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Feinstein v. Kavanaugh

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To defeat I-1639 in Washington:

The Original Plastic Gun Threat

Dave Kopel has a great article over at the Volokh Conspiracy on the original plastic gun panic that happened in the 1980s.

“Qaddafi Buying Austrian Plastic Pistol.” That was the headline from columnists Jack Anderson and Dale Van Atta in Washington Post on January 15, 1986. According to the article, “The Libyans are said to be trying covert methods to obtain these weapons.”

Today, Glocks are ubiquitous, one of the most common pistols, with many models. But in January 1986, they were little known in America, where only a few thousnd had been sold.

Swiftly, the gun control lobbies began warning Americans about the “plastic pistol.” They dubbed them “terrorist specials” or the “Hijackers Special.” Supposedly, this plastic gun was designed to sneak through metal detectors.

I remember that panic about Qaddafi trying to get a hold of Glocks. It’s interesting that quick law enforcement adoption is likely what saved a lot of pistols.

The comment section over there is a den of cliched wookie suitery:

“Thanks for admitting the NRA compromised.”

Of course it did, because the alternative to an “undetectable firearms” law that actually banned no guns was a much broader law that would have banned nearly all small, concealable firearms before the concealed carry revolution even got off the ground. If you say something like this while adjusting your trusty LCP you carry in your pocket, you’re an idiot.

Remember, “Something must be done!” is the impetus for most of this bullshit. NRA gave them “something” that didn’t ban a single gun, and it put the issue to bed long enough for technological change to make Metzenbaum’s position politically untenable.

“Remember Reagan signed the only outright Federal gun ban.”

Yes, as part of a much broader bill that was intended to prevent the gun culture from being extinguished. No one I’ve ever spoken with who was involved in the FOPA fight thinks that scuttling the whole thing over the Hughes Amendment would have been a wise idea.

So far we’re weathering the 3D gun scare a lot better than we weathered the original plastic gun hysteria. I was only 10 in 1986, but I remember the hype in the news. At the time, I wasn’t aware the whole issue was essentially bullshit: I did not come from a gun owning family. The difference is communication is much better these days, and it’s easier to counter disinformation campaigns. Social media has changed a lot, both for good and ill.

Can’t Stop the Signal, Part II

Yesterday, Alyssa Milano’s NoRA (wow, that’s just so clever) group managed to get codeisfreespeech.com shut down briefly, but they relocated and have come back online.

I have to admit, it checks all the boxes for being the work of Ladd Everitt, formerly of CSGV. Maybe it’s one of his protégés, because last I checked Ladd was still wasting his time with George Takei. But #DownloadableDeath is the kind of over the top hysterics that Ladd could be rightly proud of.

If you’re looking for an alternate source for all your 3D CAD needs, you need to look no further than here. Also:

Tam’s reaction to that is pretty much spot on. I’m really hoping the civil rights lawsuits here are going to be epic.

If you want to view the actual TRO issued against Defense Distributed, you can find it here. I would actually argue that Pennsylvania has no standing to join this suit, since making a firearm at home is not illegal under Pennsylvania law. There is no Pennsylvania law our Governor and Attorney General can articulate that Defense Distributed publishing CAD drawings would undermine. Pennsylvania’s entry into this suit is grandstanding, and that’s about it.

If you don’t want to read the whole TRO, I can sum it up for you.

“Because I, judge, sez, you have a strong likelihood of succeeding on the merits, and this downloadable plastic gun mumbo jumbo sounds scary, a Temporary Restraining Order you can haz!”

But seriously, I will try to explain the issue as best I can, and as best as I understand it. The Plaintiffs here, the various state AGs, contend that the Trump Administration has to go through the rule making process prescribed by the Administrative Procedures Act if they want to change the USML (United State Munitions List). The Administration has agreed to pursue that rule change. But in the mean time, Defense Distributed was granted a license to share their CAD drawings. It’s hard for me to see how the various state AGs have a strong likelihood of succeeding on the merits. The AECA allows the President to grant waivers. Defense Distributed has argued that the decision to grant a license is not even judicable, and cites ample precedent that shows in similar context, the courts, even the 9th Circuit, have agreed it is not.

This is not even considering the First Amendment claims here.

Bloomberg is Looking for Fault Lines

I suspect that the true goal of all the bump stock and 3D printing hysteria is to limit home gun smithing and make working on your own firearms a legally risky maneuver. Well, I should say, more legally risky than it already is. You can also reach AR-15s this way without going for a full on ban because the fact that it’s highly customizable. Eliminate the ability to customize without going to a licensed pro and you might not have your ban, but you’ll push the more dedicated owners out of the hobby. Once you start cutting numbers, then the ban is more politically feasible. Where the gun control movement has managed to find success over the years is by finding an exploiting fault lines among gun owners.

At the risk of sounding conspiratorial, I don’t think the bump stock bans that also happened to greatly increase the legal hazard of doing ordinary customizations on a semi-automatic firearm were an accident. If they just wanted a bump stock ban, a bit of a wording change to make the language more precise, and they’d have won without much fight. But they keep pushing the same language in state after state.

Then this 3D printing bullshit blows up into a huge thing. If it were the Brady Campaign, I might just see it as something they view as good fundraising, and dismiss any strategic thought being behind it. But Bloomberg didn’t end up a billionaire by being a fool or an idiot, and Everytown doesn’t really have to worry about fundraising as long as Bloomberg is writing checks. So I’m more inclined to think there’s a plan.

If I’m right, it’s a smart one, and unfortunately has a chance of working. Trying to ban sharing CAD files on the Internet is a fool’s errand, but it’s framing the debate in the public in terms that aren’t immediately favorable to us. My worry is Cody Wilson is picking a huge fight on ground I’m not sure is defensible. Most people, including most gun owners, don’t know shit about what dedicated hobbyists are doing with their guns. They know even less about 3D printing or CNC machining. Ground where ignorance rules is fertile ground for people willing to win by waging disinformation campaigns.

While I argue there are topics in the gun issue that are better off flying under the radar, anything that does that is ripe for exploiting by people looking to scaremonger. The antidote to that is familiarity. Defending home gun smithing will actually be easier when every kid has a 3D printer and CNC machining can be done by anyone without having to know much about machining. The more people tinker, even if they aren’t tinkering with guns, the safer every tinkerer is as long as they don’t throw each other the bus. But are we there yet? That’s what I’m not sure about. The question in my mind is whether Cody Wilson is out too far ahead and inviting a counterattack we can’t defend against, or I’m just too cautious. I’m open to either being true, or both.

Get Your 3D Plans

Published over at Code is Free Speech. Also, seen on the Internets:

In a world where there are 3-D printers and thumbdrives (not to mention peer-to-peer file sharing over networks), this fight is already over. About all we can do is pass laws that are 21st-century versions of the 19th-century British law that required a man with a red flag had to precede the dangerous menace of horseless carriages to protect the public.

Yep. That’s exactly what this is.

Never Underestimate “Something Must Be Done”

The gun control powers that be must have anticipated that the DOJ would settle with Defense Distributed, because I’m seeing a lot of articles like this.

“Criminals are making their own weapons because they cannot buy them legally … or they are paying other people to make those guns for them to get around the gun laws,” said Bill McMullan, special agent in charge of ATF’s L.A. Field Division. “This is a trend among Southern California gangs.”

I have no doubt. This is why gun control doesn’t work, and why technology is increasingly rendering it a fools errand. You and I know that restricting home manufacturing isn’t going to affect anyone but the people who have no criminal intent.

I’ve said it before: what Cody Wilson doesn’t realize is that most people give a crap that technology is rendering gun control obsolete. The overriding impetus behind things like gun control are “Something must be done! This is something, so therefore it must be done!” It’s just like the opioid crisis. Are any of those laws going to affect junkies? No. They are going to affect people who have legitimate pain and are low risk for addiction.

How do these things pass? Because you have hysterical, and frankly ignorant people pushing for solutions.

“This is a crisis!”

They get joined by people who are grieving someone who they lost and amplifying the hysteria. Sometimes these people carry guilt they need to deflect onto others. “Johnny was a junkie, and I didn’t raise no junky. I was a good parent. So it must be the fault of the doctors and drug companies prescribing and making this stuff. Something must be done!”

Politicians naturally cater to these types of people, because no one wants to tell a grieving parent, “Well, maybe you’re just a shitty parent,” least of all a politician looking for votes.

Then you have the majority of the population who isn’t in pain, doesn’t own a gun, and has no dog in the fight, and is willing to nominally join calls for doing something, and isn’t willing to invest the mental energy in seriously evaluating solutions.

So don’t think because limiting home gun making and gun smithing is a fools errand means it won’t happen. It’s something not many people do, even most serious shooters. It’s better off flying under the radar.

DOJ Settles Defense Distributed Case

They essentially gave up, agreed to pay attorneys’ fees to DD, and agree that going forward, small arms that aren’t machine guns or destructive devices won’t be considered munitions. If you recall, Defense Distributed was forced, under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) to remove plans for firearms, arguing that posting the plans online constituted exporting munitions.

This is a promising development.

Looks Like PA’s “Red Flag” Bill is Getting a Floor Vote

A vote could happen as soon as today, so be sure to call. I made probably a weekend’s worth of work for myself getting my club involved.

I don’t understand why people think we need HR 2227, the “Red Flag” law, when it’s trivially easy to make someone a prohibited person in Pennsylvania by 302ing them for psychological observation, and we already have prohibitions for people who file a Protection of Abuse order. This is probably harder to get than a PFA. So what’s the point? I think the point is Bloomberg thinks he can get this, and he’s right. Republicans love themselves some law-and-order, and if you can figure out how to get them chasing after that bone, you can beat NRA.

My issue with this bill is that in certain jurisdictions, like Philadelphia, these ERPOs are going to be rubber stamped. They’ll issue the order as a matter of routine. I also don’t really like that it defines “Family or Household Member” as “other persons related by consanguinity.” I have non-immediately family members deeply concerned about my mental health because I shoot. I get their are penalties for abuse, but what about cranks that think anyone who likes guns is off their rocker? What’s to prevent an abusive husband from using this to disarm a spouse? Nothing. I am also disturbed that the evidentiary standard for applying an ERPO is “preponderance of the evidence” (a lower standard) but getting one removed is “clear and convincing evidence” (a higher standard). The default legal disposition is “easy to get an ERPO, hard to get rid of an ERPO” which is exactly how it will be done in practice.

This also won’t do jack to stop mass shooters. We’ve seen in recent cases where authorities and families don’t take the barest of measures, readily available. So what’s adding more bullshit that’s only going to get abused by the authorities? I’m so glad we have the Republican Party to protect our gun rights. So glad. Such a great job they are doing.

Deerfield AWB Enjoined

A judge has temporarily barred Deerfield from enforcing its ban. That’s very good news. This lawsuit against Deerfield is not a Second Amendment lawsuit, but a preemption lawsuit. Deerfield had a safe-storage ordinance on the books for “assault weapons.” Under Illinois’ preemption law, passed with the Concealed Carry bill, existing ordinances were grandfathered, but new ones preempted. Deerfield decided that since they had an assault weapons related ordinance on the books, they could change that into a ban and still claim the grandfathering.

This is good news for us, but not as much as it could have been if it was a Second Amendment case.

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