Weekly Gun News – Edition 59

Do I dare try to see if I have enough links? I dare!

Bloomberg has apparently spent $135 million dollars so far on gun control. So far, he’s made Washington worse, barely eked out a victory in Nevada that turned out to not be much of a victory, and was outright defeated in Maine. I agree with Jacob: not much to show for it. Money can buy a lot in politics, but not everything. Still, $135 million is chump change to Bloomberg.

Anti-gun journalist who has written on the topic for years finally decides it might be time to actually meet a gun owner. Familiarity is the foundation for winning for our issue. People with at least some familiarity are harder to bullshit.

Apparently there are a baker’s dozen law professors who want to argue a theory of negligent entrustment that would make it negligent entrustment to sell AR-15 to citizens at all. You could use the same theory to sue super car makers out of existence. After all, who but a professional driver is qualified to drive a Lamborghini? Welding torches: really for professionals, aren’t they? I used to read a lot more legal writing until I realized a lot of people who do legal writing are brain dead.

Tam: “At what point do you ignore your ego and admit maybe you might could take some lessons?

My impression has always been that Shannon Watts just honestly isn’t very impressive. Seems I’m not the only one. I don’t mean that in the sense that I disagree with her, but she’s not really very good at what she does. That’s a sharp contrast to Bloomberg, who I think has done a lot of smart things, even though I disagree with what he’s doing and wish he’d find better things to do with his money. That probably makes me sexist somehow.

There’s a bill in Pennsylvania to allow school officials to be armed. Josh Prince notes some issues with it. I’d note that it doesn’t seem to muck with the “other lawful purposes” language, just creates an explicit means for school personnel.

The bill to enhance our preemption law continues to move forward in Pennsylvania. Though, I fully expect Wolf will veto it.

This weekend was the March for Science. Making science a partisan issue is a mistake, especially given that scientific ignorance is not specific to a single political leaning. This is more people getting together to congratulate each other for their shit not stinking.

I spent Sunday at the range playing around with this scope clamp, for science! It’s just about as good as having a person spotting for you, since you can instant replay your shots. This is at 200 yards. My PSL was whacking the right-top corner of the plate. My spotting scope is a cheap Bushnell model. Nothing high end.

Gun Rights Musings – Social Trust

Since news is relatively scarce, I’m going to start a recurring feature sharing things I’ve come to believe over the past decade. Thinking some more I realized how much my post the other day didn’t really include. Even if there’s no news I can probably think up something every couple of days for a while to fill space. I’ll start with a topic, then opine. Now, what I opine about in these might be bullshit, but it’s bullshit I think about. By all means, if you think I’m wrong, argue.

Today I’m going to talk about how we ended up with much of our current gun control. I don’t mean how we ended up with them politically. How we ended up with them politically is we lost the battle against the Gun Control Act and Brady Act. But there was a larger cultural framework that got us here.

There is a significant difference between rural and urban societies in terms of social trust. Social trust basically means whether you believe in “the honesty, integrity and reliability of others.” Rural populations have higher levels of social trust than urban populations. It’s been shown that rapid urbanization lowers levels of trust, and the United States experienced a significant urbanization, especially in the three decades that followed the Second World War. Moreover that urbanization coincided with a great increase in mobility.

As a society urbanizes and becomes more mobile, in high-trust societies like our own, there’s a tendency to formalize mechanisms of trust. In a non-urbanized society, or even in an urbanized but largely sedentary society, I know not to hire Joe because it is well known that Joe is lazy, his family is lazy, and generally no good. In an urban and mobile society, a process like hiring becomes more formalized. Joe Smith presents a resume. Maybe fills out a job application. He’ll be interviewed. Someone will ask for and check references, etc.

In my opinion, most of the gun controls of the 1960s up until the Brady Act has been driven by the inclination of an urbanizing people to formalize mechanisms of social trust. Social trust in urban or mobile environments can’t come from the fact that you generally know the people around you. I also believe this is why urban populations are more accepting of big government, because it is seen as a necessary agent of building social trust. I’m not saying the gun control advocates who pushed these issues were motivated by promoting social trust. Any successful social movement will pick up on social trends and exploit them. The question is what resonates with ordinary people not engaged closely with your issue? Sometime in the 1990s, the gun control movement switched to exploiting cultural condescension as a social trend.

Polls show that social trust is on the way down. While I think this is bad, because societies with a low level of social trust don’t tend to work very well, I’m not sure it will result in more gun control. It may actually result in less, and people feel less secure. But I think a desire of people to preserve social trust in an urban and mobile society explains much of our current gun control regime. I’m not saying it’s right, or effective, but I am offering an explanation of why we’re here.

Toomey Cozy With Gun Control Crowd

We spent years trying to get rid of Arlen Spector, and now Pat Toomey being Arlen reborn is probably a best case scenario for guns:

The big question now is whether we’ve lost Toomey for good on the gun issue, or whether he’s just going to play both sides like his predecessor did. If Toomey is intent on being anti-gun, I can have a Democrat do that job just as well as a Republican. Just sayin, Pat.

Club Management

If posting has been light, one reason is I’m spending nearly all my non-working hours trying to sort out a new membership management system for my club. I consider this part of the “local engagement” I was speaking about earlier.

We largely decided not to go with a cloud-based solution, which is fine with me. Maybe this will be my curmudgeon technology issue, because the young folks seem to love the cloud, and even I have to admit, having worked with Amazon Web Services professionally, and helped a few clients through migrations, Bezos has built one hell of a nice ecosystem. But I like the saying, “There is no cloud. There’s just someone else’s computer.” I don’t like the idea of trusting personal data to an entity I don’t really know or trust, and who only sees me as one of many income sources. Also, AWS is damned expensive. So are most other Cloud solutions.

We have an existing card access system for the gate and for the various doors around the property. The old system worked off an Access database. Recently we upgraded that software, and the new version is backed by SQL Server. The old card access system was a mess. There were people in the system who had been dead for some time and still had active cards. People were missing from the system who were members. I think some of them may be grandfathered lifers who just never bothered picking up an access card. It took another trustee helping me sort that out, and I’m still not sure all the cards are assigned correctly.

Originally I had chosen to put the member database in MySQL. Since I already have SQL Server running, why not just use that? Saves having to run a Linux machine and cuts down on the number of skill sets needed to maintain the system. As long as I’m cutting MySQL out of the picture, I might as well also cut OpenLDAP and set up Active Directory to use with Google Cloud Directory Sync (GCDS). I’m teaching myself a bit of PowerShell to make a script that will push out changes in the member database to the card access system, to QuickBooks (via qODBC), and to Active Directory.

After working with PowerShell scripting a bit, I’ve decided I hate it with a burning white hot passion. At this point I’ll probably stick to it because I’ve already invested the time, but the future of that function will probably be with Python if serious changes are ever required in the future. So in the end the system has ended up being far more Microsoft than I expected going in, because I had no idea what the new card system would look like. Our new card system will even work with an ID card printer to manage and print member badges, so we got one of those too.

I think what I’m coming up with will be a decent platform for the next decade or so. It will certainly make managing dues processing for our 1300 members easier than the old paper process.

Beliefs Change Over Time

I’m short on things to write about, probably because I haven’t been paying as close attention to the news. It’s occurred to me that there’s a lot of things I believe now that I didn’t ten years ago. Ten years is an awful lot of time to be immersed in writing about a single issue, and there’s not much I haven’t thought through, thought through again, then thought through a third time just to be thorough. Thinking about a list:

  • The biggest threat to gun rights are from states like California and New York because for better or worse, these states control the broader culture and they’ve been very effective at stamping out their own gun culture. YouTube recently had a dust-up where ISIS videos were getting advertisers. After a backlash, they created a category of “objectionable content” to be starved of advertising. Unfortunately for us, they put gun videos in that category. And why wouldn’t they? Do you think very many New Yorkers or people in Silicon Valley, where most of these companies draw their employees from,  know many people who enjoy shooting? They probably know more people who disdain it.
  • The primary motivation of most people seeking greater control over firearms is cultural chauvinism. Public safety is just how they justify it to themselves and others. But in reality it’s primarily, “I don’t like those kinds of people. I certainly don’t want them having guns.” Sometimes it can be “I’m afraid of those kinds of people. I certainly don’t want them having guns.”
  • We’d all do a lot better to look after the gun culture in our local areas. These days I’m much more concerned about the future of the shooting sports in suburban Philadelphia than I am about the future of the shooting sports in general. Any time a club dissolves, a shop closes, or shooting programs stop for lack of places to shoot, that’s a resource that will never come back. The best antidote to the cultural chauvinism mentioned above is familiarity, and I don’t think it’s much more complicated than that.
  • Social media is a vast wasteland and a huge waste of time. It’s not so much that people on Facebook disagree politically — I’ve never been able to get all that worked up that other people in my life don’t always share my opinions — It’s the fact that on Facebook, you see friends and family post ignorant, often vile, hateful things they’d never say to your face. I’ve been personally cutting back my presence significantly, and it wasn’t for the fact that I’m running my club’s Facebook page, the blog’s Facebook page, and that it’s Tam’s comment section these days, I’d probably just stop. Since giving up Twitter and cutting back on Facebook, I’m getting a lot more done.

Our side has our share of bullshit too, and I’ve come to acknowledge much of it.

  • For an ordinary middle-aged suburban dweller, you’re more likely to die prematurely from cardio-vascular disease than you are to need your firearm. If you work in front of a computer all day like I do, that’s probably far more likely. People who choose not to carry a firearm are making a fine choice. You might look at the balance of risk v. reward and come to a different conclusion, and that’s fine too, but someone whose calculation thinks carrying a firearm is too much of a pain in the ass isn’t making a foolish choice.
  • You don’t need to be the greatest gun ninja in the world to successfully defend yourself. Everyone should seek out some basic training, but I think beyond that it’s for fun. Like the link says, if you take care of the basics, you’re already way ahead of the curve.
  • A lot of people out there who have guns are complete idiots who I’d feel much better if they did not own or carry firearms. The difference between me and a gun control person is that I don’t think that’s a solvable problem, and you’ll do more damage trying. There’s a lot of people I wish didn’t have drivers’ licenses too, but that doesn’t mean I get to dictate my preferences, or that there’s any such thing as an idiot test.
  • There really are significant numbers of gun owners who support gun control. Even some of the very strict gun control you can find in the dozen or so bad states. Our side often likes to call these people out as false flags when they appear in media, and perhaps some are. But if you think they all are, you don’t spend enough time talking to other gun owners. This ties back into local engagement. There’s a lot of times I think New Jersey gun owners own a lot of the responsibility for their current sad situation.
  • The Second Amendment is nothing more than words in a piece of parchment on display at the National Archives. Those words are not self-enforcing. Their meaning might read plain as day to you, but you’re not a federal judge. The ghost of James Madison is not going to appear to make things right. Those words only mean something because people; people like you and people like me, have struggled to give those words actual meaning. That struggle does not end. In a way this should be first on a list of our side’s bullshit, because it’s the folly I run across most often.

I’m sure I’m forgetting a lot. But those are things I’m thinking about in terms of where I’ve come to with this issue in the decade I’ve been writing about it.

Bleeding Kansas of the 21st Century?

As if shit couldn’t get any weirder:

The war began when a fascist party and its armband-clad leader led a putsch. Antifascists mobilized in response. Threats of violence ensued.

Then the Rocky Mountain Fur Con canceled all future events.

The Fur Con is an annual summit in Denver, Colorado, for “furries,” people who present themselves as animals, from donning full-body fur suits to adopting “fursonas” for their character. And just as in the rest of America, a lot of furries resemble Nazis lately.

I’ve been binge watching “Life Below Zero” on Netflix. This kind of shit is making life near the Arctic Circle looks more attractive by the day.

Hat Tip to Clayton Cramer.

Weekly Gun News – Edition 58

There hasn’t been quite enough news to get these out every week. But here goes:

You know all the stories about gun sales tanking post Trump? Fake News.

Also, you know the story about how the NRA was never political before the 1977 Cincinnati Revolt? Fake News.

We seem to have a bad track record with these reality TV gun shows.

YouTube is choking the ad revenue out of gun related channels. Google is turning out to be far more evil than Microsoft ever was. Microsoft just wanted to preserve its monopoly. It crushed competitors, not political dissent, and not subcultures. Of course, maybe getting us away from doing this to make money would be a good thing: “The difference between the social media folks and bloggers is the latter owned their content and delivery system. The social media types don’t own and are dependent on the delivery system someone else owns. And it’s their house and their rules.”

More along those lines here.

This might have something to do with trying to stamp out the gun culture via institutions the left controls.

The Federalist: “How The Fourth Circuit’s Support For ‘Assault Weapon’ Bans May End Them” I see a lot of this stuff in Right media. Repeat after me: Gorsuch doesn’t change anything. This was a holding action at best. Whoever is the weak link in the Heller majority is still on the Court.

Everytown and Moms Demand keep floating the figure that ordinary Americans support the permitting system. Well, if you asked me that, I’d think “No” meaning “No, I don’t think people should be able to get licenses to carry concealed firearms,” rather than “No” meaning “I don’t think people should be required to get licenses to carry in order to carry firearms, concealed or otherwise.” I’ve never seen one of their polls that asks the question the right way.

Tam on training and preparedness.

Seriously, I don’t get people who turn themselves in after discovering they got past TSA with a gun. The cops don’t care that you’re good person, or that you did the “right thing” in coming forward. All you’re doing is confessing to a crime. It’s amazing to me this day in age people still believe this kind of fairy tale. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, you’re not going to hold up or hijack the plane are you? No? Then keep your mouth shut, count your blessings, and be more careful next time.

Mike Kelly is throwing his name out there to run against Casey.

Can you believe this is in Slate: “The Second Amendment vs. the Fourth Amendment.

Bloomberg Pledges 25 Million to Fight Concealed Carry

Looks like they’ve brought on some new staff to fight National Reciprocity. They are planning to play defense at the federal level and go on offense in the states.

Everytown for Gun Safety, founded and funded by the billionaire former New York City mayor, is hiring several new top staffers and turning much of its attention to state legislatures, while moving to a defensive posture in Washington as it tries to stop what’s known as “concealed carry reciprocity” from becoming law. That will include starting to score congressional votes, like the National Rifle Association does, to guide spending decisions more directly.

Who the hell cares if Everytown scores votes? How many dues paying members do they have? The answer is none. You can find in their Form 990 they don’t have any members except the Board of Directors. The big question every reporter should ask Everytown: what percentage of your organization is funded by Michael Bloomberg? The Form 990 also largely answers this question: Everytown spends almost nothing on fundraising. In 2013, they engaged two fundraising organizations which raised $100,000. That’s a drop compared to Everytown’s approximately 36 million dollar budget. Compare that with the Brady Center which raised 1.7 million in donations via fundraising for about 5 million in money raised overall. Why doesn’t Everytown need to spend more on fundraising? Because you don’t need to when you have one donor who can sign multi-million dollar checks.

The biggest thing they have going for them is that I don’t think the GOP really wants to pass this. Certainly, it is not a priority for them.

2017 Gun Law Seminar

Have you planned out your days for the NRA annual meeting yet? I’m just sitting down to do it now, and it’s worth reminding people about one of the best hidden gems of the massive convention. The NRA Foundation’s law seminar is an experience that shouldn’t be missed if you have any interest in gun laws at all. Even if you’re not an attorney, you’ll get something out of it – besides a good time with good and interesting company.

This year’s line-up is, as always, an interesting cross section of areas of gun law that will likely give me something new to chew on. You don’t have to be an attorney to get something out of the seminar. Massad Ayoob will present on avoiding unjust verdicts in self-defense shootings. If you’re a member of a gun club at all, there will be a topic on 501(c) issues related to your activities. Looking at legal issues impacting the industry, one topic will be on defending manufacturers and retailers when they are sued for caused by the criminal misuse of firearms by others. You’ve got broader Second Amendment updates from Stephen Halbrook and Nelson Lund to look forward to as well.

Last year’s topic by Chris Zealand (a Senior Research Attorney at NRA) on the Social Security gun grab was incredibly useful for me as a political activist. The details he gave for the process and what types of issues Social Security lists as mental disability codes were eye-opening and gave great fodder for me to make an informed argument to those who were just reading newspaper headlines about the topic. If, like me (and Sebastian), you’re not an attorney, but want to be informed and serious activists, you should consider attending the legal seminar.

If you are an attorney, then there’s no question you should absolutely attend. If you’re a law student, there’s a discount.

You get breakfast, lunch, and a cocktail reception along with your day of legal education. Not to mention, it’s usually very interesting to talk with others at lunch and during breaks about the issues they are facing at home or the type of work they are seeing come up.

Though neither one of us has ever visited Atlanta, Sebastian’s family has been there before years ago. I’ve made Sebastian promise not to behave like the last time they visited the lovely city. However, if any readers have any suggestions for places we must eat or visit while we’re there, please do share. Local eats are a huge factor in having a solid convention experience.

Can We Please Start Seeking Congressional Authorization to Fight Wars as Our Constitution Demands?

It doesn’t get any more right when it’s “our” side that does it:

All of this is true, but it’s also true that the President launched the attack without approval from Congress and no clear and present danger to the United States or our allies.

The precedent for going to war under these conditions was set by the previous Administration, but that doesn’t mean that the current Administration should necessarily follow it.

It was wrong for Obama to intervene in the Syrian Civil War without even so much as consulting Congress when Obama did it, and likewise Trump should seek approval from Congress if he’s going to continue it. If he can’t get approval from Congress, that should say something.

I do think the President can act without Congress in the face of clear, immediate threats, and Assad might be a butcher, but we ought to demand our elected leaders follow the law.

UPDATE: For the comments: how many of your lefty friends on social media are acting like Obama hasn’t been bombing targets in Syria for several years now?