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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.

The Problem of the Northeast Gun Culture

At the risk of embarrassing one of my readers by elevating his comment to a post, I thought this was as succinct a statement about the issue as I can think of:

Most of the areas that still experience discomfort and lack of familiarity with firearms are the places that have basically banned them and driven off all the gun owners. In NY State (an example I’m personally familiar with), the city is basically a gun free zone with zero ownership, no ranges, no concealed carry, no stores, etc. Upstate has fudds who practice in their backyards and can’t understand why people need assault weapons to hunt deer (literal quote). These guys are all old as fuck and they aren’t leaving behind a generation or three of gun owners because all of their children left the state for greener pastures (me included). A lot of these states coincidentally have serious problems besides the gun issue, so I wouldn’t exactly beat a path back if they made my hobby legal again.

The only way to change those places is to override the legal barriers to the hobby (either though Congress or the federal court) so people can begin participating legally again. Without that, you’ll never get ranges, stores, clubs, etc. And without those things you don’t get voters that care about the issue.

If I had to boil it down to a single sentence: “These guys are all old as fuck and they aren’t leaving behind a generation or three of gun owners because all of their children left the state for greener pastures.”

My club is about 1/3rd New Jersey residents, and I’m noticing a sharp uptick in the number new applicants from the Garden State. I expect that will accelerate as things get worse for the remaining gun owners, and the few remaining places to shoot on the other side of the river are closed. The average age at my club is 64 years old, and we’re not getting younger. A lot of them have kids that have moved away. Granted, there’s young shooters out there in the area, but we’re still holding onto many vestiges of Gun Culture 1.0, and it is difficult to convince a bunch of old guys who have been doing things a certain way for years that they need to change. But there is a hook you can use: most of them express profound disappointment in the lack of young people in the shooting sports. The truth is that there are plenty of young people in the shooting sports, even in the ‘burbs of Philadelphia: they just aren’t shooting your shooting sports.

My club is a Silhouette club. That’s what we shoot. It’s been a dying sport for a while now. I shot it for a while, but I’ve largely stopped. Why? It’s extremely difficult. It takes years to become competent at it, and if you’re just kind of OK, it’s about as much fun as watching paint dry. I don’t regret trying it, and it taught me a lot about shooting. But the sports the kids are shooting are basically life size video games. Is it any wonder the traditional sports are dying?

Change is difficult, time consuming, and painful, but worth it. The great trick is making people comfortable with change. I’m a big fan of doing what we can to rescue what culture we have, and not losing places to shoot to generational rot.

Remember, No One Wants to Take Your Guns

This may be a bit of hate click trolling on the part of the Boston Globe, but here you do have a major newspaper calling for…. taking people’s guns.

The logic of gun control lies, at bottom, in substantially reducing the number of deadly weapons on the street — and confiscation is far and away the most effective approach. Is there any conceivable turn of events in our politics that could make confiscation happen? And what would a mass seizure look like?

You really don’t want to know what it would look like. They later go on to suggest that they’ll be kind to us and offer $500 per gun confiscated, instead of the $200 per gun offered by Australia.

Part of the problem is the sheer scale of the enterprise. An operation on par with the Australian buyback — claiming one-fifth of American guns — would mean tens of thousands of police officers collecting some 60 million guns. It is, on some level, simply unimaginable.

But perhaps gun-control advocates can propose something smaller — something more targeted.

Yes, it is unimaginable. So is the push back you will put in motion by passing this kind of policy. What scares me is, eventually, the Democrats will return to power. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. And if Democrats are still talking like this when they regain power, we are in for some very dark times.

The author goes on to suggest that California’s program of actively confiscating firearms of prohibited persons would be a model that would have stopped the Texas shooter. How? The feds didn’t have his record you ignorant prat. There isn’t some kind of voodoo the feds can use that will make a record in a filing cabinet on an air force base in New Mexico suddenly end up in the NCIC.

Ultimately, if gun-control advocates really want to stanch the blood, there’s no way around it: They’ll have to persuade more people of the need to confiscate millions of those firearms, as radical as that idea may now seem.

But yeah, I’m a paranoid conspiracy nut for thinking that people out there want to take my guns. I’m crazy for thinking that’s the goal. Outrageous for even suggesting that’s a serious proposal. Yeah, piss off.

Something to Watch for in Arguments

Robert Verbruggen has a great article in National Review that gets to a serious problem you will notice in research touted by anti-gun groups and people who really fucking love science. Let me quote:

We shouldn’t care about “gun murders” or “mass shootings”; we should care about murders in general and mass killings in general, regardless of how they’re accomplished. (Up to a point it’s essentially tautological to claim that more guns translates to more problems with guns, because a society with no guns by definition cannot have any problems with them.) As I’ve noted numerous times before, there is no simple, consistent correlation between gun ownership and murder or homicide rates in general, either among developed countries or among U.S. states. More sophisticated studies face a variety of serious methodological obstacles — I don’t find any of them that compelling — and have reached varying conclusions. The research on mass shootings in particular is in an even more primitive state.

There’s the old quote from Archie Bunker that comes to mind: “Would it make you feel any better, little girl, if they was pushed out of windiz.”



Don’t Forget to Vote

Especially Virginia and New Jersey readers. It’s the root of all our power. Vote like your gun rights depend on it, because they do.

The Evolving Deal on SHARE and National Reciprocity

This article indicates we could get the SHARE Act, with the Hearing Protection Act component removed, and with National Reciprocity and some restriction on bump stocks added. The SHARE act removes a lot of the “sporting purposes” language in the Gun Control Act, so I’d probably take this deal. I don’t know what they are planning to do about bump stocks, but I’ve heard suggestions that they be classified as AOWs. That would require a change in the National Firearms Act.

If we’re going to start adding things to the NFA, I think it’s only fair that we get something in return, such as moving suppressors to Title I. I’m a bit surprised lawmakers are actually more wary of that than they are about National Reciprocity.

The more I’m seeing from the gun control side, the less I think they really care about bump stocks. They were willing to get excited about a bill that would effectively ban any aftermarket modification to a semi-automatic rifle, but I don’t notice a whole lot of movement to single out bump fire devices and ban those, especially if that means having to eat SHARE or National Reciprocity in return. It’s almost like if we concede we’re willing to trade something, that must not mean it’s important to us, and if it’s not important to us, they aren’t interested in a deal. It’s almost as if the attitude is: “Those people have to be made to pay.” Nope. Sorry. We’ve taken enough blame for the actions of psychos, and we’re done with that.

What’s Going on With Bump Stocks?

I’m always surprised by how many people think the political process involves Very Smart People of good faith gathering ’round the table to try to solve the problems of the people. They are often shocked and dismayed when the actual process is explained to them, “That’s just not how it should work. Everyone should work together in good faith.”

Usually those folks have had zero or very minimal involvement in civic society. There’s nothing quite as eye opening as being involved with an organization that is run by committee. I’ve been either directly or peripherally involved in organizations like that since I was a teen, and so were my parents, and their parents before them. Decisions don’t come about because Very Smart People work together and problem solve, decisions come about by managing personalities and their interests. Even when the organization has leaders that are effective at managing those things, decisions are usually very suboptimal.

For example, very recently at my club we had the clubhouse repainted in a very drab, neutral color, without any accent coloring. It needed to be done to protect the building. But why not do an accent scheme that really makes it pop? Have you ever tried to get a body of people to agree on a color scheme? Drab doesn’t offend anyone, and no one has strong opinions one way or another.

So I get tired of people who say, “Why don’t you get in there and write some good legislation if you know so much about this?” Are you fucking kidding? I’m not jumping into that shit show unless you force me into it.  I’m not conceding anything because “it’s the right thing to do.” People who approach democratic institutions with that attitude get eaten alive. That’s not to say I’m not willing to trade or make deals: that’s how things get done in a democratic body. But why would I concede something I don’t have to? Because it’s the right thing to do? Please. Any time you hear a politician talking that language, they’re blowing smoke up your ass. They know better, and are hoping you don’t.

It is with this in mind we approach the issue of bump stocks, which The Daily Beast is reporting is effectively stalled out in Congress. NRA needed to buy time, and kicking the issue over to ATF for a bit accomplished that. In the mean time, bills were introduced that predictably banned much more than bump stocks, and instead focused on any parts or modifications that affected the rate of fire, which includes nearly anything you can put in a semi-automatic firearm. Can a match trigger let me shoot faster? Sure it can. That might not be its intent, but it can. Can a lighter bolt carrier make the action of a semi-automatic cycle faster, theoretically increasing the rate of fire? Absolutely. These kinds of modifications are common, and while they are aimed at accuracy, they do incidentally affect the “rate of fire,” whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean in something that isn’t a machine gun.

So why not just jump in and give them better language? Because I’m not a damned fool and neither is the NRA. I’m not going to preemptively trade something because it’s “the right thing to do,” I’m going to trade for something else I want. And what if I can still get what I want without having to trade anything? I’ll do that too, and hold onto the bargaining chip because it might be useful at a later date.

On the other side of the argument are the folks on our side who think just shouting “no” very loudly is a legislative strategy. How much impact do you think Ron Paul had on the overall direction of Congress? Because that’s effectively what he did for his whole career. People who do that in deliberative bodies get ignored, and worked around. For these people, the question is this: would you rather sulk in the corner and take solace in the fact that you believe you’re right and righteous as you lose one thing after another, or do you want to actually play the game and win? The latter is what you’re seeing now.

Far Left Not Keen on Gun Control

Gun control has almost always been a desire of the ruling class, not those they wish to rule. You’re even hearing them using the “monopoly on violence” rhetoric that’s been going around gun rights circles for some time. This begs the question of how long the Dems will keep up the anti-gun rhetoric? Hillary’s reaction to the Vegas shooting didn’t seem to go over well with anyone. Is there perhaps some recognition that this issue has outlived its usefulness?

More Fun Facts

Also seen on the Internets from certified very smart people when it comes to gun laws:

The Original 1934 NFA Banned ALL Handguns, Semi-Autos & Mags over 12 Rds. Had NRA Been “No Compromise” We Would Have Lost it All.

I wasn’t even alive then, and my Grandpop was just 14, but I know from my own research this is true. We got AOWs because they were originally meant to apply to handguns, and they were carved out of it at the last minute very carelessly. The original definition of a machine gun was any firearm which could fire more than 12 rounds without reloading.

Fun Fact of the Day

I was just entering high school in 1989, when New Jersey started the great Assault Weapons debate, so I did not know this. Seen on the Internets from someone who would know:

In ’89 New Jersey Could Have Beaten the Assault Firearm Ban if We Agreed to Assault Firearms Permits. We Said “No Compromise.” We Lost. Its Still Law.

Assault Weapons bans are culture killers. People who get into shooting enough will tend to leave states that have passed them. Would New Jersey gun owners have been better off taking that deal? At the very least it would have bought time. Sure, they might have banned them eventually, but at least they would have had to fight twice on the issue instead of winning it all in one fell swoop.

You don’t always have the choice between winning and losing. Sometimes it’s a choice between losing and not losing so much. I’m not saying we’re in that situation now, but screaming “No!” louder is not a strategy. Unless you feel confident we can deliver every GOPe critter’s head on a silver platter in the 2018 primaries, saying “No!” would have meant losing, which leads to more losing.

There is no surprise that even some harder core GOP legislators were geared up and ready to pass a bump stock ban: there is almost no lawmakers out there who are ideologically committed to gun rights. They arrive at their position on this issue solely on the basis of which votes they think they’ll gain or lose come election time. Money is also a factor, and while we do spend money, Bloomberg is waiting with open arms to donate large sums to defectors.

That is why it is very important when you write your lawmakers to make them understand you vote on this issue, and that if they want to keep that vote, they better not just sign up for takeaways.

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