Chest Beating by the Brady Campaign

The Brady folks would love to have you believe they are winning the Second Amendment battle. To help spread this meme around, Mother Jones is clearly willing and able to lend a hand. My belief is this meme is aimed at potential donors. Brady doesn’t want donors to believe they are on the losing side of history, because who wants to fork over large sums of money to a group who’s cause is going nowhere?

But the Brady folks are making the mistake of believing that the number of battles you win or lose determines who wins the war. Anyone who knows anything about the history of this country knows that’s not the determining factor; it’s which battles you win or lose. Mother Jones notes:

The gun group’s vice president, Wayne LaPierre, said at the time that the Heller ruling would be “the opening salvo in a step-by-step process” to kill off most of the nation’s gun control laws.

Well, three years later, gun control is alive and well despite more than 400 legal challenges based on Helleraccording to a new report (PDF) by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Only a fool would believe that Heller meant we’d have gun control on the ropes in three years. They also make the mistake of surmising our movement’s next step, believing we’ve already taken many of them. That next step was eliminating the gun ban in Chicago, and we were successful at achieving that. Now the next step would seem to be getting recognition of some form of right-to-carry outside of the home — the “bear” part of “keep and bear arms”.

The Brady’s here are, to put this in another context, noting that General Washington is losing more battles than he’s winning. That might be literally true, but that’s not how wars are fought and won. That’s now how a litigative strategy is fought and won either. There will be many many cases that are lost, especially in lower level courts, but as long as we win the important ones, we’ll achieve robust legal protections for the Second Amendment.

Ironically, the best hope the Brady folks can hope for is a second term for Barack Obama, where we’ll all be biting our fingernails praying for the health of Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Kennedy and Scalia. If Obama gets to pick any of their replacements, there is a good chance the Second Amendment will be judicially erased from the constitution.

I Feel Safer Already

EPIC has discovered through FOIA requests:

On June 24, 2011, EPIC released documents obtained from DHS as a result of EPIC’s lawsuit.

The disclosed documents include agency emails, radiation studies, memoranda of agreement concerning radiation testing programs, and results of some radiation tests.

The documents raise new questions concerning the radiation risks posed by the TSA full body scanner program. The records demonstrate:

  • TSA employees have identified cancer clusters allegedly linked to radiation exposure while operating body scanners and other screening technology. However, the agency failed to issue employees dosimeters – safety devices that would warn of radiation exposure.
  • The DHS has publicly mischaracterized the findings of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, stating that NIST “affirmed the safety” of full body scanners. NIST stated that the Institute did not, in fact, test full body scanners for safety, and that the Institute does not do product testing.
  • A Johns Hopkins University study revealed that radiation zones around body scanners could exceed the “General Public Dose Limit.”
  • A NIST study warns airport screeners to avoid standing next to full body scanners.

I’m usually rather skeptical of public health fear mongering, but this is a case where no one asked people whether they wanted to take screening this far. TSA just did it, and screw you if you don’t agree. Now we know there’s really been no testing on back scatter devices, and that NIST warned workers no to stand next to them.

Now granted, they would be getting some dose throughout the day, whereas you’ll just get it once, but how much leaks? And what’s the dose for the person in it? How do we know the dose being delivered is within specifications?

I don’t think we do. I don’t think TSA does.

Speculation Melson Won’t Fall on His Sword

From Ed Morrissey at Hot Air:

I doubt that Melson would have had direct contact with Napolitano on this kind of clandestine effort, though.  That seems to be much less likely than Melson having something on Holder.  If (a very big “if”) Melson can show that Holder lied to Congress about what he knew and when he knew it — the old Watergate question — then Holder will have no choice but to resign or face impeachment.  In fact, it hardly seems worth the effort for Melson to hold out on a resignation just to get Breuer.

Read the whole thing. It’ll be important to implicate higher ups, because otherwise the position of the Administration is going to be that we need Andrew Traver more than ever. The Administration has to take some bruises over this, or I think we’re likely dealing with Traver at some point, probably as a recess appointment.

Castle Doctrine Signed by Corbett

It’s a done deal folks. The law will take effect 60 days from now. Kudos to everyone who worked hard on this. I’d like particularly to thank Rep. Scott Perry and State Senator Richard Alloway. We wouldn’t have gotten here if not for their efforts.

From left to right, Senator Alloway, Governor Corbett, Senator Rich Kasunic, and behind them is John Hohenwarter, NRA’s lobbyist for PA.

Castle Doctrine Signing GOP House

GOP House Castle Doctrine sponsors with Governor Corbett. Seated at the table on the right is Rep. Scott Perry, and Rep. Daryl Metcalfe to the left.

See these comments by the House and Senate sponsors.

UPDATE from Bitter: Everyone wants to celebrate Castle Doctrine! Here’s yet another picture posted by lawmakers proud to have been part of passing the Castle Doctrine bill. I’m not sure what group this is, as the only folks I recognize are Gov. Corbett, John Hohenwarter, and Rep. Stephen Bloom, a freshman Republican in the House.

Not-Quite-Gun Porn

I’ve had a surprising number of comments and emails about the shiny pretty gun jewelry and the cool vintage gun-related gear that I’ve found available for sale lately. So I thought I’d start a semi-regular feature of “Not-Quite-Gun Porn.” See, it’s not really guns, but it will be things mostly of interest to gun people. Vintage books, memorabilia, jewelry, and things that make me say, “what the hell?”

If you end up purchasing anything, leave a comment. It will be good to know what kinds of things inspire you.

Playing the Political Game

NSSF recently issued a report on their 2010 election activity with the recently founded NSSF PAC. It’s nothing too exciting – they gave to equal number of Democrats and Republicans in both the House and Senate. But, what I find relevant about the report is that this is a PAC that just started taking donations last April. While it only existed for the last 8 months of the two-year election fundraising cycle, NSSF donations topped what the Brady Campaign PAC raised in the entire cycle. NSSF was also able to contribute nearly as much as the Brady Campaign’s PAC.

Now, I know that the Brady folks have been winding down their PAC. It’s clear if you look at the history that they don’t make raising money for it a priority, and that’s understandable if they are shifting their strategy away from political fundraising. But, they’ve still been around for years and clearly still have some donors who consider it important and worth a donation. NSSF just started and is already putting up comparable numbers.

I find it funny since the line from anti-groups has always been that the gun industry is buying Congress. Heh. The NRA money is from gun owners. Now the gun industry is finally officially coming to the table. And we’re still winning.

The Weekly Standard to the Bathyscaph WaPo

It’s got to be difficult getting the message down so far in the tank, but Mark Hemingway of the Weekly Standard is trying:

And the NRA bears responsibility here how? There is no concievable law enforcement scenario where putting 2,500 guns into the hands of criminals would be justifiable. Ever. The ATF should take it’s lumps, and anyone who suggests that gun rights advocates are to be blamed here should have their head examined.

I’m going to agree with Mr. Hemingway’s assertion that we ought to get to the bottom of this before drawing conclusions. To anyone who isn’t the Washington Post editorial board, that’s really the most sensible thing.

NSSF Responds to McCarthy

They set the record straight here. I’m surprised they didn’t say anything about living in gated communities. Given what a cottage industry most firearms manufacturing is, the accusation by Chicago’s top cop was risible. Hell, I’d be surprised if the Cerberus Capitol people, who own Remington, a large manufacturer, and many other smaller ones, are still living high on the hog given all the money they lost with Chrysler.

What Does it Take to Win an NRA Board Seat?

I’ve been told by successfully elected NRA board candidates that the data & explanations I provide about how NRA elections work and what it takes to win are actually pretty useful. So, if you’d like to see a change made to the NRA Board of Directors, here’s a peek at what it takes to help your preferred candidate win.

For those of you who are a little confused by my terminology, it is based on how directors are elected.  There are 25 seats up every year on the mailed ballot.  There are typically around 30 or so nominees, but only the top 25 of them will receive a seat on the board.  (There were 37 nominees this year, a higher number than usual.)  By “top winner,” I mean the person who earned the most votes.  By “last winner,” I mean the person who had the least number of votes, but still enough to win one of the 25 seats available.

This year, the top vote-getter was on 91% of the valid ballots.  Considering that exactly 3 years prior, the number was similarly high, it’s not hard to guess that this year’s top winner was once again Tom Selleck.  The final person to actually win a board seat was on almost 56% of the valid ballots. In raw numbers, that means that in order to serve on the board, candidates had to earn at least 53,029 votes this year. (This is actually the second lowest number of votes needed to win since I’ve been keeping track, typically the number is closer to 60,000 votes.)

The difference between the last winner and the “first loser” (for lack of a better term) was just 866 votes this year. Here are the candidates who did not win a seat and the number of votes between them and the next person in line.

“Losing” Candidates Vote Tally Difference from
Previous Candidate
Timothy W. Pawol 52,163 866
Harold W. Schroeder 51,566 597
David G. Coy 50,611 955
Carl B. Kovalchik 50,244 367
Steven C. Schreiner 49,952 292
James L. Wallace 45,157 4,795
Eddie Newman 45,154 3
Joel Friedman* 43,906 1,248
Dennis DeMille 37,970 5,936
Marion Townsend 36,744 1,226
Anthony J, Chimblo III 36,722 22

*Elected as 76th Director to serve a term of one year. The election process for this seat happens at Annual Meeting & is open to all NRA members.

You can see where encouraging any friends and family members who can vote to support your favorite candidates can easily pay off in boosting numbers. You don’t have to convince all 4 million members of NRA to support your guy or gal in order to make a difference in the election.

Probably Not Constitutional

Mayor Helen Thomas of Darby is a MAIG mayor, so we should not be surprised to find out she doesn’t have much respect for other civil liberties either. Apparently she’s imposing a state of emergency:

An 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew is in effect for adults and juveniles for at least 10 days.

Anyone outside during that time can be stopped and questioned by police, though Police Chief Bob Smythe says they’re more concerned about groups loitering or causing trouble.

I’m somewhat familiar with Pennsylvania’s emergency powers statutes, and I do not believe that anyone in Pennsylvania has the authority to declare a state of emergency except the Governor. Even then, the statute does not give the Governor the power to suspend constitutional rights.

Thomas is also going to have difficulty with the Supreme Court case of Papachristou v. Jacksonville. It seems quite unlikely to me that a curfew imposed on adults, by a mayor likely acting outside of her legal powers, in response to ordinary crime, rather than riot or disaster, would pass constitutional muster.

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