Feb 14, 2017
I warned people that Bloomberg’s ballot initiatives would blow the door open to more gun control and risk turning the state, and I’m sorry to see that is actually happening:
House Bill 1387 would impose an annual registration and licensing system on the most popular and commonly owned semi-automatic firearms sold today by classifying them as “assault weapons.” In addition, it would prohibit the sale and transfer of standard capacity ammunition magazines labeling them as “large-capacity magazines.” The transfer and sale of these firearms and magazines would be prohibited to anyone other than a federally licensed firearms dealer, a gunsmith or to law enforcement for destruction.
You can bet that if the legislature doesn’t pass these, and make no mistake, you should call and make sure they don’t, Bloomberg is going to spend big to get this on the ballot. Don’t let it happen: this is a precursor to confiscation. That’s not a hyperbole, it’s happened both in California and New York City, where registration lists were used to confiscate firearms later made illegal or reclassified as illegal. If you want to keep your guns, you have to stop this.
Feb 13, 2017
In the Washington Post, from Jeffrey Swanson, a Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine:
The gun restriction rule is a well-meaning policy that gets some things right, notably its support of federal efforts to improve detection of risky people who should not have legal access to guns. But despite its good intentions, what the policy actually does is take away the gun rights of a large category of individuals without any evidence that they pose a risk of harm to self or others, and without legal due process protections commensurate with abridging a constitutional right.
As I’ve said, Bitter’s late grandfather had a designated payee, because he could not manage the finances of his farm properties in his old age. But there was no safety issue at all with him possessing firearms. He just could not handle money.
It is unfortunate that Republican lawmakers are using a rather heavy-handed regulatory tool — the Congressional Review Act — to repeal the gun restriction rule, rather than modifying it to reflect what the evidence tells us about mentally ill persons and violence risk.
I believe we have a bill that intends to do just that. It was introduced in the last Congress by Senator Cornyn, and opposed by Bloomberg’s group. Despite the rhetoric of the opposition, common sense is nowhere to be found.
Feb 13, 2017
Gun news is pretty thin, so forgive an off topic post. I might have a news roundup this week, hopefully! These days I’m more worried that the country is literally coming apart in front of my eyes.
Maybe I have it bad because this area is kind of the front lines between Red and Blue America. We’re where Blue America starts to stop, with Red America starting out in the Western Exurbs. This week I have started to manicure my Facebook News Feed to cut out people who post non-stop political bullshit. It’s not just Facebook either. Bitter quit a neighborhood group because it descended into political bickering. It’s infected a lot of other civic institutions we’re involved with lately as well. It makes you wonder if this is what it was like to live in 1850.
But the coming apart back then was at least over a real issue; slavery. Today we’re coming apart because people are frothed up about the bad guys in the movie playing in our own heads. I really don’t want to live in an echo chamber. I’m actually disappointed I’ve never gotten more than a small handful of gun control advocates engaging in the comments, and I still have gun control blogs in my feed. I’m always open to an argument on the merits of an issue.
What I’m not into is thinking people I don’t agree with are Hitler, Nazis, Fascist, Socialists, or Communists unless those people really are those things. When we use those to describe people we don’t agree with, we cheapen those terms. If everyone is a Nazi then no one is a Nazi. If everyone is a racist, then no one is a racist. Hate, actual hate, becomes meaningless. This behavior is removing our rhetorical tools for confronting people who actually are all those things. I’m not into arguing over whether the movie playing in your head is any good or not, or commiserating with you over how nasty the bad guys are. I’m kind of appalled you think any of your Social Media friends give a crap.
I certainly have anti-Trump people in my social media circles who are offering thoughtful opposition to the Administration. These folks I don’t mind. Trump will need some thoughtful opposition over the course of his presidency. But I see precious little of that versus patent nonsense.
UPDATE: Also see: “About That ‘Punching Nazis’ Thing…“
Feb 9, 2017
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?
Feb 9, 2017
New Hampshire passed Constitutional Carry today. It still needs the signature of the Governor, but Governor Chris Sununu has expressed support for the bill. If you recall, Maggie Hassan vetoed the bill last year, but since she moved to the US Senate (replacing Kelly Ayotte) she left the governor’s seat open, which flipped from Dem to Republican.
Should Sununu follow up on his stated support and sign, New Hampshire will become the 12th state to pass Constitutional Carry legislation. I expect by the end of 2017 we’ll probably have a few more.
Feb 8, 2017
Tis the season of NRA voting, and while we have generally done endorsements in the past, these days I don’t quite go so far. You see, endorsing depended on us going to board meetings to talk with people and see them in action. I no longer have the time or the money to hang out in DC quite so much. But I will tell you some of the people I’m voting for.
If you want to vote for them too, knock yourself out, but know that while I see a lot of these folks at Annual Meeting, I’m not sitting in on Board or committee meetings anymore.
First, the bylaw changes: I’m voting yes. NRA has grown a lot, and requirements for recall and petition candidates ought to change with the size of the voting membership. After Glenn Beck started promoting the recall against Norquist, I realized there was a lot of room for someone willing to burn some money to cause very serious mischief within NRA. Most of these changes are aimed on closing the door on that.
As for Board members, I never vote for any celebrities. I think some of them are valuable to NRA, but they just don’t need my vote. They will win handily based on their celebrity status. So who will we vote for? There may be others, but I’d highlight these folks:
Dan Boren. Even now, I still think it’s important to keep Democrats involved in the issue. The shame is that pro-gun Dems have become an endangered species.
Graham Hill. Graham has a lot of experience at getting things done in Washington. He’s on the Board of Directors for the American Suppressor Association so knows that issue well. This fits with one of our chief legislative priorities.
Todd Rathner. Gets shit done. He’s been very active with advancing Knife Right’s agenda. He’s also going to be useful in the suppressor fight.
Kim Rhode Harryman. We need people on the Board who understand the shooting sports. Kim is a record setting multi-olympic Gold Medalist. I’d like to give her a chance and see what she can contribute.
Patricia A. Clark. Again, she’s more shooting sports oriented. She’s also from an embattled state, and I think we need to keep representation from those states.
Allan D. Cors. Current NRA President. Overall has a lot of experience with many facets of the Association.
Linda Walker. She has a record of getting shit done in her home state of Ohio. Look at Ohio now versus a decade ago. She was a key driver in a lot of that.
Again, I keep my list pretty small to help people I think might be able to use some help. There are other worthy candidates that haven’t made my list that are decent. John Richardson has a round up of other people’s thoughts here.
Feb 6, 2017
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.
Feb 2, 2017
Heads are melting because NRA had a seat at the table for the Gorsuch nomination.
Yeah, and that was our money, honey — sent in $25 dollar increments by millions of Americans. If the tables were turned, and you had a seat at Hillary’s table, it would be because Bloomberg bought it for you.
Feb 2, 2017
David Burge on Social Media:
The background of his multi-part Twitter rant is that someone gave him crap for posting hot rod pictures while the world burned. Yeah, that would set me off too. His entire rants speaks to me more than I wish it did. Go to his feed and start at /1
Feb 1, 2017
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.