Follow up on Iowa Debate

Lobbying a legislature is a difficult task, and something I don’t think a lot of people have an appreciation for. Knowing a few people who do it, across several issues, it’s skill I’ve come to have a lot of respect for. I have no doubt lobbyists often over or underestimate how much they can get. Reading a legislature can be difficult, and plotting a winning strategy through one even harder. There’s plenty of trip-ups and pit falls that can happen along the way. That is why I am generally very reluctant to be an armchair lobbyist and second guess their judgements. In regards to Iowa, here are some questions I would ask that are relevant to the current bill. These are not questions I know the answer to, but knowing them is critical for assessing whether the right balance is being struck:

  • How many anti-gun or pro-gun-control politicians in Iowa voted to bring the Vermont Carry bill to the floor so that they could vote to kill it and put a lot of their political opponents in an awkward spot?
  • Every legislature has a handful of politicians who are mostly with us, but don’t feel they could vote for something that goes really far. How many of those are in the Iowa legislature?
  • What other things in the bill could really be improved? You want to propose repealing the 0.08 CWI provision? You think any politician wants to have to hear from his opponent in the next election how he voted for guns for drunks?
  • What is Governor Culver expecting to be in the bill for him to sign it? Culver has said he’ll sign it. But will he? How certain are you that he’ll sign? Will he find something in the bill that he’ll use an an excuse to veto?
  • If he does veto, how many votes do you lose on the override vote? Which politicians are going to switch sides to avoid going against the Governor? Do you still have enough for an override?
  • How many of the “yes” votes on both bill would have been “no” votes if you had, say, removed the training requirement? Does that get you to fall below half? Do you lose the Governor? Do you lose the Governor and lose the override?

Because I don’t know the answer to these questions, I’m going to tend to give NRA and Iowa Carry the benefit of doubt. Both groups have lobbyists on the ground who are in a much much better position to know what’s going on in Des Moines than any of us. Some of these questions even they might not know the answer to, but they will have a better idea than we do. Could we have gotten a better bill in Iowa? Maybe we could have. But what we got is pretty good, and you don’t really exercise finite control over this process even if you’re a great lobbyist with powerful friends in the legislature. You go into something like this having an idea of what you want, what you think you can get, and what you can live with. No matter what the issue, that’s just how this process works.

Settling Some Issues from Iowa

I have another article over at Opposing Views answering this accusation about NRA misbehavior in Iowa. I say contrived controversy, because to me it shouldn’t be a controversy. It would seem to me the accusation of NRA threatening a pro-gun state rep is overwrought, but what would folks expect if a politician votes with the anti-gunners on their right-to-carry bill? To me it doesn’t much matter if he was holding out for Vermont carry (which has no chance of passing.) You vote with the anti-gunners, you get graded with the anti-gunners. Pretty simple if you ask me.

International Gun Deaths

Dave Kopel takes a look at the statistics being used to promote the UN small arms agenda and finds it severely lacking:

Currently, the United Nations is drafting an Arms Trade Treaty to impose strict controls on firearms and other weapons. In support of hasty adoption of the Treaty, a UN-related organization of Treaty supporters is has produced a report claiming that armed violence is responsible for 740,000 deaths annually. This Article carefully examines the claim. We find that the claim is based on dubious assumptions, cherry-picking data, and mathematical legerdemain which is inexplicably being withheld from the public. The refusal to disclose the mathematical calculations used to create the 740,000 factoid is itself cause for serious suspicion; our own calculations indicate that the 740,000 figure is far too high.

You can find the whole article here. It shouldn’t be any surprise that the gun control community is taking their national deceptions and distortions international. This will be the next big front in the battle for the right to keep and bear arms.

Democratic Disconnect

When you’re a Democratic gubernatorial candidate running in the state with off-and-on the highest number of NRA members, it’s generally a bad idea to endorse gun control. It’s doubly bad to be fighting fights on guns that even the Brady Campaign won’t embrace any more. But Joe Hoeffel is just that kind of man.

We already know that Hoeffel created a wish list of gun control he wanted to bring to Pennsylvania if elected – one gun a month, ending state preemption, rifle bans, mandatory locks, and lost-and-stolen – but his latest attack actually represents an assault on the original Heller decision. This puts him to the left of the Brady Campaign because even they won’t embrace outright handgun bans anymore. But Joe Hoeffel will!

How out-of-touch do you have to be as a politician when the one serious constituency organization you have for gun control even considers your position to be too far? If, God save us, somehow Hoeffel won the Democratic nomination and won the general election, how would he justify supporting such a radical agenda? “Not a single gun control organization asked me to introduce this gun ban, but damnit, I know better than all of them! And the Supreme Court, they can go to hell!” It’s something we’ll never see, but I’d love to try and understand his logic on the issue.

I might add that Hoeffel’s former running mate who signed a joint statement with him on gun control is running for State Senate against a B rated incumbent. If she remains on the ballot through the primary, I might just check in with her to see if she still agrees with Joe Hoeffel on gun control – and whether she plans to try and draw Pennsylvania into a fight that would re-argue Heller.

Iowa RTC Bill Passes Both Houses

Passed the Senate 44-4 over the weekend. Today it passed the Iowa House 80-15. Because of an amendment in the House, it had to go back to the Senate for a final vote, which it appears passed 38-4 just a few moments ago. You can see the Iowa legislature’s home page here. This means it’s on to Governor Culver for his signature. This is a good bill, with universal reciprocity of out of state licenses, and is really nothing but an improvement over Iowa’s current law. It also prevents sheriffs from asking for information about your firearms and requesting serial numbers from guns as a condition of getting a permit.

You can find contact information for Governor Culver’s office here, and I would suggest folks contact him. As I mentioned before, GOA’s state group, Iowa Gun Owners are doing everything they can to kill this bill, in the naive belief that they can pass Vermont carry through the Iowa legislature. If they don’t hear from gun owners who support this bill, it’s going to be very difficult for Culver to sign this. Iowa has been long overdue for this reform, and it’s time to get it done.

Feds Raid Radical Christian Group

Apparently I missed the part where Jesus said “Do onto others as you would like done unto you, except for, you know, if you want to blow them up with IEDs.”

The indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court today claims that the Hutaree planned to kill an unidentified member of local law enforcement and then attack the law enforcement officers who gather in Michigan for the funeral. According to the plan, the Hutaree would attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with improvised explosive devices rigged with projectiles, which constitute weapons of mass destruction, according to the announcement by U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade.

Good work on the part of the FBI and US Attorneys. The last thing we need is groups like this running around blowing up cops at a time when a the political situation is a bit on edge, and the media is only too happy to smear the views of ordinary peaceable Americans with this extremist nonsense.

UPDATE: There seems to be some question about being charged with WMD violations. It’s not uncommon in law to define something that has a common and generally accepted definition as something different for the purpose of a specific statute. WMD is defined in the United States Code’s anti-terrorism laws as including destructive devices. It does not change that definition for ordinary criminal possession of an unregistered destructive device, but only for a destructive device someone “uses, threatens, or attempts or conspires to use” against any person or property within the United States, and having some nexus to interstate or foreign commerce.

The reason the US Attorney will use the anti-terrorism laws is because you have up to the possibility of a life sentence (death sentence if you actually kill someone) under these laws, as opposed to having an unregistered DD, which will only get you ten years. Given the circumstances, I think the US Attorney is correct in using the anti-terrorism statutes.

The Gun Designed by Politicians

Tam is having issues with her Ruger Mk.III 22/45. I shoot the Hunter version of the same pistol when I do metallic silhouette, which is a few times a month. The loaded chamber indicator and magazine safety are problems in this design, if you ask me. I haven’t had Tam’s specific problem, but I’ve had other weird malfs that resolve themselves when you remove and re-seat the mag. The magazine safety is just a bad bad idea, for a lot of reasons, and the loaded chamber indicator (also a bad idea) makes the chamber very difficult to clean. The LCI will get gunked up over time, which always makes me nervous, because the smooth operation of the spring on the Mk.III LCI is critical to prevent a strike on the LCI flag from setting off the round (such as if you drop the gun).

I chose to solve the problem of fussy internals by getting a Volquartsen trigger kit. It doesn’t get rid of the two bad features, but it’s much much better than the factory Ruger trigger, and I’ve yet to have any serious problems with stoppages and the like. It helps make the Mk.III into a pretty nice shooter. They also have a kit for the Mk.II as well. I would highly recommend.

I understand that Ruger wants the Mk.III line to be legal in as many states as possible, but my suggestion for Ruger would be to either go back to the original Mk.II design, or at the least make the LCI and mag safety easy to take out. In computer user interface design, it’s a given that you never want to cripple your advanced users for the sake of novices. That philosophy can be applied to pistols too, I think. You can’t really beat the price point of the Mk.III and Mk.II for what you get, and with the addition of the Volquartsen kit, can be just fine for competition use. It’s a shame that anti-gun politicians have turned this flagship brand in American shooting down such a wrong path.

Southwest’s PR Nightmare

So anyone who has ever flown Southwest with a particularly gregarious flight attendant knows that the airline is pretty fast and loose with what they allow their staff to say on the PA system – usually in a very good way with humor and spirit injected into the announcements. As someone with a friend who had family working for Southwest, I know some of the amusing antics that are supposed to entertain, but are also used to convey relevant information to the flight. (Example: “This is a non-smoking flight and you may not tamper with the smoke detectors. However, if you must smoke, you may step out onto the wing and become our feature film, Gone with the Wind.)

Little did we know that the Southwest definition of amusing antics included electioneering for animal rights groups trying to shut down hunting and farming.

HumaneWatch has a story of a flight to Ohio on Thursday where a flight attendant welcomed the passengers to the ground by promoting HSUS’s website in favor of a ballot initiative there. As the swarm of condemnation started, Southwest released a statement saying they don’t condone the actions of the flight attendant. Great. But I want to know what policy Southwest had on the books that made the flight attendant believe that electioneering via the PA system was acceptable practice.

It seems to me that Southwest could maintain a fairly open policy about being friendly on the intercom while still saying somethings are off limits. Flight attendants have a captive audience where customers cannot immediately get up and leave if the crew are the ones misbehaving. It shouldn’t be a stretch for airline to tell their staff that they leave their politics at home when flying.

It’s a good thing for Southwest that the Supreme Court opened up the campaign finance laws for corporations recently, otherwise I would be inquiring as to the fair market value of such political ads on a captive audience forced to listen to the crew by federal law. I’d hate to think that Southwest wouldn’t report such a donation.