Quote of the Day

The Brady Campaign reacts in a predictable fashion:

“The Chicago case is unlikely to have much practical impact on most gun laws regardless of how the Court rules.   Even if the Court were to hold the Second Amendment applicable to states and localities, such a ruling is unlikely to change the crucial holding by the Supreme Court in Heller that a wide range of reasonable gun laws are presumptively constitutional, and that the Second Amendment right is narrowly limited to guns in the home for self-defense. Since the Heller decision, the gun lobby and criminals have brought at least 170 challenges to gun laws or to block criminal gun prosecutions. With only a handful of exceptions, those challenges have failed.”

You keep right on reading Heller the way you want to. If all you manage to get is that the government can keep guns out of the hands of criminals, I’m OK with that. The other amusing thing, and you can bet Helmke knows this, it doesn’t matter if desperate defense attorneys with criminal clients and Hail Mary Second Amendment claims fail 100% of the time. All that matters is that we win the right cases. This case the Supreme Court has agreed to take is one of those cases.

The stakes are high. The Brady Campaign is pretending the stakes are low. No reasonable observer can really believe that. By downplaying the significance, it gives you a pretty good idea of what they think their chances are. They are already acting like they lost.

A Stinker of A Study

The Joyce foundation has funded a study showing that you’re stupid if you carry a gun.  You can see the PDF here, but just giving it a cursory look, it has flaws. Let me outline. From the “Methods” section:

Gunshot assault cases caused by powder charge firearms were identified as they oc- curred, from October 15, 2003, to April 16, 2006. The final 6 months of this period were limited to only fatal cases. We excluded self- inflicted, unintentional, and police-related shootings (an officer shooting someone or being shot), and gun injuries of undetermined intent.

Why limit to only fatal cases in the final six months? It’s legitimate to exclude accidental and self-inflicted wounds. But why is it legitimate to exclude police from this? Police carry firearms for self-defense, the same as ordinary citizens. If your premise is that carrying a firearm makes you more likely to be assaulted, it’s not legitimate to exclude police use.

We excluded individuals younger than 21 years because it was not legal for them to possess a firearm in Philadelphia and, as such, the relationship we sought to investigate was functionally different enough to prompt separate study of this age group. We excluded individuals who were not residents of Phila- delphia as they were outside our target pop- ulation and individuals not described as Black or White as they were a very small percentage of shootings (<2%).

It’s legitimate to exclude people under 21 who carry guns, but why is it assumed that anyone over the age of 21 was a legal gun owner? It’s illegal to carry a firearm on the streets of Philadelphia without a License to Carry firearms. Why did the study not exclude people who were carrying firearms illegally? Could it be because you needed people involved in dangerous illegal activity to get the results you wanted? Why exclude people who are not residents of Philadelphia? They are more likely to carry a legal firearm. Why the racial exclusion?

This study is comparing apples and oranges, which is interesting, but not really that useful, and can’t be used to come to the conclusion that an ordinary, law abiding person, who is not involved in the illegal drug trade or involved in gangs, is taking a risk by carrying a gun to defend himself.

We’re Going Back to the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the incorporation case:

The Court had three cases from which to choose on the Second Amendment issue — two cases involving a Chicago gun ban, and one case on a New York ban on a martial-arts weapon.  It chose one of the Chicago cases — McDonald v. Chicago (08-1521) — a case brought to it by Alan Gura, the Alexandria, VA. lawyer who won the 2008 decision for the first time recognizing a constitutional right to have a gun for personal use, at least in self-defense in the home (District of Columbia v. Heller).

Congratulations to Alan Gura, who will be going back before the Court. Let’s hope this works out, but I suspect it will. I think the Supreme Court wouldn’t have taken the case if they didn’t have five votes.

A lot of what we’re seeing from the gun control crowd now, with Bloomberg heading up MAIG, is honestly panic. No New York Mayor has been as big of a pit bull in going after the Second Amendment, but no New York Mayor has ever been faced with the prospect of his own citizens being able to sue to get their civil rights back.

MAIG might be attacking in Pennsylvania, on our home territory, but that’s because Bloomberg knows we will likely soon be attacking the New York City gun control regime, and overturning it. The last time Pennsylvania was invaded, it didn’t work out too well to help preserve the institution that was being fought over. Let’s hope Bloomberg’s luck is about as good as Jeff Davis’.

We’re Having an Effect

This article by my favorite Inky columnist, Monica Yant Kinney, is what you’d expect from her, but also shows we’re having an effect:

NRA members all over Ellport received the same postcard and dutifully followed instructions to harass Cisco. The harshest threats were anonymous; those who left a name got a call back offering a personal visit from the mayor to “tell my side of the story.”

NRA spokeswoman Alexa Fritts would not say how many postcards went out, but she insisted the “education campaign” was not meant to intimidate.

Still, Fritts said that survival-minded mayors did have cause for concern: “They know it’s not smart to be on the wrong side of the gun issue.”

That’s good. They are hearing from us. If they don’t leave, we must be vigilant, and teach them a lesson on election day. This is an interesting claim though:

A funny thing happened amid all the fearmongering: Fourteen Pennsylvania mayors left the group, but 25 joined in spite of the pressure.

Really? We’ve been keeping careful watch on MAIG’s numbers here in Pennsylvania, and if 25 new mayors have joined, it’s news to us. MAIG certainly hasn’t posted 25 new members in Pennsylvania on their site. Does Ms. Kinney have a source for this? Perhaps we should ask her.

Congratulations Bob Mensch!

With 80% of districts reporting, NRA endorsed candidate Bob Mensch has won the 24th Senatorial seat in a landslide victory. We have kept that seat in pro-gun hands. Bob’s district spans both Bitter and my EVC districts, plus a little bit of PA-15. so we couldn’t be more thrilled by this result.

UPDATE: Final tally 66% to 30%, with 3.5% going to the Libertarian. That’s a 36 point landslide!

So You Want To Talk Background Checks Eh?

MikeB thinks the MAIG mayors are eminently reasonable, and basically only want to do something as modest as ban private party transfers of firearms. Let’s set aside for a moment the fact that the bill MAIG is getting behind goes much farther than necessary to accomplish the stated goal, and actually have a discussion about background checks. If the gun control groups want to expand the use of background checks, and they are serious about it, they ought to be willing to listen to our concerns about the current system. So let’s have a discussion, minus all the usual bullshit. Anti-gun people welcome.

The current system has some deficiencies that we’d like to see addressed. Let’s look at some of the problems with the current NICS system:

  • It’s trivially easy to use the background check system to do backdoor registration, which is precisely what’s happened in Pennsylvania, even though we were told it would not. Clinton was illegally keeping NICS records for years, even though we were assured that would not happen. The other side has a poor record of keeping their word, so why should we trust them? Let’s put an argument about registration aside for now, and just say we’re not going to accept more. We already have compromised on this, in the form of dealer record retention requirements (4473).
  • If the system goes down, we revert to the Brady waiting period, and we have no guarantees of uptime from the government on the system. Outages on the NICS system are not that uncommon, and interfere with many lawful transfers each year.
  • The current system is restricted to use by federally licensed dealers. If you require us to do all transactions through federally licensed dealers, they will reasonably want to be paid for their time. Dealers in states with no restrictions on private transfers typically handle few enough to charge a modest amount for the service as a courtesy. Pennsylvania dealers, where handgun transfers must go through an FFL or Sheriff, charge anywhere from 30-50 dollars per gun.

Gun owners have difficulty trusting government promises, and for good reasons. Promises made by the government that they won’t do this or that almost are never lived up to. Even when you try to force the issue, as we did with PICS and NICS records, they weasel around it, and the courts back them up. Incidents like Katrina, and governmental and anti-gun dismissal of the seriousness of it, only serve to strengthen that distrust. You can’t just dismiss this stuff as paranoia, and act like we can move on. Trust has been destroyed. Your side is responsible for it. It’s not now incumbent on us to take you at your word.

So what of our concerns are anti-gun folks willing to address about the current system? Here’s what I would demand, at a minimum, before I’ll even have a discussion about expansion:

  • Creation of a national system that preempts the state systems currently in place. It’s easier to have one entity to watch than dozens.
  • All source code for the system is to be made public, down through the user interface, up through its interface with NCIC, and the various state and mental health systems.
  • All transactions are to be immediately anonymized. The system may keep anonymized transaction tokens so that dealer and personal records can be validated, but those records make it impossible to identify the parties in the transaction without running through the standard trace process. In short, the token uses a hash to store information about the check. Given a gun’s serial number, authorities can determine whether and when a background check happened for a given gun, and what the result was, but nothing else.
  • There will be independent auditors to ensure that the system is running on the software the government is publishing source code for. They will be required to publish a full report, along with methodology used in the audit. There has to be penalties for agencies for not complying with the requirements.
  • Everyone has access to the background check system, not just dealers. ATF is required to create a user friendly kiosk which can be placed at any gun show, police station or gun store, paid for fully by the federal government, and with no fee to use, which will allow a seller to run a check on a buyer, the system would pass or fail the transaction, and print out a receipt to be kept (but not required to be kept) by the seller and retained in his records.
  • Agency must account for any system downtime, and meet uptime requirements or face penalty. Prolonged outages, or ones due to downstream problems with NCIC, etc, just allow transactions to go through.
  • Civil penalty for failing to run the check at most. Law abiding people aren’t going to risk even minor lawbreaking, and the criminals aren’t going to be deterred by the law anyway.

I say that’s the minimum, because I can promise you the gun control folks will never agree to this. They won’t even have a discussion from this as a starting point. Why? Because this issue is not about background checks, or about keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. It’s about restrictions for restrictions sake. It’s about getting as close to universal gun registration as they can possibly get. It’s about making gun ownership riskier and more costly. My proposal only offers a way to run background checks on prospective buyers, and nothing else. That’s not acceptable to the other side, because that’s not really what they want. So we don’t come to a middle ground on the background check issue, because there’s no middle ground to be had.

We don’t agree to put this issue to the political process, because there’s no guarantee once the political process starts, the bill that comes out the other end looks like anything remotely acceptable. There are people out there, powerful people, both in and out of Congress, who hate the idea of private citizens having guns and will do everything they can to prevent or frustrate it. There’s no denying that without willfully inserting your head into the sand. There is no reasonable way to work out a sensible compromise through the political system. We didn’t get here by having reasonable discussions or by trying to or together to come up with a solution. We got here through struggle, with both sides advancing and retreating at different times, and in different areas. That’s how the political process works, and it can work no other way.

The question for MikeB is whether he’s willing to understand the political process for what it is, and understand that both sides on this issue are actors in what can be accurately compared to an elaborate kabuki. Both sides in this issue behave rationally, when each’s goals are taken into consideration. MikeB’s illusion is that’s not the case. He is dancing in the kabuki, but does not see it for what it is. Or perhaps he does, and is simply feigning ignorance. But in this drama, where the never ending public debate on the topic defines compromises both sides have to live with, it should not surprise anyone that each side takes care to shape the public debate more in its favor through deception and/or hyperbole. But no one can delude themselves about either side’s goal, and remain intellectually honest. I invite MikeB or any other anti-gunner to have a no-BS discussion about this topic. Let’s stop the kabuki for a second and talk for real. Can you?

Misleading Media Reports

The media is issuing reports that would seem to indicate that Bulls Eye Shooter Supply is losing its FFL.  Bulls Eye was the shop where John Allen Mohammad shoplifted his rifle from before going on a sniping rampage with it on the DC Beltway.

According to Dave Workman, that’s not the truth, or at least not the whole truth. The FFL of the previous owner of Bulls Eye Shooter Supply has been revoked, and upheld. The business was sold to a new owner, who has cleaned up its act, and has an FFL issued to him.  The new owners still have a valid FFL and are in business.

More evidence the media needs to spend more time trying to understand how the federal licensing system works, so they don’t inadvertently punish or smear someone who’s not even remotely culpable in the original malfeasance.

Local Special Election Today

For those readers who live in Pennsylvania’s 24th Senatorial District, NRA has endorsed Bob Mensch in today’s special election to replace the seat vacated by Senator Rob Wonderling, who resigned to head up the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. Be sure to get out to vote. Bitter is up there now helping his campaign with the get out the vote effort. Hopefully we’ll keep that an A-rated seat moving forward. Bucks Right has some interesting information on his opponent. She’s a lifelong hunter, you know?