A Comparison

Let me expand a bit on a previous post, for those who want to believe Harry Reid is the Devil Incarnate, and suggest they will tear up their NRA membership cards if NRA endorses him, let me compare, side to side, so we understand what we’re dealing with here:

Date Key Vote Reid
1993 NICS Amendment to Brady Act N*
1993 Final Brady Act Y Y* Y
1994 Assault Weapons Ban N Y* N
1996 Repeal of Assault Weapons Ban N*
1998 Gun Luck Requirement Amendment Y N Y
1999 Gun Show Sale Regulation Amendment Y Y N
2004 Assault Weaposn Ban Renewal N Y N
2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act Y N Y
2006 Prohibition on Firearms Confiscation (Katrina Act) Y N Y
2008 Prohibition on Funds to Discourage Gun Ownership Y N Y
2009 National Park Carry Y N Y
2009 National Reciprocity Y N Y
* Durbin was a Member of the House for this vote.

I’ve included both their NRA and GOA grades here, and their votes on key issues up to and including now.  You will notice that Harry Reid’s voting record isn’t all that remarkably different from Kay Bailey Hutchinson, is rated high by both NRA and GOA. Absent is the vote on Sotomayor, where Reid voted yes, along with every single other Democrat, and Hutchinson voted no, along with most of the Republicans.  Also of note is that Hutchinson signed the Heller brief, whereas Reid did not.

But Reid has also been willing to allow NRA to bring pro-gun amendments to the Senate floor for a vote. While it’s true that the Senate Majority Leader does not have the power of the Speaker of the House, they still control enough of the Senate’s business for a hostile majority leader to create real trouble for us.  You will notice that Dick Durbin has never met a gun control bill he wouldn’t vote for, nor a pro-gun bill he wouldn’t vote against.  I suspect his only “pro-gun” vote, against the child lock provision, is because it did not go as far as he wanted.

While I count myself among those who hope that the Democrats see their lead in the Senate cut down in 2010, for the sake of the Second Amendment, I’m hoping that Harry Reid keeps his position as Majority Leader. I don’t think that turning over the Senate to the GOP is within the realm of possibility in 2010, and probably not 2012 either. That’s a long time to go without progress, and a long time for someone like Dick Durbin to find an opportunity to bring a gun control bill or amendment to the floor. That’s not a risk I’d like to take.

Abraham to Go After LTC Applicants Who Lie

Looks like the District Attorney of Philadelphia is going to go after LTC holders who lie on their application.  It would appear she has legal authority to do this, since the License to Carry Application for Pennsylvania makes it clear you’re making a statement to authorities, and can be prosecuted for falsehoods.  I do have to wonder though, how many hardened criminals Abraham thinks are applying for LTCs, and whether this is just a distraction from going after actual hardened criminals, in an attempt to make it appear that gun licensees are a problem in Philadelphia.

UPDATE: I’m hearing Abraham is also looking to abolish reciprocity with Florida.  I will try to find some verification of this, and an article.

UPDATE: On a Fox Local News story on last night’s 10:00 news, Abraham reportedly suggested she would go after a “loophole” in PA law that allowed people to get Florida permits online, and carry guns in Pennsylvania.

Review: Fenix LD10

On the advice of Brillianter, I thought I’d give another flashlight a try.  I had been known to carry around a Surefire 6P.  The 6P was certainly bright enough, but too bulky to be carried anywhere other than on the belt.  Not too long ago the bulb on my 6P blew out, and I wasn’t all that motivated to get another one (especially considering the bulb costs almost as much as a new flashlight).  Here are some problems I had with the 6P:

  • Too big to be carried in a pocket.
  • Takes lithium batteries that are expensive, and tougher to find.
  • Prone to switching on, which if it happens in a case will melt plastic or nylon, and possibly burn you.  For mine, by the time I thought to myself “What’s the burning smell?,” there was already a large hole burnt in the top of the nylon.
  • Battery life is measured in minutes, but the unit can’t be operated for more than ten minutes anyway before the bulb gets too hot.

So when I saw Brillianter’s post on flashlights, I thought I’d order one and give the Fenix LD10 a try.  It’s a very nice light.  It puts out a lot of light for a single AA battery, as much as the 6P really, and has a much higher run time off that battery than a 6P gets off its battery.  Let’s go over the pros:

  • Small enough to fit in a pocket.  In fact, it can be carried comfortably in a pocket riding along side a pocket holster, without interfering with the draw of a pistol or the light.
  • Light output is very good.
  • The LED light allows for a strobing “dazzle” feature.
  • Takes a single AA battery
  • Run time is considerably longer than Xenon lamp bulbs

The Cons:

  • Still prone to switching itself on, but the LED puts out little heat, and doesn’t drain the battery as quickly.  You can prevent the unit from switching on by loosening the cap, but then you need two hands to make it operate.
  • The output adjustment by twisting the bezel is a little awkward.
  • Nylon belt holster it comes with is so tight, and makes drawing so hard, as to be useless.  But pocket carry is a better option with this light anyway.
  • Could really use a pocket clip to help facilitate pocket carry.

I’m happy to have tried this, since I find having a flashlight on me to be quite handy, and while I never really missed keeping a 6P on my belt, I did miss the convenience of having a flashlight that I could easily carry around.  Like my Leatherman, it comes in handy quite often.

Expect More of Praise of Harry Reid

Harry Reid is is likely going to face a pretty tough race in Nevada this coming 2010 election, so I expect NRA will sing his praises from now until then [UPDATE 7/22/10: Link removed to Las Vegas Ratview-Journal because of their unfair and despicable practices].  Why?  Because if you look at the seats up in 2010, it’s exceedingly unlikely the Republicans are going to take back the Senate, which means the Demos will still control it.  If Reid is ousted, we’ll be stuck with Dick Durbin as the Senate Majority Leader.  Reid has been willing to bring pro-gun measures up before the Senate, and has been instrumental at keeping the lid on any gun control ambitions from the White House.  I don’t think anyone needs any convincing that Dick Durbin will not be so favorable to our plight, and will likely use his office to be an obstacle.

NRA is going to want to keep Reid in the Senate, so he can continue to serve as Majority Leader.  As much as I would like to see Reid cut down, just as a rebuke of the Democratic leadership, I have to admit it would be bad news for gun rights moving forward.

Appeal to the Supreme Court on PLCAA

The case is Adames, et al v. Beretta USA Corp, and they are asking that the Supreme Court review the constitutionality of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which immunizes manufactures, distributors, and dealers from certain types of lawsuits in federal and state court.  As SCOTUSBlog points out:

The narrower issue in the Illinois case is whether the specific lawsuit by the dead boy’s parents fits within an exception in the 2005 law that permits some cases to go ahead.  The broader issue is whether Congress has intruded too deeply into the way states craft their own laws, barring those that test issues arising under state common law, allowing at least some that test a state statute.  The petition quotes at length from congressional floor debates, with lawmakers blasting juries and judges for fashioning “novel” ways to attack the gun industry while showing respect for laws that emerge from state legislatures.

The tragedy that led to the Adames lawsuit in Illinois occurred eight years ago, when 13-year-old Billy Swan aimed and fired a Beretta pistol at a friend who had come over to play, Joshua Adames, who also was 13. The gun belonged to Billy’s dad, a Cook County sheriff’s deputy. Billy had taken out the gun’s clip before aiming it, believing that would make it harmless. A bullet that had remained in the gun’s chamber killed Joshua.

Under standard product liability law, manufacturers are liable for defects in design.  Typically this requires a manufacture to make a product more safe if they can possibly do so, without impacting its function.  The problem is, the function of a gun is to send a chunk of metal flying at very high speed out the barrel if you pull the trigger.  In this case, a gun was pointed at someone, and the trigger was pulled.  That the user did not know how to unload a firearm properly is not the fault of the manufacturer.

No doubt the plaintiff will claim a simple change in the design to include a magazine disconnect safety would have made the firearm safer without impacting the function.  But this is not really the case, especially for a police officer, as there are situations where you want the round in the pipe to go off even if the magazine is out.  Magazine disconnects are also dangerous in and of themselves, for reasons we’ve covered on here.

But the question of whether PLCAA preempts such lawsuits is an interesting one.  If you look at the language of the act, it gives this exception to the lawsuit immunity:

(v) an action for death, physical injuries or property damage resulting directly from a defect in design or manufacture of the product, when used as intended or in a reasonably foreseeable manner, except that where the discharge of the product was caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense, then such act shall be considered the sole proximate cause of any resulting death, personal injuries or property damage

I would say if this was just a standard argument of defect in design, this exception would apply.  But it’s the last part on “caused by a volitional act that constituted a criminal offense.” that probably makes the Adames unable to claim this exemption, because pointing a gun at someone and pulling the trigger is a criminal act, even if unintentional.  In fact, the Illinois Supreme Court recognized this, and restored the summary judgement of a lower court in favor of the defendant (Beretta).

The petition for cert is essentially asking to the Court to find the PLCAA unconstitutional under the 10th Amendment, which I think is a bit of a hail mary argument, considering preempting state tort actions that affect the interstate market in a product is pretty clearly within Congress’ commerce cause powers.  But they go further to argue along these grounds:

Congress’ clearly expressed preference for legislative determinations of grounds for liability over judicial applications of the common law in the PLCAA dictate to the States how its law must be made, at least when liability is to be assessed against the firearms industry. 15 U.S.C. § 7903(5)(A)(iii) (creating an exception to the immediate-dismissal dictate so long as the lawsuit is authorized by certain legislative actions); see also 15 U.S.C. § 7903(2)(a)(7) (finding stating that liability actions against gun manufacturers and dealers could only be imposed “by a maverick judicial officer or petit jury [and] would expand civil liability in a manner never contemplated by the framers of the Constitution, by Congress, or by the legislatures of the several States”) (emphasis added); Id. at § 7901(a)(8) (finding stating that plaintiffs in the actions intended to be preempted were “us[ing] the judicial branch to circumvent the Legislative branch”).

They are basically arguing that Congress only intended to usurp state judicial authority rather than legislative authority citing this exception as evidence:

(iii) an action in which a manufacturer or seller of a qualified product knowingly violated a State or Federal statute applicable to the sale or marketing of the product

But this section also includes two examples that give some idea of what Congress meant, and I don’t think it’s favorable to the plaintiff in this case.  I think Congress did intend to preempt state laws that would hold gun manufacturers accountable for third party criminal acts.  What Congress did not intend to do is preempt state law regarding the sale and marketing of firearms.  I think the Illinois Supreme Court got it right.  I expect the Supreme Court will decline to hear this case.

Arizona Tourism Officials Need Not Fear

Apparently tourism officials in Phoenix are worried about a drop in tourism and convention business because of the image of Arizona being a bunch of gun nuts.  I think your average American is a lot less hysterical about the topic than Art Frommer, and other New Yorkers, so I would suggest any concern is overblown.

The Horrors!

The Roanoke Times is crapping themselves over the fact that it’s easy to get a license to carry in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

And I have my permit. Even though I have never laid a finger on a pistol in my life.

To me, that’s final proof that Virginia’s concealed carry law is insanely weak, utterly ridiculous and absolutely reckless.

It makes about as much sense as the General Assembly giving blind people permits to drive.

In Pennsylvania, it’s even easier than in Virginia.  But hey, even though we have about three times the number of licensees as Virginia, it’s not causing mass hysteria and blood running in the streets.  I suppose it probably comes as a shock to the Roanoke Times that people who aren’t into shooting typically don’t tend to get concealed carry licenses.   And lets not forget about Vermont and Alaska, which require no license to carry at all.  Real dangerous states, those two.  People shooting each other by mistake all over the place right?

Craft Distilling

That’s apparently what they are calling Moonshining these days, and apparently Tennessee is about to make it legal.  Of course, that’s not going to get the feds off your back.  Under federal law, you can make small amounts (up to 200 gallons) per year of wine or beer for your own use, or to give away to others (you can’t sell it).  But there’s no amount of distilling that’s lawful for home use.  To do that, you need a license from the ATF and you need to pay the excise taxes on what you make.

My understanding is that if you want to commercially brew, make wine, or distill, ATF is actually very helpful at getting people set up and in compliance with the federal law.  Reading through a lot of forums on the subject several years ago I found myself thinking “This is not the ATF I knew.”

Speaking of brewing, it’s been quite some time since I’ve contributed toward my 200 gallon limit.  Pretty soon I will need to bring that down to 195 left for the year.  I’m thinking a scottish ale.

Movement to Abolish PA Legislature

I’m sympathetic to this guy’s plight, but I’m not sure it will really fix much in the long run.  The guy essentially argues that we ought to abolish the Pennsylvania Legislature, and replace it with a unicameral legislature, with fewer members who have fewer perks.

The problem of our legislature costing so much is a real one, but I’d prefer solving it by going to a part-time legislature, like Virginia has, and cutting some of the perks.  I doubt folks in Nebraska would agree a unicameral legislature is going to fix anything, and I would worry that a smaller legislature, where each state representative represents more people, will pay even less attention to constituents than the current one does.  By making them part time, it should cost less money, and reduce the amount of time they have to screw things up.

Odd News on Blue Trail Range

We’ve followed the saga of the Blue Trail Shooting Range up in Connecticut for a while now.  It seems there’s a new twist in this sorry story that’s very strange.  It would seem our villain this story, Pat DiNatale, who argued that the reservoir adjacent to the Blue Trail range was contaminated with lead, is taking about $450,000 of said “contaminated” soil from a dredging project on the reservoir to use as topsoil for a grazing field for his cows.  See stories here and here.  I guess if he’s willing to use it for grazing purposes, he can’t think it’s very contaminated then can he?  The soil apparently tests out fine.

There’s always been something very shady with this whole thing.