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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.

What’s on the Dem Agenda?

Guns.com has the rundown:

  • Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.
  • No time limit on background checks. All a hostile President would need to do is shut down NICS.
  • Rifle caliber pistols to the NFA.
  • Semi-Auto Rifles that accept detachable magazines to NFA.
  • 80 Percent Lowers are Lowers.

Right now they are pushing HR 8 hard, but this is the shit that’s coming if they manage that.

We Should File a Civil Rights Lawsuit Over This

Los Angeles is demanding contractors disclose ties to NRA. Denying contracts because a contractor is exercising their First Amendment rights? I’d sue them senseless over that bullshit if they denied me a contract. In fact, isn’t the threat enough? I’m hoping the NRA ends up owning Governor Cuomo. I wouldn’t mind seeing a nice fat payout from Los Angeles either.

We can’t keep taking this shit. We need to strike back at these people and make it painful for them.

He’s Right, You Know: Gun Control Aimed at Shooters

Pick off the most enthusiastic, and you’ll be rid of your deplorable gun culture in a generation. That’s what gun control is intended to do. It has nothing at all to do with reducing crime or fighting “gun violence.” Does this lawmaker seriously want us to believe she has evidence that criminals are going through large volumes of ammunition, and that a tax on ammo will help? J. KB is absolutely right: this is intended to discourage target shooting. Someone should ask her who drafted her bill, because lawmakers almost never draft their own bills. Bills are almost universally drafted by staff with the help of lobbyists. Who’s paying the lobbyists that helped her staff? I can give you one guess.

Significant Win in Federal District Court

Adam Kraut and Josh Prince have won a pretty significant as-applied 2nd Amendment case in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Yes, you can lose your right to bear arms for traffic offenses. Someone I know at my club was just telling me the other week that he got arrested for drag racing as a teenager, along with a friend of his that he still keeps in touch with. His parents hired a lawyer and got the case against him dropped, but his friend plead, and has since been prohibited from possessing firearms. Apparently drag racing used to me a 1st-degree misdemeanor in Pennsylvania, which has a potential jail sentence of 5 years, even though his friend never spent a day in jail. In the case just won, the guy got busted for faking an exemption form for tinted windows.

This kind of thing happens more often than you think. The Gun Control Act prescribed a one-size-fits all solution, even though individual states have a lot of variation on what the maximum sentence is for misdemeanor offenses. It’s good to see the courts finally taking this seriously and willing to entertain as-applied challenges, and strike down applications of the Gun Control Act’s prohibitions with regards to non-violent offenses.

Hope at Last

About 1/3rd of my club are residents of New Jersey. We’re a stones throw from the river, and so we’re convenient to all of Central Jersey and even have a contingent from North Jersey. It’s been utterly depressing watching them go through everything with Murphy’s last batch of gun control laws knowing that more is probably coming. Also, when they ask “What can we do?” Having to answer, “Nothing, unfortunately. Only the courts are going to save you. If you’re voting, writing to your reps, you’re doing what you can. But the fact of the matter is you’re outvoted. Moving here [PA] is the only way you’re getting your gun rights back quickly.”

I’m hoping the Supreme Court will give them some welcome news. I’d like to be able to tell them things are about to get better. I want them to have hope. If Roberts wants to play his minimalist games he should come talk to these people and tell them in their face it’s not the court’s job to save them, as he did in NFIB.

Just as an aside: the people who say the immigration issue is tied to gun rights aren’t really out in left field. I still advocate NRA should not take a position on immigration as other gun groups have done, but the fact is that of the worst states for gun control, California has 27% foreign born. New Jersey and New York are is 22%. They are among the top 5 states with foreign born populations. In contrast, Pennsylvania is 6%.

Of course not every immigrant favors gun control, and I don’t think immigrants as a group are clamoring for more gun control. But I believe they are on balance more likely to tolerate it, which allows progressive elites to impose it on the deplorables without suffering much for doing it.

That’s not to say you can’t have large number of immigrants and still win on gun rights. Florida has the highest foreign born of the gun rights leaning states at 19%, with Texas following up at 16%. So it is possible to absorb a large number of immigrants and still maintain gun rights. Maybe once you cross the 20% mark, it’s pretty much over. But it probably helps that both those states started pretty opposed to gun control in the first place. That’s not true of New Jersey. Though it was once true of California. I don’t think immigration explains all of it, but the correlation can’t be ignored.

Where Great Britain Never Was

This is going viral in the gun-o-sphere:

I know, I know, UK cops saving the world one Buck 110 at a time. I think my father might have had one of those.

But just some historical notes for the curious: the PSNI are the Police Service of Northern Ireland. They are the successor organization to the Royal Ulster Constabulary, who were regarded, and not without justification, as thugs with badges by the catholic population of Ulster. PSNI are the kinder, gentler RUC that were created under the Good Friday Agreement, which governs Northern Ireland’s relationship with the British mainland.

Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but it is not part of Great Britain. The Northern Irish are Irish, not British. Though many are Scots by descent. Great Britain is Scotland, England and Wales.

Because of the Good Friday Agreement, Northern Ireland are not subject to the same gun laws found in Great Britain. You can still legally own a handgun in Northern Ireland. It is the only part of the United Kingdom where self-defense is an acceptable and valid reason to own a firearm. However, they are still governed by the ridiculous UK knife laws, which is seems to Royal Ulster Constabulary Police Service of Northern Ireland are enforcing. Locking knives are strictly forbidden under the Knife laws, as are knives with blades longer than three inches. The Buck 110 both locks and has a blade that’s 3.75 inches long.

Don’t Expect Miracles

I’m seeing a lot of gun owners out there having unrealistic expectations about what this case will accomplish. I don’t think you’re seeing the beginning of the end for Second Amendment litigation. But maybe the end of the beginning, if we’re lucky. As I wrote on Zuck’s Facebook of Horrors:

Kennedy retires and now you have Kavanaugh, who penned that very strong Heller II dissent as a circuit judge. Now instead of having two Weeble Wobbles on the Court, you have one. You also know that your remaining wobbler is a judicial minimalist who doesn’t agree with upsetting legislative apple carts needlessly. This is, I’d note, not even considering what the other justices might know about RBG’s actual condition.

So why not use this case if you’re the four strong pro-2A judges? If you need to, you can narrow it up quite a bit to keep Roberts on board. You can please his inner minimalist. It only affects a few hundred legal gun owners in NYC, after all. But if Roberts is feeling frisky, you can use it to say a lot about the right to bear arms outside the home. You can use it to smack down the 2nd Circuit, which has pretended Heller and McDonald never happened. You can go a lot of places. And if RBG leaves the court for health reasons? It’s a different ball game. I think this case makes a lot of sense, and I’m optimistic.

The fact that it’s an outlier law that exists in literally no other jurisdiction can help Kavanaugh build on this “history and tradition” model because this law is so far removed from that. It’s about as far removed from that as you can get. I think Roberts would also like moving away from standards of review. I think I’ve read some writings of his critical of “levels of scrutiny” that’s been adopted in the First Amendment context and abused by the lower courts in the 2nd Amendment context.

At best, you’ll get a ruling with a lot of helpful dicta that will make the lower courts start taking the Second Amendment more seriously than they have been. This case won’t fix everything having to do with carry. That will take more time and probably more cases. There’s also the possibility that Roberts will insist on keeping the case narrow, and we won’t get much in the way of helpful dicta.

I view this case as testing the waters: the pro-gun justices, believing or perhaps knowing they have a majority, now want to see how a Second Amendment case shakes out, and do it with a case that isn’t high stakes and has a lot of flexibility.

I serve on a decision making body roughly the size of SCOTUS, and I can tell you where my fellow directors stand on things, and can even usually predict where they’ll fall on new issues. And I talk to them all the time. But you never know once you get a discussion going in a meeting where things will actually go. When the stakes are high, you proceed cautiously, even if you’re pretty sure you have the votes on an issue going in.

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