transcript trail in his case, makes a good candidate. They’ve said too much over the years, and some of it is going to be stupid. Some of it will be stupid taken out of context, which the opposition is sure to do. This is where Todd Akin fell over.
  • They have to be personally likable. They have to come across to low information voters as good people, who care about them, and reflect their values. Standing up for “true conservative” values is fine and well, but if they can’t do it in a way that still maintains likability, they will tank. LIVs aren’t ideological, and there are a lot of higher information voters who aren’t particularly ideological. They want candidates who appear to care about them, and others. If you can’t frame your ideology in a manner that connects it back to voters, you don’t have a chance. This is why Libertarians have never gotten anywhere.
  • They have to be good at retail politics. If they are no good on the stump, in debates, at dealing with people one-on-one, or aren’t willing to campaign hard to achieve victory, their campaign could easily end up hopeless. Modern GOTV efforts require candidates that are well-versed, or at least knowledgeable enough to hire people well-versed in technology. Why did Scott Brown do so well as a carpetbagger candidate in New Hampshire? Because he’s very good on this factor.

These factors matter a lot more than ideology. In politics, these factors are the horse. Ideology is the cart. The Tea Party doesn’t seem to understand that. The establishment does, and that’s a big reason the establishment did well in this election. I share people’s loathing of the GOP establishment, but if the Tea Party doesn’t learn not to put the cart before the horse, they’ll continue to struggle and be disillusioned.

Elections 2014: How Did We Fare?

For me the big prize was Hickenlooper, and that race is still too close to call. Same with Malloy in Connecticut. I’m pessimistic, because close races almost always resolve in favor of the Democrat. Still, I’ll take giving them a close shave. Malloy especially, is a deep blue state incumbent Governor. That race should have been a cakewalk for him and it wasn’t. Hickenlooper also should have sailed to re-election. Things are still close in the Colorado Senate race. We won in Maryland, which was an open seat. That was surprising. Cuomo handily won re-election, but that was not a surprise.

We did not do well on the Background Check initiative in Washington. It passed about 60/40. The competing 591 got voted down outright. Billionaire assholes can buy elections folks. That result means they will try that again elsewhere where they have the ballot as a weapon. Oregon gun owners: I’d be getting nervous.

All in all, I don’t think it was a bad night for gun owners, but it was not as good as it could have been, when compared to how the GOP did as a whole. The GOP would do well not to take this election as a mandate. This was a vote repudiating Obama, not a vote for the GOP. They just happened to be lucky enough to be the not Obama.

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