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.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Citizen disarmament should be a higher priority, apparently

Chicago lawyer and former federal prosecutor Ronald Safer is incensed that the federal government is not adequately hell-bent on infringing that which shall not be infringed.

Why aren't politicians even engaging in the debate about how to stop these shootings?
Perhaps because the surest way to prevent such shootings is to stop requiring that people be unable to effectively resist--and ending policies that create "defenseless victim zones" tends to frighten politicians.
On Feb. 8, a majority of Congress found time to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down a law that prohibits the possession of handguns in the District of Columbia. The fate of that law, passed by a City Council that represents a community desperate to stop gathering to mourn the shooting deaths of their children, will be determined by the court this term.
"Found the time?" How much time did they have to "find" to scribble their signatures on an amicus brief? And about "that law, passed by a City Council that represents a community desperate to stop gathering to mourn the shooting deaths of their children"--it certainly has done a bang-up job of preventing violence, hasn't it? I mean, murder rates in D.C. have plummeted since the 1976 ban, right? Oops, never mind.
Were the members of Congress who urged defeat of that law moved to action by their long study of the history behind the 2nd Amendment's pronouncement about well-regulated militias? Or were they moved by crass self-interest?
"Crass self-interest" would, I suppose, refer to an interest in getting reelected. As (ostensibly) representatives of their constituents, presumably the best way to ensure reelection is to uphold the will of those constituents (you know--the whole "of the people, by the people, for the people" thing). Guess what--apparently nearly three of every four of The People believe that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to keep and bear arms. According to Ronald, though, an elected official who acknowledges both the Constitution and the will of his constituents is apparently motivated by selfishness.
Perhaps there are some clues in history.

Congress, including some of the same people who urged the court to strike down the Washington law, allowed the federal ban on assault weapons to lapse. These semiautomatic weapons, many of which are easily convertible to automatic weapons that allow its shooter to spray an area with 30 or more bullets in seconds, are not for hunters or homeowners.
Ah--the old "easily converted to fully automatic" myth--how often does one hear of such conversions being performed (there was a newspaper article about that subject--it's no longer available at the newspaper's website, but can be seen here)? As for such guns not being "for hunters or homeowners," I wonder if Ronald has asked any hunters or homeowners who own such firearms what they think of that statement. Maybe he ought to ask Jim Zumbo about it.
When I prosecuted the leaders of the Gangster Disciples, I learned that these weapons were as precious to gangs as the drugs they trafficked. At that time, these weapons were unlawful and difficult for the gangs to obtain, making them ripe for undercover sting operations that led to prosecutions.
Since so-called "assault weapons" were not "unlawful" (those made/imported before the law's effective date in 1994 were perfectly legal to own, buy, sell, and use, and very similar guns, made during the ban, with just some "evil" features omitted, were perfectly legal as "post-ban" firearms--the VPC bemoans that situation here), it would seem that these Gangster Disciples leaders were not exactly criminal masterminds, if they could be baited into arrests with Ronald's infantile entrapment schemes.
Thanks to Congress, prosecutors and law enforcement officers wrestling with gangs have to come up with new and different strategies.
Yeah--that pesky Constitution sure makes locking up the bad guys more difficult. Just think how many we could convict if we didn't have to deal with the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.
Maybe it is just a coincidence that many of the mass killings -- and countless other, less notorious, but far more common shootings -- are done with semiautomatic weapons.
Oh--so now it's not just "assault weapons" we're going after--it's all semi-automatic weapons, eh? Obama must be proud.
The Chicago Tribune recently described the patchwork nature of the states' gun-control laws. If gun control is the answer, that solution can only come from the federal government
"Gun control" is not the answer, unless the question is "What violates the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, and also fails to save lives?"

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Number of students fed up with mandated defenselessness growing rapidly

An article yesterday in the Mount Vernon News shows that the movement to end mandated defenselessness on college campuses is gaining momentum.

Since the tragic string of college campus shootings across the country, students have organized a national campaign to allow handguns in classrooms. Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, an Internet-based organization, is claiming to have over 15,000 members nationwide [Update: according to SCCC's website, that number is now over 18,000, as of Feb. 25th].
This is welcome news, indeed, and grassroots at its finest.

The Brady Campaign, of course, disputes both of those assertions. The Brady Bunch's Peter "Don't call me Petey" Hamm (the individual who told college students who objected to the trampling of their Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms to "drop out of school), in fact, accuses SCCC of being no more than another arm of the all-powerful "gun lobby."
But Peter Hamm, communication director for the Brady Campaign to Stop Gun Violence, is concerned that the group is the latest tool of the powerful gun lobby.

"We know very clearly that they were organised and they are funded by the gun industry, by the companies that are selling the guns," he said.

"This is not some spontaneous, grassroots organisation.

"There are more members than there were before Virginia Tech because the gun industry is spending more money to enlist more young people to help them spread the word, that if only we had more guns in America, we'd have less of a gun violence problem."
As SCCC media coordinator Scott Lewis quickly pointed out, Petey was, to put it bluntly, lying.
“A few small gun shops have donated holsters for students to use in our Empty Holster Protests, and the Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, located in Nevada, sent us three gift certificates that we’re going to auction to raise money. And after SCCC started making national news, a couple of months ago, the NRA sent me a hat and a T-shirt. But other than that, we’ve never received anything from the gun industry or the gun lobby. So far, our entire operating budget has come out of the pockets of our members—mostly poor college students who strongly believe in this cause. About a month ago we opened a bank account and started accepting donations, to help raise the money we need to incorporate. So far we’ve raised a combined total of $610.02, from online donations and T-shirt sales.”
I've been remiss, and done nothing to promote this important movement. I'll be adding some links in the sidebar today. The next nationwide empty holster protest, by the way, is set for April 21st.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Liability for 'gun-free zones' coming to Arizona?

I've talked before about a legislative initiative that I think has a great deal of merit: the "gun-free zone" liability law. Under such legislation, any person, business, organization, unit of government, etc. that prohibits firearms can be held liable for harm inflicted on a person who might otherwise have used a firearm in self-defense. Here's an example (from here in Illinois, of all places) of the kind of laws to which I refer (HB 0477/SB 0044 went nowhere, of course, when they were introduced in 2005):

Synopsis As Introduced
Creates the Gun-free Zone Criminal Conduct Liability Act. Provides that any person, organization, or entity or any agency of government, including any unit of local government, that creates a gun-free zone is liable for all costs, attorney's fees, and treble damages resulting from criminal conduct that occurs against an individual in the gun-free zone, if a reasonable person would believe that possession of a firearm could have helped the individual defend against such conduct. Defines "gun-free zone". Effective immediately.
Later, I discovered that other states had introduced similar legislation--Georgia in 2003, and Arizona in both 2002 and 2003.

Now, I see that Arizona is giving it another try, with SB 1400 (here's the text), introduced by Senator Karen Johnson.

As I have mentioned before, the NRA has been, without a great deal of success, pushing for laws that prohibit businesses from banning guns on company parking lots. It seems to me that the "gun-free zone" liability type law makes a great deal more sense, and might not face the kind of opposition that the "parking lot" bills do. I'd like to see the NRA put some real muscle behind this one.

By the way, being largely unfamiliar with Arizona politics, I know very little about Senator Johnson, but I see she has also introduced a bill (SB 1214) to permit concealed carry licensees (don't get me started on the requirement for a "license" to exercise the Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms--that's another, more fundamental issue) to carry defensive firearms on college campuses. She sounds like a legislator worth keeping around.

Anyone who agrees with me that SB 1400 is something the NRA should get behind--why don't you drop 'em a word, and say so?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Are Hawaii police officers terrorists?

Seems like a legitimate question, considering this justification for banning .50 caliber rifles in Hawaii:

They said that a shot fired from the rooftop at police headquarters could precisely hit a target at the state Capitol, four-tenths of a mile away.
Presumably, anyone on the roof of police headquarters is there with police knowledge and permission, so the "Only Ones" who would be shooting up the Capitol from there would likewise be police, or police-affiliated. By the way, "four tenths of a mile" is 704 yards--a long shot, certainly, but well within the capability of many other rifles and calibers, including some that have been around for over a century.

Here's another example:
Experts said it can hit a target seven miles away. That's twice the distance from police headquarters on South Beretania Street -- to the UH Manoa campus.
Granted, seven miles is well beyond the capabilities of just about any rifle, but what the "experts" fail to mention is that even with a .50 caliber, actually hitting a target smaller than a football field at that range is about as likely as winning the lottery.

In this story, Hawaii PD Major Gregory Lefcourt not only talks about what he could hit from the roof of police headquarters, but claims that a .50 caliber round would "vaporize" the part of an animal struck with one.
"It was designed for the military," Lefcourt said. "People have said they can use this for hunting, but the damage it will do to an animal is so tremendous, it actually vaporizes the area that it strikes."

To draw a comparison, police officials displayed a .50-caliber Barrett sniper rifle and compared it with a Remington .308 rifle and an M4 assault rifle.

Lefcourt said the Barrett would be able to accurately strike a target from the top of the Police Department's downtown headquarters, where yesterday's news conference was held, to the state Capitol, a distance of 0.4 miles.
He can be seen (and heard, in an annoying, nasal voice) here:

Alright, I'm convinced--if Hawaii police are so unstable as to be a threat to go up to the police headquarters roof and blast everything in sight, they should be banned from possessing this firearm, and all others, or badges, for that matter.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Defending Cheney (how'd I get into this position?)

A Washington Post editorial of a few days ago, "Mr. Cheney's Government," puts me in the odd, uncomfortable, and probably unprecedented (for me) position of feeling compelled to defend Dick Cheney. WaPo's editorial board clearly takes exception to Cheney's decision to join the majorities of both houses of Congress in signing an amicus brief in the District of Columbia v. Heller case, on the side of gun rights.

This month Mr. Cheney joined a brief filed by 305 lawmakers in the Supreme Court case over the constitutionality of the District's gun control laws. A federal appeals court struck down the gun ban -- the most far-reaching in the nation -- as unconstitutional under the Second Amendment.
I suppose "far-reaching" is one way to put it, although "draconian" seems rather more descriptive.
The problem is, Mr. Cheney's position puts him at odds with the administration's official stance in the case.
I wonder if WaPo's editors would have a "problem" with Cheney being at odds with the administration over anything else. Somehow, I doubt it.
Rather than rubber-stamp the lower court decision, Solicitor General Paul D. Clement is arguing that the Second Amendment bestows an individual right but that "protection of individual rights does not render all laws limiting gun ownership automatically invalid."
I wonder if Clement has figured out a way to reconcile that with shall not be infringed, yet. Setting that question aside, though, Heller comes nowhere near challenging "all laws limiting gun ownership"--as noble and worthy a goal as that would be, Heller aims much lower--overturning the total ban of all handguns (and any other firearm in operable condition) in Washington D.C.
Mr. Clement worries that adopting the rationale of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit could invalidate a host of federal gun control laws; he argues for a more flexible approach that would, for example, allow a court to consider public safety concerns when analyzing the constitutionality of a firearms regulation.
"Flexible" in "analyzing the constitutionality" referring, apparently, to the kind of flexibility that allows one to determine the Constitutionality of a law without being tied down to the actual, pesky text of the Constitution.
Mr. Cheney's move appears unprecedented; it is irresponsible, selfish and unnecessary.
I don't pretend to know what motivated Cheney to sign the brief. Perhaps, as War on Guns contends, it's just part of some "Good Cop/Bad Cop" ploy to mollify gun owners who have expressed outrage at Clement's, well . . . outrage. That could be, although I think even that might be giving this administration too much credit for cleverness.

In the end, though, Cheney is the president of the Senate, and is perfectly within his rights to sign on with legislators who disagree with "The Decider's" administration's position. His crime, apparently, was doing so in one of the few instances when the Washington Post's editors agree with the Bush administration.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

From the 'Rights and Liberties' editor

Apparently, being a statist enemy of freedom is no obstacle to being the editor of the "Rights and Liberties" section at AlterNet.org, if Lilana Segura's views on the Second Amendment are any indication. Early on, she treats us to her lamentations on the fact that the Democrats have become "staunch protectors of the 2nd Amendment" (funny--I somehow missed that).

Gun control used to be one of those bread and butter issues for Democrats, but recent years have seen the party's rapid evolution towards staunch protectors of the 2nd Amendement.
She immediately follows that by quoting a Paul Helmke lie (in fairness, when quoting Helmke, lies are pretty much all you have to work with).
When the Clinton-era assault weapons ban passed expired three years back, few in Congress leaped to renew it. The results have been deadly: As the Brady Campaign's Paul Helmke points out: "One thing the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University shooters had in common was that they both used high capacity ammunition magazines that would have been prohibited under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004."
The lie, of course, is that the "Assault Weapons" ban did not "prohibit" the kind of "high capacity" (Brady-speak for non-reduced capacity) magazines--such magazines were completely legal to buy, to sell, and to use, so long as they were made/imported before the ban's commencement in 1994. Underneath the lie is the more subtly false implication that the death toll would have been reduced if the killers had been forced to change magazines more often.

Yeah--more frequent magazine changes would really slow a shooter down.
Of course, easing up on gun control has been critical to the Dems courting voters in Western and Southwestern swing states; the more Democratic candidates have traded gun bans for wishy-washy pro-regulation positions, the more the NRA has rewarded them, upping their political contributions to the Dems.
And why would backing off from the citizen disarmament agenda be so critical for getting votes, Lilana? Could it be that citizens don't like being forcibly disarmed? Could it be that laws that would do so would be in direct conflict with the will of The People, who tend to be none too eager to surrender their "Rights and Liberties"?

Then, she gets down to specifics on Clinton's and Obama's positions regarding guns.
So where do Clinton and Obama fall on gun control?

It's hard to say, they've said so little about it. As a Boston Globe editorial by Derrick K. Jackson pointed out this week:
Clinton has nothing about gun control on her website. The only reference to guns on Obama's is his plan for sportsmen, which includes "Protecting Gun Rights." That section says, "As a former constitutional law professor, Barack Obama understands and believes in the constitutional right of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns for the purposes of hunting and target shooting."
Not too promising.
If, by "not too promising," she refers to Obama's apparent belief that the Second Amendment was included in the Constitution because the Founding Fathers decided to devote ten percent of the Bill of Rights to sport, I agree--but I doubt that's what she means.

Just curious--is AlterNet.org the official journal of the Ministry of Truth?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Improving the inventory, while annoying the other side

After reading about how shocked and outraged the citizen disarmament advocates are that the same internet dealer sold a gun or accessories, respectively, to the VA Tech and NIU killers (read some of the comments here, for example--War on Guns has more), I decided it was time for me to show a little support for Mr. Thompson (owner of the store).

As it happens, after reading what JR had to say about Wilson Combat's (fairly) new Elite Tactical Magazines (I still think they should call them Elite Über-Tactical Magazines, but maybe they'll do that when they introduce something even better), I've been wanting to try them out. When I discovered that The Gun Source (the internet gun shop in question) had them, my decision was made. A 1911 aficionado can never have too many quality magazines, and a freedom lover can never pass up an opportunity to present a proudly upraised middle finger to the citizen disarmament advocates. Any time those two motivations can be met with the same action, I'm there.

They arrived yesterday, and look good. I have one loaded up with Federal HST .45 +P hollowpoints (HST rounds are extremely impressive, but can be a bit difficult for non-"Only Ones" to find), and the other loaded up with my old standby, 230 grain Double Taps with Speer Gold Dots, moving along at over 1000 feet per second.

Keep crying about the gun dealers you don't like, gun ban crowd--it's good for business.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Grassroots in action in Illinois

I'll be the first to admit that Illinois is a state in which the Second Amendment tends to be given short shrift by the Politburo . . . er, legislature--for a recent example, look no further than here. Public officials here who count on Illinois gun owners continued tolerance of that disgraceful situation may be in for an unpleasant surprise, though.

First, a bit of background information. Today was a scheduled meeting day for the Illinois House Executive Committee. Of the ten bills on the agenda, seven were, in some form, an attack on gun ownership. Here's a list:

HB 758
would effectively outlaw private firearm sales

HB 4217
would force every county to establish a "gun turn-in" and amnesty program--this is the least onerous of the bunch, but its worthlessness in terms of reducing violence, and the fact that it perpetuates the ridiculous myth that every gun gotten "off the streets" is a life (or more than one) saved is enough to make it offensive

HB 4259 and HB 4349 are basically two versions of the same thing--ammunition encoding that will do nothing but make ammunition more or less unobtainable--but at least it will make some folks rich

HB 4357 would outlaw so-called "assault weapons," .50 caliber rifles and ammunition, and full capacity magazines

HB 4393 is a one-handgun-per-month rationing bill, like Virginia has--so that psychopaths in Illinois would theoretically be limited to no more handguns in a month than the VA Tech punk bought--that worked well, didn't it?

HB 4628
would subject anyone who illegally transfers a firearm to a minor, who then uses that firearm in commission of a felony, to as much prison time as could be given to the actual perpetrator of that felony
Gun owners in Illinois are, not too surprisingly, not at all happy about these bills. In the not-too-distant past, our reaction would probably have been to throw up our hands in disgust and mourn the death of freedom. The times, however, they are a changin'.

This time, my friends at Illinois Carry didn't wait for the bills to get out of committee, and gain momentum that would make them difficult to stop on the House floor (and then the Senate floor). This time, in the days leading up to the committee meetings, we flooded the committe members' offices with phone calls, FAXes, letters, emails--maybe a few carrier pigeons and smoke signals, too. The result? More than a little gratifying, I would say.
Exec Committee has met/ended. No gun control bills were called.

No agenda as yet for next meeting date.

Sec said due to the hundreds of calls received in oppostion, they realize those bills won't go anywhere, so they will not hear them until they feel they have the support.

Keep checking upcoming committee sched.
This, of course, was only the first skirmish in what will certainly be a long, difficult fight--these bills will be back. I hesitated to write this post, because complacency is one of our greatest enemies--if many of the us who made the calls this time think our work is finished, we'll lose. In the end, though, I decided that the lesson from this--that we can, through unified action, force lawmakers to take us seriously, and make a difference in the legislative process--is too important to go untaught.

Illinois lawmakers are starting to realize that the "gun lobby" is made up of their constituents. Let's make sure they don't forget it.

UPDATE: As it turns out, one of the bills, HB 4628, did pass. The others are all on the committee agenda for next Wednesday, the 27th. Stay on those phones.

Is this what passes for 'Conservative' these days?

A "special report" in the supposedly conservative American Spectator today discusses the Northern Illinois University killings, and the inevitable ensuing calls for so-called "gun-control." By the second paragraph, the author had lost me (on a point, by the way, on which "pro- and anti-gunners agree," no less).

Both incidents, of course, drive home the lesson -- pro- and anti-gunners agree -- that this country needs to do a better job of mandating mental-health information be put into background-check databases.
As it turns out, this pro-gunner doesn't agree with doing "a better job" with the background check database. This pro-gunner, in fact, contends that the only sensible approach to the lethally ill-conceived notion of "prohibited persons" databases is to drop it like a hot rock. Anyone who is so violent or so mentally unstable as to be too dangerous to be permitted to buy a gun in a gun shop is too dangerous to be trusted not to steal a gun, buy one on the black market, build a bomb, etc. Such a person is, in short, too dangerous to be permitted to run free among society without a custodian. To cling to the notion that somehow "perfecting" the "prohibited persons" list is the solution, is sheer, deadly folly.

In fairness, the article then went on to pluck some low-hanging fruit served up by the Brady Bunch's Paul Helmke, in reference to shootings Helmke claims are committed by concealed carry licensees.

Toward the end, the article pointed out that with a Democratic (and rabidly anti-gun) presidency and an expanded (and possibly filibuster-proof) Democratic Senate majority likely, the threat of an anti-gun jihad at the federal level is very real. While I cannot dispute that assertion, the author's proposed approach to dealing with that reality sounds like something Neville Chamberlain might have come up with.
At issue here is the fact that both Kazmierczak and Cho used high-capacity magazines (coincidentally, Kazmierczak ordered his magazine from the same Internet dealer from which Cho ordered one of his handguns), and if liberals force guns-rights supporters' hands, this might be a good place to give a little.
When will the pusillanimous appeasers learn that when the issue is fundamental human rights, there is no "good place to give a little"? The author goes on to admit that a magazine ban would be "stupid," but argues that it would be tolerable.

However, the very reason they're stupid is the reason they're not a great threat to people's ability to defend themselves. There are some situations where a homeowner might benefit from a high-cap magazine against an invader (he might not think to stuff extra magazines in his boxers when he grabs his gun from his nightstand, and a recent study showed that even police miss suspects within six feet more than half the time), but home invasions with 10 or more shots fired are rare.
If the Second Amendment were primarily about defending one's home from common criminals, he might have a point (albeit a weak one), but since its main purpose is defense against government tyranny, focusing on how much firepower one needs to defend one's home against Johnny Meth-head misses the entire point.
At the very least, Second Amendment types could agree to require high-cap magazines be shipped to licensed dealers and subject to instant background checks -- the rule currently applied to firearms but not accessories. This wouldn't have stopped either shooter, but again, it's a minimal infringement on the law-abiding and it makes lefties feel good.
NICS checks for magazines (which would have to be serialized, presumably) "at the very least"? Not exactly a "Give me liberty, or give me death!" type, is he?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A good gig, if you can get it

I've mentioned before the seemingly nationwide effort to impose ammunition encoding laws on gun owners and ammunition makers, and there are more states in which such an effort is underway than I discussed there--a more complete list can be found here. In fact, let's take a look at the home page from the same site that provided that list of states.

Ammunition Accountability is a newly forming group of ammunition coding technology supporters. Our group includes gun crime victims, industry representatives, law enforcement, public officials, public policy experts, and more. We are working together to pass legislation to make ammunition coding technology a reality.
It would seem that this group would at least like to be perceived as having fairly altruistic motives. They might want to put up that appearance, but the reality is rather different.

From Snowflakes in Hell, we learn something about who is behind this effort.
The web site Ammunition Accountability apparently is administered by the lobbying firm of Ammunition Coding Systems, who ultimately pays for the site, and who conveniently produces the system that does this type of encoding. I just heard Russ Ford of ACS admitting to this on Cam Edwards’ show.

There’s a per round royalty their company plans to charge for this. Nothing like succeeding in the marketplace by having the .gov force your product on the consumer, whether they want it or not. Seriously, these guys are hoping to get state legislatures to basically pass a tax on ammunition that gets passed on to them.
The citizen disarmament advocates never tire of claiming that the "gun lobby" is motivated by nothing more noble than sheer profit (that people would work to defeat gun laws out of nothing but a desire for freedom is apparently inconceivable to them). Now we know who truly is motivated by crass lucre.

The Cam Edwards segment Sebastian alluded to will be repeated Thursday night at 10 Eastern time on NRANews.com.

UPDATE: Sebastian is all over this--he has more, and still more, that I would consider required reading.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Continuing the downward slide in Illinois

This time of year, it's something of a tradition in the Illinois Politburo . . . er, legislature to introduce new, draconian citizen disarmament bills in hopes that they become new, draconian citizen disarmament laws. Freshman Representative Elizabeth Hernandez (D-24th District) is certainly on board with that tradition (which isn't surprising, really), as illustrated by her introduction last Thursday of HB 5228. Let's look at a brief summary of this bill, shall we?

Amends the Firearm Owners Identification Card Act and the Criminal Code of 1961. Provides that beginning July 1, 2009, a person may not possess a handgun in the State unless the person has successfully completed a handgun safety course approved by the Department of State Police and has been issued a handgun possession permit by the Department. Provides that in determining the standards for approval of handgun safety courses, the Department shall consult with the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Standards Board and the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Provides that an approved course shall consist of 20 hours of training, which shall include all of the following: (1) instruction in the dangers of and misuse of handguns, and the storage, safety rules, and care and cleaning of handguns; (2) practice firing on a range with live ammunition; (3) instruction in the legal use of handguns; and (4) a presentation of the ethical and moral considerations necessary for any person who possesses a handgun. Establishes penalties for violations.
So now the requirement to have a state-issued FOID card in order to legally own a firearm or single round of ammunition isn't an adequately egregious violation of that which shall not be infringed, and handgun owners will have to beg the state for yet another government permission slip to exercise our Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms.

Readers will note that the agency that would administer this program is the Illinois State Police--an agency that is currently breaking the law in its administration of the FOID program.

The main thrust of Representative Hernandez's bill seems to be the requirement for training as part of the licensing requirement. Apparently, she thinks the violence is caused by people not knowing enough about how to use a handgun.

Days of Our Trailers has more.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More on Kay and Jon, and their . . . confusing (confused?) postitions on the Second Amendment

Last Friday, I discussed the rather odd fact that ostensibly "pro-gun" Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Jon Tester (D-MT) both favor a ban on so-called "assault weapons."

Still more disturbingly, their comments supporting such a ban were made in an appearance speaking before the (supposedly) conservative Heritage Foundation--one would hope that professional panderers . . . er, I mean politicians would think that in speaking to (self-proclaimed) conservatives, they would feel a need to keep quiet about any support for implementation of new gun bans.

At the time I posted that, I hadn't realized that video (and audio) of the event was available from the Heritage Foundation website--thanks, Hairy Hobbit.

The video
is a bit long (over forty minutes), and most of it is about the pro-Heller amicus brief they signed. The bit about "assault weapons" was just over a minute, near the end--so to see just that, click here (you'll need RealPlayer or something--sorry, it's an ivr file, and I can't figure out how to convert those into something easier to deal with).

So let me get this straight, Kay and Jon--you're saying that the Second Amendment protects an individual right . . . to keep and bear the arms the government approves of us keeping and bearing? What kind of "right" is that?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Illinois State Senator Mike Noland using lives as bargaining chips

Meet Illinois State Senator Michael Noland (D-22nd District). Recently, a constituent of his (and IllinoisCarry.com member) asked him to support SB 348 and SB 458. These bills would, respectively, implement a shall-issue concealed carry system in Illinois, and preempt "home rule" firearms laws, so that counties and municipalities could not trump state law, and outlaw concealed carry on their own. This was the senator's response:

I will consider doing this if the sponsors will amend the bill to allow for ballistics registry of all new handguns sold in Illinois. Compromise.


P.S. Best to use my senator@noland.org address for legislative matters.
Hmm . . . compromise--on a Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right. Can't say I like that idea. Can't say I like it at all. I'm not moving to the back of the bus, even if it's just part-way to the back.

I especially don't like a "compromise" that serves no purpose whatsoever--our correspondent had the same idea, and told the senator so.

The Maryland state police have recommends that "this program be suspended, a repeal of the collection of cartridge cases from current law be enacted, and the Laboratory Technicians associated with the program be transferred to the DNA database unit."

Maryland's 'Ballistics Fingerprint' System Not Working, Report Says


How Reliable Is Ballistic Fingerprinting?


Lawmakers Consider Scrapping Signature Gun Program


Personally if it were not for the millions of dollars it would cost to set up and the ongoing cost to maintain it I would not have a problem with it. But I could not justify the cost expenditure knowing that 5 or less minutes with and emery board or file would render any previous ballistic registration of that firearm worthless. But if you are not familiar with firearms I guess one would not know it can be so easily defeated. It is akin to putting the serial number on the gun in washable ink.
A well reasoned series of points as to why so-called "ballistic fingerprinting" is worthless, backed up by evidence. Surely Senator Noland would respect that. Um . . . no, actually--here's his reply:
Excuses. Compromise.
I could come up with a terse, two word reply to send right back to the senator, and I don't imagine he'd appreciate it.

Remember now that all Mike offers as his end of the "compromise" is that he would "consider" supporting these bills. Keep in mind also that he's only one senator--a freshman senator, at that--so it's not as if his support (assuming he decides to lend it, after "consideration") would be a tremendous boon. Finally, keep in mind that in Illinois, the governor has the power to deal with bills of which he only likes some parts, but not others, with an "amendatory veto" (similar to the now banned line-item veto). Governor Blagojevich has used the amendatory veto in the past, to turn such "compromises" between the pro-rights side and citizen disarmament advocates into gifts to the anti-gun crowd, at the expense of gun owners. That he would unhesitatingly do so again is a certainty.

Here's my compromise, Senator: start supporting your constituents' rights, and you can continue to suck at the public teat, while avoiding the necessity of getting a real job.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Do I hear seventy?

My last update on the wave, sweeping across Illinois, of county resolutions affirming commitment to the rights protected under the Second Amendment was a month ago today. Real progress has been made in that month.

Back in January, at the time of my last update, sixty-four counties had adopted the resolution, with four (Clinton, Macon, Moultrie, and Peoria Counties) having placed it on the agenda (the full county board agenda in Clinton County's case, and committee agendas for the other three).

Since then, all four have adopted the resolution, and better yet, Morgan County kind of sneaked up on us, and passed it without our even being aware an effort was underway there. Thursday night (Feb. 14th) was especially big, with Macon, Moultrie, and Peoria Counties all voting (that night). The success in Macon County was not achieved easily (the vote was 10-9 in favor), and would not have happened without the hard work of Illinois Carry member Dustin Meier.

The resolution passed in a 10-9 vote after a lengthy debate in which some board members questioned whether the right to bear arms is an issue in which the county should be involved.

Decatur resident Dustin Meier told the board he wanted the county board to approve the resolution because of concerns he and other gun owners have about gun control legislation in Springfield.

Meier told the board similar resolutions had already been passed in 66 other Illinois counties by a group of citizens who post on the Web site, Illinoiscarry.org.
Our current map, then, looks like this:

(click to enlarge)

About that yellow (which means vote pending) county up north--that's McHenry County, and the news there is a bit frustrating. As of a couple days ago, the McHenry board was scheduled to vote on the resolution next Tuesday (Feb. 19th). Rumor has it, though, that "out of respect for the mourning families" of the victims at Northern Illinois University (victims, one could argue--and in fact I have been arguing--of this state's and that campus's policies of mandated defenselessness), the vote has been delayed (to a not-yet-determined date). No explanation has so far been forthcoming of how procrastinating in the struggle to defend the Bill of Rights expresses "respect" for the families.

Still, that's a delay in McHenry--not a defeat. The fight will go on. McHenry residents who haven't helped that fight along yet might give the county board a call.

As always, check with the Illinois Pro-2A Resolution website for the most current updates.

UPDATE: The Daily Herald (a suburban Chicago-area newspaper) has more about the retreat in McHenry County.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Time to pick a side, Kay and Jon

I was, of course, pleased to learn of the huge, unprecedented number of legislators signing the amicus brief in favor of Heller.

Fifty-five senators and 250 representatives have signed onto a brief that urges the justices to strike down the ban and assert that the Second Amendment gives individuals the right to own guns for their protection.

"The Supreme Court has the perfect case to affirm ... a Second Amendment right to own a gun for self-defense," Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said at a Washington news conference Thursday.

Nine Democrats in the Senate and 68 in the House joined much larger Republican contingents in signing the brief, which is expected to be filed Friday.
The brief itself, by the way, can be found here (pdf).

What I did not find so pleasing, however, was this little tidbit:
Hutchison and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who also signed the brief, agreed that some restrictions are valid, citing their support for banning assault weapons.
Hmm . . . I guess that "shall not be infringed" part is trickier for some folks than I had thought.

Something else that would seem to be tricky, at least for Senator Tester, is consistency. The November 2006 elections weren't all that long ago, and during that Senate campaign, running against Conrad Burns (with whom he was competing for the pro-gun vote) in Montana, Jon took a much different tone:
Both said they oppose a ban on guns in the nation's capitol. Burns said he opposed a ban on any kind of ammunition, a stance Tester has also voiced. Tester said he opposed the Brady Bill - a federal law that requires a background check for everyone buying a handgun.

Tester said he would oppose any efforts to bring back bans on assault weapons.

Both men also said they favored doing away with a 1986-passed cap on the number of fully automatic weapons available for sale. At that time, Congress limited the number of fully automatic guns - guns that will fire as long as the trigger is pressed - to those in circulation in 1986. [my emphasis]
So, not only did he (at least then) oppose banning so-called "assault weapons," he favors (or should it be "favored"?) repealing the Hughes Amendment to the FOPA, and thus allowing the great unwashed masses (that would be us) to jump through the labyrinthine NFA hoops to get a post-1986 machine gun; and he favors (favored?) repealing the Brady background check (that's funny--I don't remember him objecting to passage of an expansion of the NICS program).

Jon seems to be exhibiting symptoms of some kind of split personality disorder. He claims to be an avid shooter--it certainly would be a shame if his mental condition made him, under the NICS "Improvement" Act, ineligible to own firearms.

UPDATE: Just found out that Senators Tester and Hutchison can be seen (or just heard, if you prefer) dancing around the issue here--thanks, HH.

Second Amendment Carnival XVI is tomorrow

Stan, at Free Constitution, will throw another Second Amendment Carnival tomorrow.

If he'll take my stuff, he'll take submissions from just about anyone, so get in there.

Fish in a barrel

After reading what Nicki (with more here) and David (with more here) wrote about yesterday's atrocity at Northern Illinois University (and I'm sure there are many more excellent posts that I haven't read yet), I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this--it has already been well covered.

I do want to reiterate something I said after the last mass shooting in Illinois, about Illinois' score on the new Brady Bunch score system.

llinois, for example, was ranked ninth among the fifty states (meaning Illinois' gun laws are the ninth most restrictive in the country). That would put IL in the 82nd percentile. One area in which Illinois scored particularly "well" is concealed carry legislation:
States can earn up to 10 points by making it harder to carry “Guns In Public Places” (except for trained law enforcement and security) and by allowing localities to “Preserve Local Control” over municipal gun laws. This includes keeping guns out of workplaces and college campuses, not forcing law enforcement to issue concealed handgun permits on demand, not permitting
“shoot first” expansions in self-defense laws, and not preventing municipalities from passing their own gun laws. Illinois scored all 10 points in this category.
The reason, of course, that "Illinois scored all 10 points in this category" (that emphasis was the Brady Bunch's, by the way) is that not only does Illinois "not forc[e] law enforcement to issue concealed handgun permits on demand," Illinois bans outright the carrying, either openly or concealed, of firearms in public. In other words, Illinois achieves a high state-mandated defenselessness score. I certainly hope the families of the victims appreciate that.
In other Illinois news, HB 1304, the " Family and Personal Protection Act," has actually made it out of committee, and can now be brought up for a floor vote. Probably as good a time as any for Illinois gun owners to remind legislators who works for whom, unless, of course, you're too busy to demand your rights.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Look who is an NRA member now!

Yep--Bloomy himself:

Mr. Bloomberg also disclosed yesterday that he is a member of the National Rifle Association. A membership card with his name on it arrived about four weeks ago. He said he doesn't know who signed him up for it.

Mr. Arulanandam of the NRA said he suspected he knew who was behind the membership.

"It was likely his campaign manager, upon realizing that the graveyard of presidential hopefuls is filled with people who supported gun control," he said.
Doesn't seem to have worked for Romney, but what the hell--it's worth a shot (no pun intended).

If Josh Sugarmann can be licensed as a gun dealer, and if the NRA can actively participate in the expansion of the NICS program, I guess Bloomberg's NRA card isn't all that surprising.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Uh-oh--we're in trouble--they have . . . commas

Reading this article about Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and the amicus brief filed by her, fifty-four other senators, 250 representatives, and Vice President Cheney, I was struck by a rather odd statement made by acting D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles.

"The court will decide, based on the language and the commas and the preamble and the words, what the framers meant in the Second Amendment. Whether there was an absolute right to own firearms or whether the framers only intended for that right to be exercised in the context of a militia," he said.
Excuse me, Pete, but did you say that commas will have a bearing on this issue? That questions related to a fundamental human right are to be decided on the basis of punctuation?

The natural first reaction would be, of course, to wonder if Nickles has been smoking something that a person in his position oughtn't be smoking. As the New York Times points out, though, he isn't the first to try to make an issue of the commas in the Second Amendment.
The outcome of the case is difficult to handicap, mainly because so little is known about the justices’ views on the lethal device at the center of the controversy: the comma.
Actually, it seems that the "comma controversy" dates back at least as far as the amicus brief prepared by David Yassky in the United States v. Emerson case in 2001. In it, Yassky attempts, in bizarrely convoluted fashion, to argue that the commas mean that "shall not be infringed" applies to a right not "of the people," but of the "well regulated militia."
The first unusual comma --between "Militia" and "being" -- forces the reader to search for a verb for which "Militia" is the subject. That verb does not appear until "shall not be infringed" near the end of the Amendment. The second unusual comma -- between "Arms" and "shall" -- sets off the verb phrase "shall not be infringed" from the preceding language; it suggests that the subject for this verb phrase is not simply "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms." The grammatical effect of these two unusual commas is to link "A well regulated Militia" to "shall not be infringed" to emphasize, in other words, that the goal of the Amendment is to protect the militia against federal interference. The Constitution was drafted with great care, and (unlike much legal writing from the Founding period) its use of punctuation generally conforms to modern conventions, suggesting that the commas in the Second Amendment are not haphazard but rather deserve scrupulous attention.
Going back to the New York Times Op-Ed linked to above, we see how silly this "controversy" is.
Refreshing though it is to see punctuation at the center of a national debate, there could scarcely be a worse place to search for the framers’ original intent than their use of commas. In the 18th century, punctuation marks were as common as medicinal leeches and just about as scientific. Commas and other marks evolved from a variety of symbols meant to denote pauses in speaking. For centuries, punctuation was as chaotic as individual speech patterns.

The situation was even worse in the law, where a long English tradition held that punctuation marks were not actually part of statutes (and, therefore, courts could not consider punctuation when interpreting them). Not surprisingly, lawmakers took a devil-may-care approach to punctuation. Often, the whole business of punctuation was left to the discretion of scriveners, who liked to show their chops by inserting as many varied marks as possible.

Another problem with trying to find meaning in the Second Amendment’s commas is that nobody is certain how many commas it is supposed to have. The version that ended up in the National Archives has three, but that may be a fluke. Legal historians note that some states ratified a two-comma version. At least one recent law journal article refers to a four-comma version.
In the end, I have some punctuation of my own. Molon Labe--excla-frickin'-mation point.

Hey, look--a visitor:

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Interesting choice of words, Josh

I'm not going to bother going into VPC executive director Josh Sugarmann's Federal Firearms License--that has already been well covered (here, here, and here, just to name a few examples).

What I do want to talk about comes from a 2-decade-old article written by Sugarmann. The thrust of that article is that no "gun-control" legislation short of an outright ban on handguns is going to be enough.

Recognizing the eliminating a disease requiresprevention, not treatment, health professionals have been in the forefront of those calling for a national ban on handguns. In 1981, the Surgeon General's Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health traced the "epidemic of deaths and injuries among children and youth' to handguns, and called for "nothing short of a total ban.' It is estimated that on average, one child dies from handgun wounds each day. Between 1961 and 1981, according to the American Association of Suicidology, the suicide rate for 15- to 24-year-olds increased 150 percent. The report linked the rise in murders and suicides among the young to the increased use of firearms--primarily handguns. In a 1985 report, the Surgeon General's Workshop on Violence and Public Health recommended "a complete and universal ban on the sale, manufacture, importation, and possession of handguns (except for authorized police and military personnel).'
Sugarmann actually takes HCI (Handgun Control, Inc.--the name by which the Brady Campaign was once known) to task for calling for anything less than a ban.
Unfortunately, powerful as the NRA is, it hasreceived additional help from the leading handgun control group. Handgun Control Inc. (HCI) has helped the handgun lobby by setting up the perfect strawman for the NRA to shoot down. "Keep handguns out of the wrong hands,' HCI says. "By making it more difficult for criminals, drug addicts, etc., to get handguns, and by ensuring that law-abiding citizens know how to maintain their handguns, we can reduce handgun violence,' it promises. Like those in the NRA, HCI chairman Nelson T. "Pete' Shields "firmly believe(s) in the right of law-abiding citizens to possess handguns . . . for legitimate purposes.'
What really got my attention, though, was this little rhetorical gem:
But the final solution lies in changing the wayhandguns and handgun violence are viewed by society.
"Final solution," Josh? And the citizen disarmament advocates call us paranoid for pointing out the striking similarities between the wording of the Gun Control Act of '68 and that of pre-WW II gun legislation in Germany?

More at Days of Our Trailers.

Update: I know I said I wasn't going to go into Sugarmann's FFL, but now that Ryan has uncovered the apparent illegality of that license, I just had to point it out. And I thought the VPC was opposed to "kitchen-table" Federal Firearms Licensees, "who operate[d] out of their homes or offices."

Update II: Look who stopped by!

What--no time for some "reasoned discourse," Josh?

Monday, February 11, 2008

So why hasn't McCain signed on?

Looking at S. 2577, Lautenberg's latest attempt to close the mythical "gun show loophole," I notice that John McCain isn't one of the eleven co-sponsors (up from ten the last time I talked about it--Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)has signed on).

The question is, why not? Sure--I realize that passing feel-good laws that do nothing to prevent violent crime, and instead serve only to infringe upon that which shall not be infringed, isn't exactly in line with what one might normally expect from a "true conservative," but it is consistent with McCain's history.

"Despite the tragic lessons we have learned, it is still far too easy for a convicted felon to buy firearms at a gun show. That is wrong," said Senator McCain in a recent press release. "This is not about what's conservative and what's liberal, what's Republican and what's Democrat. It's about what's right and what's wrong. And quite simply, closing this loophole is the right thing to do."
Here's some more history.
Gun Show Loophole Closing and Gun Law Enforcement Act of 2001 (Introduced in Senate)

May 15, 2001

Mr. MCCAIN (for himself, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. SCHUMER, Mr. DEWINE, and Mr. CARPER) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
Of course, I realize that his support for Colorado's "gun show loophole" closure bill was back in 2000, and his introduction of S. 890 was in 2001, and that much can change in seven or eight years. So let's fast forward a bit.

Is the "John McCain for President 2008" website recent enough? Looking at the "Protecting Second Amendment Rights" page, we find this:
Background Checks at Gun Shows

At a time when some were trying to shut down gun shows in the name of fighting crime, John McCain tried to preserve gun shows by standardizing sales procedures. Federal law requires licensed firearm sellers at gun shows to do an instant criminal background check on purchasers while private firearm sellers at gun shows do not have to conduct such a check. John McCain introduced legislation that would require an instant criminal background check for all sales at gun shows and believes that such checks must be conducted quickly to ensure that unnecessary delays do not effectively block transactions.
Doesn't sound exactly like a renouncement of his old "gun show loophole" closing ways, does it?

So I ask again, why not sign on as a co-sponsor of S. 2577, Senator? Or is my timing wrong? Perhaps you want to officially lock down the nomination, before lurching after the voters who are considering Obillary?

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Out of the frying pan (into the fire?) for Cook County gun owners

Cook County (IL) Commissioner Larry Suffredin, one of the most vocal enemies of private gun ownership in the Chicago area (and that's saying something), lost his bid in last Tuesday's primary to become the Democratic candidate for Cook County State's Attorney. While, as ISRA reports, this is good news, it's not unadulterated good news.

As it happens, the winner of the Democratic primary, Anita Alvarez, is no prize for gun owners, either. In fact, she is anything but.

Any doubts about that can be quickly dispelled by watching this video of her Dec. 9th interview on "Public Affairs with Jeff Berkowitz" (a Chicago area political talk show on cable TV). It's a half-hour program, with the gun issue not brought up until very near the end, so some might prefer to watch just that segment, rather than the whole thing in the above link, so here it is truncated to just the relevant portion:

Then again, some might just prefer to read a transcript:

Jeff Berkowitz: You’ve heard the saying, “More guns, Less crime.”

Anita Alvarez, Chief Deputy to State’s Attorney Dick Devine: Um-um.

Jeff Berkowitz: Make sense to you?

Anita Alvarez, Candidate for State’s Attorney, Democratic Primary: More guns, less crime?

Jeff Berkowitz: Yes, [the book with that title by] John Lott. Criminals…if they are in an area like Chicago where it is illegal to what, own a handgun?

Anita Alvarez (D-River Forest): Yes, it is.

Jeff Berkowitz: A bad guy goes up to a good guy and if the good guy is following the law, the bad guy knows the good guy doesn’t have a gun, and the bad guy has kind of an advantage. If [on the other hand], the bad guy thinks the good guy does own a gun, he is going to be more careful. Do you think that makes sense?

Anita Alvarez: No, I think—I believe in gun control. I believe less guns is better.

Jeff Berkowitz: And, you believe…people in Chicago not being allowed to own a handgun is fine.

Anita Alvarez: Yes.

Jeff Berkowitz: And, if somebody is in a home that is in an area that is somewhat crime ridden, and he would like to own a gun to protect himself (or herself) in his house, you say, “Nope, you don’t get to.”

Anita Alvarez: No, not at all [he should not own a gun].

Jeff Berkowitz: Call the police, they’ll get there in time, right?

Anita Alvarez: Well, that’s right. I don’t believe that people should be able to---

Jeff Berkowitz: But, you know that police often won’t get there in time.

Anita Alvarez: Well, it happens, sometimes. But, I believe in stricter gun control.

Jeff Berkowitz: And, in these cases for women who are being battered by their husbands, they can’t own a gun; they sometimes can’t get a protective order, they can’t get the police there in time—your answer is? Tough?

Anita Alvarez: I still would not—

Jeff Berkowitz: Because you just told me as a female, you can identify with women and so forth—would you identify with a female in that kind of situation?

Anita Alvarez: No, I don’t think that anybody should own guns.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, no concealed carry?

Anita Alvarez: No, absolutely not.

Jeff Berkowitz: If a woman is going down a street in a tough area and she would like to have a gun in her purse, just in case [a bad guy tries to assault her]-- it’s a felony [for her to have a gun in her purse], right?

Anita Alvarez: That’s right. I believe in gun control and I don’t believe that—and you are pointing out very specific cases that again if in fact a woman is murdered, I understand that. However, I think we are all safer in our society without guns.

Jeff Berkowitz: Should we have more gun control? Some people say we should have an assault weapon ban. We had it on the federal level and it lapsed. Should the state of Illinois

Anita Alvarez: I think we should

Jeff Berkowitz: Have an assault weapon ban? Some people say we should restrict the number of guns people can purchase. Some say restrict it to one a month, maybe one a year. Does either sound good to you?

Anita Alvarez: I agree with that.

Jeff Berkowitz: One a year? You would favor a law that said you could only buy one gun a year?

Anita Alvarez: Actually, I would favor a law that no one could ever buy a gun.

Jeff Berkowitz: So, you would take the guns away from people who own them legally now?

Anita Alvarez: I think we would be a safer society if people didn’t own guns.

Jeff Berkowitz: Do you think the 2nd Amendment [to the U. S. Constitution] has anything to say about that? I mean, should we follow the 2nd Amendment?

Anita Alvarez: I think—we have put more danger in the street with people owning guns and the cases that I have seen and the children that I have seen get killed because of guns. It’s just too dangerous. I would favor—

Jeff Berkowitz: But, do individuals have a right to own a gun from the 2nd Amendment [to the U. S. Constitution]?. You have read the 2nd Amendment?

Anita Alvarez: I have read the 2nd Amendment.

Jeff Berkowitz: You believe in the 2nd Amendment?

Anita Alvarez: People do interpret that way. I don’t believe I do. I don’t think people should own guns. I really don’t.
So, an aspiring State's Attorney who "doesn't believe" in part of the Bill of Rights--not exactly encouraging.

There is a ray of hope on the Cook County State's Attorney score. The Republican candidate, Tony Peraica (like Suffredin, currently a Cook County Commissioner) has a record of consistently opposing Chicago-style draconian gun laws.

He'll have a high, steep hill to climb, as a Republican in Cook County, and will need the support of every Cook County gun owner.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Perhaps there's hope for Congress, after all

For all we're hearing about the U.S. "turning a corner" on so-called "gun control," and about the "decline" of America's gun culture, over half of Congress seems not to have gotten the memo.

A majority of the Senate and more than half of the members of the House will file a brief today urging the Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that the District's handgun ban violates the Second Amendment.
That's 55 senators and 250 representatives, for 55% and over 57% of the Senate and House, respectively, who want the Supreme Court to recognize that Washington D.C.'s draconian gun laws violate the Second Amendment. These legislators are taking this position in an election year, which would seem to indicate that they believe their constituents will not be especially unhappy about it.

The pro-rights brief filed by a Congressional majority can be found here (pdf file), and the list of legislators here.

Perhaps the 45 senators and 185 representatives who did not sign would be more interested in looking into this idea of mine.

The voice of the Illinois gun rights movement

In the wake of the killings of five women in a Chicago area shopping mall last weekend (discussed a bit here), Illinois Carry spokesperson Valinda Rowe was interviewed on the Don Wade and Roma show (on WLS 890 AM, a Chicago area radio station).

The interview (mp3 file) is available here, and is well worth the time (it's not very long) to hear. In it, Valinda explains how Illinois law renders women defenseless against the kind of animal responsible for the deaths in Tinley Park last weekend.

I've mentioned Valinda before, and expressed my gratitude that she is on our side. That gratitude continues to grow. Valinda, by the way, also stars in the "Rights Denied in Illinois" video in the side bar.

Chicago's Mayor Daley and a great many Illinois lawmakers argue that citizens should not be permitted to carry defensive firearms when they go about their business. Carjackers, rapists and murderers (like the one in Tinley Park) undoubtedly agree. It seems to me that those elected officials have chosen the wrong side.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Florida to require gun dealers to have psychic powers?

As if it's not foolish enough to make violent crime more illegal if the weapon used is a so-called "assault weapon," Florida lawmakers want to punish gun dealers for failing to read minds.

People who use assault weapons to commit crimes and even gun dealers who sell the rifles to lawbreakers would face tougher penalties under new legislation, proposed in response to a spate of violence with the high-powered firearms.
Oh look--another "spate."

But where does the requirement for gun dealers to have mystical powers to read minds come in? Right here:
If a person buys or sells a semiautomatic or automatic weapon using false identification or identity theft, both the buyer and seller would face a mandatory second-degree felony with up to 15 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
Fifteen years in prison, for the "crime" of not knowing the buyer is who his identification says he is.

The bills, HB 425 and its Senate counterpart, SB 782, are the legislative masterworks of Representative Evan Jenne and Senator Gwen Margolis. Gwen says it makes sense to go after gun dealers who fail to thwart sales to people using false identities.
Margolis said she didn't think the law was putting too heavy a burden on gun sellers, who might actually be the victims of deception.

''I don't think that they're really duped,'' Margolis said. ''What's happening is the gun sellers are not necessarily enforcing the laws that we have in this state, and we've never made them responsible for the enforcement.''
Well, as long as you don't think they're duped, Gwen. One question, though--if gun sellers are expected to enforce the law, why have paid law enforcement agencies and officers? And can we count on you, Gwen, to back us up when we're told that rather than having the means to defend ourselves, we should leave it to the professionals?

According to another article, the bills already have "Only One" support:
The legislation, Senate Bill 782 and House Bill 425, has already drawn support from those on law enforcement's front line.

"Assault weapons are the weapons of choice for criminals today," said Robert Parker, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department. The measure has also received the support of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, the Florida Sheriffs Association, the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Benevolent Association.

"If this law were in place, we might have been able to stop the killer before a good officer lost his life," Margolis said of Jose Somohano, a four-year police veteran gunned down last year by an AK-47 that his assailant had purchased using false identification.
Yep, because the seller of the "AK-47" (I believe it was actually a MAK-90--which, by the way, was not designated an "assault weapon" by the now-defunct AWB--but I don't want to be picky) would magically have had the ability to spot false identification, if only the law had required him to.

While we're at it, maybe we should make it a felony for doctors to fail to cure their patients of (say) cancer--it's amazing what can be done by decree.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

How much are your rights worth?

I've talked about this before (and again here), and I hate to nag, but David reminds us that the Academics for the Second Amendment are carrying a disproportionate share of the burden in fighting the good fight in D.C. v. Heller.

These good people have devoted much labor that will benefit us all, yet their costs are far from being covered. Who thinks it's fair that, in addition to doing all the research, writing, and production work, costs such as additional attorney fees, printing expenses, filing fees, travel and lodging expenses, etc., ought to come out of their pockets as well?

The brief will be online soon--they file it on Monday. While I have not seen an advance copy, I have been in correspondence with one of the attorneys working on it--David Hardy. I do know they will be raising some things that are vital, and that were not covered in the Respondent's brief. I also know and have faith in not only the reputations of the principals involved, but also the peerless quality of their scholarship and work to date.

If every WarOnGuns visitor today sent them the cost of a box of ammo, they'd be well on their way to recovering most of their costs. If you then took it one step further and sent a link to this plea to your gun owning friends, we'd be able to make them completely whole.
YOU can help. The expression, "Freedom isn't free" is rather over-used these days, in my estimation, but it is certainly accurate. Are we going to make others buy our freedom for us?

Citizen disarmament advocates eating their own

Few things are more satisfying than seeing various elements of the gun ban crowd squabbling amongst themselves. This particular incidence of that started with Hillary Clinton criticizing Barack Obama for "flip-flopping" on the issue of gun legislation.

Speaking to reporters on a flight between California and Arizona, Hillary Clinton accused Barack Obama of flip-flopping on the issue of gun control.

Earlier today, Obama said he had "no intention of taking away folks' guns.”

But Obama has a history of supporting gun control measures. And the Clinton campaign pointed out a questionnaire from 1996 where Obama said he "supported banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns.”

Clinton said Obama has some explaining to do.
Back in December, Clinton also criticized Obama's history of anti-gun positions as being a weakness in terms of "electability"--a rather amusing criticism, considering the source.

Since then, Bryan Miller (executive director of Ceasefire NJ) has taken Clinton to task--not only for the hypocrisy of her "flip-flopping" accusations, but also for not being more vocally anti-gun herself.
But Clinton's bait and switch tactic should anger anyone hoping to elect a presidential candidate who might actually pursue a rational policy on guns. Clinton's attack is an obvious effort to frighten some with the false specter of gun confiscation under an Obama presidency, a prospect that is clearly not in the cards in this country, whoever is in office.

Clinton's attack is highly ironic, as well, both because she has changed positions on guns even more rapidly than Obama, and because she has one of the strongest gun violence prevention (GVP) records of any federal office holder. To wit: Clinton stated her support for national licensing and registration of all newly purchased handguns in a May 2000 meeting with newspaper publishers (http://archives.cnn.com/2000/ALLPOLITICS/stories/05/09/hrc.guns/index.html), but stated during a debate last month in Nevada that she opposed implementing a national gun licensing registry..." (http://cqpolitics.com/wmspage.cfm?parm1=5&docID=news-000002655673).
Snowflakes in Hell, Days of Our Trailers, and Say Uncle all have some good commentary about Miller's criticism of Clinton. As all three of them point out, the Democratic candidates' (rather unconvincing) attempts to reassure gun owners about their intentions would seem to indicate that, Bryan Miller's cheerleading about the "demise of the gun culture" notwithstanding, gun rights advocates constitute a political bloc that even politicians like Clinton and Obama have to take seriously.

Miller isn't the only citizen disarmament advocate disappointed with Clinton, according to ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper:
In an email to me, Andy Pelosi of Gun Free Kids, writes, "quite frankly, there are many gun control advocates that find it distasteful that Clinton appears to be running to the right of Obama on guns."
Trouble in gun-free paradise?

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Is there a legal term for 'shmackdown'?

I ask, because that's what D.C.'s legal team has just been handed by Heller's legal team. A couple highlights:

The rights secured by the first eight amendments were not conjured at random, but in reaction to specific outrages of the King’s rule. The Second Amendment is no exception. While Petitioners and their amici may not believe that English law secured an individual right to arms for self-defense, colonial Americans certainly did, and it was the repeated, wanton violation of that right that led them to demand and ratify he Second Amendment.
Those "specific outrages" are no less intolerable, and no less a threat, today (with the exception, perhaps, of quartering of soldiers--there doesn't seem to be much of a push to force that on us).
Petitioners plainly disagree with the Framers’ Second Amendment policy choices. Petitioners’ remedy must be found within the Constitution’s Fifth Article, not with linguistic sophistries or an anemic standard of review that would deprive the right of any real force.
The citizen disarmament advocates, in D.C. and elsewhere, don't have to like the Second Amendment or the right it protects--but that freedom to dislike it does not grant them license to change its meaning to something they find more palatable, or to say that it, unlike the rest of the Bill of Rights, can be reduced in power to that of little more than a suggestion to lawmakers. There is a process for amending the Constitution. Have at it.

P.S. Removing the Constitutional protection from a fundamental human right of the individual does not cause that right to cease to exist, or to cease to be fundamental. Banning guns is the easy part--coming to take them is where it might get a bit hairy. Who wants to try first?

Monday, February 04, 2008

'Sensible Gun Laws' not saving lives

Friday night, a 15-year-old mini-thug in Baltimore, Maryland, shot and murdered his parents and two younger brothers.

A 15-year-old boy fatally shot his parents and two younger brothers as they slept, then spent more than 12 hours with friends before returning home and calling 911 to report that his father was dead, police said Sunday.
On Saturday, five women were shot and murdered in a Chicago-area shopping mall, in what police believe was a robbery attempt.
A gunman fatally shot five women in a robbery at a store in a suburban Chicago strip mall before fleeing Saturday, prompting police to sweep through neighboring shops as terrified customers watched. The victims, including at least one employee, were killed at a Lane Bryant clothing store at the Brookside Marketplace, police Chief Mike O'Connell said.
The citizen disarmament advocates will undoubtedly put on their blood-dancing shoes and point to these atrocities as "justification" to disarm Americans. What they probably will not care to talk about is the fact that on the Brady Bunch's newly released "score cards," ranking the states on the degree to which citizens are disarmed, Illinois scored quite "well," and Maryland scored even "better."

Illinois, for example, was ranked ninth among the fifty states (meaning Illinois' gun laws are the ninth most restrictive in the country). That would put IL in the 82nd percentile. One area in which Illinois scored particularly "well" is concealed carry legislation:
States can earn up to 10 points by making it harder to carry “Guns In Public Places” (except for trained law enforcement and security) and by allowing localities to “Preserve Local Control” over municipal gun laws. This includes keeping guns out of workplaces and college campuses, not forcing law enforcement to issue concealed handgun permits on demand, not permitting
“shoot first” expansions in self-defense laws, and not preventing municipalities from passing their own gun laws. Illinois scored all 10 points in this category.
The reason, of course, that "Illinois scored all 10 points in this category" (that emphasis was the Brady Bunch's, by the way) is that not only does Illinois "not forc[e] law enforcement to issue concealed handgun permits on demand," Illinois bans outright the carrying, either openly or concealed, of firearms in public. In other words, Illinois achieves a high state-mandated defenselessness score. I certainly hope the families of the victims appreciate that.

Maryland, by the way, makes it to the Bradys' top three in restrictive gun laws, putting it in the 94th percentile.

Kentucky and Oklahoma, tied for "last" in the Brady Bunch ranking, are sounding better, and safer, all the time.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Insurrection Bowl!

If the government is going to continue to insist that our firearms have a "sporting purpose" (or, more accurately, if we're going to continue to allow our public servants to impose such a requirement upon us), perhaps it's time for a new sport.

If we're going to accept the position that the Founding Fathers devoted 10% of the Bill of Rights to the protection of a sport, it's time for the NIL (National Insurrection League), in which no firearm will be banned because it's too large, or too small, or too easily afforded by poor people, or too scary looking, or too accurate, or too quiet, or takes too long to run out of ammunition, or doesn't take long enough to reload with more ammunition.

Alright! Now that Auto Assault 12 shotgun I've been wanting has a sporting purpose, as does explosive, fragmenting, armor piercing ammunition for it.

We're going to need a pretty big stadium, though.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Tonight's "super dialogue" on Charter.net

I have made no secret of my admiration for Dr. Paul, and my belief that he is the only presidential candidate worthy of the unabashed support of gun owners. Now that the field has shrunk to Clinton and Obama (need I say more?) on one side; and Mitt "Weapons of Unusual Lethality" Romney, John "Close the Gun Show Loophole" McCain, Mike Huckabee, and Dr. Paul on the other; I think it bears repeating.

Huckabee, I acknowledge, is good on gun rights issues. Still, although I probably come across as a single issue voter, I do follow other issues, and Huckabee presents real problems on several of them. As an example, he likes to tax and spend, as illustrated by his proposed budget (biggest of the Republicans still in the race). Then there's his wish to change the Constitution to better align it with his religion. Oh, and the First Amendment? He doesn't seem to be a big fan.

That leaves Dr. Paul:

Getting to the title of this blog post, Charter.net is hosting a"Super Dialogue" tonight at 6 PM EST, featuring Clinton, Obama, Huckabee, and Dr. Paul. With Huckabee and Paul as the only Republicans participating, perhaps the campaign to ignore Paul will take a break.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A blind squirrel finds an acorn (but doesn't know what to do with it)

In a publication called "BostonNOW" there was an article yesterday with a title that (unintentionally, I am utterly convinced) strikes at the heart of the gun law/gun rights debate. The article is called "Mass. gun laws are strict, but guns still easy to get."

Yeah--as I understand it, during Prohibition, alcohol was easy to get. Throughout the decades of the "War on Drugs," the various (ostensibly) "controlled" substances have been easy to get. Hmm--I think I might be on the verge of identifying an underlying theme here. Could it be that when there's a demand for something, some folks will move to provide a supply, prohibition-type laws notwithstanding? Could it be that strict gun laws are useless, as well as unconstitutional?

By the way, for sheer amusement value, check out this sentence from the article:

Citizen Y carries a 9 mm semi automatic pistol. Citizen X carries a .38mm.
".38mm," eh? Now that's small. I thought the Swiss Minigun, at 2.34mm (.092 caliber), was tiny--but that's over six times the diameter of "Citizen X's" .38mm (.015 caliber). But I digress.

Back to our scheduled programming:
Every year 4,000 gun crimes are committed in Massachusetts, although the Commonwealth has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation.
But I don't suppose that the ubiquity of "gun crimes" has prompted the author to question the effectiveness of those "strictest gun control laws in the nation," has it?
"The problem is," according to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, "Instead of a few large illegal dealers in this state, we now have many small dealers who will sell maybe one, two, maybe five guns and there are many more of them, unfortunately."
Well, thanks for explaining to us what "the problem is," Commissioner. Tell me--how do people who sell "maybe one, two, maybe five guns" come to be seen as "dealers"? Is someone who sells one or two cars to be considered a car dealer, subject to a car dealer's licensing requirements? If so, I'll bet there are more "unlicensed car dealers" than "unlicensed gun dealers."
Team 5 Investigates went undercover to a gun show in Vermont, and within minutes, found a federally licensed dealer who was willing to sell us a semiautomatic weapon and its magazine, even though we did not have a permit.
Yeah, well--call it the pesky spirit of Ethan Allen, if you wish, but Vermont doesn't require a government-issued permission slip for the exercise of that particular Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human right of the individual, so your lack of a "permit" was irrelevant.

The most chilling part of the article, however, comes next:
Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley says gun traffickers won't be permanently put out of business until the law is changed to go after smaller dealers. "A legislative idea that we will propose is just the mere possession of three or more firearms would infer that you were going to distribute," said Conley.
I'm not going to catalog my collection online, but suffice it to say that it's in the double digits (and financial realities keep it much smaller than I would like it to be)--and the only way I'm going to "distribute" those guns is, to borrow a phrase, "from my cold, dead hands."