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Currently Browsing: Gun Rights

Picking a Gun Fight

Governor Wolf may not have been expecting a fight over guns, but he sure as hell got one. There is a little known (outside of gun circles) provision in Pennsylvania law that when a state of emergency is declared, the only people who become eligible to possess firearms “on the public streets” are military, police, and people who have a License to Carry Firearms.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania has been hit particularly hard by opioid addiction. So naturally things will tend to follow the progression of politicians and pearl clutchers everywhere: this is a crisis of epic proportion, so Something Must Be Done. Declaring a State of Emergency over the opiods is Something, so therefore it Must Be Done.

There’s an effort growing to change the state of emergency law to remove the firearms ban. This would be a good idea. And since I believe the Governor did not intend to pick a fight on this issue, we might have a reasonable shot at getting him to sign it. It will also be interesting to see the gun control groups fight this, because of course having complex laws in place no one knows about means more people like you and me in prison, where no doubt many of them believe we belong.

The Future of the Gun Rights Movement

It’s a good time, in the New Year and entering the 12th year of blogging, with 11 now behind me, to take a look at where we stand, and where we’re going. I am not as optimistic as many people, and I believe in some ways we’ve lost ground since I started blogging. Here are some observations:

  • When I started blogging, the gun rights movement owned the Internet. This is no longer the case. If you go into any gun related thread, you’ll find madness and ignorance screeching pretty loudly on both sides.
  • Reasonable people have given up arguing on the Internet. That’s been left to the crazies.
  • Back in 2008, this was an eminently democratic medium. Literally anyone could start a blog, and sometimes it feels like almost everyone did.
  • Today, in 2018, the Internet is controlled by a handful of large corporations. Those corporations have, whether deliberately or not, killed the democratic nature of the Internet that existed in 2008.
  • In 2008, there was no social media. In 2018, social media has driven a good portion of the American Population, especially those who follow politics, quite literally crazy.
  • Social media favors those who spend money to seed the population with memes. While money wasn’t useless in 2008, you didn’t build an audience by spending money. Remember all those successful gun control blogs that got started a decade ago? We already had the networks in place to build a community, and we did. They didn’t, and their attempts were comical. Social media allows micro targeting, and to reach people who are most prone to be open to your messaging. In 2008, the new media favored those who already had horizontal interpretive communities in place. In 2018, social media lets you build those communities if you’re willing to spend the time and money.
  • In 2008, the gun control movement was nearly bankrupt. It is now being largely funded single handedly by Mike Bloomberg, who has the money to outspend our movement for years if he’s willing. Additionally, that money will probably expand the donor base of the gun control movement beyond Bloomberg, because having that kind of money to spend is bound to be able to rake a broader donor base. I would be surprised if even absent Bloomberg’s money, Everytown doesn’t have a substantially larger pool of donors than Brady et al had in 2008.
  • We bloggers were all out to crush the mainstream media in 2008, and we should pat ourselves on the back for succeeding. Unfortunately, I believe it’s been replaced by something far far worse.
  • The wild west days of the Internet are over. Regulation will be coming. For years we fought Congress on what I would call crusty old people regulation, mostly along the lines of “Do you know what this Internet thing is doing to the children?” Same thing happens with every new technology that frightens people ignorant of it. We were right to fight off that. But I believe that after many years in the wilderness, eventually both parties are going to come to agree to Make Antitrust Law Great Again. Alphabet (Google) will be the big target, but once it becomes fashionable again, I don’t think it will stop there.
  • I believe Facebook will either burn itself out, or our sense of etiquette online will adjust. I think the former is more likely. I gave up Twitter entirely. I don’t miss it. I’ve curtailed my Facebook activity substantially, and don’t regret that either. It was inevitable that, like Trash TV, we’d eventually get Trash Internet, and Facebook and Twitter are, if you ask me.

So where does this leave the gun rights movement?

  • We haven’t had a real high level success in the federal courts in nearly a decade. This probably won’t change unless Trump gets one or two more court appointees. Trump’s court picks, so far, have been quite good. But we might have a very limited window to pack the courts with pro-2A judges. I don’t think any of the current SCOTUS justices are planning on retiring, and Ginsburg and Breyer will hold on to their seats until their dying breaths. Heller and McDonald are effectively meaningless without another SCOTUS ruling smacking down the lower courts. Much like Lopez and Morrison, the lower courts resisted and effectively rendered those rulings without substantial meaning.
  • National Reciprocity will struggle to pass the Senate. I don’t think after 2018, it will be easier to pass. Again, I think we have a limited window here.
  • I think we need a substantial victory to take the wind out of the sails of our opponents. Understand that National Reciprocity is effectively federal preemption for handguns. It’s limited, but it will make a difference. If we’re going to move forward rather than backwards, it will take a combination of federal action under the 14th Amendment, and favorable court decisions.
  • The “bad” states will continue to get worse. Additionally, some blue states that are not bad will start going bad. Washington State and Oregon, just to name a few. Nevada might not be far behind. Colorado Dems got punched in the face, so to speak, after the magazine ban, and I don’t think will try anything again for a while. But eventually that lesson needs to be retaught, and at some point you won’t be able to touch them. California is now in the position where gun rights proponents can’t mount any meaningful legislative opposition.
  • Polls are consistently showing that if you’re a Republican, you don’t favor gun control, and if you’re a Dem, you do. The Dems are more uniform in their pro-gun control beliefs than Republicans are in their pro-gun beliefs. Independents tend to lean a bit toward the pro-gun position, but this issue has become very very partisan, and it’s probably not going to get better.
  • Our power has always rested on our ability to swing close elections. If gun rights become baked into the GOP numbers, that will mean Democratic control will be disastrous for us, because the perception will be that they already beat the gun vote. If we are to keep earning success, we have to continue developing a large pool of single-issue or near-single-issue voters. That actually gets harder, I think, the more polarized the country gets.

 

The Senate Math for CCW in 2017

It’s not looking probable; we would need a miracle. Here’s the breakdown

Starting with the 2013 vote (57 Ayes to invoke cloture), I did up a spreadsheet of the likely vote results in 2017, based on current occupancy, the 2013 vote, and the Senators political stances on the issue.

I came out with maximum of 59 Aye votes (assuming Luther Strange gets to vote Aye or his replacement votes Aye).

The vote delta (because we had both gains and losses)

NH: -1 (Maggie Hassan replaced Kelly Ayotte)

IA: +1 (Joni Ernst replaced Tom Harkin)

SD: +1 (Mike Rounds replaced Tim Johnson)

WV: +1 (Shelley Moore replaced John Rockefeller)

However, what I don’t see is the 60th vote. I broke out the Nay votes who are in seats up in 2018 in states that voted for Trump

Bill Nelson is a hard NO
Claire McCaskill is a hard NO
Sherrod Brown is a hard NO
Bob Casey is a firm No
Tammy Baldwin is a hard NO

And, if anyone flips to be the 60th, I wouldn’t put it past some of the presumptive Ayes to flip to Nay to prevent it. Fix NICS is already being pulled out as a cover for voting Nay (and was used for that purpose in the House).

Now, maybe the GOP leadership knows something I don’t, or this really was a setup to burnish everybody’s 2A pro/con credentials. Whichever way that goes, if you want reciprocity this year, better start praying.

Post H.R. 38 Rant

I should be happy that HR 38 has passed the house, but I can’t muster a whole lot of excitement. We’ve done that before, and the Senate has always been the problem house. I’d like to think “We got this!,” but I know realistically we have a hard time getting 60 votes in the Senate. If FixNICS isn’t enough to give a handful of GOP Congressmen cover enough to vote in favor, how do we get to 60 votes in the Senate? Unless the filibuster rule changes, and at this point, I think it should, the Senate is a body that can confirm judges and pass budget bills, and that’s it. Maybe the FixNICS sweetener will get it 60 votes.

I got invited to participate in a Town Hall by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick last night, and we tried to get in a question about his vote on HR 38. It was interesting that he fielded two callers asking about the Bill, but neither of them knew he had just voted against it, or knew much about it. We made clear to staff queuing callers that we did know how he voted, but the clock ran out and we never got our question in. To the callers he did take, he stated he had issues with the bill, but supported it in concept. Of course, he never stated what those issues were, because he’s a worm. He even wormed his way out of saying whether he voted for or against it. Allowing your constituents to get arrested by the State of New Jersey for bearing arms is not supporting the Second Amendment, no matter how often you say you support it.

All three of them, Fitzpatrick, Meehan, and Costello, are scared to death of Bloomberg’s money, and the ads he could afford to run in this media market. None of this was a factor when the gun control movement was in dire financial straits. Bloomberg coming in with big money was all it took to undo years of progress we had made with lawmakers in this area. I had wondered why Bloomberg wasn’t running ads here, whereas he was in other swing or blue state GOP districts. Now I know; he had their votes in the bag already.

Costello was OK on the issue before Bloomberg brought his billions. Fitzpatrick’s seat has a had a history of anti-gun Republicans, and the Curt Weldon, who held Meehan’s seat for years, was always squishy too. So this isn’t new. But we’re going to need a lot more organization in the Southeast if we’re going to counter Bloomberg’s money. We’re going to need people to care, not take their rights for granted, and be willing to show up and be counted. That’s been the struggle. NRA seems to no longer be interested in real grassroots organization, and has instead started promoting a culture  that only serves to feed anger and outrage on issues unrelated to guns. How are we going to use all that anger? We have to do this ourselves.

Let us not just talk about Delaware Valley Republicans, who invented the anti-gun Republican, after all. I’d also like to talk about retiring Congressman Massey and Texas Rep. Louis Gohmert, who is spreading the same bullshit. You see, Rep. Massey never supported H.R. 38, if you talk to his constituents. But once it became apparent he’d have to post a vote on it, he started spouting a bunch of nonsense about the FixNICS component of it. So now he gets to go down as Paul Revere sounding the alarm against a boogeyman of his own creation while posting a vote against us. Representative Gohmert seems to have joined him in this.

And yet, a lot of our people are buying this posturing hook, line and sinker. They are politicians. They don’t like the bill. They don’t want to vote for the bill. But rather than coming out and just stating they don’t and have never supported federal civil rights enforcement, they invented a narrative that turn them into the heroes. Even GOA, run by the Pratt family, who I’ve suspected have strong reservations about federal civil rights enforcement, didn’t feel they had the juice to come out against H.R. 38, but they sure were willing to spout bullshit. Another person I’ve long suspected of opposing federal civil rights enforcement is Dudley Brown, and he did not defy expectations either. Do you know why Bloomberg and the anti-gunners were against combining the two bills? Because they feared it would get us the 60 votes we needed to actually pass National Reciprocity, which they know will be a disaster for them. FixNICS is the same kind of thing we’ve done a million times. What’s the old saying? You can lead a bureaucrat to water, but you can’t make him do his fucking job? Or something like that.

I get that GOA and NAGR hate NICS, and I don’t think it’s worth a whole lot either. But as long as it’s the law of the land, and for the foreseeable future it will be, we have an interest in seeing it function well and do what it’s supposed to do. If extra funding for NICS gets us the biggest civil rights victory since FOPA, I’m willing to make that trade.

H.R. 38 – National Reciprocity – Passes House

Here’s the vote tally. It is not too much of a surprise my worm of a RINO Congressman voted no. Maybe I’ll volunteer for Dean Malik in the primary. Malik may or may not have a chance, and it would throw that seat to the Democrats, but that’s probably what’s going to happen anyway. Both the Fitzpatricks have been awful on this issue, and awful in general.

I don’t expect them to be all “machine guns for everybody” in a district in the Philadelphia Suburbs, but this isn’t going to help the GOP pick up those working class voters they will need to stay in power in an area where, among educated people, Progressive Democrats are successfully creating a monoculture. This was not the issue to show “independence” on.

Oh well, we didn’t need their votes anyway. On to the Senate …

National Reciprocity Vote Today

As we await the House vote on National Reciprocity, of course we have to be our own worst enemies. Seen from Evan Nappen on the Book O’ Face:

GOA has always hated NICS. NO new prohibited persons are created here. Letting a prohibited person get a gun does not help the dealer OR the person. If you have outstanding parking tickets and a warrant is out for you — pay your tickets, and PRESTO, you are no longer a prohibited person. Fix NICS will help get National Reciprocity over the goal line in the Senate which is the toughest fight.

That’s what bugs me: the implication that this bill does something new. If you have an outstanding warrant, you’re already a prohibited person under the law. That’s been the case since 1968. It’s that “Are you a fugitive from justice?” question on the 4473. And Evan is exactly right: no one benefits from the system clearing people that shouldn’t clear.

There’s a big question of whether Brian Fitzpatrick will vote with us. He’s one of three PA GOP lawmakers who is not a cosponsor. A lot of people here know stories of people getting into trouble in New Jersey with guns, and Fitzpatrick’s district shares its border with New Jersey. I’d really like to not have to “sanitize” my car every time I have to cross over the river.

Yep: Nothing like having to quash “fake news” from our “friends” the day before a critical vote on a major piece of legislation.

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.

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?

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.

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