2011 In Review

In our house, 2011 has not been the best of years. In May, over lunch with the CEO, I was told that the Board had decided to dissolve my employer of ten years, and that I would be retained to help wind down the company until the end of June. Everyone else was gone within a week. Many of my co-workers, who over the course of ten years also became friends, are still out of work in a pharma industry which is in utter turmoil. I spent four months unemployed until deciding to accept a job for considerably less pay and in a more junior role.

As for the blog, it’s been an eventful year. We ditched the name Snowflakes in Hell, and adopted a new title and theme. Along with that came accepting advertising. I am pleased to report that the advertising is paying for the Internet connection and related server costs. So what were the most highly trafficked stories this year?

Other than ones that tripped over a lucky keyword, Racist Motivations vs. Racist Outcomes was one of the most popular posts this year, which I’m happy about, because I spent time on that post. It’s most frustrating when “Look! Something shiny!,” fetches tons of traffic and something you spent time on doesn’t. But sometimes it works out. There were a few other stand outs traffic wise. People were concerned when Obama finally spoke out on gun control. No one particularly liked it when NPR set us up the bomb, and I guess a lot of Floridians stopped by to laugh at my reaction to a little bit of rain. Not a highly ranked story traffic wise, but I think the victory in Ezell is one of the biggest successes of the year, which was balanced by a significant loss in Heller II. Let us also not forget HR822 passing the House, on the legislative front, and Pennsylvania finally getting Castle Doctrine.

My top referrers were Say Uncle, Glenn Reynolds (the good Professor can bring in more eyeballs in a single link than a peep show near a naval port), Tam, The Firearm Blog, Robb Allen, and John Richardson. I thank my partners in crime.

Other big news of the year is the precipitous decline of our opponents. We all remember CSGV getting their Twitter account suspended for trying to “out” everyone. Howard Nemerov takes a look at just how bad it’s been for the Brady Campaign, and we’ve certainly closely followed their descent into irrelevant madness here as well.

For gun rights, 2012 is going to be pivotal. The Second Amendment can’t afford Barack Obama stuffing the federal courts, or God forbid, the Supreme Court, with more anti-gun judges. Even Romney, as bad as he might be, is an improvement over the status quo, particularly when it comes to judges, since any GOP President knows that court appointments are where you throw bones to your interest groups. Bush forgot that with Harriet Meyers to his peril.

I sincerely hope everyone has a healthy and happy 2012, and here’s hoping the Second Amendment (and given the Title of this blog, Article I, Section 21) has a successful 2012 as well.

Spin No One is Buying in a City Where No One is Accountable

As the Philadelphia Daily News was headed to print with the headline “Kill-adelphia: Yet again, city tops list of homicide rates,” they missed another homicide for their report. As I told Wyatt in response to that tweet, the city’s leaders think he’s using fuzzy math for considering year-over-year numbers. They only count from the very highest number and consider all numbers below it to be an improvement. Even as murder is on the rise, they use a “method” of counting that considers it down by double digits. The problem is that no one believes them, but the city voters aren’t willing to hold anyone accountable.

But John Coleman, shopping at the Uceta market yesterday, wasn’t buying the spin.

“They lyin’,” said Coleman, 25.

They use every excuse under the sun. You can’t track trends with year-over-year data. (Really? Yet, using the absolute worst year is a method for tracking long-term trends?) The city’s leadership says that the numbers aren’t accurate because they actually include every homicide, and they don’t think all of them count. Which ones don’t count?

“We’ve been pretty much flat for about two years, if you take the Gosnell numbers out,” said Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, who spoke for the Nutter administration.

What are “the Gosnell numbers” that shouldn’t count? That would be the doctor who murdered seven babies & one woman.

Of course, even though shootings are down, the lack of extreme gun control in the rest of the state is to blame, according to the head of the Philadelphia Police Department. The mayor’s spokesman says that the economy is to blame, as does a social worker interviewed in the article. It’s easier to blame everyone else for a city that chooses to do nothing to stop the culture of violence.

Promises are made by the city’s current leaders, but no one cares enough to hold them accountable.

Mayor Nutter, at a debate during his 2007 campaign, pledged that he wouldn’t seek re-election if the 2010 homicide tally was more than the 288 killed in 2002. Then at his inauguration in January 2008, he set what turned out to be an overly ambitious goal of slashing the city’s murder rate by 30 to 50 percent in three to five years. He won re-election this year.

He didn’t meet a single one of those promises, but there was never any doubt as to his chances to hold office this year. I think it speaks volumes that in the picture for the article that only two people in the crowd look upset at the body covered just a few feet from them. I think far too many residents in that city have simply decided to accept this level of crime as a way of life.

Bloomberg Bashing NRA With His Media Empire

I’m not surprised to see a piece in Bloomberg Businessweek, trying to dig up dirt on NRA probably to try to discredit HR822, and maybe help push the IRS to investigate his claims:

A toaster that burns the National Rifle Association’s logo onto bread fetched $650 at an auction last month, just one reflection of the money-making power in the gun group’s brand.

The NRA, which began as a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching marksmanship, enters the 2012 election season as a lobbying, merchandising and marketing machine that brings in more than $200 million a year and intends to help unseat the incumbent president. From 2004 to 2010, the group’s revenue from fundraising — including gifts from gun makers who benefit from its political activism — grew twice as fast as its income from members’ dues, according to NRA tax returns.

The gifts from the gun makers do not go to NRA political activism. The toaster money raised don’t go to political activism (ours raised $400 from a reader who bought it). They go to the NRA Foundation, which does not participate in political activity. Indeed, it cannot participate in political activity.

More than 50 firearms-related companies have given at least $14.8 million to the Fairfax, Virginia-based group, according to the NRA’s own list for a donor program that began in 2005.

Again, mostly to the NRA Foundation to support shooting sports programs. What they fail to mention is that the amount donated by NRA’s 4 million members is orders of magnitude larger than what’s donated by the industry. That’s why this quite is insulting:

“Unlike organizations which start out controlled by industry and created by industry, like lobbying groups for coal or oil, they really started out as a grassroots organization and became an industry organization,” said William Vizzard, a former agent of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms who’s now a professor of criminal justice at California State University in Sacramento.

They became an industry organization in Professor Vizzards mind, and that’s about it. If he can back this up, which he can’t, I’m all ears. I think the NRA’s response to requests for comments are highly appropriate:

“The NRA will not participate in agenda journalism driven by a news organization owned by an avowed enemy of the Second Amendment — a politician who has been aggressively working against the interests of the NRA, our members and the nation’s gun owners for years.”

Bloomberg can keep this smear campaign up all he wants, but I’m here to tell him his nightmare is true. We’re going to hammer New York City’s gun laws on the relentless anvil of civil rights legislation and litigation. We’re going to beat Bloomberg into submission to the Bill of Rights.

On Attorney’s Fees in Second Amendment Cases

Countertop explains, in a comment, how attorneys fees are generally awarded, which suggests that the 1.1 million award to Alan Gura is actually pretty good, considering. But it was important to go after as much as possible. Not only to reward good work, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to discourage other municipalities from resisting our cause when we file lawsuits. I am hoping that the 1.1 million award here is sufficient to accomplish that, even though I would have been tickled pink by a higher amount. The best outcome upon a municipality or state receiving a Second Amendment suit is to fold immediately. We’ve seen that happen already, and I hope the award here will further those results.

Gura Gets $1.1 Million for Heller

Today, Alan Gura gets a decision on how much he should be paid by DC for having to fight on behalf of Dick Heller & others against the city’s unconstitutional gun laws.

A federal judge on Thursday issued an opinion awarding Heller’s attorneys $1,137,072.27 in fees and expenses. The attorneys had argued they should be awarded $3.1 million. Attorneys for the city said the figure should be closer to $840,000. …

The judge’s opinion awards Gura approximately $662,000 for more than 1,500 hours of work on the case, paying him at a rate of $420 per hour. Five other members of Heller’s team are also compensated.

There’s no comment from Gura in the article, but the city is very happy with the award.

NFA Hacks

Uncle has several links to NFA hacks that sound very interesting. I say sound, because I haven’t looked at them yet. Since I don’t work in America anymore, and my glass barrier half-height cubicle (which I’ve nicknamed the fishbowl) is a tourist attraction for about 100 coworkers on their way to the only pot of coffee on this side of the building, I’m reluctant to look at gun p0rn on the work computer. I’ll have to check to see if it’s as cool as it sounds when I get back to America.

In other news, this week I don’t have to do all post aheads in the afternoon. Only about half my posts today are scheduled. Not much to do this week, unfortunately. I actually really hate being bored at work.

Does a Concealed Gun = Reasonable Suspicion?

Orin Kerr, who is the Volokh Conspiracy’s resident 4th Amendment Guru, talks about a recent decision in federal court in New Mexico. I was always under the impression that whether and officer has RAS for a stop if he spots a concealed handgun depended on the wording of the statute. If carrying concealed was generally unlawful, except if you had a permit, then an officer would be permitted to stop to ensure the person fell under the exception. Professor Kerr says otherwise:

The court’s analysis seems wrong to me. The officers saw a guy with a gun. A crime would be afoot only if the man lacked a proper permit. But the officers had no idea if the man had a permit to carry the gun at the time they made the stop: They didn’t inquire, and instead initiated the stop only upon seeing the gun. Obviously, if the officers had asked Rodriguez if he had a license before the stop, and he had said no, the officers would have had both reasonable suspicion and even probable cause to make the arrest. But I think they have to ask first and get evidence of the crime before the stop, not stop first and then get evidence to justify it.

This decision also is in contrast to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision which suggests that the presence of a firearm does not amount to RAS for an officer to conduct a stop. I’m glad Professor Kerr is making the case for this decision being wrong. I don’t believe the exercise of a constitutional right should be subject to stops from police. They should need to have RAS you’re committing a crime, and the mere presence of a firearm, concealed or otherwise, should not amount to that.

More Evidence of Duplicity

Joe Huffman offers further evidence that our opponents were indeed about gun bans, no matter what they may say today. There was some speculation in the comments of the last post that this was meant to keep the money rolling in. I have little doubt that most of our opponents machinations are intended for this purpose, but if having to distance themselves from bans is necessary, what does it say about the viability of their cause? Isn’t that pretty much an admission that only kooks and whack jobs want to ban guns? And what does it say that there hasn’t been a whole lot of leadership turnover since those days when these groups publicly advocated for bans? Just sayin.

Hi-Point 9mm Carbine

Both Tam and Kevin made me remember that I actually own a 9mm Hi-Point carbine, which I acquired early on in my gun owning days, and have hardly shot since. It’s actually pretty reliable, but the ergonomics of the gun are atrocious, and it does, unfortunately, seem to slowly eat itself while it shoots. The bolt is essentially made from pot metal, and I’ve noticed some parts bending after firing repeatedly. Of course, you can buy three of them for the cost of a 9mm AR, so it’s disposable. I wouldn’t depend on one to save my life, but it’s not a bad shooter if you just want a 9mm carbine to shoot on occasion. As it is, I’ve only shot mine once in the past 8 years, and that was in Knoxville, several years ago. I just don’t have a fancy for pistol caliber carbines.