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Why No One Should Trust Social Media

This fascinating article in Mic talks about how Snap tried to pick Mike Bloomberg’s deep pockets using the gun control issue, but apparently they weren’t biting. Apparently they told Bloomberg’s Everytown folks if they didn’t buy all the ads, then they would be available to the NRA as well. They didn’t bite on that one, because apparently Everytown was already talking to Snap’s news division about a big ol’ chunk of earned media they felt would be more valuable.

This is how the game is played folks. They didn’t have to jump in bed with Snap’s advertising division, because their news division had already jumped into bed with Bloomberg!

It’s a joke. Seriously, don’t believe anything you see in the media, and especially social media. You can’t even go with “Trust, but Verify.” Expect you’re being lied to and seek primary sources.

Ghost Guns! Under My Bed!

It’s kind of depressing the media has largely chosen to ignore our issue, and isn’t as much in the business anymore of running hysterical articles like this. Articles like this are why I got into blogging.

The guns are built from kits and arrive in pieces, so under existing law, when they’re shipped, they aren’t guns. When assembled by their buyers, they’re lethal – and legal.

Federal officials like Graham Barlowe, the resident agent in charge of the ATF’s Sacramento office, say the loophole is dangerous.

You can find a meme on the internet called “Everyone I Don’t Like is Hitler.” One could easily create a similar meme for the gun issue that goes, “Everything I Don’t Like is a Loophole.”

All the parts needed to assemble a gun were in the box when it arrived. It took Vasquez a couple of hours to assemble the weapon.

Did this include machining? Because if you failed to mention that he had to spend several hours machining the receiver, this is #FakeNews. From the article, you’d think he ordered a parts kit from the Internet, put it all together, and voilà, we have an functioning firearm. That would describe a felony if it were true.

Here’s some fast facts any journalist should know, that I think we can all agree on:

  • Generally speaking, it’s legal and should be legal for gun owners to buy parts for firearms. Parts are unregulated.
  • There is always one part of the gun that ATF considers The Gun, and that part is regulated as if it were a fully assembled firearm. Usually that part is the receiver (which if you’re a journalist reading this, is the part the rest of the parts of the gun attaches to).
  • Chunks of metal are not regulated. Regulating chunks of metal because they could be turned into guns with the right machining would be stupid beyond belief.
  • At some point, regulators decide that a part qualifies as a firearm if a certain amount of machining has been done to it. Usually a machined part that is about 80% complete, as arbitrarily determined by the regulator (ATF in this case), is considered a hunk of metal and is not considered a firearm. Where does life begin for a firearm?
  • It is currently a felony to earn livelihood or profit from manufacturing firearms if you don’t have a license to manufacture firearms. The current interpretation of this that you can’t sell firearms you make for yourself.
  • You could outlaw machining and assembling chunks of metal into functioning firearms, but that’s only going to deter people who are not doing it as part of a criminal enterprise, and if they aren’t doing it as part of a criminal enterprise, why the hell do you care?

What I’m getting at is, fine journalists, is where is the loophole? What law are you going to pass that won’t just be making something more illegal for criminals?

How the Social Security NICS Repeal is Being Spun

Most of us are aware that the Obama Administration finalized the Social Security rule in the lame duck period, leaving it open to repeal by Congress, and repeal Congress did. So one might thing much of the media would have headlines much like the Hill, right? Something along the lines of “Congress Repeals Obama-era Social Security Gun Rule.” But why do that when you can get away with headlines like “Congressional Republicans Vote to Allow Severely Mentally Ill to Have Guns.

Fortunately, Charles C.W. Cooke is the voice of reason on this.

And, given the way the headlines are written, you could be forgiven for drawing any one of those conclusions. But here’s the thing: None of them is true. Not at all. This was yet another sordid episode of The Press Is Having a Breakdown, coupled with a special installment of Celebrities Tweet Falsehoods Without Knowing It.

I keep wishing people would argue over the actual issues, instead of the cartoonish delusions that people with agendas are putting in everyone’s heads. This is not a new problem, certainly. But since the election, it’s reached epidemic proportions.

How many times have you seen someone you know posting something on Social Media you know is bullshit, but you don’t bother to engage because of the effort it would take to get any discussion working off the same set of facts? And for what? Many of these folks aren’t really interested in that kind of discussion; it’s all about cheering one’s team. Look at what someone would have to have some idea about to have a discussion on the facts:

  • What are the existing laws in regards to crazy people having guns.
  • What is due process, and what is generally required to deprive people of their Constitutional Rights.
  • What the Obama Administration’s Social Security rule actually does and does not do.
  • How NICS under the Brady Act and how adjudication generally works under the Gun Control Act.

I like Charles Cooke’s take on this, showing how many mainstream disability advocacy groups also opposed the Obama-era rule. It’s a good go-to source if you see the Guns for Crazy People meme in Social Media. This blog has long been a critic of the traditional media’s shallow and often ignorant coverage on this issue. I don’t see  why in this era of Social Media we should not also be critics of it.

Navigating the Coming Disinformation Campaigns

It’s pretty clear at this point we live in a world where there’s no such thing as objective news reporting. Social Media has become a den of fake news and sharing news articles engineered to express certain points of view. While our blog here certainly does not claim to be objective, I will never deliberately lie to you, or deliberately twist facts to suit my agenda. I try hard to be honest.

I am going to use the example of the Trump Executive Order on immigration. It’s not my point to argue in favor of it, but it illustrates a very important principle: one, always go to primary sources. Don’t believe someone else’s characterization of something. Read it for yourself. Follow all the citations to legal statutes, and try to understand those. Eventually, you’ll develop a body of knowledge around a subject, and it will be much harder for people with an agenda to bullshit you.

Here’s the full text of the EO. You’ll see a lot of terminology and references to law. Like, what is an immigrant and non-immigrant visa? What is the Visa Waiver Program? What powers does the President have to suspend foreign nationals from entering the United States? So let’s look at some claims:

The EO is illegal and or unconstitutional! The EO is authorized by 8 U.S.C. 1182(f).

Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.

This is a broad power. In my opinion it should violate the non-delegation doctrine and actually be unconstitutional. But I’m speaking about what I wish the non-delegation doctrine to be, not what it actually is under today’s body of law. No court has ever overturned the executive’s use of this power, though Trump’s use of it is probably the most broad use of it to date.

The EO is a muslim ban! The seven countries involved are muslim majority countries, but the selection of these countries is a function of law and not the executive order. Congress passed, and President Obama signed a law in 2015 that established this list of countries. It does not represent all muslim countries. This is a bullshit characterization of the EO, though one Trump walked into by suggesting he favored such a ban during the campaign.

Obama picked these countries! Sort of. The Terrorism Travel Prevention Act of 2015 was attached to an Omnibus spending bill he didn’t really have room to veto. TTPA denied anyone traveling to Iraq, Syria, or other countries designated by the executive branch use of the Visa Waiver Program. Basically, if you’re a German National, and you travel to Syria, you don’t get automatically admitted into the US because we waive the Visa requirement for Germany. You have to get an entry Visa if you’ve traveled to any of those targeted countries. The law specifies Iraq and Syria. The Obama Administration added Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Iran.

The EO screwed permanent residents traveling back to the United States! It did indeed. The EO does not target permanent residents specifically, but Trump, wrongfully in my opinion, did not exclude permanent residents from the scope of his EO. Those people aren’t entering the United States, they are coming home.

The EO violates the establishment clause because it favors Christian refugees! Actually, one of the things the EO did do was suspend the admission of all refugees for 120 days, regardless of country of origin. But whether the EO violates the establishment clause is not clear at all. It gives priority to refugees seeking asylum in the United States if they are a persecuted religious minority in their home country. This could apply to Christians, but it could also apply to Yazidis in Iraq, practitioners of Falun Gong in China, or Muslims in Myanmar. I think this is carefully worded enough to pass muster.

Obama and Carter did the same things! Obama’s order only applied to Iraqi nationals who were applying for Special Immigrant Visas. Basically, the program that lets translators and other people who aided the United States emigrate here so they are not in danger at home. Carter’s order suspended all citizens of Iran from entering the United States (with certain exceptions) until our hostages were released. It’s safe to say, I think, that Trump’s use of 8 U.S.C. 1182(f) is the broadest use of that power to date.

The EO violates equal protection principles! There is other parts of immigration law which bar discrimination in the issuance of immigrant visas. Trump’s order certainly violates that, but the law is in conflict with the discretion afforded the President. The equal protection law came later, so there’s an argument to be made that Congress intended to modify the earlier power, but that’s not really clear. No courts have ever resolved that conflict, so it’s an open question.

That’s the best I can do for a no bullshit analysis of what’s going on. All I had to do was read the EO itself and do a bit of research into the claimed powers, and read some reasonable claims by reasonable critics and check their claims against what the law actually says.

More Media Wagon Circling Over the Hearing Protection Act

This time the LA Times is getting in the game:

Stiff federal regulations on silencers date back to 1934, when they were enacted as part of a crackdown on machine guns and other instruments of mobster violence.

Actually, silencers were included in NFA because of concerns over poaching during the Great Depression. I think it’s hilarious that the LA Times writer cited the Michael Rosenwald’s WaPo article we talked about the other day, because Rosenwald’s article actually said as much. It’s almost as if no one who comments on Rosenwald’s article actually read it! Was the concern over poaching legitimate? I don’t think so. I’d argue politicians back then were just as ignorant as they are now, and Maxim had only started selling them three decades prior.

Manufacturers say it’s illogical to raise a higher bars to silencer purchases than gun purchases, but this is a double-edged sword. They may be right, but that’s an argument for making guns as hard to buy as silencers, rather than the other way around.

That’s not politically tenable in this country. Again, this is the kind of crap the bores me. You’re never going to get ordinary handguns under NFA-like restrictions. Originally, this was tried when the NFA was passed, and handguns were awkwardly removed under pressure from the National Revolver Association and the NRA. What we were left with was the AOW designation.

“There’s no evidence of a public health issue associated with hearing loss from gunfire,” says Kristin Brown of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “There is evidence of a public health crisis from gun violence, and we think that’s where legislative efforts should be directed.”

Yeah, she’s an authority for sure. Let’s get Kristen to stand next to a Glock 19 as its magazine is emptied and then see how long it takes her hearing to come back to normal, assuming it does not cause permanent damage. Why doesn’t Kristen ask some of the old dudes at my club, who grew up around unsuppressed gunfire in the days before hearing protection was all that good? She won’t be able to without shouting at them, because they are all deaf as a post. Even those of us who wear hearing protection have had instances where either the foam didn’t fully expand, or the rifle butt slipped them out of position and your next shot rings your ears.

OSHA says that any noise over 85 decibels is the “action level” for requiring workers to wear hearing protection. OSHA warns that exposure of 110dB for a period of one minute risks permanent hearing loss. The sound of a 9mm firing is 160 decibels. That is loud enough to physically burst your eardrums. It will hurt if you’re near it. Also note that the decibel scale is logarithmic rather than linear. For those who don’t get that, it means that 160dB is a whole crapload louder than 85dB that OSHA considers action level. Silencers reduce the report of gunfire to below the level that risks bursting eardrums, but it’s still loud: about 120-130 decibels.

Others point to indications that silencers can reduce public awareness of developing firearm attacks and interfere with law enforcement.

Nonsense. Can you hear the sound of a jackhammer from a pretty good distance? Then you can hear the sound of a suppressed firearm.

The fact is this: if you are around a gun being shot in an indoor environment without suppression, you are more than likely going to suffer permanent hearing loss if you’re not wearing hearing protection. Most people who don’t shoot have have no idea how loud gunfire really is. TV and computer speakers cannot do it justice. People like Kristen Brown and her allies are going to deliberately lie about the effects because they are depending on that public ignorance to derail what is, actually, a legitimate effort to make it easier for people to buy what is honestly a firearm safety accessory that never should have been regulated the way it was in the first place.

Politifact Openly Aids Gun Control Group’s Narrative

Whether it is true that seven children per day die from gun violence depends on whether you define 18 and 19 year olds as children. One could argue that it’s a matter of opinion (which I’d point out would put it outside the realm of ‘facts’) but as an objective criteria, we can look at how the law defines it. Eighteen and nineteen year olds are not considered children legally. They would be tried as adults if they commit crimes.

There’s no universe where this claim should be rightly considered “Mostly True.” In one sentence gun control advocates have set the mental picture of Sandy Hook, which sadly involved elementary school children. Then they suddenly switched context without mentioning to the reader they were doing so, promoting statistics that involve legal adults. Gun control groups were hoping that readers wouldn’t follow through; that it would push the right emotional buttons by making people think they’re discussing  young children. When Politifact rates statements like this as “Mostly True” they are helping the gun control movement promote a deceptive narrative. They have made themselves part of this deception, whole hog.

If Politifact had a shred of honestly, they would have a rating of “Deceptive” or “Misleading” for situations like this where the underlying facts may be technically true, but are presented in a way that is clearly intended to mislead the reader. But they won’t do such a thing, because Politifact has no integrity. They were created to promote narratives that benefit a certain political viewpoint. In that sense, they are serving their purpose. But the real danger is that organizations like Facebook are planning to include outfits like Politifact to police what has been widely derided as “fake news.”

As much as I’ve been involved with the gun issue, these days I’m becoming more concerned about the future of free expression, especially in a world where Silicon Valley oligarchs are conspiring with the media to decide on what you and I get to see or not see.

Truth Getting Harder to Find These Days

I’ve been seeing the ongoing controversy over Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline, but this is one of those cases I feel like everyone involved, regardless of the “side” they are on, is lying to me. I’d imagine that, given the intersection of US Tribal Law, rights-of-way, easements, etc, it’s probably a lot more complicated, in which case no one outside of a handful of lawyers really understands the actual issues.

Part of the problem in the return to partisan media is that you can’t count on anyone to give an impartial account of the issue, even if it’s complicated. Sure, the old media had bias, but it was easier to see through that. It’s a lot harder when you’re dealing with media outlets that are willing to outright lie to you to advantage their preferred narrative.

I remember in the golden days of blogging, back when we were all hobbyists thinking we were fighting the man. By that time the media might have been the sick old man, but they were still the man. Well, the man is basically gone, and in those days we never thought all that hard about what would replace us.

Instapundit to Twitter: Drop Dead

Glenn Reynolds is not staying where he isn’t wanted. For all the same reasons that Sebastian pulled the plug here.

Twitter seemed to be much more about filling the niche of an RSS feed than a peer to peer content network. And Facebook is just as good for keeping up with commercial content (and somewhat better because it doesn’t have the message size restrictions, it has publishable calendars and native media storage).

Fact Check Sites Covering for Hillary on Guns

OK folks, it’s time to take a rare turn for me and turn on rant mode. Some foul language will proceed.

Ordinary media bias pisses me off, but the bias found at these bullshit “Fact Checker” sites piss me off more than you can imagine. Some of the poorly educated millennials that must run these sites can’t even seem to discern the difference between fact and opinion. That’s something I think mot of us learned in elementary school. If I can’t rely on these phony baloney fact check sites to understand the difference between opinions and facts, why should I trust them on anything else? When you present your opinion as fact checking, you’re not a fact checker, you’re a propagandist. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a propagandist, but a writer should have integrity enough to admit it when they’re doing it.

The Washington Post fact check site wants us to believe it’s four Pinocchios that Hillary Clinton doesn’t believe Americans can keep guns at home. Are you fucking kidding me? The same Hillary Clinton that said at a fundraiser:

The Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment. And I am going to make that case every chance I get.

Do you want to argue that she never said that? Is this is all a fabrication of the looney toons right wing media conspiracy and Faux News? Computer generated voiceover from Alex Jones’ secret sound lab? Talented impersonator? Because otherwise, the fact is that she said that. What the Supreme Court said, and what Hillary says they got wrong, was that the right to bear arms was a fundamental, individual right, unconnected from service in the militia, and in doing so they threw out Washington DC’s ban on having handguns in the home. Later in McDonald decision, they said the right applies to state and local government, and threw out Chicago’s complete and total handgun ban in the home. Hillary Clinton believes that was wrongly decided, and when behind closed doors not realizing she was being recorded, told donors as much.

So, sorry WaPo bullshit fact checkers, but Hillary said herself she doesn’t think you should be able to own handguns in the home. Residents of Washington DC and Chicago are Americans, and their laws said no handguns in the home. The Supreme Court threw that out and she says they were wrong. This is what we call an indisputable fact, in case they didn’t teach you that in whatever shitty journalism school you all went to.

Politifact, a project of the Tampa Bay Times, is little better, claiming that Hillary doesn’t want to abolish the Second Amendment. They also just recently claimed that Clinton’s views don’t go against the Constitution.


The Supreme Court has ruled the Second Amendment guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms. Clinton supports gun control policies that gun-rights advocates call contrary to its interpretation.

Clinton said in her speech to the Democratic National Convention that she was “not here to repeal the Second Amendment.” In an interview on ABC’s ‘This Week,’ Clinton said, “I believe we can have common-sense gun safety measures consistent with the Second Amendment.”

PolitiFact earlier this year rated as False Trump’s claim that Clinton “wants to abolish the 2nd Amendment.”

I just established the assertion that Hillary has said she wanted to effectively abolish the Second Amendment is unarguably true. They act as if Clinton doesn’t personally break into the National Archives, rip the Second Amendment out of the original Constitution, stuff it down Sandy Berger’s pants and then set him on fire, well, you’re just a bunch of delusional right-wing jackals for believing what Hillary says to donors behind closed doors. are no better on the First Amendment:

Hillary Clinton does not agree with the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission.

The Supreme Court held in the case that restrictions could not be placed on how corporations spend money to influence an election. In the opinion of the court, since corporations have the same rights as individuals, they are also guaranteed free speech under the First Amendment.

That does not mean Clinton does not believe in the First Amendment. It means she, like many others, does not agree with the court’s interpretation of the First Amendment in this case.

Let’s get something straight here assholes: if I tell you that the Court got it correct when they ruled in favor of Citizen’s United, that’s an opinion you jackass, not a fact. If I argue that Clinton’s position on Citizen’s United means she doesn’t believe in the First Amendment, that’s my opinion. There no facts to dispute here. I doubt the recent college graduate from journalism school who probably compiled this article has ever read Citizen’s United v FEC. Often times, if I make a horrible mistake and end up arguing in a thread on social media, sometimes I have to say, usually a good bit more politely, “Go read the whole decision, and at least then we can have a discussion based on the actual case, and not whatever caricatures of it you’ve picked up from social media memes and propaganda rags.” I don’t mean to just target lefties here. Read any internet argument about an area where you have a decent level domain knowledge, and you’ll quickly realize 95% of people in the thread have almost no idea what they are talking about.

Citizen’s United is a non-profit corporation, and like many political non-profits, it has a conservative bent. It is not a charity, but a 501(c)(4), just like the National Rifle Association, the ACLU, NARAL, etc. Citizen’s United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton before an election. Get that? They wanted to air a film critical of a politician prior to an election. That is the very heart of the First Amendment. If the First Amendment can’t protect Americans from pooling their resources to more effectively engage in political speech, you might as well rip the First Amendment from the Bill of Rights and stuff it down Sandy Berger’s pants for all the good it will do protecting our liberties. Personally, if you think Citizen’s United was wrongly decided, I feel pretty safe saying you don’t believe in the First Amendment. In fact, to be frank, if you think Citizen’s United was wrongly decided, you scare the hell out of me.

I don’t like that Bloomberg can outspend us all year long, and single handedly reverse the work of millions of individual gun owners, but he has just as much of a right to speak out on political issues as you and I do. Granted, he has the coin to have a voice far louder than me, and far louder than 5 million of us pooling our meager resources. I don’t like it, but it’s a cost we have to pay to be free. A world where we all speak individually is a world where individuals have no voice, and where Bloomberg and people like him will be the only voice. If you believe Citizen’s United was wrongly decided, you actually believe our First Amendment freedoms should be effectively without meaning, and that only the rich and the established deserve to speak freely.

I once thought the Internet was going to change politics for the good, enlighten us as a people, make us better informed, and make politicians and bureaucrats more accountable. Then social media came along, and boy did I turn out to be wrong! Trump and Clinton are really just manifestations of the social media zeitgeist and the cultural wasteland it has created.

Rant mode off.

Media Goes After C&R? Really?

Yellow Journalism Ahead

CBS News reports, or rather misreports, because they don’t know what they are talking about:

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives calls the SKS rifle Micah Johnson used to kill five Dallas police officers on July 7 a “Curio or Relic.”

Due to this status, which the SKS shares with many other models of Berettas, Colts, Remingtons, Rugers and other firearms that are at least 50 years old, gun dealers said that in some states and jurisdictions the Soviet-era rifle can be purchased online and delivered to your door without securing a permit.

Um, you can only have one of these “delivered to your door” if you apply for a Federal Firearms License. So you do indeed need to secure a “permit,” whatever the fuck they think that means.

Yes, old technology can still be pretty effective in the hands of a well-trained shooter. Yes, having a ten round fixed magazine is not really much of an impediment to a well-trained shooter either. This is why we keep saying that assault weapons bans are stupid. The SKS is legal even in California, with it’s very severe Assault Weapons Ban. Even the new ban allows the SKS.

I also love how in these articles, they always talk about how quickly you can apply for a license. How long should it take? There’s only so much information they need to know to run a background check. You half expect if they aren’t asking you the name of your pet hamster when you were a kid, then it cannot, of course, be very thorough.

It sure would be nice if they actually took the time to understand how all this stuff works before writing about it.

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