Picking a Fight the Other Side Can’t Afford

We know from various sources around the Internet that it’s not the best of times to be a gun control group from a fundraising standpoint.  If you look at the issue strategically, the National Reciprocity bill is really quite the master stroke, considering how much in the way of resources the other side is going to have to try to marshal to defeat it.  Now we have evidence that Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is fronting ads on behalf of Tom Mauser (ironic having a gun control fanatic named Mauser) to target Bennet and Udall for their vote on the Thune Amendment.  Keep spending, gun control people. Keep spending.  Having them on defense is a good thing.

Sliding Head First Off the Water Slide of Reality

When I was a kid, I remember playing with something like this, and thinking it was the coolest water pistol I had ever seen.  But in our modern society, which seems to be entirely ruled by hysterical and fearful people, such things aren’t sold anymore.  There’s no better example than in New York, where their hysterics has descended into this:

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said his office has sent letters to more than 100 retailers ordering them to halt sales of look-a-likes that violate the ban.

State law requires toy guns to either be made from materials that couldn’t possibly be confused with an actual weapon, or carry colorful markings including a big orange stripe.

Inspectors with Cuomo’s office said they conducted spot checks and found plenty of toys on sale that didn’t follow those rules.

Imagine where we’d be if instead of policing toy stores for improperly painted toys, the authorites were, call me crazy here, out trying to catch actual criminals.  But that’s not all.  We have yet another example of New York City slipping head first off the water slide of reality here too:

The Revolutionary War buff charges the Bloomberg administration with tyranny for trying to seize his handmade flintlock rifle – a dead ringer for the weapon once used against the redcoats.

“This is the last legal gun that you can have without registration in New York,” Littlejohn said. “And yet Mayor Bloomberg is driven crazy by my flintlock gun – the one that won the American Revolution.”

I’d like to buy this guy a beer for standing up to Bloomberg over this. The police say he can end all this if he just complies with the non-law.

A police source says the war could end peacefully if Littlejohn applied for a permit with the NYPD handgun license division.

Littlejohn would rather fight. The Brooklynite says he’s willing to sue for his rifle rights.

I hope he does, but thanks to Sonya Sotomayor, there is no Second Amendment for New York residents, and if she has her way on the Supreme Court, there never will be.  That might be of little consequence though, because he is within his legal rights.  No license is required in New York City for the possession of a long gun which does not fire fixed ammunition.  The law is clear on that.  If Bloomberg wants to press this, he’ll be acting under color of law, and I hope Mr. Littlejohn sues him.

Straw Purchasing in Australia

In short, it’s still happening, despite the draconian laws.  What’s the solution?

Further details of the loophole emerged yesterday when a magistrate called for gun owners to be fingerprinted or even DNA tested to guarantee their identity.

And when that doesn’t work, and criminals are still getting guns, they’ll ban them entirely.

Jersey Switcheroo Afoot?

According to Cemetery, Hudson County Democrats are saying Corzine ought to step down.  It’s the Jersey way.  If your candidate is losing, switch him out.  That’s how New Jersey Jurassic Parked the Toricelli Senate race and resurrected this dinosaur to once again roam the halls of Hart Senate Office Building.  Don’t be surprised if it happens again.

Free(r) Market Health Care is Slavery

Via a Jim Geraghty tweet this morning, I could not believe the WaPo actually printed a column that compares the mere debate of various health care proposals to the Missouri Compromise.

Max Baucus, then, isn’t negotiating universal coverage with the party of Everett Dirksen, in which many members supported Medicare. He’s negotiating it with the party of Barry Goldwater, who was dead set against Medicare. It’s a fool’s errand that is creating a plan that’s a marvel of ineffectuality and self-negation — a latter-day Missouri Compromise that reconciles opposites at the cost of good policy.

The simple fact that Max Baucus is even talking to Republicans deeply offends the author. He can’t fathom why they would bother with it since Democrats are in charge, and for any Democrat who dares questions all but the most liberal proposals, he calls out as “right-wing” Blue Dogs.

I have to question how the far left can be so worked up about health care that they consider a comparison to government-condoned slavery appropriate. The act of simply having a discussion with the minority party offends them deeply, and the notion that those damn hick Democrats from rural areas even question the progressive agenda makes their skin crawl.

We have a real shot at derailing health care proposals that would increase costs, ration services, and give bureaucrats complete control over your medical options. If you have a Blue Dog representing you in either the House or Senate, make sure you are either calling or emailing them. If you have a squishy Republican, do the same. Unions, the AARP, and MoveOn are all putting up serious money to try and push for a single-payer system, or the slippery slope step of a public option. If you’re on Twitter, and your local rep is as well, send them a tweet to let them know you don’t support it. If they are on Facebook, write a message on their wall to stay strong in opposition. Finally, write a letter to the editor. Every paper is covering the health care debate. Your letter is very likely to be published if it is reasonably well written and argued. (Keep it short & simple!)

The fact that the left is having to resort to tactics like using a major newspaper to argue that our current health care system is akin to slavery is a sign that we’re making progress. As it is, votes in the Senate have been delayed, and some reports indicate that even Pelosi has given up until after the August recess.

Sounds Good to Me

MikeB, our token gun control blogger who doesn’t seem to be a paid shill, talks about a challenge to the Senate to take down the metal detectors.  Personally, I would have no problem if with the Senate allowing firearms, but can they constitutionally prohibit them?  He asks:

What’s your opinion? Would you feel unsafe in a highly secure building which disallows weapons? Do you think the same folks who favor guns in national parks and on college campuses would agree to allow concealed carry in the Capitol Building?

Generally speaking, in situations where security is done properly, I don’t feel unsafe having to leave my pistol at the door, though it annoys me when I’m forced to leave it at home or in the car.  Last April, at the Second Amendment Rally in Harrisburg, there were a few guys who lamented being disarmed in the Capitol building.  I generally don’t worry too much about my security in a place crawling with Capitol Police officers, who have a lot more tools at their disposal to deal with situations than I carry anyway.

The constitutional standard for “government buildings,” where the government may prohibit carrying of firearms should be based on the “sensitive” language in Heller, combined with being able to create a reasonably secure facility. For instance, the government may prohibit arms in a court house, because government has a legitimate security concern, and the security afforded at such facilities is a reasonable substitute for personally provided security.

That’s considerably less true if you’re dealing with a washroom at a campground at a National Park, or a remote ranger facility in a National Forest.  It’s also less true at a post office, or some other non-secured government facility like your local Social Security office.  Would the Senate qualify as such a “sensitive” place?  I could see the argument.  It’s been attacked by kooks before.  Does it have controlled entrances with metal detectors?  Check.  Heavily police or security presence?  Check, the Capitol has its own police force.  So yeah, I think the government can constitutionally prohibit people from carrying in the U.S. Capitol building.  The real question is should they have to provide checking facilities?  They do at the Pennsylvania Capitol, as is required by law.  I think there’s a good case to make that they need to, if they are going to restrict the building.

But I don’t think it’s serious to suggest that the Senate banning firearms within the Capitol building is equivalent to the entire state of New Jersey declaring me entirely unworthy of exercising my right to personal defense by carrying the arms of my choice, or New York deciding that I can’t even bring a pistol with me to protect myself at my vacation home in the Adirondacks (if I had one).  The challenge might be smart political rhetoric, but there’s a much better case to be made for restricting arms carried in the U.S. Capitol than, say, the entire state of California.

Sotomayor Out of Committee

She was voted out 13-6, with Lindsey Graham providing the one and only Republican vote, which was needed for her to pass out of committee.  Committee rules require at least one vote from the minority party.

Elite and Popular Opinion on Self-Defense

Self-defense is one of those areas there’s often a fairly significant gap between elite opinion and popular opinion.  That’s no better illustrated than in the comments at the story I linked to previously here.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet the people there being hardest on DePaul are other people who have LTCs who don’t appreciate DePaul’s reckless behavior making the whole community look bad.

But it shows what happens when the authorities don’t take maintaining the peace seriously.  Anyone who frequents the Schuylkill River Trail knows that youths are a common problem.  Most of these problems don’t rise to the level of deadly force, but with cases like this, if the authorities do nothing, that’s often just a matter of time.  Additionally, if problems like this fester, it reduces popular respect for the law, and before too long, juries are going to start letting guys like DePaul walk.

I heard a local attorney tell a story of a guy in my county, who back during the crime wave in the 1980s, popped a guy from his house, who had broken into his shed.  By the Pennsylvania Consolidates Statutes, that’s pretty unambiguously murder, but during the 80s the Bucks County DA declined to bring charges, probably knowing that there wasn’t a jury to be found in the county that would have been in the mood to convict under those circumstances.  Once you can’t find a jury to convict someone for a specific crime, for all intents and purposes the act becomes legal.  If the government fails to maintain public order, populist opinion will typically yeild to the people doing it, often not in pretty ways.  While I am a strong advocate for self-defense, I don’t advocate vigalantism, but that often ends up happening when the state cannot perform its basic functions adequately.

Pin & Weld No Longer Viable?

Ry points out that ATF does not seem to have the pin & weld method in their April 2009 handbook, meaning hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of gun owners out there could have just become instant felons!  ATF has considered pinned and welded extensions to a barrel to be part of the barrel for purposes of determining length under the National Firearms Act.  This Bushmaster, for instance, would be a Short Barreled Rifle under this new rule, and would fall under NFA requirements.  Current owners would have to register them with ATF as SBRs, or face prosecution.

Typically, something like this is not as simple as ATF making a change to its handbook.  You have a few different federal laws that govern the changing of rules.  Namely the Federal Register Act of 1935 and the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946, along with a few others.  A quick search of the Federal Register doesn’t show any rule change about pinning and welding barrels, but the Code of Federal Regulations also contain nothing the stipulates flash hiders, brakes, or other items pinned and welded to the end of a barrel count toward barrel length.

This means that the pin and weld technique was an “agency determination” rather than a rule or regulation.  ATF is infamous for preferring to exercise it’s regulatory power this way rather than use rule making, which is a more controlled and predictable process.  Regulated persons or entities can challenge an agency determiniation, in which case the courts will review under the standard that the decision was “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law.”  There’s no set standard for what is arbitrary or capricious, but typically it would mean that ATF’s determiniation has no basis in law.  ATF does not have a good track record with its determiniations.  See Vollmer v. Higgins, which was an NFA case:

It is true that the National Firearms Act covers machineguns, as well as short-barrelled rifles and shotguns, even if they have been modified, so long as they can be “readily restored.” 26 U.S.C. Sec. 5845(b), (c), & (d).5 Neither the Act nor the Bureau’s regulations, however, define “readily restored.” See 26 U.S.C. Sec. 5845; 27 C.F.R. Sec. 179.11. We do know that, in the Bureau’s view, “firearms” subject to the Act may be excluded from coverage if they are “[a]lter[ed] by removing the feature or features that cause[d] the weapon to be classified as an NFA firearm.” FIREARMS ENFORCEMENT PROGRAM, ATF Order 3310.4B p 83(e)(2), at 43 (Feb. 8, 1989). Alterations of this sort include welding an extension onto a rifle or shotgun barrel; and welding closed a slot on certain handguns to prevent the attachment of a shoulder stock. Id. p 83(f)(2) & (4), at 43. The Bureau must believe that if welding removes a critical feature, the firearm cannot be “readily restored” and it therefore can be removed from the firearm classification. In the case of the modified HK receiver, the critical features were the lack of the attachment block and the presence of a hole. Vollmer’s welding the attachment block back onto the magazine and filling the hole it had drilled do not appear to be significantly different from the operations the Bureau describes as sufficient to remove a short-barrelled rifle or shotgun from the category of “firearm.” It would seem to follow that Vollmer’s operations thus removed the HK receiver from the category of machinegun.

So I think we would have room to challenge ATF’s determiniation in court.  For people who already own these firearms, the legal hazard was always there, because you’re possessing a firearm in a legal grey area in regards to barrel length.  Determinations don’t really mean crap if an ambitious AUSA wants to try to stick it to you.  But if I were to put money on it, ATF’s determiniation won’t hold up in court, especially if they try to argue that a millions of gun owners suddenly being made criminals isn’t really a problem, considering they are still allowing for extension by other methods that are really no better than pin and weld.

Do the anti-gun folks still want to come argue that the gun industry is unregulated, and guns are less regulated than teddy bears?

Educating Gun Owners

Every once in a while, gun owners actually get a bit social and talk to the other folks on the range. Rarely are they happy with the result of any conversations that turn to politics. Such was the result of several conversations in New Jersey, according to the experience of Cemetery. Unfortunately, Cemetery’s own ‘About Me’ page illustrates the difference between him and the Average Joe gun owner:

A few years later, I’m still here. Constantly learning about my guns, other guns, and doing my best to fend off information overload.

Most folks, not just gun owners, try to fend off information overload, but not because they are compensating for learning so much. Unfortunately, most have a maximum limit for how much they are even willing to learn about guns and the gun issue. It’s great to meet an activist who knows pretty much every anti & pro-gun bill in their state, along with the relevant federal issues. Alas, they are rare because most gun owners have no interest in learning that much. Sure, they’ll bitch after a bad bill becomes law, but they have little interest in becoming informed.

Anyone who has ever talked to me about my activist recruitment days knows that I had my share of days pulling my hair out with these folks. But when you start to feel that way, it’s important to remember that these folks are just being normal. We probably have more activists in the gun issue than most other political issues, and that’s something you have to keep in mind when you get frustrated. Activists are special because they aren’t normal. By default, it means they will be harder to find.  If you spend enough time trying to find and cultivate them, your standards run the risk of sinking to defining an activist as anything with a pulse who has a basic understanding of major political issues.  It can be pretty sad sometimes. :)

Another risk for activists who spend enough time talking to other gun owners is frustration that stems from two distinct types of “head-in-the-sand” gun owners.  The first is the type of gun owner who simply feels comfortable with his head buried.  There’s a comfort in just not knowing.  If they don’t know, they don’t have to worry.  The others are similar to the guy who left the comment Cemetery profiled:

If you can’t defend your yourself, your property, and your family with a double barrel 12, there’s something wrong with you. If someone breaks into my house, they’re getting a face full of 00 buckshot. In fact, I would prefer a shotgun to a sissy little 9mm. So, until they start coming after my rifles and shotguns, I really don’t give a crap.

This person belongs into another camp.  Instead of having their head in sand because it’s just more comfortable that way, I wouldn’t even classify them as gun owners.  They will not only turn in their own guns, they will tell the authorities about their buddies who own guns.  There really is no educating these guys because they don’t care about owning guns or any serious threats to the right.

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to pick the gun owners receptive to your messages out of a crowd.  It means that you will run into these two types regularly, and in a state like Jersey where there are few activists to balance it out, it can be overwhelming.  In New Jersey, the gun owning population has reached such a low level, and finding the signs of life in the grassroots can seem nearly impossible.  That’s why I believe that New Jersey gun owners have an obligation to try and rebuild some of the gun traditions.  Education and outreach needs to be an absolute priority.  The upside to having oppressive laws is that those you recruit now are likely to be appalled and might be better sources for future activists.

Really, the only solution is to keep trying, and figure out when to cut a contact loose.  If you find they are outright hostile, just walk away.  If they just like keeping their heads in the sand, only fish around long enough to figure out if there is an issue that might get them to at least look up.  If not, cut them loose.

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