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‘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.

Bucks County Courier Times: “Pssht… What Rule of Law?”

YellowJournalismIt’s no surprise to anyone who gets the local rag (I don’t subscribe, I prefer the softness of Quilted Northern, personally) knows that the editorial bent is decidedly anti-gun, so it’s hardly a surprise to see the Bucks County Courier Times offering a ringing endorsement of continued lawlessness on the part of municipalities in Pennsylvania, while simultaneously calling Bucks County RKBA advocates “gun zealots” and fanatics. I’ve come to expect things like this:

If such a weapon is later found to have been used in a crime, the purchaser commonly claims the gun was lost or stolen. The lost or stolen reporting requirement would rescind that free pass and hold straw purchasers legally accountable, as they should be

They keep repeating this, but Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, who combined have populations pushing two million, have yet to actually prosecute anyone under these laws we’re told are so vital to combat this oh so common problem. Why? Supposedly the Bucks County Courier Times folks are journalists. Shouldn’t that be a question you might want to ask the people pushing Lost and Stolen?

Yet, in step with their fanatical opposition to most any gun restriction, the NRA and like-minded gun zealots opposed even that modest attempt to keep guns out of the wrong hands. They claim that local versions of the would-be state mandate are unconstitutional based on a state law requiring gun law uniformity.

In our view, the local measures don’t infringe on the legal possession of a firearm. And so that right remains uniform across Pennsylvania.

We oppose gun control fanatically because it doesn’t work. What’s the big issue right now around the country? Universal Background Checks, right? Pennsylvania has them for handguns, which in . How has it worked to reduce Philadelphia’s crime rate compared to say, Phoenix, where anyone can go strapped without a license of any kind, and guns can be bought and sold between private parties?

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, Philadelphia in 2013 had a violent crime rate of 1100 incidents per 100,000 persons. Phoenix, in comparison, had a violent crime rate of 632 incidents per 100,000 persons. That’s more than 40% less violent crime in Phoenix compared to Philadelphia. How does the staff at the Courier Times explain this disparity?

Now let’s look at that last statement, that local measures don’t infringe on possession. That’s not the issue as to whether it’s infringing or not. The issue is that under state law, local communities have no power to regulate possession firearms and ammunition. Period. That’s already been upheld by the State Supreme Court, who held:

Because the ownership of firearms is constitutionally protected, its regulation is a matter of statewide concern. The constitution does not provide that the right to bear arms shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth, except Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, where it may be abridged at will, but that it shall not be questioned in any part of the commonwealth. Thus, regulation of firearms is a matter of concern in all of Pennsylvania, not merely in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, and the General Assembly, not city councils, is the proper forum for the imposition of such regulation.

Emphasis mine. So does the Bucks County Courier Times have any respect for the rule of law? Is it OK for municipalities to act outside the law and evade consequences for it because judges like to warp the standing doctrine so that we’re unable to challenge such a violation? It seems to me they are fine with lawlessness, provided it’s lawlessness they approve of.


Headlines You Don’t See Anymore

One day of our trip involved arguing with the Oklahoma State Department of Health for access to family death certificates and a much more exciting stop at the Oklahoma Historical Society’s Research Center. Looking for obituaries seems a little morbid, but it’s actually kind of fun to read the old newspapers while you’re searching.

This is one headline from the 18 Jan 1912 edition of The Leedey Times of Dewey County, Oklahoma that you’d never see today.


Before anyone jumps on the editor for using shotgun and rifle like they are the exact same thing, I suspect that was more for the visual space in the headline. I think rifle would have been too short and left too much whitespace. I find it hard to believe that a newspaper editor in rural Dewey County wouldn’t know the difference.

It’s Not Just Gun Coverage: The Problems in Media

I actually found this article to be a very interesting read on the problems of media today. While some in media just want to pretend that it’s the financial challenges that keep things tough in journalism, Kristi Culpepper notes some other deep flaws in the profession:

There is less concern among the media for developing actual expertise in the fields they write about, capturing events accurately, or providing thoughtful analysis. Some journalists I have interacted with even take pride in their lack of seriousness, which is unfathomable to me. Reporting is less about honesty and more about ubiquity now.

Contrary to how it seems sometimes, we’re not actually completely anti-media in our household. If there’s someone out there who does reporting/writing right, we do pay for it. We have a few digital subscriptions, and we’ve even participated in a PBS fundraiser once because that particular station happens to produce and play (non-news) content we enjoy. But the problem is that many news organizations no longer value the reporting and writing done right. I’m not sure how to solve that problem when, as argued above, there are people in the industry who take pride in the fact that they are incapable of covering an issue with any sort of seriousness.

Those Heartless NRA Members

We all know that the NRA leadership are really demons placed on this earth to make humanity hurt as much as possible – at least that would be our “knowledge” if we listened exclusively to the mainstream media.

So, with that perception from those in the media, the WaPo seemed a bit shocked that Wayne LaPierre has agreed to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and donate money to further research for the disease. He’s on a trip right now, so as soon as he returns, he’s going to do it.

I just have to say that I really hope the NRA staff gets very, very creative with this and actually shows NRA staff having fun and wiling to make the world a better place.* (more…)

Standing Up to The Attacks

As cynical as I feel sometimes about the direction things are headed in with the Second Amendment issue, I do have to give a little credit where it is due to some of the other citizens stepping up to speak out. I’ve noticed several letters to the editor standing up for the NRA and gun rights recently, and even though I don’t agree with every conclusion in every letter, I’m happy to see people speaking out publicly. We need a few more people to stand up to the really absurd accusations about gun owners in the media because it helps inspire others to step up.

LA Times Engaging in Right-Wing Paranoid Fantasy

That’s the refrain of anti-gunners everywhere. “No one wants to ban your guns,” “It’s right wing paranoia. It’s lunacy to think anyone is coming for your guns.” Then why is such an esteemed publication as the LA Times just fine with publishing:

As for handguns, assault-style weapons, etc., let’s have a flat-out ban. Beyond the histrionics of the gun lobby, there is no defensible reason for such weapons to be a part of our culture. They exist for one purpose: to kill. Yes, hobbyists also like to use guns for target shooting and other nonlethal purposes, but it’s hard to say that desire for sport outweighs the atrocious level of gun-related deaths in this country.

So they are coming for my guns then? Probably shotguns eventually too, once they figure out they are highly lethal instruments when compared to “assault-style weapons,” and especially handguns. But nonetheless, how can they argue that no one wants to ban guns when people are regularly calling for it? Am I not supposed to take this seriously? Is this person kidding? Is it just engaging in a little left-wing daydreaming? The fact is our opponents have no credibility on this. We know better. When they feel emboldened, they are quite willing to speak their true views.  From the comments:

“Totally agree: Let’s ban guns. It will never happen, but what a nice idea. Otherwise, Isla Vista will keep happening over & over & over again.”

“Awwww, you’re making the gun nutters cry … KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!”

“The author doesn’t go far enough. Repeal the Second Amendment.”

“Where did he say, “Ban all guns?” He said ban all handguns. But that’s alright, twist his words to suit your own predilections.” [Glad he cleared that up. I was worried for a second.]

“In virtually every other civilized country in the world, this would not be a particularly controversial proposal. But in America it will never be taken seriously, as evidenced by all the ridiculing comments below. For whatever reasons, Americans consider it vitally important — essential, in fact — that they be able to shoot other people. And so life goes on. Except for all the people who get shot.” [Very few countries ban handguns, actually.]

“What we need is legislation to stop people from killing other people with handguns and assault weapons that were designed specifically for that purpose – to kill people. Sporting rifles and shotguns are not made for that purpose, so leave them be. If you want to handle assault weapons, join the police or military where they are both appropriate and well-regulated.” [Jeez, you'd think shotguns and rifles weren't extremely effective at killing people. If it can take down an Elk effectively with one shot, it'll take down a person just fine.]

Granted, most of the comments are pro-gun, but that’s to be expected. Nonetheless, you can find this opinion to be common if you look among people who don”t like firearms.


Quite an Audacious Editorial on Smart Guns

Most days I feel like I’ve seen about everything from the media that’s worth even commenting on, but sometimes they outdo themselves. Such an example can be found in this editorial from the Middletown Press:

Yet gun-rights activists have successfully intimidated stores in Maryland and California into not selling the iP1.

The gun-rights movement is treating the expansion of consumer choice not as free enterprise, but as treason.

It takes quite a lot of gall to suggest we’re fighting “the expansion of consumer choice.” We’re fighting smart gun mandates which would essentially create a sweeping gun ban across a large percentage of the population of the United States. This could have been about consumer choice, but people like the Editorial board of the Middletown Press, Bryan Miller, and other anti-gun nitwits made another choice.

Few industries need innovation as desperately as the gun trade. As Mauch writes in his essay, which appeared in the Washington Post, “Firearm safety has not meaningfully advanced in the past century.” Automobile safety, by contrast, has progressed so significantly in that same period that guns are poised to pass auto accidents as a cause of death.

And what do you idiots know about innovation in the gun trade? I’m always amazed at the arrogance of journalists willing to opine about topics they know absolutely nothing about. That seems to go double when the topic is firearms. Come to SHOT one year, and then argue there’s no innovation. There has been a lot of innovation. There has even been a lot of SAFETY innovation. Virtually all modern firearms are drop safe. That wasn’t the case even a few decades ago.

So maybe a compromise is in order: If New Jersey allows the marketplace to dictate the fate of smart guns, will the NRA and its followers be willing to do the same? That’s a deal worth making.

You put your cards on the table already. No deal. We fight the technology because we know what will be coming next. We simply do not trust you not to mandate the technology once it hits the market and you, the people who know nothing about firearms or firearms safety, decide it’s working well enough to impose on those people who do know about those things. Sorry, not accepting the firearm market being controlled by clueless journalists, sniveling politicians, and pearl clutching ninnies. That’s what we’re inviting if we give in to the smart gun technology.

NRA “Freestyle” Attempt to Reach Younger Gun Owners

There’s been quite a bit of press attention over NRA’s new attempt to reach younger gun owners with “NRA Freestyle.” It turns out, I’m not too far off the target audience, except that I have a sense of civic duty and am actually engaged on the issue – something that doesn’t apply to the vast majority of the demographic they are targeting.

I’m technically a millennial and a woman. Only, unlike many people in my “generation,” I don’t believe the world exists to entertain me and I actually participate with the community around me. However, if you define me down by age and, to a lesser degree, gender, then I am close to who they want to reach.

So, with all the hubbub surrounding this, what’s my take? It’s ultimately, “eh.”

First, there’s the practical issue of the technology to access it. When I tried to access videos through the website, relying on Ackerman McQueen’s video system, it was completely unwatchable. The videos kept skipping as badly as an old, dirty record. I checked my internet connection, and it definitely was not on this end. I gave up in frustration. Only after things are posted to YouTube are they even accessible. So that’s a problem, and one that I’m sure NRA is paying extra for.

But, let’s face it, the content, when accessible by YouTube, is more important. So, let me start with my take on the show that is getting the most attention – Noir.

As others have noted, some of the attacks coming from the media and general left outlets are actually pretty racist. One piece compared Colion Noir using a stage/screen name to a porn actor, while never making such assertions about the many fairer skinned entertainers who use them, such as Brady Campaign celebrity supporters Anthony Dominick Benedetto and Eilleen Regina Edwards. When they have to resort to launching race-based attacks, I think that’s generally a good sign for our side. In fact, he had a little fun responding to pieces and how belittling they were to him as an individual capable of making informed decisions and living his life as he chooses on the second episode, which I think is a good thing.

But, that doesn’t mean I’m in love with the show. Colion Noir clearly built a following of gun people, many of whom trended much younger, on his own even before NRA ever reached out to him. He’s a bit more natural in the role, but his co-host is rather forced. Until her clearly scripted lines in the first episode, everything about her body language and facial expressions screamed discomfort. Sure, she successfully delivered her “pop culture” lines about topics like Lululemon (that I had to explain to Sebastian), and she does break up the action of just one man talking to a camera about a subject. It’s just that she doesn’t appear really comfortable with the gun topic in this format.

Here’s the thing that I would say about that. I am not a gun nut who can give you a detailed technical analysis of a favorite rifle. I am not the awesome font of gun knowledge that is a woman like Tam. I know that, and I don’t pretend to be that, so I’m perfectly comfortable in my level of involvement with and understanding of firearms. I freely admit that when I purchase a gun, the first thing that always pulls me in is when I think, “THAT’S SO PRETTY!” And, you know what? This method has worked for me and resulted in some guns that I really love, which is why I’m not afraid to own it. It is possible to not be a total gun nut, and be comfortable in your role in the gun community, and I think that’s what Amy Robbins is missing in these early episodes. I hope that will change.

There are several parts of the show that are a little awkward, specifically the segment on “Gun Pads” stands out on that front. It was just a clip show with cameras panning past guns and some airplanes. There was no context given, and it was entirely too long for nothing more than videos of guns in different places of a house and airplane hangar. If the same person owns those guns & airplanes, they are probably a pretty interesting person. Why not at least talk about them, even if they are a stereotype of old and white? If they have younger family members who share the passion for guns & planes, why not feature that family member as a spokesperson? I have an attention span longer than your average millennial, and I wanted to close it and watch something else.

While Reason criticizes the feature that reviews guns, they do seem to ignore that gun reviews and videos are some of the most popular features of any gun-related site or media venture no matter the age of their target audience. I suspect that they will never really say anything bad in any NRA Freestyle gun review, so it’s not a totall honest critique, but they can still highlight things they like about a gun without getting negative. Oh, and I might add that both Sebastian & I checked out the featured gun of the first episode at the NRA Annual Meeting and we both really liked the feel of it and because it would fit our carry/shooting lifestyle, which the Reason writer apparently believes to be a “cringe-inducing” feature in a gun review.

Funny enough, as a woman, the concept and content that appealed to me the most with NRA Freestyle is actually Dom Raso’s Media Lab that deconstructs and re-creates movie fight scenes. It has a clear purpose, and it’s fun. Given the body of work in all the big budget action movies that Hollywood has created, there’s really some potential to have some real fun critiquing movie fights and shoot outs.

Raso’s show kept a good pace in both episodes that have been released, and the fun he can have in the next episode (tomorrow) on “Dodging Full Auto” is something I’m actually looking forward to catching. The specific scene they will use as an example is from White House Down, a movie I haven’t seen. Though, let’s face it, with Roland Emmerich involved, I’m pretty sure I can sum it up as explosions, guns, and fights. The plot details aren’t important, and that’s why these things are purely entertainment.

This show has the most potential to reach a much broader audience. Everyone knows movies are fake, and everyone loves talking about how fake or unrealistic a scene was even as we chow down on our popcorn and pull the movie up on Netflix. Given the content, it’s also far more likely to be caught by people doing random searches for various movies who may be interested in the topic and also intrigued by the background NRA branding for something entertaining. It’s got the pop culture connections without being too over-the-top.

I guess my overall impressions with the two shows currently available is that Noir has potential, but if they continue try a little too hard to force the pop culture references, it risks coming off as the butchered version of Lelaina’s reality tv show from Reality Bites. (If I see floating faces on a pizza, I’m going to be very disturbed. For you youngsters responsible for Noir, that’s a Gen X movie reference – you know, the old people.) Media Lab needs a better name, but it has the best content, in my opinion. It flows a little more seamlessly right off the bat.

I think the best feature of both shows is that they don’t do a hard sell to connect with the organization. However, that also leaves me concerned about whether or not the target audience for the network will ever be told that they need to give enough of a shit about their guns to join NRA or join the actual grassroots movement instead of sitting around watching the videos all day.

WaPo Freaks Out About 80% Lowers

Resident pearl clutcher Sarai Horwitz penned an article in yesterday’s WaPo talking about the latest “loophole,” meaning thing that is perfectly legal that we don’t like:

Zawahri’s assault became one of the most notorious cases involving unfinished receivers, which are unregulated and have become readily available for purchase online and at some gun stores.

One of the most notorious? It’s the only one I’m aware of at all. But of course, they have to make this appear to be a bigger problem than it really is.

ATF officials say gun enthusiasts are effectively exploiting a loophole in the law designed to regulate firearms. Under the Gun Control Act of 1968, it is illegal for an unlicensed person to make a firearm for sale or distribution. Vendors, however, say that because the receivers are not finished, they are not firearms and therefore are legal to sell and distribute.

It’s not a loophole. The law has to define what a firearm is, so any firearm boiled down to its components will always have one serial numbered part that ATF considers “the firearm,” usually the receiver. ATF also makes determinations on what is and isn’t a receiver, so I find it interesting that ATF is classifying this as a loophole when it’s ATFs own determinations that make it so. What goes unmentioned is that you have to define what a receiver is. If you get ridiculous with it, hunks of metal and plastic suddenly become illegal.

But I suspect the target is home gun building. Before the gun control supporters and their helpful lapdogs in the media can make any progress toward making home building and home gunsmithing completely illegal without a license, they first have to demonize it, and make it appear to the uninitiated to be some kind of shadowy underworld rather than people engaging in a hobby.

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