Weekly Gun News – Edition 53

Welcome to the 53rd edition of Weekly Gun News, also known as “My browser is drowning under the weight of dozens and dozens of open tabs.” Maybe some of them will make it here, but I usually end up only posting maybe a third of what I have open. Some news seems interesting at first, but then it gets more “meh” as you take a second look. But here goes:

Headline Fail: “With 2016 over, a toddler has now shot a person every week in the US for two straight years.” Someone should probably apprehend the Diapered Killer before he kills again!

Lori Haas of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is a sad panda. Though, the massive increase in the federal government under Obama has blued Virginia, perhaps irrevocably.

Lower Merion Township, PA will appeal ruling, which nixed their ordinance banning guns in municipal parks, to the PA Supreme Court. The township argued it had a right to control its own property, Superior Court ruled that preemption still applied. Under the existing preemption statutes, local governments have typically lost, but it’s hard to get to court because of standing requirements.

Czech President Milos Zeman encourages Czech citizens to arm themselves.

The feds are appealing the Binderup ruling to the Supreme Court. The Third Circuit ruling in Binderup essentially said that gun rights could only be stripped away for serious crimes, and a misdemeanor with no element about unlawful use of force does not rise to that level. I had lost track of the case since District Court, but it won all the way up to Third Circuit en-banc. UPDATE: Oops, no they aren’t appealing. This is what happens when I let posts sit in the queue for days.

Makes you wonder how often this kind of thing is going to happen.

Debunking the arguments against Constitutional Carry. With patrol cars now being networked, cops can tell if someone is prohibited or not. Even at a practical level, permits are antiquated.

Shannon Watts lands an article in Teen Vogue. Do teens even still read magazines?

A War Without Rifles.

Are Gunsmiths Screwed?

Massad Ayoob: The Coolest Shooting Match Ever is Back!

Off Topic:

Reason: “If You’re Freaking Out Over Donald Trump’s Presidential Powers, Thank a Liberal!” Both Bush and Obama greatly expanded executive power. Do you see Trump trying to undo that? I don’t. Thanks guys.

I’m starting to think this might be a good idea: “The failed F-35 fighter-jet program can’t be fixed — it’s time to turn the page.

Tam: “A God-bothering SoCon drug warrior career politician for GOP AG? Wow. That’s so maverick. I can feel the swamp draining.” I know NRA has been pulling for him, and certainly Sessions will help us there, but the drug war is yet another issue that alienates the GOP from younger generations.

More Media Wagon Circling Over the Hearing Protection Act

This time the LA Times is getting in the game:

Stiff federal regulations on silencers date back to 1934, when they were enacted as part of a crackdown on machine guns and other instruments of mobster violence.

Actually, silencers were included in NFA because of concerns over poaching during the Great Depression. I think it’s hilarious that the LA Times writer cited the Michael Rosenwald’s WaPo article we talked about the other day, because Rosenwald’s article actually said as much. It’s almost as if no one who comments on Rosenwald’s article actually read it! Was the concern over poaching legitimate? I don’t think so. I’d argue politicians back then were just as ignorant as they are now, and Maxim had only started selling them three decades prior.

Manufacturers say it’s illogical to raise a higher bars to silencer purchases than gun purchases, but this is a double-edged sword. They may be right, but that’s an argument for making guns as hard to buy as silencers, rather than the other way around.

That’s not politically tenable in this country. Again, this is the kind of crap the bores me. You’re never going to get ordinary handguns under NFA-like restrictions. Originally, this was tried when the NFA was passed, and handguns were awkwardly removed under pressure from the National Revolver Association and the NRA. What we were left with was the AOW designation.

“There’s no evidence of a public health issue associated with hearing loss from gunfire,” says Kristin Brown of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “There is evidence of a public health crisis from gun violence, and we think that’s where legislative efforts should be directed.”

Yeah, she’s an authority for sure. Let’s get Kristen to stand next to a Glock 19 as its magazine is emptied and then see how long it takes her hearing to come back to normal, assuming it does not cause permanent damage. Why doesn’t Kristen ask some of the old dudes at my club, who grew up around unsuppressed gunfire in the days before hearing protection was all that good? She won’t be able to without shouting at them, because they are all deaf as a post. Even those of us who wear hearing protection have had instances where either the foam didn’t fully expand, or the rifle butt slipped them out of position and your next shot rings your ears.

OSHA says that any noise over 85 decibels is the “action level” for requiring workers to wear hearing protection. OSHA warns that exposure of 110dB for a period of one minute risks permanent hearing loss. The sound of a 9mm firing is 160 decibels. That is loud enough to physically burst your eardrums. It will hurt if you’re near it. Also note that the decibel scale is logarithmic rather than linear. For those who don’t get that, it means that 160dB is a whole crapload louder than 85dB that OSHA considers action level. Silencers reduce the report of gunfire to below the level that risks bursting eardrums, but it’s still loud: about 120-130 decibels.

Others point to indications that silencers can reduce public awareness of developing firearm attacks and interfere with law enforcement.

Nonsense. Can you hear the sound of a jackhammer from a pretty good distance? Then you can hear the sound of a suppressed firearm.

The fact is this: if you are around a gun being shot in an indoor environment without suppression, you are more than likely going to suffer permanent hearing loss if you’re not wearing hearing protection. Most people who don’t shoot have have no idea how loud gunfire really is. TV and computer speakers cannot do it justice. People like Kristen Brown and her allies are going to deliberately lie about the effects because they are depending on that public ignorance to derail what is, actually, a legitimate effort to make it easier for people to buy what is honestly a firearm safety accessory that never should have been regulated the way it was in the first place.

Reciprocity for non-resident permits

Via the NRA’s FB page I just found out that Rep. Richard Hudson (R., N.C.) does intend that his bill cover reciprocity of non-resident permits. Which means I probably ought to start looking into getting a non-resident permit from someplace, so I can join Sebastian and Bitter in a small victory dance in Central Park :)

From a purely pragmatic viewpoint, this may make it harder to get passed, because states which have training requirements might object to having them bypassed. So we shall see how that fares in the sausage grinder. And then it has to survive the inevitable court challenges. That having been said, that the bill’s author is starting with that as the base is something I wouldn’t have expected even a couple of years ago.

Journalists’ Gun Policy Arguments Bore Me to Death

Just Don't Bore MeBy now we’ve all head of the mass shooting at the Fort Lauderdale Airport terminal. Joe Huffman speculates whether he picked Florida specifically because Florida banned carrying firearms in airports. Despite what many would accuse, this is not crazy talk: mass shooters often carefully plan their attacks, and consider the possibility of counter attack.

One issue I have with gun policy debates today that play out in the mainstream press is they’ve just gotten utterly boring. Take one of my favorite boring arguments: “He was a law abiding gun owner, until he wasn’t.” You don’t say? People don’t become criminals until they commit a crime? Bowl me over with a feather! This is essentially the argument of Daniel Ruth, columnist for the Tampa Bay Times, who is upset the Florida legislature is debating whether banning firearms in non-sterile areas of airports actually deters anyone intending to go on a killing spree from carrying out the deed. You’d think most of the article would be a discussion about that, but you’d be wrong.

Throughout his article you have passages like: “which would allow some 1.7 million people with concealed carry gun permits to move freely through airport terminals while armed.” Does that not imply something is wrong with 1.7 million people having Florida concealed carry permits? Of course it does, because later Ruth states that allowing firearms in non-sterile areas of airports: “assumes those 1.7 million gun-packing Floridians are Atticus Finch meets Dirty Harry — cool and calm under pressure and always blessed with perfect aim.”

So what bores me with all of this? Here’s the core issue: is society better or worse off allowing ordinary people to possess the ability to effectively apply deadly defensive force in public places. It’s not even really about guns, because if we had particle disrupters as the leading technology to apply deadly force, we’d be debating that. On the core issue at hand, the side represented by Daniel Ruth has pretty much lost the policy debate. Their current arguments on this topic are little more than channeling their anxiety at having lost by attacking the people who won.

It’s not that I have an issue, per se, with debates on the margins of a core issue: if you want to argue allowing teachers to carry firearms in schools risks a gun carelessly carried in a purse ending up in the hands of a student, I think we can have that debate. I can even think of arguments about guns in airport terminals that I might not agree with, but that wouldn’t bore me to death. But people like Daniel Ruth aren’t really interested in making actual arguments on the margins, or even rearguing the core debate with fresh arguments. They are only interested in public expressions of their anxiety at having lost. What surprises me, and is the reason I have absolutely zero respect for the media, is that anyone bothers to publish it. I am interested in sharing and debating ideas, but not so much reading or talking about the social anxiety of journalists.

Prepping the Ground for the Suppressor Fight

You can hate the Washington Post’s ignorant article about suppressors, but I have to admit that tying it to the Trumps was an effin’ brilliant way to frame the issue if the aim is to derail the bill. Why? Because most people don’t really give a shit or understand this issue, but if you try to imply the Trumps have something to gain from it, you trigger all the lefty hate rage, and that gets people who otherwise wouldn’t care motivated to oppose it. If the Trumps want it, surely it must be the Worst. Idea. Ever. That’s exactly what I’m seeing around social media.

The key is to speak out in favor of the issue. Put a human face on it. A lot of the same folks who complain about this bill are the same types who complain about noise emanating from gun clubs. Imagine if clubs could encourage members to use suppression? Right now that’s not a reasonable request because of the regulations. Push the training angle, and how it makes it much safer during instruction if the person being instructed can actually hear commands. This is one of those issues where we have really good arguments, and the other side is stuck hoping people believe Hollywood portrayals of how silencers work, and are willing to jump in and ra! ra! team! in opposition is the issue is framed in a way that triggers an emotional response.

Will Bloomberg Run a Semi-Auto Ban as a Ballot Measure?

I don’t think this Assault Weapons Ban will get through the Washington legislature, which makes me wonder if this is prep for accomplishing the same thing via ballot measure. While Bloomberg very nearly lost the vote in Nevada, and was outright defeated in Maine, he got a stronger margin for his Washington ballot initiative on “gun violence restraining orders” than he did on the private transfer ban. He might be feeling like Washington voters are in the mood for some gun control.

Generally speaking, gun bans have not done very well on the ballot even in liberal states, but as California has shown, things might have changed since the gun control movement last had money for this kind of thing. California is a lost cause, however. I don’t think Washington is. But I also think Bloomberg will keep pushing until he’s rebuked.

Hard to Believe It’s Been a Decade

Without really thinking about it, our 10 year blogoversary came and went. This blog has been sputtering along since January 6th, 2007. A decade of blogging is a lot for anyone, and I am getting tired. At some point, I probably will stop, but I’m not there yet. Obviously my posting frequency has dropped a good bit, but I’m not ready to completely throw in the towel.

A lot of that is really more lack of time than lack of interest. How many of you feel like you’re working harder today than you were a decade ago? A lot, I suspect. Maybe it’s easier when we’re younger. I was 32 when I started what was then Snowflakes In Hell, and didn’t fit the stereotypes of gun owners: the middle-aged fat white guy. A decade later at 42, I look a lot more like the stereotype than I really care to.

When I think back to what the blogging community was like in 2007 versus what blogging is all about today, it’s a night and day difference. When I started, you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a new blog. Now bloggers who don’t blog for a living are almost extinct. The traditional blog look and feel has given away to the E-zine model (is e-zine even a word anymore?). If you’re not a Google News source, you might as well not exist.

When I started this blog, Facebook had only been open to non-college students for a few months. Twitter also had only been launched a few months before, and no one had really heard of it. Social Media was not a thing, and blogging was a place people went to share and discuss ideas. It was a means to route around the traditional media. Back then, it was even a way to keep the issue ahead of the NRA, who in the days before they had any real social media presence, was usually late to the debates of the day. Today is about as likely I find out about breaking news from NRA’s online presence as I do other sources.

It’s been a hell of a journey. I never would have imagined the people I would get to know through blogging. I hope, over the last decade, I’ve had some kind of positive impact on this issue. I’d like to think what I’ve done here has mattered. As we enter our second decade of publication, I still can’t believe there are people who stop by on a regular basis to read the reams shit that go through my brain and out my fingers! For those that do, a hearty thank you.

Where is Gun Politics Going?

One of my big regrets of blogging about gun politics today is that I think all the interesting developments in politics are happening outside the gun issue. I’m hoping that a refresh on the federal bench might change some of that in 2017, and we can get some interesting movement in the courts again. But it’s hard to know what will happen.

I sense that the 2016 election is a pretty epic shift in the political balance, much in the same way 2008 was. Both the 2008 and 2016 election are not the pendulum swinging one way, and then swinging back. If you think that, you’re trying to shoe-horn the current political situation into the context you’ve understood all your life: the Post-WWII order created by our parents (if you’re a boomer) and grandparents (if you’re my generation). I believe 2008 and 2016 represent that order shattering. I’m not sure that will be a good thing. First let me argue where I think things are going with the gun issue:

  • Trump will fulfill a lot of his promises on court nominations, and that’s largely because Presidents don’t have a whole lot of leeway in who they appoint. If they did, we’d be talking about Justice Harrier Meyers. Court appointments are where Presidents appease their base. Your average voter isn’t paying attention to court fights, and nominations tend to get drowned in issues those folks don’t care to follow closely. We never would have won Heller and McDonald if Al Gore had won the 2000 election, even though Bush came into office promising to sign a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban. We can make progress with politicians who are “good enough.” We don’t need angels.
  • Trump is going to disappoint us in a lot of other ways. I am not looking forward to his first big test on the issue (think a Sandy Hook like event). He’ll be under a lot of pressure and he tends to get stupid off the cuff and under pressure.
  • Our bigger disappointment will be Congress. We’re all talking about this election as if we just won the lottery. It still takes 60 votes to pass legislation through the Senate. The GOP will be more than happy to put on a show for you and blame those dastardly filibustering Democrats for not being able to get anything done. Just be mindful of that. It’s not an excuse. The Dems will nuke the filibuster first chance they get. You can count on it. Republicans shouldn’t entertain any delusions about that.
  • Bloomberg is going to find that he can only defeat us at the margins, only at a very heavy cost in dollars. Unfortunately for us, the 20 million dollars Bloomberg blew on his gamble in Nevada is pocket change to him. He can still afford to whittle at the margins a lot, even if it mostly results in defeat, and if he’s smart it won’t. That said, I believe Bloomberg has hit his high water mark with gun control, but events unforeseen could prove me wrong here.
  • I believe we’re going to arrive at an equilibrium there we are not fully happy with, but it’ll be one that’s not disastrous to the gun culture we’ve been trying to build. There will be opportunities opened up. I think we can win on gun bans. The worst excesses of the anti-gun states can be checked.
  • On the down side, anti-gun states are going to win on a lot of marginal issues we won’t be completely happy with. I don’t believe California and New Jersey are, in my lifetime at least, ever going to be as pro-gun as Wyoming. The courts are going to leave more room for variation than we’d ideally like.
  • I don’t believe I will live to see the Hughes Amendment repealed, though I’d love to be wrong. I think we may get some more exceptions shot through it, but I think even a few decades from now if you want to take up collecting machine guns, you’re going to have to jump through hoops, deal with the legal maze, and fork up serious coin. That’s assuming it’s even legal in your state, because I don’t foresee court enforced protections for full-autos, SBRs and SBSs. That will have to come legislatively.
  • The good news is that I think we can achieve deregulating silencers closer to the short term, and that SBRs and SBSs might also be reachable legislatively, though I’m not very optimistic the courts striking down NFA provisions. In a lot of states these will remain illegal or more strictly regulated than under federal law.
  • The courts are liable to uphold a lot of “gun free zones” we’re not happy with. I believe they will uphold much of the “prohibited persons” mechanisms, though they might actually demand some token due process here and there. I’ve said for a long time, I will never live to see a return to cash on the barrel sales of firearms. Background checks are not going anywhere. There are probably even private sale restrictions the courts will uphold.
  • Here’s the real hard pill to swallow: the younger generation are far less concerned about personal privacy than earlier ones. They don’t have the visceral reaction to registration that we do if bans and confiscation are legal impossibilities. Even if the government never imposes formal registration, de-facto registration will likely become reality. To be honest, privacy is quickly becoming obsolete just because of technology. I’m not sure this is taking us to a good place, but that’s where we’re going whether we like it or not. How to manage this future could be a whole long post in itself.

What about politics in general?

  • Nationalism and populism are back, baby, and God help us. I don’t mean just the kind of traditional pride in your country, sing the national anthem at sporting events kind of nationalism, but the kind of nationalism that brought us such wondrous events as World War I and World War II. This is a global trend. Democracy is reasserting itself, and the people are sick of transnational institutions. Is this a good thing? Who knows. I generally tend to think the people reasserting themselves is probably healthy, but I also think there were good reasons many of our founders feared raw democratic power.
  • The post-WWII order is definitely disintegrating before our eyes. I’m not certain this incantation of nationalism will be the same as the kind we were taught spurned two major calamities, but I’m also not sure that another major calamity isn’t coming. History doesn’t really repeat itself, but it does have parallels.
  • Our current international institutions are anything but democratic, and probably deserve some rebuke. Both the UN and the EU are post-WWII technocratic institutions with no real democratic legitimacy. The UN was intended to be a top-down instrument of policy for the victors of the Second World War. It served as a stage on which the Cold War could be fought, and a mechanism by which “minor” country squabbles could be resolved before they had the chance to draw in major powers.
  • For all it’s faults, much of the Post WWII order was designed to avert the possibility of a Third World War fought with nuclear weapons, and it worked. But no one younger than 35 really understands this, and I believe that’s very dangerous.
  • The EU is probably going to collapse. To put it bluntly, the EU started off with good intention as a way to tie the continent together economically so as to make future wars unthinkable. It worked too well. What the EU has turned into is a not so subtle conspiracy by British, French, and German elites to control Europe both economically and politically via extra-democratic means. This was all well and good as long as those elites were actually doing a good job, but shit is starting to get real, and they don’t have answers except to double down on the status quo. The people have noticed.

If I had to make a prediction, technocratic and bureaucratic transnational institutions are going the way of the dodo. I don’t know what will replace them because I don’t believe globalism is going away: globalism is an inevitable consequence of technological progress. But people, everyday people, are reasserting themselves. You’re going to see that across the world, and not just here. Brexit and Trump are just symptoms. I don’t really know where all this is going, but it is definitely an interesting time to be alive, and I’m not sure whether by “interesting” I mean good “interesting” or bad “interesting.”


You Knew There Would Be a Parting F*** You

You had to expect there would be a final middle finger extended in our direction as Obama headed out the door. Because it’s a regulation, the incoming Administration can’t just undo it on a whim: they have to go through the rule-making process. Alternately, our Republican Congress could fix this issue with legislation, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on it being a priority for them. There are a few interesting claims in the regulation itself, which has appeared in the Federal Register:

Our authority to report the information we include in these final rules stems from section 101(a)(4) of the NIAA, which requires that we provide to the Attorney General for inclusion in the NICS pertinent information included in any record demonstrating that a person falls within one of the categories in 18 U.S.C. 922(g) or (n).3 NIAA section 101(c)(1)(C) does not prohibit us from reporting this information to the NICS.

You see, we just report this stuff to the DOJ. What those meanies do it is their problem, not ours. So don’t think you can blame us, the SSA, for this. This bit below is just pulling justification out of their asses:

The commenters who relied on section 101(c)(1)(C) only cited part of the section in their comments. In its entirety, section 101(c)(1)(C) of the NIAA states: ‘‘No department or agency of the Federal Government may provide to the Attorney General any record of an adjudication related to the mental health of a person or any commitment of a person to a mental institution if

. . . (C) the adjudication or commitment, respectively, is based

3 NIAA 101(a)(4), 121 Stat. at 2161.

solely on a medical finding of disability, without an opportunity for a hearing by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority, and the person has not been adjudicated as a mental defective consistent with section 922(g)(4) of title 18, United States Code, except that nothing in this section or any other provision of law shall prevent a Federal department or agency from providing to the Attorney General any record demonstrating that a person was adjudicated to be not guilty by reason of insanity, or based on lack of mental responsibility, or found incompetent to stand trial, in any criminal case or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.’’

We are not reporting information in records based solely on a medical finding of disability without the person being adjudicated as subject to the Federal mental health prohibitor ‘‘consistent with 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4).’’ The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has clarified through regulations that this prohibition covers individuals who have been determined by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition or disease to be a danger to himself or to others, or who lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her own affairs.4

The DOJ Guidance specifically indicates that records relevant to the NICS include ‘‘agency records of adjudications of an individual’s inability to manage his or her own affairs if such adjudication is based on marked subnormal intelligence or mental illness, incompetency, condition or disease.’’

What SSA is doing here is pretty clearly and flagrant violation of NIAA, but they rely here on “DOJ Guidance” which is specifically counter to the NIAA. Essentially BATFE has never updated any of their regulations and policies to comply with the NIAA requirements. That’s what SSA is depending on here. They are setting themselves up to take no responsibility for depriving million of SSA recipients of their right to keep and bear arms with no trial or due process whatsoever.

Here’s the thing, regulations can’t be changed at the drop of a hat, but “ATF Guidance” surely can. Will Trump appoint someone who will actually clean up ATF and start making them follow the law for a change?

It’s interesting looking at this and thinking what the Obama Administration is trying to accomplish here, and it’s kind of brilliant in its deviousness:

  1. Regulations aren’t easy to undo. Much of this will not be noticed by anyone until after Trump takes office. So this regulation will largely blow up in his face and he won’t just be able to undo it. Most people don’t pay attention to politics, and the way this will get noticed is when grandpa has a heart attack and then ends up charged because the responding cops noticed a pistol by the bedside, but yet he has a record with the FBI. Any high profile case in the community will hurt Trump with his base.
  2. The passage of NIAA was controversial at the time, because GOA and NAGR came up with some very creative ways NIAA would be interpreted. By taking NIAA and pushing it’s language way beyond what it supports, they lend credibility to GOA and NAGR’s fears. That’s bound to re-open the debate. It will be argued that NIAA offered the justification, but I still believe NIAA was the right thing to do, as it required a relief mechanism from mental health disability that did not previously exist. Putting people into NICS en-masse is a trick that dates back to the Clinton Administration. I think using NIAA a justification was a very clever fuck you.

The solution to this should be legislative, if we’re going to fix this permanently. The Gun Control Act’s mental health provisions are outdated, and there was a bill in the last Congress to replace them. That would frustrate the habit of Dem Administrations trying to stuff as many people into NICS as they can get away with.