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Connecticut Supreme Court Allows Bushmaster Suit to Go Forward

It should come as no surprise that a Dan Malloy packed court decided that PLCAA be damned, the Sandy Hook families suit against Bushmaster could go forward. Malloy has appointed all but two justices on the Supreme Court. One of those joined the dissent. I’d note that the Chief Justice, appointed by Malloy, joined the dissent as well. I’ve only skimmed over the opinion at this point, but based on that, it looks like the following:

  1. The Court upheld the decision by the lower courts that suggested the negligent entrustment claim does not fall under the safe harbor provisions in the PLCAA. That’s good, because that was the most potentially damaging had it succeeded.
  2. The Court ruled they had standing to sue. The argument was that because they did not have any consumer relationship with Bushmaster, the plaintiffs had no standing to file suit. The Court dismissed this and ruled they had standing, since they alleged they were harmed by Bushmaster’s marketing.
  3. The Court applied the Statute of Limitation for wrongful death claims to the plaintiffs, dismissing the argument that the suit fell outside the statute of limitations for the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA).
  4. The defendants claimed it was a product liability claim, which would mean the plaintiffs forfeit any right of action under CUTPA. The Court disagreed.
  5. The Court ruled the PLCAA did not bar a suit against Bushmaster for violating CUTPA, arguing that Bushmaster violated state law by marketing the AR-15 “to civilians for criminal purposes.” The claim is because Bushmaster used military imagery in their advertising, they were essentially marketing to mass killers.

To those of you who think Bloomberg doesn’t matter: I’ve been following the legal arguments of anti-gun attorneys for some time. The negligent entrustment issue is something they would have come up with years ago, and I think I remember this attempt. It failed even here. This new theory is brilliant. If it’s allowed, a handful of anti-gun states will effectively be able to control the marketing of firearms, just like with tobacco. Remington Outdoors has the option to appeal this to the Supreme Court of the United States. That is, in fact, the next step after losing at the Connecticut Supreme Court.

For those of you driving through Connecticut: be aware that most auto manufacturers use racing teams to help market their products. Formula 1, NASCAR, Rally racing, etc. If you are hit and injured by anyone driving a car marketed by one of these manufacturers where the driver is speeding, by the logic of the Connecticut Supreme Court using CUTPA in this manner, you have a cause of action against the auto manufacturer for negligent advertising. If I were Tesla, I’d think about renaming “Insane Mode” too. I won’t even get into how accountable video game manufacturers will be under this novel legal reasoning. But I suspect we got this ruling because like the Orange Man is Very Bad, Guns are Very Icky, just like the people who like them.

I’m So Sad

Dick’s is removing guns from 125 stores. Same store sales are down. I’m so sad. I don’t call for boycotts anymore, but I won’t shop there. Amazon sells all the things Dick’s does, and while Bezos isn’t a big gun guy, these days he’s too busy talking to divorce attorneys to even be half as woke as Ed Stack. Dick’s stock is up, because Wall Street is also woke AF these days.

Armed Resistance in Venezuela

Miguel, who is an expat from Venezuela, notes that one civilian armed with a pistol stopped a National Guard advance. Remember, the people who spew all this bullshit about the government having tanks, jets and nuclear weapons don’t really get what armies are for. The purpose of an army is the imposition of political will. It’s not just to kill people and destroy things. Armies do those things, of course, but the overriding goal in using an army is to impose your political will on other people. That becomes much harder and more complicated when the people you’re looking to do that to are universally armed and willing to resist. The problem in Venezuela is there’s not enough of either.

Attention Paranoid Nutcases

When will you dumb flyover rubes get that there’s no one out there who wants to take your guns.

WHEREAS, under this “individual right theory”, the United States Constitution restricts legislative bodies from prohibiting firearm possession, or at the very least, the Second Amendment renders prohibitory and restrictive regulation presumptively unconstitutional; and

Don’t you get it? You’re all paranoid and delusional. Just crazy. Sure, there are a few nuts who want to ban guns. But it’s not a mainstream viewpoint. Certainly no legislature of any US state would ever endorse such an idea. Get with reality. We just want a few common sense gun laws.

Gun Control is a Proxy for Class Struggle

Americans have never historically liked to admit we have class struggles. I guess it sounds a bit too Marxist, even though now we love ourselves some socialism now. Well, at least we love it to the extent the kids these days even know what socialism is. I don’t really hear too many young people singing the praises of Marx. Socialism has come to mean Scandinavian-style welfare states (which are not very socialist anymore). Do young people who dig “socialism” even know who Marx is? I’ve never had a young person tell me they are socialist and want to discuss Marxist theory. Anyway, I digress.

We don’t historically like Marxist-sounding class struggles, so we use proxy issues. Gun control is one of those fights. For the most part, the monied elite of Silicon Valley and New York City don’t like the idea of ordinary people being armed, and don’t much like the kind of people who insist on it. When I started blogging, we were enjoying a lot of cultural success. What were the elements at work then? In no particular order:

  • We developed shooting sports that didn’t require large amounts of open space.
  • We had found new ways to self-organize on the Internet.
  • We were introducing a lot of people to shooting and promoting an evangelistic gun culture.
  • Gun control forces were disorganized and out of money.
  • The Supreme Court blessed our long-held viewpoint of the 2nd Amendment being an individual right. This worked! Even the reinvigorated gun control movement isn’t talking handgun bans. They want to ban semi-auto rifles now.

The question that I’ve been mulling around in my head is whether our current predicament is a backlash to our earlier success. Back then we were making a lot of noises about bringing our culture to New York City and preaching to the heathen there. We were optimistic. Then the Supreme Court toppled Chicago’s handgun ban, and further guidance from the 7th Circuit forced the establishment of a shall-issue regime. I think there’s a good argument for the idea that our success put people like Bloomberg, and a lot of his very rich friends, into an utter panic about the idea that they might end up living near those kinds of people. The idea that the courts might start letting the wrong kind of people exercise some semblance of personal dignity and autonomy, why, they might start getting the idea that their opinions ought to matter. We might have to endure *gasp* gun talk in our social circles. Wouldn’t that just be the worst?

I understand that Mike Bloomberg is an aviation enthusiast, and I’ve never understood how enthusiasts in anything don’t instinctively get other enthusiasts, because it’s all the same. But aviation is a good way to signal status, I suppose. Not guns. I know plumbers who have collections that put mine to shame. Can’t use that. In this day in age, there isn’t much to signal status for the wealthy. You basically have what? Houses, cars, yachts, and aircraft? I guess if you’re really wealthy, you can signal with your own space program, but I’d say that’s a subset of aircraft. I don’t think jewelry and furs do it much anymore. The rich have stopped signaling with dress in the 21st century, and signaling being very important, they have to make some distinction, right?

The difficult part for us is a small handful of wealthy people deciding to fund a backlash can accomplish quite a lot. Because there’s a lot of people who want to be upwardly, socially mobile, and will imitate the attitudes and behaviors of the Right Kind of People.¬†The rise of the twin evils of the Google search monopoly and social media has had a powerful effect at amplifying elite opinion. Google has been a search monopoly for a while, but I think only recently they’ve started to understand they can use that monopoly to shape public opinion and started using it to that effect. I would argue the elite have never had such an effective toolbox for manipulating public opinion. William Randolph Hearst¬†could have never dreamed about having the kind of power the Silicon Valley elite now wield.

Glenn Reynolds says about gun control, and I think he’s completely right about this: “It’s meant to humiliate the flyover rubies and show them who’s boss.” We don’t like class struggle in American politics so we couch it in other issues. A lot of people I know have gotten more strident about gun control because they are getting a lot of reinforcing signals on Social Media and the Internet that the Right Kind of People support gun control, and the Wrong Kind of People, a Bad Kind of People who want dead children, oppose it. Also, the Orange Man, who is Very Bad, sides with these warped gun people.

So what do we do? One thing is for sure, we can’t just shut up. We have to keep doing what we were doing that built on our initial success. But I have to admit, I don’t really engage in open political discussion on Facebook, and I deleted my Twitter presence a while ago. I have taken a course of disengagement with Social Media, except for a handful of communities that are carefully cultivated. It’s not that I shy from debate, or want to live in a bubble. I miss intelligent disagreement. I’m happy to advocate for things I believe in. But I can’t tolerate the mindless conformity, self-importance, and virtue signaling social media promotes. I’m always willing to discuss an issue. But I’m not willing to subject myself to being called a monster for disagreeing, or to waste my time watching other people preen for their peers. Social Media is full of that. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot by disengaging? What is a winning strategy in today’s world? Is there one? These are things I wrestle with.

We Were Better off When the Parties Competed for our Vote

Trump has come out and announced he will save us from HR 8 and HR 1112. That is assuming the Senate doesn’t save us, which all indications suggest it will. So we at least know what the Dem priorities are:

  1. Ban all gun transfers between non FFLs except with narrow exceptions.
  2. End default proceeds, or at least get to as close to ending them as possible. This means they can deny gun rights to people just by refusing to conduct or finish background checks.
  3. Restrict magazine capacity.
  4. Ban assault weapons. I’m curious to see if Pelosi pushes this.

I keep saying, these people are not strategic dummies, and should not be lightly dismissed. Bloomberg didn’t make his fortune by being a moron. For the first two, I have to do a lot more education to make sure gun owners understand the issues. Most have no idea what a default proceed even is. But PICS outages they are well familiar with. So you have to put it in that context. This is just an example.

The latter two gun owners are already well-educated on. At this point there are more AR-15s out there, I’d wager way more AR-15s out there, than there are Mini-14s and M1 Carbines, two firearms that were exempted in the 90s bans because there were just too many owners out there who would raise hell.

Most gun people, even people who shoot a lot or own a lot, and therefore have something to lose, don’t really follow this stuff or know the ins or outs of the law. They will happily go through life blissfully unaware of the maze of laws that surround them like a pride of lions waiting for them to drift from the herd. Their goal is to “create a culture of compliance” among us. You will bend to their will, or else.

H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 Vote Happening This Week

The Dems could have had “universal background checks” years ago if that’s what they actually wanted, but they don’t. This is not an accident. It’s part of the plan. So take action now. Even the people cosponsoring the bill need to hear from us. The H.R. 1112, if you haven’t heard of it, will increase the waiting period under the Brady Act from 3 to 20 days. The default proceed was placed in the Brady Act to prevent the government just halting all gun sales by shutting down NICS. It’s an important safeguard. Also, once it’s 20, it’ll be 30, and then no time limit. All the government has to do is refuse to conduct background checks and no one will be able to buy a gun. This could be done by executive fiat, especially if he or she were to declare an “emergency” on guns, as Pelosi has suggested.

I think we need to start looking at overhauling the whole system, personally. Instead of a dealer running a background check on you, you run one on yourself. You could set up kiosks at FFLs. The “all clear” it prints out has a QR code on it that allows the check to be verified as genuine and belonging to the person it was issued to. So all you need to do is verify the identity of that person. For people who don’t want to keep going through that, make the Type 03 FFL apply to collectors of all firearms. I’d even be willing to trade a limit of, say, 20 transfers a year that can be done on a type 3, with more than that requiring a type 1 or 2, which we don’t restrict in the manner we do today.

But they would never go for this. Because the purpose of these bills is not to ensure every sale gets a background check. The goal is to frustrate you out of exercising your rights in the first place.

190 Dem Cosponsors, Not One Republican

The Assault Weapons ban of 2019, H.R. 1296, comes with 190 cosponsors. That tells me they mean to pass it. I’d note that 190 is not a majority. It takes 218 votes to pass a bill. It would be interesting to look at the Dems that haven’t cosponsored. I would be willing to bet many of them are in newly Dem districts that aren’t all that safe. I notice my anti-gun Republican Congressman isn’t among the sponsors. No Republicans are. Doesn’t mean they won’t be yes votes when the bill hits the floor, but it does mean we should not take for granted that Nancy has the votes. Obviously with that many cosponsors, a new Assault Weapons Ban passing the House is a real threat. If she means to have a fight, let’s have a fight. If your lawmaker is a Dem or squishy Republican, and they aren’t on this list, I’d organize now to make sure they hear from us.

Even if they are sponsors, they should hear from you. But it’s especially important that we influence those who are open to being influenced.

A Discomforting Thought

I think a lot of folks are deeply uncomfortable with the notion that a handful of rich guys can essentially buy their preferred policy. Perhaps so uncomfortable that they don’t want to admit it’s the case. But they can. In our type of democratic system, they at least have to convince voters. But unfortunately that’s not all that hard.

Caleb has a great article about the future gun control fight. Also see what Miguel had in reference to my comments from yesterday. I don’t mean to come off as a pessimist. Bloomberg has picked a hell of a fight with us. That money of his would have steamrollered over other issues. But we do have our own advantages. What I would say to our people:

  • The time for division is not now. We need a strong NRA. If you quit NRA over bump stocks or red flag laws, you aren’t helping. I’m not saying we can’t have disagreement, but we all need to be rowing in the same direction and understanding what’s important. Miguel notes that activists in Florida are concentrating on Open Carry. I would advise concentrating on stopping the ballot measure Bloomberg is going to foist on you in 2020. NRA has to have money to fight that. We cannot write off the third most populous state. We will never be able to outspend Bloomberg, but we sure as hell can out-organize him. We have a blueprint, and last I heard the dude who pulled off defeating the Massachusetts handgun ban is still alive. The odds were stacked against him too.
  • Forget about the fucking bump stocks. It’s not where the fight is. That’s over. The fight is preserving the right to own semi-automatic firearms. That’s ultimately what they want, because they are well aware no state’s gun culture has ever come back from an assault weapons ban. Gun bans are a death blow to the culture. If you want to get the hard-core activists worked up over saving an impractical range toy, or in some misguided effort to (badly) get around the machine gun restrictions, you’re not paying attention to where the actual fight is.
  • Be prepared to go to your capitol in protest. Start organizing that with local resources now. It will be needed.
  • Set up communication channels that can’t be shut down or censored by Facebook and Google. The achilleas heel of blogs is that they depend on search traffic, and search traffic can be manipulated. The elite basically have the ability to completely screw us if they decide to start shutting down pro-2A groups and pages on social media, and manipulate the search results so that no one ever finds our arguments. As a community, we need to get more sophisticated about manipulating search results. But good old fashioned e-mail lists will end up being valuable. These monstrosities are powerful, but they are still big systems that no human could possibly look after. So we have to get good at getting around the barriers they can throw up.
  • Recruit young people. If you’re worried about this issue, you’ve already lost. I’m not as worried we’ve lost the youth, because there are cultural indicators that are quite positive there. We’re becoming the new counter-culture, and I wonder if we should start marketing ourselves that way.

How Did We Get Here?

I don’t think gun rights has been this precarious since the 1990s. Why? I would propose:

  • Bloomberg’s infusion of cash has made a huge difference. We self-organize, as a movement. If the NRA didn’t exist, we would have to create it. I’ve always known we were good at this, but even I’ve been blown away at times at just how good we are at self-organization. The gun control movement does not self-organize. There needs to be an external force to organize a gun control movement. But the people are out there if you have money to pay people to organize them. Bloomberg has that money, and he brought that to the table. It’s starting to pay off.
  • The Supreme Court gave us Heller and McDonald and then went radio silent on the 2nd Amendment. This emboldened the lower courts to engage in full court resistance to those rulings. Culturally, I think Heller and McDonald were a huge boost to the pro-gun movement, and I would say the peak of our power was the 2008-2010 time frame, before Bloomberg really got started, and before it became apparent the lower courts were going to successfully engage in mass resistance. Having the courts abandon the Second Amendment was demoralizing for us and empowering for them.
  • People cheer flight from blue states, but that flight has consequences. Californians have successfully ruined several states of the mountain west. Where’s all the flight from New Jersey and New York going? Where are people from Massachusetts relocating to? And what is happening to those states? This is altering the political landscape of nearby states in fundamental ways.
  • A lot of the old 2nd Amendment warriors are continuing to get old, and wearing out. There aren’t the young people to replace them. Young gun owners have no idea just how bad it can get. Most of them don’t have the experience of having lived through the 1990s and early aughts. They were kids. They came into the issue around the time we were flying high. They don’t remember the assault weapons ban. It’s a theoretical threat to a lot of the young people. Gen Xers are not joiners. Millennials are better than us about that kind of thing, but as gun owners they strike me as still being less engaged politically than older gun owners. Hunting is in decline, but despite people throwing “Fudd” around, in my experience most hunters are pretty passionate about the 2nd Amendment. Shooters have been unwise to dismiss hunting. It was a huge mistake we’re going to pay a price for down the road.

What else? I’m sure there are other factors, but these strike me as big ones.

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