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Jun 7, 2015
I’m a bit late to the discussion about a new proposal from the State Department that appeared in the Federal Register on Wednesday, but I wanted to take time to read through the whole thing, make sure I understand it, and ensure that the proposal was really as bad as the righty media is making it out to be. I can confidently say that none of what is said in this article at the Washington Examiner is exaggerated, or hyperbolic in an attempt to make the Administration look bad. It really is this bad.
This is what the NRA has to say about it, and after reading the proposal, it’s a pretty accurate summary:
In their current form, the ITAR do not (as a rule) regulate technical data that are in what the regulations call the “public domain.” Essentially, this means data “which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public” through a variety of specified means. These include “at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents.” Many have read this provision to include material that is posted on publicly available websites, since most public libraries these days make Internet access available to their patrons.
The ITAR, however, were originally promulgated in the days before the Internet. Some State Department officials now insist that anything published online in a generally-accessible location has essentially been “exported,” as it would be accessible to foreign nationals both in the U.S. and overseas.
With the new proposal published on June 3, the State Department claims to be “clarifying” the rules concerning “technical data” posted online or otherwise “released” into the “public domain.” To the contrary, however, the proposal would institute a massive new prior restraint on free speech. This is because all such releases would require the “authorization” of the government before they occurred. The cumbersome and time-consuming process of obtaining such authorizations, moreover, would make online communication about certain technical aspects of firearms and ammunition essentially impossible.
Penalties for violations are severe and for each violation could include up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Civil penalties can also be assessed. Each unauthorized “export,” including to subsequent countries or foreign nationals, is also treated as a separate violation.
Gunsmiths, manufacturers, reloaders, and do-it-yourselfers could all find themselves muzzled under the rule and unable to distribute or obtain the information they rely on to conduct these activities. Prior restraints of the sort contemplated by this regulation are among the most disfavored regulations of speech under First Amendment case law.
I can offer you this, and 311 other reasons why this proposal should scare the ever loving hell out of you. I mostly post about the politics of the gun issue, which should be safe under this proposal, but even I would have to remove or revise a few hundred posts (not that I intend to, the State Department toadies that came up with this fascist BS can FOAD). I can’t imaging how many counts a more gun oriented site would rack up.
It’s my opinion that this petition for rule making is aimed squarely at Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed. The powerful take their imagined prerogative to control quite seriously, and they don’t particularly appreciate someone trying to throw a wrench into their carefully controlled, petty fiefdoms. This is the backlash I’ve been waiting for, and have been concerned about. That The Empire would Strike Back was a fore-drawn conclusion.
So what kind of position are we in to stop this usurpation of our First and Second Amendment rights? First, we can use the public comment period. The more serious comments we flood them with the better chance it will cripple their ability to implement the regulation, as we did with the M855 ban. This also can indicate to lawmakers there is passion, and we can use that leverage to get a budget rider to prevent implementation of the rule.
What about the courts? This is not the first time Uncle Sam has tried to do something like this. Back in the 1990s, we had a flight over ITAR regulation of cryptography, though in that instance, they simply classified it as a munition. This proposal is actually far more broad than that. The encryption issue was resolved when the Clinton Administration backed down and reclassified encryption as a commerce control item rather than a munition when court challenges didn’t go well for the government. Those two cases, Bernstein v. United States and Junger V. Daley, resulted in losses for the government position in the 9th and 6th federal circuits respectively . However, the Supreme Court never definitively ruled in either of those cases, and like I said, 311 reasons you should be worried about this.
This is very dire, friends. If this moves forward there is a very good chance I, and many of my other fellow bloggers, forum admins, and YouTubers will end up in federal prison while the Courts sort this out. Don’t ever let anyone ever tell you what these people want are “common sense” regulations. They are fascists. That is no longer arguable. There will be a lot of firearms enthusiasts serving prison time for essentially the same crime they would be charged with had they traveled to Iraq and sold plans for a thermonuclear weapon to ISIS. Fundamentally transformed!
This news has to spread far and wide if we’re going to stop this terrible thing. I’ve even put it on my personal Facebook that I only rarely use to post political stuff. People have to know about this.
UPDATE: If you want to submit a public comment on this regulation, I have compiled all the information from 1400-AD70, which is the code for this Retition for Rule Making, on how to submit a public comment.
Jun 5, 2015
Via Breitbart, a story of someone whose life may have been saved by gun control. And of course there will be no consequences for the police chief or anyone else in government. Because guns cause domestic violence or something.
A restraining order is a piece of paper, and when seconds count, the police are minutes away.
May 20, 2015
It used to be gun rights advocates were the ones calling for the abolition of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Now progressives are catching on to what a dandy idea it really would be to roll the ATF into the FBI. Why? Because this would be a disaster for gun rights, and they are starting to figure that out.
The FBI has a long, sorry history of unspeakable abuses against the civil liberties of Americans, and along with that is a history of getting away with it. Not only do they get away with it, but they get away with it while making the public and politicians adore them. The FBI is much more competent at manipulating lawmakers, policymakers, judges, and juries to get what they want, and if they take on ATF’s functions, what they will want are more gun control laws.
I think it was a mistake to put even part of ATF under DoJ dominion, and you can thank Republicans for that one. ATF’s role should be that of a regulatory and tax collecting agency. It should have the culture of a regulator rather than an enforcer. Sure, in the days when even the Department of Education has SWAT teams, there will always be “the enforcers” in any regulatory agency, but the FBI have no regulatory role, they are only enforcers and domestic spies. The FBI is very good at railroading people if they decide to target you. Remember, this is an agency started by one of the most dangerous men in the history of this country.
May 18, 2015
Bob Owens is reporting the Obama Administration has announced restrictions on the federal program to deliver surplus military equipment to police departments. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I do tend to think making the department go to their civilian overseers for approval is not unreasonable. On the other hand, I think it’s not a bad thing, generally speaking, for this equipment to end up widely distributed to local communities, rather than just setting in federal government warehouses. Even if you’re a real wookie suiter “insurrectionist,” it’d be a hell of a lot easier to liberate equipment from your local PD than it would be from the feds if the S were to ever HTF.
May 15, 2015
Evan Nappen gets a judge to rule that the law means what it says.
In a published decision binding upon all New Jersey municipalities, the New Jersey Appellate Division has confirmed that New Jersey municipalities may NOT require added forms for firearm permit applications beyond the state forms.
It’s a little thing, but little things add up. Also note, “funded in part by the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.”
May 6, 2015
Two years ago, Defense Distributed was preempted by the state Department from posting plans for the Liberator Pistol online, arguing they were a controlled munition. Many of us in the tech business got a strong case of deja vu, remembering a similar government assertion in the 1990s that didn’t end up going all that well for the government.
In that grand tradition, Cody Wilson of Defense distributed has filed suit against the State Department, arguing First Amendment grounds. Lest anyone think this is some kind of fringe suit, it has the backing of SAF, and Alan Gura is among the attorneys on the case.
The New York Times describes this as “trailblazing,” but really this is just a continuation of the argument that happened over encryption in the 1990s. I predict this will not go well for the government. It shouldn’t go well for the government.
May 6, 2015
Ace of Spades has an excellent article speaking of something that’s been bothering me in the whole reaction to the judicious marksmanship on the part of the Traffic Officer in Texas:
I do wish to not overly attack people I like and genuinely respect; but when I read, for example, Jamie Kirchick, a normally dependable guy and someone I’ve met slightly, and like well enough, spending 700 words of an 800 word column talking up how base he thinks Pam Gellar is in a column allegedly defending her right to free speech, instead of, you know, actually defending her right to free speech, I become despairing, because if this is all the defense the alleged defenders of Free Speech can muster, then we have no right to free speech.
This is about class. This is all about class.
This is about, specifically, the careerist, cowardly, go-along-to-get-along mores of the Upper Middle Class, the class of people whose parents were all college educated, and of course are college educated themselves; the class that dominates our thought-transmitting institutions (because non-college educated people are more of less shut out of this industry).
It is a class which is deathly afraid of social stigma, and lives in class-based fear being grouped with the wrong people, and which is more interested in Career, quite frankly, than in the actual tradecraft of that Career, which is clarity of thought and clarity of expression.
Read the whole thing. It is worth your time. This sort of hit me a bit, because when I think of the things left unsaid for the sake of getting along, I worry I’ve fallen into this trap myself. Sure, I have this blog, but I write under a pseudonym. Why? Because I maintain a career in a large metropolitan run by the Upper Middle Class consensus. Anyone who follows my personal Facebook account knows I seldom bring up political topics, largely for the sake of getting along with friends, coworkers, and some family.
I think the lack of conversation is killing this country. We’ve been reduced to walking on eggshells for fear of upsetting the perpetually offended, and often times you don’t know who they are until you say the wrong thing. This state of affairs benefits the far left, because it’s how they control the culture when most people don’t actually agree with them. If we’ve been reduced to insulting each other on social media, and going on virtual witch hunts for the disbelievers, this lets them win. The polite everyman shuts up to avoid becoming the victim of some SJW witch hunter. If this country started talking again, we might begin to understand we’re not all that different, and we share a lot of the same concerns.
Sometimes I wonder if the issue is that social media turns a lot of people into monsters, because it’s hard to believe the American character has changed all that much in just eight years. Perhaps all that’s happened is the left has figured out how to take over that institution like they’ve taken over all the others. People can get away with saying things online they’d never say to another person having a discussion over a few beers. Five years ago I cut the cord on the TV, and I don’t miss it. Lately I’ve been thinking I should cut the cord on social media. Facebook is a giant waste of time, and Twitter is becoming a 140-character-at-a-time cesspool of groupthink hashtag activism. People used to think TV was destroying the country, but I wonder if social media is actually destroying this country.
Maybe it’s time for me to build a brewery in flyover country and check out from all this ridiculous bullshit.
Apr 30, 2015
Jim Geraghty discusses the rumors that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is running for the 2016 GOP nomination. My opinion is that Chris Christie is enough of a squish on gun rights, and that’s enough squish for one race. We remember that Rick Snyder vetoed a package of pro-gun bills sent to him by the Michigan legislature. We don’t forget, Governor. That’s why we’re successful. If Snyder enters the race, I don’t see too many pro-gun people backing him in the primary.
Apr 21, 2015
It seems that Mike Bloomberg’s gun control cash can’t buy PA Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s way out of more legal drama.
Kane is being sued by a former agent from her office because he says she fabricated a story about him, claiming that he says his sting was only targeting black people. He claims that he never said that, and he says it seriously harmed his reputation as an investigator. He even took a polygraph test that he says he passed.
In fact, the story highlights that Kane claims she had a sworn statement by the agent’s boss that the agent suing her did say it. The problem is that there was no sworn statement. There was an unsworn statement (aka no legal accountability if they prove the boss lied) written more than a year after the supposed racial comment. To top that off, it was only written after Kane made her public claim. In other words, Kane made the claim that the agent with 20 years on the job made a statement. Then, four days after she issued the public attack, the agent’s boss magically writes up a statement fitting the narrative Kane told the media.
This woman is not just incompetent, she belongs in jail. It seems a grand jury agrees with me on the issue of criminal charges in another matter. Even the outlets that endorsed her think it’s time for her to get out of the office. Of course, I’m surprised she hasn’t put a fat target on the media since she already hinted she would sue them for reporting on her many ethical problems.
Remember folks, this woman won partly due to the huge financial investment made by Mike Bloomberg specifically because her views on gun control. She has repeatedly screwed with our reciprocity agreements, and she started lobbying against federal pro-gun bills before she even took office. But, hey, all those voters in the traditionally Republican parts of Pennsylvania felt like a vote for her was a vote for Penn State. No, it was a vote for corruption and abuse that not even the Philadelphia media can tolerate.
Apr 17, 2015
Yesterday, a Pennsylvania Court heard the case challenging the constitutionality of Act 192, the enhanced preemption law. Pennsylvania’s constitution has a single subject requirement for bills, and the preemption enhancement was attached to a bill about metal theft.
Even if this law is invalidated, preemption still remains the law of the land, and Act 192 still has done a lot of heavy lifting in getting municipalities to repeal illegal ordinances. Even if the act is ruled unconstitutional, it has been a major setback for Bloomberg to bet set so far back in his campaign to end preemption in Pennsylvania.