Hamblen Says He’ll Appeal

According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor:

Hamblen says he’s not surprised that he lost at the appeals court. But he says he is surprised that he’s received no help from gun-rights advocates. “They are treating me like I’m a skunk at the picnic,” he said.

As for his case, he plans to fight on. He says his lawyer is preparing a final appeal, a petition to the US Supreme Court. “Why stop now? I’ve already done the hard part. I’ve already done my time,” Hamblen says. “All they can do is say no.”

My prediction is that the Court will refuse to take the case, leaving the Sixth Circuit decision on his conviction in place. Hamblen will remain a convicted felon. He shouldn’t be surprised being treated like a skunk in a picnic, because that’s generally what I would call someone who puts everyone else’s legal rights at risk because he’s right dammit.

I’m not outraged because I believe it’s correct to exclude fully automatic firearms from the Second Amendment, but because I think it’s wrong. If someday public and judicial opinion on the topic changes, we’ll need circuit courts where that issue is undecided in order to move a case forward. Wayne Fincher has already sealed up the Eighth Circuit with a bad ruling, and now the Sixth Circuit is closed off as well thanks to Mr. Hamblen. Others may venerate these men as heros, but I don’t believe they are. We all know what the law is, and if you’re going to force your case in front of federal judges, you owe it to everyone else who’s passionate about the issue to prepare a careful, thorough, and well put together case. Dick Heller is a hero. Otis McDonald is a hero. These men did it correctly. Skunks at a picnic? I can’t think of any analogy more apt.

33 thoughts on “Hamblen Says He’ll Appeal”

  1. Sebastian, you need to explain how people can not exercise their rights correctly.

    It is true that Hamblen may be a lost cause, but how does that translate that he should not be able to exercise his rights?

    First they came for the machine guns, but I didn’t own one so I said nothing.

    Then they came for the ……….

  2. It cannot get worse for us machinegun people. We already can’t have machineguns.

  3. How is Heller a hero? THe worst that could happen to him is (still) not being able to own a pistol. Fincher? Fincher risked prison, and eventually went to prison. Hamblen? Hamblen spent time in prison

  4. “It cannot get worse for us machinegun people. We already can’t have machineguns.”

    Eh, what? I don’t know about you machinegun people, but us machinegun people in the US of A can and do have machineguns, and if the stars align just the wrong way, that can change. And not for the better.

    We’re hanging on by our fingernails, and Hamblen has an X-acto knife. Shut us down by eliminating the last remnant of lawful machinegun ownership in this country and that will be it. Once these rights get extinguished they usually don’t come back. When concrete reality becomes just a memory becomes dead history, how can you come back from that?

    There’s a right way and a wrong way to improve our situation and this ain’t the right way.

  5. I must concur with the commenters. Fincher and Hamblen had the guts to sacrifice their personal freedom for their rights – for MY rights. For OUR rights. I’ve never done something so noble for the rights of others, or for the solemn text of our Supreme law. These men are giants in the forefront of a revolution for liberty. Heller and MacDonald are, too. I am but a dwarf hoping to bask in the shawdow of their accomplishments. I should have at least sent money for their defense, and ultimately for my rights.
    I pray for the success of their appeal.

  6. “Eh, what? I don’t know about you machinegun people, but us machinegun people in the US of A can and do have machineguns, and if the stars align just the wrong way, that can change. And not for the better.”

    Correction: At best, if you distributed all pre-1986, legal machineguns at 1 per person, 200,000 Americans can at best own machineguns. That’s less than 0.1%. That’s forgetting the stamp/CLEO sign-off requirement.

  7. “Fincher and Hamblen had the guts to sacrifice their personal freedom for their rights – for MY rights.”

    Guts without brains does not win many wars.

  8. How is Heller a hero? THe worst that could happen to him is (still) not being able to own a pistol. Fincher? Fincher risked prison, and eventually went to prison. Hamblen? Hamblen spent time in prison

    That’s because Heller was smart, and was coordinated by a brilliant attorney. The other two were idiots, and acted like idiots. Look, if you light yourself on fire for the cause, I might admire your dedication, but that doesn’t mean lighting yourself on fire is heroic or accomplishing much. And what Fincher and Hamblen did isn’t too far off from lighting yourself on fire.

  9. Fincher and Hamblen had the guts to sacrifice their personal freedom for their rights – for MY rights.

    It’s admirable dedication, I’ll give you that, Arnie. But he’s not doing anything for your rights except hurting them.

  10. Aren’t you being a little hard on this guy? Here’s what he said about it.

    “I wasn’t really consciously setting out to challenge the law and authority, but I figured I’d be on good constitutional footing,” he said in an interview. “It seemed like a good idea at the time – would I do it again? No.”

    Of course I think anyone who wants to own machine guns for the reasons he stated is a bit odd, but ever since I saw that video “I like guns” which I posted the other day, I’ve thought twice about it. Accumulating these weapons because the feds might come someday, I can’t see. But owning them because you like them, period, I can see.

  11. No Mike, he was well aware what he was doing was unlawful. He freely admitted his guilt to the government when they investigated. He freely filed suit against the United States appealing his conviction on a ridiculous legal theory that anyone could have told him would fail in court.

    Why would he do this? Because he’s right dammit. Unfortunately, our justice system doesn’t give a shit how in the right you think you are. It doesn’t care about your pet constitutional theories. Hell, I think aspects of the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional, but I’m not about to start growing pot in my living room because I think all I have to do is get my case before a federal judge, and he’ll see for sure how utterly right I am. My personal constitutional theories don’t mean squat unless I can convince a series of judges, and if I’m going to go that route, I’m going to consult experts first, and follow their advice.

    The cost of being wrong is other people lose their rights. We’re lucky in the case of Hamblen, because the damage is limited to machine guns, which are probably lost anyway. But there’s a real chance of the courts saying something that will complicate bringing other cases forward. Something that our opponents will latch on to in order to attempt to make a case against ours in a future battle that doesn’t involve machine guns. We lucked out here, as I said, but I’m not about to let Hamblen off the hook because he played Russian Roulette with everyone else’s Second Amendment rights and heard a ‘click’

  12. To machine gun people, machine guns are merely just guns. And in all truth, that’s true. I for one think that them being more dangerous than other guns is debatable and subject to context.

    That said … non-machine gun people think they are evil incarnate … that you can just press a trigger and kill roomfuls of people. That is the mindset … it’s pretty stupid and naive … but “people” in general are scared to death of machine guns. Let alone federal judges ….

    It seems that machine gun people aren’t willing to recognize that such a bias exists … and therefore are willing to push bad cases strictly on principle. That’s naive. Machine gun enthusiasts will seal their own fate, I am afraid, and none of us will be better off.

    And that’s too bad, because IMO, machine guns are wholly protected by the second amendment. They sure as heck are in common use …

  13. Sebastian is right. NY has suffered for years because people like Hamblen filed all sorts of ill-conceived lawsuits which bombed and in doing so created a body of legal precedent.

  14. >I thought you could get a machine gun in Israel without too much >difficulty?

    1. Mwahhahahaha. No.

    2. Consider this from a US perspective. A US citizen cannot own a machinegun if they are not very wealthy.

  15. I confess I have not read up on the cases presented by Hamblen and Fincher and am therefore ignorant of the “ridiculous legal theory” they attempted to advance. However, I do know what the 2nd Amendment actually says and means, and it is no theory, it is Supreme Law!

    The amendment guarantees (not confers – our Creator, or, if you prefer, Nature, confers) our right to keep and bear militia arms to be used at the behest of our States to secure Their (and our) freedom from tyranny and usurpation by the central government. There are countless quotations from our Founding Fathers quoted in the NRA’s “Second Amendment Primer” to irrefragably prove this, as well as the plain text of the amendment itself. That settled, how can anyone with even half a brain, especially a judge, make the ridiculous claim that the machine gun, an obviously essential weapon for a militia arsenal, is not absolutely covered by the 2nd Amendment? It is not “stupid” to make that irrefutable case – I contend it is stupid, or treasonous, to deny it. I just don’t have the guts or volition to sacrifice my personal freedom to take a legal stand on it. At least not yet. The present tyranny is still a “sufferable evil”, to quote Jefferson. But in time, who knows what new abuses and usurpations will be perpetrated upon us by an unconstitutional government (ATF, Czars, unelected bureaucrats, etc.)?
    Perhaps then I shall be able to “stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, and screw up my courage” to do what Hamblen, Heller, MacDonald and Fincher have done. Or perhaps even more.

    When our founders were denied their rights by courts back in England which had no legal jurisdiction over them (read Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence), they got together, took up their own militia arms, and at great personal sacrifice threw off the tyranny of their central government, and won OUR freedom. Will our posterity be able to say the same thing of us? Of ME?
    To my own shame I admit: I don’t know!

    Hamblen, Fincher, Heller and MacDonald don’t have my shame! Whatever the wisdom of their respective approaches, they at least took their stand, MY stand. And I’ve sat back waiting to see what will happen to them, wondering if I would be willing to sacrifice my comfortable life for the liberty of future generations (instead of saddling them with slavery as well as an unconscionable financial debt!). You spoke of the cowardice and hypocrisy of the elites, Sebastian. Probably true. But what of my cowardice? And my hypocrisy! I know I have come on pretty strongly with my comments on your site regarding defense of liberty. But I have DONE nothing! I have prepared my arsenal but organized no militia. I have preached freedom to the local public but organized no movements. I have contacted my representatives and voted, but changed not a single policy in Washington. For all my bravado on your website, I am in realiity a spectator. I’ve made no difference in how free your children will be when I am gone. That is why I regard Hamblen and Fincher with envy. At least they have tried to DO something of substance. Compared to them, I am pathetic.

    And lest I forget, YOU have done a great service with this website. I know it costs you time, money, and probably a few friendships, but it is a very powerful tool for freedom and preparation for the struggles to come. I am grateful for it!

    Thank you!

  16. “The cost of being wrong is other people lose their rights.”

    I wonder how long Sebastian believes we should be complicit and complacent subservients so that just the right series of cases ‘bring our rights back.’ How long does it take just to see one criminal or civil case through to SCOTUS? How about even through just a Circuit? How much is actually gained through any single case (i.e. what did Heller really do for us /on its own/?)

    Good on anyone willing to raise a constitutional argument at ANY time, because unconstitutional law is no law at all. Any person who does not succeed but puts forth a good showing creates a result of increased tyranny. What is SUPPOSED to happen after a long train of usurpations and abuses, and these transgressions against our right to keep and bear arms are are certainly tangible and countable, is that the People are to rise up and abolish/reform government as they see fit.

    I’m frankly glad when the alternate to success is causing someone like Sebastian to ‘lose some rights’, hoping that with enough fire to his feet, he might not wait for some magical chain of events over the course of 100 years to correct all our ills, and instead be one of many who approach tyranny as it ought to be approached.

  17. O. Rly:

    Unless you can convince a series of federal judges, you can say a law is unconstitutional until you’re blue in the face, and it won’t mean a damned bit of difference. If you choose to violate that law because you believe it is no law, go right ahead. We all have to make that choice ourselves.

    But you’re not any great hero, or sticking it to the man, because you break the law, and try to get your case in front of judges with the predictable result of being convicted and sentenced to prison.

    I’m not convinced there is any machine gun case that can be brought for a long time that’s going to restore machine gun rights as part of the Second Amendment. We have to convince more Americans, and create a legal basis for them that’s convincing to federal judges. Then we might be able to bring a case and win.

    If we can’t do that, machine gun rights are lost forever, but to be honest, if Americans really considered them to be covered by the Second Amendment, we never would have lost them in the first place. American’s don’t, so we did. Those of us who believe in it are a very small minority.

  18. Arnie:

    I can appreciate what you are saying, but civil rights work takes a long time and has to be very deliberate and carefully calculated. We are at the very beginning in the fight to preserve the Second Amendment. At the moment, machine guns just can’t be part of that. They are too controversial, and there’s little acceptance of that from the federal judiciary. In a few decades, when all the law students who will now learn the Second Amendment is an individual right, start practicing law and filling up the federal judiciary, that could end up changing. A future generation might be willing to accept that MG’s shouldn’t be excluded from the right. Twenty years ago, it was virtually universally accepted among law scholars and judges that the Second Amendment was a meaningless collective right of the states. In 20 years, that’s been changed, and culminated with Heller and now McDonald.

    That’s not retreating from defending our rights, it’s just being strategic and deliberate about it. We don’t want to have to fight a second American Revolution, especially when we can change things through the system our founders gave us. But it’s a slow process, and requires a great deal of patience. It took twenty years of ground work just to get Heller. It took nearly as long for the Civil Rights Movement to start having real successes in the 1950s and 1960s. This is work that happens over decades, unfortunately.

  19. 1.Hero status is not based, I’d think, on what you accomplish – but on what you sacrificed. Hamblin gave up his rights and spent almost two years in prison to fight for freedom.

    2.Politics is a give and take process. You want Hamblin and people like him to care for preserving your gun rights. But they’re not interested in caring for them – becaue they already have no gun rights. Hamblin can’t own any guns! No guns! Whatever! And yet you’re telling him to go STFU and sit in a corner, because you’re not going to help him (yes, your argument that he’s beyond help is valid, I’m just talking about the psychological/market aspect of this). If it’s obvious you’re not going to care for his rights, why should he care for yours? It’s a reverse of ‘I’ve got mine’, I’d think.

  20. 1. Hero?. What about him? Hell, if you just go by what you sacrifice, Neville Chamberlain is a great hero for sacrificing Czechoslovakia, though I doubt the Czechs feel that way.

    2. Hamblen willfully surrendered his rights when he admitted his guilt to federal authorities. They weren’t taken away from him unjustly, but through due process. And even so, I still care about Hamblen’s rights. I would like to restore rights for non-violent, but I’m not going to accomplish anything by going and getting myself convicted of some non-violent crime to try to accomplish that. I have far less of a problem with people who just end up finding themselves in trouble. I have a much bigger problem with folks who find themselves in trouble, and then ignore the advice of experts and end up moving forward and selfishly creating bad law.

  21. 1. You know precisely what I meant.

    2. It seems to me we’re not seeing eye to eye on what ‘justice’ is.

    And see, I’m trying to explain something pragmatic. If you want to have people like Hamblen cooperate with your plan, you need to give them something. What can you give Hamblen [or a potential future Hamblen] other than stating ‘I care’? Nothing. Therefore there’s no need to be surprised he’s not willing to help you in turn.

  22. I think an important aspect of heroism is sacrificing for something larger than yourself. In most tales of heroism that’s really the key factor.

    And no, there’s nothing I can give someone who wants to own machine guns but won’t go through the expensive process of owning them right now, because we’re not getting machine gun rights back anytime soon. The problem I have with Hamblen is he willfully broke the law, and is willing to play Russian Roulette with everyone else’s rights in order to get them back. That’s not heroic, that’s selfish. I’m not saying that with the expectation of getting Hamblen on my side, I’m saying that because I’m calling a spade and spade.

  23. I think it’s important to understand my motivations and essential point. It’s not that I want Hamblen on my side, but that I don’t think people who care about gun rights ought to venerate and deify these types of folks. They aren’t heros. They aren’t brave. They are selfish fools.

  24. Thank you for the encouragement, Sebastian. I must say, you are quite the optimist, but then again you gave good historical examples for why you should be.

    My trepidations come from a general perception that our society doesn’t care what the Constitution actually says, but only what 5 unelected, unaccountable, flawed human beings WANT it to say. And let’s face it, those 5 will always be members of the “elite,” who, since 1900, traditionally have not trusted non-military common folk with weapons of war. A pistol for self-defense, sure; but a machine gun for defense of freedom against govn’t tyranny – not so fast. Yet, that is exactly the purpose of the 2A. It will be hard to persuade elite judges to let the people arm themselves for the purpose of potentially overthrowing those very same judges should they stray from their oaths.

    But you may be right. I am enjoying some limited success in convincing one or two work-mates of the true meaning of the 2A, to where at least one of them may make it a key determinant in their voting selection.

    Oh, but I have so many others who only care about non-constitutional “rights” like jobs, health care, and hand-outs to the unproductive. Liberty is not a hot-button issue with them as long as the govn’t promises to take care of them. I have my work cut out for me!
    But O.Rly, although somewhat brutishly, brings up a good historical example of his own, namely the brutal obstinance of a ruling elite and its reluctance to give up power it should not have, culminating in “a long train of abuses and usurpations,” and leading to armed revolution.

    My pessimism toward working within “the system our Founding Fathers gave us” is that that system was the very Constitution by which our present government no longer abides, including judges! Remember McCain-Feingold, the AWB, the Kansas City forced local school tax increase by judicial fiat (a 9-0 decision!), even Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid: why have not the courts properly declared these acts/rulings violations of the constitutional limits placed on federal power? And now universal health care with utterly tyrannical provisions to unconstitutionally force me to purchase a personal commercial product against my will, while giving Nebraska unique exemptions paid for by everyone else – and almost nobody in Washington is even mentioning the Constitution, “the system our Founding Fathers gave us.”

    It is so hard to be confident that recent court decisions are not just a temporary anomaly, but rather truly reflect a revolutionary change in the court’s erstwhile penchant for federal aggrandizement of unconstitutional power. This is espcially troubling when the next vacancy on the court may very well be filled by a comrade of the current president. I can see the judiciary heading back the other direction.

    As I said earlier, I have my work cut out for me.

    Thank you for the forum.

  25. Sebastion said “taken away by due process” & in another context caller Heller a hero. Heller was found by Gura. I don’t recall Heller having a prior history of civil rights activism. As for Hamblen losing his weapons by due process, I suppose when men were returned to slave states that was okay because it was “due process”?
    Inalienable Rights are not to be subject to popularity polls. If the majority of the electorate chose to nullify the First Amendment I would still have my Gods given right to worship as I wished. I would just no longer have the constitutional protection our Founding Fathers passed on to us. If you want to know the value of constitutional protection take a look at what is happening in Ireland. They now have an anti-blashemy law in affect. http://blasphemy.ie/2010/01/01/atheist-ireland-publishes-25-blasphemous-quotes/

  26. You’re speaking of constitutional theory, or more accurately Natural Rights theory. I’m speaking of practical interaction with the legal system, and how to secure rights using that system. They are two distinct things. I don’t fundamentally disagree with the philosophy on natural rights. These kinds of abstract theories can and do inform us about how to construct a just government. But you still end up with a government, made of laws, but administered and elected by fallable human beings. Preserving rights within that system isn’t as straightforward as theory. You have to consider the practical side of things.

  27. It is possible to both believe that the 2A should protect the right to own a machine gun and to believe that Hamblen is going about it wrong.

    Civil rights battles need to be VERY carefully fought, or the entrenched status quo ends up being strengthened. And that means, sadly, a long and drawn-out battle in the courts, legislatures, and in the arena of public opinion; and baby steps to accomplish our goals.

    Lay a foundation, then build on it – this guy is putting in a penthouse while we’re still building the ground floor (Heller was the foundation)

  28. Here’s a bit of realpolitik:

    Men like Hamblin exist and will continue to exist. Either you recruit them, train them, and incorporate them into your effort in some way, or they will go off and do their own thing. The nature of these men is such that they won’t quit, for better or worse. The way to ensure they won’t do something destructive is not to dismiss them or mock them, it is to incorporate them.

  29. I don’t know that you *can* recruit, train, and integrate the Hamblins of the world. Because the recruitment of them would necessarily involve, essentially, benching them for the time being. He’s throwing hail-mary passes while the current strategy is one of gaining ground by inches (if you don’t mind a football metaphor). Hamblin is on a crusade – how willing is going to be to be recruited by an organization that will, essentially, tell him to wait his turn.

    And, yes, I know Heller (nee Parker) was considered a long-shot when it was launched; and their team got some active opposition from the more staid members of the pro-gun movement. But they had a team, a plan, and weren’t starting with the negatives of having broken the law first; and were going for the small stuff first.

  30. I think Ian is essentially correct. There’s no real way to recruit the Hamblens of the world. I’m not speaking out against Hamblen for the hell of it, but because feeling like “a skunk at a picnic” is really the only thing that’s going to make the next guy think twice. You can always count on parts of the community to venerate those who set out on righteous fools errands. If everyone spoke out against their foolishness, and called it for what it is, the appeal of what they are doing would be less. I’m going to speak against it. If I’m a lone voice, so be it, but my hope is that others will join.

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