Mission statement:

Armed and Safe is a gun rights advocacy blog, with the mission of debunking the "logic" of the enemies of the Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

I can be reached at 45superman@gmail.com.You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/45superman.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Follow the money--a look at the Gun Guys' sugar daddies

Anyone who reads this blog semi-regularly has probably noticed that I really enjoy picking on the Gun Guys website. There's just something about the hysterical dissemination of outright lies (such as "where there is a firearm, there will be firearms violence."--the kind of thing they say all the time, and about as honest as saying "where there are children and parents, there will be child abuse.") that bothers me. Today, though, instead of making fun of the Gun Guys directly (which was kind of fun for awhile, but way too easy), I thought it would be interesting to take a look at their funding. Comments from 1957 Human provided much of the inspiration for this little project--thanks '57.

The Gun Guys are part of the cynically named "Freedom States Alliance" (that name might be the biggest lie of all), which also boasts such paragons of internet wisdom as 50 Caliber Terror--about the "horrific threat" of .50 caliber rifles (tell me, guys, have you uncovered a single case of someone in the U.S. being killed with one of those yet--get back to me when you do), License to Murder--which is their catchy name (they do like lurid sensationalism, don't they?) for laws that explicitly state that the burden of proof that a self-defense shooting was not self-defense lies with the prosecution (apparently, the whole concept of the presumption of innocence pending proof of guilt offends them), and (I'm not kidding here) Newspaper Loophole (apparently, the mythical "gunshow loophole" isn't quite silly enough for these geniuses, so now they're trying to make it impossible for people to place classified ads to sell their used guns).

Of all the Freedom States Alliance websites, the Gun Guys would seem to be the flagship--at least it gets updated regularly--the rest seem to be pretty static. The Freedom States Alliance, in turn, is apparently part of, or managed by Mark Karlin and Associates, a Chicago based public relations firm. The funding, or at least a vast chunk of it, comes from the Joyce Foundation. According to this, in 2006, the Joyce Foundation gave $650,000 to the Mark Karlin group, for the Freedom States Alliance (they also gave $185,000 to the same PR firm in 2003, "to help raise the media presence and capacity of Midwest gun violence prevention groups," although this may have been before the Freedom States Alliance was formed). Actually, a look on the Joyce Foundation's list of grants for public policy dealing with "gun violence" is something of a who's who of anti-gun groups--and the money involved is huge: $500,000 to the Violence Policy Center, a staggering $1,795,000, since July, 2004, to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (here, here, here, and here)--and that's just a sampling--in all, there's over six and a quarter million dollars devoted just to pushing more restrictive gun laws (according to this)--and that doesn't count all the money for firearms "research."

Something I found interesting is that over half a million dollars (here and here) of that money has gone to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, just in the last year. That certainly sounds impressive, (or would--if one believes that an international group should have a say in U.S. public policy). The Gun Guys, by the way, quote the IACP all the time--apparently, half a million dollars in one year buys quite a lot of support for one's position to strip Americans of their Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

In fairness, attacking the Second Amendment isn't the Joyce Foundation's only passion--they also seem to have it in for the First Amendment, as seen here by their monetary support for the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002

Joyce helped fund several of the groups that provided critical research and advocacy on behalf of state and federal campaign finance reforms. After Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold) in 2002, Joyce provided funding to the Brennan Center at New York University, Democracy 21, the Campaign Legal Center, and the Public Citizen Litigation Group to help defend the act against lawsuits challenging its constitutionality. The Supreme Court upheld BCRA in 2003.
Does anyone besides me find it ironic that they would use money to support legislation ostensibly aimed at "keeping money out of politics"?

So it seems that the Gun Guys and their pals are well funded. You'd think with all that money, they could afford a word processing program with a spell check feature, or am I just not clever enough to have encountered the word, "renowed" before? Update: I guess they dropped in, learned of their spelling problem, and fixed it--hey Gun Guys, how about sending some of that Joyce Foundation money this way, if you're going to use my proofreading service?

EDITED TO ADD: Living as I do (unfortunately) in the self-defense denied state of Illinois, I kind of left out the Joyce Foundation's contributions to self-defense suppression in other states--to give an idea, since 2003, they've given $1,270,000 to WAVE Educational Fund, $112,000 to Citizens for a Safer Minnesota Education Fund, $350,000 to Ohio Coalition Against Gun Violence, and $250,000 to Iowans for the Prevention of Gun Violence. Basically, if you're a gun rights deprivation advocacy group in the Midwest, the Joyce Foundation has a big stack of blank checks for you.

UPDATE: When I was looking into the Joyce Foundation's list of grants to human rights suppression groups, I ignored the "firearms research" category, and looked only at "improving public policy." That was a mistake on my part, because in addition to the $500,000 I already mentioned coming from the Foundation to the VPC for "improving public policy," it has donated another $1,650,000 to them (here, here, and here) for "research."

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

An assault on logic

The debate in Maryland over the proposed ban there, on so-called "assault weapons" (I've mentioned that ban proposal before) is heating up, as the bill approaches a vote.

Never mind that more people are murdered with knives and clubs than with all long guns (not just "assault weapons"--all shotguns and rifles), never mind that "assault weapons" are functionally identical to many firearms that are not classified as "assault weapons," and never mind that they fire the same ammunition--with no more power, and no more ability to penetrate body armor than other rifles. Still, we are supposed to believe that these firearms represent a huge threat to society.

The Maryland bill's sponsor, Senator Mike Lenett, makes some particularly odd arguments.

Sen. Mike Lenett, D-Montgomery, described the weapons as ones "built to be fired from the hip rather than aimed from the shoulder, allowing the user to spray a large quantity of ammunition from high capacity magazines over a wide area at close range as quickly as possible."

"These weapons are particularly ill-suited to hunting or target-shooting, but remarkably well-suited to killing a lot of people in a hurry," said Lenett, who is the bill's chief sponsor and mentioned the sniper slayings in 2002 that left seven Maryland residents dead as one reason why such a law is needed.
So, let me get this straight--"assault weapons" aren't good for target shooting, because they're designed for fast firing, and are thus not suitable for accurate shooting--and they were used in sniper shootings in 2002.

Wait a second--isn't sniping, by definition, precision shooting, usually from a distance? This genius screams that they're "bad" because they're not accurate enough, and then, almost in the same breath, "strengthens" that argument by saying that they're "bad" because they're accurate enough to be used by snipers.

Does anyone still think that there are any guns this mentally incompetent despot thinks are suitable for possession by the lowly masses?

Say what you want about Pat Wray and his writing--he at least does alliteration well

"Vicious, vengeful, vitriolic jackals"--that's what Wray calls owners of homeland security rifles (or so-called "assault weapons," to the media). Come to think of it, he could have made the alliteration even better if he had called us "vicious, vengeful, vitriolic vipers," but who am I to complain?

Once again, Wray attributes the impressive power of the outraged reaction over Zumbo's gaffe to "paranoia" cultivated by the NRA. He has apparently found a theme he likes, and is sticking to it--its inaccuracy notwithstanding.

But we need to look beyond the Internet, into the genesis of the anger and fear that fueled the Internet attacks. If we look closely, we will find the National Rifle Association, or NRA. For decades the NRA has fostered a climate of fear and paranoia among gun owners. They have hammered home the message that everyone is out to take our guns and that compromise is tantamount to treason. They created an attitude within their membership that anyone who disagreed was an enemy and the best defense was a good offense. Nowhere has that message taken root as strongly as within the owners of the military style rifles, and it was they who came after Zumbo in their thousands.
What Wray has chosen to ignore is that powerful forces are out to take our guns (such as a powerful United States Senator saying, "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in, I would have done it.") To deny that private ownership of firearms is under attack is either grossly wishful thinking, or a deliberate attempt to lull gun owners into potentially disastrous complacency. Either way, it serves the forces of civilian disarmament, and their goal of a government monopoly on the use of force.

I have pointed out before that another aspect Wray is utterly clueless about (as are others) is that the NRA brought up the rear in the campaign against Zumbo (forgive the shouting, but some folks seem to be having trouble getting that point). They publicly cut ties with him several days after the most intense part of the storm of anger. Even that was a rather tame couple paragraphs--certainly not the extremist ranting that Wray would have us believe was involved. The widespread rage was due, not to the NRA, but to the fact that what Zumbo did was outrageous--namely, helping to accomplish the gun ban lobby's sacred mission of driving a wedge between different categories of law-abiding gun owners.

If Wray's shooting is no more accurate than his writing, I imagine the chukars he hunts are pretty safe. By the way, is calling us "terrorists" in a clumsy, foolish use of words much worse than calling us "vicious, vengeful, vitriolic jackals," deliberately?

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Gun Guys--confused as ever

I keep promising myself that I'm going to drop the Zumbo debacle (I actually believe that it's time to move on from bashing him), but new developments keep coming up, and I think they need to be addressed. This time, it's a blog post by my old nemesis, the Gun Guys.

Predictably, just like Martha Rosenberg, just like Pat Wray (as reported by the Washington Post), they present a version of events in which the NRA was supposedly the driving force behind the massive grassroots campaign of indignation directed at Zumbo and his sponsors.

As the Washington Post reports, the NRA and their minions are more like a pack of rabid dogs than even we knew– at the first hint of reasonable gun legislation, even coming from one of their own, they go for the throat.
As I (and others) have mentioned before, the NRA was slow to cut ties with Zumbo, and did so only after it became obvious that gun rights activists were demanding it.

The Gun Guys want to hear more from Zumbo (oddly, they didn't mention a word about the fact that he has said more since the fatal blog--and the gist of it is that he was dead wrong, and that the Second Amendment has nothing to do with hunting).
What we’d like to see is another column from Jim Zumbo, on what he thinks about all this. As we said, he was an ardent supporter of what the NRA is supposed to stand for– hunting and shooting sports– for years and years. And because of one comment (a suggestion already agreed upon by the majority of American citizens), they have eviscerated his career and his life. We’re guessing Zumbo probably won’t be renewing his NRA membership the next time it comes around.
The good news for the Gun Guys is that I believe they'll get their wish of more writing from Zumbo--the bad news (for them and their freedom-hating ilk) is that I strongly suspect that it will be extolling the virtues of rifles like the AR-15, and of tactical shooting in general.

Zumbo's fall from grace has nothing to do with the NRA, and everything to do with the tens of thousands of law-abiding, responsible owners of "scary" looking rifles who, oddly enough, took umbrage at being called terrorists. To acknowledge that, though, is to acknowledge that gun rights advocacy is more mainstream than they are willing to believe--and that we're tired of being pushed around.

That scares the civilian disarmament lobby--as well it should.

Gun rights advocates unite!

Today, I was made aware of an initiative over at the Guns Newtork Forum (I'm not clear on whether it actually started there, or somewhere else) to unite all gun forums (AR15.com, The High Road, The Firing Line, 1911 Forum, Glock Talk--and many others) and blogs into one cohesive, massively powerful grassroots force.

The recent groundswell of righteous indignation over Zumbo's forcible insertion of both of his boots in his mouth, and the immediate effect it had on the outdoor sporting industry provides just a glimpse of what kind of economic power gun owners can bring to bear. The reaction to Zumbo was improvised and spontaneous, but still had a great deal of power. How much greater, then, would be that power, if it was carefully cultivated, focused and directed?

The civilian disarmament lobby likes to portray those who oppose them as a faceless, evil, behemoth "gun lobby," which they invariably equate with the NRA. This is patently false, but it's taken as a matter of faith by the media, and thus hardly questioned among the public. A deafening roar from a unified, grassroots legion of motivated, patriotic gun owners would shatter that illusion.

The idea here isn't to replace the gun rights advocacy lobbying groups, like the GOA, SAF, CCRKBA, NRA, JPFO, etc.--their vital importance will be undiminished--the thinking is to open up a brand new front in the war against the war on guns (hope you don't mind me borrowing, David). The lobbying groups will continue to work on the legislative level, while the new effort would focus on the economic level, by organizing phone, fax, email, and letter blitzes, and if necessary, boycotts.

I'm still trying to get a handle on the idea, so instead of trying to explain it myself, I'll refer you (again, for those who missed it above) to the explanation here. I will post a very brief overview here (quoted from the link above) of the very first steps necessary:

1. authoring a mission statement: clear and to the point. (volunteers?)
2. Formally asking the moderators of other sites if they would like to be on-board with it, agreeing with the mission statement. (volunteers?)
3. Having a group of moderators, perhaps one from each involved forum, be the arbiters of the final action.
4. Keeping it professional
5. selecting out targets for maximum impact


6. Set up a blog to act as the blogger's alert center. I volunteer to bring back Headsbunker for this purpose, but if there is a well known gunblogger out there who would host this that would be more efficient.
Targeting Zumbo, an outdoor writer, whose sponsors were all necessarily sensitive to the pressures we could bring to bear, was easy. The challenges in our future will undoubtedly be more formidable. This idea might be just the ticket for meeting that challenge.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bigger fish to fry

After a full week of the Great Zumbo Debacle, I think it's time to shift targets (metaphorically speaking). Further attacks on him would be "bombing the rubble," so to speak--there's simply nothing left to gain by continuing to lambaste him.

Besides, apparently somewhere on Ted Nugent's web board (I'm not going to wade through almost 50 pages looking for exactly where), Zumbo showed evidence of finally having gotten a clue:

Junior Member posted 02-23-2007 03:30 PM
Thank you all for letting me speak. Yes, I know the 2nd Amendment has nothing to do with hunting and hunting guns, and yes, I promise you I am now dedicated to educate all shooters that we must all stick together regardless of our gun choices, and also tolerate the firearms others may choose to use if they are dissimilar to ours. I will do everything I can, within my power as a journalist and public speaker, to protect the 2nd Amendment and America's gun owners.
Finally, instead of saying that "'Assault weapons' are OK, because they can be appropriate for hunting," he is acknowledging that suitability for hunting has nothing to do with "legitimacy" or the Second Amendment. It took him bloody long enough to get there, but now that he has, I can no longer fault him.

In fact, I believe that there are some nuggets of good to be salvaged from this whole sordid mess. I've mentioned before that this incident really put the spotlight on the power of the gun owning community, when some outrage is sufficient to fully mobilize us. That power may well be needed in coming days, as bills like H.R. 1022 raise their hideous heads.

In this Washington Post article, another outdoor writer, Pat Wray, "blamed" the NRA for driving the fury against Zumbo.
"This shows the zealousness of gun owners to the point of actual foolishness," said Pat Wray, a freelance outdoors writer in Corvallis, Ore., and author of "A Chukar Hunter's Companion."

Wray said that what happened to Zumbo is a case study in how the NRA has trained members to attack their perceived enemies without mercy.
In truth, the NRA was rather slow in addressing the situation, and would very likely never have done so but for the tsunami of grassroots indignation of thousands of individual gun owners. The enemies of civilian gun ownership like to portray a behemoth "gun lobby," which they invariably equate with the NRA, while ignoring the millions of gun owners and freedom lovers from whom the NRA (and every other gun rights organization) gets its power.

Speaking of Wray, he has had long-standing issues with the NRA, and is something of a cheerleader for the American Hunters and Shooters Association--a group whose president, John E. Rosenthal, is the founder of the Massachusetts anti-gun group, Stop Handgun Violence. The AHSA's primary mission seems to be to forestall the gun ban lobby by doing much of their work for them, and thus perhaps appeasing them enough that their double barreled shotguns will be left alone. A laudable endeavor--if you happen to believe that the Second Amendment protects the right to hunt, as long as you do it without scaring the soccer moms.

Exposing Wray for what he is would seem to be one of the beneficial side effects of the Zumbo imbroglio. Another who has gotten a pass for far too long is David Petzal, of Field and Stream. Anyone who has not read Unix_Jedi's breakdown of Petzal's position, as well as some interesting history, should do so.

Zumbo was a symptom--people like Petzal, and organizations like AHSA are the disease.

As is so often the case, much of what I discussed here I found on War on Guns

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Raising the next generation of placid herbivores

This Washington Post op-ed piece, by Jonathan Turley, discusses the culture of cowardice a growing number of parents want their children (and everyone else's children, as well) raised in. He became aware of this phenomenon when other parents reacted in shock and horror upon discovering that his sons were permitted to play with toy guns (which were obviously toys).

Turley is not himself a firearms enthusiast, and although the piece does not come out and say so, I get the strong impression that there are not, and never have been, real firearms in his house. Still, he is struck by the ridiculousness of "protecting" children from toy guns, as if they were loaded heroin syringes. His piece lists some examples of the bizarre extremes to which the "zero tolerance" policies are sometimes taken.

· In New Jersey, an 8-year-old boy used an L-shaped piece of paper in a game of cops and robbers during recess. School officials called the police, saying the child had threatened "to kill other students" by saying "pow pow" on the playground. He was held for five hours and forced to make two court appearances before charges were dropped. Two 8-year-old boys were charged with making "terrorist threats" after they were found pointing paper guns at classmates. Charges were later dropped.

· In Texas, a 13-year-old girl was suspended and transferred to a school for problem kids after she brought a butter knife to school with her lunch. Her parents had packed the dull knife so that she could cut her apple to make it easier to eat because she wore braces.

· In Arkansas, an 8-year-old boy was punished for pointing a cooked chicken strip at another student and saying "pow, pow, pow."

· In Georgia, a 5-year-old student was suspended after he brought a plastic gun the size of a quarter to his kindergarten class.
How far we have fallen--a few short generations ago, our men braved murderous fire to storm the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima--now, an 8-year-old saying "pow, pow" is enough to terrorize us.

There is hope, though--even in my own herbivore-ruled state of Illinois, a bill has been introduced in the legislature that would require the school system to offer weapon safety education to children.

Synopsis As Introduced
Amends the School Code. Requires the State Board of Education, in cooperation with the Department of State Police, to develop a weapons safety program designed to protect children from the risk of gun-related death and injury. Provides that the program must be designed to teach children to follow an effective safety procedure when they are exposed to a gun and shall specifically warn children that contact with guns can result in serious injury or death. Provides that a school district may incorporate the weapons safety program into its curriculum. Requires the State Board of Education to submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly as to the status of the program no later than January 1, 2009.
That's the kind of thing that will probably put the "zero tolerance" folks off their feed--sales of tofu burgers with kiwi slices are going to suffer.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Trying to fix one problem with the layout here, it seems that I have created new problems (which I've just discovered). I'm referring to the links I've lost--including the Free Wayne Webring. Also, there are some other blogs to which I had included links--links which have spontaneously disappeared. This is in no way intended as a slight--just a side effect of my incompetence with HTML code. Working on it now.

UPDATE: Many thanks to JR, at A Keyboard and a 45, for rescuing me from my own incompetence, and giving me the Free Wayne Webring code. Now if he'd just teach me how to work on my 1911s ;-) .

More strange "logic" from the gun ban advocates

According to this article, police departments are outfitting patrol officers with more firepower. This is coming in the form of semi-automatic, detachable magazine fed rifles--commonly referred to as "assault weapons," (more on that in a minute)--or simply moving rifles and shotguns from the trunks of squad cars, up to the front, where they're more easily available (but I thought quickly available firepower only made bloodbaths more likely--I guess the "Only Ones", as defined at War on Guns--are too good for that).

The writers of the article would clearly like us to believe that the reason for this is that the expiration of the ban on so-called "assault weapons" means that more of them are showing up in the hands of criminals, requiring police to need more firepower to avoid being "outgunned."

Scott Knight, chairman of the Firearms Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, said an informal survey of about 20 departments revealed that since 2004 all of the agencies have either added weapons to officers' patrol units or have replaced existing weaponry with military-style arms.

Knight, police chief in Chaska, Minn., said the upgrades have occurred since a national ban on certain assault weapons expired in September 2004. The ban, passed in 1994, in part prohibited domestic gunmakers from producing semi-automatic weapons and ammunition dispensers holding more than 10 rounds.

"This (weapons upgrade) is being done with an eye to the absolute knowledge that more higher-caliber weapons are on the street since the expiration of the ban," Knight said. He said his own department of about 20 officers is in the midst of determining whether to upgrade its weapons.
Hmm--an "informal" survey of "about 20 departments"--hardly ironclad proof of a widespread national trend to more police firepower. Keep in mind that this "ban" wasn't a ban--at least not in the traditional sense. People who owned the banned firearms were not compelled to give them up, and could sell them to others without any more restrictions than were imposed on other firearm sales. True--banned firearms manufactured during the 10 year life of the ban were off limits to most of the public, but as the civilian disarmament extremists never got tired of complaining, firearms manufacturers were able to market, absolutely legally, many guns that differed from the banned models only by the most trivial of details. Even Tom Diaz (Violence Policy Center) himself said that
if the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference one way or another . . . reducing death and injury.
The simple truth is that the militarization of our nation's police forces is a well established (and somewhat alarming) trend, and has nothing to do with the sunset of the AWB. Finally, since the AWB included absolutely no language restricting the calibers available to the public, his statement that "This (weapons upgrade) is being done with an eye to the absolute knowledge that more higher-caliber weapons are on the street since the expiration of the ban," is clearly pure nonsense.

A few paragraphs ago, I promised to expand on the civilian disarmament extremist lobby's sensationalist, pejorative term of "assault weapons," for semi-automatic, detachable magazine fed rifles. As gun owners, our use of their loaded terminology plays right into their hands. A member of a gun forum I frequent, 1911 forum, suggested a new term that is both much more accurate, and less "frightening" sounding: homeland security rifles.

I think it's as good a term as any (and better than any I'd heard until now).

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Zumbo's sponsors retreating at top speed

It seems that Zumbo's fall from grace is just about complete. Remington, with commendable alacrity, was the first to stand on principle, and sever ties with him. Hi Mountain Seasonings was not far behind. Outdoor Life, after some initial beating around the bush, has followed suit, as has Gerber (of the multi-tools and knives--not the baby food). Cabela's is also apparently getting with the program.

My biggest concern, though, was the NRA, with whom he has had some ties, as a writer for Shooting Illustrated, and as part of the Great American Hunters Tour. The NRA was slow to address the situation, but have finally acknowledged that they cannot claim to be protectors of the Second Amendment, while at the same time maintaining ties with someone who has so recently and publicly attacked it.

Ending the corporate sponsorship was important, but it was my belief that the most important element was the dissolution of the NRA's ties to a man who had very publicly undermined a fundamental part of the NRA's stated mission. I applaud the NRA for (eventually) taking that step.

Zumbo, with Ted Nugent's support, is trying to repair the damage he's caused. I'm a bit skeptical about how well that will work, but if he helps bridge the long-standing rift between people whose only interest in firearms is sport, and those who, like St. George Tucker, consider the keeping of arms to be the "palladium of liberty," this entire sordid mess could end with gun owners being stronger than before. Even absent that, one positive outcome that does seem to have happened is that the "black rifle" enthusiasts have spoken, and folks are finding out that they have a pretty loud, powerful voice.

Then again, I'm something of a cockeyed optimist.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Second Amendment takes to the skies

OK--that's a little strong (sometimes I get a bit overly dramatic), but this is unquestionably some very good news. A couple months ago, I referred (here and here) to an alarming development pointed out by David Codrea at War on Guns (here).

For those who might be new to the issue (and believe me--it didn't get much press--certainly not in the mainstream media, and as far as I know, not from the gun rights organizations, either), I'll give a quick recap. Basically, the Federal Aviation Administration, realizing that commercial space travel may soon be a reality, has started to put together some rules (something like 120 pages worth) to handle that (a government agency just has to have rules, you know). One of the rules they came up with was a complete prohibition of firearms (and other weapons) on launch and reentry vehicles. Whatever your thoughts on the wisdom of that particular rule, it's the FAA's justification that should have raised hackles (actually, more than hackles--it should have triggered a full-throated howl of protest). This "justification" was based on our old friend, the "collective rights" interpretation of the Second Amendment.

II.C.6: Security Requirements:

Additionally, nearly all courts have also held that the Second Amendment is a collective right, rather than a personal right. Therefore, despite the Second Amendment collective right to bear arms, the FAA has the authority to prohibit firearms on launch and reentry vehicles for safety and security purposes.
Apparently, most of the gun rights activist community who saw this decided it wasn't worth getting excited about. This strikes me as more than a little odd--after finally getting the federal government to acknowledge that the Second Amendment protected an individual right (as stated unequivocally by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, and confirmed by President Bush), we're going to be indifferent to a reversal of that position? This is much bigger than "guns in space"--this is about whether or not the Second Amendment has any real purpose.

So, Mr. Codrea asked the Bush administration about it, and urged the rest of us to do the same. Frankly, although I believed in what David was trying to do, I held out very little hope for it's success. I sent the emails, and tried to raise a bit of consciousness about it here, but I never expected it to go anywhere.

Hmm--looks as if my "quick recap" ran a little long--sorry. Anyway--fast forward to yesterday, and this.
SUMMARY: When the FAA issued a final rule on human space flight, it described one rule as consistent with the Second Amendment of the Constitution because, among other things, the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment is a collective right. The FAA now withdraws that characterization and amends its description. . . .

In explaining this rule in response to a comment, the FAA characterized the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment of the Constitution as ``a collective right.'' 71 FR at 75626. The FAA now withdraws that characterization of the right to bear arms.
The FAA still plans to ban weapons on these craft--whether or not that is right is a matter for another debate. The larger issue is that the mythical "collective right" is back where it should be--in the trash.

As I've said before, I'm convinced that Mr. Codrea fought this battle virtually alone (to my shame, my contribution was minimal, at best). We will all share in the spoils of his victory, but it will remain his victory.

Well done, David, and thank you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Work with the BATFE--get ambushed by the Brady Bunch

The Brady Bunch is, of course, thrilled with Mayor Bloomberg's campaign to crucify gun dealers, and have jumped on board with their "Shady Dealings" press releases and "reports." They love to make the claim (without, as far as I can tell, ever backing it up) that "almost 60% of crime guns originate with only 1% of the Nation’s licensed gun dealers" (this statement, of course, even if true, says nothing about any illegality of the sale in the first place--but the Bradys want to make it a crime to sell a firearm to a person without using mysterious, supernatural powers to read the customer's mind and/or look into the future, to be sure that he or she does nothing wrong with the gun).

In their zeal to punish these allegedly "shady" gun dealers, the Bradys do not even bother to make sure they make a distinction between the "bad" gun dealers, and the rest of them, as Raymond Tanner can tell you.

When the BATFE approached Tanner, who manages Tanner's Sport Center (in Jamison, PA) for his father, asking him to be on the lookout for a known "straw purchaser," he agreed to do so--presumably knowing that for a gun dealer not to do exactly as the BATFE asks can be dangerous (unfortunately, so is doing what they ask).

Soon enough, in walks the felon (with a couple accomplices), and Tanner managed to stall the sale long enough for the BATFE to catch them as they left. This, however, was apparently not good enough for the Bradys, who featured Tanner's as one of their "Shady" dealerships.

This, predictably, was not good for business

"The phones started ringing off the hook," Tanner says. Some customers were outraged and threatened never to do business with the place again. Others called to say they couldn't believe it was true.
A call to the Brady Bunch netted an apology and a removal from their "report," but that hardly pays for the unfairly damaged reputation and the loss of business.

The civilian disarmament advocates of the Brady Campaign have clearly abused their First Amendment rights--perhaps it's time to look into placing some common sense restrictions on those.

A little help?

War on Guns has a couple links from Unix_Jedi (I'll repeat them, here and here) to some good questions about NRA's involvement with Zumbo. It's my way of thinking that it's all well and good to pressure Zumbo's various corporate sponsors to drop him, but that the NRA, as (ostensibly) the gun rights advocacy organization, that is most obligated to divorce itself from him.

What I need help with is establishing the specifics regarding the relationship. I know he's a big part of their Great American Hunters Tour. I'm also told (but have not been able to verify) that he's a writer for the NRA's Shooting Illustrated magazine. I would very much appreciate it if someone could scan a page from that magazine with his byline, or a page with him listed as part of the staff, and email the scan to me at 45superman@gmail.com.

Thanks in advance.

Monday, February 19, 2007

A little bit more about Zumbo--but mostly about NICS "Improvement" Act

I realize that I've been kind of hammering this Zumbo thing, to the point that even I'm starting to get a little tired of it--but there has been some more news worth sharing. David Codrea, at War on Guns, has confirmed that Remington is severing ties with Zumbo.

It might not happen often, but every once in a long while, circumstances line up such that the right thing to do as a matter of principle is also the right thing to do in terms of bottom line profit. Such a situation landed on Remington CEO and President Tommy Milner's desk, and he made the correct decision. Outdoor Life needs to follow suit, and so does the NRA (especially the NRA).

But enough (for now, at least) about Zumbo--what I really want to discuss today is the Carolyn McCarthy's H.R. 297, the so-called NICS "Improvement" Act. I made a glancing reference to it Saturday, but I think it's worth a closer look.

Actually, I talked a little about back on January 8th, but then, while I wasn't very enthusiastic about the idea, I hadn't yet come to understand just how grave a threat it poses to lawful gun ownership, and I say that despite my full awareness of the NRA's enthusiastic support for it.

While the NRA focuses on the measure's possibly beneficial effects with regard to addressing delays inherent to the current system, the GOA takes a much closer look, and finds some much more ominous elements.

For example:

The bill also seeks to computerize records of persons "under indictment for a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year." Such persons, though not even convicted of the crime in question, are prohibited from possessing a firearm.
Note the "under indictment"--in other words, this is about preventing firearms purchases by those who have not been convicted of any crimes. So much for the presumption of innocence pending proof of guilt, eh?

Perhaps worse is the provision in McCarthy's bill for inclusion of mental health records in the national computerized database:
Mental health records are also covered under the McCarthy bill.

This could have a significant impact on American servicemen, especially those returning from combat situations and who seek some type of psychiatric care. Often, veterans who have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder have been deemed as mentally "incompetent" and are prohibited from owning guns under 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(4). Records of those instances certainly exist, and, in 1999, the Department of Veterans Administration turned over 90,000 names of veterans to the FBI for inclusion into the NICS background check system.
Nice. We send these courageous men and women to hostile lands, to carry firearms in defense of our national interests, and when they come home, we tell them they can't have firearms for their own defense. Veterans aside, the mental health care community (as a whole, I realize that there are exceptions) is notoriously hostile to private ownership of firearms, and this bill would greatly enhance the power of mental health care professionals to deny the basic right of firearms ownership.

There's more than I'm going to get into here, so be sure to read the GOA's entire analysis of the bill. Also, ask yourself why rabidly anti-rights Carolyn McCarthy, who just introduced a bill to reauthorize the defunct ban on so-called "assault weapons," would sponsor a bill that is good for gun owners. The only answer that makes sense is that she wouldn't--whatever the NRA says.

Then, it might be time to ask them some questions.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Zumbo's stumble

The Zumbo saga has me so fired up that I'm making an unprecedented (for me) second Sunday blog entry.

It seems that, incredibly, Zumbo had no idea what kind of firestorm he was bringing down on himself with his article. He apparently actually believed that there is not a huge number of law-abiding Americans who are aware that the Second Amendment exists, not to protect hunting, but to protect freedom. My guess is that he's learning differently, and in a big hurry.

By the way, it seems that some folks have contacted Remington about this, because of Remington's heavy advertising in Outdoor Life. While I agree that it's good to make anyone who does business with Zumbo aware that we will not do business with those who support Zumbo's writings, it is perhaps too early to throw Remington to the wolves. I can't verify the authenticity of this letter, but if it is genuine, it would seem that Remington is getting as much separation from Zumbo as possible (and so quickly that they didn't even bother to use a spell checker):

ALL - Jim Zumbo in NO WAY speaks for Remington! His opinions are his own. We at Remington take our 2nd Ammendment Rights extremely seriously and ourselves market and manufacturer a AR based 308 rifle. Remington Arms supports the lawful use of all firearms by thier owners in whatever legal manner they choose. We at Remington feel that it is the diversity of our tastes and uses of fireaems that should also be the binding element that assists us all in defending the rights granted to us by our fore fathers.

Rest assured that remington not only does not support jim's view, we totally disagree! I have no explaination for his perspective.

I proudly own AR's and support everyones right to do so!

What makes me sick is how quickly people on the internet have called to boycott Remington. All Jim said was he was hunting with our people! This is normal course in our industry. How else do people think we field test? with writers.

Remington has spent tens of millions of dollars to defend your rights and how quickly the thanks is threat and boycott! Please feel Free to post that remington does not agree with Zumbo in any way shape or form and we will assess our relationship with him accordingly.

Tommy Millner
CEO and President

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I do think Outdoor Life's editorial staff needs to hear from us, as does one other entity, as well. It would seem that Zumbo has been heavily associated with the NRA for quite a long time--I have not yet been able to verify that he writes for the NRA's Shooting Illustrated, but I've been told that he does. According to his biography, he established the NRA's Great American Hunters Tour, and is still heavily involved with that. If the NRA wants to continue to claim to represent America's gun owners in our fight to preserve the Second Amendment (what's left of it), they need to get as far from him as possible.

Finally, I want to list just a few other blogs that are covering this (this list is by no means comprehensive): I've already mentioned War on Guns, and there's A Keyboard and a 45, and Live from the (upper) Texas Gulf Coast. Those sites mention yet more that are covering this.

There's a rumor that Zumbo intends to issue a heartfelt apology soon. It had better be heart breakingly eloquent.

UPDATE: The apology is now available for viewing. I suppose he said the right things, but it's hard to get very convinced that a true change of heart was involved. It seems that the Brady Bunch is already crowing about this (his first piece--before "seeing the light") on My Space.

Found this on AR15.com--I hope Blacklisted doesn't mind me borrowing it.

2nd Amendment Carnival IX, plus unrelated rant

I usually take Sundays off (not for religious reasons--just because it seems as good a day as any to enjoy my inherent laziness), but I'm going to take a minute to post a brief note of thanks to Free Constitution, for including Armed and Safe in Second Amendment Carnival IX. Lots of great stuff to read over there, and it's an honor to be included among that group.

Now for the "rant" part. I don't think I've left much doubt that I don't in the least like anti-gun bigots. It seems to me, though, that traitors to the Second Amendment--those who are unabashedly firearms enthusiasts, but who as hunters, think their best chance of keeping their guns is to throw the rest of us under the bus--deserve an even larger measure of contempt. Meet Jim Zumbo.

I must be living in a vacuum. The guides on our hunt tell me that the use of AR and AK rifles have a rapidly growing following among hunters, especially prairie dog hunters. I had no clue. Only once in my life have I ever seen anyone using one of these firearms.

I call them "assault" rifles, which may upset some people. Excuse me, maybe I'm a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. I'll go so far as to call them "terrorist" rifles. They tell me that some companies are producing assault rifles that are "tackdrivers."

Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, these things have no place in hunting. We don't need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I've always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don't use assault rifles. We've always been proud of our "sporting firearms."

This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don't need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let's divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the praries [sic] and woods.
Please, someone who can manage more tact than I can in my current state of agitation--please educate this clown.

EDITED TO ADD: Just noticed that War on Guns is already onto our traitor. Sorry for the duplication, David.

EDITED AGAIN TO ADD: Leaving a comment is kind of satisfying (I know I felt better once I did), but it might be more valuable to drop a line to his editors, telling them that Zumbo is costing them subscriptions.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Since it worked so swimmingly before . . .

Carolyn McCarthy, who absolutely LOVES every restriction on guns she sees (including the so-called NICS "Improvement" ACT, which, oddly enough, the NRA supports--but that's a topic for another day), has introduced a bill that would reinstate the federal ban on so-called "assault weapons."

This ban, of course, was allowed to expire (or "sunset") in 2004. The reason for that is primarily that the ban accomplished absolutely nothing along the lines of saving lives. Pro-civilian disarmament columnist Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post) is no friend to gun ownership, but at least he's honest--he admitted that the real reason for the ban wasn't to save lives, but to pave the way for more bans:

Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic - purely symbolic - move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation. (April 5, 1996)
Even Tom Diaz, of the Violence Policy Center, found himself (in a rare moment of forthrightness) forced to admit the law's futility.
If the existing assault weapons ban expires, I personally do not believe it will make one whit of difference one way or another . . . reducing death and injury.
None of that matters to Carolyn McCarthy, though. On Tuesday, she introduced H.R. 1022, "To reauthorize the assault weapons ban, and for other purposes" (as David Codrea, at War on Guns, points out--what "other purposes"?).

Congresscritter Carolyn, like most civilian disarmament advocates, is not one to let a tragedy go unexploited, and is trying to use the shootings in the old Philadelphia Naval Shipyard as justification for more gun restrictions.
In Philadelphia, a gunman opened fire on his colleagues using an AK-47 assault rifle he legally purchased. These dangerous weapons, which are intended to hit multiple targets in a short period of time, were allowed back on our streets when the federal ban on assault weapons expired in 2004. The deaths in Philadelphia could have been prevented if Congress had done its job of protecting the homeland and renewed the assault weapons ban.

I have again introduced legislation to permanently ban assault weapons. These weapons have no practical use. They are not used by hunters for sport or by individuals for self-defense. They are intended to kill as many individuals as possible in a short amount of time and have no place on our streets. The unfortunate situation in Philadelphia could have been avoided if Congress stood up to the gun lobby in 2004.
I'm not going to get into all the arguments against such a ban--such arguments have been covered here and elsewhere a million times. The point I would like to make is that the murderer's victims had all been bound hand and foot with rope and tape--the supposedly hyper-lethal nature of so-called "assault weapons" had nothing to do with why those men died. They died because they incurred the wrath of an unstable person who was willing to kill those who angered him, and because they were apparently not armed themselves, and were thus unable to mount effective resistance.

So spare us your phony "justifications" for your ban, Carolyn, and talk to us about those "other purposes."

Friday, February 16, 2007

No John, maybe YOU don't get it

John H. Adler contends that Americans who believe in the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms "don't get it."

Nowhere in the civilized world are civilians permitted to carry arms unless they have specific reasons to do so.
Well John, as it turns out, American civilians who carry arms do have specific reasons for doing so--defense against crime, defense against tyranny (the biggest reason), and defense against becoming a contemptible, helpless herbivore.
Thanks to the unbelievable political power of the NRA, almost anyone within the USA can obtain a license to purchase a gun.
Actually, in most parts of the U.S., no "license" is required to purchase a gun--and those jurisdictions that do require a government-issued permission slip violate the Constitutional rights of their citizens.
Why, and for what purpose, are we arming ourselves?
For self defense? Bull! Before you pull your gun, you’re dead.
Have you mentioned that to the more than three quarters of a million people per year who do successfully use a gun to defend themselves (without a shot being fired, the vast majority of the time)? For a day-by-day accounting of some defensive uses of firearms in which shots are fired, click here.
What possible legitimate reason can there be for owning an automatic handgun?
Fully automatic handguns are very heavily regulated and almost never used in crimes (or for much of anything else, really). If you refer to semi-automatic handguns--the answer is that they are quite effective personal sidearms. That's why the vast majority of police departments choose them in preference to revolvers, and why no military service, to my knowledge, issues revolvers.
Surely our forefathers did not intend to create a country filled with potential murderers.
The Second Amendment was indeed not intended to empower murderers, any more than the First Amendment was intended to empower libelers and liars. The Constitution was clearly written by men who understood that the recognition of the fundamental, natural right of self-defense threatens only those who would violate the rights of others. The tragedy is that this understanding is clearly no longer universal, or even very widespread.
In some states it is permissible to carry concealed, or even openly displayed, weapons. Have we become a nation of vigilantes?
No, but if you have your way, we will certainly become A Nation of Cowards.

We "get it," John--and to anyone who wants to get our guns, we say "Molon labe."

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What if the VPC threw a victim exploitation party--and nobody came?

Josh Sugarmann is, once again, upset with mainstream America's recalcitrant refusal to fall in line with his extremist agenda of civilian disarmament. This time, his annoyance is focused on what he sees as an inadequate level of wailing and tearing of hair over the recent shootings in a Salt Lake City mall and a Philadelphia shipyard.

As you can see, his "article," titled "How Inured to Mass Shootings Have We Become?" consists of a cut-out page from the Washington Post, with articles about the two incidents highlighted in yellow. A hard worker, that Sugarmann. Anyway, his point, such as it is, apparently is that these shootings should be on the front page, above the fold, in huge font, preferrably accompanied by gore-spattered photographs. The fact that they aren't, we are evidently supposed to believe, indicates how jaded America has become to violence committed by people with guns. By the way, it's interesting to note that most of the comments seem to be from people who do not share his views, despite the fact that this piece is in the Huffington Post--not normally considered popular reading material among NRA member types. Perhaps the Huffington should consider parting ways with Sugarmann, and replacing him with someone whose work resonates more strongly with the beliefs of their readers.

As I have mentioned before, Sugarmann and his ideological allies count on a huge public reaction to shootings. In fact, the more spectacularly violent and horribly tragic a shooting incident is, the more it benefits people like Sugarmann and the VPC (and people and organizations like them). From the Stockton, California schoolyard shooting spree, and the role it played in providing impetus for the now expired ban on so-called "assault weapons," to the shooting at the École Polytechnique, and the energy it provided to civilian disarmament advocates in Canada, to the Port Arthur shooting incident in Australia, and the massive expansion of draconian gun laws it helped spark--the higher profile, the better, in their twisted view.

As Sugarmann's employer (the VPC) says in this piece,

. . . and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority.
How frustrating for them, then, when the long and eagerly awaited "something truly horrible" does indeed happen, and they still can't get the kind of audience they wanted for their dance in the blood of the victims. It's almost enough to tempt a gun ban advocate to go out and arrange a truly huge massacre, just to get the publicity they're looking for.

That's one difference between the civilian disarmament lobby and most Americans--most of us see these shootings as a horrid tragedy--while they see them as an opportunity to advance their agenda.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Selective law enforcement, Brady Bunch style

Last week (here and here), I discussed Mayor Bloomberg's "sting" operation against firearms dealers, and the fact that the federal government has stated that Bloomberg's "evidence" was insufficient for prosecution of a criminal case, and that in fact Bloomberg's actions could (if continued) lead to legal liabilities for New York City. I was initially a bit overly enthusiastic about that--if Bloomberg has committed a federal crime (as would seem to be the case), he should be prosecuted like any other citizen, not merely given a warning. Still, it's always a pleasure to see him smacked down, even if not nearly to the degree that justice demands.

The Brady Bunch, of course, sees things rather differently, as is made apparent in their "news" release, titled "Bush Administration Warns Bloomberg, But Leaves Lawbreaking Gun Dealers Alone." What the gun dealers have allegedly done to break the law is facilitate a "straw purchase," whereby they sell one or more firearms to one individual, but should somehow have known that the firearm is actually intended for another individual (presumably one not legally permitted to buy guns himself).

The Bradys explain how the mayor's operation worked to obtain its "evidence":

Mayor Bloomberg’s office last year carefully constructed a program of apparent straw purchases of firearms, sending teams of investigators into gun shops.
What, exactly, is an "apparent" straw purchase? Either the gun was bought for someone other than represented, or it wasn't. In other words, if the gun dealers broke the law, than Bloomberg's henchmen (and by extension, Bloomberg himself) did as well. There can be no "straw seller" without a straw buyer. To repeat, either no law was broken, or Bloomberg, through his proxies, is himself part of a law-breaking conspiracy. Indeed, if a crime was committed, it would seem that Bloomberg and his minions are the ones who initiated the criminal activity in question.

Either the gun dealers are completely innocent of any crimes, or the Brady Bunch is arguing to defend a deliberate repeat offender of federal firearms laws.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Bonus! Three for one day

Last week, I discussed a piece by Woody Bass (who really, really HATES guns), in which he asked the question "Are Guns Too Accessible?"--to which his answer, clearly, is strongly in the affirmative. In it, he promised to reveal his plan for greatly reducing, or even eliminating, what he considers the problem of people buying firearms for self-defense, without learning basic gun safety measures.

Well, yesterday, the plan was revealed, as promised. Basically, it's a six step plan whereby anyone who wishes to buy a gun must undergo a great deal of training in order to exercise his Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms. Hmm--placing extensive conditions on a fundamental, unalienable right--doesn't sound quite right, does it? Perhaps we should license journalists, as well--after all, much damage is done by people exercising their First Amendment rights clumsily and irresponsibly.

One concern I have with the Woody Plan is that the extensive training it calls for would have to be quite expensive. Not a problem for wealthy people who wish not to be disarmed, of course, but for lower income families (who are more likely to live in neighborhoods in which self-defense could become necessary), this could effectively render them at the mercy of any thug who wishes to victimize them. Seems rather regressively elitist, doesn't it?

I had planned for today's post to be solely about the Woody Plan, but today my inbox had two more things I thought were worth commenting on, so today readers get a bonus--not one silly piece advocating civilian disamament, but three! The first is an Op-Ed piece by the Gun Guys' favorite hoplophobe teenagers, the Milonopoulos brothers. They're apparently students at Stanford, and if this is any indication, they certainly have a great deal to learn.

They start by quoting one of the Columbine killers, Eric Harris.

In an essay released last year by investigators of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, 18-year-old gunman Eric Harris mused, “Students can get weapons into school too easily and they have [too] much access to weapons outside of school.”
It seems to me that Harris and Klebold were counting on the prospect of their classmates, and the faculty and staff, not having weapons. The "Gun Free School Zone" concept certainly worked brilliantly for them, didn't it?
In 2004, Congress let expire the federal assault weapons ban, a measure that prohibited the sale of military-style assault rifles that included those used by Klebold and Harris in the Columbine massacre.
I'm a bit surprised that Niko and Theo would bring that up, since the fact that the Columbine shootings occurred right in the middle of the ten year "assault weapon" silliness would seem to provide fairly convincing evidence as to just how pointless that measure was.

The rest of the piece is more of the same, so we'll just move on to our last bit of nitwittery--a letter to the editor of the Philadelphia Daily News. The author of this letter contends that a major factor driving the levels of violence that far exceed those of 30, 40, or 50 years ago, despite vastly more draconian gun laws, is technology.
The most obvious is gun technology, including the invention of Teflon-coated, hollow-point, "cop-killer" bullets, the wide availability of automatic assault weapons capable of spraying an area with deadly projectiles and cheap concealable plastic weapons not easily detected by scanning equipment.
Let's look at these technological developments, shall we? "Cop killer" bullets first. Care to provide some numbers of officers killed by Teflon coated bullets shot through their body armor? Should be easy--it's a small number (right around ZERO, I believe). In truth, the Teflon coating has nothing to do with making a bullet more capable of defeating armor--the coating protects the rifling in the bore of the barrel from the hard, dense materials (like tungsten) that actually do imbue a bullet with a greater capacity to penetrate armor (such materials are banned by federal law for use in handgun ammunition available to the general public). Oh--and hollow points? Those were invented in the 1800's--not exactly "high-tech."

"Automatic assault weapons"? Fully automatic weapons have been very tightly controlled for over 70 years, and have been used in very few killings.

The "plastic weapons" line is especially amusing, I haven't seen that for a long time. There is no such thing as a plastic firearm. Yes, there are numerous handguns with polymer frames, but the barrel, the slide, and many other parts can only be made of metal (for reasons of both physics and legislation). This guy seems to have remembered just about every anti-gun media buzzword except "gun show loophole." He'll probably get to that in the next letter.

I imagine one of the coolest things about writing civilian disarmament advocacy pieces is the complete liberty from the expectation that the writing will be constrained by facts.

Monday, February 12, 2007

A new way of looking at federal firearms legislation

In keeping with this blog's tradition of trying to be the Unofficial Fan Site of David Codrea's War on Guns Blog, I'm going to yet again discuss a topic I first discovered there.

I refer to his post about the Chapter 44 Project. The Chapter 44 Project is the work of a group called Original Intent, in which the Constitutional authority used to justify the passage of federal firearms laws is explored in a way I had never seen.

The contention here is startling. To be honest, I'm not sure my intellect is quite up to the task of following the arguments all that well, but it seems that the claim is that since the Constitution does not grant to the federal government the power to regulate firearms, the justification the government has always used comes from the "Commerce Clause," which allows the feds to pass laws that pertain to interstate (and foreign) commerce. Whether or not that authority has been abused by the federal government is, of course, a matter of long-standing and rancorous debate. But, according to Original Intent's Chapter 44 Project, that debate may have been fought all this time on badly misunderstood ground.

Rather than try to reproduce the rather complex argument here, I'll simply provide the link again, but if I understand correctly, the contention is that the federal authority to regulate firearms under the Commerce Clause only extends to federally controlled land (such as Army bases, etc.) within the states--not land that is under a state's legal authority.

I had always thought that all federal firearms laws were unconstitutional, but were upheld by "friendly" courts. I had not considered the possibility that the laws do have Constitutional authority, but on a vastly more limited basis than has always been thought to have been the case, and that the government has depended on ambiguity and confusion to exercise authority it does not have.

I don't know how accurate the Chapter 44 Project is, but I certainly would like to see it explored.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Taxing the sin of freedom

Cook County, Illinois has a problem, and I'm not even referring to the fact that it contains Chicago, the armpit of the Midwest. What I am referring to is the fact that the county is looking at a half billion dollar budget deficit (and I shudder to contemplate how many billions of dollars of cumulative debt). Needless to say, the county is in a rather desperate scramble for cash, made all the more interesting by the promise made by the new (and utterly helpless) County Board President, Todd Stroger, not to raise taxes.

Commissioner Roberto Maldonado proposed this ingenious method of raising revenue: a ten cent tax on every round of ammunition sold in the county. In other words, a box of 50 rounds of cheap .22 rimfire, going for somewhere around $1.50, would now be $6.50--or a 333% increase. That's quite a jump--particularly for an administration that has pledged "no tax increases."

Maldonado claimed that such a measure could raise $250,000 dollars per year--or .05% (that's 1/2000th) of the $500 million shortfall. That, of course, would require one to believe that Cook County residents would be dumb enough to buy 2.5 million rounds of grossly overpriced ammunition every year in Cook County, when they could just drive over the county line and save a bundle.

Best yet is how Maldonado attempted to justify the proposal.

Maldonado said an ammo tax "is as close as possible to a sin tax."
Let me see if I have this right--exercising a Constitutional right is a sin? Well, far be it from me to criticize Mr. Maldonado's religious beliefs (I do, after all, revere the First Amendment, as well as the Second--wait a second! Is the First Amendment sinful, too? I wonder if the entire Bill of Rights is really just a road map to damnation).

As it turns out, apparently there are just too many sinners on the Cook County Board, because they rejected Mr. Maldonado's--I mean Saint Roberto's measure, even when he tried to sweeten the deal, by boosting the proposed "sin tax" to fifty cents per bullet. That would push the price of our hypothetical fifty-round box of .22 ammunition from $1.50 (without any sin tax), past $6.50 (with the initial, 10 cent tax), all the way to an impressive $26.50 for a box of 50 rounds of .22 rimfire ammunition. A 1667% increase in price ought to discourage quite a lot of sin, eh?

Too bad the rest of the commissioners don't share our hero's goodness and wisdom.

Friday, February 09, 2007

After further review . . .

In response to my post yesterday, Straightarrow made a comment that I believe is worth repeating here.

This is not something to applaud.

Bloomberg broke the law. He gets a letter to desist? What the Hell is that?

What that is, is not enforcement of the laws that would end in the incarceration of you or me, but rather a warning that he is on their turf. They reserve the right to abuse citizens on their turf and Bloomberg faces no consequences if he backs off now, after committing felonies in at least 15 instances.

No, I don't see this as a victory for the law. Just a gang war warning.
Straightarrow is right--I should have known better than to have responded to this development with anything less than righteous indignation over the fact that Bloomberg is clearly not receiving anything close to the kind of treatment that the vast majority of citizens would, had they committed the same crime (and done so with such brazenness).

Bloomberg's actions have earned him the same prison sentence the rest of us would have received. If, instead of that, the BATFE issues nothing more than a warning and a rebuke, then perhaps their parent organization should change its name to the Department of Injustice.

I stand corrected, Straightarrow, and you have my thanks.

By the way, it seems that gun rights activists in Virginia still have plenty of fight left in them. Stay strong.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Bloomberg's "sting" backfiring?

Tuesday, I received an interesting email from the Second Amendment Foundation. It seems that the BATFE has finally been convinced of the need to investigate the illegal straw purchases made under Mayor Bloomberg's orders. Click here for the BATFE's letter (pdf format).

This is encouraging to see. I know I'm pretty rough on the BATFE on this blog, and that's not likely to change, but I certainly would applaud a decision on their part to not allow Bloomberg's wealth and power to insulate him from the same treatment under the law that any other citizen would receive.

That's not the only good news about the "sting." The federal government has announced that no criminal charges will be filed against the out of state gun dealers targeted by Bloomberg.

According to a letter sent to City Hall, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and various U.S. attorneys' offices have determined the city's findings against the 15 dealers "do not rise to a level that would support a criminal prosecution."

The letter - sent Tuesday by Michael Battle, director of the executive office for United States Attorneys at the Department of Justice - also scolded City Hall for engaging in sting operations involving persons "without proper law enforcement authority," saying that could put the city in legal jeopardy. Battle added that City Hall could "unintentionally interrupt or jeopardize" criminal probes.
Not one to allow little things like . . . laws (which he apparently thinks only apply to lesser mortals) stand in the way, Bloomberg is apparently anything but contrite.
Asked if the Bloomberg administration plans to stop conducting the sting operations, Deputy Mayor Ed Skyler said, "Not necessarily."

"The city hasn't violated any laws," Skyler said defiantly, adding that the city will continue to pursue its civil lawsuits against the gun dealers.
What do you mean "hasn't violated any laws"? They've announced to the world that they conspired to commit straw purchases (you know--the very law that they claim isn't enforced enough)--how can that not constitute the breaking of laws?

Could the "stinger" become the "stingee"?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

"Regardless of who pulled the trigger, I blame the gun"

A couple days ago, I wrote about Woody Bass, and how much he hates guns. This opinion piece, by Jeremy M. Burnside, practically makes Woody look like a John Wayne character.

The second sentence describes his thoughts about the shooting death of his friend.

Regardless of who pulled the trigger, I blame the gun.
Well, I bet the shooter hopes the police, the DA, and the jury hold to the same . . . interesting view as to who (or what, I suppose) is guilty of a killing. It should be pointed out that Jeremy is a trial attorney--presumably not a prosecutor. Hey--here's a question: if a drunk driver kills someone, since we obviously can't blame him, do we blame the bottle the booze came in, or is it the car's fault?
In my 2003 submission, I called for abolition of guns. I cited school and workplace shootings initiated by disturbed people, but concluded by bullets. I continue to call for the abolition of guns for the same reason that left my friend and her parents dead in their Dunbar apartment: Americans are in love with guns and are not brave enough to part with them.
At least Jeremy has the honesty to come out and say that he wants to disarm the entire country. He doesn't try to claim that he "supports gun owners," because he won't try to ban hunting guns. Nope--he wants all guns banned.
The constitutionality of possible gun abolition would be an issue with many Americans who are law-abiding gun owners.
Gee--you think?
But it is the courts that interpret the Constitution, not the popular vote.
Leaving aside for the moment the fact that he seems to advocate using the power of the courts to subvert the will of the people, what is there to "interpret" about "shall not be infringed"? Any "interpretation" of the Second Amendment that ends up with something along the lines of "shall be infringed just as much as the government wants" would seem to require using something other than the English definitions of the words in the Bill of Rights.
In United States v. Miller, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted this provision to mean that citizens do not have an individual right to bear arms unless they possess “some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia.”
An attorney wrote this? The Supreme Court verdict in United States v. Miller did no such thing. The rejection of the Second Amendment defense was based on the (inaccurate) belief on the Court's part that short barrelled shotguns had no military utility. If the firearm in question had been a machine gun, or even if a defense attorney had been present to argue the case, the state of gun rights in this country would most likely be vastly different today.

Jeremy then points out the ironic fact (I assume it's a fact, anyway) that he is a distant ancestor of General Ambrose Burnside, the NRA's first president. He claims that the General would not have approved of the NRA's role in advocating gun rights. He offers nothing to back up that claim.

The last paragraph is . . . something to behold (to be fair, it makes a little more sense if it is made clear that his murdered friend was a competitive rower).
It’s about time the coxswains of our government do something about the guns that are shooting holes in the boat they command, which we call America. As they continue to promote more guns for more crime, our vessel of prosperity and peace continues to sink. How much longer can stubbornness for a misguided view of the Second Amendment keep us afloat? Sadly, not long enough for our society to ever row like Lori did.
Jeremy, could you mercifully put a torpedo in your tortured nautical metaphor, before I get seasick?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

The United States vs. some hunks of metal

I've mentioned Richard Celata, of KT Ordnance, before. According to Hairy Hobbit, there has been some more action on his case.

For those who are unaware, and are in too much of a hurry to check out the links, I'll provide a brief background. KT Ordnance offered incomplete (about 80%) firearm frames. The government, of course, regards the frame of a gun as being legally equal to a whole gun (other parts of the gun are just that--parts). Therefore, commerce in firearm frames is subject to the same regulatory morass (GCA, etc.) as commerce in complete firearms. By offering incomplete frames, KT Ordnance provided customers with the opportunity to do the finishing work themselves, and (as long as they never transferred the end product to another owner) build a firearm without the legal hoops our once proud republic has stooped to forcing its citizens to jump through--and this process would be completely legal.

Or so we thought. As it turns out, the ATF must have wanted to take a break from screwing over Jay Dobyns (Dobyns isn't really relevant to this post--I just mentioned him to give my federal secret admirer something else to look at--he seems to come here at least once almost every day to look at the same post about Dobyns and the ATF, and I'm afraid he's going to get bored--say "Hi" to the fed, everybody). So, they decided to decree that the 80% frames were too much like complete frames, despite the fact that machine tools, skill, knowledge, and time would be required to transform them into anything more than paperweights--more importantly, there are no published definitions of where the legal line is drawn between "complete," and "incomplete" firearm frames. That, I suspect, is how the BATFE likes it--the more ambiguity there is in the law, the more free they are to interpret (and reinterpret, when convenient) the law as it suits them.

To this point, Mr. Celata (owner of KT Ordnance) has not been charged with anything, despite the raid on his business having occurred back in June, with his entire inventory, plus computers and files, confiscated. Instead of charging him, they have taken the rather . . . interesting step of charging part of his inventory--apparently for the crime of manufacturing itself without a license.

Mr. Celata's legal team is attempting to get the "charges" dropped, on the grounds that the BATFE's legal definition of firearm is so vague as to be useless. Supposedly, the defense made the motion to dismiss last Friday (Feb. 2), but to this point, I haven't been able to find any information as to how that went.

Anyone who does know something, please post a comment.

Monday, February 05, 2007

No one needs guns (Woody said so!)

Woody Bass hates guns. Hates 'em. Despises, detests, loathes, and abhors them. It can even safely be said that he execrates them. Announcing to the world the depth of that hatred seems to have been the sole point of this column. I really have to look into that journalism gig--if people would pay me to write about my irrational hatreds, not only would I have a new source of income, but I would also have more opportunities to discuss how I really feel about the designated hitter rule in American League baseball.

In Woody's defense, he does provide readers with an explanation about what qualifies him as an authority on guns. That authority rests on the fact that (have I mentioned this before?) he really, r-e-a-l-l-y HATES them--in college, he even wrote three papers about them in one semester (riveting reading, I'm sure), and he "cannot begin to tell" us (I'm heartbroken) "how many extremely heated discussions I’ve had with friends and family about guns." Ahh--an expert.

But as far as I am concerned, no one needs a gun at all. Not you, certainly not me. Not good people. Not bad people
Like many people who share his hatred, he's a big fan of the argument that people don't need guns. Well thank you very much, Woody, for going to the trouble of determining my needs (and everyone else's--you've certainly been busy), but it seems to me that my needs aren't your determination to make. Furthermore, am I to understand that anything not needed (according to you) is to be despised? By that "reasoning," it would seem that Woody advocates a return to a paleolithic culture--after all, technology and civilization beyond that point isn't really needed for survival.

He then enlightens us with this odd (and rather alarming) sentence:
The general public has no reason to own firearms such as semi-automatic guns or assault rifles and should be completely banned and destroyed, along with all the other types of guns (as far as I am concerned).
Now I'm no professional writer, and I've never written three papers on guns and "gun control" in one semester of college, but I still cannot help but notice that careful reading of that sentence would seem to indicate that Woody advocates that the general public "be completely banned and destroyed." That's just not nice, Woody--even by caveman standards.

The rest of what he has to say is fairly standard "people do not kill people, guns kill people" (of their own volition, apparently) rhetoric--the usual shrill anti-rights extremist screaming. He does promise that next week he'll propose his plan to "eliminate some, if not the majority" of what he claims is the "irresponsibility" of people buying guns for self-defense without knowing enough about them (I wonder what constitutes knowing enough about them to satisfy Woody--writing three papers about them, perhaps?). I'm certainly waiting with bated breath to see that proposal.

Luckily, there's an easy solution to the problem of your obsessive aversion for guns, Woody--don't buy any. Problem solved. Don't thank me--I'm glad I could help. Far be it from me to contest your right to be voluntarily (enthusiastically voluntarily, even) disarmed.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Another bid for BIDS

I've mentioned BIDS before, and how much I'd like to see it become reality. That's not going to happen unless we get a great many people behind it, and at this point, the major gun rights groups don't seem to be paying any attention to it at all. So . . . that means anyone who reads my blog is going to have to deal with me not shutting up about it.

I learned about BIDS through David Codrea's War on Guns, and it is again Mr. Codrea who has inspired today's post, by posting a link to a very good article about BIDS, written by him for Guns Magazine.

One possible objection to BIDS is that it would still represent an unconstitutional infringement of the right to keep and bear arms. I understand that objection, and I agree that a "prohibited persons" list is foolish--anyone who is so dangerous that he cannot be permitted to walk into a gun store, and walk out the same day with all the handguns, so-called "assault weapons," and .50 caliber rifles he can pay for and carry, is too dangerous to be loose in society.

Still, abandoning NICS for BIDS would be an enormous step forward, with absolutely zero down side. This would not be a compromise--it would be a victory, albeit not a complete one (such as completely scrapping the GCA of '68).

It would also be at least as effective as NICS in blocking sales to people known to be too dangerous to be trusted with firearms (but still, inexplicably, permitted to walk around loose in society, free to obtain firearms illegally, or simply to wreak carnage without guns).

Talk to the GOA, the NRA, JPFO, SAF, CCRKBA--anyone who claims to represent gun owners and to defend gun rights should be 100% behind this.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Wisconsin man defends his life--too bad that's illegal there

For anyone who has forgotten that effective self-defense is illegal in Wisconsin and Illinois, it might be instructive to look into the case of Andres Vegas, a pizza delivery driver in Wisconsin, who is facing charges after shooting a would-be robber (the second one this year)--not for the shootings (both of which have been found to have been completely justified), but for carrying the gun "concealed" (more on that in a minute). In other words, the shootings were OK, but having the ability to shoot in the first place is illegal.

Maybe it's just me, but I think I see a logic problem there. What is the point in recognizing a person's right to self-defense, while at the same time denying him the means? That combination of rulings--shooting justified/carrying gun not--illustrates the fundamental flaw inherent to acknowledging the right to self-defense while simultaneously mandating disarmament. Actually, it seems to me that a justified shooting (or two) with a gun that the shooter was not permitted to carry constitutes a pretty powerful argument for an end to the denial of the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms (if yet another such argument were needed).

About that reference to the gun being "concealed"--let's have a look.

The complaint says the suspect admitted trying to rob Vegas, who prosecutors then determined was justified in the shooting. But because Vegas' gun had been on "the front passenger seat beside the pizzas," it met the definition of a concealed weapon.
So, something on the passenger seat is concealed? From whom--blind people? Does that mean that a person sitting in the passenger seat is hidden? Or maybe it's a function, not of being on the passenger seat, but of being next to pizzas. Maybe there's some previously unexplored property of pizzas that bestows invisibility on things near them. Boy, would that revolutionize stealth technology! Tell the Airforce to forget about expensive B-2 bombers and F-22 fighters--just cover cheaper, more conventional warplanes with pizza, and voila! Instant stealth.

If lawmakers presume to outlaw the carrying of defensive firearms, they should have the moral courage and intellectual honesty to explicitly outlaw self-defense, because that is what civilian disarmament laws "accomplish."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Texas legislators are "making my day"

Just saw that Texas is well on its way to removing the "duty to retreat" provision in the laws regarding defensive use of deadly force (I've mentioned my thoughts on that concept before). According to this article, Senator Jeff Wentworth's Senate Bill 378 would do just that.

To that end, state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, filed legislation Wednesday that would update the so-called Castle Doctrine to make it clear that a property owner had no "duty to retreat" before firing on or otherwise stopping the intrusion or attack.
Even better, and in a vivid demonstration that Texas legislators are firmly on the side of law-abiding citizens, the bill has the kind of support that would seem to make it virtually unstoppable.
And 27 of his 31 Senate colleagues have signed on as co-sponsors to Senate Bill 378.
A super majority (not that there is likely to be a veto to override) looks easily attainable in the House, as well.
A nearly identical measure in the Texas House has gained the support of 100 of the 150 members.
The bill also provides some protection against what may be the greater danger to citizens who defend themselves and their families with firearms--civil lawsuits filed by the criminal (if he survives) or his family (if he doesn't).
In addition, he added, if the wounded intruder files a civil lawsuit against the property owner and loses, the intruder would pay all court costs under the bill.
I would prefer to see such frivilous, predatory lawsuits banned entirely. Still, this should go a long way toward discouraging them.

The Texas legislator deserves credit for supporting the rights of law-abiding citizens in this way, and the voters of Texas deserve credit for electing them. I don't guess it's likely I'll manage to talk them into a "legislator swap" with Illinois. Looks like at least another two years of herbivore rule in my state.