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Charges of “Whataboutism”: A Pet Peeve of Mine

I see this accusation a lot on social media. Some have collectively decided to rename “rooting out hypocrisy and naked partisanship” as “whataboutism.” When I first saw it, I thought it was weak. It was pointed out that it was a Soviet propaganda technique, but while the Soviets used it to cover up their much deeper sins, they weren’t always wrong about the flaws in our own society. This expert from the linked article strikes me as quite right:

If the intent of asking the “what about” question is indeed only to change the subject to protect a politician, then it’s exactly what critics contend, an effort to distract, deflect, or rationalize.

However, making a comparison is justifiable if it’s to flesh out the principles of a person silent about the conduct of a politician he likes while contending that hanging’s too good (figuratively speaking) for a politician he dislikes.

I’d like to think we can all agree that having perverts in public office is a Very Bad Thing. But many of the people saying that have covered for and defended perverts in public office for years, and have only now taken to rooting them out because they are becoming a political liability. Alabamans appear to be overlooking Roy Moore’s sins. Why wouldn’t they? Dems partisans are happy to sweep the Clinton’s and their allies aside now that they aren’t politically useful. But Al Franken? Hell no, not him. They need him.

I am not trying to argue that Roy’s just fine because Al’s a perv too. I think both of them are unfit to hold public office. In better times, we’d probably get some broad agreement there. But these are not better times, rather a time of political realignment. As a certain blogging law professor likes to say, “We have the worst political class ever!” And as we all go through this realignment, this cold civil war of sorts, we sure do.

How Philadelphia Plans to Shut down Convenience Stores that Sell Beer

If you’re Councilwoman Bass, you’ll put them out of business by making them easier to rob.

A controversial bill under consideration would require liquor stores to pull down the bulletproof glass they currently use to protect their clerks. After all, liquor stores are often prime targets for robbery. The glass keeps clerks safe, at least to some extent, and now it needs to come down.

These store owners tend to be Korean, so the accusation is being thrown around that the motivation for this is straight up racism. These business technically operate as restaurants. Convenience stores can’t sell alcoholic beverages in Pennsylvania, so what some stores do is to have a limited menu of items, apply for a liquor license as a restaurant, and then sell takeout, which restaurants are allowed to do.

I covered this issue some time ago, about the double standards at work here, and was very proud to have the current Mayor of Philadelphia tell me to go eff myself. You sell 7% ABV beers to white hipsters and no one cares. Do the same in minority neighborhoods and the world is coming to and end and we must stop it. Hard for me to agree there’s no racial issues at work here. I get the concern over social problems, but last I checked, dealing drugs, public intoxication, and public urination (all mentioned by Councilwoman Bass) were all crimes. Maybe address those issues, rather than targeting people who run the stores and ultimately their customers, many of whom probably just want a beer at the end of a hard day like we all do.

It is absolutely beyond the pale that this Councilwoman would see people get shot and stabbed. She should be ashamed for even proposing this. I would argue that armor are arms, and a bill like this should be properly found unconstitutional under the 2nd Amendment.

Movement on National Reciprocity

House Judiciary Committee approves HR38 by a 19-11 vote. Lately we’ve had some argument within the community about the powers National Reciprocity, and the power that is based on.

H.R.38 should be amended to (1) unhinge it from the constitutionally- antagonistic Commerce Clause doctrine, and (2) expressly provide statutory protection of the fundamental, individual rights under the Second Amendment made applicable to the States and local governments by the Fourteenth Amendment.

I’d note that H.R. 38 does not go into any detail about which federal power it’s based on, and frankly, it doesn’t have to. There’s not requirement that Congress enumerate what powers it’s using and it doesn’t always do this. Any and all arguments about this being within Congress’ enumerated powers can and will be made when this law is inevitably challenged in Court. There is more than one power that plausibly supports H.R. 38 and the Fourteenth Amendment is one of them.

But whether the constitutionalist in us all likes it or not, the most solid framework National Reciprocity rests on is the commerce clause. This shouldn’t be, but based on existing court precedent, it is. There are serious Bourne issues arguing the 14th Amendment. So here’s the question: do you want to win, or do you want to participate in a constitutional debating society? Note that the test cases for this are likely to involved good people risking many years in prison. I’m absolutely comfortable arguing anything that will prevent this from happening. My conscience will be clear, because if the Courts actually did their jobs, the Constitution would mean you can carry anywhere already. If I have to fight within the framework they created to achieve that, so be it.

Understand that the entire felon-in-possession statute, all of 18 USC 922(g), 922(o), rely on “that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.” The federal courts are going to be very reluctant to start rocking that apple cart. But yeah, we could be pure and only make the 14th Amendment argument. And the courts, which are going to be looking six ways from Sunday to invalidate National Reciprocity, especially in the hostile jurisdictions it’s likely to face challenge in, will just cite Bourne and be done with it. Off to jail with the unlucky bastard who ends up being the test case. Good luck with life on the inside while you await your appeal.

No, we make the commerce argument, along with anything else that could possibly uphold this. It might not please the constitutional debate society, but I’m tired of that shit. I want to win. I want our rights protected, and I don’t care if I have to work in whatever shitty framework the courts have laid out for me.

People Will Lose Their Gun Rights Over This

I’ve already largely stopped posting Facebook on my personal timeline. I still keep my account for my blog and club, and the occasional comment thrown around. But this makes me want to swear it off entirely.

This is software to save lives. Facebook’s new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. By using AI to flag worrisome posts to human moderators instead of waiting for user reports, Facebook can decrease how long it takes to send help.

I can’t really tell you how much I loathe social media. I’d love to see these companies crash and burn. They are doing nothing to make our lives better. When I was growing up, I was promised my future would be all Mars bases and Flying Cars, and Facebook is what I get? OK, sure, I got the Star Trek PADD and communicators, but what do we use them for? That’s right. Cat videos.

You see, it’s not that I am now or have ever been suicidal. I’ve said before, that I will never be suicidal is something I can pretty much guarantee. I like existence too much. But I don’t trust this not to have a lot of false positives, and there are very real consequences to alerting the authorities that someone might be a danger to themselves or others; loss of gun rights being the primary issue for this blog.

In many states, even an observational trip to the loony bin will land you a state and federal prohibition. Pennsylvania is one of them. If you ever find yourself in a situation where first-responders show up concerned that the Facebook AI has determined you’re going off the deep end, make sure you go voluntarily. Make sure you tell everyone you deal with you’re there voluntarily. Because if they take you against your will, now you have much bigger issues if you own guns. Even if they let you go, if you haven’t made arrangements, if you arrive home to a safe full of guns, congratulations, you’ve just made yourself a felon in addition to having to endure contact with the state mental health system.

Hardly a Surprise

SCOTUS has denied cert in the Kolbe case challenging Maryland’s assault weapons ban. They have also denied cert in Norman v. Florida challenging Florida’s ban on open carry.

Heller and McDonald are all we’re getting out of this court. That much is apparent. We need to change one, possibly two justices on the Supreme Court of we’re going to take the Second Amendment any further. That’s just the way it is.

This Genie Isn’t Going Back Into the Bottle

Apparently Gabby Giffords’s group is pushing to shut down web sites that sell CNC equipment and 80% lowers. I’m old enough to remember when “Information wants to be free!” was a core ethos of the early days of the Internet. Seems quaint now.

The gunman who killed his wife and four others in a rampage in Northern California earlier this month had been barred from having guns but built two semi-automatic rifles at home that he used in the shooting, authorities said. Federal officials are sounding the alarm about an increasing black market for homemade military-style semi-automatic rifles and handguns.

California already requires home building to apply for and affix a serial number to home made firearms so they can be registered. I’m going to bet our Northern California whack job here didn’t comply with this particular requirement.

Don’t ever let anyone get away with arguing that the assertion, “gun control laws are useless because criminals break them anyway,” is an argument for having no laws at all. We punish people for crimes like assault, robbery, murder because those crimes in and of themselves are a moral wrongs, and those crimes have victims who deserve justice. Absent the rule of law, victims would seek their own, much harsher justice. We form governments largely to prevent this.

Since nearly everything you can do to misuse a gun involves violating one of these malum in se laws, and since all those crimes are generally quite serious, the purpose of these gun control laws can’t be to seek justice after the fact, but rather deterrence. And if the purpose of these laws is deterrence, why is it improper to argue it fails at its basic purpose?

To get back to the point, you can try to make the 3D printing and CNC genie go back into the bottle, but it won’t. You can pass laws to outlaw making guns at home, but who will it deter? It’s fair to argue it’s only going to deter people with no criminal intent. If that’s the case, what good is the law? Wouldn’t a law that fails at its basic purpose, but only serves to limit the freedom of people who are no threat to anyone be unjust?

Of Course they are Touting PICS as a Model

Since getting off PICS is one of our legislative goals, Everytown has to push this notion that PICS is a model system. Anyone who’s ever gone to buy a gun in this state and been delayed because PICS was out to lunch would probably beg to differ. Of course, what they are touting as a model is Pennsylvania’s reporting procedures, which to me doesn’t matter one way or another if those records are being reported to PICS or NICS. It sounds like they are being reported to both. So why the redundancy? Why spend tax dollars on PICS when we could just use NICS and let the feds pay for it.

We know the answer: if we used PICS, it would throw a big wrench in the State Police’s illegal-legal registry. And we can’t have that now, can we?

Staycation

Regularly scheduled blogging will resume after the Thanksgiving holiday, and I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. I am taking some time off from work and getting things done at my club that need to be done, like getting the place ready for a campus wide IP network that I’ve talked about here before. Planning has been finished for some time, and now it’s time for doing.

Additionally, the Democrats have taken over my Township this past election, and what is the first thing they aim to do? Spend my tax dollars lobbying for gun control on behalf of Mike Bloomberg. At the local level, they are preempted from actually passing ordinances regulating firearms, so I don’t really care what any Supervisor thinks on guns one way or another. But I sounded the alarm and got a handful of people to show up to the Supervisor’s meeting to deliver a message: fix the damned pot holes, and if you want to see gun control, give our State Rep a call on your own dime.

But it’s not all drudgery. I like new toys. My club just obtained a new Cub Cadet Challenger 500, and boy is it a fun machine to tool around in. The 2001 Kawasaki Mule 3010 it replaces was a more sedate and practical work horse, but for some tasks I really like the Cub better. The big thing the Mule has going for it is bench seats, which is easier to get in and out of. That’s important in a working vehicle. But the Cub gets around the property better, has a winch standard, and doesn’t have any divider between the bed and the cab, so you can actually fit 10 foot boards in it diagonally without having to shoot them into the air over the cab where you have to be wary of low hanging branches. It’s a one mile loop around the property, so I appreciate the Cub’s greater speed and nimbleness. That basically means less time wasted getting from point A to point B.

 

Good News: Having Your Serial Number Rusted Out Doesn’t Constitute a Violation

From Joshua Prince:

Yesterday, the Superior Court issued its decision in Commonwealth v. Ford, 196 ED 2016, in relation to whether natural corrosion (i.e. rust) over a firearm serial number constitutes a violation of Pennsylvania’s Uniform Firearms Act for purposes of possession of a firearm with an obliterated serial number.

The case involved a prohibited person, who was caught with a firearm. They charged for that and because the serial number was obscured by corrosion. The defendant moved to suppress the firearm, under the grounds that the search was illegal. Police claimed “exigent circumstances” in entering the residence (in this case, someone screaming in the house), which the defendant contested.

The Superior Court ruled that the Court of Common Pleas was correct to deny the suppression of the handgun, ruling exigent circumstances existed for the warrantless entry into he home, but that the lower court was wrong to allow the charge of obliterated serial number when it was obliterated by the natural process of rust rather than an overt obliteration.

We were lucky here, because bad defendants make bad law. We’re fortunate, in this case, that we had judges that could look beyond that. This should give you an idea of the importance of judicial elections in Pennsylvania.

The Problem of the Northeast Gun Culture

At the risk of embarrassing one of my readers by elevating his comment to a post, I thought this was as succinct a statement about the issue as I can think of:

Most of the areas that still experience discomfort and lack of familiarity with firearms are the places that have basically banned them and driven off all the gun owners. In NY State (an example I’m personally familiar with), the city is basically a gun free zone with zero ownership, no ranges, no concealed carry, no stores, etc. Upstate has fudds who practice in their backyards and can’t understand why people need assault weapons to hunt deer (literal quote). These guys are all old as fuck and they aren’t leaving behind a generation or three of gun owners because all of their children left the state for greener pastures (me included). A lot of these states coincidentally have serious problems besides the gun issue, so I wouldn’t exactly beat a path back if they made my hobby legal again.

The only way to change those places is to override the legal barriers to the hobby (either though Congress or the federal court) so people can begin participating legally again. Without that, you’ll never get ranges, stores, clubs, etc. And without those things you don’t get voters that care about the issue.

If I had to boil it down to a single sentence: “These guys are all old as fuck and they aren’t leaving behind a generation or three of gun owners because all of their children left the state for greener pastures.”

My club is about 1/3rd New Jersey residents, and I’m noticing a sharp uptick in the number new applicants from the Garden State. I expect that will accelerate as things get worse for the remaining gun owners, and the few remaining places to shoot on the other side of the river are closed. The average age at my club is 64 years old, and we’re not getting younger. A lot of them have kids that have moved away. Granted, there’s young shooters out there in the area, but we’re still holding onto many vestiges of Gun Culture 1.0, and it is difficult to convince a bunch of old guys who have been doing things a certain way for years that they need to change. But there is a hook you can use: most of them express profound disappointment in the lack of young people in the shooting sports. The truth is that there are plenty of young people in the shooting sports, even in the ‘burbs of Philadelphia: they just aren’t shooting your shooting sports.

My club is a Silhouette club. That’s what we shoot. It’s been a dying sport for a while now. I shot it for a while, but I’ve largely stopped. Why? It’s extremely difficult. It takes years to become competent at it, and if you’re just kind of OK, it’s about as much fun as watching paint dry. I don’t regret trying it, and it taught me a lot about shooting. But the sports the kids are shooting are basically life size video games. Is it any wonder the traditional sports are dying?

Change is difficult, time consuming, and painful, but worth it. The great trick is making people comfortable with change. I’m a big fan of doing what we can to rescue what culture we have, and not losing places to shoot to generational rot.

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