2010 Uniform Crime Report Nullifies Brady Arguments

Barron Barnett over at the Minuteman blog takes a look at the FBI’s 2010 Uniform Crime Report numbers, and compares them to Brady Score. He finds no correlation or weak correlation when comparing to violent crime. I’ve done a number of such analysis over the years, and have also never found any significant correlation between murder, violent crime, and either Brady Score or gun ownership. In short, there’s just absolutely no evidence, when you don’t cherry pick data, that the Brady Agenda does a damned thing to reduce violent crime or murder.

Explaining to the Vegan How We’ll Butcher the Calf

Every once in a while our favorite Brady Board member starts getting onto serious topics that warrant clarification. She seems to think HR822, the National concealed carry Reciprocity bill, is part of a larger strategy. It is, but not the one she thinks. So much like explaining to the vegan, exactly how you plan to butcher the calf, I’ll explain what HR822 is really about. First, her theory:

It’s simple, or maybe not so simple. Things are not always as simple as the NRA and its minions would have us believe. What the gun guys really want is to quash the intent of May Issue states and open up the possibility of residents in those states suing for equal protection by saying “If they get to, why not us?” See the Indiana case mentioned in my previous post. This bill is part of a legal strategy to overturn all permitting processes in the states. The fact that some states have no permitting requirements at all provides them with an excuse to sue under the “equal protection” clause in the constitution – a favorite strategy of the NRA. That way, they get what they really want through the courts.

This is not part of a grand conspiracy to overturn all permitting processes. There is currently no gun rights organization that has a serious litigation strategy that is attempting to target permit requirements for carrying firearms at this point, and HR822 is not part of any such future strategy. The primary, overwhelming purpose of HR822 is to force the states to recognize each other’s permits, so that the right to bear arms and the right to travel are not impermissibly infringed by state laws. The conspiracy really goes no farther than that.

Her speculation on the bill’s true purpose also fundamentally misunderstands the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Equal Protection does not mean that states may not have differing laws. Even if the Supreme Court rules that it is permissible to require permits to carry a gun, provided they are issued to the law-abiding in a manner not arbitrary or capricious, that would not create a cause of action under the Equal Protection Clause if some states choose to require it and others do not. It’s an absurd assertion to suggest that because Vermont has chosen not to require licenses, that must be required of every state as a matter of equal protection. There are certainly ways that clause can be implicated in right to keep and bear arms cases, but not in the way she suggests. Whether permitting can be required, and what kind of requirements are permissible, is a scope issue in the Second Amendment, and not an equal protection issue under the 14th Amendment.

But I can speculate as to how HR822 would benefit our Court strategy. Despite what our favorite Brady Board member has been told by folks who clearly ignored the parts of Heller that they wished hadn’t been written, the opinion was pretty transparent in stating that there was a constitutional right to carry arms, in addition to keeping them in the home. It left open the possibility the state may regulate how arms my be borne, including prohibiting the carrying of arms concealed (citing several state cases that said the same), but it’s abundantly clear from the opinion the Court recognized that the Second Amendment protects a right to carry guns for self-defense in some manner, even if not all manners, or in sensitive places.

So given the Courts have recognized the right to carry, and the right to travel, it’s quite a proper exercise of Congress’ 14th Amendment, Section 5 powers to pass legislation to protect both those rights. It sends a clear signal to the federal courts, especially the lower federal courts who have refused to take the Supreme Court’s rulings on the Second Amendment seriously, that the elected branches of government are firmly with the high court on the matter of carrying arms deserving protection of some sort. Since getting the courts to explicitly overturn restrictions on carrying arms is one of our immediately litigative priorities, having Congress weigh in only strengthens that case.

So this is not a massive conspiracy to get rid of permits using HR822 as a springboard. We aren’t thinking that far ahead with the Court strategy right now. This is a pretty transparently obvious effort to get the Courts to reiterate there’s a right to carry arms, and that states are limited in how they may regulate that right, and certainly are prohibited from outright abolishing it, such is the case in Illinois. If it indeed is a right, it’s certainly infringing on the right to be able to exercise it freely in some states and not others. It also certainly has implications on the right to travel.

When we butcher someone else’s sacred calf, we do it slow and methodically, and not with careless or reckless abandon. It’s a pity Japete doesn’t know us better by now.

Is MAIG Just a Bunch of Mayors Overplaying Their Hand?

Matthew asks an interesting question to ponder in the comments to one of Sebastian’s threads that I thought was relevant enough to warrant its own post.

If there’s a benefit to having MAIG as the remaining real threat it’s that Bloomberg, I think, has a “wrong” view of how most states actually work due to his situation.

In NY and IL, NYC and Chicago respectively have mayors with real power who can, to a degree, dictate state law and policy. Maybe L.A. in CA is like that also?

Conversely you have a Denver and Vegas which have hollowed out little gun control fiefdoms in CO and NV but are under constant attack just to hold the line. I can’t even think of their mayor’s names, unlike the two above.

Madison couldn’t hold Wisconsin, Philly, gosh bless it, tries and tries in PA but is forced to retrain officers concerning open carry. As noted, most of the MAIG mayors who are “names” are known due to scandals and failures, not bold leadership.

I guess my point is, as long as Bloomberg sticks with the Mayoral focus he isn’t putting his money where it will do the most good (state and national lobbying) and it traps him, and those he gives money to, in “crazy pill” territory like arguing -for- state’s and cities’ rights, but only on some topics.

If this were the case, then I would argue that MAIG isn’t worth much time or effort. Unfortunately, you have to look at MAIG through the eyes of a power-hunger mayor about to lose his only hold on the most powerful city in the country. I mean the guy demanded they change the term limit laws just to stay in power, and even then he convinced the President to back him over the guy running on the Democratic ticket. (Hell, even with an amazing artistic coalition running a memorable and impressive campaign against his term limit abuse, the guy still won.)

Instead, what MAIG has done is what Paul Helmke could not do at the Brady Campaign, and what their next president will not be able to do – he built grassroots. Sort of.

Bloomberg realized that the anti-gun groups had never been able to build grassroots. Regardless of how much money Joyce has thrown at the various organizations, none of them have developed a real network that stands specifically for gun control and gets involved in the political process at even a fraction of the rates that gun owners do. (Even a Brady board member concedes that our people are simply more involved in politics, though she calls it “overwhelming” & “intimidat[ing]” politicians.) In my talks with many of the protesters in Pittsburgh, many were part of another coalition first and foremost, gun control was merely another thing they just showed up for that one time. Most were part of a faith community, some were part of the “peace” movement, and several others were actually there to protest the Pittsburgh Police Department hiring practices, which was a little odd. Only one of the people I talked to (and not all are on camera) actually cited gun control as the key issue that got them worked up or drove them to come out for the day. They might all want more gun control, but it isn’t an issue that alone drives them to action.

Bloomberg also realized that he couldn’t coordinate members of Congress in the same way, nor could he do so effectively with state lawmakers outside of a few anti-gun states. So what potentially influential group could he try to round up as the closest he could find to “grassroots” while still bringing enough power and money over them to keep control over the group & messaging? Mayors.

He actually doesn’t need powerful mayors in big cities beyond the press attention they can bring for no other reason than being involved in government in a media market hub. His real success is reaching out to suburban and small town mayors who don’t read his materials and assume the name MAIG means the group really only targets criminals with guns. Bloomberg offers to do all the work with the organization, the mayors just have to sign up. Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s political staffers (like the one who now heads up CeaseFire PA, but used to work in PA for Bloomberg) use the names of these mayors to buy advertising, send letters to Congress, and attempt to push for more gun control through the Executive Branch. The former mayor of Houston, a Democrat, lambasted Bloomberg for using his name without permission in the ads & letters when he left the coalition. Bloomberg knows that none of these mayors are going to track what he is doing with their name as part of his coalition, and he exploits that.

There’s also a perception that a mayor of a town is more likely to represent the people because they are more local. It’s as if each mayor is actually signing up for at least half of the people in his/her town. Yet, at the same time, because they are mayors and not just Joe Sixpack Citizen, their support may actually be far more powerful to another lawmaker at the state or possibly even federal level.

Not to mention, Bloomberg is essentially investing in these mayors who may decide to step up and run for higher offices. One of them did, and he targeted an A rated congressman on our side. Fortunately, he did it in 2010 and lost, but it was still a threat. Several others were running for state legislative offices around Pennsylvania, and ended up losing. Regardless, it’s still a threat for him to be investing in these mayors.

So while I see Matthew’s point on what a reasonable person would assume MAIG would do, Mayor Bloomberg is not reasonable. He’s not viewing these mayors as individual tools to sway a state legislature or a few members of Congress. He’s using them to build a powerful faux-grassroots knowing that they won’t pay enough attention to the issues to disagree with him. He isn’t stopping at issues where they need to take a states-rights point-of-view, and he knows there will be punishment if he is called out for overstepping his bounds. No one tells this guy “no,” not even the laws of term limits. That is why MAIG is still a real threat.

More District Court Opinion Failures

The Hightower case in Massachusetts, involving a former police officer who had her license to carry (also a license to possess in Massachusetts) revoked and her gun confiscated, has been lost in District Court in Massachusetts. The District court in this case argues that the Second Amendment is not implicated:

First, the Massachusetts licensing statutory scheme does not strike at the heart of the Second Amendment: while the difference between a restricted Class A license (which Hightower has not applied for) and an unrestricted Class A license (which Hightower has had revoked) may have some marginal impact on Hightower’s ability to use a gun to defend herself outside her home, it has no impact on her ability to defend hearth and home or to defend herself at home, which she can do adequately with a restricted Class A license or Class B license. Further, because the statutory scheme at issue here imposes only case-by-case restrictions, it creates a narrower restraint than the categorical prohibitions that, under certain circumstances, survive Second Amendment review.

You can read the whole opinion here. I’m not a lawyer, nor a serious scholar, but I find this opinion to be nearly incoherent. The Court essentially says the case is not ripe, because she could have re-applied for a permit. But that doesn’t address the deprivation of the right in the first place that occurred when the state seized the woman’s firearms. The district judge in this case seems to support the notion, without any analysis or justification, that it does not run afoul of the Constitution to have local authorities declare who is “suitable” and who is “unsuitable” for exercising their constitutional rights.

But the Court would find that the government has a legitimate interest in protecting public safety, especially in light of the prevalence of gun violence in Massachusetts and especially in Boston, would find further that this interest extends to an interest in removing, at least temporarily, guns from the hands of individuals initially deemed unsuitable for gun possession, and would find further still that these interests bear a meaningful relationship to the enforcement mechanism requiring local licensing authorities like the BPD Commissioner to determine whether an individual applicant appears unsuitable based on the content of her application materials, subject to judicial review.

If this is the standard, then there is no right. It’s a privilege can be granted or revoked at the whim of the state. It’s worth noting that the judge in this case was appointed by President Obama. If you want to know why we have to get this guy out in 2012, this it. This judge has essentially ruled that the Second Amendment, as applied to the states through the 14th Amendment is without substantive meaning.

NRA Age Suit Lost in District Court

NRA’s lawsuit to overturn the law barring 18-21 year olds from purchasing handguns has been lost in the a district court, I believe in the same district court that decided Emerson back a half decade ago:

“The Court is of the opinion that the ban does not run afoul of the Second Amendment to the Constitution,” the ruling states. “The right to bear arms is enjoyed only by those not disqualified from the exercise of the Second Amendment rights.

“It is within the purview of Congress, not the courts, to weigh the relative policy considerations and to make decisions as to the age of the customer to whom those licensed by the federal government may sell handguns and handgun ammunition.”

So Congress could say no one who has not yet attained the age of 90 is permitted to own a firearm, and that is completely within Congress’ purview? The Courts should have nothing to say about it? What other right do we treat that way?

It continues to amaze me how little regard lower courts have for Heller and McDonald. Maybe there’s sound legal reasoning involved here. I have not seen the opinion. But punting to Congress strikes me as awfully weak.

UPDATE: The opinion is here. To make a relatively short opinion even shorter, he essentially grabbed on to the following passage in Heller:

[N]othing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.

Emphasis added by the District Court. Judge Cummings essentially argued that this was “a condition and qualification on the commercial sale of arms,” and thus was placed outside of the purview of the Court, leaving in the purview of Congress. But surely the Court did not mean that any condition or qualifications on the commercial sale of arms was presumptively constitutional? What if the qualification was never having received so much as a parking ticket? What if the condition was that each state could only have only FFL that was open 9AM to 11AM on the first Sunday after the first Saturday of each month? Does Judge Cummings really believe the Court meant that was entirely within the purview of Congress? That’s an absurd conclusion that renders a right a privilege.

More on the New Professionalism

Just a follow up on Bitter’s post on how far the Brady Campaign’s messaging has fallen even since relatively recently when Helmke left. One thing I’ve noticed lately is that Colin Goddard doesn’t seem to be getting the media exposure he once got. Much of that could be because with summer recesses in a lot of state capitals, there just aren’t as many campus carry bills to attract attention from the media, but it’s also occurred to me that perhaps their PR people are falling down on the job in putting him out there. A quick Google search confirms his media exposure is dropping, at least as far as being held out as a face of the Brady Campaign. The latest story on Colin shows this:

Goddard is working part time the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, lobbying Congress for better gun laws.

I can’t seem to find the press release form when Colin Goddard was hired, but he was Assistant Director of Legislative Affairs, a position that does not sound like it was part time. This makes me wonder if the Brady Campaign had to partially cut Colin loose, which might explain why they aren’t pushing him so hard in the media. The headliner for Living for 32 notes:

And he grew a fire in his heart to do something about keeping dangerous people from having easy access to deadly weapons. He now works full-time at the Brady Campaign, lobbying on the Hill and speaking around the country to college audiences and others about how all Americans can help prevent gun violence. “Living for 32” is his story.

If they chopped Colin, even back to part time, they were either supreme fools, or their financial situation is more precarious than I would have imagined. It’s quite possible for either to be the case. Legislative lobbying would be done under the auspices of the Brady Campaign, and as we’ve noted previously, the Bradys seem to be shifting more of their operations to the Brady Center, which has greater funds. Legislative activity would not be among those functions that would be easily shifted.

But we have more evidence that the Brady Campaign is in total disarray. This makes me wonder if whoever ends up heading up the Campaign won’t have to be a good fundraiser just to be able to cover his own salary. As for Colin Goddard, he got himself into the DC scene after graduation, and has made a favorable impression on a number of Congressional offices. I would imagine a position as a Congressional staffer is not out of reach for him. If he has indeed been partially let go, or let go, we hope he manages to find something along those lines.

Brady is Looking for a New CEO – Again

The Brady Campaign appeared to have found a new leader when they removed the job listing from their website early last week. It turns out that they reposted it later that week.

Maybe I should submit Sebastian’s resume on his behalf. I’ll even help him meet one of their key objectives for the position: Build the movement to insure that all guns in our nation are childproofed by 2015.

We can lobby for Obama to use the stimulus money he loves so much to buy every gun owner a gun safe – with plenty of room for more guns than they currently own just so we make sure every gun can be stored if the owner chooses to do so. It would create jobs (delivery guys who have the skills to move safes, safe manufacturers, safe salesmen, government workers to process all of the receipts) and help create a movement for safe storage options.

The New Professionalism – Hiring High Schoolers?

It’s no secret that I’m mystified by the current efforts by the Brady Campaign to retweet various people in favor of gun control while ignoring their other bizarre or hateful recent tweets. Regardless, none of that holds a candle to what has come out of the Brady headquarters in the last few days.

Rick Perry Report
I complained about it on Twitter. I struggled to read it without beating my head against a desk. Finally, I had to take the red “pen” to it. If a Brady staffer were to tell me that they actually bothered editing this thing before they released it, I would say it’s time to fire everyone. There’s no excuse for something riddled with so many errors and inconsistencies coming out of any organization with paid staff, especially since a number of those staff are paid to do nothing but produce professional materials.

I do realize that even professionals make mistakes. Lord knows that I’ve made my share. Given that this blog is something we do casually, you’ll find plenty on here if you look closely. Regardless, if someone handed me this as even a rough draft in a professional setting, they would likely find a bunch of red marks on a paper with a note for them to start over before I even attempt to do anything with it.

The most common mistake is a lack of consistency in style. Inconsistent Oxford comma usage, improper titles, and formatting issues are abuses one can find on every page except the front cover and table of contents. Well, even the table of contents has formatting problems. In addition, there are random sentence fragments, redundant phrases, and grammatical errors. (Yes, the image of the report is impossible to read for a reason. First, fair use. Go visit the Brady website to read their train wreck of a report. Secondly, I won’t do the job they are paid to do for free and let them benefit.)

Can We Not Agree on the Basics?
There is one area where I feel we should be able to reach out to the Brady Campaign and agree. It’s about the fundamental meaning spelling of amendment.

Alas, no. We cannot even find common ground in spelling rules. Call me a radical if you must, but I will not simply agree to disagree on this important component of our Bill of Rights.

It’s Not Just the Typos
I think the most startling changes to the Brady Campaign public relations efforts since Peter Hamm left are just how childish they have become when it comes to issues they should be taking seriously.

You don’t exactly see us as the largest advocates of open carry for activism purposes, but even I find this tweet by the organization to fall somewhere below sticking our your tongue on the maturity scale. If they are offering legal support services to cities who want to enforce their gun laws, then it shouldn’t be sarcastic or condescending. In fact, I know some city officials have questioned the Brady’s sincerity in being willing to fund legal issues that may arise from passing local gun control laws. This kind of message reiterates that those pledges aren’t to be taken seriously.

I realize that I shouldn’t try to step in and help out our opponents. That’s not what I’m trying to do at all. I just can’t help but point out how bad it has truly gotten for them that they have been reduced making to more mistakes in a week than most of the top unpaid, unedited bloggers produce in a month. While I wish they would stop exposing me to these glaring errors that I find painful to read, I can’t complain about the fact that they are most likely driving away any middle-of-the-road or undecided folks who simply won’t continue to read such unprofessional work.