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Currently Browsing: Politics

An Idea So Crazy, It Just Might Work

Glenn Reynolds in USA Today: “Looking for ‘solutions’ to mass killings? Start with punishing failure.“:

Since then, we’ve had a lot of what the father of genuine hero Borges, according to the family’s lawyer, calls “bubblegum hero stuff.” But there’s been no accountability for the adults whose incompetence, or worse, made this slaughter possible. And, as with the earlier examples above, that’s par for the course. Over and over again, when the government fails, there are no consequences for those overseeing the failing.

No. When they screw up, we pay. Accountability for thee but not for me. Glenn Reynolds has spoken out against qualified immunity repeatedly. I read this weekend about the idea that absent qualified immunity, officers would have to carry insurance, like doctors do. Or more likely their departments would carry insurance for them. This would give better incentives for agencies to weed out bad cops. Sounds feasible to me. But would it work in practice? Does malpractice insurance weed out bad doctors?

Not Bad Turnout for NJ

Not bad turnout for a state where most gun owners are resigned to the fact that Governor Murphy’s gun control package is likely to pass. Also, I give News 12 credit for fair coverage. Looking at the crowd size, I agree “hundreds” is the number:

(Sorry, the embed code doesn’t seem to work)

About 1/3rd of my club is from New Jersey. We’re right over the bridge. Close enough that we could shell Trenton (tempting, I know). Most people who are left there are resigned to the fact that they are second class citizens, and are now doing their best to fly under the radar. There are some that are actively defiant and still willing to fight, but I’d say they are a minority. In a generation, there won’t be much in the way of gun owners in the Garden State. They don’t have to take your guns. They are willing to drive a stake through the heart of our gun culture and wait.

PA-18 Special Election Result

While Connor Lamb’s victory in PA-18 is bad news for the Republican Party, there’s a few takeaways that I think are worth looking at:

  • Both candidates were hand picked by the party. The Dems picked a pro-gun, pro-union Blue Dog who is the kind of candidate that traditionally won in that district when it was a Dem district. The GOP picked Rick Saccone, who ran on a platform of Right-to-Work, practically guaranteeing that unions, who are strong in that district, would spend and organize heavily against him. Candidates matter. We don’t elect parties in our system.
  • If the Dems replicate that strategy, which they will struggle to do where the candidate has to fight an actual primary, we shall be in good shape gun rights wise. Because that sell out by the GOP in Florida? They know all they have to do is be better than the other guy. The reason the Dems are so ra-ra for gun control is because it doesn’t cost them anything. If suddenly they have their majority back on a Blue Dog wave, we’ll be in the situation again where both parties will compete for our vote, as we saw in PA-18. It also gives the leadership something to lose.
  • On the downside, the Dem leadership sacrificed the last Blue Dog wave on the altar of Obamacare. But they got it, and the hapless GOP has so far been unable to undo it. What will the next Blue Dog wave be sacrificed for? Gun Control? It’s happened before, so I would not rule it out. Remember, what brought us to this present situation is that the NRA could not single-handedly save the Blue Dogs from voters angry at the Blue Dogs over Obamacare. That greatly changed the calculus for the Dem leadership, who then had nothing more to lose.

That said, the GOP is almost certainly in trouble for 2018. The Dems have more to defend in the Senate race, so I don’t know what chance I give them of taking the Senate, but I’d say it’s an uphill climb. However, if they can successfully execute a Blue Dog return to power, I’d say the GOP loses the house. That’s going to be hard, because it’s pretty apparent the Dems will celebrate for now, their progressive base isn’t happy they had to win that election with a conservative leaning Democrat.

Quote of the Day: On Politicians

From John Richardson:

The one thing to bear in mind right now is that no politician is your friend. It doesn’t matter the party nor their past support for gun rights. They will throw gun rights and gun rights supporters under the bus if they think it could impact their chances of reelection. One merely need look at Florida where many supposed gun rights supporting legislators threw gun rights under the bus in their haste to pass SB 7026.

Great lesson in politics there. If you’re Marion Hammer, what do you do now? The problem is that the other side is crazy. Many Florida Dems actually voted against the Florida gun control package (3 day wait for all guns, GVROs, 18-21 ban on purchase for all guns, meaningless Armed teacher program concession) because the Republicans would go along with outright bans. The Republicans are going to be happy to say, “Your favor was the no on bans after a mass shooting at a school, but we’re going to do something.”

Here’s the problem: once you start losing, it’s hard to stop losing.

“Take no prisoners! Primary them all!” the hardliner would say.

Say you give every one of those A-rated Republicans who voted for this shit (and there were a lot of them) and changed their grades to an F and backed every primary challenger you can find. That might feel good, but do you think it’s likely that politician is going to try to get back in your good graces, or just write you off? Sure, you can back a primary challenger, but in most cases, that challenger is likely to lose. There’s a lot to be said for the phrase, “If you take a shot at the King, you had better not miss.” If you’re not smart about it, you’re just going to piss away all your influence with these people. The purist solution to this problem is just to take your ball and go home. Well, you can do that, and it might feel good. It might also be a lot less work. But that pretty much means everyone elected to office will ignore your interests entirely.

If I were Marion Hammer, I’m not going to forget that vote. I’ll look for targets of opportunity if someone looks vulnerable, and I think I might have a shot. But I’m going to be most concerned about preserving my influence and not losing even more. While I would argue priority number one going forward is ending that waiting period and repealing the 18-20 prohibition on sale, neither is a culture killer. The waiting period is a hassle, and the universe of 18-20 year olds buying guns is pretty small. The ban on 18-20 year olds from purchase is a culture frustrater, but not a killer. Gun bans are culture killers, and at least so far, Florida Republicans have held the line there. In any sell-out like this, there are going to be leaders and followers, and it’s some leader scalps I’m going to want if I’m the lobbyist, but I’m not going to aim recklessly or indiscriminately. I’ll choose my time and opportunity. But taking the occasional scalp is how you build political power, and the lesson isn’t so much for the scalpee — he or she is irrelevant once they are sent packing — it’s the implicit threat to his or her replacement that you can do the same to them, and also to every one of the previous worm’s followers.

Here’s another truth of politics: whether you like it or not, when the political opposition is entirely opposed to your interests, your political allies will start to believe they don’t have to be perfect on the issue, they just have to be a more palpable alternative to the opposition. There’s no getting around this. You can take your ball and go home, but then neither side will care a whit what you think. Influence isn’t a binary proposition. Think of it more as a garden. Marion Hammer now has a weed problem, and it’s threatening the crops. The hard-line approach, such as advocated by GOA, is just to take a flamethrower to the garden. Some weeds are a bigger problem than others. Weed selectively. We can live with some of them and still have a good harvest.

The key right now in Florida is going to be organizing. Marion Hammer has power because ordinary, every day gun owners give it to her. Without organizing at the grassroots level, we are nothing. We have to build. Bloomberg can outspend us all day long, and money can buy awfully impressive astroturf, which we laugh at, but it’s no joke. Look what it just did in Florida.

This Will Shock No One: Moral Outrage is Self-Serving, Says Reason

New research out, and the science is settled! We all knew this. Hell, Zuckerberg built an empire on this: what would Facebook be without self-serving moral preening? A platform to share baby and cat pictures, basically.

When people publicly rage about perceived injustices that don’t affect them personally, we tend to assume this expression is rooted in altruism—a “disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.” But new research suggests that professing such third-party concern—what social scientists refer to as “moral outrage”—is often a function of self-interest, wielded to assuage feelings of personal culpability for societal harms or reinforce (to the self and others) one’s own status as a Very Good Person.

Well bowl me over with a feather. I will admit I’m one of those odd ducks that doesn’t feel guilty about a whole hell of a lot. If anything, I feel guilty over the fact that I don’t feel guilty about much. Maybe I’m sorry I didn’t spend more time with my mom when she was terminally ill. I kind of feel bad about that. Wish I had been more interested in getting to know my paternal grandparents before they died when I was in my early 20s. I probably also don’t do enough to mix with and help people who are truly needy. I’m more of a person to lose touch than keep in touch.

But that’s all my cross to bear, not any of yours. Maybe that’s a difference. It’s not that I, and people like me, don’t have guilt: we internalize it. I don’t need to make my failings as a person your failings as a person. But if there’s anything people are bad at these days, especially on social media, its internalizing things. This rings true:

Gun Ban: This Scenario is Entirely Plausible

Over at Reason:

But the cultural onslaught, ably assisted by the stumbling GOP and its internal civil war, had enough impact at the margins to affect elections. Democrats seized the White House and majorities in both houses of Congress and promised major changes to come—including on guns.

Warned by experts that yet another “assault weapons” ban made no sense because “as a matter of functionality, these guns are just like other rifles. They’re more powerful than some handguns and rifles, and less powerful than others,” they decided to go a step further. Encouraged by Supreme Court turnover and the resulting opportunity to redefine the Second Amendment out of existence, Congress banned all semiautomatic firearms in private hands, with compensation promised in return.

Read the whole thing.

Reminders About Action to Push Back on Gun Control

So many gun control advocates really do believe that the only reason guns aren’t banned yet is because of the NRA. They really do not understand that we’re bigger than the NRA. NRA membership is held by only a few of the millions of gun owners and pro-gun people. It’s not a top-down organization that tells us to jump. We tell the organization to jump.

A few years ago, I wrote a series of posts of very specific ideas that people with different backgrounds and connections in the pro-gun community could take to protect their rights. There’s a good chance that some of those ideas need to be dusted off.

Here’s the list for:

If any readers tried some of these suggestions, feel free to share how they went over. Not every idea will work for every situation, but this should cover a great number of ways to engage people who are otherwise intimidated by the process of fighting gun control.

If at first you don’t succeed, Try Try Again

ANJRPC  is taking another shot at NJ’s May Issue permitting regime. The actual complaint can be found here (PDF).

Amusing quote:

“Plaintiffs acknowledge that the result they seek is contrary to Drake v. Filko, 724 F.3d 426 (3d Cir. 2014), but, for the reasons explained in Wrenn v. District of Columbia, 864 F.3d 650 (D.C. Cir. 2017), that case was wrongly decided.”

That’ll do well at the Circuit Court, I bet.

I wonder what Scott Bach thinks is going to change at SCOTUS in the next couple of years than will get SCOTUS to take this case up instead of letting it languish like all the other may-issue cases?

Indictment in Vegas Shooting

Dave Hardy has details on the indictment. A man is being charged with selling armor piercing ammunition without a license, and then selling it to the Vegas shooter. My guess on the reason they charged 922(a)(7) and (a)(8) rather than (a)(1)(B) is that for (a)(1)(B), which is the law that says if you engage in the business of selling ammunition, you must have an FFL that allows you to do so, is that they don’t have to prove “engaged in the business” for (a)(7) and (a)(8). All they have to prove is that you manufactured an “armor piercing” round or manufactured and sold one and you did not have a license to do so.

I’m speculating a second motivation based on Dave Hardy’s comments. We all know the whole “armor piercing” ammunition deal is a huge amount of bull. ATF has a great opportunity to cement its preferred interpretation of “armor piercing.” What better context to use than an awful shooting where neither juries nor judges will have any sympathy for the defendant. As I’ve noted before, the current laws and ATF’s interpretations about what armor piercing ammunition is are a great hinderance to adopting “green” bullets that do not contain lead, as many alternative metals are illegal. The shooting sports can be squeezed between two anvils:

  1. You may not use lead bullets or bullets containing lead because it is a menace to people, the environment, puppies and kittens; everything it touches.
  2. You may not replace lead with a host of other cheap metals, like steel, because then it magically becomes “armor piercing” and a menace to manhole covers and all else that is lightly armored.

Bad news if they win using the theory that bi-metal core bullets are armor piercing, a hostile administration could effectively end us with the squeeze I have just described.

PA Supreme Court Usurps Legislative Prerogative

This isn’t directly a gun issue, but for those Pennsylvanians that may not have hard, the PA Supreme Court, controlled now by Democrats because our voters penchant for ticket splitting,  decided to declare our Congressional districts unconstitutional under the Pennsylvania Constitution. On what grounds? We have no idea. Because the Court released the order to the legislature and governor to act in the next few weeks, or else the Court will draw new districts for them. Act how? They can’t know. Because there’s no opinion and no guidelines. The legislature has to have a plan to the Governor by February 9th. The Governor and the legislature have to have a final plan submitted to the Court by February 15th. Keep in mind the legislature is under GOP control and the Governor is a Dem. The Court knows this is an impossible deadline. They intend to usurp the process. They will act as a legislature. They are now a lawless body.

What’s worse? There’s no clear federal question to get the US Supreme Court to intervene. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is the final arbiter on Pennsylvania law and the Pennsylvania Constitution, absent a federal question.

I struggle to even find where in the Pennsylvania Constitution it mentions Congressional Districts. It prescribes how state House and Senate districts are to be drawn. Under what grounds could this possibly be based? I don’t know. There’s no opinion.

Now, we’d have an easy federal question here, because there is a body drawing federal congressional districts, and that body is not the Pennsylvania legislature. But back 2015 the Supreme Court decided Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, which held that it was just fine and dandy for the legislature to delegate it’s power under the federal constitution to draw districts to an entity not itself (commission, or to referendum, etc). However in this case, the legislature delegated nothing. The PA Supreme Court has taken this power upon itself. So I still think we may have a federal issue to raise with the Elections Clause. [UPDATE: Looking more at the details of  how it happen in Arizona, it looks like the commission was set up by the ballot. So the voters took away deciding districts from the legislature, not the legislature delegating it. Either way, I think the case was wrongly decided. It’s long been time to make the non-delegation doctrine great again.]

Also, and this is probably more a stretch, even though it should not be: I did not elect the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to act as my legislature and draw my Congressional Districts. I am guaranteed the right to a republican form of government under the federal constitution. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court acting as my legislature violates that guarantee.

To me this is a torches and pitchforks issue. In the matter of redistricting, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court have declared themselves dictators. Never again will I vote for or to retain a Democrat on the Supreme Court, despite having done so in the past. I am not a mindless partisan, and mostly hate the Republican Party. I appreciate Democratic Justice Baer, who concurred with the finding that the districts were unconstitutional, but found the remedy too radical. He did the right thing. But your party did the wrong thing, and a blatantly partisan wrong thing. It’s such a wrong thing, the dissent to the remedy can’t fix it for me.

This is just too much of an insult to the voters in this Commonwealth.

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